Oct 062002


Using “fdisk” does not have to be a difficult chore. If you know what to expect, it is a rather easy task.

Note: If you are “clean” installing Windows 2000, XP Home or XP Pro, and do not wish to multi-boot your system, you do not have to run fdisk before hand as, during the install process, options for creating partitions are built in.

WARNING: Using fdisk to “resize” or recreate a partition will effectively destroy what ever information you have on your hard drive. Do not use fdisk if you wish to save any information that it may contain.

1. Boot using a Floppy: (Image 1.1)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.1

Image 1.1

I use a Windows Me created boot floppy to run fdisk because:

  • It contains the “latest” fdisk utility
  • The boot floppy has built in CD ROM support

I always start with CD ROM support, so I picked option 2.


2. Virus Warning: (Image 1.2)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.2

Image 1.2

If no partitions are detected, such as a new hard drive, the Windows Me boot disk is rather helpful in telling you this fact. At this point, do not be alarmed at the “virus warning” statement, as it is generic.

At the “command prompt,” in this example, A:, type “fdisk” without the quotes.


3. Large Disk Support: (Image 1.3)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.3

Image 1.3

Unless you have a need, ensure that you enable “Large Disk Support.”

Why would you “not” want this? If you have any requirements for DOS, Win3.1, Win95, or WinNT to access the partitions, you may not be able to if the partitions are greater than 2.1 GB.

I selected “Y” for yes.


4. Main Menu: (Image 1.4)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.1

Image 1.4

The main menu offers few, but powerful options.

If you have a new drive or one that has previous partitions already deleted, you may jump to that section, below, but it would be a good idea to look over this process, just in case you will need to perform it.

Here, I selected “3” to “Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive.”

You may also select “4” to display current partition information.


5. Extended Space: (Image 1.5)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.5

Image 1.5

If you have more than one partition already defined, you will need to delete the ones located in the “Extended” space.

Select “3” to do just that.


6. Choose Partition to Delete: (Image 1.6)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.6

Image 1.6

Here, you may choose which, if any, partitions you need to delete. If you want to resize your “Primary” partition, you will need to delete all existing partitions, redefine the Primary partition, then recreate (described below) the Extended partition section.

I chose to delete the partition (drive) marked as “E:” here. Choose what is best for your setup.


7. Are you sure? (Image 1.7)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.7

Image 1.7

A prompt will appear to ensure that you know what you are doing. You must type the “Volume” name of the partition, hit enter, then choose “Y” to continue with the delete.

Delete as many as you desire. After clearing out the Extended partition, you may delete the primary partition from the main menu and resize it as necessary.


8. Create Primary Partition: (Image 1.8)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.8

Image 1.8

Here, we need to create the Primary partition by selecting “1” from the main fdisk menu.


9. Create Primary DOS Partition: (Image 1.9)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.9

Image 1.9

If no partitions have been defined, select “1” to create Primary DOS Partition.

If you have already created a Primary Partition, skip the next few steps.


10. Scan Hard Drive: (Image 1.10)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.10

Image 1.10

The hard disk will now be scanned searching for problems.

Take note: This process may take a some time, a very long time on “large” drives.


11. All available space? (Image 1.11)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.11

Image 1.11

If you wish to create the Primary partition using all available space, select “Y” at the prompt.

Otherwise, choose “N” to define something smaller.


12. Scan Hard Drive: (Image 1.12)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.12

Image 1.12

Again, the drives integrity is scanned.

No one ever accused fdisk of being a “speedy” solution.


13. Enter Size in MB: (Image 1.13)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.13

Image 1.13

Enter in the amount of space, in MegaBytes, that you wish to use for your Primary partition.


14. Updated partition information: (Image 1.14)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.14

Image 1.14

After choosing an amount, the partition information is displayed. Here, I choose “1000 MB” for my Primary partition.

Hit “ESC” to continue with fdisk.


15. Make active partition: (Image 1.15)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.15

Image 1.15

A warning will appear under the main menu explaining the importance of an “active” partition. Really, this is no longer required, but for compatibility’s sake, I choose to make a partition active, anyway.

Select “2” to set the active partition.


16. Choose active partition: (Image 1.16)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.16

Image 1.16

Setting the active partition is as easy as choosing the number next to “C:.”

In this example, it is “1.”


17. Create Extended DOS Partition: (Image 1.17)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.17

Image 1.17

You now can create the “extended partition” portion of the hard drive. It is subject to debate whether this step is required, but, once again, for compatibility purposes, I choose to do so.

Select “2” to Create the Extended DOS Partition.


18. Choose space allocated: (Image 1.18)

 fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.18

Image 1.18

Choose how much space the Extended partition is allowed to use.

Under usual circumstances, choose all. Your requirements may vary, but I have yet to find a reason “not” to choose all of the remaining space.


19. Updated partition information: (Image 1.19)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.19

Image 1.19

The partition information will be displayed, including your previous “Primary” and now your “Extended” partition information.

Hit “ESC” to continue.


20. Scan Hard Drive: (Image 1.20)

 fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.20

Image 1.20

Once again, the drive will be verified.

This may take some time.


21. Enter Size in MB: (Image 1.21)

 fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.21

Image 1.21

Choose the amount of each additional partition, up to the maximum size.

Here, I chose 2000 MB.


22. Updated partition information: (Image 1.22)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.22

Image 1.22

The Partition information is displayed, as well as drive integrity confirmed.

At this point, you may continue defining partitions, or exit out and define them using the setup program of a “newer” OS, like Linux, Win2k, or XP. Again, Win9x/Me does not have the option of partition creation during setup.


23. Additional Partitions: (Image 1.23)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.23

Image 1.23

Here, I defined 3 additional partitions, not including the Primary one, taking up all of the available space.

Hit “ESC” to continue.


24. Reboot System: (Image 1.24)

fdisk Usage Guide Image 1.24

Image 1.24

You are prompted with a “restart” message.

This is a vital step. Ensure that you do restart the computer before continuing with the installation of any OS. I even power down the computer, but that is not necessary.


You can now continue on with additional OS Install Guides I have available.I hope this has given you some insight as to what to expect while using fdisk.