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Advantages/Disadvantages of Partitioning a Drive

Ever since I can remember owning a 50+ GB HDD (and knowing other people own them too), I've noticed a trend of making a smaller partition, typically SYSTEM c:\ for the OS, and DATA d:\ for the personal data, such as music and films. Is this simply a matter of aesthetics and taste or is there a real performance advantage in having the hard drive partitioned in this, or any other way?

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marked as duplicate by Karan, Diogo, Randolph West, MaQleod, Indrek Oct 26 '12 at 23:32

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4 Answers 4

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Part of a rotating hard disk is faster. This is because they have rotating platters in them which rotate at a fixed speed. (e.g. 7200 times per minute). The outside of the platter is larger (and has more content) then the inside, but passes equally often (e.g. 7200 per minute) beneath the drive heads. Strategically creating partitions can be used to create faster and slower partitions.

That is one reason.

An other reason is that many people like to keep an easy distinction between their OS and their data. If the computer crashes just reinstall or restore an image. No worries about your documents, which are safely on another partition.

Lastly it is very handy when you have multiple operating systems. E.g. an old windows XP on C:, a newest win8 beta on D:, and all your shared data on a third partition.

Example of read speed from a harddisk, moving from outer to inner tracks.

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With the price of hard drives better again, keeping document's on a whole other drive is even better, as a single hard drive doesn't have to handle loading the applications, working with scratch space, and loading the documents. Important if you are working on videos. –  Xeoncross Oct 26 '12 at 18:28
    
First time i hear about faster partitions. So which data segments are faster, the ones with the bigger index? I don't know how they are numbered. –  Bartlomiej Lewandowski Oct 26 '12 at 18:52
    
The outer tracks are faster. But not all manufacturers use this the same way. When they read from outside to the inside you get a nice consistent speed change. (Picture added in OP). If they read one platter at a time you get a sort-of-sawtand curve which repeats itself for each platter. –  Hennes Oct 27 '12 at 0:05
    
Thanks for the answer to my clutter question. I didn't see it coming up in the search as I was typing. Honest mistake, I swear. –  Goran_Mandic Oct 27 '12 at 2:47

Mostly, the advantage is in simplifying backup. You can more easily image/restore a smaller OS partition and run incremental backups on the larger data partition. Having a bootable image of the OS drive minimizes down time when a problem occurs and keeping the drive/partition small makes creating/restoring the image faster. it also minimizes the need to re-image as frequently.

There may be some performance improvement to keeping the OS near the beginning of the drive but on modern hardware I think that's negligible. If performance is your primary concern, then having a small SSD for your OS drive makes more sense.

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The advantage of setting up your system like that is so you can store all your data on a separate partition then your OS, so if something where to go bad with your OS, all you have to do is install the OS to your C:\ partition, and you won't have to worry about restoring a bunch of data.

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Yes, in the case you mention it will increase performance.

Partitioning will help your computer find data faster. This is because it only needs to search one partition (i.e DATA d:), and not the entire disk.

It can also making backing up your drive easier because you only need to copy from one partition as well.

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