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Author Topic: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)  (Read 4999 times)

Steven Avery

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Hi Folks,

  Along with the OS thread, which got me thinking.

http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=17737.0
OS Re-install Tips?

  So what about someone partitioning for the first time ?.  And concerned not to be blindsided (hearing various stories of the occasional missing partition, trashed disk, MBR manipulations, and whatever).  Preparing for the 1% difficulty, also learning good practices at the same time.

  How is this for a checklist ?
  (Much of this can apply to any low-level activity, or a general cleanup and system review.)

DECISIONS
    * XP vs lower-level Partition tool
    * Which partition tools to use - install and play w/o update (& burn to CD or put on USB as appropriate)
    * Decide on number of partitions and sizes and their file types
    * Decide on boot manager, if multi-boot is planned
    * Settle on data backup (many good alternatives) and/or image (more sensitive) backup programs

OS RESTORE CDS AND UTILITIES
    * Look for mfgr XP CDs and keep phone #s and serial #s handy
    * NLite or other XP CD alternatives (Plan B to mfgr CD and good idea in general) 
    * Bart-PE type CD available and working
    * Consider USB alternatives to CD, test booting if used

XP REGISTRATION (if an issue)
    * Possible preemptive Microsoft contact to verify XP license
    * Use registration save help pages, if appropriate

SECURITY SCANS (optional good time for enhanced scan activity)
    * Your normal full scans
    * Malwarebytes, A2 & more tools (follow up but avoid getting bogged down in the false positives)

LOCAL AND REMOTE BACKUP AND CONTACT POINT
    * Net accounts used and comfy (e.g FileFactory, DriveHQ, Dropbox) to hold info, double-save some stuff
    * Local puter for net contact when down, and can hold info - (Plan B, friends, library)
    * Backup media - e.g. removable hard drive, USB

SAVE SYSTEM INFO
    * Basic info -- e.g. Belarc --with XP#s -- to print/net/usb/backup
    * Keep Serial #s of installed software is available at backup points, and list of installed software

SYSTEM INTEGRITY
    * CHKDSK (e.g. Gparted can choke if Windows has unfixed disk errors)
    * maximize PTF -- eg. SP3
   
CLEANUP
    * Early backup and/or image before cleaning (e.g. normal daily)
    * Clean disk (eg. CCleaner) temp files etc - using utilities and any additional hand work.
    * Good time for any special cleanup (see note below)
    * Special note - this is not a good time for "registry cleaning" (unless previously an established routine)
    * When done -- empty the recycle bin

SYS/REGISTRY DEFRAG
    * Defrag and compact registry, page and sys files (PageDefrag), (ERUNT before and after)
          (only what is your normal practice, can be skipped entirely)
 
DATA BACKUP
    * Setup special folder/sub to hold special backup prep areas, easy to see on backup disk
    * Backup Registry w/ERUNT
    * Backup current drivers (allowing one-by-one restore on an as-needed basis)
    * Special backups e.g Firefox extensions FEBE, Desktop Saves
    * Windows Scheduler - at least note of current status, pic of what is there (not sure of backup method)
    * Final report backup logs (e.g. Belarc, SiSandra, Installed Program Printer) placed in their save folders
    * Any special security and password info saved
    * Review that your backup program picks up all essential files from daily app usage.
    * Backup data files

IMAGE BACKUP
    * Turn off System Restore if on
    * Defrag (optional)
    * Backup Image (2 is better than 1 - verification difficult)
    * Turn on System Restore if you use it

PREPARE AND GO AND RUN
    * Defrag with file placement
    * Create Partitions
    * Verification and test of new setup, use multiple tools to check they see system
    * Install any new OS, move any data, create any recovery partitions, etc.

    * Begin daily use

=================================

Some notes.

==========================================

Cleanup:

Partition time -- a good time to read and do once-in-a-blue-moon cleanup. 

One example:. C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution (and the same name in the system 32 folder) is very deletable, likely by hand, perhaps turning off MS auto-update when on - or that caveat may be Vista-only.  On my system it is 100 MB.  Also a good time to use a good disk-tree software to see the things worth deleting and checking. Generally, I would delete l my downloaded files in temp folders for installs at this time, keeping the folder structure I set up.

Or you might have humongous log files of which  you are unawares.  Be sure that you see hidden files visible if you want to do a full analysis and study, and be careful.  An example of a helpful article. 

http://www.optimizin...ize/deletefiles.html
Disk Cleanup: deleting unnecessary files

Oh, if you are not sure of a delete, better rename the folder, make a note, you can delete later after reboots.

=========================================

Backup

    Decide between data and image per your practices, a data backup is always a helpful auxiliary, even if you image.  The simplest is, space available, a non-compressed data backup where the files are fully individually viewable and tested in restore.  No matter how superior imaging may be for a particular installation for speed and fullness of backup, it generally will not be as reliable and verifiable and flexible for small and specific needs as simply a straight file save and restore. (I am not sure if any image software has gotten to the point of similar flexibility when used for simple restore mode, eg. allowing a dual pane explorer mode of the files within the image.)

==========================================

Partition Choices

XP (Partition Master, Easeus etc)  and lower-level partition (GParted, Linux tools Grub, etc) is a fundamental decision, they can be combined yet have nuances. Discussions on the Linux forums especially can help in preparation, and they indicate that XP tools are limited in utility. Here is a sample discussion.

http://ubuntuforums....wthread.php?t=347275
Partitioning for XP/Ubuntu dual boot

==========================================

Tool Savvy for Linux Partition

Free tools mentioned as very savvy for Linux partition work  :

gparted cd
livecd (with ntfstools with ntfsresize )

 Apparently there are some limitations from some XP tools as to how well they will set up partitions for a Linux install.

 There are also questions about primary and logical partitions, extended partitions and such.  One idea that is especially interesting is a "FAT32 shared OS drive" that can hold data for multiple OS, within that partition you could set up a directory for XP-only data, a directory for Linux-only data, and a directory for shared data.

==========================================

DEFRAG DISK

And I am still researching which is the best defrag to use before partition.  How much difference it makes, what settings and such. And e.g. whether a simple defrag like Auslogics will be acceptable in clearing space if the disk is only 25%-35% full.

==========================================

SYSTEM RESTORE

My understanding is that System Restore points can be a bear for drive image software. 
Ergo, above -- turn off, image, turn on.

==========================================

OS HOLDS DATA EXAMPLE - HOSTS FILE
 
An example of changeable (user-defined) data kept in the operating system section. 
The hosts file.

==============================

Your thoughts ?   I'll modify the above as needed.

Shalom,
Steven Avery

« Last Edit: April 06, 2009, 07:57:51 AM by Steven Avery »

cmpm

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2009, 09:01:59 AM »
For cleaning temp files, and more.
You can use these tools.

ATF-Cleaner-

http://www.atribune....;id=25&Itemid=25

Cleanup!-

http://www.stevengou...ontent&task=view

With Cleanup! you can add folders to the cleaning job.
Like 'SoftwareDistribution/Download'. And whatever folder you want to.
After cleaning you will be prompted to log off or restart to delete some files.

40hz

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2009, 10:55:20 AM »
@Partitioning Tools:

The open source Partition Magic Parted Magic is one of the best general purpose disk tools available. Version 4.0 has just been released, and in keeping with tradition, each new version has gotten better.

Info & download here: http://partedmagic.com/

Partition Magic Parted Magic was designed to be a bootable front-end for a few dozen tools for dealing with hard drives. The selection of included tools is fairly extensive and covers such things as disk information, partition management, formatting, cloning, and data recovery.

Most people download this 70-odd megabyte iso to use the excellent GParted utility mentioned earlier in this thread. GParted allows you to partition and format drives with just about any filesystem you've heard of. But this CD also has quite a few other useful tools well worth getting to know. So do yourself a favor and explore everything this toolkit has to offer. GParted may be the 'crown jewel' in the lineup - but you'll be missing out on a lot if you don't at least have a look around the disk.

Once the tool of choice for all the Linux-freaks (like me ;)) it has since become a standard found in many a 'Windows-only' technician's tool kit.

You want this tool. Download it! :Thmbsup:
 8)
---

For screenshots and a very good review of Parted Magic 4.0, visit Distrowatch.com

Article link: http://distrowatch.c...sue=20090406#feature

---

<EDIT: corrected product name. Thanks to Steven Avery for pointing out my mistake below. Next time I promise I'll drink at least one cup of coffee before posting anything. :-[>

« Last Edit: April 06, 2009, 02:23:33 PM by 40hz »

MilesAhead

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2009, 11:46:25 AM »
Quote
* Decide on number of partitions and sizes and their file types

If you install more than one flavor of Windows and all NTFS partitions(as in where programs are installed) are visible to each other, you may get some unpleasant interactions. Also older versions of Visual Studio used to be quite the pita when trying to run with more than one Windows.  Don't know if they fixed it since the instances of VS 2008 that I have installed are on C: partition only.


Having a separate application partition can give similar hassles depending how they store their settings.

Aside from OS considerations, registry etc.. if you have a gulf between executables and data on the same physical drive you can get thrashing.
I'm not experienced with RAID but with standard type disks a good rule of thumb, where possible, is separate physical drive for OS and executables, swap, and data.  That way disk seeks go concurrently on separate physical media, no thrashing. If you have sufficient memory to run with no swap, then you can follow that scheme with only 2 drives.  It assumes that one drive isn't vastly faster than the other(s) of course.

Also you may find the more interactions between the various OS, the more that's likely to get broken when stuff happens.  Pull out the block on the bottom, the whole pile topples.  Although that's less of a concern these days with cheap external drives and disk imaging backup.  Still, it's a consideration.

I did the bit before with OS separated from apps on the same drive and it was always touch and go how small to keep the OS partition to avoid thrashing when seeking to the app partition, while still allowing for Windows sneaky expansion of the system partition when you install stuff.

The other thing is how stable is your setup?  Are you going to play around with installing a different flavor of the month OS?  Install lots of doodad and trinket apps all the time?  Or is it a dedicated setup to particular stable tasks?

For me, unless I'm going to put another OS on the disk, I just run it lean as a single partition with no swap.  Keep it defragged, clean off the junk frequently. Put large junk I want to save over to external drives.

Steven Avery

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2009, 01:21:57 PM »
Hi Folks,

40hz, I was planning to try Parted Magic (two places above you call it "Partition Magic" .. another product)  as the super-GParted, so thanks for the thread reference, I am leaning in that direction rather than an XP-begun method.

MilesAhead, I agree, I do not have any plans to have more than one OS of Windows.  (One is enough.)  Talking dual-boot to me means mostly XP and Linux. Similarly a lot of your thrashing concerns deal with dual-disk placmement, most XP systems come with one big disk. I agree that separating apps from OS on one drive is too much finagling for a home system, the only thing I would put on an independent drive is raw data .. like 15 Gb of email and directories of .pdf and .jpg .. that has no relationship to program files (swap file being either here or there, a minor issue, especially in a large mem puter).

I do agree that two OS sharing a data partition is not something to do lightly. However as a test for some small SQL-database-type app it could be rather fascinating.

My idea is towards stability.  I have one partition now  I am thinking one for Windows and apps and miscellany, one for selected Windows 100% data files (this is optional), and one for Linux.  This is the purpose.  If the Linux works well, it will stay, and I will use other puters for major tinkerings, like comparing three Linux versions against BSD and the Kitchen Sink. 

Since it is a dedicated system, that is one reason why I decided to spell out a comprehensive step-by-step prep chef method above. 

Shalom,
Steven
« Last Edit: April 06, 2009, 01:24:54 PM by Steven Avery »

MilesAhead

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2009, 01:31:13 PM »
Steven I don't get what you mean to "dual disk placement" but afa the data on a separate partition of the same physical drive, esp. for db access, that's pretty much a formula for thrashing.  A separate physical disk avoids that since you have 2 disk head mechanisms seeking independently.  Even if you have enough ram to run with no swap, executables also get paged in, so that provokes jumping back and forth to fetch some code, fetch some data etc..

Separate partitions look neater but actually the more you fence stuff off the more work you make for the drive.  Better to clump all you can near the outer edge of whatever partition holds the code.

tomos

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2009, 01:36:56 PM »
summary of a thread in Radified forum (a thread which mysteriously disappeared so I'll post it here)

Here's how I partitioned a new pc, late 2007.
I include all the details mainly because I got very detailed instructions on using GParted (on a Parted Magic CD) which I post below in the spoiler - they got me - who hadnt a clue about this type of thing through it, so ...
:)

2 x 320 GB drives (new, empty drives)
HDD 1
C: OS/programmes (Primary active: 29GB)
[D: Hidden Primary - 5GB original idea was for possible second stripped down XP install. I haven't used it..]
E: Some app related Data, Portable installs, Downloads, etc. (50 GB)
F: Data (the rest = 215 GB)
HDD 2 (no primary partitions)
G: TEMP Folders & Paging file (FAT32: 19 GB)
H: Photos etc (181 GB)
I: For Backup & OS.images (the rest = 97 GB)

Sizes are a bit odd in GB's cause originally set in MB's - but also a certain amount gets "lost" somewhere - of course it may even be lost already when you get the disk in the first place, I cant rmemeber any more)

Here's the specific instructions I got (from Brian at the Radified forum: copy of same in spoiler)
These were for GParted 0.3.4 on a Parted Magic 1.8. CD
gparted instructions
After you boot to the CD and GParted loads you will see a dropdown menu at the top right. This is for selecting your HDs.....
/dev/hda and /dev/hdb (first and second HD). Make sure you know which one you are altering.

If you make a mistake, the Undo button will get you out of trouble. If you create an incorrect partition, delete it and redo the step.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Your first HD should be all unallocated space.


Let's start on the first primary partition.
Right click in the unallocated space and click New
Make the New Size 30,000 MB, create as Primary partition, File system NTFS
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close
Right click in the new partition rectangle and click Manage Flags. Put a tick in "boot". Click Close


Now for the second Primary partition.
Right click in the unallocated space and click New
Make the New Size 5,000 MB, create as Primary partition, File system NTFS
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close
Right click in the new partition rectangle and click Manage Flags. Put a tick in "hidden". Click Close


Now for the Extended partition.
Right click in the unallocated space and click New
Create as Extended partition. Leave everything else alone
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close
Right click in the new extended partition rectangle and click Manage Flags. Put a tick in "lba". Click Close


Now for the first Logical volume.
Right click in the unallocated space in the extended partition and click New
Make the New Size 50,000 MB, create as Logical partition, File system NTFS
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close


Now for the final Logical volume.
Right click in the unallocated space in the extended partition and click New
Leave the New Size alone, create as Logical partition, File system NTFS
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close


That completes the first HD.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Select the second HD. It should be all unallocated space.


Let's start on the Extended partition.
Right click in the unallocated space and click New
Create as Extended partition. Leave everything else alone
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close
Right click in the new extended partition rectangle and click Manage Flags. Put a tick in "lba". Click Close


Now for the first logical volume. The Page File partition.
Right click in the unallocated space in the extended partition and click New
Make the New Size 20,000 MB, create as Logical partition, File system FAT32
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close


Now for the next Logical volume.
Right click in the unallocated space in the extended partition and click New
Make the New Size 200,000 MB, create as Logical partition, File system NTFS
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close


Now for the final Logical volume.
Right click in the unallocated space in the extended partition and click New
Leave the New Size alone, create as Logical partition, File system NTFS
Click Add, click Apply, confirm Apply, click Close

Exit Parted Magic.

We have created an active primary partition on the first HD. WinXP will be installed to this partition. All you need to do now is boot to the WinXP CD and choose this partition. The second partition will remain hidden until you are ready for a dual boot at some stage in the future.
After WinXP has been installed go to Disk Management and give each partition an appropriate label for easy recognition in the future.

Tom

tomos

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2009, 01:59:12 PM »
Aside from OS considerations, registry etc.. if you have a gulf between executables and data on the same physical drive you can get thrashing.
you're making me rethink my organisation :) to this:-

Disk 1
# OS Partition
# Backup of Disk 2

Disk 2
# Page/Temp partition
# Data
# Images of OS partition

seeing as (good) backup involves seperate disks or seperate partitions at least - why shouldn't backup go on the OS drive if the space is there.
I know in an ideal world it should be on a third disk - which would really mean getting a smaller disk for OS - have to check see how many drives I can add to this machine ...
although I guess the really ideally could be

Drive: OS
Drive: Data
Drive: Page/Temp
Drive: Backup)                           

but that's going to wait a while ;)
Tom

40hz

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2009, 02:22:21 PM »
40hz, I was planning to try Parted Magic (two places above you call it "Partition Magic" .. another product)  as the super-GParted, so thanks for the thread reference, I am leaning in that direction rather than an XP-begun method.

Thanks for pointing out my error. I edited the original post to correct the mistake.

Additional note: If you're going to be formatting a lot of partitions on a raw drive, Parted Magic will do it a lot more quickly than Windows will.

I do agree that two OS sharing a data partition is not something to do lightly. However as a test for some small SQL-database-type app it could be rather fascinating.

Been there, done that. For Ubuntu, I'd suggest sticking to a FAT formatted partition - which isn't very efficient. I still wouldn't completely trust the NTFS RW support in Linux for anything super important.

Just my 2ยข

---

Also, always put your pagefile/swapfile on your fastest drive whenever possible (for obvious reasons). Or better yet, add more RAM if you can. :Thmbsup:




MilesAhead

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2009, 02:47:43 PM »
Also, always put your pagefile/swapfile on your fastest drive whenever possible (for obvious reasons). Or better yet, add more RAM if you can

One of the fun things about Linux is you can turn swap on and off without rebooting.  The only machine I had with 2 physical drives, unfortunately one was a lot faster than the other.  Still with Linux I could experiment with the swapping strategy.  I found that even though the slow drive was a lot slower, having a swap partition on the fast drive and the slow drive and using round robin swap, smoothed out the primary drive quite a bit.  I didn't really get any speed increase, but it cut way down on seeks on the primary drive.  One "advantage" about having a really slow machine(at that time a 486 with 12.5 MHz bus and 16 MB ram) was I didn't really need to run benchmarks.  The thing was so slow that any effective optimization was both audible and visible!! :)

tomos

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2009, 04:39:42 PM »
... round robin swap ...

is that a linux thing Miles?
Tom

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2009, 06:03:34 PM »
Not really (wikipedia)

MilesAhead

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2009, 07:16:08 PM »
... round robin swap ...

is that a linux thing Miles?

It's one of the options of the Linux Swap command.
With Windows you can have swap on or off and set the min max sizes and which drives have a swap file.  That's about it.  In Linux you have swap partitions specifically dedicated to swap.  Also you can dynamically create swap files. All other things being equal, swapping via partition is much faster than swapping to file. You can set things up to swap to one or more patitions, then if all swap is exhausted you can create a swap file.  I'm just going from memory.  If you google the man page on the swap command you can get details.  Don't know if it's been modified in recent years.  But it's quite a bit more versatile than the swap settings you can do with Windows.

tomos

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Re: partitioning first time - checklist (cleaning, backup, tools, etc)
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2009, 11:28:27 AM »

@Shades - it's an interesting history
@Miles - thanks for the explanation :)
Tom