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I plan to install a 500GB drive in my notebook (HP dv2613tu/1.5gHz/4MB RAM) and need advice about optimum size and number of partitions to create. Ideally looking at the following:

  1. OS (Windows 7 Ultimate)
  2. Swap file
  3. Applications
  4. Data

So, would separate partitions help with keeping things more manageable?

April 10 update - At the very least I want to separate the OS to avoid headaches with having to do system re-installs. I've found in the past that reinstalling applications after a serious crash has been an even bigger headache, which is why I am considering a separate partition. I have seen references to putting swap files on a separate partition - any advantage at all? My understanding of the functions of a swap file is sparse.

To refine my question more: any advantage at all with having apps. on a separate partition? Thanks for the suggestions so far, everyone.

Pat. Mitchell

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm not sure that you will notice any difference in the performance of your system by having one big partition or several smaller ones, and I think that if anything having more partitions will slow your system down as the hard disk heads will have further to travel back and forth. Having separate partitions is also less efficient in terms of space, as you end up leaving large gaps so each partition has plenty of room, and recovering that space when one partition fills up is a pain.

I would have two partitions, one for data and one for the system stuff. This is purely to make backing up that data / reinstalling Windows (if needed) easier to handle.

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"leaving large gaps"? between files, that's fragmentation. between partitions, that doesn't make any sense... – quack quixote Apr 8 '10 at 8:13
Bad wording on my part maybe. I meant that you make the partitions larger than you think will be needed, so that there is unused space in every partition. When one partition fills up, you then need to move that empty disk space to where it is needed. – Neal Apr 8 '10 at 8:35
possible, i suppose, but i think that's a sign of a poorly-considered partition scheme. i always have small system partitions and large data partitions and very, very rarely run out of space on the system partitions. when it happens i've installed too many large games. – quack quixote Apr 8 '10 at 18:11
  1. I would go with something in range of 150 GB +. Most of it will be unused, but it is just in case that you install quite a few programs. Notice that all service packs / updates and whatever goes here so it is better to have it bigger than needed that to be on edge.

  2. Swap is on same partition as OS. Windows do not use separate partition

  3. Applications commonly go on same partition as system it-self. You could use separate partition for it but I do not see need. If you do have some specific need, you can downsize system partition down to cca 50 GB.

  4. Everything else on disk.

  5. It mainly just depends whether you want some Linux side-by-side. If you do, I would just leave that space unformatted and let Linux installer deal with it.

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I just keep a single partition, and use folders to manage things. The multiple partition approach dosen't work as well, when there's no consistant way to segrigate data, the way *nixes do. Windows uses a swap file, so usually, you shouldn't need to worry about it.

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Honestly? You can just install everything in one partition if you want. Personally I would make one partition for Windows and programs because most of the programs are going to have registry keys anyway and another for personal data so if you ever decide to reformat your Windows install or change to Linux you can do that very easily without losing any of your personal files.

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