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A friend of mine just received a new laptop, and it has a very strange partition layout. I normally advise that people format/reinstall Windows on a new computer, but this partition table is so strange that I didn't know what to tell him. Disk 0 is a HDD, Disk 1 is an SSD.

Can anyone shed some light on this layout? Is it safe to mess with the partition table? He is on Windows 8.

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The machine uses UEFI instead of BIOS so an EFI System Partition is required as the disk is a GPT type (instead of MBR). If you wipe the drive and reload, you'll still need an EFI partition. Then you've got a Microsoft partition, I suspect. Followed by the C: drive and a Data drive and concluding with a recovery drive where an image of the OS as shipped is likely stored.

I'd suggest you DON'T TOUCH the partitions and review this article:

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Wiping the disk and running the Windows installer will do one of two things:

  • If the installer boots in BIOS mode, the installation will be done as an old-style BIOS-mode installation with an old-style MBR partition table. You'll probably find this setup more familiar, but the computer may lose some functionality.
  • If the installer boots in EFI mode, it will create whatever partitions it requires, including the EFI System Partition (ESP) to which Multiverse IT referred. It will also use the new GUID Partition Table (GPT). Unless you try to override partitioning options during (or prior to) installation, it will be hard to mess things up in this respect, so I wouldn't worry about it.

Which way the installer boots is unpredictable; it depends on computer-specific settings. AFAIK, the Windows installer doesn't make its boot mode obvious, either, although there's probably a way to make this determination that I don't know about.

Learning about EFI and GPT is worthwhile, since virtually all new computers use these technologies.

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I guess the Win7 BIOS/UEFI identification method should work with Win8 as well. – Karan Jun 4 '13 at 23:02

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