OK, I've searched all over the internet for ho to partition my new hard drive, to no avail. I've gotten ideas (most of which are outdated anyway), and none of which tell you what to put where, or why.
Here is what I have decided so far: I will have 3 partitions on my 1 TB hard drive. 1 for the operating system (windows 7), 1 partition for my swap (twice my memory, or 4 GB), and the rest is my media, etc.
Where I get confused is where everything goes. My OS and my media, I get. What about apps? Do games go with media, or with the OS? I've heard both. What about programs like Adobe reader, win RAR, and other "system" programs? My instinct would be to put them with the OS, but I wouldn't have to reinstall them all after a reformat, if I ever need one. Should the OS be all alone, with EVERYTHING else in the larger partition?
If this is the only drive in your system there's no pressing need to partition it. Putting all the files in separate partitions won't speed the system up a whole lot and might even slow it down - if the drive has to rapidly access files in different partitions it will have to wait a lot longer to move the head back and forth between them.
The major reason to partition a single disk in a computer is to separate the OS files from all your data files. The reason why you might want to do this is to make it a bit simpler to do backups. Backups of the OS have to be "image" backups which include everything in the OS partition, whereas your data files can typically back up everything once and then subsequent backups only have to save the files that have changed. If the OS is in its own smaller partition then the OS backups can be that much smaller.
Having your data files in a separate partition can also make it easier to keep them intact if you ever decided to upgrade to a new version of the operating system.
NannyTechGeek suggested that putting software in a separate partition would let you keep using it after a system install (at least that's how I read it), but that's not true. If you reinstall the OS in the C: partition you'd still need to reinstall the software even if it's in the D: partition. This is because installing the software involves changes to the system Registry, and that's part of the OS on the C: drive.
If s/he was talking about having the Install files on the D: drive, then I agree. You need to have the install files so you can reinstall the software, so you wouldn't want them wiped out by reinstalling the OS. That's basically the same point I made in the last paragraph of my previous post.
So I'll install the OS, and all software, on the D:, and I'll keep all my data on the C:. I'll also keep the install files in a directory on D:, so if I do need to reinstall my OS, I can just quickly reinstall all software without having to search for install files again.
One last question: Is it worth it to set up another partition for my pagefile? I've heard that it may be worth it, to keep it from fragmenting all over the place.
Eventually, I'm getting a SSD for my pagefile/OS, and use my 1TB for my data. But I'm waiting for prices to drop awhile before doing that, and want to keep everything separate in the meantime.