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I was perusing a forum and someone said they were able to partition their hard drive where one partition has their OS and program files while the other partition only has data.

I was curious as to how practical/effective it is to partition your computer as mentioned above? Is it recommended or more of a hassle?

The reason I was asking this was because I was interested in how often one should be reformatting/cleaning their hard-drive. I feel like this is a pretty good way of going about it but just wanted to know if there are recommended ways you should be partitioning your drive.

To be more specific and make this question more inline and less opinion-based, what are best practices and proper procedures to go about partitioning one's drive?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Darth Android, Mokubai, Breakthrough, Carl B, Michael Kjörling Aug 24 '13 at 19:03

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

The only time I would reformat my computer is if it got a virus or I was installing a newer version of Windows. You will probably need to narrow this question down considerably, and even then it might be too subjective. Properly maintained, you should never inherently need to format and reinstall, unless you're switching to a different version of Windows (Windows 7 and newer automatically defrags once a week). Most people do not know how their system works well enough to fix issues that crop up and compound, so "just reinstall" is often the simple way out. – Darth Android Aug 21 '13 at 19:02
@DarthAndroid thanks for the quick answer! I changed my question to address more about parititoning I guess. – aug Aug 21 '13 at 19:06
@DarthAndroid Its often the easy way out of a problem that doesn't actually exist too! Reformat for a bad driver, a scare-ware "virus" that can easily be cleaned by free software. – AthomSfere Aug 21 '13 at 19:07
@aug well, your re-wording borked my answer up! – AthomSfere Aug 21 '13 at 19:08
@AthomSfere please don't change your answer! It is actually very informative :) – aug Aug 21 '13 at 19:09
up vote 3 down vote accepted

When you need to.

I have a OS partition + a Data partition for safety if I have to reformat. I have backups and secondary drives for other data. For example I keep one drive of ISOs, another of VMs.

If I need to test software, I install it in a VM and not on my main machine.

I reformat on a new system, or if something goes terribly wrong, like the primary hard drive fails.

I keep the drives clean with free space, and never defrag (Not really necessary anymore with some care and caution).

If anyone is defragging out of habit or on a schedule just for the sake of defragging, I would argue they have bigger usage-habit problems than the problems than the reformat is preventing. Windows is much smarter now than with 95 when many of these habits first started being used.

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Thanks a lot for your answer! Just wondering so if you were to reformat, would you only have to do it for your data partition? I sometimes find myself having a lot of extraneous files; I make sure to back up the ones I need but all the others I much rather just reformat. I end up having to reinstall the OS though which is a pain so if this is the case, I think I might consider going this route. – aug Aug 21 '13 at 19:12
"Windows is much smarter now..." > Yes, Microsoft made Windows automatically defragment all spinning-disk drives once a week as part of a standard Windows install. Check the Task Scheduler under Microsoft > Windows > Defrag on any new install of Windows 7 or newer. You may not be manually defragging, but NTFS still fragments as bad as it always has, and does require periodic maintenance. – Darth Android Aug 21 '13 at 19:15
@Aug I updated my answer slightly. If I reformat, its OS and core apps. All data is elsewhere. – AthomSfere Aug 21 '13 at 19:18
@DarthAndroid by default, yes on a HDD, an SSD no... but even at that I don't see that it is necessary on modern machines weekly... – AthomSfere Aug 21 '13 at 19:19
@AthomSfere SSDs don't need to be defragmented, because the seek time is so low (not sure why they were brought up). It's not necessary to defrag at all, but weekly is a good balance between needlessly defragging and taking my system out of commission for a whole day while 4TB of data is shuffled out. The point is that the user should not notice it, and I think they've rather succeeded at that. – Darth Android Aug 21 '13 at 19:22

Short answer: only if there are no other options.

Little longer answer: If you are using windows(and you are), the chances are that you have some badly written app that takes memory/CPU time of your computer, or making registry mess on Windows. If you have an app that you suspect on, uninstalling&cleaning registry using tool like CCleaner should solve performance problem. However, if you installed many apps, and they slow down computer a lot, you should consider formatting only Windows partition(C: usually) and further on using only what you need.

However, if you caught a virus, good thing is to scan whole computer with a tool like Dr. Web CureIt from Windows safe mode and see if it solved a problem. Sometimes, formatting C: partition should be a good idea, if there are still remains of a virus in some part of the system.

If you can't boot to Windows, using repair tool from Windows installation CD should fix the problem.

Formatting whole HDD is usually the last step to do when you have no more options.

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Oh geez, never use CCleaner! If you don't know your registry well enough to scrub it yourself, don't let some dumb program do it for you! Then you will be re-formating / reinstalling because some cleaner just digested the registry! – AthomSfere Aug 21 '13 at 19:09
CCleaner did the job for me so far :s You could always run analyze, and see which are the leftovers from the app. Also, forgot to mention Revo Uninstaller in answer, that should give you the leftovers, to choose which you want to delete. – Luke Aug 21 '13 at 19:11
Well CCleaner lets you backup your registry files (I always do that) so if things go south you can always go back. Is there more reason to not use CCleaner though? – aug Aug 21 '13 at 19:13
What good is analyze if you don't understand the registry well enough to do it yourself? So you can approve and deny changes you don't understand the consequences of? Also, "it worked for me" is a horrible argument. If it makes your PC better but sets mine on fire... And to what extent did it work? Objectively verifiable, for example? How many samples? I can say I have seen dozens of machines fubar'd by CCleaner, and hundreds with various reg cleaners. – AthomSfere Aug 21 '13 at 19:16
Using analyze and going through a list looking for a word is easier(and faster) than manually searching for it. Also, use backups, and restore if anything goes wrong(if you can't boot - format C: partition and install again - that's what you would do anyway, right?). I never said you should just blindly press "Run" and hope for the best. Also, I understand that "worked for me" isn't much of an argument, but I'm speaking from my experience, and I've been using it for a few years now(not very much lately, I admit). – Luke Aug 21 '13 at 19:22

You have too much questions and an answer depends on lot of things.

My answer and my opinion is based on Windows 7 and Windows 8 for simple everyday usage. If You use Linux - I cannot advice. If You use Windows XP ... the first thing is to upgrade to Windows 7!

1) Use ONE partition for every single hard drive.

The reason - re-sizing partitions is not so easy. You usually cannot predict correct partitions sizes. If You want or need - buy additional drive, install as system or add as data. One one partition You will always have maximum free size and hard drive to operate more optimal. There are no use to keep backups on different partitions on one physical drive.

2) Reformatting is too time consuming and non effective for latest OS.

Usually - done then and only if You install newer (upgrade) OS or virus/power/hard drive failure destroyed Your system files (Windows is not booting).

Once again - reformatting was more effective with previous Windows OS. Now - You can really use defragmenter to increase performance. Read about Windows 7 Defragmenter features

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1 partition for 1 HDD doesn't sound very appealing for me, or probably for anyone who has HDD bigger than 500GB. I'd rather have 1 for data, 1 for Windows, so if Windows fks up, I can just format that 1 partition and reinstall windows - there wasn't anything important there anyway. But if I had 500 GB of data and programs, doesn't matter if I had a backup, re-installing and copying everything would be pretty time consuming. Also, reformatting isn't really time-consuming, delete partition and make a new one, a several seconds with GParted LiveCD(+20-30 mins for Windows to install). – Luke Aug 21 '13 at 19:28
500GB for today is not "so much". Anyway - if You will use 2 partitions on one hard drive ... You cannot be sure, that You have not left something important on system drive, before reinstallting... It is safer to make FULL backup, ... or no backup at all - Windows 7 and 8 - can be reinstalled without partition formatting. It automatically moves /user /program files /windows folders to the windows.old folder (Please, be CAREFUL ANYWAY!!!). As I said - this is from my >15y experience - My advice - use one full partition for one hard drive. And make backups!!! :) – Arnis Juraga Apr 21 '14 at 10:29
Managing and resizing partitoins with data afterwards can be really hard. - My advice - use one full partition for one hard drive. And make backups!!! :) If HDD fails, most probably - it will impact all partitions anyway. – Arnis Juraga Apr 21 '14 at 10:37

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