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Last post Author Topic: imaging & partitioning queries  (Read 11216 times)

tomos

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imaging & partitioning queries
« on: July 16, 2007, 07:21:56 AM »
I’m trying to get my head around imaging & how it relates to planning the partions in a new PC

Was thinking along the lines of partitioning drive so:

1) Windows (XP) + programmes + App data etc: 
dunno :-[  :D
current system (with roughly 1GB each for paging file, hib file, recycle bin & App data etc) takes up less than 10GB
so say 30GB win partition in case I want to install Vista sometime ...
2) Have to read up about putting paging file on seperate partition - I know it’s been a topic here again lately.
3) Probably keep my docs & often-used files on next one
4) then „Storage“ - less often used files
Will have a second drive for imaging, backup & more „stuff“

But hey, I’m getting distracted here,
my main query is about imaging - if I take an „image“ of the Windows-etc-partition shortly after install, if win goes wonky later on I can always restore that image, right?
But if I’ve installed a lot of programmes in between do they get lost if I go back to that image of the fresh install? Seems a fair trade off if you get a clean windows.
If thats the case I’d want to decide in advance whats important, install that stuff, give it a once over test-run so-to-speak & then do my imaging.

If I’m understanding anything incorrectly maybe ye’d let me know!
Or if ye think I should be doing the partitions differently somehow...

Normally I’d go ahead and just try it out, (I've never used imaging software, have copy of Acronis older version) but I’m not going to bother with it on this old machine & as I say, it affects how I install & partition etc on new pc
Tom

steeladept

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 07:57:34 AM »
It depends on how you image it, but essentially it sounds like what you are saying is correct.  An image is just a snapshot of the state of the PC at the time of the image.  If you only image the one partition, it will leave other parts of the disk alone.  If you image the entire disk, it will take that snapshot of every partition on the disk.  When you go to restore the image later (and I strongly suggest you try to put the image on cd's or dvd's and restore to your "image disk" as a verification process), you can restore it to a partition or the entire disk just as you imaged it. Either way, however, it is restored to EXACTLY how your system is setup at the moment the image was taken - no rollback to how it was, no easy way to recover any lost data.

At work, one of the ways we use imaging is to setup a base image of how every PC in the corporation needs to be set up, complete with all enterprise licenced software and settings.  Then we image the machine and it is the base image.  (Make sure you do a disk cleanup and defrag before you take the image if you want it to be clean when it is restored....).  We then have a baseline of what we KNOW will work a certain way.

At home, I do something more like what you are talking about (I think).  I will install Windows and all my software (No data) to the way I want it, complete with all updates as of that time.  Then clean it up and take the image.  Now I don't need to take several hours to reinstall the software.  It becomes a 15-20 minute ordeal at most.  With Acronis, I can take Differential Images as well, and use those as updates to the original.  I do this so the original stays relatively pristine, while the differential images allow for software updates to be included in the image.  When you keep your data on a different partition, that becomes a rather elegant method of backing up the entire system without clutter.  (I backup the data at the same time, but in a different job so as to keep the data and the programs separate as much as possible).

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2007, 08:44:52 AM »
thanks steeladept!

I imagine windows gradually deteriorating in terms of performance, wear & tear, glitches, etc.
If you make differential images,
would you not be afraid that this deterioration would be included - or,
do you think more in terms of restoring the image if windows somehow totally screws up -
i.e. the image being to get you going again in case of disaster as opposed to being like a new install -
of course with the differential images you have the option of going back as far as you like...
hmmm....
sounds v.good  :)
Tom

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2007, 08:48:45 AM »
I strongly suggest you try to put the image on cd's or dvd's and restore to your "image disk" as a verification process

forgot to say I'm not quite sure of what you mean by "restore to your "image disk" as a verification process"

also, hadnt thought of the defrag bit - good tip
Tom

steeladept

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2007, 09:00:55 AM »
In reverse order -

What I mean is to make the image, then (on another drive) verify that the image was made and made correctly.  It really sucks to think you have been backing up the system all this time just to find out it didn't make the image correctly and/or the data is corrupted.  That means you wasted all this time because you have to start over again anyway.  The reason I say check it on another drive is two-fold.  1st - It guarantees that the image is good as otherwise you couldn't recreate the data on another drive.  2nd - If it is bad, you still have the original to make an image from.

As for the differential images, it is true, you can get some garbage in there over time.  This is particularly true when you delete programs that don't totally remove themselves or you have your data in the same partition (some programs actually require this,  :down:).  How I handle that depends on how long it has been since my original image and how much my system and/or requirements have changed.  If it has been a long time and/or I have many upgrades, etc... I just start over from scratch and essentially toss out my old images.  I take a snapshot of the start menu using screenshot captor and print it out to ensure I remember all the programs I want to reinstall, then I wipe the machine and start over.  If it hasn't had many changes or the image isn't so old, then I just recreate the base image.  This is why -RW media is so nice.  Reformat the media and make a new image :Thmbsup:.  Again, don't forget to test the image.  Differential images aren't nearly as critical to check, but the base image absolutely is.

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2007, 02:21:51 PM »
will let you know how I get on when I get around to it ...
thanks again  :up:
Tom

Armando

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2007, 05:05:58 PM »
With Acronis, I can take Differential Images as well, and use those as updates to the original.  I do this so the original stays relatively pristine, while the differential images allow for software updates to be included in the image.  When you keep your data on a different partition, that becomes a rather elegant method of backing up the entire system without clutter.  (I backup the data at the same time, but in a different job so as to keep the data and the programs separate as much as possible).

Just want to say that the "incremental" (but I don't remember about the "differential" option -- steeladept?) imaging only works well if you don't defragment. Otherwise, the image will be as big as a full image... Which pretty much diminishes the interest of the procedure...

Also, I think that one should just see an image (and treat it) as a pretty normal backup solution -- nothing miraculous... but one that's really efficient at backing up the operating system's partition, one that's got a good compression level, one that's absolutely exhautive, and one that's easily restorable... [there are different solutions -- I like the Acronis and the BootIt NG solutions. I currently use Acronis, like steeladept.]

Look at all the threads on backup strategies and look at how people integrate imaging in their backup strategies. I've posted my solution at some point, and I know that mouser and superboyac wrote extensively on the subject.

steeladept

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2007, 12:42:50 PM »
Actually, I meant defrag before the initial image.  I don't bother with my differential images because when I rebuild the new initial image, I defrag before that anyway.  So I typically never have much more than a month or two fragmentation if I make lots of changes.  If I don't make so many changes, it really doesn't end up fragmented all that much anyway.  Either way, it isn't too bad. 

Differential Imaging is available in Acronis 9, which is what I use.  There is an incremental image option as well, but I like differential because it images changes from the original base that I tested instead of just since the last backup.  Since I don't test these images, I just keep them on two or three RW's that I rotate.  If one goes bad or the image is corrupted, I have a backup or two that I can fall back to.  That is just me though.  Thinking logically about it, it probably doesn't benefit if you defrag before either a differential or incremental image...I never really noticed it being nearly the size of the initial image, but I don't remember defragmenting before taking differential images either.  I will have to check that out.  Rotating the disks like I do, I never worried about it since it was never as large as the disk.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2007, 12:51:03 PM by steeladept »

Armando

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2007, 12:52:21 PM »
As for the size, I never really noticed it being nearly the size of the initial image, but I don't remember defragmenting before taking differential images either.  I will have to check that out...

Well, from my experience, defragmenting before an "incremental image" makes the increment as big as the initial image. Which makes sense since the data has been moved a lot. For that reason, I only defragment my C drive once every two or three months.

Edit : Just wanted to add that I DO defrag too before an initial image.

mwb1100

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2007, 04:32:29 PM »
FYI - some Acronis TrueImage deals:

A Free version of Acronis TrueImage 10 is available for machines that have a Seagate or Maxtor drive installed:

http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=8639.0

It worked for me from Windows, but would not recognize that I had a valid drive when run from a BartPE boot.


An OEM version of Acronis TrueImage 9 is available from "NothingButSoftware" for $10 + $5 shipping:

http://www.nothingbu...tCode=36864&ai=0

Note that TI 9 is not supported for Vista.

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2007, 11:35:11 AM »
An OEM version of Acronis TrueImage 9 is available from "NothingButSoftware" for $10 + $5 shipping:

http://www.nothingbu...tCode=36864&ai=0

thanks (again) mwb
unfortunately the international shipping is 25$ ..

I got a free copy of Acronis 7 a while back - I think it's upgradeable, but will start with that at any rate & see how I get on..
Tom

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2007, 04:38:57 PM »
I'm wondering
how does one partition a brand new ("blank") computer -
it has to be done before Windows is installed if I want XP on a separate partition

Any good tips or guides out there ? -
I had a good bit of stuff saved re partitioning but strangely nothing related to the "blank canvas" so-to-speak

thanks, tom
Tom

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2007, 04:52:02 PM »
I did dig out some stuff

Active Partition

The active partition on a disk is the partition from which an x86-based computer boots. It is the partition
that contains the files required to boot the operating system that is designated as the default
operating system in the computer. The active partition must always be on the first hard disk attached
to the computer. This disk is referred to as
Disk 0


System Partition

The system partition is the partition that contains the bootstrap files that are required to display
the boot menu and start the operating system. On most client computers this is the first primary
partition on Disk 0. The bootstrap files that must be on the system partition on a computer running
the Windows XP operating system include the following:
Ntldr: This is a hidden file.
 Ntdetect.com: This is hidden file.
 Boot.ini: This is a hidden file.
 Bootsect.dos: This file is for dual configurations only.
 Ntbootdd.sys: This file is for system partitions located on Small Computer System Interface
(SCSI) drives only.


Boot Partition

The boot partition is the partition that contains the Windows system files. The folder in which
the files are located is referred to as the systemroot folder. The files are by default located in
a folder within the systemroot folder named the systemroot/system32 folder. On most client
computers this partition is the same as the system partition. Typically this is the C: drive. On
client computers with multiboot configuration the boot partition may be assigned a different
drive letter.
Fdisk
The fdisk tool is an MS-DOS–based tool that you can use to partition a hard disk. You can use
the fdisk tool to create, change, delete, or display the current partitions on a hard disk. You can
create primary partitions and extended partitions. You can then create logical drives on the
extended partitions.
-
EDIT: is this fdisk easily accessible - I'll look it up  :)

excerpt from a TechRepublic PDF
"Installing a Windows Desktop Operating System"
Tom
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 04:54:02 PM by tomos »

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2007, 04:58:48 PM »
This one looks good

Quote
This FDISK guide  comes to you compliments of "the Doc": a friend who lives in Germany. It has since become one of the site's more popular features. [Only the Ghost guide and the ASPI guide are downloaded more frequently.]

You will find this guide helpful even if you prefer to use other partitioning utilities, such as the one that comes packaged with Windows XP.

The 'F' in FDISK stands for Fixed. FDISK is a utility used to partition Fixed DISK drives. The Create screen looks like this:
FDISK "Create" screen"

This tutorial teaches you the mojo on how to partition a hard disk drive (HDD) using Microsoft's DOS-based partitioning utility. FDISK runs from DOS, so it offers no pretty graphical user interface [GUI]. The stark DOS interface intimidates some people.

But FDISK is really simple and straightforward .. once you understand a few, basic concepts.

studying this -
this is like thinking/learning out loud  :P

EDIT: it may be out of date (Nov 2000), dont know does SATA make a difference?
or from
this site:
Quote
[ Note: Windows NT/2000/XP OSs do not have an FDISK program; in order to partition a hard drive, they use what's called: the Disk Management MMC which is built into the OS; we'll have more to say about this below. ]

ahh, I'll see what ye have to say!
bedtime here, nite  :P
Tom
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 05:06:30 PM by tomos »

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2007, 05:14:47 PM »
one last post
from microsoft
http://support.micro....com/kb/842626/en-gb
Quote
First Steps
If you follow the instructions, then partitioning and formatting a hard drive should be a painless, if somewhat unexciting process. But rather like painting, decorating and DIY in general, preparation is everything. Before you get started you must check the following:

•   Does the hard disk have a drive overlay or a disk management program?

For the purposes of partitioning, it doesn’t really matter if you know what drive overlay software is. What is important, though, is to find out whether your computer uses it to support the hard disk. If it does, do not use Windows XP Setup to partition or format the drive until you have checked with the software manufacturer. Otherwise you could find that Windows XP is not compatible.

If you are not sure whether you have drive overlay software installed, you should view the following article or contact the software manufacturer before you proceed:

186057 (http://support.micro...7%26amp%3bln%3den-gb)
How to Tell If Drive Overlay Program Is Installed in Windows

•   Do you have updated device drivers backed up somewhere other than on the drive that you are about to format and partition?

If you have installed an updated device driver for your peripheral devices (i.e. devices attached to your computer such as modems, printers, scanners and printers), make sure that you back up the new driver to a place other than the drive that you are about to format and partition. This is so you can reinstall it after you install your operating system.

•   Can you start your computer from the CD-ROM drive?
If not, you will need to obtain the Windows XP Setup boot disks. For additional information about how to get hold of these, click on the article below:

310994 (http://support.micro...4%26amp%3bln%3den-gb) Obtaining Windows XP Setup Boot Disks

and they call that painless... new computer is due tomorrow -
maybe I should wait & see what (if anything) comes with it
Tom

Armando

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2007, 08:57:11 PM »
1) Make sure you have an image backup of your initial configuration. I don't know if your computer will come with some kind of recovery CD or whatever, but if not, the first thing you should do is to image your drive -- if anything goes wrong (while partitioning, etc.) you can always go back to the initial state — and make sure that the image is valid as steeladept recommanded. (If possible, test it!)

If Acronis 7 (true image or disk director??) doesn’t do what you want (but it should), you could also try one of the free Open Source partitioning and imaging Solutions like gparted http://gparted.sourceforge.net/ (only for partitioning) or parted magic http://partedmagic.com/ (does imaging too) -- you'll need to dowload (about 50mb, I think) and burn them on a CD. Gparted is easy to use and reliable. I must admit that I have never used the Open source imaging solutions though (only on parted magic), only the partitioning one. 

2) Of course , after imaging, just partition your hard drive (using the chosen boot CD). That, you probably already know, but anyway! If your computer comes with Windows preinstalled, you could just keep it as it is and create 1 or 2 extra partitions (which will probably be called E:, if D: is taken by your DVD drive) — that is if there was only one to begin with. Anyway… the point is : make sure you have at least 2 partitions. One for the OS, and one for your personal stuff.  Personally, I like the setup in your first post. I have almost the same: the active partition C: for Windows and apps, E: for all my personal stuff (D: is the DVD drive -- but drive letters, as you probably know, can be changed), F:  for temporary stuff (downloads, movies, etc.). There are other partitions, but they don't really count : they're for Linux, when I feel like playing a bit (2 ext3 partitions + 1 swap).

(Generally speaking, I find that it's uselessly complicated to have too many partition — especially if you have a very good backup system with reliable media and software).

Normally, if you have Acronis 7 as a boot CD/DVD, and if it's compatible with the OS you want to install (presumably XP...), you shouldn't have to deal with all the details about system partition, boot partition etc. If you need to install windows yourself, just make sure that the first partition is an active primary partition (and that it’s not hidden — it shouldn’t be anyway). That’s it. Do whatever you want with the others…
If you have 2 hard drives, you could put the paging file on the second drive (if Windows is on the first). Otherwise, I'd just leave it on drive C. It's just sipler and I've never seen a real noticeable gain in performance. Some won't agree, I'm know... But my paging file “philosophy” goes like that : once your paging file starts to get used too much and decreases performance, it's just time for more RAM.

3) After imaging, partitioning, etc., you will then either do a clean install of Windows XP (booting with the Windows CD/DVD), or just start from the preinstalled OS on the machine (if there's anything valuable there). That's what I did with my Dell : I usually do a clean install, but this time I decided to only uninstall a couple unwanted software and I started from there. It was quick and painless.

I don't know if any of that will be useful.


Good luck!
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 09:01:15 PM by Armando »

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2007, 02:19:53 AM »
Quote from: Armando
I don't know if any of that will be useful.

Good luck!
thanks Armando,
I think all of that will be useful  :)

I'm getting a machine without any windows installation on it -
is:
"1) Make sure you have an image backup of your initial configuration."
still relevant for me?

I have Acronis 7 true image, but only as an .exe - no disk.[also not installed yet]
Will go look at GParted site

As I say computer is due today -
I dont think I'll get time today to mess around with it,
but will plug it in to see if things whirr etc.  :D
Tom
« Last Edit: August 17, 2007, 02:21:38 AM by tomos »

Carol Haynes

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2007, 10:35:46 AM »
I'm wondering
how does one partition a brand new ("blank") computer -
it has to be done before Windows is installed if I want XP on a separate partition

Any good tips or guides out there ? -
I had a good bit of stuff saved re partitioning but strangely nothing related to the "blank canvas" so-to-speak

thanks, tom

Simple - install windows and windows setup lets you create the partitions you want, where you want (at least Windows XP setup does).

If you plan to use NTFS formatted partitions avoid FDISK - it was designed only with FAT partitions in mind (and doesn't even work brilliantly with FAT32 partitions).

Armando

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2007, 10:48:52 AM »
Exactly! Thanks Carol!

The partitionning software is mostly convenient if you later want to resize, convert, etc., if you want to manage other filesystems, install other OSs (that can get a bit more complicated though, with Grub problems...), etc.

i'd just like to add that IMHO, when you'll have installed Windows with all the drivers for your peripherals, etc., and maybe a few essential software, you (should?) definitely install Acronis 7, create a boot CD and then make an image of your initial set up. So, if anything bad happens when installing all the other stuff, you'll be able to easily revert back to that initial working configuration. (When I set up a new system, I create several images during the process, every couple hours or so. It's a bit time consuming but it will be faster to get back on your feet something "bad" happens!)

« Last Edit: August 17, 2007, 07:02:20 PM by Armando »

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2007, 02:55:17 PM »
thanks people!
I have good article about fdisk & another one about win(XP) install
must read both to familiarize self with it all

I think I read that doing the partitioning during the windows xp install doesnt allow for
FAT32 (?) partitions which I was considering for paging file but thats probably not important
Tom

Armando

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2007, 07:09:52 PM »
BYW, there's also this free imaging utility, Self Image.


Restoring an image with it from a boot CD can be a bit more tricky though. You'd have to use BartPE or the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows .

patthecat

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2007, 08:42:52 PM »
If you use a TI9 bootable linux CD to just image/restore whole partitions or drives I would think that it would not matter what the OS is since it does a bit by bit image of what's on the drive and does not interact with windows at all if using the bootable CD.  Someone who knows please tell me if I'm incorrect.

It's when you install the TI9 on an OS say Win 2003 Server that the installer may say that the OS is not supported since they want you to use the TI9 Server version rather than the Home/Desktop version. In addition, the installed TI version has features such as individual file restore from a TI image, differential/incremental images - with TI9 these features are not available if using a TI9 bootable CD.


An OEM version of Acronis TrueImage 9 is available from "NothingButSoftware" for $10 + $5 shipping:

http://www.nothingbu...tCode=36864&ai=0

Note that TI 9 is not supported for Vista.

Carol Haynes

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2007, 04:58:22 AM »
thanks people!
I have good article about fdisk & another one about win(XP) install
must read both to familiarize self with it all

I think I read that doing the partitioning during the windows xp install doesnt allow for
FAT32 (?) partitions which I was considering for paging file but thats probably not important

You won't be able to place paging files during install. Just leave enough space for the partition you want and once windows is installed create the partition manually. If you are using XP Pro click START and then right click on My Computer and select Manage (not sure how this works in the Home version as I have never used it).

Once in the management console choose "Disc Management" in the tree on the left and in the pane that opens on the right you will see your hard discs listed with patition details. In an unpartitioned area of disc right click and select New Partition and a wizard will guid you to build a partition. You can select size, format (NTFS, FAT32, FAT) and drive letter assignment.

An alternative way to start the Disk Management console is to START > RUN the type diskmgmt.msc and press return
« Last Edit: August 19, 2007, 05:01:58 AM by Carol Haynes »

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2007, 06:49:43 AM »
Quote from: Carol
Once in the management console choose "Disc Management" in the tree on the left and in the pane that opens on the right you will see your hard discs listed with patition details. In an unpartitioned area of disc right click and select New Partition and a wizard will guid you to build a partition. You can select size, format (NTFS, FAT32, FAT) and drive letter assignment.

An alternative way to start the Disk Management console is to START > RUN the type diskmgmt.msc and press return
thanks Carol :)

ehh,
does it automatically become the paging file partition or how do I change that?
Tom

tomos

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Re: imaging & partitioning queries
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2007, 07:19:50 AM »
Found it, always think of microsoft last somehow

How to move the paging file in Windows XP
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307886/

and this a helpful read too:
How to configure paging files for optimization and recovery in Windows XP
http://support.micro...oft.com/?kbid=314482
Tom