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Disk partitioning is the act of dividing a hard disk drive into multiple logical storage units referred to as partitions, to treat one physical disk drive as if it were multiple disks.

Further information
Hard drives and flash drives are usually split into partitions, separate areas of data. Each partition can be formatted to any file system.

Inside the File System Hierarchy, partitions appear as device nodes in /dev, like all other peripherals:

hda - are usually IDE, legacy hard drives.
sda - are usually SCSI hard drives, SATA hard drives and flash drives.

For instance, in a computer with one IDE hard drive, it will be recognized as hda1 and the device node /dev/hda1 will appear. However, a flash drive will appear as sdb1. The second flash drive will appear as sdb2 and so on.

In Puppy, all partitions can be seen on the desktop, through the partitions list or through the console.

Common Uses for Partitions
Partitions are often used to separate different kinds of data on a single media. For instance, most Linux distributions allow the operating system to reside on one partition, while the user's personal files are stored in another.

That improves reliability, as this allows easier file backup and restore procedures. It allows the user to switch to another Linux distribution, while keeping all the personal files. The first partition, which holds the operating system itself can be formatted, while the second one is unchanged.

Also, this allows easier maintenance, as different files are stored in different places. For example, the user knows to look for documents and music on one partition and libraries in another one. That also eases search operations.

Moreover, the user of multiple partitions improves performance, as journaling and some file systems become slower with big amounts of files or big partitions, due to data scattering or other file system limitations and disadvantages.

Most UNIX-like operating systems, including Linux distributions, use a hard drive partition for swap: when then system's memory gets full, the operating system uses the slower hard drive instead, temporarily, through that swap partition.

Also on the Wiki
GParted - tool for partitioning
Swap File

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