There are certain instances where it is necessary to partition the hard drive in one of the laptops under 200 dollars that someone has but they want to completely avoid having to format the drive. Of course this is not really something that too many folks are going to have a need for but the situation arises occasionally nonetheless.
One of the simple suggestions which seems to work out well for people with a little bit of knowledge about the process of working with laptop computer operating systems is to use a tool which will accomplish the task relatively easily as well as quickly. One such tool is part of the Ubuntu Linux operating system install disc. There is actually a utility which allows the user to shrink an existing partition which includes the installation of another operating system on the hard drive.
As an example you can run the utility on a laptop which already has Windows XP installed on it. When you need to avoid having to wipe the drive and start fresh you can simply use the Ubuntu Linux install disc to shrink the current partition which has the XP install on it. This is relatively easy and fast but if you plan to do these processes be sure that you back up your laptop hard drive before you do this just as a measure of security. After you have run the utility you can simply stop the Ubuntu installation if it is not wanted. This should accomplish your goal, but this may not be for everyone. You should only attempt this if you feel comfortable with working on laptops at this level.