Say I'm building a new computer and I have 2 or 3 different hard drives.
Whats the best set up for optimum performance. I've heard that putting the virtual memory swap file on a drive seperate to the operating system can speed things up. Is this true?
Is it also true that the OS should be on its own separate hard drive can increase performance? Does this mean I should install all my programs to the hard drive that does'nt contain the OS????
Nothing will really improve performance per say. All that arranging your disk in different partitions is good for is:
1. Keeping the fragmentation down if you put your swap on a separate partition (not really worth it IMO)
2. Making reformats/reinstalls faster and safer (definitely worth it).
You can put your swap file on a different partition if you want, but I find that as long as you set it to a static size (max = min) and schedule regular defragging in task scheduler this isn't really an issue.
As for installing your OS on a separate partition, well there have been numerous discussions on the boards about this. I like to keep the partitions to a minimum and most agree that having at least 2 is the way to go. I have c: set up for WindowsXP and all of my programs/games, and then d: is for all of my data files (music/movies/pr0n etc). This way, if I have to do a reformat, then I just have to reinstall the OS and programs while still being able to keep all of my music etc.
Others like to have a single OS partition, then another for programs, then another for games, then another for data. I personally find this to be a waste of space because if you allot 5 gigs for games and only install 4.5 gigs worth, then you've got .5 gigs of space sitting there, meanwhile you may find yourself .5 gigs short of space on your programs partition. Further, I've run into problems with a few games and applications not wanting to run off of a d: drive (Halflife/CS being one that comes to mind immediately). I hated being faced with a 700 MB program that had to be installed on my c: drive which only had 100 MB free because I chose to give it only enough space for the OS. But to each his own really...
I just did a reformat of my c: drive for the first time in almost a year just last week and it went very smoothly. I was up and running in a fairly short time and by keeping all of my programs and games installed on my OS drive I was able to clean out all of the crap that builds up when you install things. Little shareware programs I forgot about, old apps I never use, miscellaneous system files etc were all cleaned out because I kept everything installed on one partition. Quantitatively, I have a 20 gig c: drive which, before the reformat, had only ~1.5 gigs free. I installed windows as well as all of the programs I've had to use thus far and I now am sitting with a computer that lets me do everything I did before and it has 7.5 gigs of free space.
I recommend 2 partitions, c: for OS and apps/games, and d: for data.
However, seeing as how you have a few hard drives, I'd recommend using the fastest one for your OS + programs (by fastest I mean in rpm). Use your largest for your data files, and the third for whatever else you want (perhaps a backup drive?). If your largest is your fastest, then you might want to use the smaller one for your OS + programs if you don't mind the slight loading speed slowdown. It'll save you from creating a myriad of partitions.
Some day I'll be rich and famous for inventing a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet.