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Windows disk repartitioning to make backup easier

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There are two popular repartitioning operations in Windows

This is what we will discuss here

Repartitioning of your second or USB drive to make backup easier

Generally I recommend to create inventory of files on your drive before backup using Unix find or similar program. This way if you experience difficulties with restore you will always be able to compare status of the restore with the status of the original drive.

NTFS partitions need to be thoroughly cleaned from junk and defragmented before creating an image. That's a must for drives that contain over 100GB of data as both backup time and restore time became exceedingly long which de-motivates users to make regular backups.  Each additional 10G adds an hour to backup and restore.

It make sense to classify your data into three category:

  1. Your current, dynamic documents of high importance (letters written by you or to you, Ms Word documents, research, programs written by you, you Web site pages, etc)
  2. Static content of great value:
  3. Replaceable at no cost downloadable content.

You can split your drive into three section according to those criteria. For example 500GB drive can be split into three partitions:

For backup your can use a pair of mirrored 2GB drives also with three partitions:

NTFS partitions need to be thoroughly cleaned from junk and defragmented before creating an image. That's a must for drives that contain over 100GB of data as both backup time and restore time became exceedingly long which de-motivates users to make regular backups.

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[Sep 14, 2010] Resizing Linux partitions, Part 2 Advanced resizing by Roderick W. Smith,

Simple partition resizing operations, such as those described in Part 1 of this series, usually conclude successfully. Sometimes, though, you need to do something different or troubleshoot problems. This article covers some of these situations. The first topic is LVM configuration and how it interacts with partition resizing. The second topic is troubleshooting techniques. Although a complete description of all the problems that can occur when resizing partitions might fill a book, a few basic principles can help you work through many common problems. Finally, this article describes some alternatives to partition resizing, should the problems you encounter prove insurmountable.

Resizing LVMs

LVM is a disk allocation technique that supplements or replaces traditional partitions. In an LVM configuration, one or more partitions, or occasionally entire disks, are assigned as physical volumes in a volume group, which in turn is broken down into logical volumes. File systems are then created on logical volumes, which are treated much like partitions in a conventional configuration. This approach to disk allocation adds complexity, but the benefit is flexibility. An LVM configuration makes it possible to combine disk space from several small disks into one big logical volume. More important for the topic of partition resizing, logical volumes can be created, deleted, and resized much like files on a file system; you needn't be concerned with partition start points, only with their absolute size.

Note: I don't attempt to describe how to set up an LVM in this article. If you don't already use an LVM configuration, you can convert your system to use one, but you should consult other documentation, such as the Linux LVM HOWTO (see Resources), to learn how to do so.

Resizing physical volumes

If you've resized non-LVM partitions, as described in Part 1 of this series, and want to add the space to your LVM configuration, you have two choices:

Unfortunately, the GParted (also known as Gnome Partition Editor) tool described in Part 1 of this series does not support resizing LVM partitions. Therefore, the easiest way to add space to your volume group is to create a new partition in the free space and add it as a new physical volume to your existing volume group.

Although GParted can't directly create an LVM partition, you can do so with one of the following tools:

If you use parted, you can use the set command to turn on the lvm flag, as in set 1 lvm on to flag partition 1 as an LVM partition. Using fdisk, you should use the t command to set the partition's type code to 8e. You do the same with gdisk, except that its type code for LVM partitions is 8e00.

In any of these cases, you must use the pvcreate command to set up the basic LVM data structures on the partition and then vgextend to add the partition to the volume group. For instance, to add /dev/sda1 to the existing MyGroup volume group, you type the following commands:

pvcreate /dev/sda1
vgextend MyGroup /dev/sda1

With these changes finished, you should be able to extend the logical volumes in your volume group, as described shortly.

Resizing logical volumes

For file systems, resizing logical volumes can be simpler than resizing partitions because LVM obviates the need to set aside contiguous sets of numbered sectors in the form of partitions. Resizing the logical volume itself is accomplished by means of the lvresize command. This command takes a number of options (consult its man page for details), but the most important is -L, which takes a new size or a change in size, a change being denoted by a leading plus (+) or minus (-) sign. You must also offer a path to the logical volume. For instance, suppose you want to add 5 gibibytes (GiB) to the size of the usr logical volume in the MyGroup group. You could do so as follows:

lvresize -L +5G /dev/mapper/MyGroup-usr

This command adjusts the size of the specified logical volume. Keep in mind, however, that this change is much like a change to a partition alone. That is, the size of the file system contained in the logical volume is not altered. To adjust the file system, you must use a file system-specific tool, such as resize2fs, resizereiserfs, xfs_growfs, or the resize mount option when mounting Journaled File System (JFS). When used without size options, these tools all resize the file system to fill the new logical volume size, which is convenient when growing a logical volume.

If you want to shrink a logical volume, the task is a bit more complex. You must first resize the file system (using resize2fs or similar tools) and then shrink the logical volume to match the new size. Because of the potential for a damaging error should you accidentally set the logical volume size too small, I recommend first shrinking the file system to something significantly smaller than your target size, then resizing the logical volume to the correct new size, and then resizing the file system again to increase its size, relying on the auto-sizing feature to have the file system exactly fill the new logical volume size.

Remember also that, although you can shrink most Linux-native file systems, you can't shrink XFS or JFS. If you need to shrink a logical volume containing one of these file systems, you may have to create a new smaller logical volume, copy the first one's contents to the new volume, juggle your mount points, and then delete the original. If you lack sufficient free space to do this, you may be forced to use a backup as an intermediate step.

Using GUI LVM tools

Although the text-mode tools just described get the job done, they can be intimidating. If you prefer to work with graphical user interface (GUI) tools, at least two are available for LVM operations:

Of the two, system-config-lvm provides a somewhat simpler and friendlier user interface; however, either will get the job done. Figure 1 shows system-config-lvm in action. To resize a logical volume, you click its name in the left panel, then click the Edit Properties button that appears in the middle panel. You can then use a slider to adjust the volume's size.

Figure 1. GUI tools make resizing logical volumes relatively easy
Troubleshooting problems

Unfortunately, partition resizing operations sometimes don't work as expected. Most commonly, the resizing software reports an error, frequently with a cryptic message. Although there are numerous possible causes of such problems, you can overcome a great many of them by applying a few simple workarounds, such as fixing file system problems and breaking a complex resizing operation down into several parts.

Fixing file system problems

One common cause of resizing failures is a damaged file system. All production file systems include file system recovery tools that enable you to fix such problems, so running them on a file system prior to resizing it can often make for a smoother resizing operation.

In Linux, the file system check tool is called fsck, and you call it by passing it the device filename associated with the file system you want to check, as in fsck /dev/sda1 to check /dev/sda1. The fsck utility, however, is mainly a front-end to file system-specific tools, such as e2fsck (for ext2fs, ext3fs, and ext4fs). You can often gain access to more advanced options by calling the file system-specific tool directly. The -f option to e2fsck, for instance, forces it to check the device even if the file system appears to be clean. This option may be necessary to uncover corruption that's not obvious in a cursory examination. Check the documentation for your file system-specific fsck helper program to learn about its options.

In most cases, it's necessary to run fsck or its helper program on an unmounted file system. Thus, you may need to do this from an emergency boot disc, as described in Part 1 of this series.

If you run into problems with a non-Linux file system, you may be able to use fsck to check it; however, you may also need to boot into the file system's native operating system to do the job properly. In particular, Microsoft® Windows® New Technology File System (NTFS) has only rudimentary maintenance tools in Linux. You must use the Windows CHKDSK utility to do a proper job of checking NTFS. You may need to run this utility several times, until it reports no more problems with the disk. The Linux ntfsfix utility performs what few checks are possible in Linux and then flags the file system for automatic checking the next time Windows boots.

Although not a file system integrity issue per se, disk fragmentation is another issue that might need attention. You can sometimes eliminate problems by performing a disk defragmenting operation prior to a resizing operation. This task is seldom necessary (and is usually not possible) with Linux native file systems; however, it may help with File Allocation Table (FAT) or NTFS partitions.

Breaking the operation into parts

If you enter a number of resizing and moving operations into GParted and the operation fails, you can try entering just one operation at a time and then immediately clicking the Apply button. You might still run into problems, but you may at least be able to perform other operations that aren't dependent on the one that causes problems. Depending on the details, you may be able to achieve at least some of your overall goals or find some other way to work around the problem.

In some cases, you may be able to split the resizing operation across multiple utilities. For instance, you may be able to use a Windows or Mac OS X utility to resize FAT, NTFS, or Hierarchical File System Plus (HFS+) partitions. Although GParted is the most user-friendly way to resize partitions in Linux, if just one operation is causing problems, using an underlying text-mode utility, such as resize2fs, may provide you with better diagnostic output or even succeed where GParted fails. Keep in mind, however, that most text-mode tools resize either partitions or file systems, but not both; you must combine both types of tools to resize a partition and its file system. The GNU Parted utility is an exception to this rule; like its GUI cousin, GParted, Parted resizes partitions and their contained file systems simultaneously.

Going to plan B

Sometimes an attempt to resize your partitions just doesn't work. Perhaps a file system has errors that can't be easily resolved, or maybe you need to shrink a file system (such as XFS or JFS) that can't be shrunk. In these cases, you must move on to an alternative, such as relocating directories in your existing partition structure, performing a backup-repartition-restore operation, or adding more disk space.

Relocating directories without repartitioning

Sometimes you can relocate directories without actually repartitioning the disk. The trick is to use symbolic links to point from one location to another, even across partitions. For instance, suppose you're using a Gentoo system, which can consume vast quantities of disk space in the /usr/portage and /var/tmp/portage directories. If you didn't consider these needs when setting up your system, you might run out of space. You might, however, have space available on a separate /home partition. To use this space for Portage, you can create one or more directories in /home, copy the contents of /usr/portage or /var/tmp/portage to the new directories, delete the original directories, and create symbolic links in place of the originals that point to the new subdirectories of /home.

This approach can be effective and is convenient on a small scale; however, it does create a somewhat non-standard system, and it removes many of the advantages of using separate partitions. Thus, I recommend using this approach sparingly and preferably only on a short-term basis-for instance, as a stop-gap measure while you wait for a new hard disk to arrive or on a system you plan to retire in a month or two.

Backing up, repartitioning, and restoring

Prior to the development of file system resizing tools, the only practical way to repartition a disk was to back up its contents, repartition (creating new empty file systems), and restore the backup to the repartitioned disk. This approach continues to work, but of course it's less convenient than using GParted to repartition nondestructively. On the other hand, for safety it's best to create a backup before resizing partitions. So to be safe, you have to do half of this job anyway.

In today's world, an external hard drive is often used as a backup medium. You can buy terabyte external disks for under $100, and after your partition juggling you can use them to back up your important files, to transfer large files between systems, or in other ways. Alternatively, you can use recordable DVDs, tape units, or network servers as backup systems.

Backup software can include old standbys such as tar or newer tools such as Clonezilla. Operational details vary depending on the software and the backup medium, so you should consult the backup software's documentation for details.

If you need to modify your Linux boot partition or any partition that's required for basic root (superuser) access, you need to perform these operations from an emergency boot system. Part 1 of this series described such systems.

Adding disk space

Adding a disk can be a viable alternative to repartitioning, and in some cases, adding disk space may be preferable. Disk capacities continue to increase, and a newer disk is likely to be more reliable than one that's several years old.

If you choose to replace an existing disk with a newer one, you should be able to transfer your existing system to the new disk with a tool such as Clonezilla or by using older tools, such as fdisk and tar. You may need to reinstall your boot loader, and, for this task, a boot using a tool such as the Super Grub Disk may be helpful. You can boot your system using this CD-based boot loader, then use grub-install or a similar tool to reinstall the GRand Unified Bootloader (GRUB) to your new hard disk.

If you buy a new disk to supplement, rather than replace, your existing disk, you need to decide what, if any, data to transfer to the new disk. You should partition the new disk using fdisk, GParted, or some other tool, transfer files to the new partitions, and then permanently mount the new disk's partitions in your existing directory tree by editing /etc/fstab appropriately. Remember to delete any files you transfer to the new disk from the old disk. If you don't, they'll continue to consume disk space on the old disk, even if you mount the new disk to take over the original files' directories.


However you do it, altering a working system's disk allocation can be an anxiety-inducing task, and for good reason: Many things can go wrong. If such changes are necessary, though, you'll find that your system is more usable after you make your changes. With a reduced risk of disk-full errors, you can get on with actually using your system for its intended task. The process of resizing your partitions can also help familiarize you with GParted and other disk utilities, as well as with the optimum sizes for various partitions. All of this can be useful knowledge the next time you install a new Linux system.

[Jan 20, 2009] Resize Windows Partition with Open Source Software by nixcraft

November 7, 2007
You would like to install Linux/BSD Os but windows partition is taking up your whole hard disk space. Or you don't want to pay money to resize hard disk partition (tools like partition magic costs money). Not to worry you can resize partition with KNOPPIX Live Linux CD.


Update: We are updating this howto. Please come back later or browse all our latest tips & tricks from home page. You may also try out following softwares for resize windows partition :

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  2. Mount remote windows partition (windows share) under Linux
  3. The importance of Linux partitions
  4. Restore Debian Linux Grub boot loader
  5. Series: Understanding UNIX/Linux file system

[Aug 23, 2007] Help2Go - How to Repartition Hard Drive without Reformatting

When you buy a new computer, the hard drive partitions are usually already set up for you. If you put in a new hard drive, you need to decide on the partitioning at set up time. The problem with both of these situations is that things change. You may decide you don't want everything in one big partition for a variety of reasons, but Windows gives you no options for changing your partitions other than reformatting and losing all of your data. There are excellent programs, like Partition Magic, that will let you resize and create partitions without losing data. But Partition Magic costs around $60 and it isn't a program you are going to use everyday.

There is a way to change your partitions without reformatting and without buying any additional software.

It uses a Linux live CD to boot your computer and prepare for a Linux installation. Don't worry; you are not actually going to install Linux. Every Linux CD includes a program to resize your Windows partition to make room for Linux because Windows usually takes up the whole hard drive. Once we create the space for Linux, we can actually format it as a Windows partition, either NTFS or FAT32.

First, you need to download the Linux live CD. I recommend Simply MEPIS 3.3, available here: . These directions will assume you are using Simply MEPIS. Download the ISO and burn it to a CD as an ISO image. Check your CD burning software for info on burning an ISO. Once you have your CD, you are ready to begin.

Before you start - it is recommended to do a disk clean up, get rid of unnecessary files and defragment your hard drive to create as much continuous free space as possible. If your drive is very fragmented, you may want to defragment twice.

WARNING- backup all important files. Although unlikely, it is possible to lose data. Even the programs like Partition Magic give you this warning.

Set your computer BIOS to boot from the CD drive as the first option. Most computers get into the BIOS by hitting the DELETE key during start up. The start up screen will usually tell you what to hit to enter set up. Look for something that deals with boot options; it is often under advanced bios options. Boot from the Simply MEPIS CD, choose the 2.6 option unless you have a CPU under 1Ghz. It will take a couple of minutes, but you will eventually have a sign in screen. Sign on as root with the password as root. It will boot to a red MEPIS Linux screen (actually running from the CD)


Gentoo based LiveCD to backup, administer, repair computers, partitions. Lots of up-to-date tools, easy usage, using graphical tools if feasible, very reliable. The rewritten NTFS kernel driver also included in the safe, though very restricted read-write mode. 105 MB.

NTFS Resize Frequently Asked Questions

The free ntfsresize program non-destructively resizes the NTFS filesystem of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, Windows NT4 and Longhorn Beta. All NTFS versions are supported, being used by either 32-bit or 64-bit Windows. Ntfsresize is included in the ntfsprogs package, developed by the voluntary Linux-NTFS project. You don't need Linux installed to use it because there are several ways to get it run, for example by booting one of the many Linux Live CD (they run off the CD, not hard disk).

Several freely available, easy to use software packages integrated ntfsresize. Please use one of them unless you have a good reason not to do so.

Please see also the ntfsresize manual page for its capabilities. This page answers only questions that aren't described there.

Note: Nov 20, 2004 Novell Linux Desktop 9 supports Linux installation alongside Windows non-destructively by the help of ntfsresize. The recommended way is using one of the solutions that integrated ntfsresize and has an easy to use front-end to it. They ease the repartitioning significantly and take care about the error-prone partition table manipulation issues.

... ... ...

For example many people feel very comfortable using SystemRescueCD. Here are the steps how to resize NTFS:

Openmind Developments - Open Source Software - Repartitioning

The simpliest way to repartition your Windows harddrive with open-source tools that I have found it to use Knoppix.

Just boot Knoppix, 'su' to root in a xterm, and run 'qtparted'. Due to the status of the NTFS re-partitioning software, you may need to defrag your NTFS filesystem before booting into Knoppix.

Update: I have had success with Knoppix 3.2, but the Knoppix 3.3 november release failed to work. I am going to test out System Rescue CD-Rom which also comes with QtParted soon.

With XP Professional, there are two degragmenters for NTFS: Disk Degragmenter and Defrag.exe. For Windows NT and Windows 2000, you can try Diskkeeper Lite from Executive Software (good while the link lasts). For more info see the Linux-NTFS Project. There is another useful link is here.

How to resize NTFS

NTFS file system became very popular nowadays. Lots of computers have Windows OS preinstalled and hard disk formatted with NTFS. With time you may wish to evaluate advantages of other OS (for example, install Linux OS). Probably you'd like to improve data storage on your hard disk performing hard disk partitioning. To install Linux-like OS on your hard disk alongside Windows, you'll need to free some space from NTFS partitions. Deleting and recreating such partitions will cause data loss.
The best way to free some space on your hard disk is simply to resize your NTFS partitions. However you may face some difficulties performing this operation. Creating other hard disk partitions with NTFS may also be not so easy. The cause of problems is the fragmentation of your files. Even if you have 20GB free on your hard drive, you actually can use only a part of this space for hard drive partitioning.

Planet IT Desktop TechCenter A Logical Volume Manager For Linux, Finally!

The notion that a partition was a sequential series of blocks on a physical disc has since evolved. Most Unix-like systems now have the ability to break up physical discs into some number of units. Storage units from multiple drives can be pooled into a "logical volume," where they can be allocated to partitions. Additionally, units can be added or removed from partitions as space requirements change. This is what an LVM is good for.

Why is that necessary?

Because now, in a Linux server you typically find between 3 and 10, or even 50 or 60 disks. From a hardware perspective, with SCSI channels and separate disk cabinets it's certainly possible. I know of one installation in Israel doing genetic research that has Linux servers with as many as 90 disks online.

Managing that many disks and their partitions is not easy. Also, you as a Linux sysadmin surely have encountered situations where one of the file systems was approaching 100 percent space occupation and you wished you could just magically extend the partition. Well, with LVM it's not only possible, it is quite easy to do so.

What LVM does is add an additional layer between the physical peripherals and the I/O interface in the kernel to get a logical view of disks. This lets the concatenation of several disks (physical volumes or PVs) form a storage pool (volume group or VG, also known as volg) with allocation units called physical extents (called PE).

Parts out of these volume groups then can be allocated in the form of logical volumes or lvols in units called logical extents or LEs. Each logical extent is mapped to a corresponding physical extent of equal size. These physical extents are mapped to offsets and blocks on the disk(s).

The logical volumes can then be used through device special files similar to /dev/sd[a-z]* or /dev/hd[a-z]* named /dev/VolumeGroupName/LogicalVolumeName.

Because the disks and partitions (volume groups/logical volumes) are a virtual representation of the hardware, you can easily extend or shrink the logical volume, even at run-time.

How does LVM work internally to achieve this functionality? When creating physical volumes or volume groups (from now on referred to as volg) and logical volumes (from now on referred to as lvol), the configuration information for each of these logical entities is stored on the corresponding physical volume, and backup of this information is automatically put under the /etc/lvmtab.d directory.

Starting from kernel 2.3.49, there is now an LVM driver built-in. This driver maintains mapping tables between the volgs (volume groups) and logical volumes (lvols) and their corresponding physical partitions and drives. These tables are created and maintained LVM commands that only the root may run.

Whenever access to one block in a file system on an LVM-managed lvol is requested, the driver uses these tables to map the block to its real address on the disk. That's it.

[Aug 17, 1999] - Featured Articles

Dave's Diary, Entry 3: Disk Partitions and Limitations - June 23rd, 1999
by David Apfelbaum

I have heard of folks playing games to get Linux to boot off a FAT filesystem. But you really don't want to start off playing with that. So, you are going to need at least one partition. Probably two. Possibly more.

The partitioning of your drive can and should be done during the installation of Linux. However, if you don't currently have any unpartitioned disk space, or if you don't have any disk partitions that you want to wipe out and dedicate to linux, then you have a problem.

There are tools that will allow you to shrink your current (most likely Windows) partitions. I've never used them. If you do use them, be sure to back up your system thoroughly first. (And double-check [test] your backups before you begin!)

Alternatively, you can add another IDE hard drive for $125-$300. If you add another harddrive, be careful. In Windows, if you add a new Windows partition after running your system for a while, you tend to get hosed badly. Your drive letters get renumbered. Your registry no longer contains accurate data. In plain and simple terms: You can find yourself up mister creek without mister paddle.

Linux, in contrast, won't really give a damn. In part because Linux, like other flavors of Unix, doesn't have drive letters. Instead there is one master partition--the root partition which is known as "/". Additional partitions can be mounted as subdirectories inside the root partition. So /tmp, /home, and/or /usr could be separate partitions in Linux--the equivalent of D:, E:, or F: in Windows. But there is no requirement that you have more than that one master root partition (plus swap--we'll get to swap in a minute). And with this arrangement, it's quite trivial to add new partitions to a Linux system later on as your needs change.

If I may digress here for a moment: A few months ago I added a new hard drive to my dual-boot (Win95/Linux) home box. Under Linux I partitioned the drive (/sbin/fdisk), formatted the partitions (/sbin/mke2fs), added them to the /etc/fstab file so they'd automount the next time I rebooted, mounted the partitions (/bin/mount), and I was done. Windows, on the other hand, decided that there had to be a Windows partition somewhere in my newly created extended partition. And Windows tried, desperately, to find that nonexistent Windows partition. Eventually it would time out and conclude that there was a zero-length windows partition (drive) on my new extended partition. But that wouldn't stop it from trying to find that nonexistent partition again a few seconds later. It rendered Windows unusable until I figured it out and created a DOS FAT partition inside my new extended partition. A classic example of plug-and-pray!

So even though you may not be adding Windows partitions, Windows can still get upset with you. Microsoft just does not play nicely with the other children.

Anyway, back to partitions. Red Hat gives all sorts of interesting advice regarding partitions in their manual. See the Red Hat Linux 5.2 installation guide.

My two cents on this is that, if you are playing around in a non-professional environment on a PC-based (Intel/i386) system, allocate a single 1-gig partition and put everything (excluding swap) on it. Even if you are working in a professional environment, you may still want to consider doing something similar depending upon your circumstances.

The only advantage to splitting up your directory structure across multiple partitions is that, if one partition gets filled up, the rest of the system can keep going. (Specifically, log files and such can still be written to the unfilled partitions.)

Now, if you've got users who are really obnoxious. Let's say they fill up /tmp or /usr/tmp with large files, or they like to fill up their home directories in the same fashion. Then using multiple partitions can become really useful. But with Linux, it's easy enough to add more partitions later, so why make things more difficult when you're first starting out?

In a related vein: don't feel obliged to use up all your disk space at once. Who knows, next week you might decide that you'd really rather not share a partition with Joe Sixchip who, for some strange reason, seems to have a rather large collection of gifs of questionable morality.

Or you might decide that you'd like a second Linux installation containing older (or newer) software that's independent of your work system. Perhaps you will join the experimental ranks. Or perhaps you have some legacy code that wants an older version of libc.

On the other hand, consider that repartitioning a drive is a hazardous operation. So be sure to back it up before repartitioning. Alternatively, I commonly partition my drive up in 1 or 2 gig chunks. But I don't use those partitions until I need them. Which gives me some space to play around with.

Also, try not to create partitions that are substantially larger than your backup media. It can be done. And there are a lot of people doing it. But doing so just tends to make life that much more unpleasant when you're first starting out. (You would eventually need to spread your backups across multiple tapes.)

Partition Constraints: I have only used IDE, because they're cheap. SCSI is also supported. Linux won't care if your partitions are primary partitions or inside an extended partition (AKA: logical drives).

However, if you are using LILO, the /boot directory needs to be located on the first 2 IDE drives (if you have only IDE), on the first 2 SCSI drives (ID-0 / ID-1) (if you have only SCSI), or on the first IDE or first SCSI (ID-0) (if you have IDE & SCSI). See the Red Hat manual for further reference.

Also, if you are using LILO, /boot must be located below cylinder 1023 of your hard disk. If you have only one partition, that entire partition should be located below cylinder 1023. One common trick to overcome this limitation is to create a separate /boot partition. If you do this, make it at least a couple of megs. (You want to leave a little extra room in /boot so you can recompile the kernel and still keep an old kernel or two lying around.)

LILO, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is the LInux LOader. It lives outside the operating system. And it is commonly used as a means of starting Linux at boot time. (It can also be used to start Windows, which is convenient for dual-boot systems.)

Swap: it is possible, except on very small systems, to use a swap file. I do not recommend swap files. Swap files tend to have slower access times than swap partitions.

You can have more than one swap partition. Red Hat 5.2 uses the older, 2.0.36 kernel. As such, space in swap partitions above 128 megabytes will not be used. Thus leading folks to utilize multiple swap partitions. I believe that this limitation has been removed in the newer 2.2.x kernels that Red Hat 6.x uses.

How much swap? I usually figure about twice my RAM. My reasoning is that if I use more than twice my RAM in swap, my Linux box will be thrashing (spending most of its time swapping) far too hard to make it worth my while. Of course, if you're running legacy code that has a core leak (i.e., that leaks memory), extra swap may buy you some more running time.

On the other hand, if I'm working with a really tiny bit of RAM (less than 16 MB), I'll generally figure 32 Megabytes as a minimum amount of swap.

[July 25, 1999] DiskDrake Announce -- free Partition magic replacement

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NTFS Resize Frequently Asked Questions

The free ntfsresize program non-destructively resizes the NTFS filesystem of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, Windows NT4 and Longhorn Beta. All NTFS versions are supported, being used by either 32-bit or 64-bit Windows. Ntfsresize is included in the ntfsprogs package, developed by the voluntary Linux-NTFS project. You don't need Linux installed to use it because there are several ways to get it run, for example by booting one of the many Linux Live CD (they run off the CD, not hard disk).

Several freely available, easy to use softwares integrated ntfsresize. Please use one of them unless you have a good reason not to do so.

Please see also the ntfsresize manual page for its capabilities. This page answers only questions that aren't described there.

Nov 20, 2004 Novell Linux Desktop 9 supports Linux installation alongside Windows non-destructively by the help of ntfsresize.


List of Articles About the Disk Defragmentor Tool

Disk Defragmenter in Windows 2000 Maintaining Peak Performance Through Defragmentation

It's essential that an operating system be able to maintain your disks at peak levels of reliability and performance. The Windows® 2000 operating system does this through a built-in system tool called Disk Defragmenter. Disk Defragmenter was developed through a collaborative effort between Microsoft Corporation and Executive Software International. Read on to learn more about disk fragmentation and defragmentation, and how Disk Defragmenter supports the maintenance of disk efficiency.

Defragmenting NTFS Volumes

Windows XP Professional provides two methods of defragmenting NTFS volumes: the Disk Defragmenter snap-in and the new defrag command-line tool. You can use either tool as part of a frequent and regular maintenance program to maintain the optimum performance of NTFS volumes.

Disk defragmentation is improved in Windows XP Professional. Both tools in Windows XP Professional can now defragment the following:

NTFS volumes that use any cluster size In Windows 2000, you can defragment only NTFS volumes that have cluster sizes smaller than or equal to 4 KB. Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows XP Professional, you can defragment volumes that use any cluster size.

Files smaller than 16 clusters Disk Defragmenter in Windows 2000 cannot move files smaller than 16 clusters, so free space smaller than 16 clusters is ignored. In Windows XP Professional, Disk Defragmenter can defragment files of any cluster size.

The MFT The master file table (MFT) is defragmented along with other files on the volume. Because the first fragment of the MFT cannot be moved, the MFT is typically contained within two fragments when sufficient space is available on the volume. In this case, the MFT is considered defragmented. If the MFT is contained within three or more fragments, Disk Defragmenter looks for free space where the MFT might fit. If sufficient free space exists, the MFT is moved as a whole (minus the first fragment). If space is not available, the MFT is not defragmented.


For more information about using Disk Defragmenter on FAT and NTFS volumes, see "Troubleshooting Disks and File Systems" in this book.

The Challenge of Defragmenting an NTFS Partition

Disk fragmentation is a timeless problem that isn't limited to PC hard disks. (Raxco Software and Executive Software both started out providing defragmentation utilities for OpenVMS systems.) Regardless of the platform, data has an inherent tendency to fragment as it's continually written to and erased from a disk. In Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0, fragmentation is present from the start-the installation process typically leaves dozens, if not hundreds, of fragmented files in its wake. To complicate matters, NTFS presents particular hurdles for defragmentation utilities.

The smallest unit of storage on an NTFS partition is the cluster. Clusters consist of one or more contiguous sectors. On my test systems, each cluster was 4KB and comprised eight 512-byte sectors. Because the 4KB clusters are the smallest discrete unit of storage, the OS writes files of 4KB or less to disk contiguously. Files larger than 4KB, however, become fragmented if no contiguous clusters are available when the OS writes the file to disk. The larger the file, the greater the likelihood that the OS will write the file in a fragmented state. Fragmented free space also increases the likelihood of fragmentation, because fewer contiguous clusters are available. Utilities defragment disks by picking up data from a portion of the disk, then reorganizing the data so that the clusters that make up a file are contiguous. The concept is simple, but NTFS complicates matters by locking its system files for exclusive use, making them unmovable through conventional means (i.e., the Microsoft MoveFile API).

The MoveFile API implements a set of rules for moving files while the OS is active. By nature, the MoveFile API presents challenges because it requires that the OS move data 16 clusters at a time. Therefore, even for online defragmentation, utilities that use the MoveFile API must do extra work to arrange files contiguously. A more serious problem, however, is that the MoveFile API contains no provisions for moving system files. The inability to manipulate these system files decreases the effectiveness of defragmentation utilities. A highly fragmented pagefile, for example, becomes a huge obstacle because it fragments available free space, and a defragmentation utility can't find contiguous space to place data files. To completely understand this problem, you need to look at the characteristics of specific system files.

Inside Windows NT Disk Defragmenting

Welcome to the first installment of my regular column that explores the "guts" of Windows NT. I plan to cover topics ranging from high-level issues such as the architecture of NT to low-level issues such as details of algorithms NT employs. If you have a particular NT internals topic you'd like to see this column demystify, please drop me an email.

This month's topic is NT's disk defragmentation support. Disk defragmentation products are hot sellers, and many people want to know how these products work. After defining disk defragmentation, I'll provide a synopsis of the history of NT defragmentation products, and describe the support Microsoft added to NT 4.0's file systems specifically for use by defragmentation tools.

Sysinternals Freeware - Information for Windows NT and Windows 2000 - Inside Windows NT Disk Defragmenting

The first defragmentation support for Windows NT was introduced by Executive Software. Their Diskeeper product was initially released for Windows NT 3.51, and because the NTFS and FAT file systems for NT 3.51 have no native functions that provide for cluster movement, Executive Software was forced to purchase a source license for NT and to create and ship custom versions of NTFS and FAT, as well as NT itself, along with their defragmentation code. The divergence of Executive Software's version of NT from Microsoft's version resulted in severe compatibility problems for Diskeeper's users when NT 3.51 Service Pack releases were produced. It was also undoubtedly a support headache for Microsoft, because unsuspecting users would many times not realize that problems they encountered were the result of Diskeeper, and not a Service Pack.

With the development of NT 4.0, Executive Software and Microsoft had a chance to introduce native support for disk defragmentation. According to Executive Software, they requested specific functionality in NTFS and FAT for cluster reallocation, which Microsoft added for them. Just before the release of NT 4.0's retail version, Executive Software made its Diskeeper 2.0 product Beta version available for download from its Web site.

Volume managers

Logical Volume Manager

SSA helpful hints

The Vinum volume manager


storedge volume manager

VERITAS Volume Manager -- courses

Veritas Volume Manager 3.0.4

The latest tidbits on Sun deals and product news -- DiskSuite-Volume Manager migration service now available as Sun expands its sales of Veritas product line

San Francisco (June 10, 1997) Sun has confirmed a report, first published in the April 1997 issue of Unix Insider (see Resources below), that it has put together a migration service to "assist customers migrating their mission-critical data from Solstice DiskSuite control" to the Sun Enterprise Volume Manager, which begins shipping today.

Sun Enterprise Volume Manager is a more full-featured version of the Veritas product than Sun had previously been shipping with its storage arrays. It can be used, for example with EMC or Clarion hardware -- something the light version couldn't do.

Sun maintains that the fact that it is offering a migration program from DiskSuite to Volume Manager does not mean that DiskSuite is dead.

Volume Manager is one of a number of Veritas Software storage management products that Sun has recently begun to resell -- generally under the Sun brand. As of next week, Sun will ship the Veritas File System, as well as the "Sun Enterprise"-branded NetBackup, HSM (for hierarchical storage management), and Library Monitor products.

Gartner Group research analyst Mark Nicolette says the Veritas product line will give Sun customers some "arious Veritas products. He says, for example, that eventually customers might be able "to tightly integrate snapshot functions from the file system with backup processes that might be occurring through NetBackup."

Sun senior manager Scott Hansbury says that true integration of the product sets will enable users "to have a tape library real-time talking to your backup software, real-time talking to your volume management software, real-time talking to your server code." Innovations like this are not expected to ship until the end of 1997.

Though the migration program seems somewhat less than formal right now. SunService marketing manager Victor Nemechek says that it essentially boils down to the fact that his people can get the job done. "We have expertise in Enterprise Volume Manager and a lot of other volume management products," he says, as well as access to utility "programs that Veritas and SMCC development teams use to check the data and provide information that is helpful when you are doing the migration."

Pricing on these products and services will "vary depending upon customer configuration," according to Sun. Sources close to Sun say that the migration program will be expanded to include promotional pricing for Sun Enterprise Volume Manager sometime around July 1997.

Quick Reference AIX Logical Volume Manager and Veritas Volume Manager

Disk management with SUN's Volume Manager

Veritas says Sun will dump DiskSuite

Solaris 2.6 Administrator Certification Chapter 3 - Computer Books Online

FAQ's - Engineering Computer Network, Purdue University


Performance problems with vxfs on Solaris 2.6

13 August 1999

Veritas supports Solaris, AS/400, and NetWare

Veritas has begun shipping 3.0.1 of Veritas Volume Manager and version 3.3.2 of Veritas File System for Solaris, which now support Solaris version 7 as well as versions 2.6 and 2.5.1.

Volume Manager provides on-line disk and storage subsystems management for enterprise customers, as well as for those customers deploying storage area networks, including disk usage analysis, RAID techniques, and the dynamic reconfiguration of disk storage while a system is online.

The Online Relayout feature allows users to incrementally grow volumes online or reconfigure RAID layouts online while maintaining application access to data. The SmartSync feature included in the new Volume Manager provides increased availability of Oracle volumes, by resynchronizing only changed data within a mirrored configuration. Version 3.0.1 of Volume Manager also adds the Snapshot feature for RAID-5 configurations, allowing a point-in-time image of a volume to be made for later backup via an application.

File System provides transaction-based journalling for quick recovery in case of a system crash, as well as on-line backup capabilities and on-line resizing. Fast file recovery is also claimed.

Both products include the Storage Administrator GUI, enabling platform-independent administration of the two.

And there's now a facility to migrate data among different versions of Volume Manager during a product upgrade. Other features include striping and selective disk mirroring to help provide application load balancing.

File System's automated performance tuning interface automatically tunes I/O policy to match Volume Manager's data layout. The product's on-line directory optimization further increases performance via an improved file system layout.

Disk Partitioning

The REAL Multiboot - Trombettworks the technique that uses Rsnish Partition Manager (RPM)

Planning the partition table
Before beginning to install OSes you need to plan a good partition table on the paper, as the one I have shown above. Remembering that all the bootable partitions must start below 8GB, so you should put all the bootable partitions (the various OSes system partitions) before and all the data partition after. Help yourself with the short hints I have written in the "Experiences" paragraph above and plan starting/ending cylinders for all your partitions.

In order to associate the desired size to the Cylinder range you can use RPM. Use [+] and [-] keys on the ending Cyl and watch the partition size. Remember that nothing will be saved until you press F2 and even if you do, data on the disk will never be changed until you seriously do something like formatting the partition. Changing the MBR leaves the bytes on the HD intact.

You need to plan the MBR images too. What is an MBR image? The thing you save by pressing [F2] :-).

When you plan to install a new OS you need to decide how many partitions it will usually see. In my case the two OSes of the example were built to see at least their partition and the common partition (the partition for RPM itself is ignored by the OSes even if present in MBR). I have set the system partition in the first placement, so that it becomes the C:\ drive, and Common partition in the second MBR placement so that it becomes the D:\ drive. If I want at any time to make visible another partition to that OS I can put it in MBR#3 [3rd place in MBR] and it will become the E:\ drive.

If I have I installed programs for (= from) that OS in the shared "Common" partition, then it's very important that the Common partition is present at each startup of that OS. If you remove it from MBR, or change its MBR placement putting another partition before it, the drive letter would change and all your links to programs or data to D:\somedir\somefile would ALL be dangling!! The OS is likely not to boot properly.

For this reason what have I done? All my installed OSes have the Common partition in MBR#2 [and I put their system partition in MBR#1 so the OS is installed in the standard C: partition]. So I never make mistakes. I force the placement number 2 for the Common partition (hit button [2] in the proper column in RPM) and I almost never touch that line. The OS system partition is forced in MBR#1 and I only change the starting/ending Cylinder numbers (and sometimes the Filesystem type) when I change OS, so the "active" flag and the "force MBR#1" flag always stay there.

An OS as a rescue disk:

The partition at 1-50 (Win98 secondary installation) in my partition table is a rescue OS. I use it as a rescue disk for all the other Windows operating system which have problems. Like this I can access the other OSes partitions from the outside and add/replace files and the like to fix it.
My rescue_partition is small, and all the software I have installed in that OS (only few programs) are installed in the system partition. So this (and Linux too) is the only OS for which I don't need the Common partition to be present when I boot.
This is important because I have the MBR#2 and MBR#3 both available for other partitions. In this way I can even copy one partition to another using Windows programs. For this purpose I would suggest you Powercopy2.x because it has been made for this purpose and it's extremely fast. You can download it from my homepage. It has some problems in copying files which are opened, so if you use it to copy full partitions it's a good idea not to boot from the source or destination partitions -> use the rescue OS.

Why have I chosen Win9x as the rescue OS?
- It's easy to install
- It fits in a small partition because you can compress it with drivespace afterwards and then you have some hundreds of new megabytes to install software on the system partition.
- It can read Drivespace compressed partitions of other OSes. Since I always use Drivespace compression for system partitions of Win9x OSes I needed a Drivespace-enabled rescue-OS.
x It doesn't read NTFS by itself... for this reason I have used NTFS nowhere.

So another good thing you can do could be writing some notes on the various OSes requirements on the paper: Do they require some specific partitions to be present together with them in the MBR? In which placement?

Installing Operating Systems
After you have fully planned and written your partition table on the paper and you have thought a bit at the MBR image for each OS, you can begin installing your OSes. How do you effectively install one? The following is a good way for all Windows operating systems:

Reboot your computer and enter into the RPM. Put in the MBR only the system partition of the OS you intend to install (whether the RPM partition is present or not in this case it's OK anyway). If it's not formatted it's even better. Save the MBR image. Insert the installation CD of your new OS and RESET the computer so that it boots from CD.

The OS will scan everything (= nothing) and then asks you where you intend to install it. The NT-like operating systems will ask you if you want to install them in that unformatted partition or in the unpartitioned outer space. DON'T install them in the unpartitioned space because you will overwrite your other partitions! The OS will not see them but you KNOW that they are present!! Tell the OS to install itself in the partition you have created for it. The OS will format the partition if needed and then install itself there.

The OS will create the Boot Sector in its partition so that it becomes bootable as it needs to be.

The OS will overwrite the IPL in the hard disk which means that you will not see Ranish Boot Manager at computer startup anymore. Don't worry: just take the RPM diskette and reinstall it, Text mode, same cylinders for its partition as it was before.

Now that the OS is fully installed, for the next boots you can add in the MBR all the partitions you want, like a Common partition and so on.

I have had some problems with Linux with this installation method: it seems it cannot see partitions added to MBR after installation. To install Linux you will probably need to set the full MBR image before the beginning of the installation, and not only its two partitions. (The Linux OS partition and the Swap partition: Linux needs two. I suggest you to always put the Common partition in MBR#2 for consistency and so the Swap partition will go in MBR#3). UPDATE: Linux people have then told me that I only needed to *mount* the additional partitions which were added after the Linux installation. I hope it works. I don't know I have not tried to install it again since I don't really need Linux at the moment.

Modifying the partition table: moving and resizing
The best thing would be of course if you guess the perfect partition table at the beginning, but you cannot foresee the future and so there can come a time in which you need to shrink/delete a partition in order to enlarge another one.

If you want to delete a partition the method is easy: use the rubber and delete it from your partition table on the paper!
If you want to shrink, move or enlarge a partition I can suggest you another excellent program: The Partition Resizer (really Freeware this time!!) It can properly move & resize Fat 12, 16, 32 partitions and at least move all the others. The program is really excellent and extremely safe. It can even recover from a power-failure during a resize or move!

So please don't brutally cut the partitions as suggested in the RPM documentation but use The Partition Resizer instead. Like this you will not have the side effect of the wrong size shown by Windows. RPM documentation says that a Scandisk is enough to make Windows understand the new size, but I heard of many people for which this was not enough. So please really use The Partition Resizer.

Note1: Partitions which don't begin at (Head,sector) = (0,1) or don't end at (Head,sector) = (254,63) are NOT resizable nor movable! So this is a very strong point for which you should always use those standard settings when you make a partition.

Note2: The program correctly resizes partitions but it's not able to change the partition cluster size in the same reversible way. So you have some range for resizing but you will not be able to enlarge the partitions above the limit imposed by the current cluster size. E.g. a Fat 16 partition with a 16K cluster size cannot grow to more than 1GB. So when you create the partitions give a look to the maximum limit you are imposing them with the current cluster size. If you want to create a partition with the same size but larger clusters: create it with the default cluster size and then modify the cluster size using The Partition Resizer. Warning: content will be destroyed so do this before inserting data in it.

Mantaining content while modifying the cluster size is indeed possible but will require a dreadful work: You will need to shrink the partition P as much as you can, then create a small partition Q near to it with the desired cluster size, then progressively move all the files from P to Q. Shrink P at each step and enlarge Q. At the end kill P and occupy all the desired space with Q.

On the contrary there is no minimum size when shrinking a partition. [Of couse you cannot make it littler than its total occupied space!] If you see you are not able to shrink a partition as desired, it's because there are files which occupy clusters at the end. You will need to defrag it before trying again. If you see that some clusters stay at the end and don't move while there is free space before, they are probably damaged files which Scandisk cannot detect but Defrag cannot move. It happened to me! You will need to find a more powerful disk-scanner or a more powerful defragger. As last resort you can write to me, there is another way to do it.

When you resize or move a partition seems a very good idea to me to put in MBR the neighbouring partitions too: the one before and the one after it. So you will see them in The Partition Resizer and the program will not allow you to erroneously overwrite one of them with the resizing one.

The Partition Resizer works with LBA values for partition placements while you are using CHS values in your partition table on the paper. So you will need to use RPM to convert the values CHS<->LBA. Write down the new desired LBA values for the partition before starting The Partition Resizer.

Questions and answers

Q: What's the use of the Text boot manager?
A: No use. it's only there to allow me pressing "0" to access the Partition Manager.

Q: I absolutely need to have 4 custom partitions simultaneously present in MBR to do a very special thing. How can I do with the RPM partition? It occupies one MBR placement!
A: Delete its MBR entry (= uninstall Ranish Boot Manager) so you can use all the MBR to put 4 custom partitions simultaneously. When you have finished reinstall RPM Text Boot Manager in the same place using the RPM bootable diskette. Until you have your paper partition table nothing is ever lost.

Comparisons to other programs: LILO, BOOTSTAR and BOOTIT
LILO compared to RPM + Trombettworks workaround: [I say LILO but it's the same with the other 100 similar boot managers in the world] LILO loses because:

  1. No more than 4 primary partitions, so it's not guaranteed you can have more than 4 OSes. (e.g. Windows requires a primary partition).
  2. If you remove one partition all the partition letters slide, messying up all the links to programs you had, which means deeply influencing the other OSes. Same if you want to add a partition in the middle. Substantially, if you want to add a new OS, most of the times you can only delete the content of a partition (remove a current OS) and replace it.
  3. All OSes are visible one to the other. There might be problems in installing an OS twice. E.g. Win98 will refuse to install if it sees a fat32 partition already present. You can work this around by changing the active partition, nevertheless like this you are using two of the only 4 active partitions you have.
  4. * In short: all the OSes deeply influence one the other, you are almost fixed with the initial configuration, and you limit the total number of OSes you can install. This prevents you doing a REAL multi-boot.
  5. 4) Many other things I don't know. :-)

There are lots of fans of the LILO boot manager, who see these described problems as secondary [1,2] or enough workaroundable [3]. If you are a good LILO user you surely can decide by yourself. I still can't see real advantages in using LILO instead of this method though, while I would fear the lack of reversibility and reconfigurability.

... ... ...

Ranish gets my "Coolest guy in the world" award for giving RPM away for free!

Help2Go - How to Repartition Hard Drive without Reformatting

How to partition and format a hard disk in Windows XP

  • Ranish Partition Manager Ranish Partition Manager is a hard disk partitioning tool that allows you to create, copy, resize primary and extended partitions. The later versions of the Partition Manager (2.43 and above) apparently allow you to work with up to 30 primary partitions. Also available from that same site is the XOSL (Extended Operating System Loader) Boot Manager that gives you the ability to choose which operating system (OS) you wish to boot from when you start your system. I think it works under DOS, so you can simply put it on a DOS startup disk, reboot to the disk, and work on your partitions from there.
  • Free Partition and Hard Disk Backup and Imaging Software

    Free DVD and CD Burners and Copying Software

    Free Defragmentation Programs / Free Defrag

  • Random Findings

  • Etc


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