I have an Inspiron 1520 with XP Pro and have just reformatted (NTFS) my
hard drive into C: and D: partitions … and have gained a huge amount of speed
from so doing. I originally did that to speed up response time, as well as to
be able to repeat the process on C: before waiting so long again. The C: is
48.8 GB and the D: is 100.0 GB. I would like to be able to load some
applications into the D: drive (which has some room available), but even when I
specify D:, it seems to want to overload C:. I think it is because of the
master-slave relationship of the two drives (C: master, D: slave). Can you
please explain to me how I can better manage my resources? I also have a larger
external hard drive… and I’m winding up with C: full to the point that I
cannot defrag it. I was originally trying to get the operating system on C: and
other programs on D:, so that I could reformat C: having only to reload the OS
and not all the other programs.
Your question brings up a lot of really good issues – and even some
differences of opinion amongst folks such as myself.
Partitioning a single hard drive in to two partitions is an approach that’s
advocated by many as being faster, making backups easier and just generally
being the best things since sliced bread.
As it turns out, it’s not something I think really adds a lot of benefit as a general rule of thumb.
About that “huge amount of speed”
To begin with, I actually doubt that it’s the partitioning that got you any significant speed boost. There are so many things that change and get cleaned up when you reformat a machine that make things faster – everything from simply running less software initially to having the entire hard disk naturally defragmented – that I’m not convinced the partitioning had much of an impact.
In fact, the partitioning could actually have had a negative impact.
When you partition a hard disk, you’re setting up two distinct physical areas on the media. As Windows operates, the disk heads actually now have to move farther as the system moves between accessing files on partition C: and partition D:. Depending on what you’re doing, that could be a little (perhaps most of your work is naturally on C: anyway) or a lot (files from both C: and D: are frequently accessed simultaneously).
If it’s a lot, that partitioning could actually be slowing your machine down, not speeding it up.
Installing applications on a drive other than C:
Some programs will allow you to specify that they be installed in an arbitrary location when you run their setup.
Some do not and can only be installed where they insist on being installed, typically C:.
For the ones that do allow you to specify an alternate drive such as D:, many will still install components on the system drive, C:, anyway. The installation destination really only controls some of the files.
Even for those setups that actually do, indeed, copy all of their files to the intended destination, they still end up making changes to the system registry.
You know, the system registry stored on the system drive C:.
This has nothing to do with a master/slave relationship – that concept doesn’t really apply to partitions (and even most hard drives anymore). This is just about the C: drive – the system drive – being special.
Important. And special.
Those applications on D: when you reformat C:
Sorry to say, but particularly when you have applications that store information in the registry or files of any sort on the system drive, having the bulk of the program installed on D: doesn’t save you from having to reinstall them all when you reformat C:.
You need to reinstall them all because reformatting C: made all of their information in the system registry disappear, along with any files that they might have placed there anyway.
Installing applications to another drive buys you exactly nothing when it comes time to reformat the system drive. The sole exceptions are what are called “portable” applications, which do not require that you run a setup program. (Most major applications are NOT portable and those that have portable versions are pretty clear about their availability.)
One for all, all on one
My recommended approach remains: one partition per drive (excepting system restore partitions.)
Thus, I would not have partitioned your hard drive as you have. I’d have set up a single partition and reformatted and reinstalled to that.
If you’re simply trying to organize your files, folders are not only perfect for that, it’s exactly what they’re meant for.
If you’re trying to make things faster, the benefits are questionable at best, and the costs are high, as we’ve seen.
If you’re trying to make the next reformat/reinstall faster – well, by now, you can see that you haven’t really. The best way to do that is to wait until after you’ve installed the system and your major applications take a full system backup image; then use that when the time comes to start over.
If you have a lot of data – not software, not programs, but data files such as videos, documents, mp3s, whatever – it can be advantageous to place them on a separate drive or partition. That way, when you reformat your system partition (or restore it from a system image), you can leave the other drive or partition untouched and preserve the data thereon.
You can use a second partition, if you like.
My recommendation? Go for that second internal hard drive. If you’ve got that much data, this is one approach that could make for a noticeable speed increase.