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WinXP partition size?

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June 23, 2003 1:26:54 AM

Im getting a 60GB Western Digital drive w/8mb cache and would like to know what size should my WinXP Pro partition be.

Im going to be using this partition for the OS and some other things like Office, Encarta, MS Works Suite. Im thinking maybe 30 for this partition and 30 for the other which will store my games, mp3s and vid files. So is 30/30 a good set-up? What's the min size I should make the partition?

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June 23, 2003 4:05:35 AM

Whatever you want!
Ive got a 800JB 80GB drive, with a 5Gb XP partition... but to save the small partition from getting fragmented quite so much all the programs are located on the next partition.
So the only thing on that partition is the OS, swapfile and IE files

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June 23, 2003 3:53:44 PM

LHGPooBaa, do you know if having such a small C: partition has any effect on your swapfile efficiency? It seems to me that a 5GB partition would restrict the placement of the swapfile to a non-optimal cylinder on the drive.

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June 23, 2003 4:21:04 PM

I think it depends on what kind of solution you want to use for backing up your data ... and once that data is saved, how much work you want to put into restoring it.

The majority of users do not give much thought to this until a disaster has already occurred, and that's a mental mistake, in my book. All hard drives eventually fail (some sooner than others) under a variety of circumstances, such as mechanical wear-and-tear, power surges, and rough handling during shipping, to name a few. Windows can become unbootable for a multitude of reasons; anything from a virus that infects the boot record to unforeseen incompatibilities with new hardware.

It's because of these things that I give serious consideration to the creation of the partitions on a hard drive before installing the operating system and my preferred third-party programs.

I don't work for Powerquest :lol:  , but I do tend to promote imaging software such as <A HREF="http://www.powerquest.com/driveimage/" target="_new">Drive Image</A> for a backup solution, primarily because I have found it useful on so many occasions.

Let's imagine a common scenario.

You've been using the computer happily for the past year or so. One morning you turn on the machine, and instead of Windows loading up, you hear a grinding sound, and see nothing but a black screen. You reboot, and are confronted with an "Unmountable Boot Volume" error.

If you manage to come here and ask for help, the answers will consist of helpful comments such as running chkdsk /f or chkdsk /r from the Recovery Console, using the Windows CD to perform a repair, or using the Windows CD to remove and replace the primary partition before reinstalling the operating system.

However, in this scenario, none of these methods fixes the problem.

It's perfectly acceptable to assume that at this point, you might be starting to feel a little anxious.

As a last resort, you call a friend, and use his/her computer to download the latest version of the Data Lifeguard Tools from the Western Digital website, so you can test the integrity of the drive.

Lo and behold, the drive fails the test. And if you intend to recover your remaining data, you discover that the fee for such an undertaking is stiff. Perhaps more than you are actually willing to spend. In other words; goodbye data.

Once Western Digital has replaced the drive, then comes the time to start over from the beginning ... which consists of everything from partitioning, reinstalling the operating system, installing all the hotfixes and other updates, downloading and updating all the drivers, and preceding with the task of putting back all the third-party software. Eventually, after a couple of weeks, the computer once more begins to resemble the environment that was lost ... minus all the music, pictures, and personal documents on the old hard drive.

Doesn't sound like much fun, huh?

OR ...

You could have used Drive Image to periodically back up your data.

The replacement drive is shipped, and you put it in the machine. You create partitions that are identical to the previous configuration. You boot with two floppy disks, and place CD-R disks that contain your previously verified data in the CD-ROM. First you restore the data in the logical drives, and then the primary partition. Then you reboot the computer, and everything is back, <i>exactly</i> as it was before that fateful morning.

But how does this affect the partition sizes?

Backing up data is a tedious process. It's a fact that the majority of users rarely perform <i>ordinary</i> disk maintenance, such as defragging regularly or running CHKDSK, so it's no big surprise that those same users often are confronted with major data loss if something goes wrong.

With this in mind ...

I normally create at least two partitions on the primary hard drive ... and I prefer three. The first, active partition contains the operating system files. All other partitions are used for the installation of third-party programs, storage for all applications/drivers/software updates already installed on the system, and all of my personal data.

Due to this arrangement, the primary partition is rather small; 3-5GB. The second partition is slightly larger (5-7GB), because it contains the majority of the installed programs. The third partition (with the rest of the free space) holds my personal data.

This means, on average, I have devoted 10GB for everything installed on the system. With a 60GB drive, that would allow 50GB free for everything else.

The smaller partitions accomplish three things. 1.) Less wasted free space. Consider this ... you've installed all your programs in a 30GB partition, along with the operating system. The possibility that you'll use all 30GB is somewhat remote. Instead, there's a greater possibility that you'll end up with 18-20GB of free space on that new drive that serves no useful purpose. 2.) Smaller partitions allow for faster backups. Using an imaging program to back up or restore a large partition that contains <i>all</i> of your data is much more time-consuming than backing up a 3GB partition that holds little more than the operating system. Added advantages: A.) The image of the 3GB partition may take 2-3 CD-R disks, at best. B.) It's not unusual for the primary partition on a disk to be the first to become corrupted, while other partitions remain intact. The restoration of that partition is much faster procedure if the image contained only the necessary data, such as the operating system. 3.) Data changes on a partition over a period of time. If reinstalling Windows ever becomes a necessity, having access to an image that contains only the operating system (and few assorted program that insist on being on C:)  means that personal data stored on other partitions isn't replaced or removed at the same time.

Imaging programs format a partition when an image is placed on the partition, so all data that remains in the partition is lost ... which is a logical reason for keeping frequently accessed personal data off the primary partition.

The final reason that I create multiple partitions is to avoid data corruption when using the imaging program. Applications like this have an option of burning the files directly to CD-R's (or other kinds of optical disks), or first placing the files on the hard drive, and then burning the files to CD-R disks. The second option in the better solution, as burning images directly to CD-R disks has much higher rate of failure. Since it's impossible to place image files of the partition that is currently being imaged on the same partition, it's a must to have a separate partition where the data can be stored, even temporarily.

I prwfwe leave the image files on the hard drive <i>and</i> burn them to disk with a program like Nero, as this gives me two access points for data restoration.

The file system? Your choice, but you may quickly discover that the Windows CD cannot create FAT32 partitions that are over 32GB in size. If you wish to use FAT32, my recommendation would be to partition the drive with the FDISK utility on a Win9x <A HREF="http://www.mirrors.org/archived_software/www.bootdisk.c..." target="_new">boot disk</A>, so you can create whatever partition sizes that you wish. If you prefer NTFS, you can create partitions of whatever size you choose with the Windows CD, without needing to use a DOS-based utility.

There's really only two things to keep in mind when using an imaging program. 1.) Images must be placed on partitions that are the same size or larger than the original partition. 2.) Imaging programs often have compatibility issues when disk utilities such as Data Lifeguard as used to partition and format the hard drive, due to the way that the partition tables are written, so these are to be avoided if at all possible. Either use FDISK, the Windows CD, or the Windows Disk Management utility to create partitions.

In closing, you'll probably see several other posts that suggest different partitions sizes, or even just one large NTFS partition. However, you should keep in mind that although it is perfectly acceptable to create partitions of nearly any size, giving some thought as the best method of restoring the data in the event of an emergency <i>before</i> creating the partitions would be a wiser move, IMHO.

<A HREF="http://forums.btvillarin.com/index.php?act=ST&f=39&t=18..." target="_new">Drive Image FAQ</A>.

Toey

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June 23, 2003 6:33:40 PM

Information on the subject that might help (although not necessarily answer the question):

Windows operating systems generally treat the hard drive as one big linear array of data. That is, they ignore its three dimensional nature and pay no attention to where on the disk the files are placed. About the only effort they make at optimizing storage is to try and write each file contiguously in one long, unbroken sequence of blocks. But over time files tend to get moved around or deleted, free space gets chopped up into many disparate chunks, and pieces of files end up scattered all over the disk. This is the reason that many vendors sell "disk optimizers" which try to rearrange all the files so that each one is contiguous. They may even try to group files that seem related "near" each other in the large, long line of bytes.

The problem with this linear approach is that it is both inflexible and sometimes incorrect. For example, a file may be stored in a sequential collection of blocks but still cross a track boundary. Therefore, even though the optimizer software says the file is fine, accessing it still requires head movement. More importantly, when the OS goes to write a file, it has to look for a contiguous line of free space so that it can write the blocks in a linear sequence. But in reality, only the <i>sectors</i> need to be in sequence and the files should all be on the same (or nearby) cylinders. As a result of this operating system "ignorance", systems generally must have their disks optimized every so often in order to prevent performance from degrading.

Unix-style file systems, on the other hand, take disk geometry into account. This gives them a lot of flexibility in choosing where to place the files, and allows them to keep a drive performing very well without having to run external optimizers. The downside is that when the hard drive is formatted, its exact geometry must be known and written into the file system. In other words, the system must know how many heads, cylinders, and sectors there are in order to correctly place the files. If this information is not available, then the drive may perform badly.

Toey

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June 23, 2003 8:19:57 PM

dont think so... well for older OS's a small C: actually made for a fast C: & its swapfile...

Trust me I know what I'm doing... ooops, grab the cat...
June 24, 2003 12:43:19 AM

Its of no issue to me because

A. the partition is at the start of the media, ensuring the fastest transfer rate

B. The swapfile has a fixed location, all in one big block.

C. Ive set windows up so that the partition has a fixed size 768-768Mb... more than enough.

D. I recently upgraded my ram to 1Gb (2x512 PC3200), so swapfile usage at best is extreemly minimal.

<b>Melb_angel: PooBaa's <A HREF="http://www.secretarythemovie.com" target="_new">Secretary!</A></b>
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