First of all, I've read lots of questions on this site (and over the web) about this question, but I'm still not sure about my specific situation.

I currently have a laptop with two 320 GB hard drives (let's call it a desktop replacement), with my system being @ 7200rpm and data @ a 5400rpm one. As I demand more speed on my computer, I've just ordered a Crucial 256GB SSD which people report to be pretty nice. But I'm stuck with whether should I replace my system drive with the SSD or my work files. Most people blindly suggest to replace the system with that. (I'll of course move my data to 7200 one for more speed on that one, but the question is not about that) But I think it depends on what I do.

My current system drive has: Windows 7, all the programs, downloads (not my archive). My current data drive has: Music, photos, videos, all work files including code, photoshop documents, flash documents, websites etc.

I do mostly coding and some design, and I have projects with hundreds of files in them. I want to keep my work files in a separate drive so moving them to the system is not an option.

I know that making SSD my system drive will in no doubt increase my general use significantly, but I'm just worried about code compilation and other in-work/non-general-use usage scenarios. I usually code in .NET in Visual Studio 2010, and builds sometimes take long time. How can I understand whether the CPU or the disk read/write is the bottleneck during builds? Does VS cache my code files for compilation?

Here are some alternatives that I've thought. They may be excellent or worst-ever ideas, so I'm asking here:

  • Make SSD primary drive and HDD data drive, and do nothing else.

  • Make SSD data drive and keep HDD as the primary drive and do nothing else.

  • Make SSD data drive, but install commonly accessed files such as .NET assembly cache to the data drive too to reduce loading times of .NET programs (which I commonly code and build and test).

  • Partition SSD as two seperate logical drives, one for system, one for workspace, and keep HDD just for music/video archive and a backup of workspace.

They all have some trade-offs, I need the best possible combination, given my needs. (I of course want a fast computer but a dramatic increase in compiling AND starting (involves loading of .NET DLLs) my programs is my primary need).

Thanks, Can.

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    Buy two SSDs, put it out of mind, relax. :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jan 11 '12 at 0:10
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    I think this is not bad question and can be answered reasonably based on reasoning and evidence. I had an answer prepared but now the thread has been closed. I will to put the answer in comments. – user377178 Jan 11 '12 at 11:09
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    Firstly, projects consisting of hundreds of files sound small enough to be stored in the RAM cache after first access, including the binaries. – user377178 Jan 11 '12 at 11:09
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    On System drive, you have got installed OS, toolchains, IDEs, SDKs, header files, libraries, temp folder, page file etc. That is much more than 90% of items that typically get involved in building/running a project. – user377178 Jan 11 '12 at 11:11
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    Apart from that you store on system drive all the other apps that you want to run fast. – user377178 Jan 11 '12 at 11:12