Want to Use Windows 8? Partition (Divide) Your Hard-Drive and Try It!

Introduction: Want to Use Windows 8? Partition (Divide) Your Hard-Drive and Try It!

Microsoft recently released its new operating system Windows 8. This new version of windows is dramatically different the previous version, Windows 7. By partitioning, or dividing, your hard drive before installing Windows 8, you will be able to use both operating systems on your computer. This will allow you to try Windows 8, without having to uninstall Windows 7. Thus, giving you more time to get adjusted to Windows 8 or switch back to Windows 7, if you do not like Windows 8. These directions give step-by-step instructions on how to both partition your hard-drive and install Windows 8. Users with some computer experience should be able to successfully follow these directions. Good luck!

Costs: The only cost is purchasing Windows 8, which can be purchased from Microsoft for $119. Students can often get discounted or free copies through their university. You may be able to find Windows 8 on-sale at some stores or through other clubs or organizations.

Time: The entire process will take approximately 1.5 hours. Though, it does not need to be completed all at once.

Required Materials
1. Your computer
2. A copy of Windows 8 on a DVD or Flash Drive and a product key (alpha-numeric number)
3. A copy of all of the programs you would like on Windows 8 (Microsoft Office, Anti-Virus Software, etc.) and product keys. Remember, some programs can be downloaded from the internet (iTunes, Microsoft Security Essentials)
4. An external Hard Drive for backing-up data.
5. You may want to print these directions.

Caution: Before beginning, make sure you back-up any files you cannot replace, including personal files and programs. You should be doing this normally, but there is an elevated risk of losing files when installing a new operating systems. Though, the risk is low and less likely when you are not replacing the current operating system, which we are not doing.

Note: Throughout the instructions, look for black boxes over the pictures. Moving your cursor over the boxes will display helpful text. The boxes also highlight key areas for each step.

Step 1: Click 'Start'

Task 1: Partition Your Hard Drive

(Skip to Task 2 (Step 16) If your hard drive is already portioned or only need instructions for installing Windows 8)

Click ‘Start,’ which is most likely in the bottom left of your screen.

Step 2: Click 'Control Panel'

Step 3: Click 'Systems and Security'

Step 4: Click ‘Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions’

Step 5: Create Free Space on Your Hard-Drive

In the Disk Management Window, right click on the box labeled ‘OS (C:)’ or the largest block in the window.

Note: If you already have enough green free space, skip to Step 8.

Step 6: Click 'Shrink Volume'

Note: You may have to wait a minute while your computer looks for free space.

Step 7: How Much Space to Add

Enter the amount of space (in MB) you would like to shrink. Click ‘Shrink.’ This may take a few moments. You should then see green free space. You are currently shrinking your current drive, so there is room for your new drive.

Note: It must be smaller or equal to the ‘Size of available shrink space in MB’

Note: You want to shrink at bare minimum 50,000 MB, with the more the better. But, this is eliminating space from your drive that has Windows 7. Thus, you probably do not want to shrink all of the available space, so you have room to save new files are install new programs on your Windows 7 operating system. I personally suggest at least 150,000 MB, if you have the room. If you do not have at least 50,000 MB of free space, your hard-drive is not large enough to install both operating systems, Click 'Cancel.' You can upgrade your current operating system to Windows 8, if you would like. You will need to find other directions to complete this task.

Step 8: Format Free Space

Right-Click on the green 'free space'

Step 9: Click 'New Simple Volume'

Step 10: Click ‘Next’ on the New Window

Step 11: Set Volume Size

1. Make sure the ‘Simple volume size’ is the same size as the ‘Maximum disk space'
2. Click ‘Next’

Step 12: Assign Drive Letter

1. Click 'Assign the following dive letter'
2. Choose whichever letter you would like from the drop down
3. Click Next

Step 13: Format Drive

1. Click ‘Format this Volume with the following settings:’
2. Choose ‘NTFS’ for the File System drop down menu
3. Choose ‘Default’ for the allocation unit size
4. Type in the ‘Windows 8’ in the Volume label text box
5. Uncheck ‘Perform a quick format’
6. Click ‘Next’

Note: By unchecking ‘Perform a quick format,’ formatting may take a few minutes longer, but Windows will check for damaged sections of your hard-drive and make sure nothing is stored in those sections.

Step 14: Review Information - Finish Format

1. Review the information to make sure it is correct, Click ‘Finish’
2. If the information is not correct, navigate through the previous pages using the 'back' and 'next buttons. Then, return to this screen using 'next' and click 'Finish'

Note: You will need to wait while the partition is formatted, this will most likely take between 30 and 45 minutes. It is safe to use your computer to do other things during this time, or leave your computer and come back later.

Step 15: Formatting Finished

You should see this screen when your computer has finished formatting the new partition. You have now made a new partition and can continue to install Windows 8 on this new partition (next steps).

Step 16: Set-up and Begin

Task 2: Install Windows 8

Note: You will have to restart your computer and complete other steps that will make these on-line instructions unavailable. Therefore, I suggest you print a hard copy of directions, which can be found in the upper left corner, or look these directions up on a different computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

Caution: Remember, you need your Windows 8 Product Key, the 25 alpha-numeric number. If you cannot locate your key, check the packaging your receipt, or your email, if you purchased Windows 8 online.

1. Insert DVD or Flash-Drive with your copy of Windows 8.
2. Restart your computer.
3. While your computer is restarting, watch for a message that states, “Press F12 for Boot Options,”  “Press any Key to Boot from DVD,” or something similar, the message varies depending on your brand of computer. The message will most likely be at the top of your screen in plain print. Press the key stated in the on screen directions.
4. From the new window, select either, DVD/CD drive or USB drive for the boot location, depending where you placed your copy of Windows 8.

Note: If you miss pressing the key while your computer is restarting, it is okay. After your computer completely restarts, restart your computer again and try again.

Step 17: Basic Information

1. Enter the requested information
2. Click 'Next'

Step 18: Click 'Install Now'

Note: You may have to wait 1-5 minutes after this step.

Step 19: Enter Your Product Key

1. Enter your product key in the blank box. Your product key has 25 characters and is made of letters and numbers. You do not need to enter the dashes. If you do not know where it is, check your packaging or receipt.
2. Click 'Next'

Note: If you do not have your product key, you should be able to continue. But you will need to enter the key within 60 days, or your license will expire.

Step 20: License Terms

1. Check the box stating you agree to the License terms.
2. Click 'Next'

Step 21: Select Custom Install

Click 'Custom: Install Windows Only (advanced)'

Note: We are selecting custom, because we are installing a new copy of Windows 8 and not replacing an existing copy. If you are replacing an already existing copy, you may want to select upgrade.

Step 22: Select Drive

1. Select the drive you want to install Windows 8 on, if you followed these directions, it should be called 'Windows 8.'
2. Click 'Next'

Caution: Make sure you select the correct drive, if you select the incorrect drive, you could erase all of the data on that drive (your saved data, programs, and Windows 7).

Note: You will now need to wait 10-20 minutes while Windows 8 is installed, your computer will then restart, which may take longer than usual, since the initial set-up is occurring.

Step 23: Personalize

You should not have to do anything until you arrive at this screen.

1. Select color scheme for your account.
2. Enter what you would like your computer called into the 'PC Name' text box.
3. Click 'Next'

Note: Your PC name is sometimes used for registering your computer on different networks, or network sharing. So, chose the name appropriately, other people will most likely be able to see this.

Step 24: Internet Options

Select the option that best applies to you.

Note: These options can be changed later.

Step 25: Choose Settings

Select express or custom settings. I suggest you select express, all of these settings can be changed later. If you select custom, follow the on screen directions to select your settings. You will have to navigate through many different screens.

Step 26: Type of Account

Choose if you would like to create a Microsoft account or not. You will eventually need a Microsoft account to be able to use all of the features of Windows 8.

After selecting which kind of account you would like to create, following the on-screen instructions.

Step 27: Finish Install

Congratulations! After creating your account, you have successfully installed Windows 8!

Above are the two main screens for Windows 8, the start menu and the traditional desktop.

At this time, get comfortable with the different screens and apps, and make any setting changes you would like.

Your drive with Windows 8 acts like a completely different computer than your drive with Windows 7; therefore, you will need to install any programs that you would like to have on Windows 8, such as virus-protection and Microsoft Office. You should install these like you would normally.

You can access your saved data on your Windows 7 side of the computer, just like you would access data on an external hard-drive or flash drive.

Each time you turn-on or restart your computer you will be asked which operating system you would like to run, Windows 7 or Windows 8. If you do not choose one, Windows 8 will be selected automatically for that session. So, if you would like to switch from Windows 7 to Windows 8, or vice versa, at any time, restart your computer and choose the appropriate operating system.

If you need more assistance with anything, try Microsoft's Windows 8 support page:

I hope you enjoy your new operating system!

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    2 Discussions


    2 months ago

    Very helpful tips,
    I will use the same to solve issues of my company Indiaaccess Servers and Hostasp Servers
    Thanks for your info


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, that's really help, but I think you can just run diskmgmt.msc to get in Disk Management, it's faster