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Uninstalling, reinstalling and multiple HDDs/partitions

Last response: in Windows XP
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April 3, 2008 7:53:20 PM

Wasn't sure where to post this, but since I'm on XP, and no doubt it changes with different operating systems, I thought I'd post here. Please move it if it's in the wrong place. Ta.

Just a couple quick questions:

I currently have quite a few games installed, and other software, but I rarely play them. Now, if I uninstall them, there will be some junk left over. But, I'll have gained space, and therefore speed, yeah? If I want to play them again though, I'll have to reinstall them, leaving more junk than was there before I uninstalled them. However, I might not reinstall them for weeks, if at all.
So, would you recommend I uninstall them and reinstall them later, or leave them installed? Would uninstalling/reinstalling leave a lot more junk, and slow the PC down much more than if I simply left them installed?

Secondly, is it best to partition a HDD, or get a seperate one, for different things? For example, currently I have one for programs etc, and one simply for storage. Should I partition the programs one into OS (Windows), programs and games? I understand this way I am limited and may run into space problems, but would it speed the PC up?
My theory is that booting up Windows, or a program, it wouldn't look through all the other files, and games take up the majority of my HDD, so seperating them might make loading faster. Is this correct?

All replies appreciated! :bounce: 
April 3, 2008 11:55:58 PM

If the games came with an unistall program there should not be much junk left behind. Also if there is you can always manually delete it yourself form within My computer. If you decide to reinstall the game in the future and choose the default options it should just overwrite any original junk files left behind anyway. Unless you have loads of large save games that do not uninstall with the game then you will not notice much difference.

As for speed etc windows will not call these games unless it has to. You can define your searches to exclude the games anyway so no reason why searching will take longer. You antivirus (as a rule) will only scan this area if it is told or if you run or have a full system scan scheduled.

Yes you will gain extra space by removing them and this space can be used by the windows page file. Again depending on how you have your virtual memory setup then you might not notice much change. OK so the more space available then windows can allocate more space to its page file giving you more virtual memory. This is much slower than physical memory as windows needs to convert free space to memory and then back again when finished its task. I doubt you will noticably gain any speed this way. For more speed then you need a faster processor and more physical memory (RAM) you can never have too much RAM as this is used instead of your page file. When all your RAM is used up that is when Windows starts converting your free hard drive space to memory. Being as you are a gamer then you should understand that even the fastest processor and loads of RAM will create a bottleneck if your graphics accelerator is not up to the job. All these variables constitute more speed.

Also depending what games you run will decide how your virtual memory shoul dbe set up. I personally do not like windows to manage its own size but prefer to set a constant swap file. That way the file is always the same size and needs less effort on windows part to convert free space to memory. I recently started running low on disk space so let windows take over again but hell have I noticed the lag.

Many gamers will manually set their virtual memory but again this depends on how ol dyour system is and how demanding your games are.

As for partitions, even though it is possible to repartition your live system drive without formatting it there is a huge risk you could loose everything on that drive. I use a seperate data hard drive for photos, documents, music, backups, downloads etc and this is seperate to my boot drive with XP and all my programs. I also have my XP page file on my C drive but Adobe Photoshops page file on my data drive. This helps with performance on my system only and all systems are different. I have lots of system problems all the time and can easily format my system and reinstall XP leaving my data in tact. I do not particulary like installing running programs on a seperate partition. I prefer to have my system drive with all my programs and my data drive seperate. Personal preferance there a pros and cons to game partitions so its upto you. Ultimately if the hard drive fails you loose all partitions anyway.

April 4, 2008 12:43:44 AM

I must say the above answer is all correct and helpful.
My only flag is the last sentance. If the drive is on at boot, windows will read it, and cause it to boot somewhat slower.
I have a 500Gexternal drive and If I turn it on before booting it reads the drive and takes a bit longer.

As a trade off when I turn it on after booting and goto look for something on it, it has to search the drive before returning any results.
I prefer everything running at the begining.

Virtual memory is usually better on a second drive as long as it is on a second controller.
If on the same controller or the same drive different/ partition you eliminate the computer from doing two things at once because the same IO channel has to do all of the work.

Third is the fact that with a second drive you can use something like norton ghost to make a duplicate of the other drive from time to time to ensure no data loss.

Write back to see if all the info made it more difficult to decide.
Related resources
April 4, 2008 1:44:04 AM

Things like XP's drive indexing and MS office fast find will read the drive at boot up. But they will only check for changes to their original image created previously. If these are not on then they have to write a whole new image when turned on whice takes a lot longer than just varyfying changes. With mega drives such as your 500GB even your free space will take time to read and compare to its original image.

Defrag is supposed to totally reclaim the free space by reindexing and lumping together thus should in theory speed MS indexing up. Being external will also have a substantial affect on boot time.

I forgot to mention about the same IO channels. Even CD and DVD drives running the same IDE cable will not perform as well as on seperate if they are running "on the fly". I run my Primary master (Boot HD) and my DVD ROM as primary slave on IDE 0 and my Data drive as secondary master with my DVD RW as secondary slave on IDE 1. This is the only way I can get any decent performance running Photoshop CS3 and my DVD authoring software.

Doesn't RAID (Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks) effectivly and automatically do what you are suggesting with norton Ghost but on a more real time scale? If not then I have 2 large internal RAID drives going to waste.

April 4, 2008 10:12:58 AM

OK, thanks.

I'm not sure how to explain this properly, so bear with me. This is only what I've heard, don't know if it's true:
More programs (more space used up) means that every time a program (by which I mean game, application, OS etc) is looking for a file it takes longer. This is because a single program is not installed on one physical section of the HDD, but all over. I understand the program has a rough idea where to look, but isn't perfect.
Defragmenting helps this, but doesn't do it perfectly. Now, I'm not sure what exactly it does, whether it re-indexes all the files or physically moves them.

I've noticed that the more programs I install, the slower the PC runs. Not because of RAM usage etc, so I assume it's simply finding the files. I mean, a fresh XP install was super-quick, but the more programs installed the slower it got. However, the space on the other HDD didn't seem to affect it much.

Because of this theory and second HDD knowledge, my idea is to put e.g. games on a separate partition, so they wouldn't "get in the way" of a program finding a file.

By find, I don't mean Windows search btw, I mean the program finding a part of itself.
April 4, 2008 11:31:27 AM

In my own experience, separating partitions for particular applications, like games partition in your case, doesn't really help in making your Windows runs faster. From what I understand, the Windows tend to run slower from time to time for two main reasons:

1) the filing system in the HDD was being scattered too much. In this case, defragmenting HDD do help. Somehow I don't really do defragmentation too often and managed to run Windows in a good response time (well, this is just my perspective, people have their own way of saying it's fast or slow)

2) the registry being messed up too much. People often install and reinstalling some applications, whether it's game or image editor or anything ... . The way I see Windows manage it's own registry is not 100% perfect, sometimes it was just writing everything into registry even if it's not needed anymore. I noticed in my office laptop/desktop where I frequently install/reinstall something for testing, I felt that it's getting slower in a faster rate compare to my personal computer at home, where I do less install/reinstall-ing.

However I like to keep my games folder separate for managibility reasons. Normally I always have at least 3 partitions (not necessarily 3 different drives) for system, games, and data. I prefer to do it this way, it's easier to manage for me. If something wrong with the system, I can just format the system partition and reinstall Windows with ease. Also I will just delete everything in my games partition and reinstall the games as necessary after reformatting/reinstalling system.

For the RAID issue, there are some different RAID types:

RAID O
The RAID 0 aim is speed. The idea of RAID O is utilizing multiple drives to increase its speed, and by the same time its capacity. If you have 2x500GB on RAID 0, then you will see it as 1TB. But when 1 drive fails, you'll lose

RAID 1
The RAID 1 is security. The idea is utilizing multiple drives as mirror drives, this will make the system and/or data is still accessible as long as at least 1 drive working. If you have 2x500GB on RAID 1, then you will see it as 500GB only.

RAID 0+1
Like it's name, it's simply a combination of the two.

I just write the most common RAID for end user, which is usually supported in some recent mobos. So it would be depend on how your HDD or external drive is set. If it sets at RAID0, then it will quicker but one drive fail means the data loss. And vice versa with RAID1.

Personally, even if I do RAID1 in my computer, I will still keep one external drive as backup. And I will even burn it on DVD for the most important data, like my family photos collections (which is I don't want to lose it whatsoever :D ). The RAID1 will do the backup in a real time, which is a real advantage for making a reliable system solid as a rock. Which for sure will reduce the risk for any downtime due to HDD failure. This benefit becomes its disadvantage as well. As it's doing 'backup' in a real time, whenever we make a 'common' mistake, e.g accidentally deleting or overwriting some important files then there's no way we can recover it (without a rocket science :p ). So RAID1 is not equal to backup system. The backup system will still be needed.

For personal computer, I don't see the necessary for any RAID configurations. As it's cumbersome and more expensive. The RAID1 idea of external USB is quiet nice. We will have more confidence for our backup system. However some external RAID drive, like Maxtor OneTouch III doesn't have a flexibility in replacing (or even noticing) the faulty drive which is rendered it's RAID advantage pretty much useless. Although we can open the case ourselves with a lot of sweats :D 
April 4, 2008 1:19:39 PM

antas said:
In my own experience, separating partitions for particular applications, like games partition in your case, doesn't really help in making your Windows runs faster.

However I like to keep my games folder separate for managibility reasons. Normally I always have at least 3 partitions (not necessarily 3 different drives) for system, games, and data. I prefer to do it this way, it's easier to manage for me.

So it doesn't make it faster, but you do because it's easier?

antas said:
1) the filing system in the HDD was being scattered too much. In this case, defragmenting HDD do help. Somehow I don't really do defragmentation too often and managed to run Windows in a good response time (well, this is just my perspective, people have their own way of saying it's fast or slow)

2) the registry being messed up too much. People often install and reinstalling some applications, whether it's game or image editor or anything ... . The way I see Windows manage it's own registry is not 100% perfect, sometimes it was just writing everything into registry even if it's not needed anymore. I noticed in my office laptop/desktop where I frequently install/reinstall something for testing, I felt that it's getting slower in a faster rate compare to my personal computer at home, where I do less install/reinstall-ing.

I defrag often, normally once a week, so that's OK.

As for the registry, I hate it. :p  Always seems to have too much junk in it. I do have 4 (:o ) registry cleaners though (well, 1 dedicated and 3 multi-functional programs), and they all seem to find different ones. They're small too, so I'm keeping them.
For those interested: TweakNow RegCleaner Standard, System Mechanic 7 Basic, CCleaner, Advanced WindowsCare.
I also have a registry defrag'er, AusLogics Registry Defrag.

By the way, I've uninstalled a few games. Don't know if it's faster, didn't bother benchmarking. I'll probably notice a slight difference though.
April 4, 2008 5:40:30 PM

Drakelet said:
So it doesn't make it faster, but you do because it's easier?


Yes, I prefer to do separate partitions for easier management.

Drakelet said:

I defrag often, normally once a week, so that's OK.

As for the registry, I hate it. :p  Always seems to have too much junk in it. I do have 4 (:o ) registry cleaners though (well, 1 dedicated and 3 multi-functional programs), and they all seem to find different ones. They're small too, so I'm keeping them.
For those interested: TweakNow RegCleaner Standard, System Mechanic 7 Basic, CCleaner, Advanced WindowsCare.
I also have a registry defrag'er, AusLogics Registry Defrag.

By the way, I've uninstalled a few games. Don't know if it's faster, didn't bother benchmarking. I'll probably notice a slight difference though.


Me too, I hate the registry :pt1cable:  But can't escape from it right? :)  Nice info for registry cleaner ... I will give it a shot. I'm quitting from using any reg cleaner since the last time I'm using it, it ended up messing up my Windows :p  Well, that's already couple of years back. Perhaps now it's a good time for give it a shot again ...
April 4, 2008 6:10:02 PM

I've never had any problems. They're all free, except for System Mechanic, which I bought. It's great, although I only use some of the tools, and after my 12 month subscription is up (7 months left) I don't think I will renew.
April 4, 2008 10:03:37 PM

I also hate reg cleaners the cause too much damage without meaning to and yes main benefits of multi partitions is for system management. A fresh install will run faster as there is no fragmentation or bits lieing here there and everywhere. Defrag is a bit crap so doesn't do a good job. You can install as much as you like without causing fragmentation. Its when you uninstall and install something else taking that same sector of the HDD. Then if you reinstall the first thing again it will be in a different position or sector of the disk. If you have to defrag every week then your system sounds pretty shagged. If I were you I definately would format and fresh install. No reg cleaner or defrag will save you now.
April 5, 2008 8:43:58 AM

I don't have to defrag weekly, I just choose to. It is a fairly fresh format actually anyway.
April 6, 2008 12:37:01 AM

Another thing you could try to speed things up is select all your game folders simultaniously in windows explorer (Do this by holding the ctrl key when selecting) and right click for properties. Click advanced for the attributes and untick for fast searching allow indexing service to index this folder.

You never know this might in your case speed up things. Worst case is you can always put the tick back in if slower or nothing happens
April 6, 2008 7:42:45 AM

I've turned off all indexing, found it all slower in general. Takes up too many system resources to index them all, and I don't get enough return.
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