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Just got Win 7 - Need partitioning strategy?

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February 14, 2010 7:08:09 PM

Hi guys,

I'm an intermediate user, so please be patient with me. I'm going from an old 2001 vintage AMD XP DT to a new Dell DT with Win 7. I havent installed anything major on the new one yet, so I'm in the playing stage, just getting to know WIn 7 a little first, running them side by side until I can get my stuff moved to the new one.

I asked this in a usenet group, which was probably a dumb idea because I got conflicting answers and a few of the people there, I now consider kind of kooks. ( it's usenet, right? )

Anyway, I'm interested in a partitioning strategy to get this thing set up as nicely as possible before I put all my data on it. There seem to be two approaches to this. First one is make one big partition ( my HD is 300GB ) and dump everything on it. Second one that I heard, was make a bunch of partitions and put the OS on C:, the programs on D:, the data split up on the rest, even the pagefile on its own. For example Documents on E:, Graphics on F:, Audio on G:... spread things out over a bunch of partitions.

But then I get into the problem of having to force the OS to install and keep these things in various places.

I understand from years ago ( dont know if it still even matters ) that more partitions keep cluster size, or something down, and dont waste as much space per file?

I also understand the multi-partition strategy is supposed to make restoring easier, though I've never had a major restore. I always keep my room temp below 68 degrees and have never lost a hard drive, since 1987.

I dont do multiple OS' or dual boot, or any of that, JUST Windows.

So please help me out here. What's the best strategy for all this, for an uncomplicated home, SOHO user?

a c 415 G Storage
February 14, 2010 8:01:40 PM

For an uncomplicated, home SOHO user the best strategy IMHO is a single partition.

You MAY be able to get a LITTLE more performance by partitioning the heck out of your disk, but regular defragging will come close and Windows 7 does that by default.

And don't forget that when you partition the disk you place limits on how much stuff can go into EACH partition. If you fill up the "D:" partition while there's still tons of stuff left in the "E:" partition, you have some work on your hands in order to reallocate the partitions.

As far as the cluster size vs. space goes, the default cluster size is 4KBytes for all discs larger than 2GB, so unless you're using very tiny partitions or setting the cluster size manually it's really not going to make any difference.

The only alternative that I'd personally consider to use two partitions - one of perhaps 60-100GB for the OS (depending on how many applications you install) and the rest for your data files. The reason to do this is that if you want to make image backups of the OS then it'll be easier if you don't have to include all your data files as well. OS image backups make it easier to restore just the OS if you have some sort of OS issue without having to roll back your data files as well.

But for performance reasons my preference would be to have separate disks for the OS and data files, with one full-sized partition on each disk.
February 14, 2010 8:47:23 PM

Thanks.

Well I dont have a second hard drive and dont know if it would be worth adding one, just for that, would it? Would performance increase THAT much?

Heck, when I compare this new PC with my 2001 AMD 1.4Ghz, I'm all impressed as it is.

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a c 415 G Storage
February 14, 2010 9:08:13 PM

Try it with the one drive and see how you like it. If you find it pausing too much when you're when starting programs or trying to do more than one thing at once, you can always add another hard drive later.
February 14, 2010 11:36:42 PM

I personally like a c drive with just the OS with it's swap file and a d drive for everything else. Thats if I am using a single drive. If you have the space on your HD then I like a c drive size around 60GB. Some wasted space yes but you OS is going to be about 50% of that 60GB. My OS and related stuff with no apps or date is at 34GB now.
February 15, 2010 1:00:39 AM

I could get into that, it's just a matter of getting everything to install new programs on D: instead.

I can uninstall the ones I just put on there and try that.

February 15, 2010 1:20:32 AM

I believe in partitioning if you are using a single large drive.
One really good reason for this is you can reinstall your Operating system if you have a problem and not lose your data.

I will use at least 2 partitions C: operating system D: Data

I you have a second HDD I would part it also 2 ways. For me, it's on partition for games and the other for backup images.
a c 105 G Storage
February 15, 2010 1:28:32 AM

There are several reasons to partition:

1. At home in your dresser.....do you have all your clothes in one drawer or do you have a socks drawer, underwear drawer, shirts drawer, pants drawer, etc. ? If you do, explaining the organizational benefit shouldn't be necessary.

2. Seek time - When you access a file, the OS has to search thru the entire MBR.....goes faster on a 64 GB partition than on a 2 TB partition.

3. Disk Speed - The outside of your disk is twice as fast as the inner edge. Forcing page and temp files to this area forever on a small partition at outside edge of disk as opposed to letting windows put them anywhere only means that performance decreases over time.

4. Formatting - NTFS file protections aren't necessary for temp / page files so lose the NTFS overhead and make this partition FAT32.

5. Wear and tear, backup - Is there really a reason to have your entire HD backed up every day ? After your last program was installed, why is there a need to backup the "Programs" partition ? Set the utility to back up OS partition once a week, temp / page file partition never, programs partition once a month, data partition once a day or whatever works for you

6. Wear and tear defrag - Is there really a need to defrag that programs partition except before installing a new program ? Set the utility's schedule to do once a month.....set the OS drive and data drives to a different schedule that works for you.

6. Fudged OS - What's easier to make an image of and restore an image .... a 64 GB OS partition or a 2 TB entire drive ? Wouldn't it be nice to fit that entire system restore image in a compressed file on a USB pen drive ? Try that with 2 TB of data.

7. Whose smarter you or windows - Ya know how windows and other defraggers claim to put your most used file at the beginning of the drive ? What's your most used file ? Mine is probably that 40 GB data partition backup that my backup software makes and puts it where I told it to way at the end (slowest part) of my HD.....I really don't want windows deciding that big fat file should be at the fast part of my HD.

8. Migration - moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and want a clean install ? Clone your disk to a new one, wipe the C partition (OS only) and install Win8 on newly formatted partition. All ya data, all your programs, all your special custom files for those programs are still there on Programs partition. Simply install the programs over themselves and all custom toolbars and customizations remain.
a b G Storage
February 15, 2010 1:36:11 AM

If you are a normal home user then a single partition is the way to go, if you are an advanced user then you should consider two partitions, but personally I would go for a single partition. Don’t forget that Windows 7 will create a 200MB recovery partition automatically unless you install it on a drive that is already partitioned.
a c 105 G Storage
February 15, 2010 1:36:12 AM

As for strategy....try paring this down to suit ya needs....aim here is to give all the possible options that would cover 95% of peeps and you pick only what suits you.

C:\ OS Drive, no bigger than 64 GB (NTFS)
D:\ Empty space for back up OS or future OS, no bigger than 64 GB....C:\ gets fudged, boot to D:\ (NTFS)
E:\ Page and Temp Files (FAT 32) ... size depends on what you need for temps ..... 16 Gb should serve most peeps .... scratch disk for Adobe stuff, movies tec may require something bigger. NOTE: have both OS's use same pagefile.
F:\ Games (NTFS)
G:\ Programs (NTFS)
H:\ Data (NTFS)
I:\ Backups (NTFS)

I have never done a HD with all of those but generally wind up building a box each year that has some combination of the above.





a c 415 G Storage
February 15, 2010 2:03:21 AM

Melissa2008B said:
I could get into that, it's just a matter of getting everything to install new programs on D: instead.
Don't install programs on the "D:" partition unless you have two separate disks for "C:" and "D:". When you start a program, the drive often has to access files on both the C: and D: drives, and if they are two partitions on the same drive then the head will have to move back and forth between the two partitions - this can slow things down quite noticeably.
a c 415 G Storage
February 15, 2010 2:06:35 AM

JackNaylorPE said:
At home in your dresser.....do you have all your clothes in one drawer or do you have a socks drawer, underwear drawer, shirts drawer, pants drawer, etc. ? If you do, explaining the organizational benefit shouldn't be necessary.
Organizing files using folders inside the same partition gives you a lot more flexibility than using separate partitions. Using an office space analogy, partitions are like walls while folders are like movable room dividers. If you don't get the office layout right the first time, it's a whole lot easier moving the room dividers than the walls.
February 15, 2010 2:21:38 AM

sminlal said:
Don't install programs on the "D:" partition unless you have two separate disks for "C:" and "D:". When you start a program, the drive often has to access files on both the C: and D: drives, and if they are two partitions on the same drive then the head will have to move back and forth between the two partitions - this can slow things down quite noticeably.


Ok, now THAT sounds like it makes sense.

Just stick to one partition for the data too, then?

a c 415 G Storage
February 15, 2010 7:33:34 AM

Having the OS and applications in one partition and the data in another is not generally that bad for performance because the OS partition is busy at first to get the program loaded, and then once the program is running it can then move over to the data partition to access data files. So for the most part both partitions wouldn't be heavily accessed at the same time.

Individual usage patterns can vary, but unless you want to spend some time analyzing your system I wouldn't loose any sleep over it.
February 15, 2010 3:14:03 PM

Back in the old days, cir. 1990, when drives were small (5-20meg), the strategy was to put stuff on many different partitions/drives. Now, with humongous drives, most people just make one big partition. When I install Windows that's what I do but when I install Linux, I make two partitions: one for root and one for home.

When I ran Win 3.11-Win 98 and I had 2 drives, I would put the OS on the C: drive and programs on the D: drive. I would also put the swap file on the D: drive. BTW, I notice that Microsoft usually puts the swap file ( "unmovable system files") right in the middle of the drive.
a c 141 G Storage
February 15, 2010 3:14:26 PM

Just going to point one thing out here. With Vista and newer, resizing of partitions has become very easy and rather painless. Shrink one partition, extend the other.


Personally for a single drive system I like to have 2 partitions

Windows( C: ) - Use whatever space you will need. This keeps files on the fast outer edge of the drive and allows for better seek time as long as both partitions are not accessed at the same time

Data( D: ) - Use whatever is left. This partition will be slower, but more than fast enough for users data files.
February 15, 2010 5:04:31 PM

I noticed that this PC came to me with two partitions, equally divided. I guess Dell did that.

The main issue is; Will there be some tangible advantage?

If I create a second partition for data, will it make things faster or slower?

Will it be any easier to backup or defrag?

Another consideration is that I'm thinking of getting Carbonite for my SOHO here. It looks good for the price, as long as they dont put their "data vaults" in some place like NYC that could be nuked by Al Qaeda or Iran any day now.

a c 141 G Storage
February 15, 2010 5:31:36 PM

Generally it should be faster. Since windows is on the faster half of the drive. Access times are faster because the drive head has to move a shorter distance(some people even partition a drive smaller and leave the rest empty just for faster access times[or user other methods to shrink a drive]. They call it short stroking since the head has a shorter distance to move over).

Clearly if windows is on the fast side of the drive(s) things are faster. With one partition, files can be all the way on the slow side


An example of a short stroked drive with Intel Matrix Storage. Gives an idea[if you test, it will look like above, but perform like this as long as that partition is the only one in use at the time] of performance with the drives above partitioned.


That said, its no faster when you are accessing both together. Not that this is an issue most of the time.

Depending on your backup needs it can be better. If you are only concerned with backing up your data, then the second partition is easy to just backup without worry of backing up windows and apps for nothing.
a c 415 G Storage
February 15, 2010 8:16:30 PM

nukemaster said:
That said, its no faster when you are accessing both together.
It can actually be considerably slower since putting files in separate partitions forces them to be further apart and makes the disk drive do longer seeks when it alternates between them.
a c 415 G Storage
February 16, 2010 2:12:40 AM

You didn't expect 100% consensus did you? ;) 

If you want to keep it simple, use 1 partition.

If you want to do a little more work for maybe a little more performance, use two partitions, one for the OS and a second one for data.

Either way will work!
February 16, 2010 2:17:34 AM

Thanks guys. I think I'll make the executive decision to just KIS and use one.

:D 

a c 105 G Storage
February 21, 2010 5:49:57 PM

sminlal said:
Don't install programs on the "D:" partition unless you have two separate disks for "C:" and "D:". When you start a program, the drive often has to access files on both the C: and D: drives, and if they are two partitions on the same drive then the head will have to move back and forth between the two partitions - this can slow things down quite noticeably.


You just made the argument for the other side....if programs not games is your priority....on a 2TB drive....

Partition C: 64 GB OS
Partition D: 128 GB Programs

The 1st bit on C is 192 GB away from the last bit on D.

Single partition..... most of OS is in 1st 24 GB.....service paks and updates are all over......newly installed program is at 1.5 TB mark......1st bit on C to last bit used by program is 1500 GB



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a c 105 G Storage
February 21, 2010 5:52:26 PM
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Melissa2008B said:
Ok, now THAT sounds like it makes sense.


But it doesn't work "in real life" ..... your new program installed on a 2 year old HD at the 1500 GB mark is way way farther away than the one installed on the D partition which runs from the 65 to 192 GB mark.....the one on the D partiton is about 10-15 times closer
February 21, 2010 7:14:32 PM

That makes sense too.

But if I want to install programs and data on drive D: for example, isnt Windows gonna give me constant hassles with that and always want to put them on C: anyway? ( I'm using Win 7 Pro, dont know if it's any different in that respect, than XP was )

And while you sound technically correct, what's it gonna buy me in speed or any other advantage?

My old computer has a 70gb drive with about 47gb of data on it, that I'm transferring to the Win 7 Pro PC.

What's the difference, if I have that on one partition C: or split it with OS on C: and programs and data on D: ?

a c 105 G Storage
February 21, 2010 9:47:02 PM

See items 2,3 and 4 in the 8th post of the thread for speed improvements on the computer.

See5, 6 and the other 6 :)  for time savers

Just change the C to D if Windoze defaults to C:\

The 1st time you restore a HD (Copy System Image of C to new HD, copy / paste all others from backup.

a c 105 G Storage
February 21, 2010 9:50:45 PM

hmmm...lost 2nd half of sentence and can't edit

The 1st time you restore a HD (Copy System Image of C to new HD, copy / paste all others from backup), you'll relish the ease.

March 3, 2010 11:19:27 PM

Best answer selected by Melissa2008B.
Anonymous
a b G Storage
April 3, 2010 9:04:04 PM

partitioning helps prevent your program files and updates from getting fragmented. you want at least 2, and you can make a really huge fat16 partition on there so as to run your dos and any old windows you need... incidentally, a really huge fat16 partition is 4Gb (and you can shove it down near the bottom, cuz what kinda speed do you need to run 3.1?).
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