How to Make Multiple Partitions on an External USB Hard Drive

Written by chris davis-falco
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How to Make Multiple Partitions on an External USB Hard Drive
Like internal hard drives, external hard drives can have multiple partitions. (external hardrive image by Photoeyes from Fotolia.com)

Creating multiple partitions on an external USB hard drive is possible and easily done in most operating systems. Created partitions appear as separate drives when assessed by a user. Partitions are beneficial because they allow users to perform drive maintenance faster, segregate operating system files and program files and organise data more efficiently. Partitions are easily created using the two most popular operating systems for personal computers, Windows and MacOS.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Connect the external hard drive to a computer running Windows using a USB cable. Some hard drives are also able to connect using a FireWire cable.

    How to Make Multiple Partitions on an External USB Hard Drive
    External hard drives usually connect to a computer with a USB cable. (usb cable image by Sid Viswakumar from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Turn on the external hard drive if this needs to be done manually.

  3. 3

    Wait for Windows to detect the external hard drive. The hard drive is ready to use when Windows displays a message.

  4. 4

    Right-click "Computer" on the desktop, then select "Manage." In some versions of Windows, "Computer" may also be called "My Computer."

  5. 5

    Select "Disk Management" from the Computer Management window.

  6. 6

    Select the external hard drive.

  7. 7

    Delete any existing partitions on the external hard drive. This will delete any data currently on the drive--if there is important data on the drive, back it up before completing this step. Right-click on the external drive's letter. Select "Delete Partition." Repeat this for each existing partition.

  8. 8

    Create a new partition by right-clicking on the external hard drive in the lower pane and selecting "Create Partition."

  9. 9

    Choose a primary or extended partition. If the external hard drive will have more than four partitions, select extended, otherwise select primary.

  10. 10

    Enter the desired size of the partition.

  11. 11

    Format the new partition by right-clicking on the partition and selecting "Format."

  12. 12

    Create a label for the hard drive and select the type of formatting desired.

  13. 13

    Repeat to create another partition on the external hard drive.

  1. 1

    Connect the external hard drive to a computer running Mac OS using a USB cable. Some external hard drives can also connect using FireWire.

    How to Make Multiple Partitions on an External USB Hard Drive
    While not as common as USB, some external hard drives connect using FireWire. (firewire macro image by Adkok from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Turn on the external hard drive if this needs to be done manually.

  3. 3

    Open the "Disk Utility" application.

  4. 4

    Select the external hard drive from the left pane.

  5. 5

    Select the "Partition" tab on the top of the main pane.

  6. 6

    Choose the desired options for partitioning the disk, including the size, type and number of partitions.

  7. 7

    Exit the Disk Utility application.

Tips and warnings

  • Versions of Windows older than Windows XP may require drivers to be installed to access an external hard drive.
  • Deleting or formatting partitions will make all existing data on the drive inaccessible. Be sure to make backups of any important data on the drive before formatting or changing partitions.

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