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View Full Version : Virtues/drawbacks of separate OS and Program partitions



Billy T
16-03-2010, 05:38 PM
Hi Team

I'm slowly getting to grips with the new computer, and since I have an abundance of disk space, I have been thinking about putting the OS and Programs on separate partitions.

I've always had my OS & Programs on one disk, and all my Data on another, so with more space to play with than the Aussie Outback, it seemed a logical step forwards. A quick Google showed that it is not an unknown practice but I haven't found anything about drawbacks. It seems to me that separating the two lots of programming pretty much eliminates the chances of a meltdown in one making necessary a full reinstall of the other.

I've survived within two 20GB hard drives for Programs and Data for the last umpteen years, so with 2 x 640GB to play with, it's unlikely I'll fill those up anytime soon.

Any advice on the pros & cons would be appreciated.

Cheers

Billy 8-{) :thanks

nedkelly
16-03-2010, 05:44 PM
I use to always stick everything on the one partition, because I had small drives. Now I have bigger drives I use one drive for the OS and the other drive for data so if the OS drive crashes the important stuff is safe. Never really worried about the programs.

Edit: Hey just noticed post 1000.

Sweep
16-03-2010, 05:49 PM
I would not put the programs elsewhere. If the O/S partition dies then the registry dies with it unless you image or clone everything.

With 2 x 640 you could partition one and clone the other as a backup.

Miami Steve
16-03-2010, 05:50 PM
I've never seen the need to separate OS and programs - a corrupt OS, prompting a reinstall, will require a reinstall of all programs anyway, as the windows registry will be cleared by the OS install.

I do have all my data on a separate partition (as well as a backup on a separate physical hard drive just in case).

Looks like Sweep just beat me to it :)

Billy T
16-03-2010, 10:05 PM
Ummm, well, I've always used separate data and OS drives, and as I mentioned previously re this build, I'm also running twin 640GB drives (with Raid 1) for the OS & programs, and another pair for Data. I use drive imaging as insurance against registry corruption or any other unexpected disasters.

I don't think a registry meltdown would cause a major problem, however, I was still undecided about separating Church and State, so I did some research and it seems that the jury is still out on the benefits and disadvantages of separating OS and programs, so I think I'll stick with what I know and just make sure I do my backups, or perhaps put additional effort into automating them.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)

nofam
16-03-2010, 10:09 PM
Given the low cost of large drives nowadays, abstracting your O/S and apps out physically from your data makes much more sense than just doing it logically; as others have said, if the O/S partition goes and takes the registry with it, your apps won't run anyway. The physical separation was/is best practice for servers, and now drives are cheap and most MoBo's support basic RAID, it's an easier decision for home users.

I usually recommend doing a daily image of your O/S drive to your data drive, and then backing up to an external device (external HDD or NAS box) regularly too. That way if it all goes pear-shaped, you can copy your image back at sata-to-sata speeds.

Metla
16-03-2010, 11:01 PM
Personally I think its a crap idea, However as usual our logic is poles apart so its no surprise.

I keep no backup of my OS partition, Just my data.

In the event I manage to kill my OS then I'd rather have a brand new install, with brand new installs of the latest versions of my favorite apps, and leave out the ones I no longer use.

Hell, I enjoy the process, I do it every couple of years just so I can have that clean slate even if the PC is humming.

Speedy Gonzales
16-03-2010, 11:11 PM
Same here, I would rather use 1 hdd with a few partitions on it, than having 2 or more hdds with files all over the place. If I have to reformat, I'll just format the main partition, then reinstall the updates, from the hdd. Or use windowsupdate if I cant be bothered installing the updates one by one

Since it wont count towards my data usage

Sweep
16-03-2010, 11:43 PM
So just keep doing what you were etc. Do not install Programs on a separate partition.

SolMiester
17-03-2010, 07:37 AM
If you wont use all that space, I would of Raid 1 the pair for fault tolerance and greater read speed, you could still partition the the volume also...

nmercer
17-03-2010, 09:13 AM
KISS principle applies, keep things simple

I can't see any benefit in having your OS and Program Files/Apps split across separate partitions on the same HDD spindle

Extra complexity for no benefit

pctek
17-03-2010, 10:27 AM
I've never seen the need to separate OS and programs - a corrupt OS, prompting a reinstall, will require a reinstall of all programs anyway

You would be surprised at what DOESN'T need a reinstall or registry entries.

Anyhting MS does, your antivirus does but most other things don't.

So there aren't any disadvantages that I can see.

Besides if you clone C:, even those things that did need the reg entries have already been installed so no need to re-do it.

sroby
17-03-2010, 12:33 PM
..... and most MoBo's support basic RAID, it's an easier decision for home users....


Good idea.
But I would use Win software raid(mirror) rather than m/b's (slower) 'hardware' raid.
The build in raid controllers on home PC's arnt true hardware raid,often actually slower than Win's software raid.
Also, using (cheapy)onboard raid may give compatabilty issues if mb dies & need to recover data from the array.

bevy121
17-03-2010, 12:41 PM
................
Or use windowsupdate if I cant be bothered installing the updates one by one

Since it wont count towards my data usage

How does that work?
windows updates don't count as data?
who/what plan are you on

Speedy Gonzales
17-03-2010, 12:43 PM
Anyone who's on Xnet, MS downloads are counted as local not international. This inc downloads from the MS download site, Akaimai servers (I think, which inc Apple, and the Itunes store as well). Even tho I dont use the Itunes store. I downloaded the WAIK install files the other day (For Vista, Vista SP1, (so I can slipstream SP1 and 2) and windows 7. That was just over 4 gb lol

Billy T
17-03-2010, 02:10 PM
If you wont use all that space, I would of Raid 1 the pair for fault tolerance and greater read speed, you could still partition the the volume also...

I have two WD 640GB in RAID 1 for the OS (and programs) and another two the same in Raid 1 for data.

Having lived for years within 10GB for OS/Programs and 20GB total for data (still got 10GB spare), I am absolutely swimming in unused disk space. So, provided I remember to image after every programming change, which will be few and far between once I get it all set up, I could use either system. Most of my legacy programs won't load anywhere but C anyway so some stuff will have to go on C like it or not.

Sounds like drive imaging will take care of any other issues, but I will most likely play it safe and stick to the tried and true. I'll be able to keep images of various key stages in the build-up anyway.

I'm putting the (a) paging file on the data drive too.

I found a very good XP site Here (http://www.theeldergeek.com/hard_drives_08.htm) that explains a lot of this in language I can easily understand, and provides links to more useful information as well including MS information. It is much better than Microsoft's XP help files that's for sure.


pctek-You would be surprised at what DOESN'T need a reinstall or registry entries. I agree with this too, when my OS crashed earlier this year due to something stupid that I did, I then had a brain fart and accidentally did a full reinstall instead of a repair and was sweating a bit, but I found that most of my programs just needed their icons restoring. I did have to reinstall some things but 80% remained untouched.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)

zqwerty
17-03-2010, 03:48 PM
Beware RAID is not data backup:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID#RAID_is_not_data_backup

Digby
17-03-2010, 03:58 PM
Billy T
Imho it is much better to have 2 physical drives.
A small one C drive with just the OS on it.
The other one D Drive for all of your Data (If using Windows set this as My Documents)

This system makes for easy backing up and easy transfers later on to a new machine or a bigger drive etc.

The OS can go on a small drive which are very cheap these days.

I have done this for the last year, and I wish I had done it years ago.

SolMiester
17-03-2010, 04:12 PM
Good idea.
But I would use Win software raid(mirror) rather than m/b's (slower) 'hardware' raid.
The build in raid controllers on home PC's arnt true hardware raid,often actually slower than Win's software raid.
Also, using (cheapy)onboard raid may give compatabilty issues if mb dies & need to recover data from the array.

Sorry mate, but I disagree we your statement that software based raid is quicker than that of the chipsets on motherboards and AFAIK, most intel based CPU have the Intel south bridge chipset so any raid array will carry over onto another mobo...I had done this myself.

SolMiester
17-03-2010, 04:15 PM
Billy T
Imho it is much better to have 2 physical drives.
A small one C drive with just the OS on it.
The other one D Drive for all of your Data (If using Windows set this as My Documents)

This system makes for easy backing up and easy transfers later on to a new machine or a bigger drive etc.

The OS can go on a small drive which are very cheap these days.

I have done this for the last year, and I wish I had done it years ago.

Which is what he has. only better, fault tolerance on each physical drive array....

nofam
17-03-2010, 04:22 PM
Beware RAID is not data backup:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID#RAID_is_not_data_backup

Indeed - I'm actually starting to think in a home environment, it's pointless. I've never liked RAID 0, and the speed gains were always debatable unless you were doing a crapload of I/O's; if read/write speed is an issue, get a Velociraptor or better yet a TRIM-capable SSD.

Even RAID 1 is pretty pointless given the massive size and reliability of modern HDD's - doing a weekly full image of your system drive, + n incrementals a day wouldn't fill modern drive's that quickly.

External backups are more for theft/fire/long-term backup etc than for full data recovery IMO.

KiwiTT_NZ
17-03-2010, 04:41 PM
My Drive layout is as follows;

160 GB (10,000rpm) for OS/Progs/Working data
USB 4 GB for Windows Caching
USB 16 GB for Essential Data (must not lose)
USB 160 GB for Important Data + copy of Essential Data
USB 1 TB for all remaining data + copy of importanta data and 2nd copy of essential data

I am planning on getting a 100+ GB SSD later and I will move my OS/Progs onto that and use the 160 GB for working data.

SolMiester
17-03-2010, 05:57 PM
Indeed - I'm actually starting to think in a home environment, it's pointless. I've never liked RAID 0, and the speed gains were always debatable unless you were doing a crapload of I/O's; if read/write speed is an issue, get a Velociraptor or better yet a TRIM-capable SSD.

Even RAID 1 is pretty pointless given the massive size and reliability of modern HDD's - doing a weekly full image of your system drive, + n incrementals a day wouldn't fill modern drive's that quickly.

External backups are more for theft/fire/long-term backup etc than for full data recovery IMO.

The whole point of Raid 1 is tolerance, you don't need to worry about a drive failing..

nofam
17-03-2010, 07:17 PM
The whole point of Raid 1 is tolerance, you don't need to worry about a drive failing..

For sure Sol, but mirroring only protects you from hardware failure; data corruption/accidental deletions etc occur on both spindles at the same time, so it's no help. And I think corruption/deletion is more likely in a home environment, especially given how reliable modern drives are.

Would always use mirrors in a server though, usually with hotspares - but that's for systems that require 4-nines uptime.

SolMiester
18-03-2010, 01:43 PM
For sure Sol, but mirroring only protects you from hardware failure; data corruption/accidental deletions etc occur on both spindles at the same time, so it's no help. And I think corruption/deletion is more likely in a home environment, especially given how reliable modern drives are.

Would always use mirrors in a server though, usually with hotspares - but that's for systems that require 4-nines uptime.

Yes, all true, however, if you have data corruption or drive failure you can still continue...backup is an entirely difference matter. I have a NAS device attached to the network for that, however, i'd be pissed if I had to rebuild due to drive failure, its just a pain in the backside...

Sweep
18-03-2010, 01:50 PM
I'd create two partitions on one of the 650 Gig drives and/or leave some unallocated space in case I want to dual boot etc.

Install the O/S and programs on the first partition and put data on the second.

Clone the first physical drive to the other physical drive.

Billy T
18-03-2010, 10:43 PM
The Raid installation on the OS and Data drivers is solely for protection against drive failure. Other systems will be installed for data protection.

I will set up incremental backups etc as soon as I get it all going. I'm still working on my old machine while I set this one up with all my programs etc. Each drive will be in 6 partitions as I find that helps me to keep things in order, for example one will be dedicated to images and another to video etc. My External USB Backup drive is in 7 partitions. each of 50GB.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)