Revealing the Mysteries of Disk Partitions

Our HDD is divided into parts called partitions, which can be either primary or extended. In this post we are going to learn to identify them through different processes and get to know the size of each of the partitions. To be able to do this, you should have read our previous posts and have installed Ubuntu and Hiren’s Boot CD in a multiboot pendrive or a CD.

With HBCD tools:

  1. Mini Windows XP: The first step is to boot Hiren’s Boot CD from your multiboot pendrive or CD. Once it’s done, we have to enter Mini Windows XP. Next, click on the Start Menu, go to Programs and click on Disk Management, the partitions will immediately appear. We have done this process on 3 different computers: one with an x86 architecture, an x86-64 architecture at school, and another one with x86-64 architecture at home.
    • x86 architecture: we can see in the image that the computer recognises 2 different devices: one is the multiboot pendrive from which we have booted HBCD, and the other one is the HDD we are interested in (it’s easy to distinguish them thanks to their size). The HDD has only one logical partition with a size of 298,08GiB. We can also see that the file system of the computer is NTFS (even though it can’t be clearly seen).20160217_090610.jpg
    • x86-64 (school): From our x86-64 computer at school Mini Windows XP can´t recognise the HDD, so we can only see the CD from where we boot HBCD, and a pendrive.Mini windows XP partitions.jpg
    • x86-64 (Home): in this computer the HDD has two partitions, both of them primary. One is the startup partition which has a size of 100MiB, and the other one is the main partition, with a size of 931,41 GiB. They both have the NTFS file system too.Clipboard01.jpg

  2. Dos Programs: To get to this tool, you need to boot HBCD and run Dos Programs. Once you entered, go to partition tools and select the 3rd one: Ranish Partitions Manager. You will be able to see a blue screen with your partitions information. If you think the information is not coherent because the sizes are too small, press F5 and the HDD information will appear.
    • x86 architecture: In the image we can see that our HDD has a size of 305,245 GB with 38913 cylinders, 255 Heads and 63 sectors. The program gives us the size information in decimal numbers, that is why it changes from the Mini Windows XP information which was in binary numbers. Even though the previous tool told us the HDD had only 1 partition, here we can see it has got 4, but 3 of them are unused.20160217_091321.jpg
    • x86-64 (school): this computer has an HDD of 476,94GB, with 68801 cylinders, 255 heads and 63 sectors. Here we can also see how we have 2 partitions but one is unused. One MBR and the other one Primary.20160216_090448.jpg
    • x86-64 (Home): the HDD has a size of 953,869GB with 121601 cylinders, 255 heads and 63 sectors. Our home computer has 5 different partitions: an MBR one and four primary.20160218_193314.jpg

With Ubuntu tool:

  1. GParted: the first step is to boot Ubuntu from our multiboot pendrive. Once we are in this OS click on the search icon, at the top left corner. Type “GParted” and click on the icon that appears below the search tab. Open the application, and all the information about partitions will appear.We have done this process on 3 different computers: one with an x86 architecture, an x86-64 architecture at school, and another one with x86-64 architecture at home.
    • x86 architecture: as we have already seen before, some of the information obtained from different tools is not coherent. Here, for example, it says our computer has only 2 partitions, while Ranish Partition Manager showed us that we had 4. Ubuntu says we have two primary partitions, one with a size of 298,08GiB and NTFS as the file system; the other one has a size of 10,34MiB (it might be the startup partition)ubuntu bios.png
    • x86-64 (school): again the information given by different tools is completely incoherent. While Ranish Partition Manager showed that this HDD had only 2 partitions, Ubuntu distinguish 6 different ones. They all have different sizes but the biggest one is 454,73GiB. Three of the partitions have NTFS, one has fat32 and the two others are unknown.ubuntu partitions.png
    • x86-64 (home):Another time Ubuntu and Dos Programs give different information, here there can only be seen 3 partitions instead of 5. The first one is the “Startup partition” with a size of 100MiB, the second one is the main partition with a size of 931,41GiB. They both have NTFS.The 3rd partition is unallocated.Ubuntu Home.png

With ARM processor architecture:

The ARM computer we have used has a Debian Wheezy Raspbian operating system, which we have entered going through the menu that appears when starting up the computer. The process we have to carry out on this computer is very similar to the Ubuntu one, because they are both Linux distributions. We have to enter the “Applications Menu”, then go to “System” and click on the tool Gparted (the one we used with Ubuntu). The application shows us that the ARM computer has 3 partitions: the first one has a size of 63 MiB and a file system called fat16, the second one has a size of 7.36GiB and a file system called ext4; finally the last one has a size of 55MiB and its file system is not assigned.



This task was quite difficult, because we weren´t able to identify the different partitions in each of the computers. The most frustrating was to see that each of the tools gave a different information and we don’t know which of them we have to trust. Despite having these problems, we finally learned how to identify them and how to get this information as well as distinguishing if the drive we are getting the information from is our real HDD or another external drive (such as the CD or the multiboot pendrive).


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