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what would be the optimal HD partition configuration?

Posted on 2002-06-28
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Last Modified: 2006-11-17
Hi,
I am going to be purchasing one of the new performance Maxtor drives, a 60GB one.
I heard from some people that if you keep your partitions small, then you will have better performance since it will take the computer less time to retrieve the information that you want.
So, would my computer be faster if I were to make a 10GB partition for system and programs, then another 10-20GB partition for games and another one for Misc stuff?
would splitting it up this way make it faster, or should I just make a really big partition for everything all together?
If it is any concern, I am on windows XP pro

thank you in advanced for your help,

Rody
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Question by:dxpertjr
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12 Comments
 

Author Comment

by:dxpertjr
ID: 7116896
another question. If I am to split it up into a system, games, and misc stuff partitions.
what would be the best cluster size settings?
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Expert Comment

by:pjknibbs
ID: 7116917
I don't think the size of partition on the disk actually makes a great deal of difference to the access speed, whether you're using FAT32 or NTFS. On FAT the number of files in a folder will certainly make a difference, so if you decided to drop 20 thousand documents into your My Documents folder with no subdirectories then access to those files would be slow.

However, one thing that splitting your drive into partitions gives you is the opportunity to limit fragmentation, which slows things down a LOT. What I always do is set up a separate small (1-2Gb) partition, then move Temporary Internet Files and the TEMP folder onto it, since these cause a lot of fragmentation. It's also useful to have a separate partition for documents, since they tend to change more frequently than system files (or program files) do and therefore again cause fragmentation. I wouldn't say there's much point having more than 4 partitions--I have one for the operating system, one for games (which get installed and uninstalled a lot), one for documents, and one for temporary stuff.

As for cluster size, don't worry about it. The default size (4096 bytes for all NTFS drives, variable size according to partition size for FAT32) works well enough; making the clusters smaller will make more efficient use of disk space but will cause more fragmentation, whereas larger clusters will waste more disk space. The default size strikes a nice balance between these two issues.
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Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 7117030
>>I heard from some people

You should consider the source of such information.  Most "people" who have such opinion have no technical basis for such.

As a matter of fact, there is no performance degradation from a single 60GB partition vs. multiple smaller ones UNLESS you are foolish enough to be using FAT16 as a file system.

Neither FAT32 or NTFS suffer from partition size related performance issues.

I also disagree with the fragmentation concern.  First, fragmentation is rarely the issue it once was.  With 60GB of space there is no need for the OS to fragment files.  And, in fact, smaller partitions increase the chance of fragmentation since there is guaranteed to be less contiguous free space available at any one time.
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Expert Comment

by:magarity
ID: 7117223
"I heard from some people"

These people are absolutely right...  ten years ago.  Happily, this information is now extremely dated.  Yes, back in the days of 70MB RLL drives, it took DOS much less time to locate another partition than it took to read to three or four directories deep.  Modern innovations such as filesystem cacheing (Win9x and newer), NTFS formatting (WinNT/2K/XP) or e2fs (Linux), combined with blazing fast had drive speeds have made this benchmark disappear.  There is only the smallest of theoretical lags in any current system between finding folders 10 deep and finding a different partitions.  

Use patitions for organizational purposes and see pjknibbs's comments about fragmentation.  As an additional idea on partition use, I use a seperate partition dedicated to swap space, since the swap file is not moveable by the defragmentation utility and so it often gets in the way.
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Author Comment

by:dxpertjr
ID: 7117618
Ok, so i am thinking of making a partition for my swap file, my temporary internet files and my temp directory.
How big should I make it and also, how do I set it up in windows XP? is it the same thing as the paging file? how do i set it to be only on that drive?
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Author Comment

by:dxpertjr
ID: 7117634
Ok, so i am thinking of making a partition for my swap file, my temporary internet files and my temp directory.
How big should I make it and also, how do I set it up in windows XP? is it the same thing as the paging file? how do i set it to be only on that drive?
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Accepted Solution

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Crash2100 earned 1040 total points
ID: 7117690
You would probabbly benifit best by creating three or four partitions.  A system partition for windows and your apps, the size can vary depending on what all you think you'll install, but 20GB should be pleanty.

A temp partition for temp files, cache and your swap/page file (3GB should be pleanty).  This can help prevent fragmentation.

A Documents partition for my documents and settings, and whatever else you want to save (for ease of backup).

And possibly a music/downloads partition if you do a lot of downloading.


This support document shows how you can move the documents and settings folder, scroll down to the "entire folder" section:
Cannot Move or Rename the Documents and Settings Folder (Q236621)
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;q236621

To move your page file, go into the system control panel, click the "advanced" tab, click the settings tab under "performance".  In the window that appears, click the advanced tab and click the "Change" button at the bottom in virtual memory.

And to move your temp folder, go back into the system control panel and click the advanced tab.  And click "Enviornment variables" at the bottom.  The tmp and temp folders should be listed in the top, edit them both and change them to "D:\temp" or whatever you want.
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Expert Comment

by:Crash2100
ID: 7117691
and once you change the location of your temp folder, restart the computer, and you can then delete the original temp folder.
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Expert Comment

by:Crash2100
ID: 7117696
sorry, I missed your comment about the games.  It probabbly wouldn't hurt to also create a games partition.  And when you create a new swap file, if you have 512mb or more ram setting it to 250-300mb should be pleanty.  If you don't, set the minimum to 2.5 times your ram, and leave the max alone.
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Author Comment

by:dxpertjr
ID: 7117735
Thank you for your help, all of your comments were really useful to me.
I would also like to thank everyone else who posted for their input
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Expert Comment

by:pjknibbs
ID: 7117850
jhance: AFAIK the FAT32 file system will drop files in the next available space on the drive whether the said space is large enough to make the file contiguous or not, so the size of the partition won't make any difference at all to how fragmented it gets. I don't know whether this is also true for NTFS, though. In addition, however little a partition would get fragmented anyway, it's always going to get LESS fragmented if you're not constantly creating and deleting loads of small files on it, which is exactly what moving the temporary stuff onto its own partition does for you.
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Author Comment

by:dxpertjr
ID: 7117862
anyone have any thoughts on cluster sizes for:
a games partition, system partition, documents partition, and swap/temp partition?
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