MortySnerd

Partitioning For Speed?

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1) A C:\ with about 10-20 gigs and a D:\ of 100+ gigs for video, movies, etc

2) One single large partition of 160 gigs for Windows, Apps, and Media

3) Neither one, they will both result in equal speed for Windows and Applications.

Technically, 2. Practically speaking they will be very similar except for the small differences (in scenario 1) when accessing the data on the D: partition caused because the heads are guaranteed to have to skip over the C: partition to get to the data.

It's not a bad idea to have a D: for your data, and maybe even an E: for your tmp and swap files, but they need to be separate spindles (drives) in order to gain the advantages of simultaneous multiple locality.

--Rick

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actually

you want a small windows partition (you don't need to seperate swap off of it though)

if you just use a big partition many system files will end up having their sectors spread over a very wide range of cylinders as they're replaced or appended to or rewritten

and as a result the average latency of accessing certain windows system files will be (much) greater

using a ~4gb partition for \Windows and seperate partition for Program Files is ideal

using 4gb of 160gb for windows means when booting or whatnot the maximum access latency will be the interface and processing latency plus rotational latency plus 4/160ths of the seek latency... it works out to like ~4ms vs ~12ms. definite improvement.

use the windows partition for swap but make sure you remove it defrag and then set it for a fixed size otherwise it'll resize itself and frag your stinker as well.

if you use photoshop or rip dvds it generally helps to create an additional partition roughly the size of the scratch space you need to avoid the scratch files/dvd image being fragmented by and/or fragmenting your data partition (and if its a scratch file limiting the range of cylinders by using a partition will improve performance via random seek latency)

end barely coherent rant

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also p2p software is horrible for fragmenting your drives

a seperate p2p scratch space partition is advisable (and move it from that partition to your data partition when the transfer finishes or whatever)

partitions are fun

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if you just use a big partition many system files will end up having their sectors spread over a very wide range of cylinders as they're replaced or appended to or rewritten and as a result the average latency of accessing certain windows system files will be (much) greater

Those are good "thought experiment" statements, but practically speaking, an occasional defrag solves the "problem" which isn't even a problem because any system file that is accessed often will be in the cache.

Partitioning a hard drive is not necessarily rude and evil, but it is stupid.

-- Rick

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I think you mean "multiple partitions" because you can't use a hard drive without partitioning it.

Speaking of stupidity, have a gander here:

http://www.anandtech.com/guides/viewfaq.html?i=43

I vote for "A".

I know we're supposed to be talking about SPEED here, but a drive with a separate system partition allows you to reformat and reinstall your O/S should some thing there go wrong with Windows, without having to lose all your other data/files on the drive.

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you can use a drive without partitioning it if you use linux. However, it is not recomended.

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also p2p software is horrible for fragmenting your drives

a seperate p2p scratch space partition is advisable (and move it from that partition to your data partition when the transfer finishes or whatever)

partitions are fun

Why?

The files you download with certain p2p software may become fragmented, but so what?

Whether a 120 minute movie has 1 or 10000 fragments, it'll still play in 120 minutes.

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When everything was reinstalled on the new smaller System partition, the computer felt faster and more responsive.

This is most likely due to the re-install and not the smaller system partition.

For some reason a freshly loaded system feels faster than any preloaded windows system you can buy. This may actually have some basis in reality. But without before and after benchmarks one cannot be sure it really is faster. With major PC manufacturers you can attribute the speed to lack of junk that loads during startup. However it may be that windows somehow optimizes it self during install.

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That's a good theory, but would you explain to me exactly how to keep data off of the OS partition?

Just move the "Documents and Settings" folder (and maybe "Program Files" to D: (in the registry).

But the important thing is that you can easily 'backup' anything on C: to D: just before the reformat and reinstall of C:.

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Data is written from the outside of the disk towards the middle.  Adding media data will not somehow split up the program data that you have already installed.  Linked libraries and binary executables and game data will all remain nicely localized on your hard drive no matter how many mp3s you drop onto it. 

The only way the issue that you describe could arise was if you were copying mp3s to your hard disk while simultaneously installing an application.  Then you might mix things up a little, but I doubt it would be noticeable.

It is also impossible to fragment application data, because application data is not deleted, modified or moved after it has been installed.

You are forgetting the time factor.

Overtime this may become an issue as new games get further out on the disk.

Also there is the contiguous chunk factor to deal with.

New files will generally be placed in the next available contiguous space.

This leads to holes that are only removed by defragmenting.

Without some sort of prioritization to the defrag, the MP3 may get placed before the application data.

So having a smaller OS/apps partition makes a difference in speed and organization.

Ideally you'd have separate drives. But I don't think a separate partition is a bad idea.

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When everything was reinstalled on the new smaller System partition, the computer felt faster and more responsive.

This is most likely due to the re-install and not the smaller system partition.

For some reason a freshly loaded system feels faster than any preloaded windows system you can buy. This may actually have some basis in reality. But without before and after benchmarks one cannot be sure it really is faster. With major PC manufacturers you can attribute the speed to lack of junk that loads during startup. However it may be that windows somehow optimizes it self during install.

Nope ...... :rolleyes: ...... the computer was rather fresh from the guy who assembled it and installed Windows ME, maybe used for a month, tops. I didn't do much prior to partitioning for efficient imaging using Ghost.

Windows ME was definitely crisper on a 8 GB partition compared to on a 40 GB partition.

Christer

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Will Rickards WT, transfer rates have clearly been demonstrated to be less of a factoras regards performance than seeks. My comments have been written with that in mind. Look at the 0% increase involved in game level load times using RAID 0. If the game is on the inner most tracks of the disk, right against the spindle, accesses to it will not be noticeable impaired.

A great deal of empirical data supports these assertions.

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What would happen if he ran a copy of windows prior to XP SP1?

Pre-SP1 versions only see 128 gb and no amount of partitioning solves that.

And he should upgrade anyway.

There is no way of getting past it? :o

Time for me to test this.

I have tested by installing Windows XP pro rtm on a 160 GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA.

During the initial stages of the installation, create the system partition of an appropriate size. I made it 15 GB. Continue to format and install XP.

1) After completion, if the unpartitioned space is partitioned before SP1 is installed, You will end up with unpartitioned space of some 21 GB when SP1 has been installed.

2) After completion, if You install SP1 prior to partitioning the unpartitioned space, You will get it all.

Christer

(The GB values are not exact since the 160 GB 7200.7 is only 149 GB binary.)

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Yep, Christer has just described the simplest way of installing XP onto a computer with a hard disk >137GB.

For those who are a little more adventurous you can create your own install CD. Google for 'slipstream' or 'slipstreaming.'

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Organization.  And really, there are only a few really good organizational reasons -- to install different OSes or to use different file systems are the only ones of which I can thing.

And to keep your OS and software on one partition and data on another. Makes it easier to reinstall the OS from scratch if something goes horribly wrong.

That would be for "organization."

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if ur using windows(2k/xp/2003 for that matter) there is a tendency to do fresh reinstall every now and then becos windows get slower and slower day after day..(you can defrag, but it doesnt help much.... no???? read on.....)

also 160G is alot of space for windows system files + programs files. there is better way to optimzie ur disk for performance and better yet, to prolong the perfomance.

I have heard some suggest multiple partition on single drive is stupid. if you have only one single harddrive on your pc, multiple partition can benefit you.

You are to contain intensive disk activities to the beginning of the drive and the least activities to the end of the drive. My advice is to make 2 partition(say, drive c and d).

1) Drive C for

- windows system files ("WINNT", "document and settings" folders, + ie cache )

- temporary files. like Photoshop Scratch disk, bt incomplete files, winrar r01,r02,r03 , video clips editing...etc.

2) Drive D for

- "Programs files" (install all programs,like office2k, games.., here)

- "My documents" and personal data, stuff like doc, xls, mp3, jpg, mpg, divx, rm, mov, zip, rar, ........ even software installation files, etc.

Stuff in winnt and "document and settings" folder contains files that are dynamic, the most frequently access, and the most Fragmented. (esp when ur task is to do service pack, IE , program installation, service pack, IE, service pack. :) so placing it on the 1st partition of your disk will benefit.

choose a small parition for drive C. Defragmenting a 160G is a long task so please keep your drive C partition big enough for windows but not too big. for win2k/winxp 20 G is more than enough. defragment a 20G disk is fast and fun, I am sure u will love it.

Also if u use BT, u should use Drive C for all your new BT incomplete download. remeber to move the completed download to Drive D after it finished, it will keep ur drive C and D data fragmentation to the minimium and BT will d/l alot faster.

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And to keep your OS and software on one partition and data on another.  Makes it easier to reinstall the OS from scratch if something goes horribly wrong.

That's a good theory, but would you explain to me exactly how to keep data off of the OS partition?

Don't put any on it :)

I never have any data on my C: anymore. "My Documents" is mapped to D: (which in my case is another disk entirely but this doesn't matter) as are my mails. Only my Favorites are on C: I guess I have to find where Firefox stores them so I can put them on my D: as well.

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if ur using windows(2k/xp/2003 for that matter) there is a tendency to do fresh reinstall every now and then

I always find this one rather funny.

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you can use a drive without partitioning it if you use linux. However, it is not recomended.

I use Linux (Mandrake) and it will not let me use a disk without first partitioning it. What distro are you using, and what trick do you use?

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Will Rickards WT, transfer rates have clearly been demonstrated to be less of a factoras regards performance than seeks.  My comments have been written with that in mind.  Look at the 0% increase involved in game level load times using RAID 0.  If the game is on the inner most tracks of the disk, right against the spindle, accesses to it will not be noticeable impaired. 

A great deal of empirical data supports these assertions.

You can just call me Will.

I'll agree that transfer rates are less of a factor with todays large drives and inner tracks that perform very well.

But partitioning is also about reducing the distance the head has to potentially seek.

A small system (OS/Apps) partition on the outer tracks keeps the heads there during disk activity only involving that partition.

Now is there really that much difference? Won't they already be close to there anyway?

It really depends on how your system is setup and how it changes over time.

I will propose that a separate partition helps keep that data there and makes it easier for you to reinstall it there.

It also reduces the file table size and thus affects the default cluster size.

I believe that cluster size and file table size has an impact on performance.

This is where I think most of the perceived performance improvement comes from.

This probably explains Christer's experience.

But in the end I'm talking out my *** because I have no benchmarks to show you.

But I don't care, in the end I use a big single partition at home. It is plenty fast for what I do with it.

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stuppid,

One of the primary benefits of doing a Windows reinstall, is to obtain a fresh NTFS MFT, because entries in the MFT are never removed. Due to this it tends to bloat. Since the OS files themselves are not modified, this part of the MFT does not grow. Therefore, by partitioning your drive so you can reinstall the OS, you defeat the primary performance-related reasons for the OS reinstall.

You will not 'clean out' your system at all, if you perform the practice as you advise it be done. Additionally, areas of the disk occupied by applications and the OS, obviously, will never fragment.

It has been explained earlier why the rest of your post is wrong. The gist of it is that transfer rates are insignificant factors in performance, and, by trading seek performance, which is more important, for transfer rate performance, you're obviously making an uneducated decision.

I repeat. There are no performance-related reasons for partitioning.

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I never have any data on my C: anymore.  "My Documents" is mapped to D: (which in my case is another disk entirely but this doesn't matter) as are my mails.  Only my Favorites are on C:  I guess I have to find where Firefox stores them so I can put them on my D: as well.

You don't know how hard I've worked to do that. But some programs insist on writing to %SystemDrive. For instance, if I open a cmd window and type "set", I find:

USERPROFILE=C:\Documents and Settings\Rick.UAS-LRC

Even though I have the registry configured to store my settings in D:\Documents and Settings\Rick.UAS-LRC.....

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Will,

Because OS and program files don't fragment, they will remain in just as tight an area of the disk as if you had partitioned them there even if you don't. There is no difference in this respect between a partitioned and unpartitioned disk. As for programs installed later, after data, you're almost certainly going to have to do one seek to get to the localization anyway, and, because transfer rates are relatively inconsequential, I don't think having a game 30GB into the disk will really matter (as tests at Anandtech and the Techreport have demonstrated). The first seek is certainly not a significant factor in the equation, given the lengths of application load times, relative to the length of even a full stroke seek on todays slowest drives.

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You'd think that, with all the expereince represented here with hard drives and partitions, there would be some consensus about "partitioning for speed". Apparently not, even though partitioning is not a new phenomena.

For a 160GB drive, with a small, separate (20-ish) partition at the beginning of the drive for O/S and apps/prgms (high-use files), it seems people here have come to the following conclusions compared to a drive with a single 160GB partition:

a. is faster

b. makes no difference

c. is slower

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There is a concensus among people who know what they're talking about.

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