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What is the importance of multiple hard drives?

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April 5, 2011 11:05:47 PM

This is my first build, and I just don't understand. Why do some people have multiple hard drives in their rigs? I get that they might have needed more space, but I am talking about having a seperate boot drive, a drive for games, etc...
If anyone can explain this, it would be a big help. Thanks.
April 5, 2011 11:14:58 PM

It all depends on what you use your computer for. In my case, my rig is primarily for gaming, which needs speed, and needs lots of room as games are getting bigger. I have a Solid state drive with just windows on it, since the speeds on SSD's are very quick, but they are pricey for their size so windows applications/start up are very fast. For all my games, and whatever else i install, i have 2 hard disk drives in RAID 0 wich is faster than one HDD, but not quite as fast as a SDD. The RAID 0 can double the read/write speeds of the HDD since it splits the task at hand over two hard drives simultaneously.

But, thats just me. the average internet jockey doesnt need all that. a simple 250 gig hard drive is more than enough for some. what are you gonna be promalrily doing whith your new rig?
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April 5, 2011 11:33:52 PM

It's pretty common to place the OS on a separate hard drive from your data. There's basically a few reasons to do this:

1) The OS generally has to be managed as a monolithic unit, so you make image backups of the OS as opposed to making file backups of the data drive. You can deal with this using partitions on a single physical drive, but then you have to guess at the ideal partition size to choose.

2) When it comes time to upgrade or switch operating systems, it can be handy to have all your data on a separate drive so that it's not exposed when the upgrade is busy writing all over the OS drive. It also lets you do things like cleanly format the OS drive for an upgrade without worrying about overwriting your data.

3) The OS disk can get very busy, particularly at startup time and when you're launching new programs. Putting your data files onto a different drive means that you can access them quickly without adding to the workload on the OS drive.

4) For the same reason as (2), you may want to invest in a faster drive for the OS. Faster drives = more money (particularly for SSDs), so rather than buying a huge fast drive that's capable of storing all your data you buy a fast drive that's just large enough to hold the OS. That way you get the benefit of performance on the OS drive where it's needed without having to pay an arm and a leg for the capacity to hold ALL your files.

5) Having two drives in your system lets you backup stuff from one drive to another so that if one drive dies you still have a copy on the other drive. A lot of people do this, but it's actually a lot safer to do your backups to an external drive so that our data isn't vulnerable due to risks such as theft, corruption, power hits, etc.

6) Having two drives lets you organize folders so that you can do file copies between drives rather than from one place to another on the same drive. This can make a big difference in the copy speed. For example, I have virtual machine ".VHD" files which I regularly copy in order to "reset" the state of the virtual machine - by keeping the template and working folders on separate drives I'm able to minimize the time required to copy them.

I actually have three drives in my system - a 160GB SSD for the OS, a 500GB "black" drive for decent performance with my heavily used data files, and a 1TB "Green" drive for bulk storage of files that rarely change. All my backups are done to external drives.
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