Why Multiple Hard Drives....

thejesus1

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I have a factory built comp and want to try my first homebuild. Could you guys explain a few things about harddrives...First, I have a 160GB harddrive and dont use even 20% of it....why would I need a bigger HD? Also, reading the posts I see that some guys have at least two (and sometimes 3 or 4) HD's in their rigs.....what is the point of multiple drives? Thanks in Advance --Geo
 

joefriday

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I have a factory built comp and want to try my first homebuild. Could you guys explain a few things about harddrives...First, I have a 160GB harddrive and dont use even 20% of it....why would I need a bigger HD? Also, reading the posts I see that some guys have at least two (and sometimes 3 or 4) HD's in their rigs.....what is the point of multiple drives? Thanks in Advance --Geo
For you, multiple hard drives will not make sense. You will not benefit enough from two or more hard drives for it to matter. People have mulitiple hard drives for usually two reasons: 1. More space 2. Backup

I have two drives in my main computer: an 80 gig and a 200 gig. The 200 gig is used to store all the DV files when I do some DVD authoring (not uncommon to have 50 gigs of DV files for one project). The 80 Gig is partitioned to hold the system files in C: and D: is used as a storage site for small downloaded program installers, music, games, etc that I don't want to lose if my Windows XP were to crash on me tomorrow. For the most part, if I didn't encode video, I could make due with even a 10 GB hard drive.

One thing you (IMHO) should do is to at least partition that single hard drive. You'll never use all 160 Gigs to run windows, so partitioning it into a 15 GB section the the OS and programs and a 145 GB section for personal files, photos, music, videos, etc will give you a lot more security if your OS ever seriously crashes.
 

megame255

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I've always had had at least 2 drives in my system just because it's easiest way to back up all your files if you ever need to reinstall windows or do any system upgrades.
 

dimwhited

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for people (like i will be once a decent TV tuner is available) who want to store hours of uncompressed HD tv shows and movies.... hahahahaha 10GB an hour.....
 

waylander

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True true....

I've got a 150gb raptor for OS and games and two more drives that add up to 450gb for everything else from movies to pictures (raw format from 8.2mp camera) to music.
 

440bx

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There are a number of good reasons to have multiple hard drives and only a few have something to do with more storage space.

For instance,

1. Place the windows swapfile on the first partition of the second hard drive (don't use an old slow hard drive for this). Given a decent drive, having the swapfile on a separate drive on its own channel will make your system more responsive.

2. A hard drive should be partitioned so files are better organized on the drive and backups are simpler. What I normally do is this,

Using one drive only:

First Partition (Drive C) - Anywhere between 8 and 16 GB for the OS (Probably Windows in your case) and other software that I consider critical. By "critical", I mean utilities that will enable you to correct problems (and you will have them eventually). Those include, a good antivirus (I like Kaspersky Labs suite), a registry checker/cleaner (Norton Windoctor is quite decent), data recovery tools (Ontrack Easy Recovery for instance), utilities to manage real and virtual hardware (like PowerISO, AnyDVD, Virtual Clonedrive, Norton Ghost, Nero, etc), a "driver" folder where I keep the original drivers and all of the subsequent updates.

Things that will never make it onto my boot partition are: Applications like MS Word, Office, Photoshop, Dreamweaver (or whatever you use to design a web site), etc. Those application belong in another partition. Keep reading.

Second Partition (Drive D) - Usually around 4 to 6GB. This partition is exclusively for the Windows swapfile and all the "Temp" directories that Windows uses, including "Temporary Internet Files" and "Temp" folder for each user under Windows XP. Note that Windows XP allows you to relocate those folders. Windows isn't installed until all of those folders and the swapfile are where they are supposed to be. Why do this ? because it will keep your system responsive. The crud won't be scattered all over the hard drive forcing the read/write heads to chase clusters all over. This partition should be FAT32 - NOT - NTFS. You gain a little bit of performance by using FAT32 instead of NTFS. Since this partition only contains files that can be lost without consequences, the safety features (and their cost in terms of performance) are unnecessary.

Third Partition (Drive E) - Usually around 8 GB. This partition contains the OS (again!) configured almost identically to the one located on Drive C. Why have this ? to recover from problems that prevent you from booting into Windows. This setup gives you a greater chance that you will have one functional Windows installation that you can use to repair the other one. Note: On my systems (when using a single drive), I now make this the default Windows installation (instead of the one in Drive C), the reason I do this is because a lot of viruses, spyware, adware and other unwelcome crud you may pick up on the net is written by inept programmers that hard code drive C ( as in "C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\MySpywareJunk.exe") for the target location of their garbage. By booting from the installation on drive E, there is no effect on your active installation.

Fourth partition (Drive F) - Usually a large partition consisting of about 1/3 the total space available on the drive. This is where I place all of the applications. Things like MS Office, Adobe stuff (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver), video editing software, and whathaveyou, goes. Since I use a lot of applications, I make this partition quite large (but LESS than half the capacity of the drive - read on for the reason why).

Fifth partition (Drive G) - Generally it works to be around half the size of the Drive F partition. This is where I keep all of my data. I move the "My Documents" folder to this partition and ALL of the documents/data that I create are ALWAYS saved on this partition. This makes it very easy to backup your data since it is not intermingled with other stuff (like the OS, temporary directories, program files, etc).

Last partition (Sixth in this case and, Drive H) - This partition is normally 1/2 the total (and real) capacity of the hard drive. The reason for this partition is two fold. First, the transfer rate of most hard drives decreases as you approach the outer tracks. This partition therefore segregates the slowest half of the drive. Second, I use it to store files that I access rarely but that I'd rather have immediately accessible instead of on a CD or DVD. Examples are mp3s and other music files, rips from DVDs that I haven't had the time to burn yet and any other file that isn't important and that is in the back burner as far as it getting my attention.

This last partition does contain several potentially very important files however. Once I have setup Drive C and Drive E with Windows and utilities, just as I want them, I use Norton Ghost to create a partition image of each and keep it here. I refresh these images as needed. If I have enough space I also keep an image of Drive F, mostly because I don't care to spend the time reinstalling all the applications (This is where a second hard drive could come in quite handy)

On a 160GB drive, the above works out to roughly

Drive C - (Label: System B) say 8 GB in your case
Drive D - (Label: Swapfile) 6GB of which 2GB are the swapfile right off the bat.
Drive E - (Label: System) say 12GB (This should be your main installation)
Drive F - (Label: Programs) 32 GB for programs/applications (Adobe, MS, etc)
Drive G - (Label: Data) 22 GB. Space for data you create.
Drive F - (Label: Attic) The area for seldom used files and Ghost Images.

I label each of the partitions as shown above. Since not only do I have multiple drives (as many as 6 hard drives at one time) on my system, they come and go as needed from a larger pool of drives. To keep track of which drive is which (which sometimes isn't obvious), I assign a short and different ID to each drive, and include that ID in the partition labels. For instance, if I had two drives, I could have a "D1 - System B" and a "D7 - System B" (if it happened that the additional drive had Windows installed on it - which they usually all do).

Why go thru all the "trouble" to organize the partitions like that ? because your system is easier to backup, easier to recover in case of problems and, last but not least, remains responsive even when the drives are almost full. I have an old system with a Celeron at 466Mhz - not exactly a speed demon by any standard - and it still more responsive than most of the systems I play around that are configured with one monolithic drive C. Of course, responsive is one thing, sustained throughput is another. That Celeron won't process digital effects or video in any decent amount of time but it will load most programs as fast or faster than most 3+ Ghz systems I have played with in retail stores (which sell so poorly configured, I suspect it is done on purpose).

If you have 2 hard drives instead of one, for a home system, and, assuming they are the same size, I would have the second drive with partitions C, D, and E, exactly the same as on the first one. I'd make Partition D on the second hard drive, the location of the swapfile for the Windows installations that reside on the first drive (which you would be booting from). That way your swapfile is on a different drive which should make your system more responsive.

I'd have an "attic" partition on the second drive just as on the first one. The space in between (what is F & G on the first drive) you can decide to split based on your particular needs.

Hope that helps (instead of confusing you)
 

ScottyHutch

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Great reply 440bx. I would like to follow your advice, but I have one question.

How do you get windows XP pro to put it's swap files on another partition?
 

RichPLS

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I disagree with your position of partitioning drives to gain performance, but I agree having a hard drive for OS, one for data and one for swap/scratch disk does increase performance...
Taking a large drive and partitioning it used to gain lost hard drive space due to block size ratios, but today using NTFS it is not necessary.
 

runswindows95

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HDD #1: Windows and programs
HDD #2: my stuff

I won't have my files and my OS on the same HDD ever again. I almost lost everything due to system failure. By having the OS on a seperate HDD, I can restore my system without worrying about losing my files.
 

jjw

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On a 160GB drive, the above works out to roughly

Drive C - (Label: System B) say 8 GB in your case
Drive D - (Label: Swapfile) 6GB of which 2GB are the swapfile right off the bat.
Drive E - (Label: System) say 12GB (This should be your main installation)
Drive F - (Label: Programs) 32 GB for programs/applications (Adobe, MS, etc)
Drive G - (Label: Data) 22 GB. Space for data you create.
Drive F - (Label: Attic) The area for seldom used files and Ghost Images.
Sorry, that would be too much of a PITA for me... Definitely the most thorough I've seen. :wink:

One thing missed so far. Most modern motherboards have some kind of
RAID available, typically raid 0 and 1. By mirroring a drive with RAID 1, if one drive fails, the second remains. By using RAID 0, the drive speed is increased.

Personally I have a NAS, with a RAID 1 to store anything important. Everything else is disposable, if you ever drop a laptop while it is on, you'll know what I mean.
 

paybax

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I have 3 drives.
My first drive is the WD raptor 74 gig 10 K. I use this one for xp and apps.
The second drive is for my games, mp3's, movies, etc. The third drive is strictly for backing up My Documents and I always leave it unplugged. Since SATA II hdds are hot swappable, I can plug it in when my rig is running, back up my files, then I unplug it. That way, if I ever get a virus or other nasties, I just format my drives and start over with ALL my files intact. :wink:

RIG specs
Antec P180 PerformanceSeries Mid-Tower Case
SeaSonic S12 600 watt power supply
Asus A8N32 SLI mobo AMD N-Force 4 SLIX16 (bios 1103 V02.58)
RealTek 97 onboard digital 5.1 Surround
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Toledo Core, 2 X 1mb L2 cache (AMD drivers w/MS hotfix)
2 gigs of Corsair TwinX3500LL Pro @ 437Mhz 2-3-2-6-1T
2- BFG Tech 7900 GT OC 256mb in SLI (nvidia driver 91.31)
Western Digital RAPTOR 74.3 gig 10-K rpm HDD for XP & Apps
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for gaming, movies, MP3's
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for document backup (unplugged)
Sony CD rom 52X
Plextor 708-A DVD/CD rom
Logitech Z-5500 digital 5.1 THX Surround 500watts
 

biohazard420420

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Actually from my reading on the subject (I was in the process of getting a degree in Network Administration dropped out fairly early though) but my understanding was always that with Raid 0 aka striping it is faster to write data but not to read data or I might have that backwards but my understanding was that it was faster for either read or write but not both. Now that might have changed with newer HDD's but the typical speed as far as moving data on or off a HDD has remained pretty much unchanged for quite sometime it tops out at I belive 133MB/s weather you use EIDE or SATA. Unless you run SCSI Drive. but those are much more expensive per MB than either EIDE or SATA and I also belive you cant get them in as large a size but I haven't really looked for SCSI drives in a while so prices may have comedown and capacity up.

Of course the draw back with Raid 0 is that if you lose one drive you lose everything, where as with Raid 1 you mirrior between 2 drive. Now they do have a hybrid of Raid 1 and 0 I belive it is Raid 5 (correct me if im wrong) that both stripes and mirror but that requires a minumum of 4 drives and is really only good for say business where you CAN NOT afford to lose any of your data. I also belive there is another Raid set up that also runs on I think 4 or more drives where is one drive is lost you can install a new drive to replace the dead one and the Raid set up can repair any lost data I want to say its like Raid 6 but I am sure I am wrong.

Personally right now I have 3 HDD's one 80 GB for my operating system and games and such, although I am building a new pc and plan on partitioning the drive to put os on seperate Partition. So I have one drive with all my programs and such. One that is 20 GB that is older that I use to hold random stuff. And a 3rd 160 GB HDD that I pretty much use exclusivly for my music, I have over 120 GB's. T440BX was correct in saying that partitioning is better but IMO I think that many partitions is a bit much but it comes down to personal preference. Unless you store and/or use alot of data i.e. music, games, movies, recorded tv show etc. a 60 or 80 GB drive is more than any average person ,your mom and pop if you will, will ever use or need.

But partitioning with the os on one and everything else on another is definately the way to go becuase like he said if your OS has a total crash and you have to reinstall if its in a seperate partition everying not on the OS side will be safe barring your HDD itself crashing and burning. Sorry if that was kind of a long drawn out post.
 

440bx

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To place (and size) the Windows swapfile go to

Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Performance "Settings" -> Advanced -> Virtual Memory "Change".

There you can select on which partition to place the swapfile and also its size.

Note that to force Windows NOT to have a swapfile on drive C (its default location) you will have to select drive C and set the swapfile size to zero, then select drive D and set the swapfile size to 2048MB (the size I normally recommend, I set it to 2048 for the minimum and the maximum, this is usually enough). For good measure, I normally go thru all of the remaining partitions and set the swapfile size on each one of them to zero. This last step is unnecessary but it is profilactic.

You didn't ask but just in case,

To change the location of the "My Documents" folder to another drive,

1. Start Windows Explorer
2. Right click on "My Documents" in Windows Explorer, select "Properties" from the submenu
3. From the Properties pages select "Move", place your "My Documents" folder on any drive/partition you wish.

Keep in mind that if you have more than one logging username, you will most likely want to use the same folder structure that Windows uses for the new destination. By this I mean, don't place your "My Documents" on the root of the target partition, instead place it on "G:\D & S\username\My Documents" (presuming that "G:\" is your data partition). I use "D & S" instead of the longer "Documents and Settings" (mostly a matter of personal preference but it also prevents some occasional problems - more on that below.)

To move the "Temporary Internet Files" temporary folders to partition D (the swapfile partition),

Control Panel -> Internet Options -> Temporary Internet Files "Settings" -> Move Folder

I normally set the target as "D:\D & S\username\TempIntFiles\". That's descriptive enough for my taste and this is where my comment about preventing occasional problems applies. It is not too uncommon to end up having very long url names in the Temporary Internet Files subfolders. Sometimes the path length of such a url exceeds 1024 characters which causes Windows (and Windows Explorer) to be unable to delete the file. For instance, I've seen url names that are so long that when you prepend them with "D:\Documents and Settings\username\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\XYZ1234C\" they end up exceeding 1024 characters, causing the file(s) to become a problem. While Windows "sees" the file(s), you get the message "File not found" or something along those lines when you attempt to delete them. Shortening "Documents and Settings" and "Temporary Internet Files" can spare you some aggravation of this type. If you run into this problem, use the command interpreter from JPSoftware called 4NT, it can usually get rid of the files using the /z switch of its "Del" command.

While you're moving the "Temporary Internet Files" folder, set its maximum size to something reasonable. It can get completely out of hand if not kept in check. I normally set it to 16MB.

To move the "Temp" directory,

Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Environment Variables

you will need to edit the values for the variables named TMP and TEMP for both the user and the system.

While you are in the control panel, I suggest you check how much space is allowed to the "System Restore" facility. It can be a real space hog. Set it to the minimum (on a large hard drive, the minimum is usually around 200MB, which is plenty). I turn the thing off because I can recover from problems without it.

To move the "Cookies" folder,

I can never remember how to move that one. I thought it was using TweakUI from the Microsoft PowerToys but I just checked and that's not it. I can owe you that one for another day if you're interested.

To move other folders,

Use the TweakUI power toy from Microsoft. Great little utility.

As far as folders that I move from its default location, that's all that comes to mind right now. I have probably missed something though. I can only remember all the stuff when I am setting up a new system.

Hope that helps.
 

440bx

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you should post that in annother thread and get it to be sticky. an excelent guide to beginners
thank you. Since I am a beginner in these forums, I don't have a clue on how to do that and I don't know if other people would find it a nuisance to have it "sticky".
 

440bx

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I disagree with your position of partitioning drives to gain performance, but I agree having a hard drive for OS, one for data and one for swap/scratch disk does increase performance...
Taking a large drive and partitioning it used to gain lost hard drive space due to block size ratios, but today using NTFS it is not necessary.
We may actually be in a agreement.

I don't suggest partitioning a hard drive to gain performance but to gain system manageability, to make it easier to backup and recover. It was worth pointing out that a system with a properly partitioned drive will remain more responsive as the drive gets filled than otherwise. This is a significant benefit over a non-partitioned (or poorly partitioned) drive.

In the case of two drives, it was logical to point out that some performance can be gained by placing the swapfile on the second drive. That said, I would *not* suggest purchasing a second drive for that reason alone. The modest performance gain isn't worth the expense.
 

440bx

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[/quote=jjw]

Sorry, that would be too much of a PITA for me... Definitely the most thorough I've seen. :wink:

One thing missed so far. Most modern motherboards have some kind of
RAID available, typically raid 0 and 1. By mirroring a drive with RAID 1, if one drive fails, the second remains. By using RAID 0, the drive speed is increased.

Personally I have a NAS, with a RAID 1 to store anything important. Everything else is disposable, if you ever drop a laptop while it is on, you'll know what I mean.[/quote]

Believe it or not, it is not much of a PITA. You normally end up working only in the partition where your data resides. The remaining partitions are largely ignored and, most times, only require some attention when you are installing a new program.

You're right about RAID 1. That gives you a real time backup but it does not give you the advantages obtained from a well partitioned drive.

RAID 0 is something I'd never use. It doubles your probability of losing your data.

NAS and RAID 1 combined = nice.
 

biohazard420420

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[/quote=jjw]

Sorry, that would be too much of a PITA for me... Definitely the most thorough I've seen. :wink:

One thing missed so far. Most modern motherboards have some kind of
RAID available, typically raid 0 and 1. By mirroring a drive with RAID 1, if one drive fails, the second remains. By using RAID 0, the drive speed is increased.

Personally I have a NAS, with a RAID 1 to store anything important. Everything else is disposable, if you ever drop a laptop while it is on, you'll know what I mean.
Believe it or not, it is not much of a PITA. You normally end up working only in the partition where your data resides. The remaining partitions are largely ignored and, most times, only require some attention when you are installing a new program.

You're right about RAID 1. That gives you a real time backup but it does not give you the advantages obtained from a well partitioned drive.

RAID 0 is something I'd never use. It doubles your probability of losing your data.



NAS and RAID 1 combined = nice.[/quote]

That is does but with the risk of losing your data you gain speed reading from the Raid array. But as you said it doubles the probability of losing your data. But I have noticed alot of pre cofigured systems from places like Alienware likt to use Raid 0 since you get faster reads.
 

RTsa

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I disagree that you should partition your hard drive that much. One for Windows (or other OS) should indeed be done so you don't lose everything if you have to format and reinstall.

However, having more than two drives (C and D) is a waste of space and actually might be even harder to manage. What happens when one of your six drives runs out of space? You have to put stuff from that drive to some other, which results in a less organised HD. Not good.

However, if you only have C and D...(C for windows and and perhaps drivers and maybe some antivirus etc..depending on how you want it) and D for everything else. Just make the directories on drive D something like..
D:\Programs
D:\Downloads
D:\Photos
D:\Swap
D:\etc etc


That way you don't have to bother your mind with guessing the amount of space you need for each one. ;)

Of course, I'm not sure how having the swap file on a different drive would help, but if it actually does, you could make one for that. :)
 

jjw

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I've had a few hard drive crashes. All I can say is that it did not matter how many partitions I had, EVERYTHING was gone...

In one case the drive was recognized as a completely different drive, another one died when I dropped my notebook (you could here the head dragging on the disk :oops: ) I did have a disk fail, that I was able to recover some data with knoppix, just 1 NTFS partition, but the disk ended up being RMAed.

If you are going to have important data, back it up. (RAID 1,5,6 doesn't really count, either, it is just a step in the right direction)
 

ghostface24

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Well, it will not make any sense for you at all.

As for me, my music collection is in Wavpack, therefore, lots of space is necessary. I'm actually willing to buy the 750 gig Seagate because I need even more space than ever. I'm running low with three HDs in my computer (1 WD 80 gig, 1 WD 250 gig, and 1 Seagate 160 gig).
 

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