Partitioning was initially developed by Bill Gates and Marc McDonald. The first partitioning system that was developed was called the File Allocation Table. The File Allocation Table, or FAT, is a file system architecture for computers that is still commonly employed on a good number of computer systems and memory cards, like those that are used with digital cameras. Presently, there are different partition types available to consumers. NTFS partitions are very distinct from FAT file system partitions, both structurally and functionally. Despite these differences, externally, they both conform to the universal rules that are applicable to all partitions. These universal rules are a necessity, because it must be ensured that the typical PC boot process can work with an NTFS partition in the same way that it works with a FAT partition. One important thing to consider when making a partition is the partition size. The type of partitioning system you are using has everything to do with partition volume, volume size, partition shrink, and extend size capacities of your computer.
Here are some basic rules on how to find the maximum partition size for your computer, depending on the type of partitioning system that you are using:
- Know your system. From the very beginning, NTFS was designed to be a file system that is suitable for extended use in business and corporate environments; as such, it should come as no surprise that the NTFS file system allows relatively large-sized partitions to be generated. It is worthy to note that during the time that Windows NT was made available, the only versions of FAT that were in existence were FAT12 and FAT16. FAT32 was yet to be created. The highest partition size of the FAT16 system under Windows NT is 2 Gigabytes, utilizing 32-Kilobyte clusters. Alternately, it can also handle 4 Gigabytes, utilizing the atypical 64-kiB clusters, which unfortunately, are not supported by some versions of Windows. Taking the voluminous storage needs of businesses into consideration, and the fact that numerous businesses servers use RAID to create even bigger volumes, these very limited maximum sizes would have been absolutely objectionable in the NTFS system.
- Be wary of large numbers. Under the present NTFS, the maximum size of a partition, or a volume, is actually 264. That is tantamount to 16 binary exabytes, or to be more precise, 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes. However, despite manufacturer’s claims, you have to be extra cautious when you’re trying to discern such large numbers. One concrete example is the claim that FAT32 would be able to support up to 2 Terabyte partitions; in reality, this translates to a huge file allocation table and unacceptable slack waste. Though it can be argued that NTFS is a very different system, due to the fact that it was developed at a point in time when hard disk sizes were quantified using single gigabytes, there is no absolute way to determine whether it will adapt well to disk volumes that are not single Gigabytes, but thousands, and even millions, of gigabytes in terms of size.
The most important thing to remember when determining the maximum partition size is that different systems have different maximum levels; thus, it would be best to know your computer system inside and out before you begin.