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PC Configuration with 2 hard drives

Just bought a new WD 160 gig HD 7200rpm w/ 8MB cache, I also have a 80 gig ST380021A hard drive, which I believe is a Seagate http://www.seagate.com/support/disc/specs/ata/st380021a.html this is info on drive that I could find. Also seems to be 7200rpm, and I think a 2MB cache.

Now my 80gig currently has windows and all my files on it, but I'm looking for a setup which will give me the best performance.

I need to know stuff like:
Which drive should be Master
Which drive should I put the OS on
How Should I set-up my partitions
Where do I put the swap file

I have read on the internet that some people set up different partitions for stuff like game installations, p2p apps, music etc.

Im basically looking for the best performance using 2 drives.

Also I might be interested in having 2 OS's having Linux on one to do some experimenting, but I dont want 1 hd for linux, 1 for windows, I am mainly using windows and want the fastest set up for that.

Thanks in advance!
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2 Solutions
Well, Depends how much ram you have in your system, if you have like 700 or more then i would say the OS on the slow drive(master), the game's/data , and the swap file on the fast drive (slave) .  If you have 512MB or less i would put the games and the os on the slow drive (as master) and swap file on the fast drive (as slave).  In any case, make sure the swap file is the first thing you put on what ever drive you are putting it on, and in both cases i would say make the file 512-1024MB in size.  If you are planning on linux, leave a 3-6GB at the end of one of the drives empty.  I would also do a reinstall of windows XP and install SP2 as soon as you installed to get the BEST preformace.  Don't forget to defrag :-)
The fastest setup would be to leave your Seagate where it is now (Primary master) and put the new HD as Secondary master on the other IDE channel.  If you have a CD ROM drive, set that as Secondary slave to the new hard drive.  Install Windows on the Seagate and place the swap file on the other new WD.
What I DID, as i was once in a situation not very diffrent than yours..
I Setup the first HD as the master With a couple of partitions maby 50GB / 30GB - Windows / Linux. and i would use the other HD a partiton of 1.5GB linux SwapFile and the rest partition it to Store data.. How you arrange your data is up to you.. if u setup a Partition for MP3 is like setting up a Foulder for Mp3, just logic what is the best for you.
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Make the new drive the primary master with a partition for OS, seperate parition for temp files, seperate partition for swap file and seperate partition for data.  Use the old hard drive just as a storage device to put on stuff you need to save/archive or games that don't require much read/write as it is going to be slower performing drive.
AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
A lot of conflicting POV.

I have 512mb of ram if that helps.

Icemanwol - Why would I want SP2? I hear its not as reliable as MS would have us believe... and It has a lot of isssues.

LimeSMJ - I have 2 cd roms, well 1 cd-rw and a dvd-rw, how would I set these up with my HD's?

Some other questions.

The 8MB cache vs a 2MB cache whats the big difference?

I know the swap file should be on a different device than the OS for optimal performance, but do I want the swap on the WD or the 80gigSeagate?

What is a scratch disk and how will it help me, I have heard of them for adobe etc, how will this benefit me...

So what Im getting is that im going to need a partition for: XP OS, Program Files(installables like games and other programs), Swapfile/pagefile whatever its called for windows, a data partition for my files, Linux OS partition, a backup partition.

Now I have no idea how to do any of this, what programs am I going to need to do this, I have partition magic.
Also i have read about different kinds of partitions, logical, dynamic etc, what types will i need for each kind.
Furthermore what sizes will I need to make the drives for such things as the OS's.

What im looking at so far is this:
Drive A
partition 1 Windows XP OS
partition 2 Linux (SuSe) OS
partition 3 Program files for XP (games and other software installations)
partition 4 Data partition

Drive B
partition 1 Swap file
partition 2 sratch disk
partition 3 backups

If anyone can help me improve on this setup thanks, and anymore advise would be greatly appreciated.
I hope this will answer your big question (and I'll do my best to short things out)...

8mb Cache - Allows to store FS information thus lowering the header reader spins. Instead of it go to the internal part of the drive to read FS information, it will get FS information directly from the memory thus making it faster and more efficiant in data transferring. Consiquence, such drives are good to store swap files and other frequent accessable fragmented tended data.

I hope that answered all your questions...

You should consider buying adittional IDE controller card. It is best to have single device on EIDE controller.

Primary master:
80GB Seagate
* 10 GB system (WinXP)
* 10-20 GB Suse linux
* 10 GB temp (need to modify path from c:\temp)
* program files (depends of how much programs you will install)
* data

Secondary master:
160 GB WD
* 2-6 GB Windows swap
* 2 GB linux swap
* scrach disk (if you use Adobe software)
* programs, data

Additional controller:
AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
Ok for the time being I will not be putting linux on until i have it sorted with windows.

I dont think I have an additional IDE controller card, and will not be purchasing one as they are a litle on the expensive side.

So what is the advantages to having winxp on my 2mb cache compared to my 8mb cache HD? wouldnt windows work better on the 8mb cache?

And I also want to have my program files(games and such) on a HD where they will run the best, as there will be quite a few installations.

So I plan on doing this today, and I need to know how to do this. I dont want to lose my files on my 80gig HD until ive stored them somewhere else. Should I create a partition on the 80gig using partition magic and throw everything i wana save onto it, and then format windows, and then install the second hard drive and create the partitions using windowsxp? or should I create them using partition magic, and does it matter what types of partitions they are?

Furthermore how do I go about designating certain partitions as the temp file partition, scratch disk, programs, data. I see this means I will have to modify paths, how do I do this.

So I want to set this up by the looks of it:

Primary Master
80GB Seagate
* Win XP install 10GB(is this size neccesary?)
* temp directory (Why wouldnt this be stored on my 8mb cache HD?)
* Program files
* data

Secondary Master (or will this be the slave?)
160GB WD
* Windows Swap
* Scratch Disk (I do use adobe from time to time, but not a lot. Will a scratch disk help with anything else? I do do a lot of video conversoin)
* more data mainly for storage

just need a lil more tweaking and helping and ill be good to go, thanks for all the help here.

If some people could post some of their configurations so I could compare?
As I posted earlier, Windows (and any other application) will work better with the 160GB 8mb RAM, also for the reasons mentioned above...

One more thing; Since the SWAP file is dependable and linked directly with the OS it is better to install the SWAP file on the same hard drive where the OS it-self is located. All data and application installation may be located elsewhere...

AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
Then why do I keep reading on the net that a swap file on a different HD will work better?
Where did you read it?


Look, If you use two partitions it is one story. But, if you use two drives; it is a diffternt story... When you use diffrent drives you may utilize fully the IDE controller thus lowering total performance of the system... If you are putting SWAP file on diffrent partitions than you dont use all Comm capacity thus you may get in some cases better performance... So, If you wish to partition your drive and put the SWAP file on a differ partition, it may work better for you rather putting it in a differ Hard Drive...

The swap file does not have to be on the same drive and in your case should not be.  The reason why the swap file is better on another drive is because the way IDE works... basically only one drive on an IDE channel (Primary or Secondary) can be accessed at once.   For example, if a command to read off of Primary Master is initiated and another command to read from Primary slave, the 2nd command is queued until the first is completed.  The same occurs when the swap file is on the same disk...  if you are running a program on Primary master and your swap is also on Primary master, there will be a bottleneck if your computer needs to read/write for both the program you are running and the swap file.  However, with your swap on the Secondary Master (separate IDE channel), you can read or write to both IDE channels at once - thus reducing latency between the IDE access and improving overall system performance.

As far as positioning the RW drives are concerned, just put those as slaves to the hard drives.  Keep in mind that the best burning situtation would be if the data (to be burned) is on the other channel...  If you put the CDRW as Primary slave, put the data to be burned on Secondary master.  If you have the DVDRW on Secondary slave, burn the disk with data from Primary master.
In my experience, it worked better when the SWAP file was on the same DRIVE. But, than again; it is in my experience (and I have manage to work with many workstations). I would suggest to just check it... SWAP file is easy to configure under Windows and the author stated it wants to configure Windows first than Linux...


You are forgetting a VERY VERY important note here; differ in drives means differ in speed and the OS is using its own buffer to manage these differences... Dont forget that factor...

AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
Cyber Dude, I have read countless times from web sources and people on the internet that having my swap file on a second hard disk is the most optimal way of doing this.

Im pretty sure I have my setup complete now

Drive 1
C: Windows Xp 5GB
*: Program files 20GB (current program files on hd is 10gigs)
*: data "My Documents folder" 50 gigs
*: Downloaded programs: Originals stored to assist in future reinstallations 2GB

Drive 2
*: Swap File Partition 2GB
*: Temp files and folders - Recent files, Temp, and Temporary Internet files 1GB
*: Backup - for backups of partitions: C:, Program Files, Data, and Downloaded 80GB (needed to backup first drive)
*: Scratch Disk 4GB
*: Extra Data for working with video files and images etc Rest of space

I just need to know wether to put the OS on the 160gig 8mb cache hd or on the 80gig 2mb cache hd, and of course the swap will be on the other

Also is having my program files on the same HD as my OS a good idea?

So now that I have my setup all done, how do I go about creating these partitions and doing all this, I know there are different kinds of partitions, like primary, alternate, extended, logical, dynamic. What do I make each partition?

Also are my sizes for each partition ok?

Thanks - ps probably gona up the pnts for this q and split pnts depending on who gave me the most help getting this all done

1. If you intend to install the Windows OS first, I beg you to try and test the two options mentioned above; this may implecate the configuration table you are currently conducting...
2. The OS should be on the 160GB hard drive and it is best to partition that drive into the part where the OS will not exceed the 15GB thus enabling you greater data read where the OS will reside, and software will reside on the other partition as well as data...
3. Other than that; your table looks OK...

AfterlifeAuthor Commented:

I also do some programming as I am a CS student, would it be ideal to set up a partition for doing programming like C, Java, PHP work etc? I plan on having Subversion installed on this partition for all my programming needs.

So if so, should I have this partition on Disk 1 or 2? and will i be able to set up my classes on this partition even tho i have the jdk installed on C:? or would I install the JDK on the programming partition?
AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
Cyber Im going to try the swap on different disk first, at a later date i may try your way.

For my configuration should the swap or the OS be on the 160GB and why?


Cyber if you can show me some proof that having my swap on same drive as my OS is better ill do it that way, so far from countless web sources ive found the opposite.


A. The report I sent you explanes it...Also, logically; if you have two drives running diffrent speed there has to be a way to overcome that speed issues thus If the SWAP file is located on the other drive; the reading will be slower than where the situation is that the SWAP file is in the same drive... unfortunatly, I cant find any report that supports your situation.

B. The 160GB is much faster and efficiant in data transfer but it has one problem though and it is its space. Accessing and searching data in this amount of space may take longer (though unfelt) to gain. If you partition the drive to contain the OS on one side and the other software on the other you may get better performance.

C. MS is recommending to do such partitioning on Servers due to the fact that those are heavy machines... You may read SBS implementation which is downloadable via MS site.

All I can wish you is the best of luck... Im going home to rest a bit...

AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
From the report u sent me:

Paging File Location Considerations
During the installation process, NT uses contiguous disk space to automatically create the paging file. NT always places the file in the system partition's root directory, although this location is not necessarily ideal. To achieve optimal paging performance, you must look at your disk subsystem configuration to determine whether your system has more than one physical hard disk. If your system has only one hard disk, you'll want to consider adding an extra hard disk. NT supports as many as 16 paging files that it can distribute across multiple drives. Configuring the system to have multiple paging files lets the system make multiple, simultaneous I/O requests to the various hard disks, thereby increasing I/O requests to the paging file.

A system with only one hard disk limits your ability to optimize paging performance. The hard disk must process system and application requests and access the paging file. The physical hard disk might have multiple partitions, but dispersing the paging file among the partitions is a bad idea. Multiple paging files spread across multiple partitions do not increase the hard disk's ability to read or write to the pagefile.sys file. In fact, this setup impedes system performance, because the hard disk must handle paging requests for multiple paging files. However, you can use multiple smaller paging files on multiple partitions on one physical disk when a partition lacks the space to contain an entire paging file.

This basically says if you have a second HD use it for the page file, if not put it on a dif HD.

I dont know, all this stuff is confusing... just gona install the HD for now and work the rest out later.
AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
ok so ive installed the second HD in my pc, setup a single primary partition, and formatted it. I put it as the slave, and the 80gig is my Master, this is easily changeable.

Anyways I read that putting the swap on the second HD when both HD's are on the same IDE cable is pointless..

So what I was wondering is, can I make them both masters? I have 2 IDE slots in slot A the IDe cable is connected to the DVD RW and the CD RW, and in IDE B its doing both HD"s

can I have it so that IDE A has HD1 Master and CDRW slave and that IDE B has HD2 Master and DVDRW slave, or is there a specific IDE for HD's and a specific IDE for cd's?
No, you can mix HDD and CDROM on one cable.
The last post I made above describes the setup...

You're fine with your setup in the post above...

Primary master - HD 1
Primary slave - DVDRW

Secondary master - HD 2
Secondary slave - CDRW
AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
Lime i was going to do that setup but found my IDE cables dont reach, so I went looking for new IDE cables, but for the length I need its like 25$ canadian a cable, so 50 total before tax, and I only paid 100 for the drive in the first place..

so looks like Im gona have to have a Primary Master Drive and a Slave drive

So with this is there even a point putting the swap on a different HD? Its on the same IDE cable so it wont make a difference. Only Q i have no is, do i put my OS on the 160 gig 7200 8mb cache, or the 80gig 7200 2mb cache....

things never work out like you want them too...
$25 canadian?  That's an expensive cable.  Where did you get that price?

I found:


I am assuming that Tiger Direct Canada posts Canadian pricing...

Oh if 24" isn't long enough, they do have 3 foot "rounded" IDE cables for $12 each...

If you still think that's too expensive, then having the swap file on the same drive would be better, just make a separate partition for it.
AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
For now I think I will have to go with having a slave drive, until i can afford to shell out more money for IDE cables..

for now ill just go with this.

So do I use the WD or the Seagate for the OS/Swap then? Im guessing the WD as its faster...

Any links or guide to setting up the HD with partitons for swaps etc?
You would definitely want the faster drive to hold both the OS and the swap.

The Windows swap file is dynamic so it's best placed in a separate partition to prevent the file from fragmenting itself and your data.  The default size of the Windows swap file is dependent on your RAM (about 1.5 times) but that size can increase or decrease depending on your memory needs.  For safety sake I would make the swap partition about 2GB (as you have it) - Windows has a maximum swap size of 4GB (which can be bypassed via registry tweak) but with even 1GB physical RAM, it would be really unusual for a desktop to ever reach a swap file size of 2GB.

Below are some links I think you might find useful.


By the way, even though they may be on the same chain, some people still say to put the swap on different drives... in the end, the only way for you to be sure is to try it for yourself on your machine.  Might as well since it doesn't require any reinstall or hardware changes.

Good luck.
AfterlifeAuthor Commented:
Lime and Cyber im gona split the pnts between the two of you, as youve been the most active helpers. if you guys wana stay and continue to help me get this all done after i give the pnts out id appreciate it.

Quick last Q

On my 80gig HD at the momment, I have Win XP Sp1 with all my data, but I wana put XP on the 160 gig now, can I install xp on both hds and then move the files over? Or Should I partition my 80 move my stuff into that data partition, and then format c: then start fresh on the 160?

the 160 currently only has 1 partition, formatted.
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