A Common Question
A very common, recurring question on the FS Hardware Message Board
is on how to install and/or partition a new hard disk. Frequently, a long, complicated response is required each time. Hopefully, this article can present all the relevant information HD installers should know, in an easily-accessible format for all to see. This should also save us a few million keystrokes, and a heightened risk of developing carpal tunnel from typing the same thing over and over again!
There is no one simple answer to the question "How should/do I install a new hard disk?" because the answer is going to be different depending on each persons needs and circumstances. Is the existing drive dead? Is this a newly built system? Are you replacing the drive and moving the old one to another computer? Or is the existing drive working perfectly, and you just want more room? Even the format of the question will affect the format of a response. Essentially, the type of hardware you have and the version of your operating system are going to make a large impact on what the best way to install your new disk.
The Easy and Hard Way
There is, of course, one main reason for installing a new hard disk, and that is to get more disk space. There are however, several different ways that you can install your new hard disk.
Installing an HDD is a very easy thing to do, but just as with anything else in the wonderful world of computers, even the simplest task can become very complicated if you have little to no idea of what you are doing, or why. The physical installation part should be a total snap. The only thing that you can mess up there is either the cable orientation or jumpering of the drive, but both of these are easily correctable. It's when it comes to the point of partitioning that most folks start to get confused, because there can be literally thousands of possible ways to partition the drive itself.
Sadly however, we've found that most people have a very inadequate understanding of partitions, what they are, and WHY you would choose one partition method over another. Most folks proceed through it going solely on the hearsay of others that are equally misinformed as well. This can be a problem because once a partition/s is set, it's not an simple matter to go bout changing that without risking your data. So Let's examine some of the finer points of partitioning a hard disk. How you partition is going to be based on both your hardware, and your operating system version. In some cases, you can even use software to circumvent hardware limitations on partitioning as well.