Here's a brief tutorial:
FDISK can do some very basic things with a hard drive,
it is menu-driven, and each screen explains itself.
First, it can display the partitions of any drive it can find in
Partitions in the DOS world are of two kinds, the Primary
partition, from which you can boot the machine if it is on
the first drive, and the Secondary partition, which will be
the rest of the drive, outside the Primary partition.
Inside the Secondary partition, you can have several
logical drives. These are partitions, but in DOS they
are called logical drives in the secondary partition.
So your first primary partition on the first drive is drive C:
Your next logical drive will be D: whether it is a logical
drive on your secondary partition or the primary partition
of your second drive. The second drive's primary partition
takes precedence over secondary partitions to this letter,
hence, if you have no second hard drive, the D: may be
a logical drive on your first hard drive, but if you install
a secondary drive, all logical drives of the first hard drive
will be moved one step down the alphabet. The primary
of the first drive remains C:
Only one partition may be bootable in a DOS system.
When you have two hard drives, the first in some FDISK
versions will be called first disk and the second will be called
second disk .. other versions call the first hard drive 0 (zero)
and the second drive is hard drive 1 (one). You will see which
of these options that is valid for your FDISK when you use it.
With a new hard disk, which is not already partitioned, the first
thing you may wish to do is partition it. I'd recommend that you
always invoke the 'display partition information' option when you
first start FDISK. Then remember that FDISK always uses the
first disk as the default disk to work on, hence the first thing to do
when you add another disk to the system is to 'change drive' when
you are in FDISK, to see the new drive instead of the old one.
Menu choices are usually entered as a digit, some options
require only Enter or a number if you wish to change the
default value that is displayed. Sizes may be entered either
as megabytes or percentages. Remember that the secondary
partition shall be all the rest of the drive unless you will use
another partitioning program for a non-DOS partition.
MS-DOS FDISK can only make two 'partitions', if you
want several logical drives, the rest of the logical drives
are made inside the secondary partition. I.e. if you have
a 2G drive and want four 512M partitions, you make one
primary partition of 25% and a secondary of the rest ...
Then in the secondary, you make three logical drives,
From there on it's pretty straightforward, you have very few
choices for every screen that FDISK displays. Take it easy
and don't change anything unless you know what you do.
Mostly after making a choice, you back out with Esc. After
changing partition information on a drive, the system must
reboot to recognize the changes you made. FDISK makes
a reboot after repartitioning a drive.
When you delete partitions, you must first delete any
logical drives in secondary partitions before you can
delete the secondary partition. Deleting partitions is
necessary if you wish to change the partitions.
Also, to delete a partition that has a volume label,
you are asked to enter the volume label to proceed.
There are a number of built-in safeguards to make
sure that you do what you mean to do.
After partitioning, you will have to FORMAT the
partitions in order to put files on them. I recommend
always setting a volume label on any hard drive, to
identify the drive, and to make it a bit safer, in case
you should forget to switch drives when you want
to remove a partition.
Partitioning makes the disk available to the system
and prepares it to receive a file system. Formatting
sets up a file system, which can be mounted when
you start the system.
There is one more possibility to use FDISK, which is
not covered by the documentation, and that is replacing
the master boot record of the first hard drive. This is
done with FDISK /MBR and doesn't give any output.
The MBR option effectively removes any boot sector
virus, but it can be disastrous if you have an unusual
boot sector as from some boot manager programs.
(then it may effectively wipe out all your data)
FDISK /MBR doesn't work with all versions of DOS,
and it may render the disk unbootable if it's done from
the wrong version. Data can be read however if the
disk was formerly FDISK-ed with any DOS FDISK.
So ... using the wrong version may force you to do
it once again with the right version ...
For FDISK in W95 and additional information,
> I am looking for a brief tutorial or even a complete manual on
> the MSDOS fdisk program that goes step by step into the partitioning
> procedure. Any help or redirection to links is greatly appreciated.
> BTW, is there a "man fdisk" equivalent for MSODS?