Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Why is it necessary to initialize, format, create a volume and a partition on a new hard drive? What are there differences? I have red on Google and most of them seem to do the same thing.

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Ramhound, Xavierjazz, Kevin Panko, billc.cn, Simon Sheehan Jul 5 at 22:49

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Because there several filesystems and HDDs are not shipped to the customer with a filesystem. What are the differences between what exactly? –  Ramhound Jun 23 at 16:59
    
for example what's the difference between a partition and a volume? –  Celeritas Jun 23 at 17:01
    
There isn't a difference. –  Ramhound Jun 23 at 17:04
    
wikipedia says there is but I don't find it very clear... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  Celeritas Jun 23 at 17:06
    
So in a nut shell a partition/volume divides space where as formatting dictates how the space is accessed and used? –  Celeritas Jun 23 at 17:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Initialize: This builds the table of contents for the drive. It's not automatic because in a repair situation it might be a bad idea.

Partition: Allocate the drive into one or more chunks. Most people do only one but you might find multiple chunks in a multi-boot situation.

Format: Create the table of contents for the volume you created.

Think of it like a root directory and subdirectory.

share|improve this answer
    
Regarding initialize vs partition. How come the option for MBR vs GUID happens when the disk is being partition instead of initialized? My understanding of MBR and GUID is they map the different partitions, so shouldn't this happen at disk initialization? –  Celeritas Jun 23 at 17:25
    
@Celeritas MBR = Master boot record--what you create when you initialize. GUID = Globally Unique IDentifier--which has nothing to do with this. –  Loren Pechtel Jun 23 at 17:30
    
Sorry I meant GPT (GUID Partition Table) not GUID. What I'm saying is why is GUID or MBR selected when creating a partition if it pertains to the entire hard disk, and by your explanation hard disk initialization is the only thing that effects the entire hard disk. –  Celeritas Jun 23 at 17:37
    
@Celeritas The reason there are two formats is that the old format only works up to 2tb but the new format can cause compatibility issues with older stuff. –  Loren Pechtel Jun 23 at 17:44
    
Right. I think you're still missing my point (I admit I'm not doing a good job at explaining it). You state "Initialize: This builds the table of contents for the drive. It's not automatic because in a repair situation it might be a bad idea." According to this site the MBR and GPT are for the "OS know the partition structure of the hard disk". So what I'm saying is wouldn't the GUID or MBR be created at initialize, not when a partition is created? Is there only one GUID/MBR per hard disk and it's rewritten each time –  Celeritas Jun 23 at 17:55

Partitions and volumes are the same thing, just named differently.

There's your "physical" disk which is the entire capacity. It can be "partitioned" into multiple slices that the OS sees as multiple "volumes".

You also need to format the drives with a filesystem which dictates how information is stored on the partition.

You can picture a disk like this:

------------------------------
|                            |
------------------------------

A partition would divide it, like so:

------------------------------
|             |              |
------------------------------

Now I have two "volumes" that the OS will see as different drives.

share|improve this answer

A hard disk has a lot of room, and you can partition it into multiple drives, each on its own partition. When you've decided how many partitions you'd like, you need to format them for the Operating System (OS) to use. I think this is what's meant by creating a volume.
Different OSes use a different format to store data. Most commonly used are Microsoft and Linux. Each type has many versions of OS, for instance Microsoft has Windows XP, Win7, Win8, etc. Linux has Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc. So you have to format the volume with the OS you prefer. I believe this is also called initializing a disk.
Some people put one of each OS on the same disk and can switch between them. Some people use several volumes for the same OS, for instance you could make a C: and D: drive in Windows and use the C: drive for the OS files and D: for data.

Hope this helps.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.