NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, June 2002
Discovering your Hard Drive
by Gene Barlow
User Group Relations
(click to email author)

This is a short article on the steps to organizing your hard drive. It will also introduce you to a new tool that is now available to help you learn more about your hard drive. I hope you will find it interesting.

The heart of your computer system is your hard drive. The operating system that controls your computer lives on your hard drive. All of the application programs that you run to do productive work with your computer also reside on your hard drive. Even your very important data files are stored on your hard drive. Your hard drive is the single most important component of your computer system.

Fortunately, your hard drive has the ability to be setup to meet your individual needs. It is the only part of your computer that you can tailor to your specifications. Unfortunately, most of us do not know how to change our hard drives or what are the best ways to tailor a hard drive to our individual needs. This article will show you the basis steps you need to take to really take advantage of your computer's hard drive.

There are four basis steps you need to take to tailor your hard drive to your individual needs. They are as follows:

    1- Learn about your hard drive and what possibilities you have in setting up your hard drive.
    2- Develop a plan about how you want your hard drive to serve you and what steps you need to take to accomplish this plan.
    3- Make a thorough backup of your current hard drive before you start to make any changes to it.
    4- Start to change your hard drive according to the steps outlined in your plan.

If you follow these four steps and not try to bypass any one of them, then you will succeed at tailoring your hard drive to meet your personal needs. If you try to skip over any of the first three steps in order to rush to the fourth step, you may well run into problems that will prevent you from tailoring your hard drive and may even damage your current system. Let's explore the first of these basic steps to tailoring your hard drive in a bit more detail.

Learn About your Hard Drive.
We've all heard the expression, if all else fails, read the manual. With your hard drive this is especially important to follow. While your hard drive is not impossible to learn about, it is complicated enough to require some study before you attempt to tailor it in any way. Unfortunately, information about your hard drive is not easy to find.

A few years ago, the PartitionMagic manual contained some good general information about hard drives. Today, most of this information has been removed from the manual leaving only the reference information on how to use the partitioning utility. However, some of the early information on hard drives has been saved on the PartitionMagic CD. To retrieve this general information on hard drives, put the PartitionMagic CD in your CD reader and when the automatic first screen comes up you will see one of the items listed as "Documentation". Select this item and you will see a list of the various documents stored on the CD in pdf format. The two you should print and read are "Basic Concepts" (29 pages) and "Installing a Second Operating System" (17 pages). These papers are a bit technical to read and they do not offer any recommendations as to what are the best ways to organize your hard drive, but they are a good starting point in learning about your hard drive.

A better way to learn about your hard drive is an educational CD entitled "Discovering your Hard Drive" that I recently published. This CD is divided into the following seven topic sections:

    1- Understanding your Hard Drive is an easy to follow look at the internal workings of a physical hard drive. It is a great place to start to learn about your hard drive.
    2- Upgrading your Hard Drive will help you to determine if your current hard drives are adequate and how you can upgrade them if they are not up to snuff.
    3- Organizing your Hard Drive helps you with the basic organization techniques to set up your hard drive. These are the concepts that the rest of the CD is based on.
    4- Managing your Operating Systems will show you how to run more than one operating system on your hard drive. This is a key concept that you should master.
    5- Moving to a New Operating System will help you understand how to move to a new release of Windows, like Windows XP. This topic is especially important today.
    6- Backing Up your Hard Drive is the first thing you should do before you start to organize your hard drive and is the last thing you should do once you get your hard drive set up as you want it.
    7- Securing your Hard Drive will show you how to secure your private information from hackers and identify thieves. This is the way of the future that we need to understand now.

Each topic shows you a series of presentation slides and you hear my voice describing the points you need to learn. It's an easy way to sit back and watch and listen to the information being presented. In a short time, you will understand your hard drive much better and will know how you can modify it to meet your personal needs.

The Discovering your Hard Drive CD can be ordered from our web site at http://www.ugr.com/order. Use the special order code of UGNL0402. The user group discounted price for the CD is only $20 plus a small shipping fee. This is the ideal way to get started to setting up your hard drive to meet your personal needs. Your copy of the CD is available now and can be at your door in less than a week. Order it today.

Gene Barlow
User Group Relations
PO Box 275
Orem, UT 84059-0275
(801) 796-7370

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