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An Easy Way to Set Partition as Active or Inactive

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    Active Partition VS Inactive Partition

    According to Microsoft definition, an active partition is firstly a primary partition, and then a system partition. For better understanding of active partition, let’s learn something about these four partitions as following first:

    partition 1)Primary partition: it’s a partition type exists in MBR disk which can supports up to 4 primary partitions or 3 primary partitions plus 1 extended partition.

    2)Extended partition: it can’t be used directly unless we partition it to multiple logical partitions which can’t be set as active.

    3)System partition: it is a primary partition that contains the boot loader, a piece of procedure responsible for booting the OS. The system partition holds the boot sector and must be marked as active.

    4)Boot partition: it is also a primary partition which contains the operating system folder. Before Windows 7 (including Windows 7), the system and boot partitions were the same and were given the identifier "C:" by default; after Windows 7, boot partition and system partition are separated except for some special situations, such as installing Windows to a partitioned hard disk.

    Only one primary partition on a hard drive can be set as active, and it should be the system partition. Other primary partitions should be set as inactive to guarantee the normal boot of computer. In addition, it is impossible to set EFI and logical partitions as active.

    However, it is possible that the primary partition we marked as active does not contain the Windows boot files or boot files for another operating system. In general, if we mark a wrong partition as active or mark the system partition as inactive, the computer will inform us "missing operating system", and won’t boot successfully as usual. So, this reflects the importance to set the system partition as active.

    If a wrong partition is marked as active, what should we do then? The easy and effective way is to apply a piece of third party partition software to correct the mistake. MiniTool Partition Wizard is a good choice.

    How to Set Partition as Active/Inactive

    Since our computer is unable to boot normally in this case, we should use MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Edition, which can work without Windows OS, to set the wrong active partition as inactive and mark the system partition as active.

    Bootable Edition is embedded in MiniTool Partition Wizard paid editions. For non-server users, the Professional Edition is available. After registering it, we can use the bootable media builder to create it to CD/DVD or flash drive. See this guidance to learn how to build it: How to Build Boot CD/DVD Discs and Boot Flash Drive with Bootable Media Builder.

    Tip: These two functions in MiniTool Partition Wizard –"Set Active" and "Set Inactive" - can only work for the primary partitions in the hard disk with MBR mode partitions.

    Step 1. Connect the bootable device with computer, and then boot computer into BIOS. Next, set the computer to boot from the bootable device, press "F10" to save the change and exit BIOS to continue.


    Step 2. Then we will see this interface. Make this option "MiniTool Boot Disk [EMS Enabled]" is checked, and then press "Enter" to continue.


    Step 3: When we enter this interface, this Bootable Edition will boot automatically. Here, please don’t select other option. Otherwise this program will not start successfully.


    Step 4: Then, we will enter its main interface. Here, we will discover that a wrong partition is marked as active. So, we need to select that partition and choose "Set Inactive" from the left action pane.

    set inactive

    Step 5: Then, we should select the system partition C:, and click on "Set Active". At last, we need to click on "Apply" to save the changes.

    set active

    After all these steps, we need to reboot the computer and enter the BIOS setting to set the computer to boot from the system disk. As long as there are no other problems, our computer will run normally.

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    Obviously, with the help of MiniTool Partition Wizard, it is really easy and effective to set primary partition as active or inactive, which enables our computer to boot successfully.

    Tip: MiniTool Partition Wizard also allows us to set partition as primary if it is necessary.


    Now, we are clear that why we need active partition and the way to set system partition as active and other primary partitions as inactive. Next time, when we encounter the issue like "Operating System not Found" or "Missing Operating System" which causes the computer can’t boot normally, just use MiniTool Partition Wizard to solve it.