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Understanding the disk utility

BarryM Posts: 23

I'm just looking for a little clarification of what I'm looking at on my disk utility so I can be sure I'm utilising all of my HDD.

My machine has a 320 GB HDD and came preloaded with Windows Vista. The HDD was divided into two partitions but they didn't quite add up to 320GB. There seemed to be a bit of swap space etc.

I've now loaded Linux Mint and it's a dual boot system but I'm looking at the disk utility and I can't quite understand what I'm looking at.

I can see 103GB dedicated to Vista.

Then there's a 153 GB Extended partition (whatever that means?) which contains three further logical partitions - I don't quite understand what they are either? - I'm guessing that they're just further partitions within this so called 'Extended partition'.

They are:

DATA - 64GB NTFS which I'm assuming is something to do with Vista. However, I think any data on windows is saved in the same partition as the OS is loaded.

Then there's 85GB Linux Ext4 - OK this must be where Linux is installed

3.7GB Swap space - is this only to do with Vista or does Linux use it too?

Finally, there is a 64GB partition of the HDD free (Unallocated Space). Is this something I can format as Ext4 and use for data storage or would I be better off deleting it and increasing the size of the current 85GB Linux is installed on?

I'm new to Linux and would like to think I'll be using it exclusively in no time but I'm just hedging my bets by keeping it dual boot for now.

Can anyone enlighten me and give me a bit of advice please?


  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    I highly recommend downloading gparted, it will display the entire disk image in a graph which will make it easier to understand.
  • vtel57
    vtel57 Posts: 164
    A hard disk can ONLY have 4 Primary partitions, one of which can be sub-divided into Extended partitions. From the looks of what you've described, you have:

    Primary partition 1 - 103 GB - NTFS - VistaOS

    Primary partition 2 - subdivided into three extended partitions:
    Extended 1 - 64 GB - NTFS - Data (probably Vista backup or other use)
    Extended 2 - 85 GB - ext4 - Linux (your Mint installation)
    Extended 3 - 3.7 GB - swap - for use with Linux

    Unallocated space - 64 GB - This can be partitioned and used for any purpose you'd like. A common storage partition accessible to both Vista and Mint might come in handy.

    And as mfillpot says, gparted is a great little application. There is a graphic version (possibly already installed in Mint) in the Mint repos.

  • BarryM
    BarryM Posts: 23
    Thanks lads!


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