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Poll: How many partitions do you have on your hard drive?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 8, 2008 1:28 AM PST

How many partitions do you have on your primary hard drive?

Two (What's the reason for it?)
Three (What's the reason for it?)
Four (What's the reason for it?)
Five (What's the reason for it?)
More than five (Why so many?)
What are you talking about?

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not many
by welrdelr / February 8, 2008 6:27 AM PST

BSD uses slice
Linux needs two one for ext2/3/4, reiser(4), XFS or JFS and another for swap.
All are primary. only two active.
Partitions, dedicated portions of the hard disk alloted to the operation and use by and of an operating system. These can be set as news, large, mail, encrypted, LVM, logical, primary and be used by a number of different operating systems.

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by mittens / February 8, 2008 8:58 AM PST
In reply to: not many

I have a dual boot OS. C is for my old beloved ME, D is for my work files, E is my Image File, F is for game downloads, G is a Temp file for bits, K is for WinXP...L is for backup files. My husband likes, as he puts it, redundancy in storage files. At least this way if K goes all funny on me, I can still access my photography/writing work files on D, and if I want to take them with me I can easily store what I need on a flash drive without sorting through the entire computer.

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by ionast / February 8, 2008 9:09 AM PST
In reply to: partitions

I have two partitions for only one reason! When am formatting my pc i just copy "my documents" to the second partition and i am ready. So I dont have to backup all the 300GB of my disk.

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by duanebbbb / February 9, 2008 2:22 AM PST
In reply to: partitions

I don't lead as complicated a life as some people do and have never felt a need to go beyond simple. I have no partitions on any of the seven hard drives (2 internal) that I use, resorting to using folders only to keep general categories assembled together. The seven drives are two in the computer, both active for doing video work and gives me a total of 200GB for programs and storage space while composing the videos. The other five drives are external drives, for storage: one for archiving very old files 80GB, one for storing the mpeg-2 files of completed videos, about 65 of them 120GB, the other three 60 to 80 GB for storage of a variety of "stuff." I've never in over five years had a drive fail or go "funky." Call me lucky?

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5 for me!
by samusgravity / February 8, 2008 9:34 AM PST
In reply to: not many

I have a dual-boot system. Here it is:

D:Data-17.5GB (Think of it as "Storage")
EISA Configuration-9GB

1-Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon-13GB

2- Ubuntu swap partition- 675MB

It is an 80 GB Hard Drive. I originally only had C,D,and EISA. But I had an urge to try Ubuntu Linux, so I did!


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(NT) I have 2--one for the OS and programs and one for my data.
by sbill / February 8, 2008 9:18 AM PST
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2 physical drives each part into 4
by tedtks / February 8, 2008 9:20 AM PST

I started part. a ways back due to MS's problems (and others, and mine) that lock up the system to the point that INSTALL is the only
way to fix it.
so, drive C: is for the OS only.
I load all other functional programs on D:
E: is for games
f: is for local backups, music, pics and misc files.
I dont keep anything in the 'My Documents ' area, always use the
browse to stick em to, usually F: and anything that just autsaves
to my docs gets copied out asap.
my second hd has been used for backups and whatever else. I usually
UNPLUG the data cable and power cable from it after backups.
this has worked very well for years. lockup - grab the OS cd and
away it goes.

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Partitions on hard drive ...
by pforce76 / February 8, 2008 9:31 AM PST

I have two 250GB hard drives in my system.

The main one has 3 partitions: the first for my WinXP Pro SP2; the second and third will be used for legacy computer emulations, so at the moment they're empty.

The second drive also has 3 partitions: the first is for my WinXP programs data (all my important stuff); the others are also empty at the moment, but will be used to store information for the emulations and, eventually, to develop new emulations. (Actually, at the moment, those two extra partitions on the second hard drive contain "interim" backups of my 2 "working" partitions, but those backups are duplicated on an external USB HD, so they're - theoretically - expendable.)

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Two Partitions
by fean77 / February 8, 2008 9:34 AM PST

I have two partitions on my Gateway factory built computer.

First partition is OS (Windows XP)and is about 228GB space.

Second partition is recovery/restore partition and is about 5GB space.

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Two partitions
by mwooge / February 8, 2008 11:37 AM PST
In reply to: Two Partitions

My main drive came partitioned in two, like yours. One the C drive and the other is the restore or recovery put there by HP.

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partitions on primary Harddrive
by edovidio / February 8, 2008 9:51 AM PST

I have 2 partitions on my primary harddrive because I have a dual boot system. XP MediaCenter and Vista. It works great. If you want to do the same, install Vista last. It will walk you through the install.

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I have 10 partitions
by algreig / February 8, 2008 9:55 AM PST

I have a dual boot Windows - linux machine. I almost never work in Windows (XP) because I have more control in Linux. Here is a snapshot of my partitions as listed by df (DiskFree):

[andrew@andrew ~]$ df
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda8 404M 155M 250M 39% /
/dev/hdb1 38G 4.3G 33G 12% /data
/dev/hda13 41G 17G 24G 42% /home
/dev/hda5 4.9G 2.2G 2.8G 44% /mnt/win_d
/dev/hda11 1.6G 336K 1.6G 1% /opt
/dev/hda7 929M 9.7M 920M 2% /tmp
/dev/hda9 7.9G 3.3G 4.6G 43% /usr
/dev/hda10 1.1G 400K 1.1G 1% /usr/local
/dev/hda12 1.4G 277M 1.2G 20% /var
/dev/hda1 15G 7.9G 7.1G 53% /mnt/win_c
[andrew@andrew ~]$

The first partition is the WinXP partition running ntfs file system, Windows likes to be the first cab off the rank, Linux will work anywhere. The 2nd Partition is seen as hda5 this is the Linux numbering system at work, hda1 is the first partition on the 1st IDE drive, hda5 is the 2nd because it is not a primary partition, (There are still 2 other primary partitions left), hda5 is a Fat32 partition for use by Linux and Win XP. Linux now can write effectively to an ntfs partition, so the next time I set up a dual boot I will just give windows 1 partition - in ntfs.
hda6 is not listed because it is a "swap" partition for use by Linux, it is not for storage.
hda7 is the /tmp partition which holds temporary files
hda8 is the root partition (/) which is where the kernel is located and the config files, system files etc. More about this later.
hda9 is the /usr partition, where all of the binaries are located for programs that come with the Distribution DVD (if you like the thousands of OE programs).
The next one hda10 is for programs which I may compile myself or download from the Internet it is called /usr/local, the next one hda11 is similar it is /opt for optional programs, some vendors like to install into /opt.
hda12 is the /var partition, which is where all of the variable stuff is located, print and fax spools, logs on all sorts of things from boot-up messages to the regular running of the machine. I interrupted a large backup once, due to ignorance, and a log process started which overran the /var directory which was in / at the time. It left me with 12Kb of free space, so the GUI could not run, but the computer still ran in console mode, so I was able to fix it and move on. As a consequence of that, I always give /var its own partition now.
hda13 is the /home partition which is user space in Linux, here I can set up as many users as I need.
Hdb1 is the only partition on the second IDE drive I call it /data, and it is where I store Installation isos of different flavours of Linux, and also the isos for burning to disk.

So why so many partitions? HERE IS THE BIG DEAL: when I want to upgrade my system, all I need to do is to format 2 partitions: / and /usr. By leaving all of the others intact all of my programs stay, exactly where they are in /usr/local and in /opt. My personal settings and data are unaffected in /home.

If I want to upgrade Windows it is not a trivial event, hours and hours are devoted to re-installing software, and rejigging the settings. None of that is necessary in Linux. I will not be moving away from XP any time soon, even $2 is too much to waste on Vista, I can get the latest and greatest in Linux for free. No vendor lockin, no viruses, no hackers, no MS Office. Just complete freedom.

10 good reasons for the smile on my face.

Andrew Greig
Melbourne, Australia

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You used the free space option
by welrdelr / February 8, 2008 10:08 AM PST
In reply to: I have 10 partitions

really, it could have been done by creating /dev/hda2 as ext3 or jfx or another linux filesystem and /dev/hda3 as a swap partiton.
A bit of an overkill you have if you ever wanted to install another system or needed to make one grow.

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4 Partitions
by dherre / February 8, 2008 10:01 AM PST

0=C:-5gb- Boot Partition
1-D:-30gb- Vista (What a waste, but I keep fiddling)
2-I:-40gb- XP pro (used 95% of the time)
3-F:-220gb- Data

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I have 14 partitions
by websquad / February 8, 2008 10:35 AM PST
In reply to: 4 Partitions

When I got this machine 5 1/2 years ago, I configured it with 14 partitions in three hard drives. Why so many: one for the system, one for backup, and 12 for websites. I said to myself "I'll never do more than 12 websites."

I never was good at estimating. I have almost double that number now.

I'm having a new machine being (slowly, oh so slowly) built, with a pair of 150GB, 10K rpm drives for system/programs in RAID-1, and a pair of 500GB drives (also RAID-1) for data. I just use standard subdirectory partitioning for my websites ....

Having 14 is a real pain. I'll be glad to get back to a simpler configuration of "C" and "D" ... like most sane folks.

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How many partitions do you have on your hard drive?
by jac_216 / February 8, 2008 10:39 AM PST

I have 8 partitions..

Reason: because I'm abit of an organisation freak,I like everything organised & in it's own place...
Partition C: Windows XP
Partition D. Documents & Pictures
Partition E: Program Files
Partition F: Downloads
Partition G: Games
Partition H: Music
Partition I: Videos
Partition J: Game & Dvd Images

There U go,extremely organised, I use to have Linux on the end one...

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5 partitions
by vchanpe / February 8, 2008 11:46 AM PST

I have a 500 GB hard drive which you can now buy for less than $100. My partitions are:
C Drive 60 GB for Windows XP and Programs
D Drive 40 GB for Data
E Drive 40 GB for music and photos
F Drive 300 GB for movies
G Drive 60 GB for temporary use. (downloads, creating images files)

I also have a extra 320 GB hard drive which is installed in my PC but not connected to my motherboard. I back up my entire 500 GB hard drive using 2:1 compressed image file via GHOST program on this extra 320 GB hard drive. I don't like external hard drives because they more expensive, a hassle to set-up, slower than an internal hard drive and not as reliable. It is not connected to my motherboard for my protection and I only connected it when I need to backup my 500 GB hard drive. At a cost of less than $60 for the 320 GB hard drive, I feel this is cheap insurance.

My opinion on the number of partitions: I advise people not to place all of your eggs in one basket. However, too many partitions may be cumbersome so the user should decide. I recommend Partition Magic to easily create more partitions. For me I store a lot of movies and if ever I get a larger hard drive, I will probably increase the size of my movie partition and leave the other partitions the same size.

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Six, Three Primary, Three Logical in Extended
by Zouch / February 8, 2008 11:49 AM PST

Primary 1 - XP Production

Primary 2 - XP Test, for new apps, patches, etc., before installing on
Primary 1

Primary 3 - SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop

The three logical drives are all data, split by affinity

Primary partitions are switched by Partition Magic, not multiple boot

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Hard Drive Partitions
by OldTree / February 8, 2008 12:51 PM PST

I have 4 partitions on my 160GB primary hard drive and none on my 150GB USB hard drive. I use BackUp Magic and the Windows Task Scheduler to copy my D:\ and E:\ drives to the USB drive to cover the possibility of failure of my primary hard drive.

C:\Programs (20%) Operating system and programs.

D:\Data (50%) All data files, Email files, browser temporary files, music, pictures and programs like Print Shop that have 1.5GB of fonts, borders etc. and My Documents Folder (just in case I accidentally store something in it).

E:\Attic (20%). Page file, Image of my C:\drive, Image of the hidden partition on my laptop, Downloads and Temp folder where I can unzip downloaded files. A DOS bat file, used with Task Scheduler, copies my Favorites and Address Book the the C-Rebuild folder on E:\ and to the USB drive. These updated files are needed when an old image file is used to rebuild the C:\drive.

J:\Database (10%) At my place of work, each database is located in it own folder on mapped drive J:\. I can download a copy of a database folder, which contains the database, inserts, manual and all other necessary paraphernalia, from my workplace network to my drive J:\ and everything works perfectly at home and when I return the modified database to the company network.


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windows better with multiple partitions
by jmorgie2 / February 8, 2008 1:44 PM PST

1. first partition for the OS or OS and programs
2. I keep a separate 4GB partition for the swap file; system performance degrades if the swap file gets fragmented. I like to use a separate partition for the swap file to keep performance up.
3. programs
4. users and data

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Partition considerations
by rbsjrx / February 8, 2008 3:55 PM PST

On my notebook, I have two partitions - one for WinXP and another for Kubuntu Linux. Both are useful in my work.

On my primary PC, i used to have a similar setup (but with Mandriva Linux) but removed the Linux partition after my wife got a new PC. I converted her old PC into a dedicated Linux (Kubuntu again this time) machine and run both, along with my notebook when using it at home, from an IOgear 4-port KVMA switch. The fourth port is used for transient connections when I'm building a new machine for someone.

In my experience, multiple partitions are a PITA, but sometimes you only have a single machine which needs to serve multiple roles. In that case they're a necessary complexity.

If all you need is segregated storage space (e.g. dedicated backup storage), a better solution is to simply buy another physical HDD. On my primary PC, I added another internal HDD for multimedia storage and external drives for backup, etc.

Finally, there's the management issue... I use Partition Commander 10 which can handle all my Windows and Linux partitions. In addition to creating and/or removing them, I use it to resize them as required. It works as advertised and I can recommend it.

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OK, correction...
by rbsjrx / February 8, 2008 4:09 PM PST

I neglected to enumerate the additional partitions used in my Linux installations. Since each Linux partition also requires a swap partition, the actual number is higher than I reported. Also, at various times I have installed multiple partitions under a single instance of Linux, but that's the exception.

But this all leads me to a more succinct answer... I install as many partitions as necessary to accomplish my goals, and no more. Before installing new partitions, I first ask whether I could accomplish the same thing better with another physical HDD or using virtualization (I have both VMware and VirtualBox installed on my machines).

Since partitions can't be dynamically resized and since you almost never know how much room they will ultimately require, they're a maintenance headache that I've learned to avoid whenever possible.

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Unusual for a Linux user - I have one partition
by 3rdalbum / February 8, 2008 5:26 PM PST

Yeah I know, I shouldn't place all my eggs in one basket. On my old Mac system I found it was more reliable with two partitions - one for OS and the other for documents.

But now on my new computer, here's fdisk -l:

Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x0000ad67

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 1 60801 488384001 83 Linux

That's right, no swap partition! Very unusual for a Linux user.

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Separate OS and data partitions?
by rbsjrx / February 8, 2008 6:08 PM PST

I tried this once for many of the theoretical considerations which have been discussed here. What I found is that it's largely impractical with Windows and unnecessary with Linux.

Linux isn't subject to the same performance hits and potential for data corruption as Windows, so after trying it for a while, I decided to eliminate it and have never had a problem with a minimal partition Linux system (ext3 FS).

Windows is another can of worms, though... First of all, there is a lot of software that simply doesn't like not being installed on the C: drive. There's other software that doesn't like it when you put data in non-default locations. (Microsoft is one of the worst offenders in these regards.) All this does fit with the Microsoft Big Brother mentality - "Use our product like we want you to and don't make waves."

Software installation is a Big Deal with me, though. I develop embedded systems for a living and need to constantly install and uninstall tools for specific jobs and clients, and as new technologies are required. My Program Files directory is currently >16GB, but it has been higher. Naturally, when I first set up the machine, I had no idea what I would eventually have to install, so the OS and software all had to go on my C: drive.

I could create a data partition and put my working files there, but it's a hassle (as previously noted, more so with some software than others). Adherence to the K.I.S.S. principle dictates that the best solution for me is a huge C: drive for everything, backed up religiously.

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Isn't unusual in some cases
by welrdelr / February 9, 2008 4:14 AM PST

If you have enough memory or have the swap file as a temporary- Debian allows this- then you don't need a dedicated swap partition.

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Hard drive partitions
by bannerwaver / February 8, 2008 6:40 PM PST

When I received my desktop I found it had an 80GB Hard drive partioned into 3 partitions. C: being 20GBs which I consider much too small. I am very tempted to wipe it all and just use it as 1 Hard drive as I have with PCs in the past. My only fear is not being able to restore the XP Pro OS from the disc.

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Don't wipe it...
by rbsjrx / February 8, 2008 6:51 PM PST
In reply to: Hard drive partitions

...just get VCom's Partition Commander 10 (see and remove the extra partitions, then expand the remaining one to fill the disk. Your OS will remain intact.

(No, I have no connection with the product other than as a satisfied customer!)

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2 partitions
by Michael00360 / February 8, 2008 11:03 PM PST

I have two partitions on my hard drive. First is the Windows XP partition and the other is a backup partition for backup of files and folders. There is empty space at the end of the drive just in case I need it.

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2 partitions per drive because...
by anna3333 / February 9, 2008 2:05 AM PST

My drives are partitioned to facilitate the kind of backups I want to keep: (1)(SecondCopy) uncompressed duplicates of my documents & files, application data, email, etc. and (2)(AcronisTrueImage) compressed partition images of "C" (which contains only the OS and pgms to make the images smaller and to prevent restoration of an older image from affecting my documents, email, or application data/settings/profiles).

(Express Assist Cool makes easily accessible (or restorable backups) of ALL my Outlook Express files and folders, rules, signatures, etc. plus some other Windows files (address book, desktop, etc.)

Hard Drive 1 (120GB working drive) 2 partitions: C and D

Partition C is Operating System and Programs Installed (registry)

Partition D is My Documents, My Icons, OE Email store folders, and direct backups made by applications, as well as the data/logs/profiles/settings for any app that allows relocation of its data folders (such as Outlook Express, Office2000, Roboform, Money, Roxio, Treepad, MWSnap, etc.), so their data are not affected by the restoration of an earlier C-partition image.

Hard Drive 2 (300GB backup drive) 2 partitions: E and F

Partition E is backup of D (maintained by 2ndCopy as an uncompressed duplicate of folders/files on D)plus a few files cherry-picked from C (such as app settings/data/profiles that I can't relocate to D)

Partition F contains all my Acronis image files of partition C and the trace (diary) document describing what was done between creating each image file. It also contains the paging file for all partitions.

Currently NONE of my partitions are even close to half full. None of my backups/images on E and F are encrypted because any files that are remotely private are already encrypted on D or C. I don't use memory-fill and all browsing files are deleted when the browser closes. System Restore is disabled on all partitions (not needed with complete partition images).

I can restore my base "brand new base machine" image (or most recent updated base image) and follow the script in my "trace" (or diary) documents to recreate an "updated to current" C-partition and then re-image this updated C-partition as my new base - and my pc thinks it has been on the internet for about 12 minutes in the past year, to register software. All of the surfing, uninstalls, mistakes and fixes all disappear.

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How many partitions do you have on your hard drive?
by Deimonte38 / February 9, 2008 3:41 AM PST

I have two partitions on my C drive.One is for the operating system and the other is for a recovery of the system.

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