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What's the best partition size for Windows XP?

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August 4, 2003 1:02:13 PM

Im buying a new 120GB hard drive this week as my old 10GB one not only is insufficient but is also about ready to bite the dust. Im thinking on separating the new hard drive in two partitions: One for the operating system (WinXP) and the other for everything else.

My question is, how big should the WinXP partition be? A friend of mine told me that 5GB are enough but im thinking about 10GB. What do you think is best?

Thanks in advance.


Gary Hendricks
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August 4, 2003 1:33:02 PM

I'm inclined to agree with your friend. If all other applications are to be installed on a separate partition, then 5GB should be more than sufficient. With two hard drives, allowing the paging file to be moved to the slaved drive, I'd go as low as 3GB.

A 10GB partition would just leave a lot of wasted space that could be used for other things.

Toey

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August 4, 2003 4:57:33 PM

I wouldn't install your applications on a separate partition. Make one ~15 GB partition for windows + programs/apps/games, and the other 105 GB for data, music, etc.

Some day I'll be rich and famous for inventing a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet.
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August 4, 2003 5:17:13 PM

May I ask why you recommend this? Have you had some kind of bad experience with partitioning in this manner?

In my experience, backing up the system is a much faster and easier proposition if the system and operating system files are on one relatively small partition (3-5GB), applications reside on a second partition (7-10GB), and personal files on a third, encompassing the rest of the available free space.

For instance, I find that it takes only around 10 minutes to image a 5GB partition that contains the operating system. Other partitions that contain data not altered with any regular frequency don't require imaging as often, such as a partition that contains user applications. This also means that restoring the operating system doesn't take as long, which means less downtime.

Anything that can be done to encourage a user to back up a system regularly should be done, IMHO, and that includes faster imaging ... which also uses less optical media, BTW. Many people put off this kind of maintenance, including defragging the hard drive, running CHKDSK, or updating an Anti-Virus program, simply because of the time involved. And then, when it's too late, find themselves in a bind ... which might end up being expensive, if the data absolutely must be recovered.

Toey

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August 4, 2003 5:44:39 PM

I've had problems with applications not working unless they are installed on the same partition as the OS. Also, reformatting your OS partition usually requires you to reinstall many of your applications anyways (registry stuff), so it's not like you can just reformat and reinstall your OS and be off to the races.

Also, why do you need 5 gigs for your OS partition? Much of that will end up being just wasted space as you're not going to install anything on it.

As for imaging, I just don't do it. If a situation arose in which I would have to do a clean install, I'd just reformat the OS partition. It doesn't take that long to install the OS, and I have all of my programs either on CD or on my other partition. I also have all the latest patches and drivers stored as well, so it goes very quickly.

As for all that maintenance stuff, I just turn it on when I go to bed. Done by morning for sure.

Some day I'll be rich and famous for inventing a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet.
August 4, 2003 7:46:38 PM

Post deleted by blah
August 4, 2003 8:17:57 PM

I can think of a few applications that might require being installed into the primary partition, but not many. Perhaps a firewall, applications for use with a router, or an anti-virus program ... some of the Windows-based utilities or programs with a need for Common File access, in other words. But almost everything else can be installed in a separate partition with no ill effects. There's certainly no reason to install an inordinately large application like a game on the primary partition. If I had my system set up in that manner, it would take 17-18 CD-R disks every time I backed up the OS partition, and more time than I'd wish to detract from my limited computer use while at home.

Actually, I don't need 5GB for the primary partition, not with a slaved drive, because the paging file has been moved. 3GB is closer to being the optimal size for that partition, within these circumstances. However, with just one hard drive, even a slimmed down version of WinXP (with only the most essential applications installed within the primary partition) can approach 3GB after a year or so of use, and with the paging file added to that, could reach nearly 4GB. And there must be a certain amount of free space left on the partition for programs to run, or you'll begin to experience out-of-disk-space errors. That begins when the free space on the partition reaches 200MB or less.

Supposedly, WinXP can be installed on a partition as small as 1.5GB, but I think that is pushing it just a little bit.

I wish I could talk you into taking a look at an imaging program like Drive Image 2002. Clean installations become a thing of the past with an image in hand. Which is basically the whole point, IMHO. It's not just about backing up; it's keeping downtime to a bare minimum. I like to fix computers while at work, but when I get home, an error message is the very last thing I want to see ... and as for formatting and starting over; no thanks. I've got better things to do.

I also have all my programs, updates, drivers and patches safely stored away on disks for easy access, but I still advocate imaging as the best back up solution. I don't know about you, but setting up my desktop exactly as I want, including a plethora of tweaks for optimal performance ... this can take me six to eight hours, working straight through, and I'm bound to spend another week or so making a few changes each day until I am completely satisfied with the way the system runs in every respect. If a problem arises that might require a reinstallation of the OS, a format and a clean install, (for me, at least) is simply a major pain in the rear, and something I'd rather avoid if at all possible.

For example, the other day I installed an Elcard codec that caused all other video applications to stop functioning correctly. Uninstalling it left over 150 errors and orphaned keys in the Registry, corrupted the Control Panel display, and removed my LAN connection. (It also appeared to remove my ability to create a new connection, despite my best efforts.) Nasty bit of work, that codec.

Based on your personal preferences, I'd have been looking at a repair of the OS, (which would have necessitated reinstalling 45 hotfixes), or a format and clean installation of the OS, which would have required that I reinstall over 80 programs with their updates (purposely not counting about 100 Photoshop plug-ins), all the drivers, reinstalling the hotfixes, alter more than 50 Registry settings, and <i>then</i> customize the desktop and the start menu ... everything from the type of cursor to the color scheme to the screen saver.

Sorry, dude ... but I'm just too lazy to go to that much trouble, just because one application did some damage. Doing everything once (the first time), was all the effort I intend to spend on a single system. Sure, it's being picky, but I'm just not capable of building a computer, installing only a handful of programs, and using the default settings. Call it a personality defect.

Using a recent image had me back up and running in perfect condition in 12 minutes flat, counting reboots.

I'm glad you do your system maintenance on a regular basis, and while asleep is an excellent time. But not everyone takes out the time to perform these necessary procedures, and sometimes leaving things on automatic means they just don't get done. For instance, I talked to a user the other day who was complaining about his system being sluggish. I asked him about his defragging schedule, and he responded that the computer did this without any intervention on his part. It turned out that the utility in question had long ago been disabled, without his knowledge, and the computer hadn't been defragged in over 2 years.

As for myself, I defrag the system partition each day, and the other partitions once a week. I always run CHKDSK on the partitions before a defragmentation run, and move the directories to the top of the hard drive. It takes about 2 minutes to defrag the primary partition because of this, or about the same amount of time needed to get up, get a cup of coffee, and walk back to the computer room. As a result, maintenance is simply not an issue with my systems, and I expect to rarely ever encounter a disk error due to a bad cluster or sector ... not as long as the hard drive is functional.

There are some habits worth adding to your daily schedule, IMHO.

Of course, my friend, you certainly don't have to agree with any of this. That's your right, and you are more than entitled to your opinion. But I hope you won't hold it against me for advocating a different point of view. That's life on the 'Web.

Later ...

Toey

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August 4, 2003 8:58:09 PM

Hey, is this "Pick on Toey" day, or did I miss something?

:lol:  :lol:  :lol: 

Quote:
Heh, if you know all the stuff ("In my experience...") why you asking?

Because I'm polite, and would rather promote discussion than just be a vapid jerk and argue with someone on the forum for no good reason. Silverpig had a different viewpoint ... I wanted to see why he felt that way. I certainly didn't intend to disregard him, just because I didn't agree with everything he said.

Quote:
Anyway, it really does not matter how big or small partition is for imaging, it takes almost same amount of time to image 5 gig with 2 gig data, or 100 gig with 2 gig of data, as long as they are properly defragged before.

I agree. Imaging programs only back up data, not free space. However, you'll have to agree that it will take a wee bit longer to back up 15GB of data compared to 2GB or 3GB. And using multiple partitions to store personal data does allow a certain amount of protection against data loss and/or corruption if errors occur that might require deleting a primary partition.

On more than one occasion, when a hard drive has begin to fail, I've been able to retrieve data from a logical drive, even when the primary partition can no longer be detected. That in itself is an excellent reason to consider having more than one partition, even with NFTS.

Quote:
As far as restore goes, why don't your "users" not using XP's backup over night or so, it is really good (I would say less cumbersome and trouble free) solution than imaging the drive all the time.

First off, WinXP Home users can't use the utility unless it is manually installed, because it isn't listed by default. Second, I might get a phone call about these minor problems:

<A HREF="http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;302700" target="_new">An Error Message Is Displayed When You Attempt to Use the Automated System Recovery Wizard</A>

<A HREF="http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;328035" target="_new">STOP Error Occurs When You Restore Backup Windows XP SP1 Files</A>

Secondly, backing up using the default utility is a little more complicated than using Drive Image. I'd rather have the entire system replaced if there is a problem, rather than spending time on the phone taking someone through incremental backups and how the system should be restored. Once I have Drive Image set up on a system, backing up requires two mouse clicks.

Third, there is a problem with ASR in that the size of the files it creates may not fit a standard CD. And because WinXP doesn't offer the ability to span file sets across CDs, you would need to do that manually with a third-party utility. Another issue: Although you can do other things while a backup is in progress, you run the risk of accessing files you may be backing up. When that happens, those files won't be copied.

Fourth, I don't think the solutions for backing up data included in Windows have ever been completely reliable.

Fifth, Drive Image is the faster solution.

Quote:
Anyway, you know all this stuff anyway, why am I so into saying it again ;*) have fun.

Thanks, blah ... I try! Fun is my middle name. :smile:

See ya!

Toey

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August 4, 2003 10:35:46 PM

I usually go about 7gb to 8gb just to give windows plenty of room. And, I almost always use about 6gb, just out of bad habit, and not installing everything where it should really go. I image to a second hard drive/partition, which takes less than 10 minutes for backup or restore. I know, it's a waist of hard drive space, but, it's not being used anyways.
I have to agree with Toey, that if you use a little discipline when installing new software, you probably won't need more than 5gb. Regular disk maintenance, makes backing up a lot easier.

Quote:
Hey, is this "Pick on Toey" day, or did I miss something?

No it's not. We all love ya' man. :wink:



My Daddy used to tell me:
<b>It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're stupid,
then it is to open your mouth and prove it.</b>
I never was good at taking advice!
August 4, 2003 11:29:11 PM

Heh, I wasn't picking on you man :) 

Anyways, yeah, I can see how some might like your way better, but I'm sticking by my way. Starting over also keeps my drive cleaner; all those little freeware programs you install, run for a week and then forget about aren't still sitting there.

THE most important app I run (halflife --> counterstrike hehe) wouldn't connect to any servers unless it was installed on my primary partition. Don't ask me why, it just wouldn't do it.

I tried doing it your way, and didn't like it much... had a few problems I didn't care to deal with. I've only ever had one disk error and it was a complete failure, so the entire drive was pooched. Not much I could do there. Other than that, I've not been met with much inconvenience by doing it my way, and it's alleviated some of the problems I had in the past. Just personal preference I guess :) 

Some day I'll be rich and famous for inventing a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet.
August 5, 2003 4:37:56 AM

Quote:
A 10GB partition would just leave a lot of wasted space that could be used for other things.

I'd make a system partition at least ~10GB in my comp as well as any comp I've been setup. It'd better be a little wasted space rather than running out as Windows could easily fill it up (It started almost 2GB when it first installed already) although with <b>120GB</b> on the HD, I don't think it would affect much.

:smile: Good or Bad have no meaning at all, depends on what your point of view is.
August 5, 2003 4:48:25 AM

Sorry, my deepestest apologies, I did not know you are the sys admin for users with 10-15 gigs of apps installed (;??? I wonder what kind of huge games they are playing during work, win+office=2gigs the most).

PS: thanks for good points, and yeah by the way, I am using and recommending w2k to every single body out there, so I don't have to deal with any of XP "crashes" as you have, and I never do more than a system restore, apps are not my problem, if user installs more than business requires, then it is their responsibility to put them back after XP crashes (or I don't really know what kind of stuff you guys are "supporting")

..this is very useful and helpful place for information...
August 5, 2003 5:12:49 AM

Mine is 15GB which is too large. However 3GB or even 5GB is gonna be too small since I keep running across programs and games that will only run off off the C:/. If I remember correctly GTA:VC was one of those.

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August 5, 2003 12:36:23 PM

5-10gb for the OS, 1/3 for your backup, 2/3 to your installations
August 8, 2003 10:48:00 AM

I’m currently at:
C: 3.89 GB w 1.5 free
D: 27 games
E: 12 Images
F: 10 Programs / Tools
G: 10 old stuff
H: 50 all my stuff

When I do an Image of C: it takes 3 minutes. :smile:


<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by jiffy on 08/08/03 06:53 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 8, 2003 4:32:49 PM

Amen ... you've got it down, jif! It's nice to be able to back up quickly.

It takes me about 5 minutes to do the C: partition, if I don't select image verification. But this is with my Duron system, which may not be as fast as yours. My main Pentium system with the Maxtor drives runs faster in DOS, and takes about the same amount of time as yours.

Mine (currently):

C: 2.61 with 2.39 free.
D: Games and software, patches, updates, etc. 10GB. 2GB free. ( I may expand this one at a later date, to allow room for more games. I might make it 15GB, and steal a bit from another partition.)
E: Photographs and music. 107GB. 74.3GB free.
F: Photographs, movies and images. 102GB. 76.8 free.
G: CD-RW
H: CD-ROM
I: Virtual CD-ROM/DVD CloneDrive

I only keep one or two images of all the computers on the hard drives, depending on what has been updated recently. I always have at least one recent image on CD-Rs, just to be safe.

Of course, the best layout depends on how you want to use the system. I'm obviously into photography and graphic arts programs, so this works out very well for me.

27 games ... wow! :lol: 

Later ...

Toey

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August 8, 2003 5:02:44 PM

See, when you run out of room on one partition, you have to spend all that time moving, contracting, and expanding partitions... and if the power goes out during that process your partition table is most likely fux0red, and you'll end up with a ton of truncated and crosslinked files. I NEVER adjust my partitions once they're set.

I had it happen to me once and it took forever to fix it.

Some day I'll be rich and famous for inventing a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet.
August 8, 2003 5:55:23 PM

All that time?

Five minutes ... tops, moving a little free space from one partition to another. Move the free space, adjust the partition sizes, and reboot. I've never had any problems using Partition Magic; it's a simple, quick procedure.

I also don't expect trundicated or cross-linked files due to a power failure. However, if something <i>did</i> happen, not only could I repair the partitions quickly with the WinXP CD, but I could also do the same thing from DOS. But, that's assuming a power failure stranded my system while in the middle of the changes, and considering that I've got 20 minutes of spare power with my UPS charged up and running, the likelihood of being forced to repair everything is remote.

I've also got images of my data, which would repair any errors with the MBR or partitions tables once restored. Images just don't replace data within the partition; the image deletes the partition, and then replaces the whole thing.

BTW, the power never goes out here except during a massive electrical storm, and I shut down and unplug all systems during such periods of time, anyway. That would not be the moment when I'd arbitrarily choose to make changes to the system in the first place. Not as long as I was sober! :lol: 

I understand your point of view, but I really don't think that it applies to me, if you catch my drift. And I still stand by my statements, which I think can apply to the majority of users, the majority of the time.

Toey

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August 8, 2003 9:03:13 PM

You had me wondering there for a moment on how you cut so much fat, hehe. You wrote it like I did, but 3.89 is my total size.

Oh it sure is nice to be able to do a back up so quickly. I remember when it use to take forever and I would hesitate to even make a Image. Now with the Images only taking 3 minutes I won’t even hesitate to make an Image, since it takes about as long as it does to make a mix drink coffee/sugar, hehe. It’s more of an inconvenience to track it Image down Start/All Programs/Tools…well you get the ideal, I should just drag a short cut over to the start up. :wink: Yeah, I don’t always select image verification, I been lucky so far. I should get an Image on to a CD, but again I had good luck so far just having them on another partition, but I do keep all my stuff on CDs just in case.

I new I was going to get a new video card. I choose the 9800 P and for some reason I had a feeling I was going to be playing a lot of games :wink: , so I made the partition a little bigger. I still have 13 GB left, but I still have about 5-6 more games to load, plus demos.
August 9, 2003 3:21:43 PM

Quote:
When I do an Image of C: it takes 3 minutes.

Mine does the same, and it is 25GB partition. I don't think it matters depends on the partition's size but the data's (which has appx. 3GB) in it.

:smile: Good or Bad have no meaning at all, depends on what your point of view is.
August 9, 2003 3:47:57 PM

Well, it would seem the speed depends on the data. What about where you restore the Image to, does that have to be 25 GB as well?

And why is your partition 25 GB? I mean that is a waist of space, unless you plan to fill it up in which you would kiss 3 minutes good bye. Unless, you purpose was just to say the data is what determines the amount of time it takes to make an Image.
August 9, 2003 4:04:28 PM

My HD is 80Gb, and I don't like if my space is running out (I used to have problem with Win98 when data was over 50% of HD's capacity). The rest of HD (~50GB) is my storage where I put my image in.
Quote:
Unless, you purpose was just to say the data is what determines the amount of time it takes to make an Image.

That's what I meant.

:smile: Good or Bad have no meaning at all, depends on what your point of view is.
August 9, 2003 4:20:40 PM

Well then, cherish the 3 minutes Image time then. :wink:
!