View Full Version : Partitioning question

03-29-2007, 11:17 PM
I'm planning to get a 100GB, 7200rpm, 8MB harddrive for my laptop and I intend to install XP Pro and Linux. As far as XP goes, I'm interested to know how to partition the drive for optimal performance. I was told that it's better to have a partition just for XP, another for applications and another for data(which would be accessible by Linux). since I'll be using photoshop quite extensively, I also need an extra partition for scratchdisk. is this too many? btw, for anti-virus and firewall programs, should they go with the same partition where XP is? any guidelines in general as to which applications should be with XP or should I keep it separate from the rest? and how much space should allocate for XP Pro?

03-30-2007, 06:48 AM
One thing to consider mate is that your patintioning sizes will get awfully small as its only 100gig drive as it sounds like you need a few partitions. You need at least 10gig for XP with SP2, im not sure on Linux as never used it!!

A bigger drive if you could afford would be better!

I would install all Antivirus programs on each O/S drive, other apps wouldnt really matter.

Hope this helps a little!!!

03-30-2007, 07:50 AM
I'm running Win2000Pro on C:
What I did, because I thought it best, was...
[This might give you some ideas.]

1. Kept Windows, Programs, configuration files, fixed-size swapfile, hibernation file all on the C: partition.
I think it best to keep all these on the same partition because they are all a set that work together, and if imaged, need that to be done and restored as one, otherwise there could be mismatches between them and their configuration files.
Normally I'd keep the swapfile on a separate physical drive, but...
If you were to restore an image of a HIBERNATED system, that would expect to see a certain swap file content, so must be a match.

2. All data files kept off C: to keep C: as small as possible.
I use 4 GB of a 5 GB C: partition.
Image this [using bought "Image for DOS"] to [a folder on a partition on] an external USB 2.0 HDD.

3. All personal data files [see screenshot 1 below] re-homed using 500 MB of 1 GB D: partition.
These imaged to USB HDD, and also "synchronised" to a 1 GB "Flash Drive" H: using the [FREE] version of "SyncBack".

4. Partitions E: [30 GB, music files] and F: [20 GB, images/video] are imaged and also synchronised to [folders on partitions on] USB HDD [see screenshot 2].

5. G: [12 GB] holds internal image backups & installation file set for Windows [see screenshot 3].

6. I used 10 GB of F: for "Mandriva Linux 2007 FREE" [about half used].

03-30-2007, 07:57 AM
Some of the important configuration settings in "SyncBack" FREE edition.

Paul Komski
03-31-2007, 05:41 AM
I was told that it's better to have a partition just for XP, another for applications and another for data(which would be accessible by Linux).
10 to 20 gig each for WinXP and Linux should be more than adequate. If you want to share data beteween WinXP and Linux it is best to do this via another partition formatted as FAT since writing to NTFS partitions from Linux still has problems or difficulties.

I also need an extra partition for scratchdisk. is this too many? btw, for anti-virus and firewall programs, should they go with the same partition where XP is?You can have as many logical partitions as you like as long as there is room for them; eg 100 1gig partitions on your hard drive. The problem in Windows is drive letters - but with NTFS even that can be overcome. You can have up to four (three if using logical partitions) usable primary partitions on a normal basic disk.

You dont have to install any programs to the Windows partition when running Windows - though I recommend that firewall and a/v are kept on that partition because they load so early and are so intrinsically linked to it. The programs it is wise to install TO other partitions FROM windows are ones that take up a lot of space, since that helps to keep the windows partition lean and speedy.

03-31-2007, 06:51 PM
thanks for the advice, guys! as for the type of partition for XP apps, any difference if they're primary or logical? I was thinking of using logical. Linux should be in primary, right?

03-31-2007, 07:04 PM
I see your point about sharing O/S and apps in the same partition to ease imaging/backup. but I'm interested in speed, speed, speed. I'll go with Paul's advice.

Update: I'm also installing a secondary internal 60GB, 7200rpm drive and 250GB USB HDD as well. that should be enough, right?

Paul Komski
03-31-2007, 07:17 PM
Primary partitions are best reserved for booting to DOS or to Windows or any OS that needs to be directed to a boot partition from the partition tables in the MBR. Linux uses a boot manger and so does not have to be on a primary partition - though it can be.

It's a good idea to keep all data partitions on logical drives - particularly with DOS-based versions of windows because of the way drive letters are assigned dynamically by those operating systems.

03-31-2007, 07:32 PM
Thanks, Paul. another thing: I'll be using XP more than Linux so essentially it would be better to have XP and it's apps located on the outer edge of the physical HDD platters. question: how do you arrange that during the partitioning process? is the arrangement made according to the order of the partitions created? so if I want Linux in a primary partition, should the order be like this:
1st primary partition: XP Pro
2nd primary partition: windows apps
3rd primary partition: Linux
others will be in logical partitions.


Paul Komski
03-31-2007, 08:11 PM
When you partition a drive you should be able to put the partitions wherever you want them to be (with most partitioning software anyways). You can even resize and move them at a later date with the appropriate software.

You could partition just as you have outlined but if it were me I would create just one primary partition for WinXP at the start of the drive. I would leave some unallocated space at the end of the drive (like a spare tyre) and have everything else as logical drives in an extended partition. To be honest I would leave enough unallocated space for both a spare tyre and for Linux since Linux will partiton everything the way it wants it if you just let it "run loose" during its installation.

If you are thinking of using a 3rdParty boot manager such as BiNG or XOSL then you would need a very small primary FAT partition somewhere and probably best at the very start of the drive. If you intend using GRUB or LILO for Linux you can disregard this.

You can even use a small primary fat partition to BOOT FROM as the windows system partition and install WinXP FROM that partition into a LOGICAL partition (known perhaps confusingly as a boot partition). Boot.ini and the other boot files would be on this partition and thus be easily editable from a FAT partition and the Windows folder would be on the other partition.

04-01-2007, 05:55 AM
Got any links to info that explains the "BOOT FROM" & "BOOT TO" business? :)

e.g. Do I boot from or to a bootable floppy, or optical disk, or HDD?

Paul Komski
04-01-2007, 06:41 AM
To and from relates in the main to hard drive partitions. The system partition is the active primary partition and the boot partition is the partition containing the windows/winnt partition. They can be one and the same partition or they can be very disparate. The system partition almost without exception gets the C: drive letter. This is the nomenclature used by Microsoft (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/100525).

When you boot from an NT quick boot diskette this takes over the functions of the hard drive system partition but will boot another appropriate hard drive boot partition.

This mainly pertains to the NT-based versions of windows but the DOS based windows do have an equivalent methodolgy, whereby command.com, io.sys and msdos.sys are the boot files on the system partition (which needs to also have an mdos boot sector for io.sys to access) but you can customise the installation to put windows on a separate even logical partition. The gotcha with Win9x etc is that you need to specify the Drive Letter and since this can change under Win9x etc if the partition arragnements are changed then the system wont boot because the drive letters are always assigned dynamically. Under the NT based versions of Windows boot.ini references things by a signature or by a number and the boot sector must be an appropriate NT boot sector for ntldr to access.

04-01-2007, 09:42 AM
Printed that; will stick it on the wall and try to keep reading it to engrave it on my remaining memory cell. :D

Does this mean you boot FROM the system partition and TO the boot partition?

And why the difference?

Paul Komski
04-01-2007, 10:55 AM
Does this mean you boot FROM the system partition and TO the boot partition?
In a word yes - and if they are one and the same it goes FROM and TO itself.

Machine code (the bootstrap code) starts running in the BIOS and goes FROM there TO a first, second, third, etc boot device looking for a bootable boot sector. In the case of a hard drive it has to first look through the first, second, third, etc partition table for an active partition and if it finds one the code then continues to run in that partition's boot sector.

The machine code continues to run in that partition boot sector (the system partition) and "jumps around" in associaton with the boot files in the same partition until (under Windows) it loads its goodies from the Windows folder into the kernel and from that point on waits for instructions from the user.

Until an OS has been loaded the machine code has to run in a steady stream of instructions to the CPU. Floppies only have one (or some would say have no) partition. CDs are complicated and can have one or many bootable "sectors" but the boot code always looks at one particular sector first. CD's of course dont have partitions in the same sense as magnetic or flash drives.

There are a number of reasons for keeping hard drive boot and system partitions as separate entities, most of which relate to multibooting - particularly multibooting microsoft products - or of adding and accessing an OS on a second hard drive. Historically, for example, one might have been running DOS on a small partition but didnt want to lose it when installing say WindowsXP to a second hard drive. The boot order isnt changed and the active partition is not changed in the process though its boot sector is swapped for an NT boot sector and the NT boot files added to the DOS boot files in the root of C. The DOS boot sector is saved as bootsect.dos and if DOS is chosen from the boot menu the machine code is directed to the bootsect.dos file - etc, etc. If XP is chosen the code in the PBS has a chat with boot.ini and its pals and sends the code eventually to the Windows folder on another partition (logical or primary) on the other hard drive. Etc, etc.

09-04-2007, 05:01 PM
Just revisiting this thread. Now I have this question: so what if I have XP on it's own partition, and the rest of the programs on another. question: can I still image the partitions with ghost? is it possible to reinstall each partition separately or have to be done at the same time(if even that is possible?) scratch the idea of imaging the entire drive cos there's also linux in it.

Paul Komski
09-04-2007, 06:20 PM
scratch the idea of imaging the entire drive cos there's also linux in itIt may depend on the version of Ghost but imaging Linux partitions shouldn't be a problem; its just that you wouldn't be able to run the Windows program from Linux.

If your version of Ghost wont do it then BiNG certainly will.

If the Windows system partition is linked in some way to programs running from another partition then not restoring them both at the same time may have some undesired results but should still allow the system/boot partition to operate adequately.

09-05-2007, 07:29 AM
I'll be getting ghost 8.2. haven't used it yet think it'll let me image 2 partitions out of a few? I mentioned about not wanting to image the entire HD because I also have linux installed and prefer not to image it because I'm planning to switch to different distro once in a while. furthermore, will ghost be able to recognize linux file systems?
slightly off-topic: say if I have a problem with XP and need to reinstall it, do I also have to reinstall other programs too even though they're on a separate partition? also given that the registry will be fresh again will there be any problems if I don't reinstall them?

Paul Komski
09-05-2007, 08:43 AM
There are so many different versions of Ghost and they differ intrinsically in a number of ways. Ghost 8.2 (http://radified.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1176321672) was at the transition between the DOS-based Norton Ghost and one with a Windows FrontEnd and before the take-over of PowerQuest's DriveImage.

Having said that I dont think it should have any intrinsic problem with imaging a Linux partition since the imaging should be done without any need to access the file system. I suspect that 8.2 would want to reboot to DOS to do any imaging/restoration. The more common problem with Linux (if booted from the MBR) is recreating GRUB or LILO on the MBR, which should be backed-up separately.

I reiterate that BiNG will do everything you need as functional trial application but if you want to use Ghost then that's just fine - but 8.2 is pretty old software by todays standards and I don't think there is USB support - except possibly while still in Windows - though I personally deprecate imaging from within Windows other than for pure data partitions.

It is definitely best to create and restore both the system and the programs partitions in parallel. But it isnt mandatory and the most likely thing you may need to do is to reinstall some of the programs if the pointers have become disjointed. If it doesnt work and you still have both images - well you are still in business anyway.

09-05-2007, 04:58 PM
I guess I have to forget about ghost 8.2 cos I plan to image everything to a USB drive. so BiNG supports USB then?

Paul Komski
09-05-2007, 06:39 PM
so BiNG supports USB then?
Yep. It may or may not be necessary to change the settings for some USB2 drives.

09-05-2007, 06:52 PM
well, I'm not sure if this will complicate things a bit: I'm using an HD enclosure that has both USB and firewire and the HD I'm using is SATA. any problems with that? also, does BiNG support firewire, too? which version should I go for?
thanks again!