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Thread: Partitioning of Hard Drives

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    Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Evening all,

    The time has finally come for me to take a long hard look at how I organise my hard drives. While I know how to partition them off it's more a case of how best to do it. Meaning what do I put where and how much space do I allocate to each partition ?

    I currently run 1 TB Segate HDD and a Western Digital 500 HDD. The Seagate is my boot drive and the Western Digital at this moment in time is empty, I was planning to use it for an alternative operating system and dual boot with Linux but I've decided to make my laptop my dedicated Linux box as thats got Vista on it, and to be honest I'm not the biggest lover of Vista.

    I was thinking along the lines of

    Using the 1 TB Drive

    C: - 100 gig, OS (Windows 7) and main core apps such as Office, Photoshop, Nero etc
    D: - 621 gig, games only
    E: - 100 gig, for documents and photos
    F: - 50 gig, swap file (does this really make much difference these days ?)
    G: - 60 gig, for making a master image of the main C: partition so I won't have the need to re-install Windows or main apps should I need to.

    I'll leave the 500 gig as it is and use it to backup all my documents and photos as I go, although after a while these all tend to get backed up to DVD/USB Memory stick and kept in a dark cupboard.

    I'm also waiitng for someone to tell me I should be keeping alot of my data off-site, but thats not currently an option right now.

    I know this topic has been covered before several times and we all have different ways of dealing with our data I know but I welcome and useful suggestions.

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    The late but legendary peterb - Onward and Upward peterb's Avatar
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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    No problems with that - it is pretty much how I partition my Windws drives - although a 50GB swap file seems a little excessive. 5GB would be more thn enough for most systems.

    Rule of thumb for Linux systems is roughly twice the amount of RAM, (although I have noticed on recent Linux Kernels when there is more than a GB or so of RAM, very little swap file is used) and I would have thougt that is OK for a Windows sytem to. Win 7 does make good use of installed RAM, so I'd be tempted to stick with that (or just keep the swap file on the C partition and let Windows manage it as it sees fit - which is what I do )
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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Can't see any problems with it other than the swap partition; IMO just set the initial size to about a gig and leave it on the C: partition, that way it's on a faster bit of the disk for when it is used.

    Beat me to it by a minute. xD

    Just to add though, I used to keep the swap partition on another disk myself but I noticed the disk going to standby after a while, proving how much it's used.

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    In which case I'll let Windows manage the swap file and give the 50 gig or so back to the main partition.

    Quick question, I assume I can install steam and games on another partition ? Never done it before thats all and at last count my steam games folder was massive !

    As for Linux, thats going on my HP Laptop which has a Core 2 Duo 5800 (2 GHz I think) 3 gig of ram and a 320 gig HDD, not going to have much hassle with that. With Vista it chugs along with Linux it flies.
    Last edited by Behemoth; 07-10-2010 at 11:22 PM.

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    couple of things:

    dont have the image of windows stored on the same hard drive as windows. if the drive breaks you'll lose both.

    and yes you can install steam and games to a different drive. choose 'custom install' or change the install path. theres an option on pretty much every game i own, both old and new, you just need to read each step and all the available options on each step of the setup, sometimes the option is hidden.

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by stevie lee View Post
    couple of things:

    dont have the image of windows stored on the same hard drive as windows. if the drive breaks you'll lose both.

    and yes you can install steam and games to a different drive. choose 'custom install' or change the install path. theres an option on pretty much every game i own, both old and new, you just need to read each step and all the available options on each step of the setup, sometimes the option is hidden.
    Well observed mate, in which case that can sit on the 500 gig Western digital and Windows become a 200 gig partition, was trying to avoid that if I could to keep things as fast as possible.

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    I would have thought Nero would take up 100GB on its own.......

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by d032sh View Post
    I would have thought Nero would take up 100GB on its own.......
    Er.. how? It would need to be distributed on several blu-ray discs if that was the case!

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    I've never seen much point in partitioning HDDs any more than strictly necessary... why not simply have one partition for the OS/apps (you can image this to the backup drive as you've indicated), and one for everything else?

    Slicing a HDD into a multitude of partitions involves making decisions at the outset which are a pain to rectify down the line if you discover that you've miscalculated your space requirements, and you very often find yourself wasting bits of space here and there, and/or putting things where you never intended them to go... better IMO to use folders for organisation as they were intended, and keep your sum total of free space as unfragmented (in the partitioning sense) as possible.

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Partitioning helps with backups and such too, you can backup a partition rather than picking folders/using filters for example.

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    I've never seen much point in partitioning HDDs any more than strictly necessary... why not simply have one partition for the OS/apps (you can image this to the backup drive as you've indicated), and one for everything else?

    Slicing a HDD into a multitude of partitions involves making decisions at the outset which are a pain to rectify down the line if you discover that you've miscalculated your space requirements, and you very often find yourself wasting bits of space here and there, and/or putting things where you never intended them to go... better IMO to use folders for organisation as they were intended, and keep your sum total of free space as unfragmented (in the partitioning sense) as possible.
    I don't see myself filling a 600 gig partition full of games, and if I do then it's time to go down the road of buying a new bigger drive. Gone are the days when large hard drives were stupidly expensive.

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    I've never seen much point in partitioning HDDs any more than strictly necessary... why not simply have one partition for the OS/apps (you can image this to the backup drive as you've indicated), and one for everything else?
    Because huge partitions are more likely to get fragmented, and take longer to defragment (unless defragmenting is done often, in which case there is higher wear & tear on the disk itself).

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    Slicing a HDD into a multitude of partitions involves making decisions at the outset which are a pain to rectify down the line if you discover that you've miscalculated your space requirements, and you very often find yourself wasting bits of space here and there, and/or putting things where you never intended them to go...
    This I agree with, which is why I prefer to use several smaller disks over 1 large one, also improving performance by allowing concurrency of I/O.
    It is not only size that is important to take into account with partitions, but their position on disk and what they contain - you would not want to have your OS on a small partition at the end of disk, for example, as that is the least performant part.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    better IMO to use folders for organisation as they were intended, and keep your sum total of free space as unfragmented (in the partitioning sense) as possible.
    A file system is logical, where partitions are physical.
    Accessing data on disk requires a physical movement of the relevant disk read/write head (assuming not SSD), so indexing/searching, defragmenting and regular I/O are not helped by a folder structure layout.

    With the trend towards implicit searching on the local machine ("desktop search"), plus the ability to mount partitions as folders, there is less need to manually navigate a folder structure to locate specific data.
    (I even go to the point of installing apps & games to their default logical paths under %ProgramFiles%, but create the folder beforehand set as a mount point to a partition on a separate disk.)
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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Adams View Post
    Because huge partitions are more likely to get fragmented, and take longer to defragment (unless defragmenting is done often, in which case there is higher wear & tear on the disk itself).
    IMO people still get too hung up on fragmentation - it's an ever-present fact of life on any NTFS partition, whatever the size, but unless and until it reaches the extreme stage where it noticeably impacts performance, it simply doesn't matter. If you leave Win7's defragger to run in the background on a schedule as intended, it's unlikely you'll ever need to consciously deal with it, unless you have a very unusual setup and/or usage patterns.

    If you're the obsessive-compulsive type* who simply must have "files of type X" in "physical location Y", then you could use a MyDefrag script to place things where you want them within a single partition. I'm rather sceptical though that this really provides any genuine real-life benefit, at least beyond the obvious advantage of putting the OS and apps at the start of the disk (which would be achieved with a simple two-partition setup anyway).

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Adams View Post
    A file system is logical, where partitions are physical.
    Accessing data on disk requires a physical movement of the relevant disk read/write head (assuming not SSD), so indexing/searching, defragmenting and regular I/O are not helped by a folder structure layout.
    I'm a bit surprised at this, unless I've misunderstood what you're saying - aren't you likely to end up with *more* (and longer) seeks if the head assembly has to keep skipping between several partitions on the same physical disk, each with their own separate filesystem and MFT?

    *edit: I've just noticed your sig, this wasn't a dig!
    Last edited by CaptainCrash; 09-10-2010 at 05:23 PM.

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    I... unless and until it reaches the extreme stage where it noticeably impacts performance, it simply doesn't matter.
    In well used systems, particularly as they age, this can take a lot less time than people think. At work I spent some time attending defrags (using Defraggler) on some of our older machines, ensure that the files were defragmented *then* also defragging the freespace. The users all reported significantly improvement in performance immediately after the defrag, but found that performance deteriorated rapidly so within a month they were back where they started. I defragged again: with exactly the same result.

    Obviously this is likely to depend on the exact age and workload of the machine, but defragging can be more important than you might think...

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Well, I guess older machines would be more likely to suffer - you'll have relatively small/slow HDDs, and probably limited RAM, so more paging and less effective prefetching and caching to speed things along. Even so, the fact you were repeatedly seeing serious performance degradation within as little as a month, apparently due to fragmentation alone, suggests that some kind of unusual usage was taking place.

    The point is, it would take a *very* heavy workload for fragmentation to be a major issue on a modern desktop PC, with bucketloads of RAM and fast HDDs, and what fragmentation does take place is managed effectively by the default background defragging process (in Windows 7 at least).

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    Re: Partitioning of Hard Drives

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    IMO people still get too hung up on fragmentation - it's an ever-present fact of life on any NTFS partition, whatever the size, but unless and until it reaches the extreme stage where it noticeably impacts performance, it simply doesn't matter.
    Agree 100%, but avoiding fragmentation is the way to mitigate this, not defragging.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    If you leave Win7's defragger to run in the background on a schedule as intended, it's unlikely you'll ever need to consciously deal with it, unless you have a very unusual setup and/or usage patterns.
    This is the killer - there's no standard way people use computers, store or organise data, which is why there's no silver bullet for tuning for performance (even if everyone in the world had an identical spec system).

    Optimization algorithms only work by spotting patterns in usage - put people into the mix and there's a disturbing degree of randomness that throws these off.

    I don't know how many times in my 6 years as Microsoft I've had conversations, debates and recommendation requests for the location & size of the pagefile (or whether it should be completely disabled), because people believe there should be a "best for all" solution (e.g. 1.5x physical memory on a separate disk) - also the question of "how many users can my Remote Desktop Server support with this spec?".
    To both of these questions the immediate response is "what will you use the system for?" - if you know beforehand what the usage pattern will be, and can assume it won't change (doesn't happen) then you can answer it... otherwise you're baselining a system after building in order to figure it out, and then you're just comparing your solution against other solutions to the equation to see if it gives a better answer.

    The answer, alas, is not always 42

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    If you're the obsessive-compulsive type* who simply must have "files of type X" in "physical location Y", then you could use a MyDefrag script to place things where you want them within a single partition. I'm rather sceptical though that this really provides any genuine real-life benefit, at least beyond the obvious advantage of putting the OS and apps at the start of the disk (which would be achieved with a simple two-partition setup anyway).
    The moment you set any partitions size, you have committed yourself to a certain degree (yes, you can resize partitions after the fact but this really ought to be a last resort).

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    I'm a bit surprised at this, unless I've misunderstood what you're saying - aren't you likely to end up with *more* (and longer) seeks if the head assembly has to keep skipping between several partitions on the same physical disk, each with their own separate filesystem and MFT?
    The idea is to spot bottlenecks, coming from concurrent requests for the same resource - with disks you spread the data across different devices.
    Again, with knowledge of how you'll use a system before setting it up, you can place the data correctly. For example it's very unlikely 2 games would be played simultaneously, so they can be in separate partitions on the same disk without creating a bottleneck, or backups/infrequently used data can happily reside on a disk which is heavily used for other purposes, such as the OS binaries.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCrash View Post
    *edit: I've just noticed your sig, this wasn't a dig!
    Heh, that's only semi-facetious too, I acknowledge that I have a certain degree of 3-letter combinations
    I have managed to get away from the "must upgrade the BIOS from 1.001 to 1.002 because it exists!" and "defragment the pagefile, it's essential!" urges... it just took a few years
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