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primary partition: At one point in time, hard disks were designed such that they could be divided into only four sections ("partitions"). When the need or desire for more partitions became obvious, designers took one of the partitions and allowed it to point to another data block where additional partitions could be defined. Now the original three partitions are known as primary partitions, the additional partitions that are now possible are called logical partitions. The primary partition that points to the additional partitions is typically known as the extended partition, and does not necessarily have to be the fourth primary partition. You can have less than three primary partitions, and still have logical partitions.

On IDE hard drives, up to 63 partitions can be created (3 primary and 60 logical), on SCSI hard drives, up to 15 partitions can be created (3 primary and 12 logical). Windows and dos have to be installed on a primary partition, but they can store programs and data on logical partitions.

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  • RandyKramer - 14 Jan 2002
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