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How much free space should I leave on OS partition?

By georgetok · 18 replies
May 13, 2011
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  1. Hi,

    I just got a new PC with following configuration and have made 9 partitions on my 500 GB hard disk and

    have 2nd 500 GB HDD as slave with 2 partitions, one has Win -7 Ultimate & 2nd partition is where I store Movies & Video Files.

    The OS Partition is 100Gb & I have installed all applications in OS Partion.

    All the applications with Win -7 Ultimate 64 bit has taken up 50 GB space.

    I do download some stuff everyday & it goes in Downloads folder & takes up upto 25 GB of space.

    Thus I am left with 25 GB free space.

    In order to have a lightening fast performance, how much free space should I leave in the OS Partitions ?

    Here are the specs of my system :

    Intel Core i-7 2600 Sandy Bridge ( 3.4 GHz ) Processor

    8 GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333 MHz

    Windows -7 Ultimate ( 64 bit )

    500 GB Sata 3.0Gb/s HDD

    Second 500 GB HDD which I am using as a slave drive to store Movies etc.

    Creative PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi™ Xtreme Audio

    Hauppauge® WinTV-HVR-1200 Hybrid Analog/Digital TV Tuner

    1 GB NVIDIA® GeForce® GT420 as default video card.

    Thank You.
  2. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    You need to leave room on your HDD for your virtual memory/pagefile/swap file. The recommendations on the size range from 2GB to 1.5x your installed memory. It really depends on the type of user you are and if you want room for full memory dumps in the event of crashes and BSOD's. Can I ask why you made 9 separate partitions? just curious.
  3. georgetok

    georgetok TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    I didn't know any better & thought it would be nice to have separate my data just like rooms in your house but it doesn'y look like that was the right deceision ?

    Does it slow down the system with that many partitions ?
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    9 partitions will not slow the system down much, probably unappreciably in fact. But 9 partitions is overkill really. Three or four would be quite reasonable. As to how big your OS partition should be, 50Gb is ok as long as it is no more than 65% full. Otherwise, extend it until it comes in at about that percentage.

    The main reason for keeping a relatively small OS partition is so that you can more easily and quickly back it up in the special way called 'taking an image'. The image can be used to restore your OS complete with all applications and settings in just minutes. You might (if unlucky) need to do this in the case of unrecoverable corruption, hard drive failure or unremoveable malware infection.

    Let me point out the importance of a second hard drive for safest backup. A plug-in USB drive is ideal for that. Again the reason is HDD failure can in some circumstances leave the entire drive un-recoverable (economically anyway).

    Nice system by the way :approve: I see you do have two drives, in which case the second drive is best used as a backup drive, especially for the OS image as above. You can also gain a very small percentage of performance by putting the pagefile/swap memory only on the second drive. This is because each drive acts independantly and so can read twice as fast when it needs to.
  5. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    I'm currently running W7 Professional off of a 64GB SSD, alongside a WD Caviar 320GB disk for the remaining OS storage.

    The SSD gives me 59.6GB of usable storage once formatted as NTFS, and it currently has 23.1GB remaining with the OS installed, all its updates, a few documents (Users takes up approx 1.5GB) and some software installed. All but a few items of software (and all my games) are installed to my WD 320GB hard disk, and I'm using up almost half its capacity.

    Unless you literally only install Office and pretty much nothing else you're going to massively struggle with just 50GB.

    I also disagree with using USB for backup purposes. In my experiences it always corrupts itself or fails when you need it most, and a far better (and cheaper) solution is to run another hard disk in the case for backup purposes. Its also faster, more reliable and far less likely to suffer with corruption issues.
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Interesting point, if correct. Would any other experienced users like to comment on USB reliability? I have had a seagate 300 Gb FreeAgent for about 18months working flawlessly. Dont forget external drives are self-powered, and dont put an extra load on the original PSU, which will happen with a second internal drive.

    I would entirely agree about not using unpowered pen-drives and the like for backup. As you are, I feel, an experienced user, I cannot think you would make a mistake like failing to turn off drive caching (both shared and write caching) on removeable drives.

    Failing to do that is by far the most likely reason for people to experience corruption with USB drives.
  7. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Swap files were needed years ago when computers had less than 2 GB of RAM. The size recommendations would be absurd too when you have >4 GB. Very few people actually do anything with minidumps, let alone full memory dumps (and writing full 8 GB to disk would take a while...)
  8. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    Hi Mictlanecuhtli,
    I have noticed your expertise on the subject of all things 'drive' over the years. Maybe you can answer a question for me. Even to this day they recommend a swap file of at least 2GB Or you "will run into problems" I have turned off the page file/swap on every machine I have owned since 2007 and never had a problem at all. still I read the "experts " continue to instruct not to do this. What is the definitive answer to this? To this day (windows 7) defaults to match the ram installed and recommends 1.5x that. Is this simply an antiquated hold over from years past? or is there a rare occasion that you should have it set to this? I continue to read (again from "experts) that superfluous memory or not, some programs will protest when they don't see a pagefile.
  9. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    I would guess that they're just putting in a buffer for themselves so they don't get angry emails and what not. I'm interested in the answer too though.
  10. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    Mict, doesn't seem to hang around the forums much....so I doubt we will get one hehe
  11. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Re: The question of how much page/swap file space, I think HK hit it pretty much on the head.

    MS recently (Feb, 2011) published How to determine the appropriate page file size for 64-bit versions of Windows

    They're pretty non-committal in their response. In general, they say Windows defaults to 1.5x RAM for swap space. But they also say but as memory goes up the need for swap space goes down. And they leave it up to the user to determine if they need it or not.

    With 8GB (for georgetok's system config) it's most likely no page file is needed
  12. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    Interesting , Thanks Lookin. I have been playing around with the swapfile/pagefile for a while now and will offer the following advice. even with 8GB of ram, if you use programs like 3DSMax 2012, AutoCAD, and heavy PS Extended, keep the Pagefile on, it will eventually object.
  13. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    The only time I've seen Windows complain about too little memory was when I was editing about 20k x 20k pixel photo scans in GIMP (I have 16 GB of RAM) :p

    And yes, I'm not here as often as I used to be.

    Furthermore, I guess some "experts" tell you to keep the swapfile because HDDs are big these days so there's room, it won't hurt.

    Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is the hibernation file. If the original poster doesn't use hibernation, he could save 8 GB of space by opening command prompt as administrator and typing powercfg /H off.
  14. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,223   +163

    I had to push it pretty hard with intense programs (3DSMax, Auto CAD, PS Extended) but eventually it did protest about virtual memory. ( tried no page, very small page....and an extra medium pagefile size)

    ..well its not a contest :p:haha: I do think its time to double my ram though with the programs i run.

    So do you realize any discernible performance difference without the pagefile?
  15. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Pretty clear that if the pagefile is not in use there will be no difference (and it very rarely is with 8Gb memory).

    In the event that page swapping comes into use, note that transfer rate is about 1000 times faster from real memory than from HDD.

    But, page transfer also happens very rarely, because the object of page swapping is to get something unused out of memory onto the HDD, and bring in a wodge of ex-HDD into real memory.

    Hence even with memory swapping going on, virtually all memory in use is always real memory. It would depend largely upon the swap algorithm.
  16. Cool Jedi Ace

    Cool Jedi Ace TS Rookie

    I have been using USB "thumb drives" and external hard drives for a combined total of 10 years now and have never had a noteworthy problem.

    I do not exclusively one drive, but switch between drives, giving one that I have been using extensively a "rest" from time to time. My largest FreeAgent GoFlex External HD was billed as 1.5TB and actually had 1.36TB. Again, I have never had any problems with it. It now has 903GB available.

    Most of that capacity is used for Youtube and other video downloads.

    My Windows 7 Laptop HD is 215GB, 124GB currently available, 1 Partition.

    Hope this helps.
  17. Cool Jedi Ace

    Cool Jedi Ace TS Rookie

    Will this have a deleterious effect on performance in any way? If the machine needed to go into hibernation, would it then just shut down?
  18. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    I agree on this. Plus USB is way slower than an internal drive.
  19. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,169   +3,261

    (y) 2.5 year old thread

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