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So, I have a 500GB HDD @7200RPM.
It is split as:

  • C: 97GB
  • D: 179GB
  • E: 188GB
  • My belief is to keep OS ONLY in C:\ and any adamant programs that won't go anywhere apart from C:\ [because this speeds up the PC during startup process] and install programs in D:\ so that in case I have to reinstall the OS, I will have the programs readily available after reinstall.
    But I have begun to think this approach is flawed because if C:\ is formatted, I will lose registry values and stuff that goes in %appdata% and so it is no use keeping programs in D:/ drive because they will be useless after all.
  • Should I go ahead and install ALL of my programs in C:\ and then use D:\ and E:\ for storing my data like photos, text files, java files n all?
  • How will this impact the performance of the HDD?
  • I only have 3 programs in D:\Program Files so it will be easy to reinstall them :)

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    closed as not constructive by Zoredache, Journeyman Geek, HackToHell, Hennes, Nifle Nov 3 '12 at 17:19

    As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

        
    This should be moved to the Stack Exchange Mythbusters site... –  Moab Nov 3 '12 at 19:23

    3 Answers 3

    Since it is only one disk you are using, it does not matter if you store program data in another partition. In fact, there would be no performance impact to just use one partition. In a single disk configuration, the sole purpose of partions can be seen in logical separation and/or for the need of other filesystems (say fat32 for data exchange with other systems in a dual boot setup).

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    This is false. Using multiple partitions on a single disk has a huge negative impact on performance if you are accessing data stored on different partitions because the average seek length is dramatically increased. –  David Schwartz Nov 3 '12 at 9:32
        
    I rephrase then: there is no gain of using more than one partition in a single disk configuration. Also the penalties you described are limited to classic magnetic hard disks. It is also questionable if it would be possible to align the actual physical placement of data just by partitioning. Modern disks can contain multiple platter and also they do much to spread disk allocation evenly in there own controller firmware. –  Jonas Nov 3 '12 at 11:03
        
    They "may" do all kinds of things, but what matters when giving practical advice is what they actually do. –  David Schwartz Nov 4 '12 at 19:09

    Install most programs on C (system partition) and keep data on other partitions. If you install programs on other partitions in most cases they still write data to the Windows registry. If you then format C and have a program on D after reinstalling windows on C it may not work because it can not find the data it stored in the registry. The only exclusion from that are portable programs.

    I dont think there is much gain in performace. The only way to increase performance by partitioning on purpose is the so called short stroking: https://www.google.com/search?q=short+stroking

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    There are two other reasons to make the case for partitioning your hard drive as you have described.

    1. Backups. If you have the "minimum" (OS) stored on drive C:, then except for a few select files and folders it makes no sense to backup drive C:. If the bulk of your data and applications (X:\Program Files) are stored on other drive(s)/partition(s), then it is easier (for example) to backup drive D: and F:, then to specify many paths on drive C: to backup. Being easier to do backups means you might actually do them more often.

    2. Failures. If everything is on drive C: and the drive fails, or the partition-table becomes corrupt, or the directory becomes corrupt, or the drive is accidentally erased/formatted (or erased/formatted by a virus), then everything not backed up is lost. If only the OS is on drive C:, and your applications and data are on another (physical) drive, then a failure to drive C: will not effect your applications/data. Even if the other drives are in other partitions on the same physical drive your applications/data are still protected from being lost in most cases other than a physical drive failure.

    The disadvantage is that when partitioning the hard drive into multiple partitions/drives, there is the tendency to NOT allocate enough storage space on drive C: and when C: becomes near full, it can be difficult to have to shrink one or more "data" partitions to free up drive space to expand the space on drive C:.

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