formatting, partitions and the OS ????

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formatting, partitions and the OS ????

I was not sure where to put this, sorry if it is the wrong place.
I just put together my first computer on MagicMicro. My friend is installing the OS and what not.
The questions I have are:
What EXACTLY is "formatting" the hard drive? What does it do and what not?
What is all this about "partitions"?
As for the OS, is that on the standard C drive?

All I really know about formatting, or reformatting, is that it wipes everything, you are supposed to back everything up first, and something about make sure the OS is not on there because you will lose it?

I appreciate anyone that can clear all of this up and help me learn :)



formatting, partitions and the OS ????

"Formatting" is preparing or 'setting up' the drive for use (a lot of technical stuff, setting the file system, sectors, etc). 

First, you partition the drive, which is specifying how/how much of the drive you want to use - for example, you have 100GB drive - you could  "partition" that drive into two 'logical' 50gb drives, say your C: drive and your D: drive - or, you could choose to partition it as one giant C: 100GB drive.

Once you have set the partitions, you then format the partitions.  You cannot use the drive if it has not been formatted.

The OS (Windows in this case, i presume) usually needs to be "installed" (located) on the primary, or boot-up drive (partition) - which is usually "C:" .


Re: formatting, partitions and the OS ????

Also, without getting technical, it's generally a good idea to chop a large hard drive (single partition) into smaller partitions. Most computers come with very large hard drives these days, like 500GB. It'd be smarter to partition that into (just for example) 8 62.5GB partitions, each gets it's own drive letter. And then use them for various things. Maybe use one for editing videos, one for backing up, etc.

It's also a good idea to keep your OS and system software on the OS drive (C:) and keep all data and other non-system software on any other partition.

Re: formatting, partitions and the OS ????

Here's something else.  During the text-only part of WinXP install, you get a choice of "Quick Format" or "Normal Format".  Normal format also automatically scans the surface for defects using a utility called "chkdisk /f" and if any are found, it doesn't include these areas as writable locations in the newly created file index.  A Quick Format does not scan the surface for damaged sectors.

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