Partitioning hard disk (primary and extended partitions)
Partitioning a hard disk is the first thing to do before installing Operating System. Partitioning a hard disk means dividing the hard disk in multiple partitions, which will occur as C, D, E, etc in your Windows Explorer. Most hard disks only have one partition, the C partition. This is not a practical situation because all personal data has been stored far away in the different sub-folders.
WARNING: By deleting a partition on a hard disk you will lose all data on that partition. If you are not sure what you are doing; make sure you have a backup of your important personal data! If needed.
Understanding of primary, extended partitions and logical drives
Before you decide to partition your hard disk, you have to understand what type of partitions there are and when to use them. The most important partition is the primary partition. This partition is normally used by an operating system. If you would like to create a multi-boot system, make sure you create multiple primary partitions.
You can only create 4 primary partitions on a hard disk, that's why you also have the possibility to create an extended partition. An extended partition can be divided in many logical drives, which makes it possible to have more than four virtual partitions. It's wise to create one primary partition for OS and one extended partition and to split up the extended partition into different logical drives.
FAT32 and/or NTFS partitions
Furthermore you will have to choose between FAT32 and NTFS file system. The FAT32 file system is a bit faster and used by Windows 98/ME and MS-DOS boot disks. The NTFS file system has been introduced later and provides you with a more stable file system. The NTFS file system makes it possible to protect your files against other users. The NTFS partitions can normally not be accessed by Windows 98/ME or your MS-DOS boot disk. If needed, you can access the partition with a Windows based bootable CD like Bart's PE (XP based) or VistaPE (Vista based). For your Windows (C) and Data (D) partition use the NTFS file system. Because your system backup partition (E) must be accessible by MS-DOS, it will have to be FAT32!