Multiple hard disks - best configuration?

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Having just bought another hard disk due to my old one getting rather
full, I'm now trying to decide the best way to have my hard disks
configured and would appreciate some advice.

Here are the 3 hard disks I now have at my disposal:

IDE  120Gb

SATA2 160Gb (seek time 11ms)

SATA2 320Gb (seek time 8.9 ms)

(All run at 7200rpm).

Currently, I am using the SATA2 160Gb as my main disk for everything
(data, system files etc etc)
I have been regularly cloning this to the old IDE 120Gb as a backup so
if I end up with problems with my 160Gb disk,  I can just boot into
the other and sort it out from there without having to go through a
complete clean windows reinstall, should that ever be necessary.
However now I have more than 120Gb of data on my 160Gb drive, I can no
longer perform that clone, so I've just bought the new 320Gb disk.

The question is, what would be the best way in which to use these
drives? These are my two ideas, but not sure which way would be

I could:

A) Clone my current 160Gb to my new 320Gb and just use the new disk as
my MAIN disk (system, data etc all on the same drive) and have my
160Gb as backup, and get rid of the old IDE 120Gb drive. The new 320Gb
drive has a faster seek time - would I see much speed difference
running windows XP from it compared to the older drive with 11ms seek


B) Carry on using my 160Gb as my system drive, but transfer documents
and media files etc to the new 320Gb and use that ONLY for "My
Documents". I suppose this way I could still do a regular clone from
my system 160Gb to the old IDE 120Gb as backup as I have been doing.
But does it cause complications assigning the "my documents" folder to
a completely different drive?

Would I gain more speed having windows on one disk (11ms seek) and
docs on separate disk (8.9 seek) compared to just having everything on
the faster disk.

If I had everything on one big disk though, I guess I wouldn't be able
to have a cloned system backup anymore as the other two disks are a
hell of a lot smaller in comparison.

Advice please! :)

Thanks in advance

Re: Multiple hard disks - best configuration?

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I'd install the OS on the fastest drive...
then use the others for data

Re: Multiple hard disks - best configuration?

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I would add - install the OS on a 50GB partition on the fastest drive and
keep you data on the other partitions. Separation of data from OS is a good
thing, so that if the OS goes tits up, then your data is safe. You can
Format C: and lose nothing but apps.

Re: Multiple hard disks - best configuration?

Somewhere on teh interweb GT typed:
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.... and I would add that, with XP at least, 5GB is plenty for the OS
partition, then use a seperate partition (I'd put it on the 160GB) of maybe
25GB for programs. If any of the drives are Seagate or Maxtor then you can
use Seagate's excellent DiskWizard (a cut-down version of Acronis True
Image, free download) to backup your OS partition to another drive. You can
then copy that to a DVDR. If the excrement hits the airconditioning you can
always boot from the bootable CD you create with DiskWizard, navigate to
your backup image (even by swapping the boot CD out for the archive DVD) and
restoring it.

The less other stuff you have on your OS partition the better. It'll run
faster, fragment less and is easier and more manageable to back up.
Experience shows me that 5GB is heaps for XP Pro (just make sure that
everything that you install except drivers goes to your programs partition)
and, conveniently, the image will fit on a DVDR. I think I heard that Vista
needs 15GB. Another advantage to having your OS and programs on seperate
disks/partitions is faster load times. Even though the 160 is a tad slower,
I'd consider putting my swapfile on that disk too, that speeds things up
even more. Set swapfile min and max size to the same, 1.5x RAM size, that
way it doesn't get fragmented and windows doesn't re-size on-the-fly which
slows it down.

I also have three HDDs in this machine with 6 partitions. OS, programs and
swapfile are all on different disks, at the first and fastest part of each
disk. The remainder of each disk is Data 1, Data 2 and Data 3.


Re: Multiple hard disks - best configuration?

Thanks for the advice guys.

If I put programs and games on a separate disk to the OS, and one of
those disks were to fail, what happens then? If the disk with the
programs failed, what would happen to all their references (registry
etc) on the OS disk? Could that cause complicated problems?

So I guess I could try OS  (win xp pro) and file/media data on two
separate partitions on the same 320Gb drive (with fastest seek time)
and swapfile and programs/games on the 160Gb.

I currently have the 160Gb running on the SATA2 channel and 320Gb
running on normal SATA, but I keep hearing SATA2 makes no difference.
Shall I leave them as they are?

I have been using the Seagate DiskWizard to make my backup clone every
now and then - it's very good - especially for free!
When creating partitions though, I guess I just use the disk
management tool in windows do I?



Re: Multiple hard disks - best configuration?

On Thu, 22 Nov 2007 17:17:51 -0800 (PST), DAN

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That is not a problem, you would simply install the apps
again and if it detects a prior installation and asks if you
want to keep your prior settings or erase/overwrite/etc the
old settings, pick which you want to do.  Often you don't
get to pick and either all settings revert to defaults but
sometimes user settings are retained.  Either way it is not
really a problem.  Similar so if the OS disk failed and you
still had the apps disk, all you'd have to do (after
reinstalling OS) is reinstall the app to the same location,
OR even better to restore your backup of the OS drive or
backup drive then everything is as it was at the point of
the last backup.

You are going to make backups right?  

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Generally, swapfile is accessed to page out data making room
for memory when an app loads, thus having pagefile on a
different physical drive than the apps could help.  Then
again, if there are only two drives it means swapfile on
same drive as OS which will also (but less often, IMO) have
concurrent access.

Generally I suggest not worrying much about the swapfile
unless the system does not have enough physical memory and
with memory so cheap these days (even DDR1 while not as
cheap as DDR2, is still under $50 for a Gig of memory) you
should just buy more memory, meaning the swapfile or
pagefile is then still accessed but not much data written to
it, mostly it is just a marker for virtual memory that may
never be used.  

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SATA2 makes only a tiny difference.  If one of the
controllers is on the PCI bus that will be the slower of the
two, and potentially causing problems if another device with
high bus utilization is also used (like some soundblaster
sound cards or a PCI gigabit NIC).  Each system is a little
different as are each systems' uses so generally the key is
to focus on what your most frequent or most demanding jobs
are and to optimize for that, leaving lesser demanding tasks
with the slight performance tradeoff.

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Yes you can create partitions with it, though if you need
FAT32 for other OS access, it'll limit you to 32GB so a  3rd
party tool or DOS (FDISK) would be used instead.

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