How to Tell if a Hard Drive is Partitioned

by eHow Computers Editor

Partitioned hard drives keep computers organized and running smoothly. Problems may arise when you must reset your computer, and you've either forgotten your settings. You'll have a hard time resetting without wiping out the divided drive, so you must find out if the drive has been partitioned.

Install Windows to tell whether your drives are partitioned. All modern versions of Windows display the connected hard drives (formatted or not) and which partitions exist. You also can collapse partitions and make new ones on any drive inside the installer.

Check Windows Disk Management for a visual record of all of your drives. Access Disk Management by typing "compmgmt.msc" in the "Run..." box from the Windows Start Menu. This opens the Computer Management screen, and you'll find Disk Management on the list.

Study the Disk Management Screen. The top of the window display your drives and partitions, while the bottom screen shows each physical drive as a single row with each of the partitions labeled.

Open your case and look at the number of physical hard drives inside. If Windows shows more drives than physically exist, then one or more of them are partitioned. This step should be necessary only if you can't access your operating system.