Common hard disk drive (HDD) problems

Why can I only create four partitions on my hard disk drive

Hard disk drive problem

My hard drive is recognised properly by the BIOS at start-up, shows up properly in the Device Manager and appears in My Computer, but I can only create four partitions with FDISK [FDISK is used in Windows 98 and Windows Me. Alternatives are the partition programs that can be used from within Windows XP/Windows Vista or from the Windows XP/Vista CD/DVD, Partition Magic, etc]. There is still plenty of drive space that I can’t partition and format.


In order to use FDISK, you must have the drives formatted to the FAT32 file system, because it won’t work on the native NTFS file system used by Windows XP/Vista.

You have created four primary partitions; the maximum number of primary partitions that Windows can create using the FAT32 file system. To create more partitions, you have to create an extended partition and then create logical drives (partitions) within the extended partition. Each logical drive will have its own drive letter assigned to it by Windows (E: – F: – G: – etc.).

You should be able to find an option to create an extended partition. It’s immediately apparent in FDISK, but you’ll have to find out how to do it with other partitioning utilities. When it has been created, you’ll have the option to create logical drives within that partition. Windows XP allows you to partition hard drives from its CD, or from Start => All Programs => Administrative Tools => Computer Management => Disk Management. The hard drive partitions are represented graphically by rectangular spaces under headings for each drive (Disk 0, Disk 1, etc.). To create an extended partition, right-click on any empty space (unpartitioned space), and select the option to create an extended partition. There has to be an existing partition on the boot drive because Windows XP is operating from one.

Alternatively, use the free QTParted. See the first problem for information on it. It can create new partitions or resize existing partitions very easily.

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I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.