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Why Multiple Hard Drives....

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July 21, 2006 4:25:17 AM

I have a factory built comp and want to try my first homebuild. Could you guys explain a few things about harddrives...First, I have a 160GB harddrive and dont use even 20% of it....why would I need a bigger HD? Also, reading the posts I see that some guys have at least two (and sometimes 3 or 4) HD's in their rigs.....what is the point of multiple drives? Thanks in Advance --Geo

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a b G Storage
July 21, 2006 4:52:51 AM

File servers... storing movies, tv episodes.... etc. That's what i'll be doing with my next build.
July 21, 2006 5:25:08 AM

Quote:
I have a factory built comp and want to try my first homebuild. Could you guys explain a few things about harddrives...First, I have a 160GB harddrive and dont use even 20% of it....why would I need a bigger HD? Also, reading the posts I see that some guys have at least two (and sometimes 3 or 4) HD's in their rigs.....what is the point of multiple drives? Thanks in Advance --Geo


For you, multiple hard drives will not make sense. You will not benefit enough from two or more hard drives for it to matter. People have mulitiple hard drives for usually two reasons: 1. More space 2. Backup

I have two drives in my main computer: an 80 gig and a 200 gig. The 200 gig is used to store all the DV files when I do some DVD authoring (not uncommon to have 50 gigs of DV files for one project). The 80 Gig is partitioned to hold the system files in C: and D: is used as a storage site for small downloaded program installers, music, games, etc that I don't want to lose if my Windows XP were to crash on me tomorrow. For the most part, if I didn't encode video, I could make due with even a 10 GB hard drive.

One thing you (IMHO) should do is to at least partition that single hard drive. You'll never use all 160 Gigs to run windows, so partitioning it into a 15 GB section the the OS and programs and a 145 GB section for personal files, photos, music, videos, etc will give you a lot more security if your OS ever seriously crashes.
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July 21, 2006 5:26:21 AM

I've always had had at least 2 drives in my system just because it's easiest way to back up all your files if you ever need to reinstall windows or do any system upgrades.
July 21, 2006 6:18:21 AM

for people (like i will be once a decent TV tuner is available) who want to store hours of uncompressed HD tv shows and movies.... hahahahaha 10GB an hour.....
July 21, 2006 7:04:06 AM

True true....

I've got a 150gb raptor for OS and games and two more drives that add up to 450gb for everything else from movies to pictures (raw format from 8.2mp camera) to music.
July 21, 2006 7:52:18 AM

There are a number of good reasons to have multiple hard drives and only a few have something to do with more storage space.

For instance,

1. Place the windows swapfile on the first partition of the second hard drive (don't use an old slow hard drive for this). Given a decent drive, having the swapfile on a separate drive on its own channel will make your system more responsive.

2. A hard drive should be partitioned so files are better organized on the drive and backups are simpler. What I normally do is this,

Using one drive only:

First Partition (Drive C) - Anywhere between 8 and 16 GB for the OS (Probably Windows in your case) and other software that I consider critical. By "critical", I mean utilities that will enable you to correct problems (and you will have them eventually). Those include, a good antivirus (I like Kaspersky Labs suite), a registry checker/cleaner (Norton Windoctor is quite decent), data recovery tools (Ontrack Easy Recovery for instance), utilities to manage real and virtual hardware (like PowerISO, AnyDVD, Virtual Clonedrive, Norton Ghost, Nero, etc), a "driver" folder where I keep the original drivers and all of the subsequent updates.

Things that will never make it onto my boot partition are: Applications like MS Word, Office, Photoshop, Dreamweaver (or whatever you use to design a web site), etc. Those application belong in another partition. Keep reading.

Second Partition (Drive D) - Usually around 4 to 6GB. This partition is exclusively for the Windows swapfile and all the "Temp" directories that Windows uses, including "Temporary Internet Files" and "Temp" folder for each user under Windows XP. Note that Windows XP allows you to relocate those folders. Windows isn't installed until all of those folders and the swapfile are where they are supposed to be. Why do this ? because it will keep your system responsive. The crud won't be scattered all over the hard drive forcing the read/write heads to chase clusters all over. This partition should be FAT32 - NOT - NTFS. You gain a little bit of performance by using FAT32 instead of NTFS. Since this partition only contains files that can be lost without consequences, the safety features (and their cost in terms of performance) are unnecessary.

Third Partition (Drive E) - Usually around 8 GB. This partition contains the OS (again!) configured almost identically to the one located on Drive C. Why have this ? to recover from problems that prevent you from booting into Windows. This setup gives you a greater chance that you will have one functional Windows installation that you can use to repair the other one. Note: On my systems (when using a single drive), I now make this the default Windows installation (instead of the one in Drive C), the reason I do this is because a lot of viruses, spyware, adware and other unwelcome crud you may pick up on the net is written by inept programmers that hard code drive C ( as in "C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\MySpywareJunk.exe") for the target location of their garbage. By booting from the installation on drive E, there is no effect on your active installation.

Fourth partition (Drive F) - Usually a large partition consisting of about 1/3 the total space available on the drive. This is where I place all of the applications. Things like MS Office, Adobe stuff (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver), video editing software, and whathaveyou, goes. Since I use a lot of applications, I make this partition quite large (but LESS than half the capacity of the drive - read on for the reason why).

Fifth partition (Drive G) - Generally it works to be around half the size of the Drive F partition. This is where I keep all of my data. I move the "My Documents" folder to this partition and ALL of the documents/data that I create are ALWAYS saved on this partition. This makes it very easy to backup your data since it is not intermingled with other stuff (like the OS, temporary directories, program files, etc).

Last partition (Sixth in this case and, Drive H) - This partition is normally 1/2 the total (and real) capacity of the hard drive. The reason for this partition is two fold. First, the transfer rate of most hard drives decreases as you approach the outer tracks. This partition therefore segregates the slowest half of the drive. Second, I use it to store files that I access rarely but that I'd rather have immediately accessible instead of on a CD or DVD. Examples are mp3s and other music files, rips from DVDs that I haven't had the time to burn yet and any other file that isn't important and that is in the back burner as far as it getting my attention.

This last partition does contain several potentially very important files however. Once I have setup Drive C and Drive E with Windows and utilities, just as I want them, I use Norton Ghost to create a partition image of each and keep it here. I refresh these images as needed. If I have enough space I also keep an image of Drive F, mostly because I don't care to spend the time reinstalling all the applications (This is where a second hard drive could come in quite handy)

On a 160GB drive, the above works out to roughly

Drive C - (Label: System B) say 8 GB in your case
Drive D - (Label: Swapfile) 6GB of which 2GB are the swapfile right off the bat.
Drive E - (Label: System) say 12GB (This should be your main installation)
Drive F - (Label: Programs) 32 GB for programs/applications (Adobe, MS, etc)
Drive G - (Label: Data) 22 GB. Space for data you create.
Drive F - (Label: Attic) The area for seldom used files and Ghost Images.

I label each of the partitions as shown above. Since not only do I have multiple drives (as many as 6 hard drives at one time) on my system, they come and go as needed from a larger pool of drives. To keep track of which drive is which (which sometimes isn't obvious), I assign a short and different ID to each drive, and include that ID in the partition labels. For instance, if I had two drives, I could have a "D1 - System B" and a "D7 - System B" (if it happened that the additional drive had Windows installed on it - which they usually all do).

Why go thru all the "trouble" to organize the partitions like that ? because your system is easier to backup, easier to recover in case of problems and, last but not least, remains responsive even when the drives are almost full. I have an old system with a Celeron at 466Mhz - not exactly a speed demon by any standard - and it still more responsive than most of the systems I play around that are configured with one monolithic drive C. Of course, responsive is one thing, sustained throughput is another. That Celeron won't process digital effects or video in any decent amount of time but it will load most programs as fast or faster than most 3+ Ghz systems I have played with in retail stores (which sell so poorly configured, I suspect it is done on purpose).

If you have 2 hard drives instead of one, for a home system, and, assuming they are the same size, I would have the second drive with partitions C, D, and E, exactly the same as on the first one. I'd make Partition D on the second hard drive, the location of the swapfile for the Windows installations that reside on the first drive (which you would be booting from). That way your swapfile is on a different drive which should make your system more responsive.

I'd have an "attic" partition on the second drive just as on the first one. The space in between (what is F & G on the first drive) you can decide to split based on your particular needs.

Hope that helps (instead of confusing you)
July 21, 2006 8:41:58 AM

Great reply 440bx. I would like to follow your advice, but I have one question.

How do you get windows XP pro to put it's swap files on another partition?
July 21, 2006 9:12:52 AM

you should post that in annother thread and get it to be sticky. an excelent guide to beginners
July 22, 2006 1:12:21 AM

I disagree with your position of partitioning drives to gain performance, but I agree having a hard drive for OS, one for data and one for swap/scratch disk does increase performance...
Taking a large drive and partitioning it used to gain lost hard drive space due to block size ratios, but today using NTFS it is not necessary.
July 22, 2006 1:36:25 AM

the only way you would gain anything, and mind you it would be very small is swap would be unfraggemnted but you would never notice it
a b G Storage
July 22, 2006 1:46:09 AM

HDD #1: Windows and programs
HDD #2: my stuff

I won't have my files and my OS on the same HDD ever again. I almost lost everything due to system failure. By having the OS on a seperate HDD, I can restore my system without worrying about losing my files.
July 22, 2006 2:21:52 AM

Quote:

On a 160GB drive, the above works out to roughly

Drive C - (Label: System B) say 8 GB in your case
Drive D - (Label: Swapfile) 6GB of which 2GB are the swapfile right off the bat.
Drive E - (Label: System) say 12GB (This should be your main installation)
Drive F - (Label: Programs) 32 GB for programs/applications (Adobe, MS, etc)
Drive G - (Label: Data) 22 GB. Space for data you create.
Drive F - (Label: Attic) The area for seldom used files and Ghost Images.



Sorry, that would be too much of a PITA for me... Definitely the most thorough I've seen. :wink:

One thing missed so far. Most modern motherboards have some kind of
RAID available, typically raid 0 and 1. By mirroring a drive with RAID 1, if one drive fails, the second remains. By using RAID 0, the drive speed is increased.

Personally I have a NAS, with a RAID 1 to store anything important. Everything else is disposable, if you ever drop a laptop while it is on, you'll know what I mean.
July 22, 2006 2:33:11 AM

I have 3 drives.
My first drive is the WD raptor 74 gig 10 K. I use this one for xp and apps.
The second drive is for my games, mp3's, movies, etc. The third drive is strictly for backing up My Documents and I always leave it unplugged. Since SATA II hdds are hot swappable, I can plug it in when my rig is running, back up my files, then I unplug it. That way, if I ever get a virus or other nasties, I just format my drives and start over with ALL my files intact. :wink:

RIG specs
Antec P180 PerformanceSeries Mid-Tower Case
SeaSonic S12 600 watt power supply
Asus A8N32 SLI mobo AMD N-Force 4 SLIX16 (bios 1103 V02.58)
RealTek 97 onboard digital 5.1 Surround
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Toledo Core, 2 X 1mb L2 cache (AMD drivers w/MS hotfix)
2 gigs of Corsair TwinX3500LL Pro @ 437Mhz 2-3-2-6-1T
2- BFG Tech 7900 GT OC 256mb in SLI (nvidia driver 91.31)
Western Digital RAPTOR 74.3 gig 10-K rpm HDD for XP & Apps
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for gaming, movies, MP3's
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for document backup (unplugged)
Sony CD rom 52X
Plextor 708-A DVD/CD rom
Logitech Z-5500 digital 5.1 THX Surround 500watts
July 22, 2006 3:04:39 AM

Nice job! i saved a copy of it for my future build.

Should be a sticky.
July 22, 2006 3:47:16 AM

Actually from my reading on the subject (I was in the process of getting a degree in Network Administration dropped out fairly early though) but my understanding was always that with Raid 0 aka striping it is faster to write data but not to read data or I might have that backwards but my understanding was that it was faster for either read or write but not both. Now that might have changed with newer HDD's but the typical speed as far as moving data on or off a HDD has remained pretty much unchanged for quite sometime it tops out at I belive 133MB/s weather you use EIDE or SATA. Unless you run SCSI Drive. but those are much more expensive per MB than either EIDE or SATA and I also belive you cant get them in as large a size but I haven't really looked for SCSI drives in a while so prices may have comedown and capacity up.

Of course the draw back with Raid 0 is that if you lose one drive you lose everything, where as with Raid 1 you mirrior between 2 drive. Now they do have a hybrid of Raid 1 and 0 I belive it is Raid 5 (correct me if im wrong) that both stripes and mirror but that requires a minumum of 4 drives and is really only good for say business where you CAN NOT afford to lose any of your data. I also belive there is another Raid set up that also runs on I think 4 or more drives where is one drive is lost you can install a new drive to replace the dead one and the Raid set up can repair any lost data I want to say its like Raid 6 but I am sure I am wrong.

Personally right now I have 3 HDD's one 80 GB for my operating system and games and such, although I am building a new pc and plan on partitioning the drive to put os on seperate Partition. So I have one drive with all my programs and such. One that is 20 GB that is older that I use to hold random stuff. And a 3rd 160 GB HDD that I pretty much use exclusivly for my music, I have over 120 GB's. T440BX was correct in saying that partitioning is better but IMO I think that many partitions is a bit much but it comes down to personal preference. Unless you store and/or use alot of data i.e. music, games, movies, recorded tv show etc. a 60 or 80 GB drive is more than any average person ,your mom and pop if you will, will ever use or need.

But partitioning with the os on one and everything else on another is definately the way to go becuase like he said if your OS has a total crash and you have to reinstall if its in a seperate partition everying not on the OS side will be safe barring your HDD itself crashing and burning. Sorry if that was kind of a long drawn out post.
July 22, 2006 6:05:48 AM

To place (and size) the Windows swapfile go to

Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Performance "Settings" -> Advanced -> Virtual Memory "Change".

There you can select on which partition to place the swapfile and also its size.

Note that to force Windows NOT to have a swapfile on drive C (its default location) you will have to select drive C and set the swapfile size to zero, then select drive D and set the swapfile size to 2048MB (the size I normally recommend, I set it to 2048 for the minimum and the maximum, this is usually enough). For good measure, I normally go thru all of the remaining partitions and set the swapfile size on each one of them to zero. This last step is unnecessary but it is profilactic.

You didn't ask but just in case,

To change the location of the "My Documents" folder to another drive,

1. Start Windows Explorer
2. Right click on "My Documents" in Windows Explorer, select "Properties" from the submenu
3. From the Properties pages select "Move", place your "My Documents" folder on any drive/partition you wish.

Keep in mind that if you have more than one logging username, you will most likely want to use the same folder structure that Windows uses for the new destination. By this I mean, don't place your "My Documents" on the root of the target partition, instead place it on "G:\D & S\username\My Documents" (presuming that "G:\" is your data partition). I use "D & S" instead of the longer "Documents and Settings" (mostly a matter of personal preference but it also prevents some occasional problems - more on that below.)

To move the "Temporary Internet Files" temporary folders to partition D (the swapfile partition),

Control Panel -> Internet Options -> Temporary Internet Files "Settings" -> Move Folder

I normally set the target as "D:\D & S\username\TempIntFiles\". That's descriptive enough for my taste and this is where my comment about preventing occasional problems applies. It is not too uncommon to end up having very long url names in the Temporary Internet Files subfolders. Sometimes the path length of such a url exceeds 1024 characters which causes Windows (and Windows Explorer) to be unable to delete the file. For instance, I've seen url names that are so long that when you prepend them with "D:\Documents and Settings\username\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\XYZ1234C\" they end up exceeding 1024 characters, causing the file(s) to become a problem. While Windows "sees" the file(s), you get the message "File not found" or something along those lines when you attempt to delete them. Shortening "Documents and Settings" and "Temporary Internet Files" can spare you some aggravation of this type. If you run into this problem, use the command interpreter from JPSoftware called 4NT, it can usually get rid of the files using the /z switch of its "Del" command.

While you're moving the "Temporary Internet Files" folder, set its maximum size to something reasonable. It can get completely out of hand if not kept in check. I normally set it to 16MB.

To move the "Temp" directory,

Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Environment Variables

you will need to edit the values for the variables named TMP and TEMP for both the user and the system.

While you are in the control panel, I suggest you check how much space is allowed to the "System Restore" facility. It can be a real space hog. Set it to the minimum (on a large hard drive, the minimum is usually around 200MB, which is plenty). I turn the thing off because I can recover from problems without it.

To move the "Cookies" folder,

I can never remember how to move that one. I thought it was using TweakUI from the Microsoft PowerToys but I just checked and that's not it. I can owe you that one for another day if you're interested.

To move other folders,

Use the TweakUI power toy from Microsoft. Great little utility.

As far as folders that I move from its default location, that's all that comes to mind right now. I have probably missed something though. I can only remember all the stuff when I am setting up a new system.

Hope that helps.
July 22, 2006 6:10:19 AM

Quote:
you should post that in annother thread and get it to be sticky. an excelent guide to beginners


thank you. Since I am a beginner in these forums, I don't have a clue on how to do that and I don't know if other people would find it a nuisance to have it "sticky".
July 22, 2006 7:28:53 AM

Quote:
I disagree with your position of partitioning drives to gain performance, but I agree having a hard drive for OS, one for data and one for swap/scratch disk does increase performance...
Taking a large drive and partitioning it used to gain lost hard drive space due to block size ratios, but today using NTFS it is not necessary.


We may actually be in a agreement.

I don't suggest partitioning a hard drive to gain performance but to gain system manageability, to make it easier to backup and recover. It was worth pointing out that a system with a properly partitioned drive will remain more responsive as the drive gets filled than otherwise. This is a significant benefit over a non-partitioned (or poorly partitioned) drive.

In the case of two drives, it was logical to point out that some performance can be gained by placing the swapfile on the second drive. That said, I would *not* suggest purchasing a second drive for that reason alone. The modest performance gain isn't worth the expense.
July 22, 2006 7:46:39 AM

[/quote=jjw]

Sorry, that would be too much of a PITA for me... Definitely the most thorough I've seen. :wink:

One thing missed so far. Most modern motherboards have some kind of
RAID available, typically raid 0 and 1. By mirroring a drive with RAID 1, if one drive fails, the second remains. By using RAID 0, the drive speed is increased.

Personally I have a NAS, with a RAID 1 to store anything important. Everything else is disposable, if you ever drop a laptop while it is on, you'll know what I mean.[/quote]

Believe it or not, it is not much of a PITA. You normally end up working only in the partition where your data resides. The remaining partitions are largely ignored and, most times, only require some attention when you are installing a new program.

You're right about RAID 1. That gives you a real time backup but it does not give you the advantages obtained from a well partitioned drive.

RAID 0 is something I'd never use. It doubles your probability of losing your data.

NAS and RAID 1 combined = nice.
July 22, 2006 7:55:20 AM

Quote:
[/quote=jjw]

Sorry, that would be too much of a PITA for me... Definitely the most thorough I've seen. :wink:

One thing missed so far. Most modern motherboards have some kind of
RAID available, typically raid 0 and 1. By mirroring a drive with RAID 1, if one drive fails, the second remains. By using RAID 0, the drive speed is increased.

Personally I have a NAS, with a RAID 1 to store anything important. Everything else is disposable, if you ever drop a laptop while it is on, you'll know what I mean.


Believe it or not, it is not much of a PITA. You normally end up working only in the partition where your data resides. The remaining partitions are largely ignored and, most times, only require some attention when you are installing a new program.

You're right about RAID 1. That gives you a real time backup but it does not give you the advantages obtained from a well partitioned drive.

RAID 0 is something I'd never use. It doubles your probability of losing your data.



NAS and RAID 1 combined = nice.[/quote]

That is does but with the risk of losing your data you gain speed reading from the Raid array. But as you said it doubles the probability of losing your data. But I have noticed alot of pre cofigured systems from places like Alienware likt to use Raid 0 since you get faster reads.
July 22, 2006 8:32:33 AM

I disagree that you should partition your hard drive that much. One for Windows (or other OS) should indeed be done so you don't lose everything if you have to format and reinstall.

However, having more than two drives (C and D) is a waste of space and actually might be even harder to manage. What happens when one of your six drives runs out of space? You have to put stuff from that drive to some other, which results in a less organised HD. Not good.

However, if you only have C and D...(C for windows and and perhaps drivers and maybe some antivirus etc..depending on how you want it) and D for everything else. Just make the directories on drive D something like..
D:\Programs
D:\Downloads
D:\Photos
D:\Swap
D:\etc etc


That way you don't have to bother your mind with guessing the amount of space you need for each one. ;) 

Of course, I'm not sure how having the swap file on a different drive would help, but if it actually does, you could make one for that. :) 
July 22, 2006 8:59:45 PM

I've had a few hard drive crashes. All I can say is that it did not matter how many partitions I had, EVERYTHING was gone...

In one case the drive was recognized as a completely different drive, another one died when I dropped my notebook (you could here the head dragging on the disk :oops:  ) I did have a disk fail, that I was able to recover some data with knoppix, just 1 NTFS partition, but the disk ended up being RMAed.

If you are going to have important data, back it up. (RAID 1,5,6 doesn't really count, either, it is just a step in the right direction)
July 22, 2006 9:53:36 PM

Um, to have more space. Der.
July 22, 2006 10:08:24 PM

Well, it will not make any sense for you at all.

As for me, my music collection is in Wavpack, therefore, lots of space is necessary. I'm actually willing to buy the 750 gig Seagate because I need even more space than ever. I'm running low with three HDs in my computer (1 WD 80 gig, 1 WD 250 gig, and 1 Seagate 160 gig).
July 22, 2006 10:14:05 PM

MY SET UP: I currently use 2+ Physical PATA HHD "Volumes." 1 large HDD partitioned into 3 drives. Volume 1: C= WXP OS (about 20Gb). D= Apps (b/c I like to see what I've got loaded to use, w/o sorting thru all of windows files. E=Temporary & Data files (all photos, songs, movies and emails). Volume 2: F=Imaged backup of Volume1. Run every couple of days, very fast as it is an internal drive. (BTW, I don't depend upon WINDOWS XP RESTORE as it often fails to do just that. I also no longer use Norton (Symantec) GOBACK as it screwed by daughter's computer system. I back it up!) My backups alternate between Volume 2 HDD and an external HDD, which I then disconnect otherwise. HARD Bakup to DVD every 6 months or so. I have a QUESTION: For editing video I need to capture analog video, edit, and then format to MPEG for burning. I recall that there is an optimum setup of the HDDs to avoid conflict and maximumize the process speed. What is that arrangement? I use PINNACLE software (and NERO or CREATIVE as necessary). How would this differ if I upgrade to a RAID capable system? With this level of backup, is RAID 0 a reasonable option?
July 22, 2006 11:08:22 PM

Like people have said already, multiple hard drives give me the ability to reinstall my OS whenever I want without worrying about my files. I have Raptor 36Gb for OS and apps, 120Gb hdd for all my stuff. I never keep anything important on my OS hdd.

Unlike almost everyone else here...I WOULD STRONLY DISCOURAGE YOU FROM USING **ANY** KIND OF MULTIPLE PARTITIONS ON A HDD!!!

My experience with EVERY SINGLE partition setup I had (meaning where I had more than 1 partition per drive) it has failed MISERABLY. I mean complete and total failure! The last time I tried partitioning was a 200gb hdd I bought. I cut it in half to see if NTFS & Win XP could handle partitions better than my experiences in Win95 & Win98SE (which also failed miserably with total data loss). The partition worked for only 2 weeks before one day booting up it couldn't read one partition and the other half it could only see as FAT16. YES, you heard me right, it could only read it as FAT16...

Total data loss on both partitions too. I retried re-formatting and then partitioning the drive with a commercial partitioning package. Again, about 2 weeks later and total failure of both partitions! GAAAHHHH!!!!

Anyway, I have it running as a single 200Gb partition in my server now and NO FAILURES for about 5-6mos now of 24x7 operation.

This is the experience of all my partition experiences, always complete and catastrophic failure of the file system. (side note: EXT2 file system rocks for partitions but thats Linux and a whole other story :)  )

Moral of the story?

Friends Don't Let Friends Use Partitions!
July 22, 2006 11:37:44 PM

Swapfile should be 1 1/2 times the size of your RAM.
July 23, 2006 12:41:03 AM

Quote:
Swapfile should be 1 1/2 times the size of your RAM.


So old-school :wink:
a b G Storage
July 23, 2006 12:50:57 AM

Quote:
Like people have said already, multiple hard drives give me the ability to reinstall my OS whenever I want without worrying about my files. I have Raptor 36Gb for OS and apps, 120Gb hdd for all my stuff. I never keep anything important on my OS hdd.

Unlike almost everyone else here...I WOULD STRONLY DISCOURAGE YOU FROM USING **ANY** KIND OF MULTIPLE PARTITIONS ON A HDD!!!

My experience with EVERY SINGLE partition setup I had (meaning where I had more than 1 partition per drive) it has failed MISERABLY. I mean complete and total failure! The last time I tried partitioning was a 200gb hdd I bought. I cut it in half to see if NTFS & Win XP could handle partitions better than my experiences in Win95 & Win98SE (which also failed miserably with total data loss). The partition worked for only 2 weeks before one day booting up it couldn't read one partition and the other half it could only see as FAT16. YES, you heard me right, it could only read it as FAT16...

Total data loss on both partitions too. I retried re-formatting and then partitioning the drive with a commercial partitioning package. Again, about 2 weeks later and total failure of both partitions! GAAAHHHH!!!!

Anyway, I have it running as a single 200Gb partition in my server now and NO FAILURES for about 5-6mos now of 24x7 operation.

This is the experience of all my partition experiences, always complete and catastrophic failure of the file system. (side note: EXT2 file system rocks for partitions but thats Linux and a whole other story :)  )


I have my 300GB Maxtor drive into a 240 and a 60. the 240 (main partition) is for my main OS (XP Pro SP2) and the 60 is for testing Vista Beta 2. I have never had any problems in terms of data loss or abnormal issues with the partition type changing..... before I had Vista Beta 2 on the 60GB partition, I had XP x64 on it. Again.... no issues whatsoever like what you described.
July 23, 2006 12:58:27 AM

I know, its wierd. No one has the same problems, but every single time I've tried partitions...maybe about half a dozen times in the past 5 years, all attempts have ended with a corrupt file system and completely lost data.

I don't understand it...and it happens where i'm using my system, nothing unusual, shut it down for the night and the following bootup the drive and partitions are gone and no data can be read.
a b G Storage
July 23, 2006 1:00:53 AM

That is odd.....
July 23, 2006 3:24:40 AM

Quote:
I disagree that you should partition your hard drive that much. One for Windows (or other OS) should indeed be done so you don't lose everything if you have to format and reinstall.

However, having more than two drives (C and D) is a waste of space and actually might be even harder to manage. What happens when one of your six drives runs out of space? You have to put stuff from that drive to some other, which results in a less organised HD. Not good.

However, if you only have C and D...(C for windows and and perhaps drivers and maybe some antivirus etc..depending on how you want it) and D for everything else. Just make the directories on drive D something like..
D:\Programs
D:\Downloads
D:\Photos
D:\Swap
D:\etc etc


That way you don't have to bother your mind with guessing the amount of space you need for each one. ;) 

Of course, I'm not sure how having the swap file on a different drive would help, but if it actually does, you could make one for that. :) 


I respect your opinion. However, you should know that partitioning the drive does not waste any amount of space worth talking about. Windows reserves roughly 8MB per *drive* (not partition) to manage the partitions. That's the equivalent of 5.5 floppy disks. I don't think that's worth worrying about.

The reasons for that many partitions is that not everything is backed up the same way. Nor is everything managed the same way. I'll be more explicit as to how a drive is managed when it is laid out as I proposed.

Partition C - The fallback Windows installation. This one gets backed up once after the system has been properly setup. After that it is rarely backed up. Only when a new antivirus or recovery utility is installed in it, is when this one gets backed up again.

Partition D. This one is important for two reasons. 1. It ensures that your swapfile is not scattered all over the drive which *does* slow down the system. 2. Everything in this partition is disposable, in other words, it *never* has to be backed up.

Partitions E & F (main Windows installation and applicatons/programs installed) are backed up only after new (and important) programs have been installed. I back them up more often than partition C but no more than maybe 4 or 5 times a year.

Partition G - data. This one gets backed up very often - sometimes several times a day (of course that depends on what you do with your computer). Being a programmer, any time I get some difficult code to work, an entire snapshot of the current state of the project gets backed up. I do this partial back up dozens of times a day and a full backup of the project at the end of the day (some days have 48 hours :wink: )

Partition G - Attic. Stuff that is rarely backed up, if ever. It also fulfills the purpose of segregating the slowest area of the drive. "Halving" the capacity of a drive in this way is called "shorting" the drive. This, along with the rest of the partitions is what will keep your system responsive even when all of the partitions are close to being full. The responsiveness of a system running off of a hard drive with only one or two large partitions suffers noticeably as the partitions get filled. I hear people all the time lamenting how their "used to be a screamer" system has gotten to be so slow. Shorting the drive would have helped a great deal to prevent the slowdown.

For the record, I am not trying to convince you or anyone else for that matter. Just trying to help. If you want a system that will remain responsive in the long run, you'll need a partition layout that segregates the data into what's used a lot, what's used little and, what must be accessed quickly from what can be accessed slowly. You'll most likely end up with something close to what I suggested.

You are correct in that I have to "guess" how much space to allocate to each partition but, I'm usually not too far off the mark and if I happened to be, I could simply use one of the many utilities that allows you to resize partitions. This "problem" would be taken care of in about 30 minutes in most cases.

be well
July 23, 2006 3:49:06 AM

Quote:
I've had a few hard drive crashes. All I can say is that it did not matter how many partitions I had, EVERYTHING was gone...

If you are going to have important data, back it up. (RAID 1,5,6 doesn't really count, either, it is just a step in the right direction)


I completely agree.

Partitioning is not a substitute for backing up. A good partition layout makes it easier and faster to backup.

I'm looking forward to blu-ray drives (or HD-DVD) at reasonable prices to backup 25GB at a time on optical media. I'm hoping within a year or so.
July 23, 2006 3:53:12 AM

Quote:
I've had a few hard drive crashes. All I can say is that it did not matter how many partitions I had, EVERYTHING was gone...

In one case the drive was recognized as a completely different drive, another one died when I dropped my notebook (you could here the head dragging on the disk :oops:  ) I did have a disk fail, that I was able to recover some data with knoppix, just 1 NTFS partition, but the disk ended up being RMAed.

If you are going to have important data, back it up. (RAID 1,5,6 doesn't really count, either, it is just a step in the right direction)


You are correct, but I think the other poster was refering to an OS crash not a hard drive crash. I mean if your HDD crashes eveything is gone unless you have the money to pay to get it recovered, I remember a while back seeing a news report on a company the speciailzes on recovering data from crashed or damaged drives they could do it but it would cost you. But if it is only the OS that suffers a horrific crash and it is on a seperate partition I would think in most cases the data on a different partition would be ok.
July 23, 2006 4:17:23 AM

Quote:

You are correct, but I think the other poster was refering to an OS crash not a hard drive crash. ............ But if it is only the OS that suffers a horrific crash and it is on a seperate partition I would think in most cases the data on a different partition would be ok.


You are also correct Biohazard. As you said, I was referring to OS problems in general not to a total and sudden disk failure.
July 23, 2006 4:51:54 AM

I've had multiple internal hard drives since windows 98 when I had 2 6GB and a 20GB hard drives. Over time I purchased larger drives, dropping the lowest capacity drives. My primary reason was so if one started to go bad, I'd have the others to backup any data to, and then replace the dying one.

Back in April '05 I got into external storage.

Recently I've been using the following partitions for my organization of my drive.

160GB
Partition 1: 30GB - Boot and Install.
Partition 2: 78GB - Dump and Download. Temporary storage for Shareaza downloads, and any miscellaneous files I needed to move temporarily.
Partition 3: 44GB - Documents. For all my long term storage.
Partition 4: 1GB - Swap. Dedicated 1-2GB location for Windows page file. Then I use TweakUI to make the swap partition disappear from MY Computer, and forget about it. Is there a performance disadvantage in having the swap file on a partition that is completely full (with the exception of the couple MB of free space it requires?

When I redo my hard drive with a fresh install of windows I may decide to change things around. Notably make the swap the C and first partition on the drive, with Install being D, DND E and Documents F. I hadn't realized that having the swap at the end of the drive would've been

In addition I've been using a 160GB (now 200GB) external USB2.0 HDD as an ISO drive, where I store all my cd/dvd ISOs. It works great at LAN parties when we need to get things installed, as we can move it around to any computer as necessary. Installing from ISO over USB2 owns cd/dvd any day. Unreal Tournament 2k4 installed in just over 3 and a half minutes (dvd ISO).

I also just recently picked up a 300GB HDD placed in an external enclosure which has just been named my Star Trek Drive. It will contain every episode of Star Trek and all 10 movies ever made :) 

With all the other tv shows and documentaries that I have, I'm considering another external HDD. I've not decided on the size of this new drive but it'd probably be 160-200, maybe larger.
July 23, 2006 4:54:03 AM

With 1gb of ram or even better with 2gb I've read the swap file is redundant and can be disabled completely to improve speed. Partioning is a waste of time with the price of drives now and NTFS. For just back up and storage an external case with a good HDD works well, if you're going to access it constantly like you would the C: say for videos or other such things that require faster access then put the second one inside as slave.
July 23, 2006 5:47:21 AM

Quote:
MY SET UP: I currently use 2+ Physical PATA HHD "Volumes." 1 large HDD partitioned into 3 drives. Volume 1: C= WXP OS (about 20Gb). D= Apps (b/c I like to see what I've got loaded to use, w/o sorting thru all of windows files. E=Temporary & Data files (all photos, songs, movies and emails). Volume 2: F=Imaged backup of Volume1. Run every couple of days, very fast as it is an internal drive. (BTW, I don't depend upon WINDOWS XP RESTORE as it often fails to do just that. I also no longer use Norton (Symantec) GOBACK as it screwed by daughter's computer system. I back it up!) My backups alternate between Volume 2 HDD and an external HDD, which I then disconnect otherwise. HARD Bakup to DVD every 6 months or so. I have a QUESTION: For editing video I need to capture analog video, edit, and then format to MPEG for burning. I recall that there is an optimum setup of the HDDs to avoid conflict and maximumize the process speed. What is that arrangement? I use PINNACLE software (and NERO or CREATIVE as necessary). How would this differ if I upgrade to a RAID capable system? With this level of backup, is RAID 0 a reasonable option?


I am not aware of a "known" optimum setup for the process. I have done some casual video editing and format conversion on relatively short videos (no more than 20 minutes of video). My knowledge about the process is definitely limited. The one thing that I have noticed while editing video is that a lot of large temporary files are created by the video editing software. Though I have not used Pinnacle, it very likely does the same (I've used Nerovision and WinDVD Creator Platinum)

Based on that observation, the ideal setup would likely require 3 hard drives. One drive for the input file, one drive for the output file and one drive for Pinnacle's temporary files. If you'd like to take the guesswork out of that guess (pun intended) you can download "Process Explorer" from

http://www.sysinternals.com/ProcessesAndThreadsUtilitie...

This nice little utility will allow you to see all of the files used by any piece of software and where they reside. You can use it to see exactly what files are used and how, with that knowledge you can configure your system optimally based on facts instead of guesses. If I were you, I would do a "test run" of the process with a relatively small file (15MB) just to gather the necessary information for an optimal setup.

To make "Process Explorer" show you the files being used by an application follow these steps:

1. In the View menu ensure that "Show Lower Pane" is checked.
2. In the View menu ensure that "Lower Pane View" is set to "Handles"

after that, click on the pinnacle process and the files it is using will be displayed on the lower pane.

You didn't mention how much memory you had in your system, I can say that in the case of video editing you can never have too much memory. I had 1GB and it was obvious that another gig would have made the process faster.

Sorry I can't be more definite but Process Explorer should give you the information you need to determine the optimum setup.

About RAID 0, I may very well be too conservative to ever recommend RAID 0. I find that a properly configured system with multiple drives is quite close to the performance of an "equivalently" configured RAID 0 system. For me, the potential downsides of RAID 0 aren't worth the small performance gain. That said and to be objective, for processing large video files, a RAID 0 array with a large block size (say 128KB+) would probably result in a noticeable performance increase in that particular case.

Hope that helps
July 23, 2006 5:54:09 AM

Quote:
Swapfile should be 1 1/2 times the size of your RAM.


That's the Windows default. There is no harm at all in having a greater ratio and advantages if you run several memory intensive programs simultaneously.
July 23, 2006 6:00:19 AM

Quote:


My experience with EVERY SINGLE partition setup I had (meaning where I had more than 1 partition per drive) it has failed MISERABLY. I mean complete and total failure! The last time I tried partitioning was a 200gb hdd I bought. I cut it in half to see if NTFS & Win XP could handle partitions better than my experiences in Win95 & Win98SE (which also failed miserably with total data loss). The partition worked for only 2 weeks before one day booting up it couldn't read one partition and the other half it could only see as FAT16. YES, you heard me right, it could only read it as FAT16...

Total data loss on both partitions too. I retried re-formatting and then partitioning the drive with a commercial partitioning package. Again, about 2 weeks later and total failure of both partitions! GAAAHHHH!!!!


That's a sympton that there is something wrong somewhere in your system. If I had that happen, I wouldn't stop until I found out why it happened.
July 23, 2006 6:24:51 AM

Quote:
With 1gb of ram or even better with 2gb I've read the swap file is redundant and can be disabled completely to improve speed. Partioning is a waste of time with the price of drives now and NTFS. For just back up and storage an external case with a good HDD works well, if you're going to access it constantly like you would the C: say for videos or other such things that require faster access then put the second one inside as slave.


What you've read is unfortunately incorrect and very easily established.

Consider the following scenario,

You have Maya, 3D Viz, Cinema4D, DVD It Pro, AutoCAD along with their libraries, plug-ins for a various things, etc, all running at the same time (and with data files loaded of course). Without a swapfile, 3GB of memory wouldn't be sufficient. Add Photoshop, and another couple of rendering and modeling "utilities" and by now you need about 16GB of ram just to get everything loaded. Without a swapfile giving Windows some "breathing room", the system would become slower than the movement of intercontinental plates (a crashed system doesn't move even that "fast")

Don't take my word for it, try it.

If you want to read it (from other people that *really* know what they write) read the memory management section of "Windows Internals".

Granted, if all you run is the basic Windows stuff along with a game and you have a couple of gigs then having a swapfile isn't critical but, Windows will still not work optimally even in that case.
July 23, 2006 6:32:06 AM

There is no disadvantage in having the pagefile in a partition that is almost full.

There is a disadvantage to having the pagefile on the last partition of your drive. You have two frequently accessed areas at opposite ends of your drive. It's costing you in terms of performance.
July 23, 2006 11:18:39 AM

You misunderstood what I meant. I'll try to explain better. ;) 

So, you have your 6 partitions. Every one is doing what it's supposed to. Now, let's say you're running out of space on drive F. What do you do when you need to put more stuff in that would go to that drive and you can't delete anything already there? You have to put it to drive G or where ever. That results in a mess. You have stuff in wrong places etc. Hopefully, you understood this far.

Now, when you only have two (or three, one for swap or something) drives you can still manage everything going to different directiories and you'll only run out of space when the complete HD is full. :)  (excluding C: for Windows (or other OS, if you have one :p ))
July 23, 2006 12:38:20 PM

Storage, back up and raid performance.

I have two 74Gb Raptor in raid configuration for the main operating system and games. Raid basically syncronizing two or more hard drives and with it the pc can download faster and load faster as well, although it doesn't any major performance difference but 5-10 seconds faster is always better. :wink:

Lastly, I have one 250Gb hard drive for music storage and most importantly back up of extra files just in case the local drive breaks down.
July 25, 2006 8:45:47 PM

Hi, folks.

I'm new here. This thread has been very instructive, but leaves me with a few typical Windows-newbie questions. I've been reading Tom's Hardware for a year or so, and reading the forums (using the "new topics" link) for about six months.

Some history: my first computer was an Osborne 1, bought in January of 1983 (although the first micro I ever saw was an Altair being used to run the lights in a disco, circa 1977). When the Osborne quit, I replaced it with a Mac, and have used Macs since then for most of my purposes. I learned the benefits of partitioning with an offboard 40 MB drive (mega, not giga...).

The PC came along last year, as a way to play a game that wasn't available for the Mac. Having gotten tired of fan noise, I bought a silent PC. It came with two 120GB Samsung drives. The system drive I couldn't do anything with, but the second drive I partitioned using Windows into four partitions. I thought that would cover my needs.

Well, the silent PC quickly became my music server. I bought two more drives and a SATA host bus adapter, but that seemed to cause problems. In the process of doing research for that, I discovered that the motherboard had two IDE ports, so I ended up replacing the SATA installation with a Seagate 7200.8 400GB drive.

At present, this works very well. For the future, though, I'd like to build a specific music server, using Zalman's smaller silent case and a MicroATX motherboard. The Pentium-4 based computer makes a great heater, which is nice in the winter, not so good now. Tentative plan is to use a Pentium-M motherboard, a drive of around 200GB for system and programs, and a 750GB drive for music. Alternative motherboard would be an AMD Venice core.

My questions are:
1. How do you install Windows XP twice on the same PC, as 440bx has done?
2. How do you make more than the four partitions Windows allows?

Thank you for your help.
--LC
July 26, 2006 12:55:36 AM

LordChaos,

1. How do you install Windows XP twice on the same PC, as 440bx has done?

All you have to do is partition the drive. If you follow my suggestion, you'll have partitions C, D, E, F, G, H. These partitions can all be created at the time you install Windows for the first time on the drive (the setup allows you to create as many partitions as you want.)

Once you've installed Windows once, keep the Windows installation CD on the CD-ROM and reboot. Choose to boot from the CD to restart the Windows setup. Not far into the Windows setup you'll get to a screen where Windows will ask you in which partition you want to install it. At the time you'd select partition E. You can repeat this process as many times as you want.

2. How do you make more than the four partitions Windows allows?

Windows only allows 4 *primary* partitions but you can have as many extended partitions as you wish. Within an extended partition you can have quite a number of logical drives (These logical drives in the extented partitions are commonly called "partitions" too but, strictly speaking they should be called "logical drives" since they actually all reside in a single extented partition).

When you create partitions, you can choose to create them as primary partitions (in which case the limit of 4 applies) or you can create one primary partition and one extended partition (for simplicity's sake, the extended partition should consume everything left over after creating the primary partition).

It is *not* recommended to create all your partitions as primary. One of the reasons for this is that a number of utilities create "virtual partitions" which can only be used as primary partitions. If there are no entries left in the partition table (which is the case if you have 4 primary partitions) then virtual partitions can be created but cannot be used (therefore they become useless in that case).

One thought that just crossed my mind is that the Windows setup only creates primary partitions. Therefore it is better (more flexible) to partition the rest of the drive within Windows.

The common way is

1. Create a primary partition (during the Windows setup)
2. Continue and finish installing Windows (started on step 1)
3 From Windows, create an extended partition (using up all of the remaining space)
3.1 Create a logical drive of whatever size you want
3.2 Repeat step 3.1 until you have all the "partitions" you want.
3.3 Reboot your computer using the Windows CD, tell setup to install in any one of the partitions now on the drive.
3.4 Repeat step 3.3 for however many Windows installations you want.

You can install Windows as many times as you want. There is nothing stopping you from installing Windows in every single partition (or logical drive) you create, except maybe for how boring the process gets. I've never found a use for more than 4 Windows installations (of the same version) on a single drive.

Hope that helps.
July 26, 2006 4:11:12 PM

Thank you for the information, 440bx. You've helped me understand what's going on. Now I need to experiment a bit... I've never installed Windows.
a b G Storage
July 26, 2006 6:59:37 PM

It's actually not that hard..... put the disk in, follow on screen instructions. Once you do it the first time, you'll probably think "Why did I think this was so hard"?
August 1, 2006 7:09:58 AM

440bx.....this is my very first post to this forum and it is your words which promted me into action.

Thanks for the fantastic info.

I am in the process of planning my next build (4th build) and the hard drives is an area I have been a bit confused by....in the past I only bothered to have one HD with with two partitions (one part for the OS and Apps and the other storage). I now realise I should have made more of an effort.

What would you propose I purchase as the optimum set of drives for "Jack of All Trades" PC (a bit of gaming, a bit video storage, a fair bit mp3 storage / multimedia, a little bit of video editing) ? I have limit of around 200 - 250 USD for the drives.

The guts of the build spec so far....
> Core 2 E6600
> ASUS GF 7900GT
> ASUS P5W-DH or similar
> 2 GB PC 5400 RAM

I had in mind a 80 or 120 GB 7200rpm drive for the OS etc and 300 or 400 GB 7200rpm Storage Drive. I now plan to partition them as you propose.

Seagate vs Maxtor (or Other) and why ?
Have the feeling Raid is not worth it ?
I guess SATA II ?

Any other comments also welcome of course.
!