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Author Topic: Should I get my new laptop with hard drive partitioned?  (Read 12918 times)
jdd
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« on: February 18, 2008, 05:46:04 PM »

I could use some advice regarding hard drive configuration for a new laptop:

1. Will it boot up faster than a non-partitioned drive, all else being equal?  Note that I have a lot of programs (crap) that open on boot up.

2. What are advantages/disadvantages to partitioning?

3. What is preferred, NTFS or FAT32?

System will be:
Windows XP, sp2
120 gig HD, 5400 rpm
2 gig ram
processor= Intel Core2 Duo Processor ULV U7600 (1.20GHz, 533Mhz
running mostly MS applications
no gaming
« Last Edit: February 18, 2008, 05:50:17 PM by jdd » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2008, 06:23:17 PM »

for sure ntfs, no one would format a new pc with fat32 these days.

as for partitioning.. some people love to make lots of partitions, some people like having only one.

personally if i had one 120gb hd i would definitely partition it into 2 partitions:
  • one partition for the operation system and installed programs.
  • one partition for my data files.

with modern partition management software you should be able to change the size of the partitions or merge and split them even after you've been using it for a while, so don't feel like you have to make a decision now and forever live with it.  if it were me i might split it like 40gb C: drive and 80gb D: drive.

far more important than this decision is to make sure you buy an external usb drive so that you can back up an image of your computer after you get it. that will make it easier to always go back to factory clean state if you need to, etc.
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jdd
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2008, 06:35:23 PM »

Thanks, mouser, but will it boot faster?  What are the advantages?
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mouser
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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2008, 06:46:00 PM »

some people saying having multiple partitions can be faster, though i've never seen any good hard data on it.
personally i think it makes it cleaner and easier to organize things, and a little easier to back up data:
  • so you can make a drive image of your C drive to backup your operating system.
  • and a backup of your D drive whenever you want to backup your data.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2008, 09:21:23 PM »

Thanks, mouser, but will it boot faster?  What are the advantages?

It won't boot any faster. That is solely determined by the amount of stuff that you have to start up. You can inspect and changed these things with a tool like Microsoft/Sysinternals Autoruns.

There are a few advantages to having multiple partitions. If you have three partitions you can use one to boot Windows, one to boot Linux, and the third should be FAT32 with your data. The FAT32 will allow both operating systems to read and write to the data partition. The Windows partition should be NTFS and the Linux partitions should at least be EFS2 but EFS3 is better.

It is also easier to back up whole partitions than trying to make sure you are grabbing the correct files for each backup. For example, with the above example, you would be able to back up each of the three partitions individually and restore each of them individually.
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wraith808
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2008, 10:35:33 AM »

What *is* better about having two partitions from my experience:

1. You can have the windows swap drive on a different drive than windows.  This does increase performance.
2. If you use one drive for the OS and software, and one for data, it's easier to wipe and reimage the drive.
3. One drive for data and one drive for programs makes the program drive fragment less quickly.
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Darwin
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2008, 10:55:10 AM »

Personally, I need no other reason than wraith808's point 2 above. I partitioned my 120GB drive EXACTLY as mouser has suggested and moved all of my internet settings and e-mail files onto the data partition. I take regular images of the Windows and Programs partition (C:) and backup my data to a 500GB external drive. I can't comment on the performance angle as I've not noticed any difference...
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tinjaw
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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2008, 11:38:16 AM »

What *is* better about having two partitions from my experience:

1. You can have the windows swap drive on a different drive than windows.  This does increase performance.
2. If you use one drive for the OS and software, and one for data, it's easier to wipe and reimage the drive.
3. One drive for data and one drive for programs makes the program drive fragment less quickly.

1 and 3 are only true of multiple drives, not partitions. Having them on separate partitions on the same physical drive will provide no performance gain.

2 doesn't provide any benefit. The applications are tied to the OS. For example registry settings. So there generally is no advantage to separating the OS from the applications.
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Darwin
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2008, 12:13:23 PM »

Chaim - perhaps I am misreading wraith's point #2, but he seems to be suggesting what I do, which is to install windows and all of my programs to the same partition (C: in my case) and move My Documents and other data files to a second partition (E: in my case) - I don't think he's suggesting that one install the OS on one partition and apps on another? I've seen this mentioned elsewhere and, like you, have never understood the point, beyond a possible benefit to be derived from having a very small windows partition that would be good for... what? Quick defragmentation runs? I'm reaching here...
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wraith808
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2008, 01:14:06 PM »

Actually, I do notice a difference even if the swap file is on a different partition, rather than a different drive.  I think it has something to do with fragmentation, since the partitions fragment separately.

And as far as the other point, I mean install the OS and applications to one partition, and store the data on the other partition.  The only apps I store on my separate partition are ones that are portable...
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2008, 02:40:32 PM »

And as far as the other point, I mean install the OS and applications to one partition, and store the data on the other partition.  The only apps I store on my separate partition are ones that are portable...

Yes, that is a good strategy that has many advantages. I am about to do that when I rebuild my desktop computer.
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tomos
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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2008, 04:00:40 AM »

I don't think he's suggesting that one install the OS on one partition and apps on another? I've seen this mentioned elsewhere and, like you, have never understood the point, beyond a possible benefit to be derived from having a very small windows partition that would be good for... what?

for very small image backups?
guess you'd have to backup the software partition too but not so often
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Tom
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« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2008, 08:00:48 AM »

I've setup my partitions in the same way for over 10 years now, ultimate speed..

This is on 2 x Western Digital 10,000 rpm Raptor drives

Hard drive 1:
C: Windows (20gb)
D: Games - also save email attachments and all browser downloads on here
E: Apps - I custom install every application here and keep my docs/data here as well

Hard drive 2:
F: BACKUP (1 huge partition)

I use Acronis Trueimage every night to take an incremental image of my C/D/E partitions onto the F drive, only takes < 2 minutes

The Windows paging file is on this 2nd drive fixed at min 2gb max 2gb so it is NEVER dynamically resizing itself and being on a separate drive, while the operating system is busy with it's own windows files, if it needs to use the paging file they do not impact on each other.

InternetExplorer and Firefox browser cache files are forced onto the F: 2nd drive to not clutter up my 1st drive.

Windows temp files are all forced to F:\WinTemp instead of the default c:\windows\temp or c:\user\....

In other words, all the temporary/cache crap stays out the way of the operating system C drive.

If/when I install new drivers and anything goes wrong I normally only need to restore the C:Windows partition - so I can restore a completely wrecked machine in < 5 minutes every time.

Splitting everything up sensibly across drives and partitions makes the maintenance of it so much easier when you have problems. My WindowsXP machine was NEVER clean installed since it was released, I think I ran the same install for 5 years solid and all my friends with CLEAN installs still wondered how my system was so much faster than theirs.

I use this strategy on all PCs I work with, people never believe me when I tell them I can restore with Acronis in under 5 minutes, it's easy when you only have the OS on the small C: partition.
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wraith808
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« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2008, 02:11:31 PM »

Thats a lot like how I have my desktop setup, other than the fact that my C drive is a bit larger since I keep all of my permanent, non-portable apps on that drive also.  Since you have problems keeping the bits of the application intact, I figured it was better to keep them here.  My D drive has my documents and such, and E has portable software and games.  My downloads I keep on F, since I have to defrag a lot with bit torrent and such.
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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2008, 12:48:36 PM »

Bravo Fedorov!  Thmbsup

I was mentally composing a reply when I saw yours. You beat me to the punch.

In a former existence I was responsible for the upkeep of a large number of laptops in the hands of some financial types. Financially brilliant to the bone they were - but utterly clueless when it came to tech. The most workable solution was to have 3 partitions. Partition 1 was the OS and application suite. Partition 2 was a 20Gb recovery repository. Partition 3 was the userdata & tempfile area. We did a clean install of the OS; added the SP's; updated any drivers; added the apps suite and updated those - and then ran Trueimage to create a "genesis" image which was stored on Partition 2. That way (come heaven, hell, or Hollywood) we could have anybody back in business in ten minutes no matter what hit them.

This approach also works great for software testing. Load up your test applications. Do your evals Then just restore your previous image when you're done and your machine is clean for the next time. No risk of weird DLLs, registry entries, or alien lifeforms lurking about. And best of all - no more raw reinstalls of everybody's favorite OS!  Sweet... 

BTW - a buddy e-mailed me this link http://www.acronis.co.uk/mag/pcpro/ati8pe that will let you score a free copy of Acronis TrueImage v8.0. Not the latest, but it works with XP. Gotta love that!
« Last Edit: February 27, 2008, 01:58:58 PM by 40hz » Logged

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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2008, 03:57:18 PM »

Actually, I do notice a difference even if the swap file is on a different partition, rather than a different drive.  I think it has something to do with fragmentation, since the partitions fragment separately.

There is a simple solution to that - make your swap file fixed size and then do a boot time defrag. The Swap file will never fragment.

Having you swap file on a separate drive improves performance. Having it on a separate partition on the same drive actually degrades performance because the drive heads have to move about more just to make Windows and programs work properly. The only reason it would be quicker as you describe is because aa swap file is allowed to grow and shrink (the windows default setting) - then it becomes massively fragmented very quickly.
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AndyM
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« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2008, 09:18:54 AM »

I thought this was an interesting thread back in February, but academic for me.

Now I suddenly find myself about to take delivery on a new laptop (XP Pro) with two hard drives.  When I thought I was only going to have one drive, I intended to have 2 partitions (C: for system and applications, D: for data).

Based on what I've read here, I'll put the swap file on the second hard drive, and also any cache and temp files that I can figure out how to move. 

    1.  Should the swap file go in it's own partition on the second drive?

    2.  Should I think about putting my data in a partition on the second drive instead of the first?  If I do that, can I still call the data partition "D:" or will the drive letters only go in order (eg C: and D: on the first drive, E: and F: on the second)?

    3.  If I don't get the partitioning right the first time, any recommendations on a good, inexpensive partition manager utility?

Any and all advice will be most welcome!!!

Andy

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AndyM
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« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2008, 09:21:40 AM »

moved all of my internet settings ... onto the data partition.

How did you move your settings?
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2008, 11:21:48 AM »

If you can arrange it make a small partition (3 x memory size should be enough) and place the page file on there by itself. Ideally make this the first partition on the drive (the fastest part of the disc).
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tomos
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« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2008, 11:23:38 AM »

    1.  Should the swap file go in it's own partition on the second drive?

    2.  Should I think about putting my data in a partition on the second drive instead of the first?  If I do that, can I still call the data partition "D:" or will the drive letters only go in order (eg C: and D: on the first drive, E: and F: on the second)?

    3.  If I don't get the partitioning right the first time, any recommendations on a good, inexpensive partition manager utility?

1. general consensus here was yes - first partition on second drive - (f0dder says you dont need one if you have 2GB ram tongue)
I have the Temp folders there and Temp Internet files too. Just nice to have the messy stuff all in one package!

2. I would have data on one and back it up on the second, so I dont know if it would matter which you use  undecided

3.
I used that [sorry! EDIT: Parted Magic] for the partitioning
with the help of this tutorial
it was very easy
http://partedmagic.com/
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2008, 11:44:50 AM »

Drive letters are assigned somewhat differently.

It really depends how you set up the partitions. If you have a primary partition on both drives followed by an extended partition with logical drives inside windows usually assigns:

Drive1: C: (primary) E: F: .... (logical)
Drive2: D: (primary) G: ... (logical or where ever you got to in the extended partition on drive 1).

There is a simple way around this ...

From empty drives when you install Windows from the first time:

1) Create an active partition on drive 1 for Windows to install into (set the size you want).
2) Install Windows

From within Windows create the other partitions as you want them (you can use the Disk Management tool in the management centre - START > RUN > diskmgmt.msc

When you create a partition in the disk management bit you can select the drive letter. Just right click on the new partition and choose "Change Drive letter and Paths ...". You will get a warning that it will potentially screw up your system but you can ignore that since the partition is empty. You can also do this for other drives - CD/DVD, multimedia etc. The only drive letter you can't change is the one assigned to the Windows installation.

If you do this immediately after installing windows you should have no problems. The one exception is if at some point in the future Windows asks you to install your installation disc (driver installation, additional programs or to fix a corrupted file) it will expect you to use the CD/DVD in the same drive letter it used during installation. Easily solved though as you can select an alternative drive.

By the way if you want to put all the temp files with PageFile.sys in the first partition on drive 2 I suggest you use a fixed size page file.

Note it is also worth keeping a page file on C: of at least 64Mb - that way if you get BSODS in the future the errors will be logged in the system event logs. If you don't have that small page file available Windows can't save Crash Dumps at all and there will be no error messages in the logs to help with trouble shooting. Again make it fixed size.

Once you have set up your system use something like Perfect Disk to do a boot time defrag so that your C: and page file drives are optimized.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2008, 11:51:37 AM by Carol Haynes » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2008, 05:24:17 PM »

Most laptops only have one harddisk inside. When we take this into account and only Windows will run on it, make three partitions.
The separation is as follows:
1. a swap partition
2. a system partition
3. a data partition

Unfortunately, my method requires a total re-installation from the system. I'll explain why.

At the center of the harddisk the platters move faster than on the outside.
Because all data is stored from the center and then going outwards. So for the most speed gain the swap partition has to the first one.

With Windows that means that the C:\ partition has to be dedicated to the swap partition. Luckily , this partition does not have to be big.
Of course, this depends on the OS to be used. XP doesn't need more than a 4 Gigabyte C:\ partition for example, so the rest of the system
doesn't suffer much performance loss.

The D:\ partition should then be used for the Windows system files and the E:\ partition for all your data.
Their sizes depend on the total size of the harddisk minus the swap partition.

In my point of view this gives you the fastest (albeit a little weird for most users) Windows setup. Personally I think that the total
overall performance gain will amount to approximately 5%. Not that much, but in the basis the fastest setup I can imagine.
Daily/weekly defragging of your harddisk will maintain this extra speed, not to mention regular registry clean ups.
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f0dder
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« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2008, 06:11:11 PM »

Btw, pagefile on a second partition (but same physical drive) doesn't necessarily make things slower - the read/write heads have to move anyway. Keeping in unfragmented is what matters (and better yet, get 4+ gigs of ram and 64bit windows and disable it altogether).
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2008, 06:14:13 PM »

Actually in the one drive scenario described above you can still make the Windows drive C: and the page drive whatever you like.

You just need to prepare your hard disc in advance.

The easiest way to do this is to

  • use a partition manager rescue disc (such as Acronis DiskDirector - Partition Magic doesn't recognise some of the newer SATA drives if you still have that)
  • delete all the partitions on the disc (unless you want to keep the ubiquitous recovery partition - though personally I would back it up and delete it)
  • create a small primary partition on the drive but use a format that isn't used by Windows (anything will do except FAT, FAT32 and NTFS) but you don't need to bother formatiting it
  • use your Partition Manager to set the partition to Hidden.


Now install Windows (creating a new primary, active partition during setup). It will install as drive C:

Once windows is installed

  • boot from your Partition Manager disc again
  • unhide the page partition and format it with NTFS
  • reboot windows
  • use the disk management utility to relabel the page partition drive letter to whatever you want
  • create a data partition and label that and you DVD whatever you want.

Personally I don't think it is worth the hassle though - just install Windows on the first partition and set your page file to be a fixed size and do a boot time defrag of the pagefile. If the pagefile is fixed size and defragmented it doesn't fragment again so there is little advantage in setting aside another partition on the same drive.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2008, 06:16:39 PM by Carol Haynes » Logged

AndyM
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« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2008, 06:17:08 AM »

Thanks for the detail!!!

By the way if you want to put all the temp files with PageFile.sys in the first partition on drive 2 I suggest you use a fixed size page file.

How big?

Quote
Note it is also worth keeping a page file on C: of at least 64Mb - that way if you get BSODS in the future the errors will be logged in the system event logs. If you don't have that small page file available Windows can't save Crash Dumps at all and there will be no error messages in the logs to help with trouble shooting. Again make it fixed size.

Once you have set up your system use something like Perfect Disk to do a boot time defrag so that your C: and page file drives are optimized.

I'm going to have some questions about this when I get back on Monday  cheesy
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