switch out? what do you mean? you can take it out and put it into another computer, you won't damage it. all IDE hard drive setups are basically the same:
to partition the hard disk you would either boot up with the winXP/ win2k CD to use the partition/ setup utility. or you would use DOS and fdisk, this would be done by making a win98/ winME startup disk and booting with that diskette.
help on fdisk is at computerhope.com search for fdisk. winXP/ win2k CD setup is much easier. btw, i don't think imperil is a word