Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 09, 2016, 05:15:00 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Last post Author Topic: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?  (Read 5642 times)

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« on: July 06, 2015, 09:39:57 AM »
Wondering about pros and cons of partitioning a single HDD  [*not* SSD] machine (laptop as it happens, Win.7 x64).

1) If you partition, you can back up data and system/OS much more efficiently.
1a) But maybe there's a way to create an image of your system excluding the data/images/etc.? (I will have to check this one out myself too - I installed Aomei Backupper Free on the machine.)

2) I believe that if you dont partition (OS / Data) the harddrive will be read much more efficiently and less stressfully?

Are there any other factors? - or thoughts :)
Tom
« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 10:44:57 AM by tomos »

MilesAhead

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 7,290
    • View Profile
    • Miles Ahead Software
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2015, 10:42:23 AM »
Are we talking Spinner or SSD?

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2015, 10:45:46 AM »
Are we talking Spinner or SSD?

forgot to state that - it's a spinner :)
Tom

MilesAhead

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 7,290
    • View Profile
    • Miles Ahead Software
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2015, 12:56:07 PM »
Are we talking Spinner or SSD?

forgot to state that - it's a spinner :)

If you have a stable setup it may be advisable to partition.  My experience is with MBR type drives.  All I have done with GPT so far is carve out a data partition using the Disk Manager in Windows.  How much it complicates things if you have a lot of partitions on a GPT drive I do not know.

But I say stable setup because then you have an idea how large to make the system partition.  The tendency is to make it pretty lean.  But if you like to install lots of utilities then over time you may find the size that seemed adequate starts to feel a bit tight.

That aside, on an MBR setup partitioning has the advantage you can just make an image of your system partition and back up your data without including it in the image.  I asked about the SSD/Spinner because if you add and delete a lot of programs trying things out then you may find you want to defrag the partition periodically.  If the free space in the partition is too small the defrags can take longer that ordinarily required due to the extra shuffling around in the tight space.  If it is SSD you may not defrag at all.  Although I hear now there are specialized SSD defrag tools.  But I suspect it is much more noticeable if a spinner is fragmented than an SSD.

If you search the DC forums I believe awhile back Shades posted a very detailed description of the scheme he uses for partitioning.  I recall it being very well thought out and I am sure he has used it for some time.  So it is tried and tested.

One advantage of just leaving everything one big C: partition is if you install and remove stuff frequently and do lots of stuff like create VMs that you delete after awhile, then having a lot of free space on the partition makes for fast defrags.  I try to keep my free space close to 70% so that I can do a quickie Auslogics defrag in about 5 minutes.  I don't have all that much in the way of "data" per se.  It is more like junk that piles up.  Plus all I have is a Laptop now.  I have to carry everything around with me.  So I figure my backup image has the data as well as the system.

In which case you should probably be taking your advice from somebody else anyway.  :)

x16wda

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 679
  • what am I doing in this handbasket?
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2015, 05:32:07 PM »
But I say stable setup because then you have an idea how large to make the system partition.  The tendency is to make it pretty lean.  But if you like to install lots of utilities then over time you may find the size that seemed adequate starts to feel a bit tight.
If you install Windows, the O/S will eventually, over time, decide to use more space than you have allocated to the system drive. Just sayin'.
vi vi vi - editor of the beast

MilesAhead

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 7,290
    • View Profile
    • Miles Ahead Software
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2015, 05:50:39 PM »
But I say stable setup because then you have an idea how large to make the system partition.  The tendency is to make it pretty lean.  But if you like to install lots of utilities then over time you may find the size that seemed adequate starts to feel a bit tight.
If you install Windows, the O/S will eventually, over time, decide to use more space than you have allocated to the system drive. Just sayin'.

Yes. It does tend to sneak up on you.  Even if you install programs on another partition or drive they seem to always want to stick something in Windows\System32 or ProgramData or someplace on C:  That is why it is good to have a top quality partition program.  Windows disk management is not as flexible about resizing partitions.  Partition Magic used to bail me out frequently.  I could resize partitions even moving the starting positions, easily.  I changed things around all the time without ever getting hosed.  Of course that was in the good old days of XP and earlier.  :)

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,430
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2015, 06:08:03 PM »
I just want to echo what others have said -- it's very hard to choose a partition size that you don't later feel the need to change :)

I have for a long time advocated having separate DRIVES for windows vs data, and would prefer that, with a single partition on each drive.

Absent that, if I did have to use a single drive, and it was a big drive (terrabyte or so), I would split it into 2 partitions, to make things cleaner.  I would probably split it in half and use the first partition for the operating system AND a giant temp/working directory, with the second partition for my data.

ewemoa

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 2,845
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2015, 06:38:21 PM »
If you install Windows, the O/S will eventually, over time, decide to use more space than you have allocated to the system drive.

I try to leave some unallocated space after the system partition (indeed after every partition) -- this can help to make resizing later more practical.

IIUC, these days Windows (at least 7?) can resize the system partition while in operation -- this has helped a few times around here.

MilesAhead

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 7,290
    • View Profile
    • Miles Ahead Software
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2015, 06:55:00 PM »

IIUC, these days Windows (at least 7?) can resize the system partition while in operation -- this has helped a few times around here.

Right.  But I believe it can still only move the back end.  IOW when looking at drive management, the right hand side can be shortened or extended.  But I don't think it will move the left hand end or beginning of the system partition.  Partition Magic would.  Although it had to do it from boot.  To extend or shorten the back end PM could do it while running also.


ewemoa

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 2,845
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2015, 07:38:14 PM »
Yes, that's how I remember it too -- this tends to work along with : "I try to leave some unallocated space after the system partition (indeed after every partition)" :)

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,100
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2015, 09:17:15 PM »
I always divide up any hard disk in at least 3 partitions, but my preference is 4 of those.

One partition for Windows (and literally nothing else).
One partition for software I install.
One partition for data.
One partition for temporary storage.

On the Windows partition I move every user-related folder to my data partition using the Windows options that are available to me.
On the Windows partition I move every temporary storage-folder (user and system) to the temporary storage partition using the Windows options that are available to me.
On the Windows partition I make the page file 8GByte in size and won't allow it to grow above that. On a normal PC I disable hibernation.
Whenever I install software, I select the software partition as it's home. And because I am the only user, I use portable versions of software I wherever I can. And if that is not an option, I have some software that allows me to make portable versions of software that requires installation normally.

Why do I go through all that trouble?
The Windows partition is hardly ever written to (besides updates). This reduces the need to defrag it drastically. And the Windows file system will after some time have placed the files in their optimal position on that partition. This way you can make the Windows partition lean and mean. And it will stay that way. I normally allocate about 25GByte for the Windows partition.

The same is true for the partition that contains my software, especially when you don't install new software on a regular basis. I usually allocate 100GByte for the software partition, which is  enough, because I make sure to configure applications to work with and store everything on the data partition. I must add that I hardly play any games anymore.

As a result the data partition and temporary storage partitions get a bit messy. I usually allocate 25GByte to the temporary storage partition, mainly because I don't think I need that much garbage on my system to begin with. The rest is for the data partition. I don't care too much about the content of the temp partition and wipe it clean at least once month. Saves me defrag session as well  ;)

That leaves the data partition, that one does need a defrag once in a while, but not nearly as often as you think. And even on that partition the Windows file system will find the optimum location for the content after some time.

Exaggerated? Perhaps, but in my mind all of the above makes perfect sense. There are many schools of thought regarding this subject and most are there on merit. Just couldn't help adding my  :two:


ewemoa

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 2,845
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2015, 11:15:34 PM »
On the Windows partition I move every user-related folder to my data partition using the Windows options that are available to me.

Never quite managed to figure out how to do this well and comprehensively -- over the years I kept getting the feeling that Windows goes out of its way to make it difficult to store user information on a separate partition from the system.  Perhaps there are some economic reasons...

Quote
Whenever I install software, I select the software partition as it's home. And because I am the only user, I use portable versions of software I wherever I can.

I tried to separate data from apps, but I found that it wasn't always so easy -- it was hard enough finding appropriate portable apps, but often difficult to find apps that are portable AND allow one's settings to be stored separately from the apps.  I guess many folks don't perceive app settings to be user data :)

Quote
And if that is not an option, I have some software that allows me to make portable versions of software that requires installation normally.

Didn't go down this path -- the main thing that I made an exception for not being portable (though did try a portable version for a while) was VirtualBox.  There were a number of tools that looked promising -- if you don't mind sharing, what did you find that worked well?

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2015, 04:43:46 AM »
^ Lots to think about here ^
(thanks all)

I would normally move the 'My' folders to a separate partition. On my desktop, I have temp and data on a separate drive, but dont have that option here.
Am encouraged that you have these in separate partitions on the same drive Shades (and dont seem to be having any negatives).

I see that appdata on my desktop (also Win.7x64) is at ~ 7GB (!) That would have to be backed up anyways, so I will have a look for options for moving it (this seems a bit complicated and requires a -- presumably non-oem -- windows install disc, which I dont have).
Tom

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,100
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2015, 08:03:13 AM »
The software is called Cameyo. Instructions on how to use it are here.

Virtualizing for your own personal use only? Go here.

MilesAhead

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 7,290
    • View Profile
    • Miles Ahead Software
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2015, 08:31:16 AM »
The other consideration is very soon we are supposed to see high capacity SSDs cheap.  Fragmentation and thrashing considerations disappear.  Just stick the stuff where you want.

There may be an easy way to move your user files using symbolic links. I think a utility for Steam does this. It is a freeware around someplace.  I never used it but saw it mentioned on forums.  That may be one way to avoid resizing your partitions once you have them laid out. It worked fine for me in Linux.  When a partition started to get filled up I just put a symbolic link for it to point to a folder on a larger partition.  Very transparent.

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2015, 08:47:02 AM »
The other consideration is very soon we are supposed to see high capacity SSDs cheap.  Fragmentation and thrashing considerations disappear.  Just stick the stuff where you want.

this is very much a factor for the future - drive is 500GB. I would like to replace with same size SSD within the next year or two (or when they come down in price).
Because of that, I'd like to create an image of the OS - and do a test-restore - to be sure it works on at least a regular HDD.
Tom

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2015, 08:48:12 AM »
The software is called Cameyo. Instructions on how to use it are here.

Virtualizing for your own personal use only? Go here.

that looks interesting :up:

EDIT//
on the pricing/compare-editions link, they list the free version for 'Home & SMB' use - which I presume is small business.
Tom
« Last Edit: July 07, 2015, 09:01:33 AM by tomos »

ewemoa

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 2,845
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2015, 04:22:46 PM »
The software is called Cameyo. Instructions on how to use it are here.

Virtualizing for your own personal use only? Go here.

Thanks for sharing!

Stoic Joker

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 6,296
    • View Profile
    • www.StoicJoker.com
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2015, 07:18:56 AM »
While I've long been an advocate of the multiple partition scheme (OS/Working/Storage). As of late I'm starting to think that a single partition may be a better way to go. Because the intention behind the 3 partitions was to make reinstalling the OS easier in the event of a disaster of some kind.

However, I currently strongly suspect that I may be trying to solve the wrong problem...because I haven't had to reinstall the OS since 2007 when I first built the machine. :-\ So...

Since I have had numerous occasions where space became an issue...I'm starting to think a One-And-Done approach could very well save me some aggravation in the future. Also since I'm still firmly entrenched in Spinner Land. This will eliminate pushing my workspace into a slower part of the drive in attempt to leave sufficient room for expansion for the OS. And also gives me only one constantly moving point on the drive where write activity is concentrated...instead of 3 somewhat stationary points..

MilesAhead

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 7,290
    • View Profile
    • Miles Ahead Software
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2015, 08:29:19 AM »
Also since I'm still firmly entrenched in Spinner Land.

Auslogics Defrag 6 just added features and I only ran it once.  But the previous versions of the free Auslogics Defrag I have used for years.  If you have one big partition with more than 60% free space(I like to shoot for 70% at least when I am about to defrag) the plain vanilla defrag completes in about 5 minutes.  I run it maybe 3 or 4 times a week.  But since it only takes 5 minutes or so, it is no strain.

Maybe every 10th defrag I do the "move system files to the front" option.  The main drawback to one big partition is when you do a backup image of the system, everything on C: is included.  Even so, with cheaper larger USB sticks and incremental backups, even I, with no shelf space, can keep my system backed up.

As you point out, sometimes optimization means spending your time on fixing stuff that is broken rather than fixing stuff that works pretty well already.  :)

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,100
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2015, 08:58:46 AM »
There is another advantage with having everything divided into partitions. Especially with the use of portable apps.

Whenever I need/want to use a virtual machine, I just need to install one and make sure the partition with my programs is directly available to it. With VirtualBox you have such options, I assume VMware will be able to do the same.

This saves me a lot of storage space, om both the host and in the virtual machine. I can make use of the same software at the same time in both the VM and the host. No re-install and/or reconfiguration required. As that usually is the part that consumes the most time from an re-installation, I am glad to get rid of that.

Partitioning is a good thing in my book, especially when the tasks the computer needs to do don't change that much over the time you plan to use that computer. So that leaves the sizing of the partitions. Getting that right is important and easy to do wrong. The resizing of partitions, which is a hassle on itself, is also not without risk.

The partition sizes I mentioned earlier work perfectly for me, but there is no guarantee that these will work for you. Especially if you want to play games, you should increase the size of the software partition significantly. Modern computer games consume storage space like there is no tomorrow.

I haven't had a need to change the partition size of any partition on my own system in 6 years (besides partitioning the SSD I got recently).      

xtabber

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 574
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2015, 10:07:53 AM »
Modern hard drives, particularly large ones, have pretty sophisticated caching and data management built into their firmware, so partitioning won’t usually have a huge impact on performance. But a good partition scheme can make a difference in safety and recoverability from disaster.

I used to do a lot of work on tight deadlines, so I always operated with the idea that if my system went down, I could pick up and finish what I was working on before anything else.

On desktop systems, I partition the HDD into 3 logical drives as follows:

C: is for critical files, including the OS, installed software and important files, including current work files, email and financial data, which I also keep duplicated on my laptop. This is about 100-120GB under Windows 7. Windows Recovery is turned off, but the drive is imaged at least once a month.

D: is for most other data, including multimedia, reference materials and VMs.

E: is for extended data storage, which includes software installation files, CD/DVD images and backup images of the system drive.  This is omitted on laptops.

Actually, I now use an SSD for C, so the HDD is just partitioned into D and E. When C was on the hard disk, I defragmented it often, but that is no longer necessary. I don’t image or defragment D or E, but I do keep their contents duplicated on external drives.

Stoic Joker

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 6,296
    • View Profile
    • www.StoicJoker.com
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2015, 11:24:56 AM »
But a good partition scheme can make a difference in safety and recoverability from disaster.

I fail to see how. In all the years I've been doing this stuff, I've seen machines eaten up with all sorts of failures and maladies. But I've never once ran into a situation where extra partitions would have made a difference. Either the drive is still spinning, or there are valid backups available ... Or the drive stopped dead, the backups don't exist, and the party in question is quite royally screwed.

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,100
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2015, 08:29:41 PM »
@Stoic Joker:
We will agree to disagree on this bit of computing  :P

A partition scheme doesn't help with a drive stopping dead in its tracks. On that one we are in agreement. Only once I have encountered such a type of HD crash, but I must say that I hardly work with laptops and I assume those devices would encounter such crashes, because of how these are (mis-)treated.

Spinning hard disk tend to die slowly in desktops and servers, at least in my experience. And in those cases I found partitions to be very helpful with recovering/salvaging information. After all if everything was stored in one partition, chances of overwriting data to be restored with data that is currently being restored is too high.

Lets say I think of the NT file-system as a child. With clear borders it behaves well. Without those borders? Expect it will throw tantrums at your most inconvenient moment.


Giampy

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2009
  • *
  • Posts: 428
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Partitioning or Not w. single HDD?
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2015, 12:59:58 AM »
the intention behind the 3 partitions was to make reinstalling the OS easier in the event of a disaster of some kind.

However, I currently strongly suspect that I may be trying to solve the wrong problem...because I haven't had to reinstall the OS since 2007 when I first built the machine.

Great consideration.  :Thmbsup:

Experience makes us wiser.
"A refrigerator without beer is like a body without soul"