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Primary Partition vs. Extended Partition vs. Logical Partition: Their Exact Features

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    Most of you would have heard of primary partition, extended partition and logical partition, right?

    But do you know exact features of these 3 types of partitions? Or what partition type should you employ when partitioning a hard disk? Or have you ever encountered problems when creating such kinds of partitions?... If you are interested in these topics, please keep reading this post.

    Tip: primary partition, extended partition, and logical partition are much related to MBR disk, because GPT disk only contains primary partition.

    Read This Part, and You Will be Clear to Primary Partition, Extended Partition, and Logical Partition

    First of all, let’s see a picture:

    primary partition logical drive extended partition Partition Layout in Windows Computer/Disk Management Tool

    From legends at the bottom of the picture we know: partition C and partition E are primary partitions; partition F and partition G are logical drives (also called logical partition); partition F and partition G are contained in a large partition which is named extended partition.

    But what is primary partition, logical partition, or extended partition? What features do they have? Here are answers.

    Primary partition is the hard disk partition where both Windows OS and other data can be stored, and it is the only partition that can be set active. In addition, at a time only one primary partition on one hard disk can be set active to boot operating system. On an MBR disk, there can only be 4 primary partitions or 3 primary partitions plus 1 extended partition at most. 

    Extended partition is the hard disk partition where logical partitions reside. One hard disk can hold the maximum number of 1 extended partition, but we can create lots of logical partitions here. Extended partition cannot be used directly to save data, and we have to partition it to logical drives.

    Logical partition is the hard disk partition created in extended partition. Like primary partition, a logical partition can be used to install Windows and any other types of files, but we are unable to set it active.

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    Now, you would get a basic understanding of primary partition, extended partition, and logical partition. However, have you ever created such kinds of partitions before? If not, see our step-by-step tutorial below.

    It’s Very Easy to Create Primary Partition, Extended Partition, and Logical Partition

    You can do this in Windows Computer/Disk Management tool:

    create partition in disk management

    You might be interested in this post How do I open Disk Management on Windows 8.1

    Right click unallocated space, choose New Simple Volume, and set partition properties by following instructions. Nevertheless, in recent Windows operating systems, like Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10, the former 3 partitions will be formatted to primary, and the fourth one formatted to extended by default. If you want to format the second or third partition to logical partition, third party program is required.

    So you can choose to create partitions in MiniTool Partition Wizard:

    create partition in minitool partition wizard

    Select the unallocated space and choose "Create Partition" feature from the left action pane.

    create partition in minitool partition wizard choose partition type

    Then, set properties for this partition, and here we can choose partition type, either primary or logical, even if we are creating the first partition.

    create partition in minitool partition wizard apply change

    Now we create a logical partition on Disk 4. To make this change finally performed, please click "Apply" button.

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    "MiniTool Partition Wizard makes it so easy to create primary partition and logical partition, so you can choose it when necessary."

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    However, sometimes we may need to convert a primary partition to logical or logical to primary. But when and How? Let’s see details.

    Why and How to Convert Primary Partition to Logical

    Have you ever received one of the following error messages when creating partitions in Disk Management?
    Error 1:

    maximum number of partitions

    This error message will appear if you create new partition in unallocated space of the hard disk which contains 3 primary partitions and one extended partition already.

    Error 2:

    the disk will be converted to dynamic

    This error message will emerge if you create new partition on the disk which holds 4 primary partitions already.

    If you are troubled by these errors, to convert a primary partition to logical is a good solution. Of course, there are other solutions, and you can refer to Solutions to Maximum Number of Partitions and Creating Partition Will Convert Disk to Dynamic to get more details.

    Tip: do not set system partition and boot partition logical, because this may make Windows unbootable.

    Why and How to Convert Logical Partition to Primary

    If you are going to install old versions of Windows which must be installed on primary partition, you'll need to convert logical partition to primary if there is no primary partition available. In addition, even if you are instlaling OS that can be installed to logical drive, there must be a primary partition to set active to hold Windows boot files. Under this situation, you'll also need to convert a logical partition to primary. For detailed steps or video help, please see Set partition as Primary.

    "It’s very necessary to change partition type since this can help us solve some problems, and Partition Wizard helps us complete the change in easy steps"

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    Should you have problems about primary partition, logical partition and extended partition or during converting partition type, just feel free to contact us or leave us message.