Data Fidelity

Beginner’s Guide to Hard Disk Partitioning Basics with GParted

This tutorial will help you maintain your computer’s hard disk drive using GParted made easy to practice for both Ubuntu (GNU/Linux) and Windows users. We included here only actions needed by most computer users such as reading the information, formatting, deleting, unmounting and labelling. We hope this is suitable for everyone who wants to install systems in dualboot mode as well as reformatting any partition they need to in any kind of disk storages. Let’s practice and good luck!

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– A computer 

– A GParted program

– An Ubuntu livecd or liveusb

– If you have Ubuntu livecd, GParted is already included inside.

How to practice this tutorial 


You can practice this tutorial in any of two methods:

First is to format disk partitions from a running Ubuntu installed in same computer. If you don’t have GParted yet, install it by command line $ sudo apt install gparted. You can format everything except the partition where the Ubuntu system is installed. We call this internal method. 

Second is to format disk partitions from a livecd or liveusb of Ubuntu running. This method allows you to do all the disk actions explained below including the exception above. To do this, you should have an Ubuntu livecd (read this tutorial to have one). We call this external method.

1. Read and identify disk drives


First thing to do is to read the information.  

To center-top, the titlebar will always show what hard disk drive selected at the moment GParted running (in this example /dev/sda). 

To top-right, the selector will show currently selected hard disk (in this example /dev/sda) and it should be the same as the titlebar. 

To left column, if you enabled View -> Device Information, you can read more details about currently selected hard disk drive. In this example, our drive is ATA QEMU HARDDISK by 20GibiByte size and GPT partition table.

In the main area, there is the table of contents of currently selected hard disk drive. It has 6 columns ranging from Partition, File System, Size, Used, Unused, and Flags. In this example, currently we have an unallocated space in our hard disk [sda].

2. Write Partition Table 


To write partition table into a disk, first select a disk drive to top-right corner. Then pick GParted menu Device -> Partition Table -> select one choice -> OK. Please note this will erase all data in the storage along with all partitions if any.

Choice 1: msdos, also known as Master Boot Record (MBR), suitable for hard disk drive under 2TB or a 32-bit operating system installation (typically older technology from 2011 backwards).

Choice 2: gpt, short for GUID Partition Table, suitable for hard disk drive over 2TB or a 64-bit operating system installation especially for newer technology from 2012 onwards.

3. Create a new partition


To create a partition in a disk drive, select an unallocated space -> right-click -> New ->  Format dialog will show like below.

In the formatting dialog, select one file system choice (see below) -> OK -> dialog closed -> click Apply in the toolbar -> OK -> finished.

Choices of file systems:

EXT4 is for Ubuntu and GNU/Linux system disk as well as data disk drives. 

EXT2 is like EXT4 but more suitable if you install the OS into usb flash drive as hard disk replacement. Many of our tutorials make use of this one.

NTFS is for Windows system disk as well as data disk drives. 

FAT32 is for usb flash drive. 

LINUX-SWAP is for swap partition used with Ubuntu or any GNU/Linux system. 

4. Delete an existing partition


To delete a partition in a disk drive, select the partition -> right-click -> Delete -> click Apply on the toolbar -> -> confirmation dialog will show -> select Apply -> partition deleted -> partition now became unallocated. Please note this will erase all data in the partition.


5. Format an existing partition


To format an existing partition in a disk drive is to write a new filesystem into a partition except added with a step, that is, Unmount. It means to release active partition so that it is ready to be formatted (otherwise it is cannot). To format an existing partition, first right-click a partition -> Unmount -> partition unmounted -> delete it (see section 4). Then, create a new partition (see section 3) from the unallocated. The choices of filesystem are explained already above (see section 3). Please note formatting will erase all data in the partition.

6. Format an entire hard disk or SSD or flash drive

To format an entire storage is to write a new partition table into it. Please note this will erase all data in the storage. To do so, select a disk drive from the top-right selector and create new partition table (see section 2).


7. Rename disk partitions

Naming disk partitions strongly helps the user recognize and distinguish between his/her own disk partitions. For example, to quickly identify Ubuntu and Windows partitions in one computer, one should name them properly. See example below. You should be able to distinguish which one’s Ubuntu’s and which one’s Windows’, right?

To rename partitions for users, first Unmount them then right-click a partition -> Label File System -> dialog will show -> write a clear name like “C: Windows” for Windows partition -> OK -> close GParted -> open Nautilus file manager to see the results. See example below. 

8. Create swap partition 

This is for people who use computer with Ubuntu and GNU/Linux. To create swap partition is the same as creating any partition (see section 3 and 5). To do so, make sure you have enough unnalocated space and then right-click unallocated space -> New -> creation dialog will show -> select file system LINUX-SWAP -> OK -> dialog will close -> click Apply -> OK -> swap partition created.



GParted Official Website

GParted explained in Wikipedia

GParted User Manual

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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