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My Partitioning Philosophy.

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September 30, 2006 10:48:10 PM

My guide hard drive partitioning (for Windows XP users)

Let me start off by saying that this is intended to be a set of suggestions primarily for beginners or those who haven't given partitioning much thought.

This advice is based on my own personal goals which may be different from your own.

My goals are to keep things as simple as possible, while making it easy to automatically safeguard both my software and data.

My working principles are;

A) Install all software to one location.
B) Separate software from data as much as possible.
C) Don't move anything that will cause problems.
D) Use folders and not partitions to organize data.
E) Backup software to avoid unnecessary repair work.
F) Backup data to avoid losing anything important.

Part 1 - Partitioning.

1) Always use NTFS.
a) Use FAT 32 only if you must physically share the drive with an OS that doesn’t support NTFS.
b) Drives shared over a network can still use NTFS.

2) Install your OS to a small partition at the beginning of your fastest hard drive.
a) If using a partitioning utility, create a “Primary” NTFS partition and set it to “Active”.
b) Chose a partition size that is about 25% more than you will need for your OS and Installed software.
c) Internet/office users will need about 10 GB. Gamers may require around 20-40 GB.
d) Do not be tempted create an overly large C: partition. I personally have never needed more than 30 GB.
e) If necessary you can re-size your partitions latter with a utility such as Partition Magic 8, but backup anything important first.
f) Ensure that Windows XP designates this partition as C: during the install process.

3) Partition the remaining space on your fastest hard drive and assign it the letter D:

4) Create a single primary NTFS partition on all remaining hard drives.
a) Avoid the temptation to create elaborate partitioning schemes to organize your data.
b) Move your page file to a 2nd hard drive if one is available.

5) Reserve E: and F: for optical drives for consistency across systems.
a) Assign remaining drive letters to devices as you see fit.

Part Two - Separate Software and Data.

1) Install all software on C: - No exceptions.

2) Do not use C: for anything else - No exceptions

3) Move as many document folder from C: to D:
a) Create a folder on D: for each user account. Call it “Account Name’s” Folder.
b) Move as many document folders to that location as possible.

4) It is not safe to move the "Documents and Settings" folders or entire user profile folders.
a) These folders contain files that are part of the OS.
b) Keeping the current version of these files while restoring your OS to a previous state will cause severe problems.
c) In general do not move any folder unless you are have good reason to assume it is safe.

5) I can't give instructions for every application, but here is a partial list.
a) Right-Drag-Move each user's "Desktop" folder, then restart.
b) Move the "My Documents" using its property dialog.
c) Start Firefox and Thunderbird from the run menu with the -profilemanager switch and create new profiles. Replace the contents of the new profile folders with those from the old profile folder.
d) IE users can Right-Drag-Move their "Favorites" Folders.
e) Many programs automatically store documents inside your "My Documents" folder and so no action need be taken.

Part Three - Backups.

1) Start with the assumption that your hard drive will fail without warning.

2) Perform a “partition level” backup OS before and after any major software changes.
a) Chose software that can a backup your OS while it is running. I prefer True Image 9
b) If you have enough hard drive space, scheduling a daily, weekly or even monthly backups.
c) Make a backup after a clean install and save it so that you never have to reinstall Windows.
d) Split the images into 1.45 GB chunks for easy transfer to DVDs.
e) Always keep an external copy of a fairly recent backup.

3) Schedule “folder level” backups of important data on C: that you are unable to relocate to D:
a) Alternately, always perform a “partition level” backup prior to restoring your OS partition.
b) Scheduling a daily “partition level” backup will also ensure that any important files on C: are never more than 24 hours out of date.

4) Perform a “folder level” backup of all important data.
a) Try to keep all your personal data in a single folder for easy backup.
b) Many people just manually copying important folders to another hard drive. Perhaps adding the date to the folder name in the process.
f) True Image 9 can do both “partition level” and “folder level” backups.
g) Those advanced backup needs should consider Retrospect 7.5.

5) Anyone with data they can’t afford to lose needs to schedule automatic backups – No excuses.
a) Virtually no one will actually stick to a regular backup schedule unless it is automated.
b) Automatic backups require storage media that is always available, which means internal hard drive and network shares or an external hard drive which you will always leave connected.
c) Obviously storing the backup on the same drive as the original isn't the safest solution.
d) Moving the backup images to DVD or an external hard drive is an excellent idea.
e) Some data is valuable enough as to require off-site storage in case of a fire or similar disaster.
f) Redundant RAID arrays do not replace the need for backups. Data can still be lost due to viruses and more importantly user error.

6) Never get yourself into a situation where you can't follow your backup strategy. Burn some DVDs or buy a new hard drive before....
a) "Temporarily" download/store files on C:
b) Erase needed backup images to make room for more files.
c) Switch to manual backups because you no longer have space for automatic backups.


Part 4 - Explanations

Why use NTFS?
NTFS is in all ways superior to FAT 32.

When shouldn’t you use NTFS?
When physically sharing a partition with an OS that doesn’t support NTFS. There are no problems using NTFS when sharing a drive over a network connection.

Why use more than one partition?
To maintain separation between your software and your data.

Why separate your software and your data?
So you can fix software problems without affecting your data. Also software and data require different backup strategies.

Why make C: the first partition of the fastest hard drive?
This is the fastest part of your fastest hard drive.

Why not make an extra large C: partition?
Because you will eventually start using the excess space for storage.

What’s wrong with using C: for storage?
Eventually you end up unable to perform regular OS backups because the image files would be too large, and unwilling to restore because too many files will be overwritten.

Why put C: and D: on the same drive?
To ensure the special folders on D: are always present.

Why call the second partition D?
Because its the letter following C: and the words Documents and Data both begin with D:

Why reserve E: and F: for optical drives?
So that every system you setup will have consistent drive lettering.

Why not install software to multiple partitions?
Because there is no performance benefit, and it needlessly complicates backup operations.

Why not create multiple partitions on the remaining drives?
Data is best kept organized using folders, not partitions.

Why perform partition level backup?
Restoring from a backup will fix any software problem in about 15 minutes.

Isn’t a clean install always the best choice?
No, usually the solution has everything back the way you want it in 15 minutes is best. If you system could benefit from a clean install, its best to do so at a time of your own choosing.

Why backup your C: partition before making major software changes? Because something could go wrong.

Why backup your C: partition after making major software changes?
So you don’t have to repeat what you just did the next time you restore from a backup.

Why schedule daily, weekly and monthly backups if you have the disc space?
Because sometimes it takes awhile for you to notice a problem.

Why do you recommend True Image 9, Partition Magic 8 and Retrospect 7.5 over other software?
Personal preference, feel free to use whatever will get the job done. When choosing software, keep in mind the fact that most people have trouble sticking with a backup plan that isn’t fully automated.

Why are you not always using the most technically correct terms?
I know the difference between between physical disks, logical disks, partitions and volume, but its beyond the scope of this guide to explain it.

Why so many spelling/grammar/stylistic mistakes?
My degree's are in CIS and Philosophy not English. Also forum posting generally fall under the category of informal writing.

Mostly I am lazy and both in and out of college I have always found it easier to talk an English major or a professional writer into doing my proofreading.

(The fact that at any given time the English major/writer is invariable female and the reward for her efforts is invariable a home cooked meal and some moderately priced alcohol has done little to encourage me to improve my grammar)

More about : partitioning philosophy

September 30, 2006 11:29:43 PM

bravo, good job, a bit of proofreading and it can make a decent sticky.

Quote:
Why put C: and D: on the same drive? - Because you moved special folders Why XP will freak if you accidentally boot with D: missing.
September 30, 2006 11:46:55 PM

I agree with most of it. Why does D: need to be logical? And, I would never ever use anything to mess with my partitions, like partition magic or anything else, but that's just me. I'm old school.
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October 1, 2006 12:17:21 AM

Quote:
4) All software gets install to C: no exceptions.

5) Nothing else gets put on C: no exceptions.

10) Schedule regular folder level backups of important data on C: that cannot be moved. If you have the disc space simply backup the damaged partition prior to restoring from a good image.


I got a little partition called "pending backup" that holds about a DVD's worth of data. Anything i download or create or whatnot get dumped in that partition in a folder named "DVD backup '#'" and when it's full I dump it to a dvd. and then move the folder on to a seperate HDD that holds all my backups and personal data. When Windows acts stupid or something i installed starts mucking w/ everything i just wipe it. Usually about 2-3 times a year. I really should just make a disk image. Probably quicker than reformat..... Nah. not really cause it's a C2D.

Andy
October 1, 2006 12:34:28 AM

Making D: Logical is just a safety precaution. It keeps you from accidentally installing XP to the wrong hard drive.

If the XP CD can't recognize the first primary partition its going to label the 2nd primary partition C:, which could lead to someone installing XP to the wrong partition.

---
Seperating files that need to be backed up from files that have already been backed up is a great practice.

In fact there are many good reasons to keep things in seperate palces.

However I can see no advantage in using seperate partitions rather than simply using seperate folders.

The only disadvantage I can see to folders is that XP makes it difficult to to instantlly tell the size of a folder.

So I use a free utility called Folder Size which is a replacement for Explorers "Size" column that will tell you the size of a folders contents.
---

PS I know I am lazy about proof reading forum postings, maybe I will clean it up tomorrow.
October 1, 2006 12:46:25 AM

I buy that. I don't think I would do it that way, but it's a good safety measure.
October 1, 2006 1:06:51 AM

The most important aspect of partitioning the primary drive was not mentioned, using only part of the drive for the Boot partition results in faster file access and loading times due to the arm having to do less back and forth travel, and only working with the section with the fastest sustained transfer speed. This is called "Quarter Stroking" or some such and can make the drive faster than a full Raptor.
October 1, 2006 1:44:42 AM

Quote:
I buy that. I don't think I would do it that way, but it's a good safety measure.


Its one of the things I don't bother with myself, but tell beginners to do as a precaution. Like removing all but one hard drive when installing XP.
October 1, 2006 5:08:36 AM

Excellent summary, and that is almost exactly the way I organize my hard drives.

I've wondered whether there would be any benefit in moving Documents & Settings to the second partition? Or at least each user's Documents & Settings\User folder. There is a lot of activity in the Application Data and Local Data folders that is hard to move elsewhere.

I agree completely about automated backups to another hard drive, either internal or external.

Guy
October 1, 2006 3:03:32 PM

Quote:
I've wondered whether there would be any benefit in moving Documents & Settings to the second partition?


It won't work as the Documents and Settings folder must remain in sync with your OS. As soon as you restore your OS to a previous state without doing the same to the Documents and Settings folder things go horribly wrong.
October 10, 2006 6:16:28 PM

Everything you say makes good sense.

What about a Raid 1 array and backing it up? I have one so I do not have to have 8 million cds and dvds laying around collecting dust.

I will mention I had a windows corruptions that took out 2 harddrives worth of data but the Raid 1 array remained stable. I did have a small mounting issue but I resolved that and lost no data.

Your post has me rethinking my lack of a backup to non HDD media.
October 10, 2006 6:23:12 PM

My setup includes a 74 GB Raptor with a 30 GB OS partition, the rest is partitioned as D: as well as two 400 GB Western Digital Raid Edition 2 drives in a RAID 1 configuration.

I still keep my personal Documents on D:, but Dantz Retropect automatically backs up all my files every other day at 9AM to the RAID 1 array.

I also run manual backups if I do anything important, like scan in a couple hundred family photo's or spend 6 hours organizing my business documents.

This ensured that for me to lose more than two days worth of data three hard drives have to simultaneously Fail.

I also copy the backup files to an external hard drive about every other week.

If my entire appartment burns to the ground I am completely screwed, but in such circumstances data loss wouldn't be the first thing on my mind.

PS Remember RAID 1 is only an insurace against simply hard drive failure. It doesn't protect you against user error, hackers, malware, or lighning strike. So you still need to take other backup measures.

Some people will need to do more than simply throw the backups unto an exteral hard drive.
October 10, 2006 6:55:44 PM

Fairly similar to the systems I have configured to date however I would never recommend using D: for a harddrive, simply because often users come across old software that they /must/ use, and the installer or loader assumes D: is the source location. If you had to change that when your personal documents are already on D:, that would create quite a hassle.

Whatever removable media drive, usually optical drive they are using to load/install from I usually set as D. Although with other platforms the lettering isn't really an issue...

My personal computer I allocate 60gb to my C:, simply because the games I play average about 3gigs a piece, 12 games, plus the other stuff puts me slightly over 50gigs. I also have separate drives for my temp/swap, and encodes/downloads since those can thrash a drive fairly quick.

Not really related to partionning harddrives but, I usually remove the drive letters for flash media as well, and shove their mount points all on a folder somewhere(all users desktop or create shortcuts in the template profile). Generally if they're accessible via the desktop pulldown they're very easy to find and its nice to have them organized together with these 16+ in one media readers these days.. although I believe there are typically only 4 concurrent ones, which will spawn those 4 drive letters in most models.
October 10, 2006 9:35:11 PM

I have been using C: and D: partitions since Window 95 and I test out way too many software programs.

I have never come across any program that assumed that D: was an optical drive.

What I have seen many times is a program that once it associates a particular drive letter as an optical drive, it will always attempt to access optical media using that drive.

Which is at best an general argument against changing the drive letter of your primary optical drive rather than an argument against using a particular letter.


So if you start with C: and D: you won't run into problems.
Plus it makes sense for consecutive partitions to use consecutive letters.
October 10, 2006 10:01:07 PM

Quote:
) Start with the assumption that your hard drive will fail without warning.


:D  good post hope is a sticky
October 11, 2006 9:41:28 PM

Quote:
I have never come across any program that assumed that D: was an optical drive.


I deal with some strange software at work, partially because some of it is for career development(niche), and the rest is for public workstations, and small database applications. Many of those programs were coded rather quickly and I can tell they simply hardcoded in the installation routines. Conceivable though people could run into these programs at home.

For everyday computer people who do not understand partitions, thinking 1 harddrive is C, then the next drive is D (physically) is much easier to mind-map. That is probably the more significant reason. Granted if you're just setting a computer up for yourself, that may have little impact unless you utilize light scripts on a regular basis and have to think "what's my optical drive again? oh yeah.. P, because I wanted everything else contiguous..."

Offhand, the only software I can remember at home that gave me grief was a descent game, long ago.

BTW, what's with the bold? Sure the first bolded line I can see reason for emphasis, but the second? Or is this "CAPS LOCK is cruise control for COOL" generation 2.0?
a b G Storage
October 11, 2006 10:23:33 PM

You need to post in your guide before it gets sticked:


How to change default paths in the registry. You can set the default Program Files... profiles... Temp files...... in the registry, which would be helpfull.
October 12, 2006 1:07:38 AM

The statements in bold are for those simply quickly scanning the post rather than reading it word for work.

The unbolted text elaborates on the bold statements and can be safely skipped if the reader doesn't find the bold statements interesting.



---
No where did I advice assigning drive letters in alphabetical order, hard drives first, then optical.

I merely said its makes sense to use consecutive letters for consecutive partitions.

If someone had asked my advice I would tell them to always name their primary optical drive E:, their secondary F:

And assign any any additional drives whatever letter they fell like. I like to use M: for Maxtor W: for Western Digital S: for Seagate R: for Raid 1 Array. X,Y,Z for virtual Drives.
-----
I repair a lot of PC by people who barely now how to turn the things on.

No one has ever been confused by C: is where you install stuff D: is for documents, E: is always their optical drive.

None of the many dozen systems I have setup this way have even encountered problems with E: being the optical drives.

---
None of the moves I suggested require any registry hacks.

If I gave detail on how to move folders for all the software out there it would be a very long thread indeed.

Here is the short list anyway.

Properties on My Documents let you chose its location.
Manually right-drag-move the Desktop and my Favorites folders to new location.
Outlook and Outlook Express let you set the location of the email store folder.
Firefox/Thunderbird can be started with a -profilemanger switch.
Mozilla's profile manager is a menu option.

If you need more help than this ask in the software forum.
---
October 12, 2006 2:58:47 AM

Quote:
I've wondered whether there would be any benefit in moving Documents & Settings to the second partition?


It won't work as the Documents and Settings folder must remain in sync with your OS. As soon as you restore your OS to a previous state without doing the same to the Documents and Settings folder things go horribly wrong.

The documents and settings can be moved at install time if you use an unattended install method.

From the windows CD, extract the \Support\Tools\Deploy.cab file somewhere convienient.

Read the various help files and use the Setupmgr.exe to create a basic unattended.txt file.

This file needs to be called Winnt.sif and to be put on a floppy disk which needs to be in the A: drive when installing windows. It will automatically look for an A:\winnt.sif and if it finds it it will use it during the install.

For placing the Documents and Settings folder in another location, you need to modify the Winnt.sif file as follows:

[code:1:fbf5b54e40]
[GuiUnattended]
ProfilesDir="<drive>:\<your preferred Directory Name>"
[/code:1:fbf5b54e40]

e.g.

ProfilesDir=E:\home

would set E:\home as your new Documents and Settings Folder

ProfilesDir=D:\Documents and Settings

Would set D:\Documents and Settings as your Documents and Settings folder.

This only works on a new, clean install, not an upgrade install.

Do a web search for "winnt.sif" to find guides and more info, although I will provide one link to a guide.

You then need to make sure that you backup the new Documents and Settings folder at the same time you backup the system install drive (e.g. C:)  and if you have to restore one, you must restore the other.
a b G Storage
October 12, 2006 3:32:51 AM

An interesting guide which I may try the next time reformat my hard drive.

I tend to keep the C: Drive relatively small at 15GB, but this time around I put it to 20GB because some games automatically saves games to the My Documents folder and doesn't allow you to change it. I install all programs to the C Drive, but games are the exception. Games are installed on the D Drive which is a logical partition. I do that to keep the size of the C Drive relatively small for easier image backup.

I set my DVD drives to Y and Z because if/when I install additional hard drives I do not have to bother with remapping the optical drives.

I backup my data fairly often. In general most of my files are backups of my music CDs and movie DVDs. I convert them to OGG and DivX files, respectively. I then transfer those files to my HTPC and when I have enough to fill up a DVD blank, I would then burn it and delete them from my data drives (the E and F drives, both are phyiscal drives).

In addition, I set the Page file to use the E Drive since it is not necessary to make an image of it for backup purposes.
a c 392 G Storage
October 12, 2006 3:48:04 AM

Quote:

The documents and settings can be moved at install time if you use an unattended install method.


After install, you can still set up a remote profile. Go to the properties window for the users account, select the profiles tab, and enter a profile path like d:\documents&Settings\<user>.

Now, whenever the user logs off, it syncs up the remote profile on D drive with the profile on C drive. Works with XP Pro anyhow.
October 12, 2006 3:56:39 AM

Quote:
My guide hard drive partitioning (for Windows XP users)


3) Install all software on C: - No exceptions.



do you object to software being anywhere but C: simply because an OS backup will not capture it??

I ask this because I've installed BF2 on my RAIDed F: drive, and i also run my page file off this drive as well, because this have got a higher read speed (about 100Mb/s) than my C: dirve.
October 12, 2006 4:19:17 AM

I use Mozy to do daily backups of my docs on 4 of my computers and 2 of my laptops.

I then use Retrospect to do weekly backups to my 2 media servers with RAID 5 arrays.

My servers do inter-server backups of exchange, sql, and my various web sites to each other so I always have 2 copies of each item on two other servers. I use retrospect for this as well.

The really important stuff on my media servers will backup with ntbackup between each other monthly.

All my servers have smallish OS drives in RAID1's with 2 or more larger HD's in RAID1 or 5. The SQL server has 2 OS drives with 4 DB drives in a RAID10.

I have over 3TB of usable space on all my machines and only about 200GB is used in backups.

I then use NovaNet Web to backup to one of the companies I work for, they have a 4TB NovaNet backup server that they use all of 80GB of. Again, I only backup the really important stuff this way.

It's cool though as I have two offsite backups on completely different systems in different states. Both offsite backup systems are remotely accessable as well, so if my house burned down and I was on the road I could still get my data.

NovaNet kicks ass as it does BITS backups, I have a 30day restore window and it takes VERY little space for consecutive backups.

My primary system has 2x250GB in RAID0, I have a single C: partition. I tried doing a smaller 60GB and there was NO difference in performance. As long as you run Diskeeper or PerfectDisk nightly. I prefer PerfectDisk, it gets the system files better and keeps them at the beginning of the drive better.
October 12, 2006 5:22:03 PM

I have been creating unattended install files since about a month before Windows XP was officially released. I know how to move the entire Documents and Settings folder.

I tried it before and it caused horrible problems as soon as I restored my OS to a previous state.

Browse the folder for a few minutes. Then ask yourself if these are files than can be safely separated from your OS.

FYI

I use nlite to add device drivers to my install CDs.

I use Autopatcher to fully patch apply all the updates since SP2.

I also use AutoIT scripts and silent install switches in combo with WPI to create a menu so that I can simply stick in a DVD, check all the apps I want on this system and click "install".

I do a lot of geeky things like that.

---
Quote:
do you object to software being anywhere but C: simply because an OS backup will not capture it??

I ask this because I've installed BF2 on my RAIDed F: drive, and i also run my page file off this drive as well, because this have got a higher read speed (about 100Mb/s) than my C: dirve.


I don't have any objections only advice.

My advice to you would be to place your C: partition on the RAID array so that all your software can benefit from its increased performance.

If you have a automated backup strategy like I advice you needn't worry about the increased risk posed by non-redundant RAID arrays.
October 14, 2006 5:27:01 AM

I never used remote profiles.

What will the using a remote profile do eactly?
October 14, 2006 6:50:11 AM

NTFS >>>>>>>>??????

On the small 1st partition for TOTAL safety you should run FAT32 as firstly it performs a LOT better than ntfs and secondy have you ever had to try and recover data from an ntfs partition with a bad MFT ?.

Fat32 is the only way to go with the primary small partition and personally I usually say 20gb minumum or 10% of the whole drive whicever is bigger, ie 25gb on a 250gb hdd etc. I dont want to hear any silly arguments like ntfs is safer as it isnt at all and has at least 3 ways in which it can be rendered totally useless with absolutly no hardware faults at all (25yrs pc tech experience speaking) although rare Ive seen it happen.

FINALLY a nice little Fat32 drive can be read and written from a DOS BOOT DISK which is essential for rectifying os problems or problem virus / malware infections or as previously stated data recovery on the cheap.

Otherwise superb post....
October 14, 2006 7:53:33 PM

Seriously, I respect your experience and you probably know a lot of tricks and techniques I know nothing about, but I think you need to update your tools and your skill set.

What you are saying was true using the tools and techniques available 4-5 years ago.

---

I remember when there was a lack of good recovery tools for NTFS. The first year XP was out and tired every one of them and none of them got the job done as well as the FAT 32 tools.

I remember having to use three different tools when recovering NTFS, as each tool would work better in some cases than the other.

Well things change, now there is an abundance of excellent professional recovery tools for NTFS that work better than the tools for FAT32. I routinely recover 95-99% of the data off of damaged NTFS drives.

Lately I have been using Get Data Back for NTFS 3.01. It takes a long time, but it also seems to recover the most data.

---

DOS?! Seriously you still think DOS is a useful recovery environment? Well I suppose that's why they sell NTFS for DOS.

What the reparis you are doing require RAID 0 drivers, internet access, files off a network share or USB hard drive?

I run dos based utilities off of Ultimate Boot CD and Hiren's BootCD but I never haven't, but otherwise haven't trouched OS for 4-5 years.

Why not boot a system from a Windows PE CD? You can use all your favorite tools, access resources on the Internet, USB devices .... Sure it takes a lot longer to boot than a dos floppy, but its worth it.

Or now that Linux can safely read and write to NTFS partitions a Knoppix DVD will also do the trick.

Lately I have preferred to simply connect the hard drive to my system for recovery/repairs.

I can use a IDE/SATA/Notebook to USB 2.0 Adapter, power brick and a 6ft USB extension cable.

Or I can yank the drive and pop it in a IDE to SATA enclosure if I am in a hurry and can't afford the drop in performance I get with USB 2.0.

Obviously if its SATA I just hook it to the external SATA ports I added to my PC using a spare power brick.
--

As far as performance, NTFS has requires the OS to do a bit more work but that performance difference between FAT32 and NTFS has mostly vanished with increasing CPU speeds.

If you have links to any recent real world world benchmarks showing systems with NTFS are outperformed by systems using FAT32 please let me know.

Note there are a few reg tweaks that will safely speed up NTFS. For example you can disable its recording of the last time a file was accessed.

--

Again no offense. I have 12 years experience and frequently find myself having to relearn more than a few things.

2-4 years I ago I wasn't

Updating my install CDs to the latest service packs
Creating Unattended install CDs
Customizing CDs with nLite to add additional driver
Using live backup software
Using backup software that suppored RAID, USB, Network backups ....
Using Windows PE CDs for recovery/repair
Using Knopix DVD for revoery/repair.
Doing a full backup of every hard drive before repairs
Using AutoIT to automate the installation of software without slient install switches
Using Autopatcher to appy updates before connecting to the internet
Connecting hard drive to my system without removing them from the orignal PC.

And I just recently learned how to turn a regular OEM CD into a Royalty OEM CD so I can do a clean install on a HP, Dell and have it preactivate using their system locked volume license.

---

There is probably at least dozen old school and a dozen new school techniques I don't even know about, and I am probably only half as good at what I do know as I would like to be.


So if you can do something with your DOS utilities that can't be done with I Windows PE CD, I would be surprised but no shocked.
October 18, 2006 8:21:08 PM

Quote:
NTFS >>>>>>>>??????

On the small 1st partition for TOTAL safety you should run FAT32 as firstly it performs a LOT better than ntfs and secondy have you ever had to try and recover data from an ntfs partition with a bad MFT ?.

Fat32 is the only way to go with the primary small partition and personally I usually say 20gb minumum or 10% of the whole drive whicever is bigger, ie 25gb on a 250gb hdd etc. I dont want to hear any silly arguments like ntfs is safer as it isnt at all and has at least 3 ways in which it can be rendered totally useless with absolutly no hardware faults at all (25yrs pc tech experience speaking) although rare Ive seen it happen.

FINALLY a nice little Fat32 drive can be read and written from a DOS BOOT DISK which is essential for rectifying os problems or problem virus / malware infections or as previously stated data recovery on the cheap.

Otherwise superb post....


Sorry, but you have been misinformed and you have some old knowledge that has been superceded.

First, as to the speed of FAT32 vs. NTFS: The common misconception that FAT32 is faster is a myth. The bad rap that NTFS got stems from the Windows NT and Windows 2000 "convert" utility. When the "convert" utility is used to convert a FAT or FAT32 volume to NTFS, the new NTFS volume has a 512 byte cluster size. This is woefully small for NTFS, and the file system takes a huge performance hit because of it. When an NTFS volume is formatted fresh under Windows 2K or XP, the cluster size is set at the default of 4K bytes, which pushes the performance of NTFS to the same (or in some cases, slightly better) than FAT32.

FAT32 vs NTFS recovery: There are now tons of applications (including many that run under DOS) that recover files from NTFS as well as FAT32. I personally like the Active@ applications (http://www.active-undelete.com/products.htm). Active@ Undelete for DOS and Active@ Partition Recovery have saved me several times, and recover files from NTFS volumes perfectly.

Sorry to say, but yes, NTFS is most certainly safer than FAT32. NTFS is a journaling file system. It stores file system changes in a transaction log, just like a database does. File system corruption from things like power failures can be recovered immediately just by rolling back a few transaction log entries (done automatically by the NTFS driver if ever necessary). All the large, robust file systems have journaling capability, including Linux ext2, Silicon Graphics IRIX, NTFS, etc. Journaling file systems are nothing new -- almost all Unix variants have had it for years, and Novell Netware 3.11 was the first to do it on Intel hardware.

Lastly, FAT32 has some file system limitations that I'm not comfortable with. There is a limit of 4.1M files on the volume, and a single-file size limit of 4GB. It also does not support modern file system features, like compression, encryption, disk quotas, and file and folder permissions. Further, FAT32 goes to 16K cluster sizes past 64GB, which begins to sap drive space due to cluster slack. NTFS actually has the ability to store very small files (< 700 bytes or so) directly in the MFT, without allocating a cluster at all.

I would agree with Codesmith that some updated tools are all you need to feel perfectly confident with an NTFS drive.

Edit: Changed FAT32 file system limits explanation. Previous explanation had talked about 127 GiB limit, which is not a limit of the file system, but rather a limit of hardware or software (file system driver) that doesn't support 48-bit LBA.
October 19, 2006 1:54:24 AM

The 127 GiB limit is a Windows thing. The 512 cluster size is new to me. Explains why I never was able to measure a difference yet other people reported their being one.

Previously my guess was maybe FAT32 was faster on a 300mhz system where the extra overhead of NTFS might hurt.

If it is a complete myth then someone needs to update the hard drive FAQ sticky as it still says FAT32 is faster.
October 19, 2006 2:12:50 AM

Quote:
The 127 GiB limit is a Windows thing. The 512 cluster size is new to me. Explains why I never was able to measure a difference yet other people reported their being one.

Previously my guess was maybe FAT32 was faster on a 300mhz system where the extra overhead of NTFS might hurt.

If it is a complete myth then someone needs to update the hard drive FAQ sticky as it still says FAT32 is faster.


You're right, the 127 GiB limit is when something in the storage system (hardware/software) doesn't support 48-bit LBA. Not related to the file system. I edited my post.

The NTFS vs. FAT32 speed debate was talked about at length in Scot's Newsletter back in 2002. Here's some links:

http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/19.htm#filesys
http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/20.htm#filesys
http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/21.htm#filesys
http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/23.htm#filesys
http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/26.htm#r-to-r
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