How To Partition An External Hard Drive in Windows 7

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Creating external drive partitions is extremely easy to do in Windows 7. Partitioning becomes essential when a user either wants to remove data from the drive or change the file system format so the drive is compatible in Windows. Windows NT and up primarily use the NTFS file system format.

The basic idea behind creating multiple hard drive partitions is to allow different aspects of the drive to be assigned to different functions. Many people will have a partition for music and another partition for video. Others will separate partitions to serve specific functions such as a primary bootable partition and a system partition.

No matter the application, using the built in Windows 7 partition manager is easy to do and this guide will walk you through creating your own partitions on an external USB hard drive. This tactic is popular for users creating a partitioned drive for a friend or family member prior to giving it to them to use.


This article illustrates how to create external hard drive partitions using the Windows 7 disk management utility.

How To Partition An External Hard Drive in Windows 7:


1. Right click on Computer and select Manage.

Step 1

2. Under Storage, choose Disk Management.

Step 2

3. If a volume already exists on your external drive, Right click on the drive and choose Delete Volume… (Warning: This will delete all of the data on the disk)

Step 3

4. Confirm data deletion on the volume by clicking Yes.

Step 4

5. Right click on the Unallocated volume and choose New Simple Volume…

Step 5

6. Click Next to start the wizard, then enter the size of your first partition into the Simple volume size in MB category, then select Next.

Step 6

7. Select which drive letter you’d like to assign to the volume (this can be changed later), then click Next.

Step 7

8. Choose your File system and Allocation unit size. Most will leave this default as the primary file system for Windows is NTFS. Then label the volume and choose Next.

Step 8

9. Verify your volume information and click Finish.

Step 9

10. The volume will then format temporarily and the information should be updated in the Disk Management utility as shown below.

Step 10


Partitioning an external drive is a breeze in Windows 7, this technique has been simplified over many years of complex disk management utilities. Many of the original partitioning utilities ran on command prompt and text based commands.


Craig Chamberlin

Craig received his degree in Informatics with a cognate in Business from Indiana University: South Bend in 2008. Craig lives with his wife and daughter in South Bend, Indiana near Notre Dame. Craig is currently employed by Precision Electric, Inc. and acts as the chief Information Technology Manager. With a passion for teaching and technology, he founded The PCMichiana Tech Help Show in Fall 2009. His focus is teaching users of all backgrounds how to learn technology while having fun.

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