Here is my setup:
120GB Hard disk 1 = 3 partions
C: WXP MCE label, total size 15GB, 8GB free = primarily OS
D: Programs label,total size 15 GB, 4.5GB free = all possible programs, during install just change c: to d:
E: Data label, total size 90GB, 30GB free space - redirect My Docs to this partition, set Quicken to backup to e:\My Documensts\Quicken, set Outlook pst to e:\My Documents\e-mail, (entire contents of e: is data I don't want to lose)
250 GB internal disk 2 - 1 partition
F: Movies and backup - ripped movies, backup sets
I use BounceBack professional 7 by CMS Products.
backup sets: E:\*.* ; Desktop and Favorites from my profile; Desktop, Favorites, My Documents from other user profiles. All scheduled Mon, Wed, Fri
This may seem complicated and redundant but it really is not. If either hard drive fails, I still have my data. It is very unlikely that both hard drives will fail at the same time. I am not a fan of desktop external hard drives but I like 2.5" or 1.8" USB powered hard drives to move data around different systems. I don't backup my ripped movies since I already have the DVDs. I also keep a spare 250 GB hard drive in the system...installed but disconnected.
Since all data is backed up, I don't think about reinstalling the OS and all apps that much. Never had a virus or spam problem...I have had OS corruption and dead hard drives. In those cases, I've just formated c: and reinstalled WXP without being worried about my data. With primary dead hard drive....just repartition the same way, install all apps, and run a data restore. If second hard drive crashes, all I have to do is replace the hard drive, setup single partition, format, and run a new backup then rip the DVDs again.
I have two laptops that my kids use to play internet games and do their homework. They each have USB memory keys to save their homework. They are allowed to backup on my system in their own profile. Ultimately, they are responsible for their own data...better to start them early.
...just my 2 cents. I've done plenty of data recovery for users. 90% of them don't know where their data is located so I stopped asking them a long time ago.
sorry if I steered off the subject at hand