When running Mac OS X, it is possible to have either a single-partition or multiple-partition hard drive. There are some distinct advantages to each method, and each has its drawbacks. It is worthwhile to explore the pros and cons of both before deciding how you want your particular system set up.
Single-partition drive pros
• Single-partitioned is the default state of most hard drives, making it the easiest to work with. Keeping a single-partition requires no changes to the drive. It is possible for data to be lost or corrupted when partitioning a drive. With a default single-partition drive, there is no risk of losing valuable data in the partitioning process.
• Since most drives are already set up to be single-partitioned, this method makes the most use of hard drive space for data storage, programs, etc.
Single-partition drive cons
• Single-partition drives can hamper the efforts of your system administrator. Some administrative tasks require multiple volumes. There is no opportunity to create a utility system, and it may be necessary for the administrator to utilize external drives for some maintenance tasks.
• Naturally, system data and user data are in the same partition on a single-partition drive. This can make things difficult for the system administrator.
Multiple-partition drive pros
• The first and possibly greatest benefit of using multiple partitions on a hard drive is the ability to install multiple operating systems. If, for instance, you have software that you wish to use in Windows or a different version of Mac OS, a drive can be partitioned so that you have the ability to boot up in either Mac OS X or the alternate OS.
• Another good thing about using a multiple-partition drive is the ability to make a backup utility system for repairing your main system.
• A multiple-partition drive allows for data storage in a different partition from the operating system. Thus, if anything goes wrong with the OS, or you simply want to replace it for some reason, it can be done without losing or corrupting your stored data.
Multiple-partition drive cons
• Since multiple partitions are not the default state of hard drives, it takes some effort to make a multiple-partition drive.
• Sometimes, reconfiguring the partitions requires erasing all data from the drive (reformatting). Obviously, this can be a bit of a pain.
• Multiple partitions are unsupported by the Mac OS X Boot Camp Assistant.
• Multiple partitions have to be set up properly so as not to waste hard drive space. An improperly partitioned drive is makes very inefficient use of hard drive space.
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