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partitions: how many and how to access them

by ScttLee / February 5, 2008 2:33 AM PST

I am getting ready to clean install XP Pro 64x on a new 250G drive. In the install, it will ask me about making partitions.

Some questions.
1) I understand that I should install Xp in its own partition. How many other, and size, partitions would you recommend? Also what to groups toghether? 250G drive, XP Pro 64x OS, drivers, programs, antivirus, video, audio, pictures, personal files, games.
2) After I do partition, how do I store to them? Do they show up as seperate drives, or something else?


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As best I can offer
by Steven Haninger / February 5, 2008 5:05 AM PST

Each partition will need to be formatted and will have its own drive letter. How many and what size are up to you. You can have one single partition or many. XP will need to be on one partition only. My only use for other partitions would be for organization and temporary backups or scratch pads. If you want to keep music files or picture files you can do so in separate folders or on separate partitions. It's up to you and your own reasoning. If you decide you need multiple partitions, begin by selecting the size you want for Windows and all the software you want to run. While you can put some programs on other partitions, it doesn't always make good sense because some files end up in the Windows folder(s) anyway. Create the Windows partition during the installation process. That partition alone will be formatted. Once Windows is up and running, you can use disk manager to create other partitions and format them as you desire. Windows will be drive letter C: and the rest will get their drive letters as they are partitioned and formatted. They will appear as separate drives though part of one physical drive. Sometimes these are referred to as logical drives in extended partitions. Hope that helps.

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Just an opinion.
by Bob__B / February 5, 2008 11:02 PM PST

Since your asking this sort of question....Don't go there.


For Joe average user....one partition works fine.
Let the guru's muck around with that multi-partition stuff.

In theory it works fine but if you don't understand or handle it proper...you've got problems.

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Here's what I do
by Willy / February 6, 2008 3:33 AM PST

I like "2 partitions" for system as this provides some control of data storage and recovery. That means leave the 1st primary "C" partition for OS use and some pgms. that refuse to work elsewhere. The "D" or 2nd partition can be used for other pgms. and pure data storage. You can more easily backup the 2nd partition w/o OS restrictions that can arise. You place all your pics, video and/or audio files anywhere but if you know there's on the 2nd partition you go directly there. Once a pgm. is installed, you reside all data to it. Its more a housekeeping idea, but it works well. You don't need multiple partitions but if a lone partition on a HD goes poof, you try to recover more easily if it had 2 partitions to go directly to data once you boot from some recovery OS or pgm. To retrieve precious data. The OS can then be more easily addressed to cure that issue if it was the problem. You can google for detailed info, but this entirely your choice of how you like your system to setup as. There, clear as mud.

tada -----Willy Happy

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My reasoning
by movingelys / February 8, 2008 6:56 PM PST

I use numerous partitions but I think you should use at least 2, especially with a large HD. The reason to use more than one is that you can put all of you data in the 2nd (or 3rd...) and use the primary c: drive for windows. Should windows crash or you have a virus problem or something that requires it, you can format the C drive and reinstall windows and the data that you have on the other partition(s) will not be affected.

Of course not everything can be put on the the extra drives but most programs allow you to set the default store folder to wherever you want. You can also move your My Documents to the D drive by right clicking on it and changing the location.

Smaller partitions allow some programs to take less time like when you defrag your drives. You can do one at a time instead of waiting several hours for a huge drive to be defragmented.

Hope this helps

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Partitions, How Many?
by mcquesten / February 9, 2008 3:14 AM PST

Probably you don't need a partition at all; because if you did you would have said things like: I'd like to have an additional operating system besides Windows XP and would like to know how much of the hard drive I should use for XP and how much for (let's say Linux) or whatever. Or maybe you just want a seperate drive for storage; you didn't mention that either. So tell us what you would like to do with the extra partition(s).

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Format first.
by welrdelr / February 9, 2008 4:11 AM PST

Use one third of the disk and format it as NTFS. Windows, by default, cannot write any file system type except those approved and used by the OS. FAT16, FAT32, NTFS.
So, you will need a disk with a utility which will allow you to do such. Knoppix or Gparted Live will do. Find the tutorials in my posts for doing such.
The only thing that the Windows installer does is set up the system somewhat similar to the *BSD slice with the "partitions" being set within the dedicated sector.
Multiple partitions that can be booted will need a boot loader to be installed that will allow you to edit the parameters.

Here is an example of a boot loader menus:

Title FreeBSD AMD64
root (hd0,0)
make active
chainloader +1

title Debian GNU/Linux, kernel 2.6.18-6-amd64
root (hd0,1)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.18-6-amd64 root=/dev/sda2 ro
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.18-6-amd64

The partitions are set up accoeding to the sector. There is no "drive letter" in the boot blocks.

Okay, the other two-thirds of the disk can be used for other, separate systems. If you have another OS install its bootloader, then the Windows system you have will not affect the boot process should it be compromised.
If you want to use the whole disk, save a small part for a barebones rescue OS that can be booted.

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Funny answer
by ckellyAU / February 9, 2008 7:25 AM PST
In reply to: Format first.

ScttLee obviously doesn't know the difference between a "partition", a "drive" and a "disk" (or what order to list them in). You neglected to explain what a "boot loader" is, or which side to comb a "Gparted".

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Boot loaders
by welrdelr / February 9, 2008 12:18 PM PST
In reply to: Funny answer

A boot loader is a program similar to a miniature OS that determines which sector of the hard disk should be made active or used and what options should be loaded for that system to behave a certain way.

GParted is the G(NU)Part(ition)ed(itor) and is similar to qtparted. Both are clones of partition magic and fdisk. (utilities from both)

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by ckellyAU / February 9, 2008 7:14 AM PST

tronian's response was succinct and very much to the point:
"if you do not know any reason why you need to partition it, don't"

Someone else might point out that the Disk is not useable until it's been partioned, but that might only serve to confuse, and any such comment is best ignored. Ha ha.

What you _should_ understand is what Folders are about and how to best organize them for your use of the computer. This is necessary with, or without, additional partitioning.

If you _do_ choose to partition the Disk into more than 1 Drive (disk & drive are not the same thing), the question of number and sizes is as easily answered as the question of whether to do it in the first place.

There's no reason to go there, nor likely benefit in doing so.

Past this - FOR YOUR PURPOSES: a drive _IS_ a partition (including Drive C:), and Windows will give every (FAT/NTFS formatted) partition on your computer a Drive letter. There is no correct answer to the question "how many should there be". There has to be at least one, and it will always be "Drive C:" (unless you let your friends, kids or nephews experiment with YOUR computer). You don't need to create the C: partition/drive - if required, Windows will do that during it's install.

Programs will almost always be defaulted to install into the "Program Files" folder, and should be allowed to do so - then you will always know where to find them. Microsoft went to a lot of trouble to dumb us all down by creating a system of "My ..." (Music, Videos, Pictures, etc) folders under the "My Documents" structure and you should use these - at least until you don't need to ask "why?".

You should buy a beginners book or three on how to use Windows.

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by ScttLee / February 10, 2008 7:53 AM PST

Thanks for the input. I will put the OS in 1 partion and files in the other

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