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Need advice - hard drive setup for a new build

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January 16, 2008 6:20:39 PM

I'm working on putting together a new machine for general home use and gaming, and I'm torn on how to go about storage. It's been quite awhile since I built a machine so I'm really out of the loop on current HD technology.

At first I was thinking of going with a 150g Raptor for XP Pro and applications, and a 500g WD or Seagate drive for general storage, but I'm not so sure now that this set up would be best for my needs. I want fast load and seek times obviously, but I'm not sure how much is enough.

So any advice would be appreciated. Should I just stick with a single drive like a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11? If so, how would you suggest I partition it to maximize performance? Or is the dual drive solution a better way to go right now?
January 16, 2008 6:44:36 PM

Do you normally have a good backup procedure?

If yes and money is not a problem, I would go with a dual Raptor 150GB in a RAID-0. I do not have this configuration but it what I would like. I only have two Seagate 320GB in RAID-0 and it not bad. I have an external backup and an on-line backup.

With that, do you still need an extra HD? Depend of your need in storage. That extra HD would be slower than your RAID.
January 16, 2008 6:56:46 PM

RAID is expensive, complex, and not appreciably faster than SATA drives. Raptors are 5x the cost per GB od a Sata drive. Get multiple disks, put the OS on the first one and data on the other(s), and the system will fly -
Related resources
January 16, 2008 7:09:43 PM

nhobo said:
RAID is expensive, complex, and not appreciably faster than SATA drives. Raptors are 5x the cost per GB od a Sata drive. Get multiple disks, put the OS on the first one and data on the other(s), and the system will fly -

Why expensive? It on-board and take 2 minutes to configure in the BIOS. Yes, a little bit complicated to install the OS because you need the drivers on a CD (provided normally with the MotherBoard).

Yes the raptor are more expensive but the OP was ready to get one.
Yes todays HD are getting closer to the Raptor.

Me, I noticed a good difference between a single drive vs a raid-0.

I would go at least with 2 Seagate 7200.11 500GB in RAID-0 and not separate.

You could eventually, like me, install an extra drive and do dual boot (bios controlled - much safer).
January 16, 2008 7:36:58 PM

The thought of setting up a RAID intimidates me because I know very little about setting one up. My backup procedure needs some work, so I'd obviously need to do a better job there if I were to consider a RAID setup.

The thing is, if I were to opt for two 500gb 7200.11 drives, I'd only be saving about $50 vs. the Raptor dual drive arrangement. I'd obviously have more space, but I really don't think I need a TB of space right now heh. I guess two Seagate 250gb 7200.10 drives would be an option, RAID or not?
January 16, 2008 8:42:25 PM

You're setup is good. You'll be happy with that setup.

If it's my system and install OS on RAID 0. I'll be only use as a DEMO Machine. Since the probabilty of reinstalling everything again will be within 3 to 10 mothns for me. However I know some people manage to get at least more than a year.

1 raptor for programs and 1 for data a better setup.
2 hard drive for programs; 1 is cloned but NOT raid and 1 HD for data is better, Since you'll always have 1 ready in an event your OS stop working.
January 16, 2008 11:42:33 PM

last time i checked raid was just a type of configuration not an interface like SATA. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT NHOBO.
January 17, 2008 12:33:04 AM

Jaywill said:
The thought of setting up a RAID intimidates me because I know very little about setting one up. My backup procedure needs some work, so I'd obviously need to do a better job there if I were to consider a RAID setup.

The thing is, if I were to opt for two 500gb 7200.11 drives, I'd only be saving about $50 vs. the Raptor dual drive arrangement. I'd obviously have more space, but I really don't think I need a TB of space right now heh. I guess two Seagate 250gb 7200.10 drives would be an option, RAID or not?

Just keep in mind that 7200.10 and 7200.11 are two different generation. 7200.11 are better and that why I recommanded two of them. I know most of us don't need 1TB! :) 
January 17, 2008 1:27:35 PM

LoneEagle said:
Why expensive? It on-board and take 2 minutes to configure in the BIOS. Yes, a little bit complicated to install the OS because you need the drivers on a CD (provided normally with the MotherBoard).
RAID is expensive because it cuts your disk space in half. Raptors are 5x the cost per GB of standard drives. In RAID they are 10x the cost.

hjjfffaa said:
last time i checked raid was just a type of configuration not an interface like SATA. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT NHOBO.
:lol:  Who said it was an interface?
January 17, 2008 1:47:29 PM

nhobo said:
RAID is expensive because it cuts your disk space in half. Raptors are 5x the cost per GB of standard drives. In RAID they are 10x the cost.

I am sorry, I don't understand.

"it cuts your disk space in half"? Are you talking about RAID-1? If the case, yes but have a fault tolerance but no speed improvment. I am taking about RAID-0 (Striping) for a maximum of performance. Yes, more than 2 could be used.

If I have 2 150GB Raptor at 200$ each = 400$.

If I RAID-0 them will give me a 300GB drive. The cost per GB will remain the same and won't double?

1 Raptor = 200$ / 150GB = 1.33$/GB
2 Raptor = 400$ / 300GB = 1.33$/GB

1 Seagate 7200.11 500GB at 120$ = 0.24$/GB

1.33 / 0.24 = 5.5 => Ratio between a common HD vs Raptor => ouch!

But I totally agree with you about "Raptor are expensive for their size which means the cost per GB is quite high".
January 18, 2008 3:31:53 PM

Raptor is no doubt a fast hard drive but how much are you willing to spend on hard drive performance?

This following guideline is merely a point of reference.

SCSI HD best RAID 0 - Best. 40-50% better depending on the setup.

2 Raptors Raid 0 – Fastest access Write and Read – great for loading and writing. Cons: Reading is faster than writing is limited by the speed of HD source, still faster than normal HD. 40% better.

1 raptor faster access write and read – good for loading and writing. Like 2 R R-0 limited by the speed of HD source, still faster than normal HD. 30% better.

2 HD Raid 0 – fast-faster access writes and read, good for loading and writing. Like 2 R R-0, limited by the speed of HD source, still faster than normal HD. 20% better.

2 HD Raid 1 fast-faster access read only. Good for loading and reading. 10% better.

1 New HD. Good

Raptor is no doubt a fast hard drive but how much are you willing to spend on hard drive performance?
Here’s a close explanation on hard drive.
SCSI HD best RAID 0 - Best. 40-50% better depending on the setup.
2 Raptors Raid 0 – Fastest access Write and Read – great for loading and writing. Cons: Reading is faster than writing is limited by the speed of HD source, still faster than normal HD. 40% better
1 raptor faster access write and read – good for loading and writing. Like 2 R R-0 limited by the speed of HD source, still faster than normal HD. 30% better
2 HD Raid 0 – fast-faster access writes and read, good for loading and writing. Like 2 R R-0, limited by the speed of HD source, still faster than normal HD. 20% better
2 HD Raid 1 fast-faster access read only. Good for loading and reading. 10% better
1 Standard HD. Good

I know you want the fastest, but what and how much do you feel like spending on? So if you can't decide just get 2 identical hard drive and use 1 for OS and one for programs and general storage. And if you decide to get raptor later on you can always reassign the drives.

I know you want the fastest, but what and how much do you feel like spending on? So if you can't decide just get 2 identical hard drive and use 1 for OS or/and programs and one for general storage. And if you decide to get the raptor/s later on you can always reassign the drives.

a b G Storage
January 18, 2008 3:47:23 PM

If your other components are good, it is justifiable to spend on a Raptor.
Raptors are not justified in budget computers. Not sure what components you have. It is better to spend elsewhere before spending on a Raptor if needed. The advantage of the Raptor is seek time.
January 18, 2008 3:51:26 PM

20-40% better is BS.

"RAID-0 arrays will win you just about any benchmark, but they'll deliver virtually nothing more than that for real world desktop performance. That's just the cold hard truth."

Read the article at AnandTech
January 18, 2008 4:03:46 PM

rexter said:
2 HD Raid 1 fast-faster access read only. Good for loading and reading. 10% better.

How RAID-1 is faster than 1 drive? It simply a way to keep two HD synch so if one fail, you can continue working. When you replace the failed, a resynch will be done (slow). I would say It might be a little bit slower than one because the controller must wait until both are done. That why you must have two identical and not a super fast and a slow one.

For reading, I guess only one will be used and when writing, the information will be stored on both at the same time.
January 18, 2008 4:04:30 PM

up at falcon they are getting increasing customer
complaints with raid arrays due to controller issues .
falcon suggests that you do not raid ..
January 18, 2008 6:29:58 PM

Thanks for the replies guys. I think the other components planned for my build justifies a Raptor, but I've decided to scrap the Raptor idea and go with a small Seagate Barracuda for my OS and apps and a bigger drive for storage. In the end, I'm sure I'd notice an improvement with the Raptor, but I hate ignoring price/performance ratios. Newer SATA drives come close enough to Raptor performance for my needs.

Thanks again for the responses.
January 18, 2008 7:34:58 PM

nhobo has been spot on regarding RAID... However, there's more to it than what was stated.

In a Raid setup there are many flavors, and is typically used in server setups, video editing rigs etc. For just a home brew machine it makes little sense unless you are using it as a video server to serve Hi-Def video or some other real intensive task. Plain vanilla video or audio server, Raid is overkill.

There is really little need for it. As far as the argument for using as a back up a much simpler setup is a Ghost type setup or a USB/ Firewire back up disk.

If you use Raid there are additional issues as you are running multiple disks. This will generate more noise, more heat, needing better air flow through the case etc, etc. Not to mention depending on which Raid variety you decide on could leave you crying if the raid goes down.

The best setup is OS on it's own drive and a seperate drive for applications / storage. Buy a cloning software such as ghost in the event you have a drive that goes down, takes minutes to restore. This type of setup is best bang for the buck with very little complexity.
January 19, 2008 4:46:00 PM

pip_seeker has a funny picture of a famous clown ....
i did do some selling on dec 24 .....
a c 122 G Storage
January 19, 2008 6:43:36 PM

Raptors are yesterday's news and WD itself is having substantial problems. I'd be hesitant to invest anything in their products at this time. Especially after the hit they taking on the Workd Book fiasco. Look at the following:

http://www.storagereview.com/HDS721010KLA330.sr?page=0%...

While you can see in this review that the Raptor has the SATA title in access time, it's roughly tied in MTR. The Seagate is the actual title holder here with 104 MB/s. The Raptor edges out in desktop performance but loses in high end desktop performance. Most importantly, look at the game results where it's 4-5 % below game performance king Hitachi.

If you can justify the kind of premium you pay per GB for Raptors, you can just as easily justify 15k SCSI drives if you want the utmost in performance.

More important that which drive is how you set it up. Have you set up the swap file on separate drive / partition ? Have you made the swap partition FAT32 ? Have you partitioned your drive to make sure games get installed at the outer (80MB/s range) of your disk or are they sitting back there on the 40-50 MB/s range ?

In the office, my builds use Seagate 7200.11's exclusively .... mosty NAS's sold today have Seagate drives in their devices and gotta love that 5 year warranty.
January 20, 2008 12:52:12 AM

nhobo said:
20-40% better is BS.

"RAID-0 arrays will win you just about any benchmark, but they'll deliver virtually nothing more than that for real world desktop performance. That's just the cold hard truth."
Read the article at AnandTech

I didn't indicate Stripes is not the fastest. I understand if you miss parts of my comments, just recently I also made an error from a different thread.

However I did wrote.
rexter said:
This following guideline is merely a point of reference.

Therefore it is not a Benchmark. It just outline where things are positioned.


LoneEagle said:
How RAID-1 is faster than 1 drive? It simply a way to keep two HD synch so if one fail, you can continue working. When you replace the failed, a resynch will be done (slow). I would say It might be a little bit slower than one because the controller must wait until both are done. That why you must have two identical and not a super fast and a slow one.

For reading, I guess only one will be used and when writing, the information will be stored on both at the same time.

If you look for a benchmark there should be a lot of it out there. There explanation will even better than mine will. But anyhow I will try to explain the best I can.

For this exercise let pretend each Hard Drive is only capable of reading 4 whole files of information every second.

Here's a SIMPLE examples:

  • 1 Hard Drive only: - One drive reads 1,5,7,10 files of informations, So the system is ready to access 1,5,7,10 of information in one second.

  • RIAD 1: 2 Hard Drives with the same information.

    On #1 Hard Drive reads 1, 5,7,10 files and Hard Drive #2 reads 1,3,4,7 files in 1 second. Since each hard drive save informations to its cache, therefore 1,3,4,5,7,10 files are now ready for access in just second. That's why Raid 0 (Mirroring) is faster on Loading information than a single drive.

    Here's a little is of information and why it is faster than 1 HD.

    Rebuilding is relatively fast.

    Random Read Performance: Good. Better than a single drive but worse than many other RAID levels.

    Random Write Performance: Good. Worse than a single drive, but better than many other RAID levels.

    Sequential Read Performance: Fair; about the same as a single drive.

    Sequential Write Performance: Good; again, better than many other RAID levels.


    LINK http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/perf/raid/levels/singleL...


  • RAID 0: Hard Drive, The data is broken into fragments. This will take some of the full portion of data to be read, therefore RAID 0 gets more transmission capacity.
    So for me to explain things easier for this exercise lets use the (+) sign represent ½ of information stored Hard Drive # 1 and (-) sign to represent ½ of information stored Hard Drive # 2 along with numbers which represent the files.

    So lets pretend that each hard drives have this information in them:
    Hard Drive #1 reads of 1+,2+,3+,4+,5+,6+,7,+8 and # 2 will reads 1-,2-,3-,4-,5-,6-,7-,8-. As you can see both drives read more files because each only contains half of the information of each other. Where 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8 files are now ready in just one second.

    That's why raid RAID 0 is faster but also venerable because if 1 of the drive loss parts of that information let say file # 1,5,9,10 then the whole #1,5,9,10 files from the other drive are gone. What makes it more venerable is because both hard drives links by cables. So any problem with any of cable used is a major headache. So basically RAID 0 is works like one GIANT hard drive with two heads.

    Stripping is not really considered a RAID that's why the REDUNDANCY LEVEL is ZERO (0). I know what RAID zero can do and the headache it'll do when it fails.

    That is why I'm trying to make informative remarks about ISSUE one can encounter if RAID 0 (Stripes) is use.
    January 20, 2008 1:15:28 AM

    If my explanation is not completely accurate I apologize. I did try my best.

    Any body who would want to more info, here's one of many link you can find from the world wide web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

    I should have search for this link first than explain it my self.
    January 20, 2008 12:40:57 PM

    Thanks rexter. We learn something everyday! :) 
    January 20, 2008 3:12:28 PM

    JackNaylorPE said:
    More important that which drive is how you set it up. Have you set up the swap file on separate drive / partition ? Have you made the swap partition FAT32 ? Have you partitioned your drive to make sure games get installed at the outer (80MB/s range) of your disk or are they sitting back there on the 40-50 MB/s range ?



    No but I'd love to read a guide on the best way to set up your hard drives. Do you possibly have any links to some good resources? I searched around Google on this once but never found anything useful. Or maybe you feel like typing a quick guide yourself Jack? :) 

    So as of now, my plan is to use a 250GB Seagate 7200.10 for the OS and applications, and a 500GB Seagate 7200.11 for storage. Does that sound like a good plan Jack? I've been reading that the new bigger drives are faster than the smaller drives in a lot of ways, making me think it would possibly be better so go with a single 750GB 7200.11.

    Meh maybe I'm over thinking all of this.
    January 20, 2008 5:58:01 PM

    rexter said:
    That's why Raid 0 (Mirroring) is faster on Loading information than a single drive.
    RAID0 is not mirroring, that's RAID1.

    RAID0 is striping data across multiple drives, which can speed up throughput slightly under specific conditions. It is generally faster to have two separate disks (OS and data) than it is to have two disks in RAID0 with C and D partitions because the two separte disks can be accessed indepenently. RAID0 simulates a single disk and thereby also simulates the read/write disadvantages of a single disk when accessing multiple partitions simultaneously.
    a c 179 G Storage
    January 20, 2008 6:37:30 PM

    There is generally no real world(vs. synthetic transfer rate benchmarks) performance advantage to raid of any kind.
    Go to www.storagereview.com at this link: http://faq.storagereview.com/tiki-index.php?page=Single...
    There are some specific applications that will benefit, but
    gaming is not one of them. Even if you have an application which reads one input file sequentially, and writes
    it out, you will perform about as well by putting the input on one drive, and the output on the other.

    Hard drive performance is not so simple. It depends hugely on what you do, and the mix of other tasks. Unfortunately, this mix changes. You need at least one hard drive for the os, that is a given. You also need some amount of space for your stuff. If you keep videos, then that can be a huge amount. If you play just one game, then it is minimal.

    My suggestion is to keep it simple:
    Start with a 150gb raptor if you can afford it. Otherwise get a 300gb 7200rpm drive. Put the os on it, and your other "stuff" until it becomes full.
    Then get a second hard drive for capacity reasons to handle the overflow.

    If you have any data that you want to protect, then get an EXTERNAL drive to hold it, and backup as required.

    If you plan to regularly reload your os, then putting in on a drive by itself might be appropriate.

    ---good luck---
    a c 122 G Storage
    January 20, 2008 10:52:05 PM

    Jaywill said:
    No but I'd love to read a guide on the best way to set up your hard drives. Do you possibly have any links to some good resources? I searched around Google on this once but never found anything useful. Or maybe you feel like typing a quick guide yourself Jack? :) 

    So as of now, my plan is to use a 250GB Seagate 7200.10 for the OS and applications, and a 500GB Seagate 7200.11 for storage. Does that sound like a good plan Jack? I've been reading that the new bigger drives are faster than the smaller drives in a lot of ways, making me think it would possibly be better so go with a single 750GB 7200.11.

    Meh maybe I'm over thinking all of this.


    Well I posted that guide about half dozen times here but I'll give it a shot:

    1. Go in thinking about the fact that your drive is gonna do 80-100 MB/s at the outer edge and 40-60 MB/s at the inner edge. Logic therefore dictates that you want the stuff that is supposed to go fast on the outer edges. The outlook is going to be different for a 1 HD system versus a 2 HD system. I'll do a one HD system

    2) Install OS on C:\asking XP to just make a small 16GB partition and leaving the rest blank. (Ya can go 8 GB if you are what some might call "beyond anal" about not letting programs install on C:\ProgramsFiles). Install your OS critical OS utilities (i.e. Acronis Disk Director & True Image, Cleanup, whatever also on C:\

    3) Decide if you are gonna want to play with Vista in the near future. If so, ya might wanna reserve an unformatted space next behind C:\ for a later install. I can't help ya with how big cause I don't play with that puppy dog.

    4) Make a new FAT32 D:\ partition of 8 GB next in line for page and temp files.

    5) From Control Panel / System, go in and delete the Windows Page file from C:\. Create a new page file on D:\ with the minimum and maximum set to the same number. If you have 2 GB of RAM. 4 GB is a good choice for the size. If ya have 4 GB, the system will on;ly use about 3.5 GB so 7 GB is the maximum you should consider. If ya don't use memory hungry programs like AutoCAD, PhotoShop, ya can reduce those sizes.

    Let's take a time out here and discuss some "preconceived notions". There's a lot of chatter on internet forums about if you have enough RAM (i.e. 4 GB) there's no need for a paging file let alone a big one. Try this. Open up task manager, hit the Processes tab. Now go to View / Select Columns. Make sure Memory Usage and Virtual Memory Size boxes are checked. Now compare the two columns. Right now my system (performance Tab) says it's using 703 MB of physical memory. So I have 1,345 MB of physical memory free. Yet, on the Processes tab it says in that:

    Acrobat.exe is using 28.6 MB of physical memory and 122.2 MB of virtual memory. Why is the system paging out 83% of this program to VM when I have 1.3 GB of physical memory available ? Cause what you always heard isn't true. Windows and programs don't wait till you run out of physical memory. They page crap out all the time and whether it's based upon some set of rules determined by a secret society, intelligent design, the phase of the moon or just a plain random number generator, I have never been able to find out. But the fact remains is that stuff gets paged out all the time and having 4 GB of RAM isn't going to change that.

    So back to setting our page file. Start out with 4096 in both boxes, ya can always reduce it later. Why FAT32 ? Well NTFS is a secure file system which protects you from nasty happenings but has a certain overhead associated with that security and protection. Our D:\drive could also be called our "temporary file" storage space....and why would we want to protect files that get trashed on every reboot ?

    SO after you done resetting teh page file to D:\reboot and then we do some more fixing on D:\

    6. By rebooting, you have now established a contiguous 4 GB file on D:\ . Now that that space has been "fixed in stone", we can grab another small boost as temp files are accessed frequently while they exist and ya can benefit a bit from the lack of NTFS overhead. It also makes them nice and easy to get rid of as they all on the "temporary junk partition". So create a folder on D:\ called "Temp" and then go into the Environment Variable section of Control Panel / System and set the TEMP and TMP parameters to D:\Temp.

    7. Ok, almost done. The rest is up to you and will vary by what you do with ya PC. You have used up the first 24GB of ya HD. To YOUR mind, what needs the most speed ? If you a gamer, then E:\Games oughtta be next. Size will depend on how much ya wanna fit on there.

    8. After E:\Games would come F:\Programs and maybe G:\Music&Photos ..... H:\Data gets your taxes, letters to mom, homework, stuff that you need to keep but you don't really mind the time it takes them to open and save. Maybe ya even want an I:\Backups at the end to store backups such as a disk image of ya C:\drive

    That's pretty much it.....keeping ya page file and temp files at the fast end of the drive means that everything that ya OS, games and programs are swapping out to the HS remains forever on the fastest part of the drive. Left to windows, your page file becomes fragmented and keeps getting pushed further and further back as your system gets older.

    Also makes backup strategies easy. Image your OS partition only after a system update or major program install. Backup your programs partition only after program installs or updates. Kinda nice installing all your games / programs to a new puter by copy / paste the entire partition(s) over the network or from a backup. The just install them over themselves to set up the registry links for them on ya new box.....preserves all ya saved games, custom toolbars, whatever from the old PC without taking ll the "junk" with it.
    January 20, 2008 11:12:38 PM

    nhobo said:
    RAID0 is not mirroring, that's RAID1.

    RAID0 is striping data across multiple drives, which can speed up throughput slightly under specific conditions. It is generally faster to have two separate disks (OS and data) than it is to have two disks in RAID0 with C and D partitions because the two separte disks can be accessed indepenently. RAID0 simulates a single disk and thereby also simulates the read/write disadvantages of a single disk when accessing multiple partitions simultaneously.



    You're so funny. It's a typical error. :) 
    January 22, 2008 1:15:36 AM

    JackNaylorPE said:
    Well I posted that guide about half dozen times here but I'll give it a shot
    ^Bad call. Partitioning slows down a hard drive tremendously. You want the OS and paging file (and data) on separate drives. Disabling the paging file is not a good idea. Some apps (like Photoshop) require it no matter how much RAM is available.

    See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314482
    January 22, 2008 6:52:28 PM

    nhobo said:
    ^Bad call. Partitioning slows down a hard drive tremendously. You want the OS and paging file (and data) on separate drives. Disabling the paging file is not a good idea. Some apps (like Photoshop) require it no matter how much RAM is available.

    See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314482


    Thanks for that link, and thanks for taking the time to type that guide up Jack. It'll be really helpful as I plan out my partition strategy. I've never really planned out a partition strategy, as I've always been lazy really about it. In the past I just set the drive with one big partition and lived with the negative consequences. But I want to try to do it right this time with my new machine.
    a c 122 G Storage
    January 23, 2008 1:00:30 AM

    nhobo said:
    ^Bad call. Partitioning slows down a hard drive tremendously. You want the OS and paging file (and data) on separate drives.


    Well the example given was for a single HD system and quite clearly stated that on two drives it's a different story....But partitioning still makes sense as any number of geek sites will attest.

    As for slowing HD down tremendously, can you produce some evidence of this ? Here's one of many sources saying teh opposite:

    http://partition.radified.com/partitioning_2.htm
    http://www.theeldergeek.com/hard_drives_02.htm

    Tell me what's going to faster ?

    A. I have a 250 GB drive with 200 GB on a single partition. I do a fresh defrag and install a new 8 GB game.

    B. Same situation but I install that same 8 GB game on Partition E:\ which resides at 24 Gb - 72 GB range on my HD....and let's say it's half full.

    HD does 80 MB/s at the outer edge and 40 MB/s at the inner edge.

    Answer:

    1. With A, and 233 GB of useable space, my game lives at the 200-208 GB mark where the HD can start to pull data off at 45 Mb/s and ends at 43 Mb/s. With B, that game resides at a point on the HD from 48 - 56 GB mark where the HD speed is 72 Mb/s and ends at about 70 Mb/s mark. Now to my mind, 70-72 MB/s is a hell of a lot faster than 43-45.

    2. In A, the page file is fragmented all over the place so the HD head is swinging back and forth looking for each of the pieces it needs. With B, it's all in one spot and contiguous.

    3. In A, Windows has to deal with NTFS and its file system protection overhead. No overhead on that FAT32 partition. AutoCAD's white papers show the difference between an NTFS and FAT swap file at as much as 15%.

    4. In A, that swap file is all over the place maybe even out past your game , past the 208 GB mark....way slow at 40 Mb/s. In B, It's at the 79 MB's speed.

    5. Seeks are Faster with partitions.

    6. Smaller MFT's mean faster response


    nhobo said:
    Disabling the paging file is not a good idea. Some apps (like Photoshop) require it no matter how much RAM is available.


    Such hasn't been suggested. Taking it off C:\ and putting it on another partition (or hard drive) is what has been suggested.
    January 23, 2008 3:04:42 AM

    JackNaylorPE said:
    Well the example given was for a single HD system and quite clearly stated that on two drives it's a different story....But partitioning still makes sense as any number of geek sites will attest.

    The OP asked about multiple drive configurations including RAID0. Since RAID0 simulates a single disk, it does not have the ability to perform multiple simultaneous reads and writes. Two independent disks are faster than a RAID0 array with two partitions because they CAN perform multiple simultaneous reads and writes.

    Partitioning makes sense for organizing your data on a single disk. From a performance point of view, a single disk, whether partitioned or not, is inefficient simply because it can't perform multiple simultaneous reads/writes.

    As to all the trouble of trying to put (and keep!) certain things on certain parts of a hard drive in a dynamic environment, it's not worth the time and effort, especially when you can buy another drive for $60. Back in the days when drives were slow and expensive - maybe, but certainly not now.
    a c 122 G Storage
    January 23, 2008 12:26:48 PM

    nhobo said:
    The OP asked about multiple drive configurations including RAID0. Since RAID0 simulates a single disk, it does not have the ability to perform multiple simultaneous reads and writes. Two independent disks are faster than a RAID0 array with two partitions because they CAN perform multiple simultaneous reads and writes.


    I was not responding to the original post but around the 25th which said:

    "No but I'd love to read a guide on the best way to set up your hard drives. Do you possibly have any links to some good resources? I searched around Google on this once but never found anything useful. Or maybe you feel like typing a quick guide yourself Jack?"

    nhobo said:
    Partitioning makes sense for organizing your data on a single disk. From a performance point of view, a single disk, whether partitioned or not, is inefficient simply because it can't perform multiple simultaneous reads/writes.


    Well, as I said, there's a multitude of resources which will disagree with you. Two drives are better than one, three drives are better than two, four drives are better than 3. That still doesn't change the fact that all of the drives are twice as fast at the outer edge as they are at the inner edge.

    nhobo said:
    As to all the trouble of trying to put (and keep!) certain things on certain parts of a hard drive in a dynamic environment, it's not worth the time and effort, especially when you can buy another drive for $60. Back in the days when drives were slow and expensive - maybe, but certainly not now.


    Effort ? Your installing a game....it defaults to C:\ProgramFiles\MyNewGame, you change the "C" to and "E" and delete "/ProgramFiles" . That 2.5 second effort worth a 67% speed increase ?

    Yes you can buy another drive, you can also buy 3 ot 4 and so on. Nothing changes. The drives are still faster on their outer edges. In your situation you have placed the page file on the 2nd drive. In my example, it's on the 80 MB/s spot on that drive......in your example it could be anywhere over time. Taking the original example to twin 250 MB drives with 400 MB used, I have my swap file fixed in size at the 80 MB/sec mark and my games at the 75 MB/s mark. In the unpartitioned example, the games at 45 MB and the swap is unfragmented all over the place on the 2nd drive most of it being pushed back to the 45 MB'sec. There's no way around it, 75-80 MB/s is 70% faster than 40-45 Mb/s
    a c 179 G Storage
    January 23, 2008 2:22:41 PM

    Hard drive performance is a complicated issue, and much depends on the access pattern of all the concurrent running tasks.

    Drives are not necessarily faster on the outer edges. The time to retrieve data is comprised of two parts. Positioning, and data transfer. It is true that data transfer is faster on the outer edges, but positioning is likely not.

    Positioning has two components. Arm positioning, and then rotational delay.
    Rotational delay is the same for data anywhere, it is the time of half a revolution on average. This is something on the order of 4ms for a 7200rpm drive, and 3ms for a 10k drive.
    Arm positioning, or seeking is the time to move the arm from where it was to where it needs to be. The average seek is defined as the time to move the arm 1/3 of the way across the full span of the drive. If all of the access is on the outer cylinders, then there is no problem. If, however, the drive is somewhat full, and some of the accessed data is on the inner parts, and some on the outer parts, then a full stroke seek is much longer than the average.

    If we assume that a drive can transfer 80mb/sec, then a 32k block will take 4ms of data transfer. This would mean that a typical 32k random read should take something like 8ms. Positioning and data transfer are somewhat equivalent here. If the data were 320k, then positioning is relatively unimportant, and if the data were 4k, then positioning is all important.

    Readyboost will use this fact to cache small blocks on a usb device whete there is no positioning time, but slower transfer time.

    When you have several tasks active at the same time, you are likely to have accesses going on all over the drive, resulting in longer positioning times. No two users will have the same pattern of usage, and within the same user, it is unlikely that the pattern will be the same all the time. I see it as a useless task to optimize what you can't predict.

    What to do:

    1) Use more, smaller drives instead of one large one. Spread your data out.
    2) Use faster drives.

    If price were no object, it would be better to spread your data among 4 150gb raptors than one single 750gb drive.

    If price were REALLY no object gat a fast SSD.

    If you think you might be having hdd performance problems, turn on the resource monitor and look at the response times for the most active files.

    a c 122 G Storage
    January 24, 2008 1:52:42 PM

    Positioning is a key issue, that is where does it gotta go to do it's job. In any active session, the systems wants to access primarily 3 things:

    1) OS files
    2) Page Files
    3) Program (or Game) files.

    When you open a program data file, if you have placed your data at the inside edge of the disk, yes it gotta go all the way over there to get it. But once open, it places a copy of that in page and temp files. Once open, it doesn't need to go back to the slow end of the drive, it can hop between OS files, Paging and temp files and program files ..... all, if ya set up to take advantage of this, are placed very close together.
    January 24, 2008 5:11:31 PM

    JackNaylorPE said:
    Positioning is a key issue, that is where does it gotta go to do it's job. In any active session, the systems wants to access primarily 3 things:

    1) OS files
    2) Page Files
    3) Program (or Game) files.

    When you open a program data file, if you have placed your data at the inside edge of the disk, yes it gotta go all the way over there to get it. But once open, it places a copy of that in page and temp files. Once open, it doesn't need to go back to the slow end of the drive, it can hop between OS files, Paging and temp files and program files ..... all, if ya set up to take advantage of this, are placed very close together.
    :lol:  You would need to halve the +/- 9ms random access time of your disk through file placement to match the performance benefits of a second disk. Knock yourself out and post the benchmarks here. Then run your system for a while, creating and deleting data, adding apps, etc., and run your benchmarks again.

    By the way, computers access BIOS, OS, Program and Data files. Paging files are simply a virtual extension of RAM on disk, which may not or may not be accessed at all depending on the OS, the application, the operations being perfromed *and* the amount of RAM available.
    January 24, 2008 6:30:40 PM

    Should we introduce the world of SSD? :) 

    If you could, would you get one or many?, partitionning? RAIDing them?
    a c 122 G Storage
    January 25, 2008 3:21:13 AM

    nhobo said:
    :lol:  You would need to halve the +/- 9ms random access time of your disk through file placement to match the performance benefits of a second disk.


    Having trouble following you. Both disk have the same access time. Access is not "wake up" time, it's the time a disk takes to go from one track to another.

    "In magnetic disk drives, it is the time for the access arm to reach the desired track and the delay for the rotation of the disk to bring the required sector under the read-write mechanism. "

    Access time is an issue when the head has to move as when it goes from loading data off a HD in one place and writing it down in VM at another place. Access time is an issue when a HD has to jump all over the disk. Multiple HD's minimize both of those instances. A single HD has to dance all over the place. Two drives don't. It's like saying I can't copy a CD faster with 2 optical drives than with one. With two, one reads, one writes. With one, it writes to HD and then copies back from HD....takes twice as long.

    1. The single disk has to suck some data off the HD wherever the game lies, them move to the place where the page files is to lay some of it down in virtual memory....every time the system switches tasks (reading / writing) that head switches locations and you have the pause for access time. Plus with a fragmented page file, it's gotta dance to write also, continually looking for the next spot where it can write stuff down.

    -----------------Pagefile--------------------------GameFiles-------------
    80Mb/s..............70 MB.s............60Mb/s..............50 MB.s............40 MB/s

    Look at the space the head has to travel back and forth with one disk. From "G" in game to "P" in Page, back to "a" in game, back to "a" in Page.....etc etc etc until we get to ""s" to "e". Look at the game files getting ripped off at 50 MB/s and placed at 70 MB/s

    2. In the dual disk system, one HD sits on the spot where the game is continually reading data off the disk without any call to go anywhere but sit and read a single set of contiguous files. The second drive sits at the location of the page file writing down data contiguously in a fixed virtual memory location. No head movement, no access time issues....no dancing.

    ------GameFiles---------------------------------------------------------Drive 1
    80Mb/s..............70 MB.s............60Mb/s..............50 MB.s............40 MB/s

    PageFile----------------------------------------------------------------Drive 2

    Drive 1's head gotta move from "G" to "s" a relatively short swing
    Drive 2's head gotta move from "P" to "s" a relatively short swing

    Look at the game files getting ripped off at 75 MB/s and placed in a 80 MB/s page file. That's gonna make a big difference with game files in the multi gigabyte range. The game I loaded below is almost 1.5 GB ....that's 20 seconds on the dual HD rig. 10 full seconds more for the single drive rig....don't think ya 9 ms access time gonna figure much in there.....but again, that ignores all the back and forth the single drive has to do.

    If there's such an advantage to a single drive, why is it so easy to find published articles and sites saying partitioning and separate disks for page files is a performance advantage (I have listed several) and no sites saying it's a disadvantage ?

    http://www.adrc.com/sm/partition_strategy.html
    http://partition.radified.com/partitioning_2.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_(computing)
    http://www.petri.co.il/pagefile_optimization.htm

    nhobo said:
    Paging files are simply a virtual extension of RAM on disk, which may not or may not be accessed at all depending on the OS, the application, the operations being performed *and* the amount of RAM available.


    No. There is no "may not", not in Windows....if virtual memory exists, it will be "committed".

    I'm sitting here looking at two machines:

    Alpha is a 2 GB laptop
    Beta is a 4 GB desktop

    Both have Task Manager columns set to display both memory used and virtual memory size.

    Alpha has 68 processes running including System Idle Process; 1.2 GB or RAM is listed as "available".
    67 of the 68 processes have committed virtual memory allocations....only one that isn't is system idle process.
    Firefox.exe has 79MB in RAM / 70 MB in virtual memory
    vsmon.exe has 43 / 42
    thunderbird has 55 / 41
    FPAserver has 42/35

    Beta has 59 processes running including System Idle Process; 2.1 GB or RAM is listed as "available".
    58 of the 59 processes have committed virtual memory allocations....only one that isn't is system idle process.
    Firefox.exe has 87 MB in RAM / 77 MB in virtual memory
    FPAserver has 42/35
    SoftwareUpdate has 26/17
    client_ryzom.exe has 744 / 733

    Go into Task Manager on your Windows box and look how many processes are running. Make sure the Virtual memory column has been added (View / select columns) and see how many have a 0 in the virtual memory column. I have yet to work on any windows machine which has a single running process not make virtual memory commitments.

    Getting back to the 1 HD is faster than 2 claim, I'm gonna have to close by saying that unless you can produce a published reference supporting this rather unusual claim, I'm gonna have to continue to agree with all the sites I have previously referenced. In short, I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.
    January 25, 2008 7:29:28 PM

    Maybe you should read more carefully. Your link to the Petri Knowledge Base states:

    "Remember that using another partition on the same SYSTEM or DATA HD will not improve your system's performance at all. To do that you'll need a separate fast HD, preferably connected to a different controller."

    I don't know what's so hard for you to understand about multiple drives being faster than a single one. If you have the apps on one drive and data on aother, your system could be accessing both of these simultaneously. On a single drive with two partitions the access commands would be queued, each waiting for the prior one to complete before it can begin.

    There are some advantages to making a single parition specifically for the paging file, as that helps keep it contiguous and unfragmented. Putting it on a drive other than the primary is highly recommended and will result in a performance boost since it and the OS can be read simultaneously instead of sequentially.
    January 25, 2008 7:58:27 PM

    Thanks for all the discussion guys. I seriously didn't expect this thread to go as far as it has.

    One thing I wanted to clarify though. Does setting a partition lock the data of that partition onto a certain part of the hard drive? In other words, if I were to make my first partition a 20GB partition for Win XP, would the OS files always stay at the outer edge of the drive?

    From everything I've read here (thanks alot guys) and elsewhere, here's what I plan to do:

    HD1: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

    Drive C: 20GB - Windows XP Install and utilities
    Drive D: 100GB - Games (based on my question above, I'm assuming this would keep my gaming files closer to the oter edge of the disk?)
    Drive E: Remaining space - General Programs and other Apps

    HD2: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

    Drive F: 8GB - Moving a copy of the page file here
    Drive G: Remaining space - Music, Movies, Video files and general storage


    How does that look?
    January 25, 2008 8:42:29 PM

    Drive 1: single partition for OS and applications.

    Drive 2: multiple paritions according to data organization. One small partition dedicated to the paging file that is not used for anything else. If you like you can make this one first, putting it at the beginning of the drive for best speed. As long as it is a fixed size paging file you won't notice the difference. If you let windoze resize the paging file it easily becomes fragmented, which can slow down your system.

    Create as many data partitions as you like. Separatation of data by partitions makes backup easy. Don't put data on the primary drive, it defeats the whole purpose of having multiple drives.
    January 25, 2008 9:05:17 PM

    Jaywill said:

    Drive C: 20GB - Windows XP Install and utilities


    Give yourself more room then that! I would make the OS partition no less then 50 GIG... (just my opinion though)

    on another note, i know you arnt getting a Raptor but:
    Raptors are loud.. I have 3 HDD's, the two Raptor drown out everythign... like my TV ! LOL


    **edited spelling, i suck**
    a c 122 G Storage
    January 25, 2008 9:08:57 PM

    nhobo said:
    Maybe you should read more carefully. Your link to the Petri Knowledge Base states:

    "Remember that using another partition on the same SYSTEM or DATA HD will not improve your system's performance at all. To do that you'll need a separate fast HD, preferably connected to a different controller."

    I don't know what's so hard for you to understand about multiple drives being faster than a single one. If you have the apps on one drive and data on aother, your system could be accessing both of these simultaneously. On a single drive with two partitions the access commands would be queued, each waiting for the prior one to complete before it can begin.

    There are some advantages to making a single partition specifically for the paging file, as that helps keep it contiguous and unfragmented. Putting it on a drive other than the primary is highly recommended and will result in a performance boost since it and the OS can be read simultaneously instead of sequentially.


    Uhmmm....I don't think I'm the one with the reading problem :)  It has been my position all along that two drives are faster than one. Perhaps you intended to respond to someone else ? The quoted reference is wrong however about partitioning a single drive having no advantage. While you don't get the simultaneous access advantage, you do in fact benefit from the page file / temp file partition being at the outer edge of the drive and being FAT32 simply because 75 MB/s is faster than 45 Mb/s and FAT32 is faster than NTFS.

    Again:

    1) If you are using one drive, partitioning such that the stuff you want to go fastest is on the outer edge of the disk will make your system faster doing the things you want to go fast. A page file and temp files on D:\ with D located say from the 16 to 24 GB mark will be faster than letting windows manage it and it winding up being pushed back further and further as the system ages. Also making D FAT32 will make it faster.

    2) If you have a 2nd drive, putting the page file as the 1st partition on the 2nd drive is even better for several reasons.....a) the 0-8 GB space is faster still than the 16-24 GB space b) one drive can be sucking data off one drive (reading) while the 2nd drive is laying it down (writing) to the page file and c) the heads dosn't have to continually move from the read location to the write location.
    a c 122 G Storage
    January 25, 2008 9:23:42 PM

    Jaywill said:
    One thing I wanted to clarify though. Does setting a partition lock the data of that partition onto a certain part of the hard drive? In other words, if I were to make my first partition a 20GB partition for Win XP, would the OS files always stay at the outer edge of the drive?


    Yes.

    Jaywill said:
    From everything I've read here (thanks alot guys) and elsewhere, here's what I plan to do:

    HD1: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

    Drive C: 20GB - Windows XP Install and utilities
    Drive D: 100GB - Games (based on my question above, I'm assuming this would keep my gaming files closer to the oter edge of the disk?)
    Drive E: Remaining space - General Programs and other Apps

    HD2: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

    Drive F: 8GB - Moving a copy of the page file here
    Drive G: Remaining space - Music, Movies, Video files and general storage

    How does that look?


    Looks good, except I wouldn't get an old 7200.10 but stick with the 7200.11's.

    1. You will have your OS and Games on the slower drive.
    2. Matched drives gives you the option of considering RAID in the future or better yet, recycling these drives into an NAS when ya do ya next upgrade.
    3. The new 7200.11's are faster and have 32 MB caches
    4. The 7200.10 model is $70 at newegg w/ a 16 MB cache. You get to double capacity for $50

    You might consider a "Data" Partition. When you backup, why backup programs which are on CD's and can be easily restored. Only Data needs to be really saved as that's harder to replace. Makes it easier when doing backups to just back up the entire data partition to a DVD or whatever ya gonna use.

    You might consider a "Backups" partition.....say an image of your OS drive or your programs drive to allow a quick bare metal restore. Or even a 2nd install of the OS. I run a P2P server which is just a plain ole desktop (no server software). When I boot I get to choose between two copies of the OS:

    -Windows (regular every day boot)
    -Windows Maintenance Copy

    The latter is just an alternate install in case regular one refuses to boot. I can go into the Maintenance Copy and restore a backup image of the regular everyday boot copy of the OS to get going again.
    January 25, 2008 10:19:13 PM

    Jaywill said:
    Thanks for all the discussion guys. I seriously didn't expect this thread to go as far as it has.

    One thing I wanted to clarify though. Does setting a partition lock the data of that partition onto a certain part of the hard drive? In other words, if I were to make my first partition a 20GB partition for Win XP, would the OS files always stay at the outer edge of the drive?

    From everything I've read here (thanks alot guys) and elsewhere, here's what I plan to do:

    HD1: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

    Drive C: 20GB - Windows XP Install and utilities
    Drive D: 100GB - Games (based on my question above, I'm assuming this would keep my gaming files closer to the oter edge of the disk?)
    Drive E: Remaining space - General Programs and other Apps

    HD2: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

    Drive F: 8GB - Moving a copy of the page file here
    Drive G: Remaining space - Music, Movies, Video files and general storage


    How does that look?


    If the price difference is not a lot, I would change your HD1 for also a Seagate 7200.11 500GB. That drive is faster and you want a faster drive as your OS will also benefits from it.

    As stated before, format your F: as FAT32.
    January 25, 2008 11:02:17 PM

    Awesome. This has been really really helpful. Big thanks to everyone that contributed.
    January 25, 2008 11:08:44 PM

    You can do a raid 0 raptor with 68GB of boot os storage, and then get another hd for general storage for about $300. Or double your os boot size for an extra $100.
    Raptor raid 0 boots fast.
    a c 122 G Storage
    January 26, 2008 12:37:55 AM

    Today the 7200 rpm Hitachi's are a better buy than the 10k Raptors and if doing hi end Windows or gaming are faster than the Raptors to boot.
    January 26, 2008 6:59:15 PM

    LoneEagle said:
    If you do not know which one to choose, had a look at Tom's chart:

    http://www23.tomshardware.com/storage.html


    Those two drives at NewEgg that someone had quoted back when I read this the first time were pretty good, but if 250gigs is enough, or if you want to raid - I might suggest Seagate's ST3250410AS. On Tom's charts they ranked up there with the fastest HDDs, beating out the much more costly raptors, of which I own two 150gb drives.

    The suggested are found here: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...

    Western Digital also has a new one platter 320gb drive, which should be quite energy efficient, quiet, fairly fast, and last a long time. Toms just had an article about it I believe. Might have been Anandtech.

    Any of these drives would suit anyone well, as there really isn't a HUGE difference in current drive technology, even with perpendicular recording. They will all soon be outpaced in performance with SSD/flash drives. So if you're thinking about buying hard drives, get ones that will last, be quiet, energy efficient, and have a decent amount of storage. An 80GB drive anymore would be a waste...as would a super fast drive that costs more. In a few years you might be buying cheap 10GB SSDs for your OS's in your old machines to give them a nice boost at a cheap cost.
    a c 122 G Storage
    January 26, 2008 9:49:28 PM

    Though I have two 500 GB 7200.10's, I do wish the 7200.11's had comw out before I purchased.

    Those 250's are "last generation" and are not as fast as the newer 7200.11's. They also have half the cache size (16 MB versus 32 MB) as the 7200.11's and cost more per GB.

    250 GB 7200.10 `17 MB cache = $70 = $0.28 / GB

    500 GB 7200.11 32 MB cache = $120 = $0.24 / GB

    You can see a comparison between the 1 TB 7200.1 and the 750 GB 7200.10 here:

    http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/seagate_1teraby...

    where performance varied by as much as 34% between the two. Here's some more comparisons which show it both quieter and consuming less power:

    Item 7200.10 7200.11

    Platter Size 188GB 250GB
    Idle acoustics 2.5-2.8 bels 2.5-2.7 bels
    Seek acoustics 2.8-3.7 bels 2.8-2.9 bels
    Peak Idle power consumption 9.3W 8.0W
    peak Seek power consumption 12.6W 11.6W
    Warranty length Five years Five years
    !