Already the posts from our friends & the 5 html links has simplified this subject admirably well.
Your hard disk can be unpartitioned (i.e. 0 partitions) or have 2, 3 or 4 partitions. Again each can be of different size. There are 3 types of files. Firstly there are Boot Files. These are the first to come into play & do so only when you start your computer by switching on the power switch (cold boot) or if you start your computer from e.g. hibernation (warm boot) . Secondly there are Operating system files. These come into play only after you have started aka "booted" your computer. Thirdly there are "all other files". "All other files" are of 2 kinds – app system files & app data files. The former is the app itself e.g. excel. If you don't have the app itself you cannot even create a data file with it. The app data file is e.g. an excel spreadsheet you created. Ok?
The point is – in the partition which holds your Operating System do not put anything else – no app system files & no app data files. The reason is very simple. If you had everything inside the partition which holds your Operating System & that gets screwed it totally screws up everything. Ok? You need not worry about Boot files. Those animals are not part of the OS & have another separate house they live in anyway.
Actually there is a joker in this pack – an animal called DOS Extended Partition. This enables upto 24 partitions. It is primarily used if you wish to use ancient hardware & software of older Windows operating systems. None of us dottechies is likely to use it because all recent Operating systems are no longer of DOS kernel buy use NT kernel. XP, Vista, Win7 etc run on NT kernel.
So if you have 1 operating system have at least 2 partitions. If you have 2 operating systems have at least 4 partitions. Too many partitions or too few prove unhelpful. Now my friend boldly & confidently read those 5 html & you'll not find them frightening anymore
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