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To begin with, here are my computer's current specifications:

-Windows 8 Pro, 64 bits

-Motherboard: ASRock 970 Extreme3

-Processor: AMD FX-8150 Zambezi 3.6GHz Socket AM3+ 125W Eight-Core Desktop Processor FD8150FRGUBOX (copied from Newegg; I wasn't sure exactly what was not necessarily useful in that)

-Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9Q-16GBRL -Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 2400 Series

-Hard drive: Hitachi HDT725025VLA SCSI, which is a 250 GB hard drive

I recently performed an upgrade on my computer, hence the motherboard, processor and memory. But I found it pretty slow on startup. Despite Windows itself starting pretty quickly, it takes long minutes to launch Skype, MSN, Dropbox, Avast and all the other stuff that launches automatically.

Besides, I'm lacking a little in the storage department, and my graphics card couldn't handle it when I bought a 24-inch (1920 x 1080) screen to replace my deceased 19-inch one. Can't even play a basic game in anything but a small window. So when I was offered a crazy amount of money for my computer at Christmas, well, I decided to upgrade the rest of the computer.

So I ordered:

-A new cooler for my processor, because the stock one is everything but silent, but that's irrelevant.

-Graphics card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 TI+ 915MHZ 3GB 6.0GHZ GDDR5 SLI 2xDVI HDMI DisplayPort PCI-E DX11

-SSD: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5in SATA3 MDX Solid State Disk

-Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA3 6GB/S 7200RPM 64MB Cache 3.5IN Dual Proc Hard Drive

So, in my computer, I'll have:

-128 GB SSD

-Quality 1 TB hard drive

-Old, not-so-good 256 GB hard drive

And I'm wondering what the most efficient way of using those drives is. I'd like to use the SSD as efficiently as possible, i.e. not let it half-empty while the slower hard drives do most of the work, but also not fill it up with things that don't need to be there (and also possibly cause issues when Windows or other programs need additional space).

I heard there's a feature in Windows 8 where it puts together all of your drives and displays them as one, managing their content "intelligently". Should I do that? How does it work? Does it put everything on the SSD, and selectively empty it to the hard drive as room lacks? How intelligent is it? It sounds attractive, because it sounds like a pain to always think of what file goes where.

I also heard of something called RAID, that configures drives to "cooperate", making them faster in the end. I know very little of it. First, does it even apply to me, or do you need specific drives/hardware? And if so (I doubt it), should I do that?

I shouldn't be too far off thinking it's a good idea to install the OS on the SSD. But what else? There's some room left there. Is it a good idea to install work programs (Microsoft Office, Adobe CS...) there? What about games? Should I put my documents/Dropbox folder (no more than 10 GB) there? Etc.

Also, let's say I install a game on it, because I want it to run as fast as possible. And then, a few months later, for some reason, I need the space for something more important. Can I move it back to the hard drive without issues? And what, can you have -two- Program Files folders? I'm a bit confused. I've never had multiple drives.

And uhm, I'm wondering about what's the most efficient for actual use. For example, let's say I'm downloading a large file while also working. Should I put my Downloads folder on a different drive than the one the application is on? How about the one where I save files? Should I try to split the work like that? If so, how?

Finally, I'm wondering what the best use for my old hard drive would be. Does using it as a Windows File History drive sound good? And if I do that, will it slow the computer down? I mean, the drive is slow. If it has to save things to it all the time, doesn't that slow me down with the rest of what I'm doing?

In short, please guide me in making those quality (and not-so-quality~) items deliver the highest quality results they can.

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2 Answers 2

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I agree with @ChrisN in not using a RAID configuration. Having an SSD should be plenty fast for most games and applications.

I've recenly bought a Samsung 840 EVO also, though it's yet to arrive in the mail. The 840 EVO series, as far as I know, comes with a RAPID setting whereby you can store your most frequently used applications to RAM. This should come close to doubling your read/write speeds on top of the already super fast SSD speeds. Set aside any applications that require a lot of horse-power to run for your SSD.

For your old hard-drive, I'd recommend using it only as a back-up. It may be older but as it won't get use it ought to be just fine.

As for your WD Black 1TB. I think you should use this drive for just about everything else one might use for storage i.e. applications that don't really require ultra-fast read/write speeds (movies, music etc.). Maybe partition a portion of this drive for additional back up if you need it. Though I've never had the need to partition a drive there plenty of tutorials online on how to do this.

Be sure to leave ~15-20% free on your drives to allow for optimal read/write speeds

Hopefully what I have answered, you found helpful. Sadly I can't answer your questions about that Windows 8 smart feature or moving games from one drive to another. I'm a Windows 7 guy who's never had the need to move games from one drive to another.

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It's no longer relevant for me, but this feels like a fairly complete answer despite the impractical specificity of the question. –  Ariane Dec 19 '13 at 3:29

I wouldn't recommend using RAID. Using RAID on an SSD doesn't allow TRIM, which keeps your SSD from slowing down as fast.

As for how to use them - I would keep all 3 drives as separate drives. Windows and most of my programs would go on the SSD. Any programs that I wouldn't use as much would go on the 1TB HDD. I would use both HDDs for storing data - documents, pictures, videos, etc.

I do not currently have an SSD, but I am hoping to get one soon, and this is probably how I am going to set my system up.

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Thats not correct. Intel RST is capable to use TRIM Command inside a RAID since version 11.0 (I assume she/he can use Intel RST) –  nixda Jan 7 '13 at 1:27
    
He has an AMD processor - I doubt any Intel technology is available to him. –  ChrisN Jan 7 '13 at 1:34
    
Also most RAID cards that support SSDs support TRIM in some fashion. –  Justin Jan 7 '13 at 1:35
    
But how do I manage the folders? Two Program Files folders? Is Windows going to see that fine? How do I set that up? And uhm, are you sure the second (old) drive should be used "normally"? I mean, it's slow and given its age (5-6 years), it might as well die on me at some point. And uhm, if I do what you say, there'll most probably be quite a bit of space left on the SSD. Isn't that going to waste, or something? @nixda: But my SSD is from Samsung. oo' Everyone: It's she, actually. :p –  Ariane Jan 7 '13 at 1:37
    
You can install programs anywhere you want, not necessarily in the Program Files folder. And if you aren't comfortable using your old drive, then don't. –  ChrisN Jan 7 '13 at 1:41

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