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Hard Drive Partitioning - To separate OS and Program Files or not?

    Question

  • Hi,

    Wasn't sure where else to put this, and I am using Windows XP SP3, so here we go...

    Can anyone tell me the advantages of splitting up the OS and Program files into separate partitions?

    If I put Windows XP and Program Files on separate partitions, and I have to re-install Windows XP on its partition down the road for some reason, would I also have to re-install some or all programs on the Program Files partition as well?

    No matter what partition or disk you place Program Files on, some programs seem to be automatically connected to the OS partition and become dependent on it.  So if you re-installed the OS, would it not delete critical files fo some programs, making them unusable?

    The registry, for example, lives on the OS partition.  Some or all programs end up with entries in the registry.  So after you re-installed the OS, the registry would seemingly be that of a fresh OS install, and be missing information from several of your previously-installed programs sitting on your Program Files partition.  And these programs would no longer work, right?

    Please let me know if I'm missing something in my above assumption :)

    Does splitting these two up really give you an edge when it comes to having to re-install the OS, or is the advantage in putting them on separate partitions only performance-based, and not for simplifying re-installs of the OS?

    I'm trying to figure out what advantage there really is to separating the OS and Program Files in separate partitions, and if I should bother or not.

    As a minimum, I will have 3 partitions:

    OS and Program Files
    Data
    Page File

    Or I could have 4 and split out Program Files from the OS:

    OS
    Program Files
    Data
    Page File

    Any thoughts would be appreciated :)

    Thanks,

    Scott
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 4:16 PM

Answers

  • when dealing with one drive the only realy reason to partition is so that data will not be lost during a reload.  Program files will have to be reloaded after a fresh install regardless of partition as you stated above due to registry and registered files.  moving the page file to a partition on the same disk isn't going to make much of a change either you are still dealing with one head on the HDD.  A second partition would be good for personal docs pics and music.  You could redirect my documents to that partition for safety.  if you are looking to boost speed tehn adding a second HDD and moving the page file would add speed but no matter what programs will have to be re-installed after a reload.  Hope that helps.
    Dislaimer 1:As usual I could be way off so no playing like I'm Frankenstein. Disclaimer 2: my Speeling and proofing skills are teh fail
    • Proposed as answer by Liam Silva Thursday, August 06, 2009 4:41 PM
    • Marked as answer by scottydel Thursday, August 06, 2009 5:03 PM
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 4:40 PM

All replies

  • when dealing with one drive the only realy reason to partition is so that data will not be lost during a reload.  Program files will have to be reloaded after a fresh install regardless of partition as you stated above due to registry and registered files.  moving the page file to a partition on the same disk isn't going to make much of a change either you are still dealing with one head on the HDD.  A second partition would be good for personal docs pics and music.  You could redirect my documents to that partition for safety.  if you are looking to boost speed tehn adding a second HDD and moving the page file would add speed but no matter what programs will have to be re-installed after a reload.  Hope that helps.
    Dislaimer 1:As usual I could be way off so no playing like I'm Frankenstein. Disclaimer 2: my Speeling and proofing skills are teh fail
    • Proposed as answer by Liam Silva Thursday, August 06, 2009 4:41 PM
    • Marked as answer by scottydel Thursday, August 06, 2009 5:03 PM
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 4:40 PM
  • That helps thanks :)  Unfortunately it's a laptop with only one hard drive.
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 5:03 PM
  • np have a good one
    Dislaimer 1:As usual I could be way off so no playing like I'm Frankenstein. Disclaimer 2: my Speeling and proofing skills are teh fail
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 5:07 PM
  • I always use at least two partitions on any computer I have. Usually I have three or four. It helps keep things organized and if I need to reload the OS I don't lose data.
    Also some laptops have room for more than one hard drive. My Gateway 7811FX does. When I get the spare cash I plan to add a SSD for the OS and maybe a game or two.
    • Proposed as answer by JRD417 Friday, August 07, 2009 8:57 AM
    Friday, August 07, 2009 8:56 AM
  • I too seem to have somewhat of the same dilemma. I know its for Vista, but here goes.

    Programs aren't loading on my second partition after I formatted and installed Vista OS on the first partition and left the second partition untouched...

    Basically, I decided to reinstall Vista on my computer. I have a 320GB hard drive, and its split up into two partitions. The first being the Operating System, we'll call that partition OS, and the second being where I keep all my data, we'll call that partition DATA.

    So I have an option on my Vista installation disc that allows me to; 1) Format the entire drive, 2) Format the first and leave the second the way it is, 3) Format the second and leave the first the way it is. I chose option 2. 

    So after the OS is installed I am able to see all my files that are on my DATA partition when I open up My Computer. The only thing is, is that when I try and load up a program its acts as though it hasn't been installed.

    I've looked on google and countless forums trying to figure out as to why this is happening. I'm sure it has to deal with the registry but I'm not about to regedit my computer and aimlessly attempt to fix my problem.

    I hope I've been clear with the explanation as to my problem that I am having, I just don't want to have to re-install all those programs that are on my DATA partition again. Wanted to know if there was a program or something that I need to alter or change in regedit. 

    Thanks again for future answers!
    Monday, September 21, 2009 8:27 AM
  • It's my understanding that even if you install a program to your DATA partition, the program may still be dependent on a) the registry or b) the c:\program files directory (on your OS partition). I don't think EVERY program acts this way, but it sounds like whichever programs you are trying to load might unfortunately fall into this category. 

    It sure would be nice to have three independent partitions 1) OS 2) Programs and 3) Data, but Windows does not allow this to my knowledge. 

    If you reinstall the OS and leave the DATA partition as is (option 2 in your case), I believe you will have to reinstall your programs, but you will still have your data (i.e. if you're trying to run MS Office and it isn't loading, you will need re-install MS Office but your Office documents on your DATA partition should be intact). 

    On my machine I have one partition I call OS AND PROGRAMS and another partition is called DATA. I feel your pain but I don't know if there is a clear remedy to your problem without re-installing some programs :-)
    • Edited by scottydel Monday, September 21, 2009 1:45 PM spacing
    Monday, September 21, 2009 1:43 PM
  • I actually ended up doing this (using a separate partition for programs) mainly because I hate clutter, but I am right now in the process of undoing this and reformatting partly because of doing this. It just makes things confusing and it's not the way windows likes doing things, so it really doesn't net you any benefits. Of course I'm right with you with putting Data on a separate partition, though I'm not sure how putting the page file on it's own partition would help. Also, keep in mind, I think Windows will only let you have 4 logical partitions on one drive.
    Thursday, October 01, 2009 6:05 AM
  • If you only have one disk, it is best to just have the pagefile on the first partition so it is closest to the outside of the disc so it gets read faster. That is the same reason it is best to just have the OS/pagefile on the first partition and have the programs/data on one or two other partition(s). Then the system files stay near the outside of the disc and get read faster. Also, then you won't have to reload the programs that aren't dependant on the registry if you need to reload the OS.

    Friday, October 16, 2009 2:53 AM
  • Only 1 correction with your "Dislamer" Frankenstein was the Dr ... the guy with bolts in his neck was technically "Frankensteins monster" ... apart from that the spelling and grandmar are fine.
    Wednesday, March 23, 2011 9:31 PM
  • I have run separate partitions for Windows XP and 7 for about five years now because I do things that gather crapware and viruses like a magnet off the internet. This, along with Panda  Cloud AV  stopped ALL problems. 

    On separate partitions are: Program files, User, Temp and Tmp (includes the temporary internet files and cookies ), and pagefile at the first partition of a separate and fast hard drive of a three drive system that mixes SATA and ATA drives. Additionally I use a single program files partition that uses the same files shared between XP and 7.  This can be done different ways, but I simply rewrote the environment and path commands and altered the registry. It's been flawless. I use GRUB from linux to handle the booting.

    This setup is not difficult for someone a bit advanced and knowledgeable of setting up partitions, working with the environment, registry, and the like. Once the partitions are in place, the appropriate OS files and folders need to be moved. I have a quad boot machine with mac, linux XP and 7, so I use linux (which reads NTFS formatting even though it is formatted in ext-4) to move the files and get no OS complaints. 

    You can use a command that is much like Linux uses to have one folder point to another anywhere in the partitions. Win 7 also has this, but not XP. If the command and name would pop into mind I would provide it, I know it but it's stuck between the five working synapses I have at the moment and is refusing to clear--beer does this to you but it's worth it.  I did not use that system, I moved the locations through the registry and the environment commands. 

    There must be instructions for this on the net as I can't be the only person to have successfully done it and I'm not nearly the guru some others are. If I had the time I would provide the instructions, but sadly I do not.  I offer only that it does work, it's extremely stable, and I will continue to use it even when and if I upgrade.  No problems with the usual Windows problems now!  Finally, no more reinstalls.

    I do image the OS's for a quick reinstall but have had to use it.  This works perfectly and beats Linux for stability.  OH I should tell you about Linux.    

    Only Linux has given me fits. In the last five years that OS has managed a class 10 screw up six times and required a complete reinstall every time. It still runs, but works in a weird or crazy fashion. One time it reported all my drives full. They weren't, but of course no one on the Linux lovers defense team (forum) was willing to consider it might be their OS. They blamed me and continued to insist I check my drives using this or that, not once attempting to assist with the problem. They seemed overly defensive, especially for a producing concern speaking to a consumer. I was polite, but honest.  Perhaps I didn't scrape and bow enough. Regardless, that was the final straw and Linux, if it blows up again is off the list permanently! I'm a retired business adviser, a Ph.D industrial psychologist with plenty of major names that have benefited from my work but Ubuntu only denies my credentials and calls me names. Very strange, very!

     

     

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    Friday, September 02, 2011 6:28 AM
  • I have not actually done this before so I was looking for instructions on how to split 1 drive like the C: drive into 2 Drives so C: and E: if this is possible please let me know! And btw my XP professional is already installed and I do not have the installation disk as my Computer is second hand.
    Sunday, February 19, 2012 3:23 AM
  • it will hrlp so sorry i just don;t understand

    thomas blankenship

    Saturday, May 05, 2012 9:21 AM