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Hard Drive too big?

by Stormsteel / February 14, 2013 7:32 PM PST

Hi Everyone,

I think I may have made a bit of a mistake when I replaced my desktops C drive. The original H/D was 160GB.

I now have installed a 1TB hard drive, it's up and running with a clean install of Windows XP home edition. The main reason for getting the larger capacity H/D was, I'm into photography, and as you most likely know photo's (especially raw images/files) can take up a fair amount of space.

The problem I find now is defragging, it takes so long. The 1TB H/D takes approximately 5hrs, and that's with only 30GB of data on it so far. The very first defrag took 22hrs. I assume the defrag operation has to go through the whole H/D that's why it takes longer than it did with the old H/D. If that's so, in hind sight perhaps I should have put an extra partition on the new H/D for the O/S only. Either that or I should have gone for a smaller H/D instead.

Can anyone please answer the following questions?

(1) Will upgrading to Windows 7 make any difference to the defragging time (as in making it quicker)? or is it to do with the CPU and not the O/S?

(2) Is it unwise to add a second partition now for the operating system only, since I have been using the new 1TB H/D for 4mths?

My desktop pc:-
Dell Dimension 4700. Processor Pentium 4 - 3GHz, 2GB ram, running XP home edition with service pack 3. .

Any help or advice would be very much appreciated!

Regards,

Chris.

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All Answers

Best Answer as chosen by Stormsteel

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For what it's worth
by Zouch / February 15, 2013 6:13 PM PST
In reply to: Hard Drive too big?

At one time I had a system that had a fragmentation problem, without boring you with the detail, the data was frequently updated and the disk (a bit tight on space) fragmented badly. The files were big, like your photos. Defrags took a very long time, regardless of what tool I used. I got round my problem by isolating the data into a separate partition and then when I needed to "defrag", I copied my data partition to my usual backup cycle on one of my external disks. Once the copy was safe and verified, I wiped the data partition and file copied the backup back into it. File copies don't fragment into an empty partition, so I was good to go again until it fragmented again.

It sounds more laborious than a regular defrag but, at least in my case, was much quicker - about a quarter the time. And as a bonus, I now had a complete backup generation on which to continue my regular incremental backups.

An off the wall suggestion but it might give a few ideas. But do be sure you verify the external copy before you wipe the master!

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I also doubt the need for regular defrags ...
by Gerdd / February 16, 2013 4:09 AM PST
In reply to: For what it's worth

A number of good contributions have already been made here.

1) a separate system partition that doesn't have to deal with frequently updated masses of user data. It will be less prone to fragmentation and - since it is smaller - would be quicker to defrag if you decided to do it anyway.

2) a bit of fragmentation will not slow down your system all that much - the problem was much worse back when drives were much slower and fuller. OS space utilization algorithms have also changed in favour of finding a slot for a new file that can hold the whole file in one place.

3) Whether you do it on purpose (like Zouch) or it just happens to you as part of normal operations - such as installing a larger disk or partition - copying all data from a fragmented drive to a clean one is actually the most efficient way to get rid of fragmentation. And it can also be woven into your backup strategy, which means it isn't really overhead. Just remember, image backups faithfully conserve the fragmentation of your disk if and when you perform an image restore. There are image backup solutions that can mount the backup image as a special file system, so that you can access each file in the backup individually. That is extremely handy when you just need to restore a file you accidentally destroyed or deleted. But it also allows you to restore all the files to a blank replacement disk losing all fragmentation in the process. (The tool I use is called Drive Snapshot, by the way.)

Let me comment on Zouch's statement that "it sounds more laborious ..." - He (she?) is right, of course. It sounds like more work, and for you as the user it is. But! For your computer and your drive(s) it is not. What many may not realize is how much work it is to shuffle the data sectors around 'in place' on the drive, especially if there is not much empty space left to work with. Some defrag tool swill show you an animated view of how the files are shoved back and forth on the drive, resulting in lots of huge seek operations. And in the end each bit of data will be moved more than just once or twice.

Copying from one drive to another can take advantage of a great luxury - the second drive has its own head assembly on its own arm. The source drive will have to chase the cluster chains across the whole surface, but the destination drive will write them out in sequence with minimal arm movements.

But the key advice probably still comes from Douglas Adams: "Don't panic!" - In most cases an image file of, say, 3 to 10 MB will be stored in no more than 3 to 5 fragments. When you retrieve such a file the seek operations between the fragments will hardly be noticeable on today's hardware.

4) Let me quickly explain why the advice to get a modern computer with faster processors and more memory is helping the defrag operations (aside from the fact that newer SATA drives are significant faster than the old IDE drives): Since defragging takes place on a single drive and all data must first be moved "out of the way" before it can be arranged in the desired configuration everything will help: faster disk, more free space, more memory to cache the transfer operations resulting in fewer seeks, and finally, the NTFS file system will support the whole operation with an overall smarter way to arrange directory and 'payload' data on the disk.

And finally, with all that, I can't remember when I have defrragged a drive 'in anger' - I may have demonstrated to someone the animation of a defrag operation in order to impress on them how much overhead it actually is ...

But above all: Don't panic! In most situations there is no prize for coming in first, so the optimally defragmented drive that will boost your operations with a 5% speed increase will cost you in long defrag sessions ...

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This is helpful!
by Stormsteel / February 16, 2013 4:53 AM PST

Gerdd, this explains things really well! Many thanks for taking the time to give me this information.

Regards,

Chris.

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Sorry not the best answer!
by Stormsteel / February 16, 2013 4:51 AM PST
In reply to: For what it's worth

I'm going to look a right idiot now! I tagged this as the "best answer" by mistake! I hope I'm not the first to do this.

I appreciate your reply as it's explained more about what can happen/go wrong with fragmentation of files, which means I've learned some more, so thank for that Zouch,

Regards,

Chris.

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Answer
Re: defrag
by Kees_B Forum moderator / February 14, 2013 7:56 PM PST
In reply to: Hard Drive too big?

The simple solutions:
1. Don't defrag. It's kind of unnecessary anyway.
2. Use another defrag program: both contig (from Microsoft's sysinternals, a command line tool) and Defragler (from Piriform) are free and are folder/file based. Pick what works best for you.

Kees

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defrag
by Stormsteel / February 15, 2013 7:26 AM PST
In reply to: Re: defrag

Kees,

I like your answer to No:1 Grin
I should have said, I use defraggler although I have not come across Contig before, I'll have to check that one out,

Chris.

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Answer
Partition the hard drive.
by mjd420nova / February 15, 2013 11:58 AM PST
In reply to: Hard Drive too big?

You could divide the physical drive into numberous logical drives, of the size you choose.

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2nd partition.
by Stormsteel / February 16, 2013 4:11 AM PST

Can I add another partition for the O/S only now I've been using the H/D for 4mths?

Chris.

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Answer
A Hard Drive Can NEVER Be Too Big!
by The Masked Villain / February 15, 2013 12:34 PM PST
In reply to: Hard Drive too big?

Stormsteel,
You pose a dilly of a question. While I truly believe that a hard drive can never be too big, I think you went the wrong way on this one. If your main reason for getting the larger hard drive was to work with photography, I think you should have upgraded your computer to a Windows 7 64 bit box with a multicore processor, and at least 8 gigs of Ram. The new computer would have come with a larger hard drive, probably a 1 terabyte job. That pretty well describes my PC, but I have 16 gigs of Ram, and two 1 terabyte hard drives. When I do a defrag it takes around 5 minutes. So, think about upgrading your PC, and you can put your new hard drive in as a second drive. Oh, and if your going to go for Windows 7, get the Pro version. That way you can download, for free from Microsoft a virtual copy of Windows XP, just in case you have some legacy programs that won't run under Windows 7. I hope I have helped you.
Regards,
TMV

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You could almost be a mind reader!
by Stormsteel / February 16, 2013 4:39 AM PST

as I have been thinking about upgrading to Windows 7 professional 64 bit on a new computer, the only thing that's holding me back is the expense.
When the time comes I hope to be looking at either a Pentium i3 or i5 CPU. I would like to hear what others (including yourself) have to suggest for my needs processor-wise, but I'll start another thread for that.

Thanks for your reply TMV, as it's backed up what I have been thinking.

Regards,

Chris.

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Your New Computer
by The Masked Villain / May 8, 2013 11:11 AM PDT

Stormsteel,

Sorry for not getting back to you earlier, but there was a problem with my CNet account, that wouldn't let me log on. Now, on to your conundrum. Almost every computer on sale today comes loaded with Windows 8, and I don't think that's what you want. If you go on line to do your shopping, and select the business section of the manufactures inventory, you will find that almost all the computers there come loaded with Windows 7 Pro 64. Just for an example, log on to Dell.com, but instead of choosing Home & Office, choose Business. There, you will find a landscape full of Laptops, and Desktops, all with Windows 7.

As for you CPU, if your going to be working with photo editing, the more cores you have, the better. If your working with Adobe Creative Suite, it will take advantage of all your cores. When I bought my computer I had them put in an Intel i7-2600, with 4 cores, and lots of cache. I felt it was a good compromise, in that it would run my current software, and could easily handle any new software that would come along in the next seven, to ten years. In fact I proved this to myself, when I installed Windows 8 Pro 64, in a virtual machine. I can run Win 7 Pro 64, and Win 8 Pro 64 at the same time with no loss of speed.

However, with the new Intel CPU's coming on the market, the price of the current generation of CPU's is bound to drop. Also, if your having your computer built to your specifications, the is nothing that says you have to install an Intel CPU. You could always go with an AMD chip. There are great deals to be had there. So what ever you decide, go with my simple rule, "Buy the best that you can afford", and you wont go wrong.

Regards,
TMV

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"Buy the best that you can afford" sounds like good advice!
by Stormsteel / May 12, 2013 1:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Your New Computer

TMV,
Many thanks for getting back to me, your post is very helpful and informative.
As much as I would like an Intel i7 processor, an i5 will most likely be my limit. At least the i5 has four cores, whereas the i3 only has two. Yes I am using Adobe P/S.
Thanks for the suggestion of looking on the Dell.com Business section, however I'm planning on building my own new pc when the time comes. I'm intending to purchase and install Windows 7 Pro 64 bit O/S. At least support is available until 2020 for Windows 7.
I don't really know very much about the AMD processors, only what I have read, as I've always had Intel.
<span id="INSERTION_MARKER">"Buy the best that you can afford" sounds like good advice!
<span>Many thanks,

<span>Regards,

<span>Chris.

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Building your own box can be the most satisfying.

Dear Stormsteel,

Good for you. I have built many computers in my time, and there is nothing like the satisfaction of turning it on for the first time, and having it boot up. I too have always had Intel CPU's, but I just read the other day on CNet an article about CPU's. While the top of the line Intel was going for around $1000.00, the comparable AMD was only around $400.00. That's a big price savings. With the money you save, you can max out your memory, and get a really huge hard drive.

I'm not shilling for AMD, I have, and am using an Intel chip, but I had the money to have Dell build my PC to my specification's. You say that you are working on a budget, and that retail, or OEM copy of Windows 7 is going to cost you as well. Why not go to the CNet web page, and search the review section for the Intel, and AMD chips. See what they have to say about them, it might give you some incite as to what the experts think. Anyway, what ever you decide for yourself, all the best, and remember the entire forum is here to help you if you need us.

Regards,
TMV

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A good reminder about help being here if needed.
by Stormsteel / May 20, 2013 7:14 AM PDT

Hi TMV,

Thanks for the confidence boost on building my own computer, and for the advice.
That is a good idea about having a look at the review section on here for the Intel and AMD processors, also a very good reminder about the entire forum being here if I need help!

A very interesting point about that article you read on the differences between Intel and AMD comparable CPU price.

I am looking forward to the actual build when the time comes, and also the learning process of doing this. I'm sure you are right I will get great satisfaction from turning it on and having it boot up for the first time.

Many thanks for your reply.

Regards,

Chris.

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A small suggestion in your build.
by The Masked Villain / May 20, 2013 11:37 AM PDT

Chris,

When you do get the point of buying your operating system, consider the difference between the OEM version, and the Retail Version, and I don't mean price. If you go for the OEM version, and later have a question, or need help, Microsoft doesn't want to know you. However, if you lay down the extra cash for the Retail version, you are considered to be a Microsoft Customer, and are entitled to tech support on the phone, or on the Web.

The free tech support is nice, but if your OS is working, you can still register on the Microsoft forums, (they call it Microsoft Community {http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us}) and post questions to other users on the forums, just like here. Only you can decide if you want to spend the extra cash for the retail version, just for the tech support.

If your building your own computer, your only warrantee is from the various parts suppliers. I assume you are going to get your parts from reputable suppliers. Microsoft is a supplier, so now you know what to expect from them. Have fun, this can be a real learning experience for you.
Regards,
TMV

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A very helpful post!
by Stormsteel / May 22, 2013 5:51 AM PDT

Thanks for the information TMV and the link, that is really helpful.

I did not fully understand the differences between the Retail Version and the OEM version of Mircosofts Operating Systems, so that is good to know.

I realise the warrantee will only be with the individual parts suppliers. I intend to source a reputable supplier, thanks for the heads-up on that.

Regards,

Chris.

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One last tidbit about Operating Systems.
by The Masked Villain / May 22, 2013 11:34 AM PDT
In reply to: A very helpful post!

Dear Chris,

There is just one last thing about The Operating System you should consider. It goes without saying that it must be a 64 bit version, of what ever. Anyway, here goes.

If you buy Windows 7 Pro, or better, it comes with a free down loadable copy of Windows XP that runs in a virtual machine on your computer. That way if you have any legacy software that won't run on Windows 7, you can still run it on your virtual Win XP computer.

If you buy Windows 8 Pro, or better, Microsoft says it has built in vitalization, so you can run any previous version of Windows in a Virtual Machine. What they don't say is that you are going to have to buy that previous copy of Windows, and register it, to use it.

I guess that's fair. Microsoft wanted everybody who bought Windows 8 to use that as there only operating system. By making the installation of any previous versions expensive, they are keeping their captive audience captive.

I guess I'm just lucky. I planned on buying my new computer with Windows 7 Pro. One of the first things I did after I got it, was to download, and install the Windows XP virtual machine. Then when Microsoft came out with their $49.99 Windows 8 Pro offer, I jumped on that.

I installed that on the FREE Oracle Virtual Machine "VirtualBox". to give it "Windows 8" a trial. So I now have one computer at home that has Windows XP, Windows 7 Pro, & Windows 8 Pro. I'd say I am ready for anything.

You could do what I did with Window 7 Pro, but you'll have to pay full price if you want to try out Windows 8, and that's pricey. Or you could go with Windows 8, but you'd still have to pay full price for Windows 7, and you'd still have to boot into Win 8 first.

So, if you are building this, choose your Operating System with care. Whatever you decide, the best of luck with it.

Regards,
TMV

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Very much appreciated!
by Stormsteel / May 23, 2013 9:01 PM PDT

Hi TMV,

Very good of you to make that clear if I intend to run windows 7 in XP style I will need to purchase the Professional Edition of Windows 7.

As it happens I have been doing my homework first, researching Operating Systems as well as the type and specifications of the different components I will require for the build, so I did realise that. Even then it's still very easy to miss something, so I really appreciate you pointing that out before I purchased the O/S.

I'm not sure about Windows 8 yet, but to be fair I have only had a very short time trying it out in a PC shop. However it does seem to me you need a touch screen to take full advantage of the set up.

You did very well (price wise) in your purchase of Windows 8 Professional. I hear what you are saying about Microsoft trying to keep their captive audience captive. There was a rumour I read about in one of the PC magazines earlier in the year that Microsoft wants to bring out a new system every year (Windows Blue), although I'm not sure if that was a complete new system or an upgrade, either way I expect you'll have to pay for it. Here's a little about it:- http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/380713/windows-blue-8-1-release-date-screenshots-features

Many thanks for all your help and advice TMV.

Regards,

Chris.

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Oh Microsoft, you are sneaky.
by The Masked Villain / May 24, 2013 12:24 PM PDT
In reply to: Very much appreciated!

Dear Chris,

Your right on two counts about Windows 8. You really do need a touch screen to get the most out of it, and there will be an upgrade.

Microsoft has announced that Windows Blue will now be called Windows 8.1. And like Apples OS X, we can expect a yearly cycle of upgrades, and we most definitely will have to buy them from the Windows store. Say good by to installation media, your now hooked, a Windows junky.

Like I said, I've been using Windows 8 for a while now, but it's not for me. For one thing, almost every program I run, and I'm running MS Office 365 Home Premium, dumps me onto the old desk top. The one without the Start Button. I fixed that with a little freeware program, so now I have a functioning desk top with a Win 7 like Start Menu.

It's like you said, without a touch screen, it's not worth it. However, we shall have to wait for the release of the Windows 8.1 pre release trials to have a look at how they have addressed the concerns of the desk top users. If they have addressed them at all.

I think, with Microsoft putting all it's eggs in one basket with Win 8, and the Metro interface, there will be, after the smoke clears only one company with two completely different operating systems. Apple, with the iOS for it's mobile devices, and OS X for it's computers. And they will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Regards,
TMV

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All will be revealed in time.
by Stormsteel / May 28, 2013 4:30 AM PDT

Hi TMV,

It will be interesting to see what Windows 8.1 have addressed? I have heard of the slight panic about the missing start button in W8 and the work around, at least you can do that.

You may well be proven right about Microsoft putting all their eggs in one basket, it certainly appears they expected W8 to be more widely accepted than it has been in my opinion. I would not have thought Microsoft would want to end up with just the one O/S if Apple have two, even though it is looking that way at the moment. We will have to wait and see what happens.

Regards,

Chris.

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