I want to install XP onto a drive that has important data on it.
I guess I need to create a partition for the operating system
Can you partition a drive and has data on it?
How do you do this?
Do you have Vista or Linux? In Vista you just right click on Computer, then click manage. Once that pops up, click on Disk Management, then right click your local drive (usually C - it will say under status that it's the system drive) and click Shrink Volume. Specify how much you want to remove (in MB) then click Shrink. Once that happens, give the unallocated space a drive letter, then format it.
There you have it, a newly partition that XP can run on. Unfortunately though, I have yet to find a way to put that space back, although I believe Partition Magic (or something similar) would do that perfectly. If you're worried about losing important files, then backup everything you need on say a Flash Drive, CD / DVD ROM, or an external hard drive. If you choose the external drive route remember to remove it during the partitioning / installing so you don't lose those important files.
I hope this helps, if you need more information just PM me or post back here.
Hmm, interesting. If I read it correctly GParted is a bootable Linux which allows you to partition your hard drive? That's neat! Going to give that a try.
Have you had any faults with the program? IE: Losing data?
None whatsoever. It's a great utility, and I'd thoroughly recommend it. It can handle all common filesystems and quite a lot of uncommon ones too. I used it back in the day when I wanted to use Visual Studio with .net, and needed Windows XP Professional (and I had XP Home installed over the whole drive). My, how we move on, eh?
Can GParted work on a windows machine
Yep, it boots into a Live CD. What this means is that the ISO image you download and burn to a disk is in fact a complete operating system contained within the CD (albeit a very limited one with one sole purpose). So although it is a Linux tool, you do not need Linux installed, nor do you need to install Linux. Booting the live CD loads a Linux operating system off the CD itself, directly into RAM. Your hard disk remains completely untouched.
Once it's booted, you will see the Gnome Partition Editor utility appear, and you can manage your partitions however you like. It's completely safe to make any changes, because your hard disks aren't being used at all. Once you're done, simply reboot and remove the disk and your hard disk will be partitioned just as you set it up in Gnome Partition Editor.
Incidentally, if you have, or know anyone who has, an Ubuntu CD, you can use that too. The procedure is exactly the same: you don't use the hard disks at all, just loading into a Live session. The Ubuntu live CD has GPartEd on it, and to launch it, you simply wait for the desktop to appear, press Alt+F2 and type "gksudo gparted" into the box (without quotes). Gnome Partition Editor will appear, just as if you had used the GPartEd live CD.
So what's the point of using the live CD for GPartEd if you can just use Ubuntu? Well, there are two reasons: the download for GPartEd on its own is much smaller, and it loads up a lot quicker. That's why I only suggest using an Ubuntu CD if you already have one, or if you want to try out Ubuntu for yourself anyway. Otherwise, go for GPartEd.