System and Boot Partitions...Combined?

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Hardware' started by Bell Labs, Jul 22, 2015.

  1. Bell Labs

    Bell Labs Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I know for Windows, after XP, when you do an install, Windows creates two separate partitions. One being the System Parition (Housing all of the boot files, boot sector and it's code, and all sorts of decryption coding and the like)
    and it also creates the Boot Partition (housing the OS and user config, registry, and userspace files)
    (not to mention any OEM partition if you buy your PC from Dell, or ACER etc..) My question is this..
    On my PC when I go to Control Panel> Administrative Tools> Disk Management, I see only one big partition. C:\. And the flags are set to System, Boot, Primary, Active, Page, and Crash Dump) This is Windows 7 i'm running. I also asked my gf to check her computer and she has the same exact setup and she's running Windows 8.

    I've uploaded a pic of my Partition. So I gotta ask, if what I've read and seen online is true...that there should be two partitions...one for boot, and one for system...why do we both have a combined partition of just C:\?
     

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  2. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    Actually, before W7, only one partition was created. With W7 and later, two are by default; the main partition and a tiny (~100 to 350mb, size based on total disk size) partition called System Reserve. The System Reserve is not technically needed unless you use or plan to use Bit Locker drive encryption.

    If you did have them, the System Reserve partitions could have been removed. Or if your drives were originally formatted with Vista or before, you will not have the System Reserve partitions. Another reason you might not have them is those were replacement drives formatted at the factory or originally formatted as secondary drives that were then installed as boot drives and only the boot partitions re-imaged/restored to them.

    If you have any hidden drives, they will be displayed in Disk Management. You can sorta hide drives so they don't appear in File Explorer under Computer by removing any assigned drive letter, but AFAIK, if present, they will still show up in Disk Management. I know of no way to hide drives in Disk Management too.

    So I see no reason to worry unless your drive is much larger than 250Gb and you are only seeing the one 232.88Gb partition.
     
  3. Bell Labs

    Bell Labs Member

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    Thanks Digerati! I wasn't so much as worried, as just very curious... What you say makes sense with my hard drive, as it's a company laptop and they probably wiped the drive or reformatted prior to giving them out to employees. AND my girlfriends hard drive was indeed upgraded from the original factory partitioning of WIndows Vista...It's amazing how both suggestions you provided actually turned out to be true... Thanks again. But just to clarify... NORMALLY if I get a drive with my PC from a big box store like Best Buy or something, and it has a preinstalled copy of windows 7 or higher, it most likely will have the two separated partitions right?
     
  4. ussnorway

    ussnorway Windows Forum Team
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    On a new system you would expect to see an small efi at the front and most laptops would also have a recovery drive but it's not a must have.
    Screenshot (100).
     
  5. Bell Labs

    Bell Labs Member

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    Right! If the board you're using is supporting UEFI, does that efi partition basically perform the same function as the system reserve partition on a BIOS board? Basically it's there to house booting information, and code and special UEFI functions?
     
  6. ussnorway

    ussnorway Windows Forum Team
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    In theory yes, the drive itself may hold drivers that allow the system to boot or (more likely) boot quicker and it’s not uncommon to store other information.
     
  7. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    Yes, or even if you install Windows yourself with a W7/W8/W10 install disk. And with factory installed Windows - especially those computers that do NOT come with an official Microsoft Windows installation disk, you will also have a hidden recovery partition to take the computer back to factory specs.
     
  8. Neemobeer

    Neemobeer Windows Forum Team
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    The system reserved partition is a stub partition. It contains a copy of the BCD store, bootloader code and your system repair tools. You can technically run your computer without it since all the boot code is stored in C:\Boot. This also goes for an ESP (EFI system partition) because again your efi bootloader (this is the .efi file) is stored in C:\Windows\Boot\EFI [bootmgr.efi]
     

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  9. Bell Labs

    Bell Labs Member

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    So if I understand this correctly, my PC doesn't have *any* reserve partition or even any unused partition. Literally the whole disk, minus the MBR at the beginning... is all C:\. So what would happen if I wanted to dual boot the drive with Linux? When I go through the linux install process, would it prompt me to create a system reserve partition? It would need to right, since it needs a bootloader now, (like Grub).

    And also if I were so inclined, couldn't I manually create this system reserve partition, and install the system repair tools and other stuff that is normally found in the system reserve?
     
  10. ussnorway

    ussnorway Windows Forum Team
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    1. to install Linux as a dual boot you need to take space away from the back of your C drive and Linux will then make two new new partitions;
    • a small (1g) swap
    • the linux system drive (10-20g)
    2. Yes you can make a system reserve partition but in your case it wouldn't be very helpful... imo you would be better off making a clone image of the c drive using a good backup software like acronis or one of the free 3rd party jobs as long as the software you pick can boot from the images it makes you are much better off than using a reserve or recovery partition.

    p.s never take space away from the front of your c drive or your system will no longer boot... unless of course if you already have backed it up.

    It's your system so you decide what works for you... good luck with it.
     
  11. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    You could also add a second physical drive and install Linux on that. The C drive's boot sector will still be modified to support the dual boot, but you will not need to mess with the partitions on the C drive. I would still make a backup image of C before starting - just in case.
     
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