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Windows 7: Preparing for clean install, looking for partition advice

20 Jul 2010   #1
thepacster

Windows 7
 
 
Preparing for clean install, looking for partition advice

Hello there everyone.

I've had this laptop for a short while, and I've decided I'd like to do a clean install to trying keep things tidy, make sure any pre-existing bloatware is gone, and just generally have a fresh start.

I've been doing a bit of reading about and I noticed that some people create various partitions on their computers to not only keep things more organized, but to also make reinstalling windows incase of emergency easier since the operating system can be in a partition by itself.

However I'm relatively new to these types of things and was hoping to get some advise about a good setup and maybe ask a question or two.

So, I'm a gamer, generally bouncing between two or three games at any given time, and this spiffy new laptop I have here has two 500 GB hard drives so I definitely have lots of space to mess around with. As far as games go I've had no problems with Windows 7 compatibility so I don't see a need to dual boot, so I'm just thinking of, and trying to understand, how breaking up one or both of my hard drives will work. Here's an idea of what I was thinking of doing with these drives:

Hard Drive 1
- Factory Default Recovery Partition (should I keep it?)
- ( C: ) Operating System
- ( D: ) Program Files
- ( E: ) Free space

Hard Drive 2
- extra storage, backups, etc.

Thinking about this type of setup, I have a few questions.

1.) Although I have created recovery disks that I believe work in conjunction with this hidden recovery partition on my drive, using this would simply recreate the system at its default factory settings with all the bloatware and extra programs I don't want. Would anyone agree with removing this partition? Would its removal hinder me in taking the computer in to be serviced should I need to?

2.) Perhaps a loaded question, but are there any serious pros or cons to having a partition for program files separate from the operating system? Also, if the program files are in a separate partition, can I set the computer to automatically install 32 and 64-bit programs to install here and to be recognized should I reinstall windows in a separate partition?

3.) Similar to my second question, is it difficult to set my user folders and things such as the Favorites (Desktop, Downloads, Recent Places) and Libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures, Video) to be set in a different partition and be recognized should I reinstall the windows operating system partition?

4.) With a setup such as this with a program such as Acronis True Image or any backup program in general, would it be wise to backup the entire first hard drive or simply the operating system partition?

I realize these questions may be simple or convoluted, but I thank you guys for taking the time to read this. Looking forward to responses.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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20 Jul 2010   #2
theog

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

ME/XP/Vista/Win7
 
 

Q 1) Do have Windows 7 DVD.

Q 2) If you reinstall Windows, you need to reinstall your programs.

Q 3) User Profile - Change Default Location

Q 4) Yes, it would be wise to backup all data.
System Image Recovery
Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup
Restore Backup User and System Files

I use Norton Ghost v15 to image the OS HD, & Norton 360 v4 for daily backups.
Partitioning the HD,I do mine 50/50, no less than 100g OS & Programs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #3
Bill2

Windows 7 x64 pro/ Windows 7 x86 Pro/ XP SP3 x86
 
 

1) Theres no harm in retaining the recovery partition, it would be like an extra guarantee. As you yourself said, you are not short of space. Also, I dont know how comfortable you are clean installing wondows, then activating by calling MS etc, in case the recovery dvds act up (ya, it happens). Till the time you are constrained of space, I suggest you let it be.

2) I would prefer to install program files in the same partition as windows. One, it would ensure that the apps (along with the OS) are located on the fastest part of the hard drive. Second, some programs may be coded to run with location specific files (such as from C:\program Files) or require registry entries. However, this would depend on what games etc. you actually use.

3) User folder locations and library locations can be changed. Theog has already linked.

4) As far as imaging is concerned, you should image the windows partition and the programs partition (if any). User created data files can just be copied over to another hdd such as an external one, they need not be imaged.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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20 Jul 2010   #4
thepacster

Windows 7
 
 

Thanks for the informative feedback guys, and you make a good point about programs Bill. I think that helps me a lot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #5
theog

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

ME/XP/Vista/Win7
 
 

You are welcome.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jul 2010   #6
gregrocker

 

The point of separating User files from the OS is you then have a data vault that (except in HD failure) preserves your data if the OS won't start without having to do a rescue. You just reimage the OS to the OS partition with the programs already installed and you're back up and running in minutes with all of your latest data.

To try to put Programs on a separate partition is useless for this purpose, since you have to reinstall them anyway if you lose your OS, and you can't reimage your OS back to its partition and have Programs already to run if they are on another partition.

When you have separate HD's for OS/Programs and User files you really benefit from having separate read/writes so that data doesn't have to compete with OS/Programs..
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jul 2010   #7
thepacster

Windows 7
 
 

@gregrocker
This may be a silly question, but what are the "lasers" you're referring to?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jul 2010   #8
gregrocker

 

Sorry I slipped into Dr. Evil mode. It is actually electromagnetic read/write pulses. Having it provided on two separate drives should make it faster as the Programs/OS "seeks" don't have to compete with the data being "read" by another "seeker".

It also benefits to have the paging file placed on a separate HD for this reason.

Trying to explain it is pushing the bounds of my technical knowledge. Maybe this helps:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk_drive
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jul 2010   #9
thepacster

Windows 7
 
 

One last thought I suppose and then I'll just have to think about it. Since my laptop has two hard drives, rather than worrying about splitting up my first into partitions, would it be simpler to simply use the first hard drive for the operating system and programs and putting all my windows user profiles and data onto the second hard drive? It may be relevant to mention that I have an external hard drive for backups as well.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jul 2010   #10
gregrocker

 

Yes that is the idea situation, especially since you have the rare two HD's on laptop - and an external to store your OS HD image and data backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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