Fresh Install / Separate Partitions?

When I was using Windows XP, I was told that separate partitions for the operating system, programs, games, and the page file was an advantage for speed.

And so, I set up my partitions that way. However, I was never sure if it was better or worse for load times or defragmenting, etc. I'm definitely not sure what's best for Windows 7!

If anyone has any tips for whether or not I should use partitions, or just install programs under program files, under one large partition, I would really appreciate it.

Any other tips are welcome as well!

If it's important: I use a 150gb raptor harddrive for my operating systems and programs. I have a couple 1tb drives for storage.

Thank you!
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  1. Separate partitions on a single disk are the worst thing that you can do from the speed point of view, IMO, especially for the swap file. Think about it. With separate partitions, when you load a program it will also want to load some OS files; being on separate partitions means that the heads probably have to move further to seek between the two. The same applies to the swap partition, but it is much more important here.

    The general recommendation for a swap file is that it should be placed on the most used partition of the least used drive. This minimizes the seeks when using the swap file. So with a single drive the swap file is best placed on the system partition. But, in your case the swap file is best placed on one of your data drives (the least used one). I would use just one partition on your raptor for OS and programs, and make sure that it is kept defragmented. A good defragmenter will arrange the files in the most favourable position.

    There are good arguments for separate partitions for the OS and data, but speed is not one of them. OS and most used (or most critical) applications will ideally reside as close to each other as possible on the disk.
  2. Separate partitions are definitively a speed's simple mechanics. It won't be evident on day 1, but will be more and more evident as time goes on. Your HD is twice as fast on the outer edge as it is on the inner edge. So if you set up frequently used files at the outer edge and little used files at the inner, you see speed increases. Windows file management, despite what the advertising says, just doesn't do the job to an extent that can be done manually. In fact Windows can screw ya when it tries (more on that later). In addition, smaller partitions means smaller MFT and directory structures.....looking thru small tables instead of large ones increases speed.

    This is most important for your paging file and temp files. These can be locked on D:\ which can be placed right after a small OS partition. Your paging file located between the OS partition and programs partition shortens seek time as over time your paging file moves further out towards the back of your disk and also gets frgmented. This can not happen if it's locked on it's own partition. In addition it can be set up as FAT 32 cause 1) you don't need NTFS file protections and 2) w/o the overhead of NTFS, system is faster for these exchanges. AutoCAD is one of the biggest users of swap files and they have done extensive research and published white papers on the topic. Perhaps you can find them via web search.

    Here's how defragmenters screw you. You run a backup program ? My backups run nightly and make one huge compressed file which I place on the very last partition. Now let's see what Windoze does.....I write to that file, then read it every single day. It's my most used file other than what's needed to boot the puter. Windows / defraggers therefore "help" me by putting that big giant file at the front of my disk, fragmenting the hell out of it trying to place it there. I only use this file at 4 am and I don't care how long it takes to get made or accessed, but Windows / defragger don't know that.

    However, the speed advantages, tho measurable and significant depending on your usage, are NOT the primary reason for partitions. The biggest reason is reinstalling your OS w/o destroying your data and programs. Assuming you're anal w/ backups and have OS drive images made daily, a simple restore image of a small 32-64GB partition takes minutes....not so on a 2 Gigger. W/o an image backup, reinstalling Windows on C:\ still leaves Programs, Games and Data partitions untouched meaning no data loss, no lost saved games and no lost custom program settings.

    Finally, if you're a gamer, where do you want that new game loading from. You have a 1 TB drive with 750 GB of data, music, games, programs etc on it then it will install at the last and slowest 25% of your HD. Reserving a gaming partition up front means you get significantly better performance because you "saved" the fastest part of your disk for future usage. You want the OS, page file and things you want fast close to each other as possible. Windows and defraggers simply have no way of knowing which files / apps you need to go fast. It all sounds good as advertising material but in practice it simply doesn't deliver.
  3. The two posts seem to be contradicting each other.

    I suppose that I won't use separate partitions.

    I use Defraggler to defrag all of my harddrives, does anyone have an opinion about defragmenting programs, and which is best?

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