I want to clear out my PC and setup the partitions.

Right now i have it as XP, Win-7, Vista, XP/Test/Spare

I notice my PC is pretty good at virtualization, at least virtualizing linux. I also rarely boot out of my primary XP although i do find myself deving on windows 7 once in a while. So i figure i can have it as XP, Windows 7, data partition then... what? i still have one more slot.

There may be a more useful way to do this so what do you guys think? My bro has 2gb partition that is used to restore the OS which can be ran during the bootup process. However i dont think i can do that with mine. So, what are you thoughts?

  • It really does depend on the total storage capacity available on that machine. – Nick Josevski Oct 17 '09 at 1:02

Depends on your disk size, you haven't specified. Prioritize each partitions size based on:

  • The default install size
  • And which ones you use the most.

Please correct me if I'm wrong so I can update this answer to be more accurate, but:

  • XP default install is roughly 1.5GB
  • Vista default install is roughly 7-8GB for basic, bit bigger for Premium/Business/Ultimate.
  • The Windows 7 Beta was about 6GB for me.

All will vary depending on components you have in your system, these are rough estimates. You only need one partition per OS, maybe a common shared partition to keep music and other documents separate from each OS. If you decide to install Linux onto the drive rather than in a virtual environment, size varies per distribution, but it is usually contained in under 5GB without additional programs installed.

  • your estimates look solid. i'd recommend 20-30GB for XP's home partition, and maybe 30GB for Win7's home partition. 20GB if you want a linux partition. anything else can be used as a data partition. – quack quixote Oct 17 '09 at 2:15

Depending on what you do with your machine, you might consider only installing a single primary OS and then use a virtual machine (VMware, virtualbox, VirtualPC, etc.) to host any other OSes. Note that Windows 7 is supposed to have an embedded version of VirtualPC for running a full virtual XP installation. If you take this approach, then you can just have a single partition for your primary OS and data, then allocate space in the VM application as needed for the other OSes. If you need to share data with the VMs, you can create a shared folder in your primary OS, then mount that as a "network" drive in the VMs. An advantage of this approach is that you can do things like use Windows 7 as the primary OS and use NTFS and any other fancy Windows-only features, yet still be able to access the data from a guest Linux OS by mounting it as a samba share.

If you need better hardware access from several OSes, then it might make sense to install them as you suggest. joshhunt and John T's suggestions are good for that approach.


Why do you need to have so many partitions? One partition per OS sounds reasonable enough, and, if you really want one, another 'data' partition. If you really need to have another partition, you could make a 'media' partition and store your movies, pictures and music on it.


I use VirtualBox for running multiple operating systems, with each virtual OS on a 20Gb virtual disk.

If you don't want to virtualize, I suggest putting each OS on a separate hard drive, if your PC can hold them. This minimizes any conflicts you might have with boot loaders.

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