I have a large 6Tb external hard drive, which I am not using to boot my system at the moment, but only as a storage. I plan to store regular backups, photos (unarchieved) and some personal data.

Should I still partition the hard drive? If so, what will be the appropriate partition size and what could be the advantages and disadvantages of it (e.g. it can have low access speed or partitions will not be visible under some systems)? Are there any restrictions or performance issues in Ubuntu that I should consider?


This post gives such answer:


  • Formatting Convenience - If you ever need to format, you do not have to copy your data out first since it resides on another partition. You can just format the OS partition.
  • Increased Security - There is increased data security, since your data is now on another partition. Malware that affects or scan files on only one single drive will not scan your data partition.
  • Improved Performance - you can defragment your OS drive for max performance, and not worry about it being fragmented so fast, since data (where it changes the most), resides on another partition.


  • Slower Data Moves - Moving data from one partition to another takes awhile, unlike moves in the same partition.

  • Set-up Inconvenience - There are advisable steps to do in order to let your OS use the other partition as data effectively without impacting your workflow. e.g Moving your My Documents folder to the other partition.

  • Reduced Space - When you have 2 partitions, some space is lost.

Additionally I found relevant this criteria:

  • Different filesystem types - one can use different file system types on partitions, like having a "native" ext4 partition, NTFS partition if you need to exchange files with Windows machine freely (without third party software).

From what I see, there is no speed gain from partitioning a disk, even if it is large. Quite oppositely, there is a loss in speed. However, defragmentation will easier (it can be done for each partition separately), which will improve the performance.

Can anyone provide more complete list of criteria? To help you, some extra questions: When having a boot partition can be useful? Is it useful to recover the data from this hard drive? If I have a disk error in one partition, will the others work? If I plan to have multiple users for the disk, is there increased safety if I partition it? If I use it for backup, I will be copying and deleting large amounts of data every week (e.g. several hundred Gb), is it better to do such thing in different partition?

I guess all above is about physical partitions (not logical ones), but correct if it is wrong.

closed as primarily opinion-based by user117103, edwinksl, Kevin Bowen, Anwar, Pilot6 Sep 14 '16 at 16:27

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • You have to use gpt partitioning. I would at beginning of drive include an 500MB FAT32 ESP - efi system partition and a 1 or 2MB bios_grub partition, even if just in case later you want to use drive for an install. But I always suggest every drive have an install, so it can be booted if only to make repairs. So another 25GB for a / (root) partition. Then whatever data partition(s) you want or need. askubuntu.com/questions/743095/… – oldfred Sep 12 '16 at 19:58
  • That depends entirely on how you intend to use that drive. If you don't intend to use it now at all, just leave it until you figured out its use. – David Foerster Sep 14 '16 at 10:42
  • 1
    @DavidFoerster I plan to use it to store regular backups, photos and some personal data. – Noidea Sep 14 '16 at 10:46
  • @DavidFoerster ok, corrected – Noidea Sep 14 '16 at 10:52
  • You put the question on hold without leaving a single comment! Please reopen it. This question is not about somebody's opinion. It is about performance, speed, stability and other things one has to consider before partitioning a drive! I guess the difference between partitioned and not partitioned drive is not just that I see one or multiple root folders when I plug it in. So far I didn't get a good single answer, but I got some ideas. For example that one can create encrypted partition. Of course one person will create it, another not, it doesn't mean question is opinion based. – Noidea Sep 16 '16 at 9:44

Well, since you will be using it for data storage I would favor partitioning the drive considering the following:

  • Organizing data (Keep like files together - separate work and entertainment files)
  • Privacy (Use an encrypted partition to protect personal files)

If you plan to use the drive with Ubuntu alone I would partition the drive in ext4 format. Also, keep in mind that ext4 can be mounted in windows using Ext2Fsd.

Check this link regarding performance impact.

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