Partitioning a hard disk drive or HDD has been common practice for years to increase performance and efficiency.
With solid-state drives or SSDs replacing hard disk drives as a secondary memory source, the question remains, should I partition my SSD?
Should I Partition My SSD?
For the standard user, there is no need to partition your SSD.
Modern operating systems including Windows, Mac, and Linux all automatically create three partitions upon installation.
SSDs are also not prone to the same issues as traditional hard disk drives which recommend partitioning as a best practice.
Partitioning the SSD can, however, be beneficial in specific use cases such as dual booting or separating disks for organizational purposes.
Dual-booting is the ability to run two completely different operating systems on a single device, such as a laptop or desktop computer.
For example, a single device could run the Windows OS or the Mac OS, whichever one was chosen to boot at the time.
Essentially, this is akin to having two separate computers on one.
Partitioning is a requirement of dual booting.
With partitioning, a specific amount of space is allocated to the two operating systems.
The allocated space is kept separate from the other operating system.
If one operating system runs out of storage space, it cannot draw from the available space on the other operating system.
2. Data Organization And Separation
Partitioning allows for the creation of separate drives on the device.
Windows OSs commonly use the “C” drive as the primary partition.
With additional partitioning, other drives may be created.
Creating separate drives allows for the logical separation of data.
These additional drives may come in use when a person wishes to keep personal files separate from work files, for example.
Another example may be if an individual wishes to keep music on one drive, photos on another, and documents on a third.
This may help with the logical organization and separation of data within the system.
Backing up data is the process of making a copy of data in one location and storing it in a separate location.
This is done to protect stored data in case of deletion or catastrophic failure.
Partitioning drives can make the backup process simpler with the use of less storage space in the backup device.
For example, if a drive is partitioned to hold a constantly fluctuating data pool such as new music downloads or daily invoices, the ability to backup only the partition containing this data would save time and space.
Partitions that contained relatively stable and unchanging data, such as archived invoices or yearly tax papers, could be backed up less frequently, reducing the amount of time and space needed to do backups.
4. Improved Security
Partitioning an SSD drive can improve the security of sensitive information.
This can be achieved by placing stricter security protocols on the sensitive partition.
Additional security measures such as user authentication requirements, additional firewalls, and data encryption.
Partitions may also be useful if a particular partition is corrupted.
You can choose to restore the partition in question using previous backups to restore the partition in its uncorrupted state.
An SSD uses a controller to decide where to place incoming data as well as where to place data that needs to be overwritten, otherwise known as garbage collection.
SSDs are designed with a set amount of space put aside for this process.
Overprovisioning is the act of partitioning a larger than originally allotted space for the controller or garbage collection.
This allows for the controller to work more efficiently which increases the life span of the drive.
Partitioning an SSD can create a complex logical system that may be difficult or confusing to navigate.
This complexity can lead to user errors such as missed backups, difficulty finding particular files, and duplication of files throughout the drive.
2. Wasted Space
Partitioning a drive creates a set amount of space for each partition.
If the allotted space for a particular partition exceeds the amount of space needed for that partition, the space can be wasted.
For example, if you have partitioned your drive into multiple drives such as “C”, “D”, and “E” and you place all of your music on drive “D”, drive D may become full, prompting you to delete files to make room for additional music downloads.
At the same time, drive “E” may be nearly empty.
The partitions make it so that the separate drives will not be allowed to pull extra space from unused drives without alterations to the partition sizes.
3. False Sense Of Security
Wait, I thought partitioning could make data more secure?
Well, this is true for logical security since partitioned drives are treated as separate entities.
However, this can lead to a false sense of security in that all the drives are on the same physical storage device.
If the device itself is corrupted or damaged, the effects will be felt on all the partitioned drives.
Also, a virus or malware which attaches to the host operating system can spread throughout the drives, no matter which partition the data is stored in.
Benefits Of Partitioning An SSD
The benefits of partitioning an SSD are primarily logical, rather than functional.
Partitioning an SSD can make the logical separation and organization of files easier.
Partitioning can also help make the backup process more streamlined and efficient.
It may also create more secure drive spaces for sensitive files by adding additional security measures to specific drive partitions.
Creating partitions can also allow for dual booting of the SSD.
Functionally, creating an overprovisioned slack space for the drive controller to use can increase the longevity of the SSD.
SSD Partitioning Myths
Traditional HDDs benefit greatly from partitioning.
Due to this, many of the traditional thoughts on the benefits of partitioning a memory drive have been attributed to SSD drives as well.
However, due to the fundamental way in which an SSD drive works, these benefits have become SSD partitioning myths.
Myth 1: Partitioning An SSD Drive Will Improve Performance
HDD drives offered significantly improved performance with careful partitioning.
This is due to the way an HDD stores data.
An HDD drive is like a vinyl record.
The data is stored in a specific place on the spinning disk.
Like a vinyl record, to reach specific data, the reading arm must traverse from the outside of the disk to the inside to reach that data.
The amount of time it takes to reach this data can reduce the response time of the device.
Data that is stored on the outside of the disk can be reached quicker than data stored on the inside.
Partitioning tells the drive where to store data.
If the data needs to be accessed quickly, it can be stored closer while less time-sensitive data can be stored further away.
This increases the performance of the drive.
An SSD drive, however, works using electrical transistors which are divided into data blocks to store data.
Think of an SSD drive as a Lite Brite.
Each individual light is a data block.
These blocks are physically separated but can be illuminated in a set pattern to reveal an image.
With an SSD drive, the desired data can be stored in any of the blocks on the drive.
The SSD knows where the data is stored and knows which blocks to activate to retrieve the desired data, just like a Lite Brite.
Partitioning creates a logical division but no physical division in the SSD, unlike the HDD.
Partitioning, therefore, will not increase the speed at which the SSD performs.
Myth 2: Partitioning Will Increase Wear On The SSD
Partitioning a traditional HDD could increase wear to specific parts of the HDD.
Once again, this is due to the way the HDD stores information.
Think again of the vinyl record.
If you played one song over and over again, that particular song or spot on the record would wear more quickly than if you played all of the songs the same number of times.
This is true for HDDs where if you wrote and overwrote to one partition significantly more than to the other partitions, this section of the HDD would wear more quickly.
An SSD drive, however, uses wear leveling to remove this consideration.
The SSD writes to wherever the space is available on the drive.
The spaces are not physically constrained to a particular location on the drive.
Like a Lite Brite, the SSD can connect blocks anywhere on the drive to create the desired picture.
Wear leveling ensures that each block of the SSD is used just as much as other blocks.
The partitioning is logical, not physical like the HDD.
How Can You Partition An SSD On Windows 10?
Say you would like to partition your SSD drive on your Windows 10 device.
This can be done in a few simple steps.
Before you begin, however, you need to make sure you fully backup your drive just in case something goes wrong.
Occasionally, partitioning can cause data loss.
The first thing you will do is create free space on your drive.
Windows 10 installations allocate all free storage space to the C drive by default.
To create free space on the drive, reduce the amount of space allocated to the C drive.
- In the search bar, type Control Panel. Clicking opens the control panel.
- In the control panel dashboard, click System and Security.
- At the bottom of the page, click Administrative Tools.
- This opens a list of options. Double click Computer Management.
- This will open a new window. In the left pane, click Storage.
- In the middle pane, double click Disk Management.
- Click the drive you wish to reduce, in this case, the C drive. This will highlight the drive.
- In the left pane, click the arrow next to More Actions to reveal a drop-down menu.
(If you do not see More Actions, click the arrow next to Disk Management to reveal More Actions.)
- In the drop-down menu, hover over or click All Tasks to expose a second drop-down menu.
- Click Shrink Volume from the drop-down menu.
(This is the same place you would go if you needed to increase the size of a partition.)
- The OS will calculate the amount of unused space contained in the chosen device. Choose how much of that space you would like to free up and fill in the space next to Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB and click Shrink.
This process will reduce the size of the original partition and place the free space into a separate, Unallocated partition. To create a new partition using this unallocated space:
- Right-click on the Unallocated box located at the bottom of the center pane. This opens a dialogue box.
- Choose New Simple Volume… This launches the New Simple Volume Wizard.
- Click Next to begin the process.
- The next window asks for you to choose the size of the new partition, also called a volume. Choose the amount of free space which you would like to be allocated and click Next.
- The next window gives you the option of naming the drive. A name will be suggested, such as D. There are also options to mount in an NTFS file or create a drive without a letter or path. Disregard these options unless you have a particular reason to choose one. Click Next.
- The next pane gives formatting options for the drive. Leave the default options as is. You can choose a unique volume label if desired or it can be left as New Volume. Click Next.
- The final pane provides a summary of the volume which will be created. If everything looks correct, click Finish. Congratulations! You have just created a new partition on your SSD drive!
Types Of Computer Memory
A computer’s memory consists of two types, primary and secondary.
Primary memory contains small bits of data that can be accessed very quickly when powered.
ROM can only be read and not written to.
It is non-volatile, which means that the data stored on the ROM will remain when power is removed from the device and can be retrieved when power is restored.
ROM typically contains the integrated firmware of a device.
RAM is temporary memory that houses data that needs to be accessed quickly.
It acts as a go-between for the cache memory stored in the CPU and the permanent memory stored in the hard drive.
Secondary memory is a form of non-volatile memory and is considered external memory or auxiliary storage.
This form of memory is capable of holding vast amounts of data for long periods even without power.
The CPU cannot directly access secondary memory.
Secondary memory is accessed through input/output operations run through the RAM.
It can be fixed in the device such as HDDs and SSDs or removable.
Removable secondary storage includes optical disks like DVDs and CDs, memory cards, floppy disks, magnetic tapes, or disk packs.
What Is Partitioning?
Partitioning is the process of splitting a secondary memory device into sections.
This process allows for the allocation of a specific amount of drive space to be given to a particular section.
That can create disk drive spaces that are separated from one another and cannot draw storage space from each other.
Operating systems such as Windows 10, Mac OS, and Linux OS automatically separate the secondary memory device which they are installed on into three partitions.
What Is An SSD?
A solid-state drive, or SSD, is a persistent memory storage device that runs entirely off electrical signals.
Before the advent of the SSD, persistent memory storage devices, called a hard disk drive, or HDD stored and retrieved data using electromagnetic read-write heads to physically flip magnetic material to store binary code.
This data is functionally separated on the HDD like songs on a record.
SSDs, however, use electrical signals to trigger transistors, which store the data.
Data stored on an SSD is not physically grouped within the SSD but is logically connected through its logical block address or LBA.
The LBA tells the SSD the location of the physical block address, or PBA, which specifies which data blocks the desired data is stored in.
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