Difference between disk formatting and partitioning

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between disk partitioning and formatting?

In this article, we answer that question for you and hope by the time you leave you will have a clear difference between formatting and partitioning. Before the user starts using any secondary storage disk both external and internal it is always recommended to format the disk and partition it if it is used to boot the computer.

Formatting is creating a specific file system that will be used where storing, accessing for read and writing, and searching the files. While partitioning is creating logically separate disks from one physical drive.

Disk formatting

It is used to prepare a disk physically and logically to store data. It does this by creating tracks and sectors on the disk surface. This is achieved at the low-level formatting. The high-level formatting is then used to create the clusters that will be used to store data. It also creates the structure of the disk by setting the boot sector, File Allocation Table, and records for other types of files. We have a detailed article on the types, functions, and importance of disk formatting you can read it here.

Hard disk partitioning

Partitioning a disk is taking a single physical disk and dividing it into multiple logical disks. The division is logical since you can delete the partitions and create them again. The created logical disk operates independently from other disks. It can be formatted separately, and you can install any type of operating system in one and another has user files. 

The operating system treats them as complete individual disks. Using disk partitioning utility software you can increase the size of one disk partition by extending the size. You can also reduce the size by shrinking it to a smaller size.

Difference between disk formatting and partitioning

Disk formattingDisk partitioning
It creates the layout of how data will be saved. It determines the hard disk tracks, sectors, and blocks where data will be storedIt logically divides a single physical disk into multiple independent disks.
Formatting is done before the user starts using the diskIt can be done same time when the disk is being formatted or it can be done later.
Low-level formatting is physical while high-level is a logical operation.It is a logical operation
Formatting deletes the data from the disk.Partitioning doesn’t affect data. If used on a disk that has data it either shrinks or extends the disk without affecting data.
It determines the file system that will be used on the disk. Formatting creates the root directory, File Allocation Table, and disk label.It determines the number and size of partitions the disk will have. 
Low-level formatting for a modern hard disk is done by the manufacturer while the high level which is setting the file system is done by the user.Disk partition is done by the user. Manufacture just provide a disk that is formatted at low-level and leaves the other part to the user.