Windows XP Home, Media and Professional
Something is included on your Windows XP computer that most people don't even know exists. It's called Computer Management. And one feature of Computer Management will come in really handy one day if you ever decide to install a second hard drive. And, speaking of second hard drives, it's a really great idea that we highly recommend. Why? Because putting in a second hard drive is relatively easy and gives you many options you don't have with a single hard drive. For instance, if you have only one drive and one partition on that drive and that partition contains Windows (which it will if you have only one drive and one partition) and Windows goes belly up, guess what? There's a really good chance you're going to lose everything on that drive, including any personal files, photos, etc. But if you keep your personal stuff separate from and on another drive besides the one that Windows lives on, and Windows goes belly up, your data is still happily alive and well on the other hard drive. You can format the Windows drive, reinstall Windows and Lo! and Behold! all your precious pictures of Bluto and Samuel are right there waiting for you in all their radiant beauty.
So what does Computer Management have that you can use to make installing a second hard drive easier? It has something called "Disk Management". After you install your second hard drive (read the instructions that come with the hard drive carefully, because if you do getting the hard drive physically installed in your computer is fairly easy - you don't need to pay someone to do it) and fire up Windows, you'll probably gasp when you find out that Windows doesn't recognize your second hard drive.
Well, that's easy to explain, that brand new drive you installed was not formatted yet. So Windows can't see it. But Disk Management can see it. And it can format it for you in a jiffy using something called "Quick Format".
Here's how you find Computer Management and its Disk Management feature: Click Start, then Control Panel, then "Administrative Tools", then click "Computer Management" (DUH!). Once Computer Management opens, click Disk Management. Whoa! There's your hard drives, external drives, and CD drives all listed. If you had installed a second physical hard drive, it would show up there but wouldn't show up as drive letter and the file system would say FAT. Not because your new hard drive is FAT, because it's not currently formatted in such a way as to be readable by Windows. If you right-click your new drive, you'll see an option that says "Format". Use it.
See? You have choices to make. You can give it a name. We like aviation style names for some reason. Because this is "K" drive we call it Kilo. We've chosen the NTFS file system (and this is what you should choose because in Windows XP it's better than FAT32). Leave the allocation size set at default unless you're smarter than us and know a good reason to fool with that setting :). If it's a brand new hard drive (which is what this tip is all about) you can check "Perform a quick format" unless you like things that take a long time. Once you've made your choices your new hard drive will be properly formatted and ready to use. And you should use it to store all your important photos, documents, files, etc., for the reasons already stated.
Oh, and one final word. You're probably thinking - what about that CD that came with my new hard drive? Well, that's a good question. For formatting a second new hard drive, it's easy to use Windows Computer Management's Disk Management feature - trust us. However, that CD that came with your new hard drive is very useful. After you've formatted your new hard drive, put that CD in your CD drive, and use its partition manager to partition your new hard drive into 2 or more partitions. And if you have to ask why would I want to partition my hard drive, then you probably don't need to partition your new hard drive. Partitions can help you organize your data - if you want to know why :)
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