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dual harddisk/partitions setup

So i'm thinking about adding a second hard disk and doing a fresh install of windows xp.  My plan for partitions is:

disk 1, partition 1: OS installation
disk 1, partition 2: other programs installation
disk 2, partition 1: swap file
disk 2, partition 2: data files

Is there a better/more efficient setup?  Are there any problems with this configuration?

eaw
Monday, February 09, 2004

I have 2 data partitions, one for data I want to backup frequently such as code and documents, and a partition for storing downloads and mp3s that I don't care about backing up.

Matthew Lock
Monday, February 09, 2004

also, on a (barely) related note: any preferrence regarding Drive Image, Norton Ghost, or other similar utitilies?

eaw
Monday, February 09, 2004

Slight improvement, otherwise it's the best thing going from what I can tell:

disk 1, partition 1: OS installation
disk 1, partition 2: swap file (still near the front of the disk)
disk 1, partition 3: other programs installation

disk 2, partition 1: swap file
disk 2, partition 2: data files

this assumes your xp can use two swap files...

Li-fan Chen
Monday, February 09, 2004

Provided that you have utilities that can map two identical sized partitions on two physical disks as mirrors, you might want to make data available on the program drive as well as a mirror. Drives break down all too easily now days, and potentially you might benefit from half the read time.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, February 09, 2004

On Linux such utilities shows up as soft raid or something like that.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, February 09, 2004

pardon the ignorance, but what determines whether my xp (I have XP Pro) can use two swap files?

eaw
Monday, February 09, 2004

I think any version of Windows supports multiple swap files if you have multiple disk drives/partitions - that is, you can optionally create up to one swapfile on each available partition. If you do this, it's best to make each swapfile the same size, set the min and max size for each swapfile to the same value, and make sure each disk is defragmented before creating the swapfiles.

Swapfiles are much less important now than they were in the past if your system has a reasonable amount of RAM, and memory is relatively cheap so buy more RAM if you can, and let Windows manage your swapfile. (My home system has 1GB RAM and I don't think it ever uses the swapfile, even with Visual Studio, SQL Server, IIS, multiple browser windows, Word, Excel, Outlook, a backup, disk defrag, and more all running at the same time.)

If your system has multiple disk drives, I don't think there is much benefit to having multiple partitions on those drives anymore. There was a time in the past when having multiple partitions (and keeping the partition size just below a cluster-size boundary) was desirable for disk space efficiency, etc; but that approach is no longer necessary with file systems such as FAT32 and NTFS.

If you have 2 disk drives, a typical approach is to have the operating system and application software (everything that can be re-installed from the product media) on the first drive and keep your data and working files on the second drive; and then make frequent backups of the second drive. However, this approach still has its inconveniences and shortcomings - if the drives are large enough, you may want to consider other approaches such as creating a RAID mirror with the second drive (if your system supports RAID), or keeping everything on the first drive and using a drive image application to make periodic images of the first drive into a folder on the second drive.

Philip Dickerson
Monday, February 09, 2004

Yea, Philip's right. Forget the swap file partitions, just buy more RAM. Tuning the swap file is like planing the wheels of your bullock cart instead of buying a van.

I see little reason for having a separate partition for program files and the OS. You're going to have to reinstall everything anyway. Have a separate disk or partition for data (even with a single disk set up) and I strongly recommend having a small FAT32 partition, where you copy all your Office and Windows CD's to so you can set up from the HD. With two HD's there are good reasons for having a data partition on each and then use one as a copy of the other in case one HD fails, but remember to back up to DVD or whatever in case your house gets burned down, or much more likely, your computer gets stolen.

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 09, 2004

Putting your swap file on a dedicated partition is a bad idea.  You increase overhead, because the hard drive has to move the heads further.  You want your swap file to be on your most frequently accessed parition.  Windows will do this automatically.  The people who designed the NT VM subsystem knew what they were doing.

Also, making a dedicated partition for applications is kindof silly.  Suppose you ruin your OS partition and need to reinstall.  You'll need to reinstall all those application anyway.  Also, you now have to balance the risk of allocating too much for one partition, and too little for the other.

Now, putting your data on it's own partition/drive is a nice idea.  That way, if you screw up and want to reformat, you don't need to worry about losing your data.

I vote for one drive for your OS/Apps/Swap, and one drive for your data.

Myron A. Semack
Monday, February 09, 2004

>I strongly recommend having a small FAT32 partition, where you copy all your Office and Windows CD's to so you can set up from the HD.


Stephen,

I had intended to do this, but I was under the impression that this was possible with NTFS partitions, no?

eaw
Monday, February 09, 2004

eaw-
if your machine gets back into a very bad place you might need to reinstall with a good ol' boot floppy, which won't be able to read an NTFS partition. 

I generally keep 2-3 Gig FAT32 partition for my i386 folder (to re-install the OS) and some other utilities (from the winME bootdisk and a network boot floppy).

Steve H
Monday, February 09, 2004

"Drives break down all too easily now days, and potentially you might benefit from half the read time."

Really? I haven't had a drive die (outside a server environment) in at least 10 years.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, February 09, 2004

Brad, you've been extremely lucky!   

also eaw, Windows XP can do software-based RAID (mentioned above), which you  might consider investigating.  Search for 'Mirrored Volume' under Help and Support.

Steve H
Monday, February 09, 2004

---"also, on a (barely) related note: any preferrence regarding Drive Image, Norton Ghost, or other similar utitilies? "----

For individual machines, much of a muchness. Also consider Acronis True Image. Go for the cheapest, though more people know about Ghost, so it would be slightly easier to get help.

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 09, 2004

Steve H:

Windows XP can not do software RAID.  I attempted this with XP Home, saw the option was greyed out, so upgraded to XP Pro, and saw the option was still greyed out.  I found out that Windows XP only supports remotely administering a software RAID on a Win 2k Server or Win2k3 Server that has software RAID enabled.

If I'm wrong, please let me know as I'd love to do some mirroring on my home computers.

nathan
Monday, February 09, 2004

Semi-hardware mirroring controllers aren't all that expensive, like the Adaptec 1200A. You might consider that, as these will work with all versions of Windows, including XP Pro.

http://www.adaptec.com/worldwide/product/prodtechindex.html?sess=no&language=English+US&cat=%2fTechnology%2fRAID

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, February 09, 2004

I've been lucky with HDs too, but my wife had one die on her while it was still under warranty. We got a replacement of course, but it shows you're never safe.

Dave Hallett
Monday, February 09, 2004

nathan:
Win XP can do software raid, it requires you to upgrade your disks to Dynamic Disks instead of Basic Disks though in the Drive Controller MMC panel.  I'm not sure if this is exclusive to XP Pro or not though. 

Stephen Depooter
Monday, February 09, 2004

Stephen D:

Have you actually been able to accomplish this?  I think you will find, as I did, that even when you upgrade to dynamic from basic you are still unable to select the greyed out option.

nathan
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I'll save you the trouble. It can't be done in XP of any flavor.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

brad,

do you mean it can't be done using only the OS, or that software RAID is just impossible?

eaw
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Im working with XP's raid facility at the moment and i think youll find Nathan that it is possible your just doing something wrong. Microsoft offers very little help on the subject except to say that XP supports it. I had trouble getting it to setup Raid-0. The stripeing option was always greyed out. Im not an expert on the subject but i did a little testing and by setting up XP on its own partition on the first disk the option to stripe is no longer greyed out. You can then extend the second partition on disk 1 with the second drive to see it as one drive. This is as far as ive been yet but if i get any further ill let you know. It is certainly complicated and a little help from microsoft wouldnt hurt.

Jason
Sunday, February 15, 2004

I saw this recently and wanted to try it.

http://www.tweakxp.com/tweak1686.aspx   

Robert Nighthawk
Saturday, February 28, 2004

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