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10: Implementing Hard Drives
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famous PartitionMagic, gave techs the tools to resize partitions without losing the data they held Windows 2000 and XP can non-destructively resize a partition to be larger but not smaller Vista lets users non-destructively resize partitions any way they wish!
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Once a hard drive has been partitioned, there s one more step you must perform before your OS can use that drive: formatting Formatting does two things: it creates a file system like a library s card catalog and makes the root directory in that file system Every partition and volume you create needs to be formatted to enable it to hold data that you can easily retrieve The various versions of Windows you re likely to encounter today can use several different file systems, so we ll look at those in detail next The root directory provides the foundation upon which the OS builds files and folders
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Every version of Windows comes with a built-in formatting utility that enables it to create one or more file systems on a partition or volume The versions of Windows in current use support three separate Microsoft file systems: FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS
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The simplest hard drive file system, called FAT or FAT16, provides a good introduction to how file systems work More complex file systems fix many of the problems inherent in FAT and add extra features as well
The base storage area for hard drives is a sector; each sector stores up to 512 bytes of data If an OS stores a file smaller than 512 bytes in a sector, the rest of the sector goes to waste We accept this waste because most files are far larger than 512 bytes So what happens when an OS stores a file larger than 512 bytes The OS needs a method to fill one sector, find another that s unused, and fill it, continuing to fill sectors until the file is completely stored Once the OS stores a file, it must remember which sectors hold that file so the file can be retrieved later MS-DOS version 21 first supported hard drives using a special data structure to keep track of stored data on the hard drive, and Microsoft called this structure the file allocation table (FAT) Think of the FAT as nothing more than a card catalog that keeps track of which sectors store the various parts of a file The official jargon term for a FAT is data structure , but it is more like a two-column spreadsheet The left column (see Figure 109) gives each sector a number, from 0000 to FFFF (in hex, of course) This means there are 65,536 (64 K) sectors Notice that each value in the left column contains 16 bits (Four hex characters make 16 bits, remember ) We call this type of FAT a 16-bit FAT or FAT16 Not just hard drives have FATs Some USB thumb drives also use FAT16 Floppy disks use FATs, but their FATs are only 12 bits since they store much less data The right column of the FAT contains information on the status of sectors All hard drives, even brand-new drives fresh from the factory, contain faulty sectors that cannot store data because of imperfections in the construction of the drives The OS must locate these bad sectors, mark them as unusable, and then prevent any files from being written to them This mapping of bad sectors is one of the functions of high-level formatting (we ll talk about low-level formatting later in this chapter) After the format program creates the FAT, it proceeds through the entire partition, writing and attempting to read from each sector sequentially If it finds a bad sector, it places a special status code (FFF7) in the sector s FAT location, indicating that sector is unavailable for use Formatting also marks the good sectors as 0000 Using the FAT to track sectors, however, creates a problem The 16-bit FAT addresses a maximum of 64 K (216) locations Therefore, the size of a hard-drive partition should be limited to 64 K 512 bytes per sector, or 32 MB When Microsoft first unveiled FAT16, this 32-MB limit presented no problem because most hard drives were only 5 MB to 10 MB As hard drives grew in size, you could use FDISK to break them up into multiple partitions You could divide a 40-MB hard drive into two partitions, for example, making each partition smaller than 32 MB But as hard drives started to become much larger, Microsoft realized that the 32-MB limit for drives was unacceptable We needed an improvement to the 16-bit FAT, a new and improved FAT16 that would support larger drives while still maintaining backward compatibility with the old style 16-bit FAT This need led to the