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A partition, or disk partition, is a logical division on a hard disk drive (HDD) that enables a PC to have different drives. A partition divides the hard drive into several logical storage units on one drive but functions as multiple drives. A software program called a partition editor can be used to construct, delete, resize, and control a partition on the HDD.
Partitions can also be referred to as slices.
On Microsoft operating systems, a hard disk is divided into drives. The first drive has one drive in the partition called the primary drive and is generally "C:", which is the active partition that boots the OS. Extended partitions can be added such as "D:" and "E:" have more than one drive and are used for other storage such as programs, data files, CD-ROM, or USB drives.
A Unix OS such as Linux and some older versions of Mac OS X use multiple partitions on a disk from secondary storage called swap partitioning or paging. This type of partition scheme allows directories with a file system hierarchy standard (FHS) or home directory to be assigned their own file systems. A typical Linux system has two partitions that hold a file system that is attached to “/”, which is located in the root directory or swap partition. Generally, an unlimited number of partitions can be created in a Linux OS. A Mac OS X system uses one partition for the whole file system. It uses a swap file method within the file system instead of a swap partition.