March 15, 2012|
Hard Drive Re-Partitioning Pre-op Checklist
In-place adjustment of hard drive partitions with a live
operating system and extensive pre-existing data is considered an
extremely intrusive and risky operation. Successful completion of such
procedure is not assured. There is a non-negligible* probability of
catastrophic failure, rendering the hard drive unusable in the process.
Often, it'd be more sensible to coincide the revamping of hard drive
partitions with major O.S. upgrade/reinstallation. In which case, the
sensible path would be: backup/wipe out/fresh install/selective restore
(of data & settings).
However, there are scenarios where such sequence would be not
practically feasible. In those cases, we must proceed cautiously,
preceding the actual operation with comprehensive assessment and
- Gather specific data re: motherboard make/model, chipset
family, CPU model, storage controller model/rev., hard drive
make/model & interface.
- Brief hardware diagnostics to assure that CPU, memory and
hard drive are in working order.
- Basic O.S. diagnostics to confirm current instance of
Windows meets the minimal stability requirements. This includes
review of system event logs.
- Review O.S. Version, SP level and patch status pertaining to
- Analyze partition table structure and existing entries
- Perform preparatory steps and/or prerequisite remedies.
- Backup data and configuration files (or
advise client to do so).
* In a lab environment, my empirical data shows a 2%~3% failure
rate for overall scenarios, with about half of those failures being
classed as catastrophic (with data damage), rather than merely abortive.
For production systems in the field, I'm seeing a failure rate of below
1%, with zero catastrophic cases so far, in the 15 years or so or
performing such procedures. The strategy is to carefully assess the
situation before proceeding, and to be vigilantly looking out for signs
for orderly retraction and abortion, upon detecting any sign of danger.