Advice: Should I partiton or add a 2nd HDD?

By Stu_Brookes ยท 9 replies
Jun 8, 2005
  1. Hi all,

    I'm in a quandry at the moment. I need to re-format my 64GB hdd, I'm also going to go to Windows XP. I'm thinking of changing my set up as well, as I've recently bought an iPod so store a lot of music.

    This time, I've had to back up everything which is a lot of time and a lot of CDs. I have two ideas

    1) Do I just partition my current HDD. Using one partition for the O/S, another for all Apps/Programmes and a 3rd partition for MP3s. That way, if anything goes wrong, I only need to format the 1st partition and re-install XP. I still have all my other date.

    However, someone said I'd need to re-install all Apps and Programmes as well. Is that true, I thought it'd only be certain Apps and Progs like NAV and Office.

    2) Do I add a 2nd HDD. I was going to buy a 10GB HDD for my O/S, then partition my 64GB into (i) Programs/Apps and (ii) Music and Video.

    I was then told I needed identical HDDs for that, otherwise I'd get poor performance. And I'd still have the same problem regarding Progs/Apps if I need to re-install the O/S at any point.

    What's your opinion or advice on this?

    Much appreciated
  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    You will need to reinstall your applications because most programs keep their data in WIndows registry. If you nuke Windows, the registry goes as well and most of your applications will break. So from a backup point of view there is no use in separating the OS and apps.

    You do not need identical drives. Did you make a typo and meant 100GB? If not then it is a very bad idea. Any 10GB drive you get will be slower than your 64GB one. It is not a good idea to run your OS off a slow drive. Plus, I doubt that you will find any "new" 10GB drives under warranty so you will end up with a used part with very questionable lifetime.
  3. Stu_Brookes

    Stu_Brookes TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Okay, thanks for that.

    You've also answered my follow up question. I had originally planned on installing the O/S on a 'smaller, slower' HDD than everything else. But I thought that may be a potential flaw.

    So, if I understand correctly I either buy a new HDD that is at least equal to my current HDD or I just partition my current HDD (and keep apps/progs on the same partition as the O/S).

    Is there a list of what Apps/Progs rely on the Registry? I presumed it was 'essential' stuff only, like Office, NAV, Internet Security, Updates etc. Games etc won't rely on the registry will they?
  4. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Any application you install by unpacking a bunch of files into a dietory will work just fine.

    All applications that install through an installer (you have to run an .exe or .msi to intall) register themelves so they would show up in add-remove programs and put shortcuts in your start menu and desktop. This doesn't necessarily mean that the application will break when that info goes missing.

    I you have a simple and/or a robust program that does not rely heavily on the registry or copes with its entries missing from the regitry then it will not break. You can track down the program from your Program FIles folder and make new shortcuts to run it. You will not be able to uninstall it but deleting the folder from Program FIles will do the trick. There are not many progams like this around :)

    Modern applications install and register piles of objects in many locations on your hard disk, including system folders and also keep all their information in the registry and will crap their pants when that information is missing.

    From the list you gave, only some games will fall in the first or second category. Office and antivirus applications are guaranteed to break when the OS goes AWOL.

    So, again, from the backup point of view there is not much point. There is a benefit from the performance viewpoint though. Keeping Windows on a small specialised partition will allow the OS to run on the fastest part of the disk (the beginning) without much fragmentation while your bulky programs sit on the bigger and more fragmented partition further away. When Windows dies, you will have to reinstall everything of course.

    I suggest you partition your 64GB drive for Windows: ~10GB for Windows only, ~50GB for Program Files and Documents and Settings. You will have to tweak Windows to make this happen - such things will not be asked from you during the installation. Buy a new 200GB+ drive for the rest of your data.

    If you are a good boy you will also frequently make disk images of your first drive to the second as backups.
  5. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    I partitioned my 40gb HDD on one of my comps to have 5gb, 35gb, one strictly for OS and office apps, and the other for all other apps. I don't seem to haev any problems with this.

    Also, I must agree that some programs do require you to reinstall if you formatted the OS partition. Hoever I still find this usefull as if there were any files that were needed, I'd still have them even if I reinstalled that program. You might be able to make a backup of those files beforehand, but for myself, I'd probably miss a few items, so this works best for me. Save games might be an issue for you there.

    Also, over the years I found myself bogged with too little space on the OS partition, now I'm looking at getting a new HDD, as there's only a paltry 10 or so megs of free space on the OS drive. Seems like something is eating up all the space, as I have 1gb unaccounted for, after deleting all temps and cookies and what-have-yous. Not a problem as once I get that new HDD, I'm just gonna shift everything over, unpartition it, and use it as a secondary drive.

    And yes, an image of the OS partition will help if things go sour.
  6. tdeg

    tdeg TS Rookie Posts: 119

    The unaccounted for space may be your swap file. You can move that to another partition if you want to get into that.

    I had a setup similar to what Stu is thinking. I think it was a 40GB partition to 10GB for OS, 10GB for apps, and 20GB for data. It worked pretty good. I had to re-install my OS a couple of times and re-installing the apps wasn't that bad. I kept all of my downloaded files on the data drive so I didn't need to download them again and the rest were CDs. When I re-installed the apps, pretty much all of my settings and data was left behind as the apps just updated the registry and left the rest as it was. Make sure you point to the same directory on your second partition as you did when you first installed though.

    Before you re-install your OS though, if you can, un-install any programs you won't use anymore though as the uninstall information could be lost after the re-install. This might leave you with a bunch of directories on the apps drive that you no longer need.
  7. Stu_Brookes

    Stu_Brookes TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Cheers for the advice. I don't like the idea of a 2nd massive partition though, I'd planned the following.

    Partition 1 - O/S, Essential Apps & Swap File - 8GB (can be increased)
    Partition 2 - Temporary Files Partition - 1Gb
    Partition 3 - Games / Non Essential Apps / My Docs - 8Gb
    Partition 4 - Music / Video - 20Gb
    Partition 5 - 'Ghost of Partition 1' - 8 GB (can be increased)
    Partition 6 - Spare - 21GB or so

    By Essential Apps I'm thinking Office, NAV, Internet Security, SP Updates, Drivers etc... Games/Non Essential Apps is Football Manager 2005 and iTunes etc.

    It gives me 'spare' increase Partition 1 increases, as that affects Partition 6.]

    What would people recommend to that?
  8. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Too many partitions IMO. If it works for you, I suppose it'll be fine, but I'd personally put 3, 4, and 6 together, and seperate into folders.

    It is a good idea to have a ghost partition, you mgiht not need 8gbs of ghost partition, as you can compress the file, if you are comfortable with that. I keep my ghost files on high compression and have no problems with it other than the slower recovery from uncompressing it.

    Also, 1gb of temp files partition may be a good idea, depending on how large your temp files are going to be. Mine unfortunately can be huge, as I keep all sorts of installation files there. You might have different ideas for the use of that partition, but its not a bad idea, as you can just format the thing,and reduce your fragmentation, although I'd prefer to just perform fragmentation more often on my comps.
  9. tdeg

    tdeg TS Rookie Posts: 119

    I agree.. too many partitions.

    The problem with that many partitions is that you never judge the sizes right and end up with some partitions too small and some too big. Yes, you can partition magic them but that has issues its own.

    Plus you get a bunch of drive letters.

    I'd still with 3 partitions for one harddrive.

    If he does decide to go with 2 harddrives, I would set up.

    Disk0 (68GB)
    20GB OS partition
    30GB APPS
    10GB essential DATA

    Disk1 (whatever size)
    20GB backup of Disk0 OS partition
    10GB backup of essential DATA
    rest for other DATA that doesn't need to be backup up.
  10. Stu_Brookes

    Stu_Brookes TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Cheers folks, I'll combine 3, 4 and 6 then. That would mean a partition of 50GB, but if thats not a problem then I'll do that.

    The 'Temp' folder was mainly for Temp, Recent and Temp Internet Files basically. 1GB is probably too much, but I thought better be safe than sorry.

    So thats
    Partition 1 - O/S, Essential Apps & Swap File - 8GB (can be increased)
    Partition 2 - Temporary Files Partition - 1Gb
    Partition 3 - Everything else - 49GB
    Partition 4 - Ghost Image of Partition 1 - 8GB

    Sound alright? Really appreciate all your help. Top dogs, the lot of ya. :grinthumb
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