What is the difference between a system partition and a boot partition


  1. Posts : 80
    Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit
       #1

    What is the difference between a system partition and a boot partition


    Why does my hard disk have a 500 megabytes unnamed active partition and and a normal 150 gigabytes boot partition as the C:\ Drive? I had thought that active, boot and system partitions were one and the same.
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  2. f14tomcat's Avatar
    Posts : 53,661
    Multi-boot Windows 10 - RTM, RP, Beta, and Insider
       #2

    junglee said:
    Why does my hard disk have a 500 megabytes unnamed active partition and and a normal 150 gigabytes boot partition as the C:\ Drive? I had thought that active, boot and system partitions were one and the same.
    Without seeing a picture of your Disk Management, judging by the size (500MB), I would say that is the Recovery Partition used by the OS. It's supposed to be there.
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  3. Posts : 1,218
    Windows 10 Pro
       #3

    The system partition contains the boot files while the boot partition contains the OS. I know the terminology is strange. I don't know why it is that way but I do know it has been in use for more than 20 years, likely from the earliest days of NT.

    The system and boot partitions can be the same and prior to Windows 7 that was the usual case. But starting with Windows 7 the installer creates a separate system partition which in Windows 10 is 500 MB. This is necessary if BitLocker encryption is to be used. With BitLocker the entire OS partition is encrypted. As you cannot boot from an encrypted partition the separate unencrypted partition is necessary to initiate the boot process.

    If BitLocker is not being used it is possible to consolidate the 2 partitions. I don't know the procedure. But keep in mind that 500 MB is only .33% of your OS partition and the partition does contain some critical files which would have to be in the new partition so the space savings are trivial. And to be safe you would need to have a full image backup of everything on the drive before proceeding.

    See this for more information:
    https://www.howtogeek.com/192772/wha...you-delete-it/
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  4. bro67's Avatar
    Posts : 8,359
    Mac OS Catalina
       #4

    A boot partition is just that. A system Partition holds the OS and all files that you will use.
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  5. Posts : 80
    Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit
    Thread Starter
       #5

    Thank you.

    LMiller7 said:
    The system partition contains the boot files while the boot partition contains the OS. I know the terminology is strange. I don't know why it is that way but I do know it has been in use for more than 20 years, likely from the earliest days of NT.

    The system and boot partitions can be the same and prior to Windows 7 that was the usual case. But starting with Windows 7 the installer creates a separate system partition which in Windows 10 is 500 MB. This is necessary if BitLocker encryption is to be used. With BitLocker the entire OS partition is encrypted. As you cannot boot from an encrypted partition the separate unencrypted partition is necessary to initiate the boot process.

    If BitLocker is not being used it is possible to consolidate the 2 partitions. I don't know the procedure. But keep in mind that 500 MB is only .33% of your OS partition and the partition does contain some critical files which would have to be in the new partition so the space savings are trivial. And to be safe you would need to have a full image backup of everything on the drive before proceeding.

    See this for more information:
    https://www.howtogeek.com/192772/wha...you-delete-it/
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  6. Posts : 80
    Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit
    Thread Starter
       #6

    I am posting the image of my Hard Disk. The 500 mB partition is just Active but not the Boot Partition. The C:\ Drive Partition is the Boot Partition. My point is that shouldn't the 500 mB Partition have been both Active and Boot Partition and C:\- not have been the Boot Partition. In my present scenario I should be able to make C: Active and delete the 500 mB Partition without any ill-effect. Can I?

    What is the difference between a system partition and a boot partition-my-hard-disk.jpg
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  7. Posts : 1,218
    Windows 10 Pro
       #7

    junglee said:
    I am posting the image of my Hard Disk. The 500 mB partition is just Active but not the Boot Partition. The C:\ Drive Partition is the Boot Partition. My point is that shouldn't the 500 mB Partition have been both Active and Boot Partition and C:\- not have been the Boot Partition. In my present scenario I should be able to make C: Active and delete the 500 mB Partition without any ill-effect. Can I?

    What is the difference between a system partition and a boot partition-my-hard-disk.jpg
    No, you cannot.
    If you were to do that the computer would not boot. The 500 MB partition contains the boot files and is labeled as the system partition. As expected it is marked active. The 150 GB labeled "Boot" contains the OS but not the boot files. As I mentioned the computer boots from the system partition but the boot partition contains the OS. Strange, yes, but that is the way it is.

    What you are seeing is completely normal and not in any way unusual.
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  8. Posts : 38,545
    windows 10 professional version 1607 build 14393.969 64 bit
       #8

    The drive has MBR structure.

    The 500 MB partition is the system reserved partition and is the active partition.

    BIOS/MBR-based hard drive partitions | Microsoft Docs

    https://www.howtogeek.com/192772/wha...you-delete-it/
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  9. x509's Avatar
    Posts : 863
    Windows 10 Pro
       #9

    LMiller7 said:
    The system partition contains the boot files while the boot partition contains the OS. I know the terminology is strange. I don't know why it is that way but I do know it has been in use for more than 20 years, likely from the earliest days of NT.

    If BitLocker is not being used it is possible to consolidate the 2 partitions. I don't know the procedure. But keep in mind that 500 MB is only .33% of your OS partition and the partition does contain some critical files which would have to be in the new partition so the space savings are trivial. And to be safe you would need to have a full image backup of everything on the drive before proceeding.

    See this for more information:
    https://www.howtogeek.com/192772/wha...you-delete-it/
    DON'T consolidate the two partitions!!! That's what i did back when Win 7 was new. When I was ready to upgrade to Win 10, I had to do a whole lot of extra work. I don't remember the details of the work, but i do remember thinking how short-sighted I was.

    There are enough issues with a typical Windows install as it is. Don't create more, as a self-inflicted wound.

    x509
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