I was about to install Ubuntu on my Win 7 HP6550b laptop, dual boot, when I came up against a problem. The Ubuntu installation says that the partition which I have put aside for it is unusable.

After reading around it seems that I have already reached the 4-partition limit of the Master Boot Record (MBR) partitioning scheme.

Windows does indeed show four existing partitions, each of them primary. They are:

  1. c:\ drive. Main partition. NTFS. 400 Gb.
  2. HP Recovery. NTFS. 15 Gb.
  3. HP Tools. FAT32. 2 Gb.
  4. System. NTFS. 0.3 Gb.

Can I remove any of partitions 2, 3 or 4? What would the impact be? Or am I better to change one to a logical partition?


Partition 4 contains critical system files. If you remove it, Windows 7 will stop working.

Partition 2 contains recovery information to set your computer back to the status quo if you need to reinstall Windows 7. If you already made your Recovery Disk, you can remove this one. But I would advise against it.

Note that the 4-partitions-per-disk limit only applies to primary partitions. You can create an extended partition and several logical partitions inside. You would have to convert on of your partitions to logical to do so, since an extended partition is a primary partition.

  • Hey Dennis, Thanks. Why would you advise against removing the Recovery Partition? – Kim Dec 7 '11 at 11:41
  • If your Recovery Disk fails or gets lost, you will not be able to reinstall Windows 7 if you have to. – Dennis Dec 7 '11 at 12:26

If you make your recovery discs you can delete the Recovery Partition.

Do not delete the HP_TOOLS partition or the System Partition.

If you wish to leave Recovery Partition intact, see this post on how to properly create a 5th partition on a HP notebook

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