Using FDISK - The Screens

Index

This (rather long) page is devoted to illustrating the various FDISK screens.

FAT16/FAT32

If your version of Win95 supports FAT32, and if your hard disk is 512 MB or more, the first screen that appears asks:

Your computer has a disk larger than 512 MB. This version of Windows includes improved support for large disks, resulting in more efficient use of disk space on large drives, and allowing disks over 2 GB to be formatted as a single drive.

IMPORTANT: If you enable large disk support and create any new drives on this disk, you will not be able to access the new drive(s) using other operating systems, including some versions of Windows 95 and Windows NT, as well as earlier versions of Windows and MS-DOS. In addition, disk utilities that were not designed explicitly for the FAT32 file system will not be able to work with this disk. If you need to access this disk with other operating systems or older disk utilities, do not enable large drive support.

Do you wish to enable large disk support (Y/N)...........? [N]

This is your only opportunity to create a FAT32 system using the standard Win95 utilities. The relative merits of FAT32 v. FAT16 are discussed in detail by others and I'll not reiterate here. Suffice to say that:

  • FAT32 makes more efficient use of disk space - especially with larger disks (> 512 MB).
  • As stated in the warning above, disk utilities not designed explicitly for the FAT32 file system will not work with this disk.
  • DriveSpace does not work with FAT32.

The Opening Screen: FDISK Options

When FDISK is run (without any switches), the following screen is displayed:

C:\> fdisk

                       Microsoft Windows 95
                     Fixed Disk Setup Program
              (C)Copyright Microsoft Corp. 1983 - 1995
				
                          FDISK Options
						   
Current fixed disk drive:  1

Choose one of the following:

1. Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive                                
2. Set active partition
3. Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive
4. Display partition information
5. Change current fixed disk drive

Enter choice (1)

Press Esc to exit FDISK

(If the machine has only one hard drive, option 5 is omitted).

1. Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive

FDISK requires that Disk 1 contains one Primary Partition and this must be the first partition created. Disk 1 may also contain one Extended Partition. Other disks may contain Primary and/or Extended Partitions. An Extended Partition may contain one or more Logical Dos Drives. FORMAT will not recognised an Extended Partition - only those Logical DOS Drives specified within it.

             Create DOS Partition or Logical DOS Drive                  

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Choose one of the following:

1. Create Primary DOS Partition
2. Create Extended DOS Partition
3. Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition             

Enter choice (1)

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

1. Creating a Primary DOS Partition

                      Create Primary DOS Partition                      

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Do you wish to use the maximum available size for a Primary DOS Partition    
and make the partition active (Y/N) ........................[Y]


Press Esc to continue

If you press Enter at this point, FDISK simply creates a single primary active partition the full size of the disk.

On the other hand, if you enter [N], you will be presented with something like:

                      Create Primary DOS Partition                      

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Total disk space is 1610 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)
Maximum space available for partition is 1610 Mbytes (100%)

Enter partition size in Mbytes or percent of disk space (%) to
create Primary DOS Partition ..................................: [1610]

No partitions defined

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

To create a partition of 600 MB (for example), enter "600" (or "37%") at the prompt. The next screen will show:

                   Create Primary DOS Partition                        

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
C: 1               PRI DOS                 600     UNKNOWN    37%


Primary DOS Partition created

Press Esc to continue

Pressing ESC takes you to the main FDISK Options screen which now contains the warning:

WARNING! No partitions are set active - disk1 is not startable unless
a partition is set active

Note: The "System" is "UNKNOWN" until the Partition/Drive is formatted after which it will be listed as "FAT16" (or, presumably, "FAT32" if using the OEM release of Win95).

2. Creating an Extended DOS Partition

                      Create Extended DOS Partition                     

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
 C: 1              PRI DOS                  600   UNKNOWN     37%
 
Total disk space is 1610 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)
Maximum space available for partition is 1010 Mbytes ( 63%)

Enter partition size in Mbytes or percent of disk space (%) to
create an Extended DOS Partition .............................: [1010]

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

Accepting the default (in this case 1010 Mb) leads to:

                      Create Extended DOS Partition                     

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
 C: 1              PRI DOS                  600   UNKNOWN     37%
    2              EXT DOS                 1010   UNKNOWN     63%
 
Extended DOS Partition created

Press Esc to continue

Pressing Esc takes you straight to Creating Partitions - section 3 (Creating Logical Drives)

Note: Entering any figure other than the default will lead to wasted space (unless some other operating system can use this) because FDISK only allows one primary and/or one extended partition on a disk. If less than 100% of total disk space is allocated to the primary and extended partition, then that's it as far as DOS is concerned.

3. Creating Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition

If the Extended Partition is empty, the following screen is displayed:

     Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition          

No logical drives defined

Total Extended DOS Partition size is 1010 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)
Maximum space available for logical drive is 1010 Mbytes (100%)

Enter logical drive size in Mbytes or percent of disk space (%)...[1010]

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

Accepting the default results in a single logical drive occupying all the space available in the Extended Partition. On the other hand, entering "262" (for example) results in:

     Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition          

Drv  Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
D:                  260     UNKNOWN    26%

Total Extended DOS Partition size is 1010 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)
Maximum space available for logical drive is 748 Mbytes ( 74%)

Enter logical drive size in Mbytes or percent of disk space (%)... [748]

Logical DOS Drive created, drive letters changed or added

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

When all the Extended Partition has been assigned to Logical DOS Drives, a screen such as below is displayed:

     Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition          

Drv  Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
D:                  260     UNKNOWN    26%
E:                  250     UNKNOWN    25%
F:                  250     UNKNOWN    25%
G:                  250     UNKNOWN    25%

All available space in the Extended DOS Partition
is assigned to logical drives

Press Esc to continue

Pressing ESC returns you to the main FDISK Options menu (with the warning that no partition has been set active).

2. Set active partition

Although a partition is usually designated active while partitioning a hard disk for the first time, this is not essential and an active partition can be set up or changed at any time.

                       Set Active Partition                             

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
 C: 1              PRI DOS                  600   UNKNOWN     37%
    2              EXT DOS                 1010   UNKNOWN     63%

Total disk space is 2012 Mbytes 

Enter the number of the partition you want to make active...........: [ ]

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

Although no default is presented, there is only one option: 1. Entering this gives:

                          Set Active Partition                          

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
 C: 1         A    PRI DOS   PROGRAMS       500   FAT16       25%
    2              EXT DOS                 1514               75%

Total disk space is 2012 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)

Partition 1 made active

Press Esc to continue

Trying to make a partition active on another drive causes an error message:

                          Set Active Partition                          

Current fixed disk drive: 2

Only partitions on Drive 1 can be made active.

Press Esc to continue

3. Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive

Note: If FDISK is being run from a DOS box in Windows, my experiments indicate that sometimes a partition can be deleted and sometimes it can't. At this stage I would say FDISK's behaviour in this situation is erratic. If you really want to delete a partition, first prepare an emergency startup floppy disk; then boot the computer and run FDISK from this. If you are merely experimenting, don't assume FDISK won't remove the partition from which it was loaded - it probably won't but you could find yourself in a bit of a mess!

               Delete DOS Partition or Logical DOS Drive                

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Choose one of the following:

1.  Delete Primary DOS Partition
2.  Delete Extended DOS Partition
3.  Delete Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition                
4.  Delete Non-DOS Partition

Enter choice: [ ]

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

1. Deleting a Primary Partition

Note: A Primary Partition cannot be deleted until any Extended Partition has been deleted.

                      Delete Primary DOS Partition                      

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage             
 C: 1         A    PRI DOS   PROGRAMS       500   FAT16       25%
 
Total disk space is 2012 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)

WARNING! Data in the deleted Primary DOS Partition will be lost.
What primary partition do you want to delete..? [1]

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

As there is only one primary partition permitted on a drive, this would seem to be something of a trick question probably designed to slow you down more than anything else. If an Extended Partition is still present, the same question is asked but any answer results in an error message explaining that the Extended Partition must be deleted before the Primary one.

2. Deleting an Extended Partition

An Extended Partition cannot be deleted until all Logical Drives within it have been deleted (see option 3).

                      Delete Extended DOS Partition                   

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage           
 C: 1         A    PRI DOS   PROGRAMS       500   FAT16       25%
    2              EXT DOS                 1514               75%

Total disk space is 2012 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)

Cannot delete Extended DOS Partition while logical drives exist.

Press Esc to continue

3. Deleting Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition

       Delete Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition        

Drv Volume Label  Mbytes  System  Usage
E:  DATA            500  FAT16      33%
F:  COREL           500  FAT16      33%
G:  GRAPHICS        514  FAT16      34%

    Total Extended DOS Partition size is 1514 Mbytes (1 MByte = 1048576 bytes)

    WARNING! Data in a deleted Logical DOS Drive will be lost.
    What drive do you want to delete...............................? [ ]

    Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

After entering the appropriate drive letter, a confirmation line will be displayed asking for the Volume Name. If there is no name displayed, press Enter. A final warning and request for confirmation will be displayed before the drive is actually deleted. Once the drive is gone, the above screen is redisplayed (without the line for the drive that has been deleted) with a note that
"Drive letters have been changed or deleted".

4. Delete Non-DOS Partition

Presumably this option lets one delete partitions created and formatted for other operating systems (such as Unix or OS/2). I have no experience with this.

4. Display partition information

There are two ways to view partition information using FDISK:

1. Selecting option 4 from the opening menu:

                 Display Partition Information                       

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Partition  Status   Type    Volume Label  Mbytes   System   Usage
 C: 1         A    PRI DOS   PROGRAMS       500   FAT16       25%
    2              EXT DOS                 1514               75%



Total disk space is 2012 Mbytes (1 Mbyte = 1048576 bytes)


The Extended DOS Partition contains Logical DOS Drives.
Do you want to display the logical drive information (Y/N)......?[Y]

Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

The information presented is generally self-explanatory. The above example is for a 2Gb hard drive divided into a primary partition of 500Mb (which is active), and an extended partition of 1500Mb.

Entering "Y" to display logical drive information will display something like:

               Display Logical DOS Drive Information                   

Drv Volume Label  Mbytes  System  Usage
E:  DATA            500  FAT16      33%
F:  GRAPHICS        500  FAT16      33%
G:  DOWNLOADS       514  FAT16      34%


    Total Extended DOS Partition size is 1514 Mbytes (1 MByte = 1048576 bytes)

    Press Esc to continue

2. Starting FDISK with the /STATUS switch.

C:\> fdisk /status

                 Fixed Disk Drive Status                            
  Disk   Drv   Mbytes   Free   Usage
    1           2012            100%
          C:     500
          E:     500
          F:     500
          G:     514
    2            204       2     99%
          D:     202

    (1 MByte = 1048576 bytes)
	
C:\>

In short, the information displayed using FDISK /STATUS is not quite as comprehensive, but covers all drives on one screen.

5. Change current fixed disk drive

If the machine contains more than one physical hard drive, these are numbered accordingly (starting at 1). When FDISK starts, it will, by default, be ready to work with hard drive #1. To work with a different drive, use option 5 in the main FDISK menu and enter the appropriate drive number.
Note: changing the "Current Fixed Disk Drive" does not have anything to do with making drives bootable, active, or anything else - it merely lets you work on the different drives with FDISK.

                       Change Current Fixed Disk Drive                  

Disk   Drv   Mbytes   Free   Usage
  1           2012            100%
        C:     500
        E:     500
        F:     500
        G:     514
  2            204       2     99%
        D:     202


  (1 MByte = 1048576 bytes)
  Enter Fixed Disk Drive Number (1-2).......................[1]

  Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

Exiting FDISK

Depending on exactly where you are in FDISK, the program can be closed by pressing ESC one or more times which will return you to the DOS prompt. If any changes have been made, FDISK closes with the instruction:

You must restart your system for changes to take effect.                
Shut down Windows before restarting.

A:\>_


If you should have any comments or suggestions,
please contact: Bob Watson
.
This page last revised:
November 1, 2000.