Partitioning Drive

I have just built my first computer and I have a 320G Seagate hard drive. I have heard lots about partitioning the drive. I am planning on running Vista as my OS. How do you partition (in the bios?) and suggestions on how many partitions would be appreciated. Remember, I am very new to this stuff.
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  1. If you don't plan to dual boot, then there are no performance advantages to multiple partitions. If it were me, I'd create a single partition.

    Some people prefer to create a partition for the OS and another for data. If I were one of _those_ people, I'd likely make partitions of 50GB and 270GB, loading the OS on the 50GB. Why 50GB? Becasue there are a number of applications that don't like to be (or won't allow themselves to be) installed anywhere but the boot drive. 50GB may lose you some space, but I'd rather have that than to get to a point where I _have_ to reinstall the OS on a larger partition in order to install an app.

    That's my argument for creating a single partition. If you _need_ to separate your data, create a C:\Data folder and use that.
  2. I suppose you have your reasons for wanting to create more than one partition.

    Symantec bought "Partition Magic" (I think it was[?]) a couple of years back. I used it to create a partition on my laptop after the OS and apps were installed. Yeah, I was nervous the first time, but also had a ghost image backup in case the application sucked.

    In the old days, you partioned using a bootable floppy. I do not know if there is even such a way to do something like that anymore with XP. I don't think so, but others here might know of something.

    I like three things about Symantec's product:

    One, you install it in Windows like any other app. You fire it up, and there is a very simple interface that asks you to decide the percentage of the total that you want for each partiition.

    Two, then re-boot the PC. In a DOS-looking screen, the program moves your data and also creates the requested partitions. When the process is done, the PC restarts itself, and you have what you wanted with no lost data.

    Three, you can re-size partitions whenever desired by following the same steps as above.

    That has been my experience for what it is worth.

    best wishes,
    mike
  3. You say you are new to "this stuff". And you are planning to run Vista? I wouldn't recommend this. Experience with MS operating systems shows that every single one has contained many unpleasant surprises even after extensive beta testing. You would be better off getting XP Pro for the following reasons:

    1) it is established and there is a large pool of knowledgeable people out there who can help you out if / when you run into problems.

    2) almost all of the really big problems have been addressed. Note that within one day of the release of XP SP2, a fully patched and updated system was found to have some serious security holes, including one that had been a known problem for at least 6 months. Vista is just coming out into mass circulation.

    3) really learning your way around any OS has a fairly steep learning curve. It is better to do this on something that is stable. Are you sure that you want to try this and deal with the "hidden features" of a brand new OS?


    On to partitoning.

    Some people prefer the one big drive approach, myself and others (including most security experts) recommend partitions. You can use the default tools in Windows to create partitions, but these tools are destructive. You should get a copy of Partition Magic to do this. More about PM below.

    The people who recommend the one big drive approach cite issues like loss of space due to file system overhead and slack at the end of a partiton. They are correct, but the total amount of space lost, especially on a really big drive is not significant. There is no performance advantage in either case on the same physical hard drive. Administration of multiple partitions is claimed to be more difficult than using sub-folders on one drive. This is a bogus argument. More critically, there are limits to the path length, even with long file names. This means that you can't have as many sub-folders as you want in order to organize your data.

    A good analogy for the one big drive approach is a bachelor apartment where everything is in one room. But even bachelor apartements seperate the washroom and sometimes the kitchen area from the rest of the unit.

    My personal recommendation is to partition your drive as follows:

    Boot partiton for the OS, drivers, utilities, hardware-related software, any apps that must go in the boot drive and slack space for temporary files. The size should be between 30 and 40 GB.

    Apps partiton for your major applications like office suites. Size between 20 and 30 GB, depending on the number of apps. You may be able to get away with 10 GB.

    Games partition of 40 to 60 GB, depending on how many games you are planning to install. Games generate a lot of temporary files and this leads to serious fragmentation, reducing performance. Isolating the OS and your data from this is a good idea.

    Data partiton(s): the rest of the available space. If more than one person is using the system, then it is best to create a seperate data partiton for each user. This makes backing data files up much easier and ensures that each user's data is kept seperate.

    The primary purpose of the scheme above is to isolate the apps, data and games form the OS. Windows has an unfortunate tendancy to crash. XP is much more stable than previous versions, but it still locks up periodically for no apparent reason. When this happens, it becomes necessary to shut the system down improperly, leading to file corruption. Eventually, it is necessarry to re-install Windows. If you have your apps and data isolated from the OS then the file corruption happening on the C drive won't affect the other files on the system. Note that re-installing Windows onto an existing installation does not destroy the paths etc that lead to your apps, so you won't need to reinstall everything under those conditions.

    More critically, if your system were to be infested with malware (virus, etc) and you were unable to remove the infestation without having to re-format your OS drive, your data files would be isolated from the infestation and the liklihood of losing your data would be low. Unless the malware targets specific types of data files like images or mp3s. Even then, having these files on a seperate partition will provide some protection as the malware may not be able to search anything other than the C drive.

    Multiple partitions can be compared to a several bedroom apartment. If something blows up in the kitchen the stuff in the other rooms won't get splashed. In a bachelor apartement, everything in range will get spattered.

    Partition Magic is a wonderful package. It lets you create, delete, merge and resize partitons in real time without losing any data in the process. It also lets you convert from one Windows file system to another - in both directions. The partitoning and conversion tools in Windows are destructive and one way only. This means that if you want to create new partitions you will lose any existing data in the old partition if there is no unpartitioned space on the drive.

    Hope this helps.
  4. Quote:
    I have just built my first computer and I have a 320G Seagate hard drive. I have heard lots about partitioning the drive. I am planning on running Vista as my OS. How do you partition (in the bios?) and suggestions on how many partitions would be appreciated. Remember, I am very new to this stuff.

    You don't partition the drive in BIOS. You can, however, create an OS partition when you install the operating system. You simply enter a lower number when you create this partition. It can be 50,000, 60,000, 80,000, whatever you want it to be. After Windows is installed, go into Control Panel, Admin tools, Computer Management. From there select Disc Management. you can now create a partition(s) in the remaining free space. No additional programs are needed.
  5. I second using Partition Magic. I have used it to set up partitions on 2 desktops and a laptop and all have worked well.

    What partition you create depends on your own uses and preferences.

    One reason for creating a partition for the OS is that if you ever have to reinstall it, which requires reformatting he drive, you don't have to save the data, reformat the entire disc, and reinstall the data. You just reformat the partition with the OS and reinstall it.

    Since many applications install items in the Windows files (registry or other special files), if you reformat and reinstall the OS you need to reinstall these application files as well. Therefore I put most of my applications on the same drive as the OS and just expect to reinstall them if I need to reintall the OS.

    I have separate partitions for data, graphics, and backup. The advantages of the separate data partition have been addressed by others. I have a separate partition for graphics files for two reasons. First, I usually have separate original or backup discs for the graphics files so I do not need to back them up in the normal routine with my other data. This makes it easy to do a backup by backing the entire data drive. Second, this data does not get fragmented very quickly. Having it on a separate partition speeds up defragging the ones for the OS and data.

    The backup partition again is a matter of convenience. I regularly backup my data file on a separate partition. It is a quick backup (I just copy and paste in the directory) the data is readily available if for some reason it was accidentally deleted or became corrupt. Note that this backup does not protect against hard drive failure and most likely not against virus issues.

    I hope these and the other suggestions might give you some ideas to consider in determining what works best for you.
  6. Thanks for all the info. It is really helpful. As far as Vista goes, it is already installed. My uncle recommended since we had to purchase one or the other, to go ahead with Vista, since we would go to it eventually and that way I wouldn't have to spend the extra money in the future. I hop all goes well with it. Everything, so far is good except that when the computer goes into sleep mode, sometimes it won't come out of it and even when it does, the moniter stays in sleep mode. I changed some of the settings in the BIOS, so hopfully that will fix it.

    Thanks again.
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