How To Partition An External Hard Drive?

A partition is a section of an external hard drive formatted with the file system FAT32 or NTFS. These are built-in systems that can be recognized easily by most operating systems. 

When you connect your external hard drive to your computer, it will appear as one unit – just like your local drives on your PC’s internal hard drives. If data saved on these drives are not fragmented, more space for writing files than reading them since files are written to fast-moving platters. 

External USB hard drives have less performance when compared to internal ones because they use USB interfaces where there is always some delay in the case of speed and transfer rate of data from the external drive to the computer or vice versa. Therefore if an external drive is divided into partitions, we can use them as internal ones. We can create as many as 32 primary partitions and one extended partition on an external hard drive.

How To Partition External Hard Drive

It may be necessary to format your external hard drive before using it if data over the disk are erased or damaged, you want to change the file system of the disk (e.g., FAT32 –> NTFS), or you want to create a new volume (partition) on it – adding a new section – like splitting a hard drive in two without reformatting and losing your data. 

If an event like this ever happens with your computer, do not worry! You will find some helpful information here on partitioning an external hard drive and starting using it.

Partitioning An External Hard Drive

  1. Connect the external hard drive into your computer and open “My Computer” (or Windows Explorer) -> select the new disk resolved on your local PC ->right to click on it and choose “Format…” from the popup menu. After clicking on Format…, a window for formatting will open, where you need to type a volume label (for example, My Book), choose file system FAT32 or NTFS, and hit the Start button. Then press OK after the formatting process is completed.
  2. If we just want to create a new partition – we only have to place our cursor at the end of the free space of that disk, right-click with the mouse button and choose “New Simple Volume…” from the popup menu. 
  3. After that action, a wizard for formatting will get displayed, where we need to write values for “Partition Size” (e.g., 2048 MB) -> Assign a letter to the new volume (e.g., N) -> Allocation unit size (4KB/cluster by default is enough) -> Format this Volume with the FAT32 file system and Hit Next button after every necessary information is entered. At this step, you can assign another drive letter if you want it to be named differently than selected in the previous step. Otherwise, just hit Next again.
  4. Click Finish when finished inserting all necessary details about the new partition on your external hard drive. This new partition is added successfully to your external hard drive and can be used to use separate local partitions on our internal HDD.

Benefits Of Partitioning A Hard Drive

  1. You can install applications to a new partition and use it as an additional one instead of using the entire hard drive that contains the operating system and other partitions.
  2. Suppose you regularly save information on your external hard drive. In that case, you should create another partition for this purpose only and store files there instead of holding them onto the same disk where Windows is installed – thus creating a potential risk of data loss in case something goes wrong with your computer. In addition, external hard drives frequently crash down due to power supply problems or from being hit during accidental movement or from electromagnetic interference, etc.
  3. You can take full advantage of software features specifically for multi-partitioned systems (e.g., Partition Magic).


Although you can use an external hard drive the same way as the internal one, due to different hardware (USB interface) and firmware, there can be some additional delays when data is transferred between it and the computer. Therefore if speed depends on your needs, it is advised to keep all information on either partition (internal or external) instead of transferring data over both of them – this may result in lower performance.


It may be necessary to format your external hard drive before using it. If data over the disk is erased or damaged, you want to change the disk’s file system. You can format via Above mentioned procedure.

Partitioning an external hard drive is not a difficult task, and it could be done without additional software. Suppose you prefer to use any tool for this purpose. In that case, EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition is an excellent choice because it allows creating new partitions on your drives quickly and easily, maintaining all data there when necessary. This software is available free of charge.

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