Question about PC setup

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by bgoodman4, May 21, 2009.

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  1. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    I have a new PC (actually had it a few days but have been too busy to hook it up) and will be keeping the OS on one drive and the rest on a 2nd drive. I was under the impression that when you set a PC up like this only the OS (that is Windows) is on the smaller drive and everything (data and applications etc) are on the larger drive. When I picked up the PC the other day I mentioned this to the fellow who built it and he said that the OS and applications go on the smaller drive and only the data goes on the larger drive. This does not make much sense to me as I believe that in most cases its the programs that that take up most of the space on a drive (after the OS of course) and not the data. Also, I thought/think that there is not much benefit to having the OS and apps on the same drive because if you need to reinstall the OS you will also need to install all programs as well. I thought/think that if the apps and data are on a 2nd drive then they can remain unaffected by a system re-installation. Of course much of this is not a big deal as I regularly image my drives and will continue to do so but once I am doing this I figured I may as well do it properly.

    Oh yes, the fellow I was talking to about this said you want to keep the apps and the OS "close" to each other as that makes the system more stable. In fact, he said that the apps become integrated into the OS in a sense and putting the apps on a 2nd drive was asking for problems.

    Any guidance in this area will be most welcome and if there is any good info on the net you would suggest I check out please post a link if possible.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Hmm. I don't think you will find any proof of anything except personal preference really. Not speed or stability wise.

    When considering such things, it is most prudent to first examine which drive is faster. Of course your OS goes on the faster one. Common applications you use very frequently or that are enhanced by faster read/writes also would go on the faster drive.

    Next examine what you are going to store on the secondary drive. Many files as data backup may mean your larger drive is best used for storage. If all you store are mp3's and pictures, maybe some images for your OS, then perhaps the smaller drive could be used for the secondary.

    In regards to keeping apps on the OS drive, it is not an issue of speed or stability. In fact, it might be said that if you put your OS on drive A, and programs on drive B, your program might run better, IF drives are comparable in speed. Why? Because your OS is already thrashing the heads of the hdd going from sector to sector looking for OS dependent files. If you include fragmentation, and you consider it to be a detriment to hdd speeds, then having your apps on another drive means better performance. Why? Because as you start let's say Photoshop, dlls from the OS will undoubtedly be used. So the OS searches itself and finds what it needs. There is no telling how the load operation goes as a program starts, so it is likely (I think anyway) that the hdd seeks first in one area, then go anohter, then back to yet another. If Photoshop were on another drive, each drive could be seeking into areas that are hopefully (if defragged) contiguous and the result would be less head travel per drive and that each drive could be feeding components in parallel.

    It is more of a nuisance to install programs on other drives though if you reinstall onto the primary drive. Some, myself included, go so far as to have .reg files for the install of a program, so that I can install it to secondary drive, then after reinstall or image restoration, just merge the reg file and your OS knows about the program again. Heck I even make .inf's out of the reg files so I can also include the start menu shortcuts just the way I like. But like I said, it can often be more hassle than it's worth.

    All in all, with a new computer, unless one of the hdd's is really slow compared to the other, I doubt you will see any performance increase or decrease no matter how you do it. Your best bet is to test for read/write/seek speeds, and decide how much data you need for storage and make your decision of those 2 factors.

    Sul.
     
  3. newbino

    newbino Registered Member

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  4. SourMilk

    SourMilk Registered Member

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    Using the smaller drive for the OS and the larger drive for programs and data is a good setup for imaging the OS (smaller = faster). You might look at OS and personal data like docs, photos, etc. on one drive and programs on the other to facilitate imaging and data backup in one operation. OS and programs on one drive and data on the other could be another option if you only backup data. Too many options and so little time :gack: .

    SourMilk out
     
  5. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    True to an extent. I have 1 terrabyte raid array for my primary drive OS. I use macrium to back it up to my secondary drive, a 750gb drive. It only requires 4gb of space for a compressed image. Unless you are referring to having every last one of your app installed on OS drive. I try not to. That is why I have many apps installed on secondary drive and use reg files to 'install' after an image restore.

    Sul.
     
  6. InfinityAz

    InfinityAz Registered Member

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    My setup is to keep the documents on a separate drive from the OS.

    My smallest partition contains the OS, browsers, office, and some security software. My second drive has two partitions, one for all other programs, utilities, games, and some security software and the second partition on that drive contains all my docs (documents, video, audio files, etc.). Additionally, the second drive contains a second paging file (located at the beginning of the drive).

    Is it faster this way (maybe, seems like it). Biggest advantage is when it comes to imaging. I can image or restore my system partition in ~6 minutes using Paragon Drive Backup.
     
  7. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Excellent,,,,thanks for the comments. I now get that its a personal preference thing and I can see where (for me) the OS and programs on one drive (it is a 500 gig) and the data itself on a 2nd drive (its a terabyte) even though it seems like an awful lot of space just for data. I also have a 2nd internal T drive that I plan on using just for storing images of both of the other drives. My reasoning goes like this,,,,,since the OS and programs change infrequently it will not be nec to image this drive as often,,,,,maybe once a week. The Data drive will change frequently and so daily images will be made. If it becomes nec to restore one or the other drives it can be done without the time nec to restore everything.

    I am also thinking of partitioning the 3rd drive so I can have a section where I have continuous file/folder backups of my critical files. these files would be version-ed so if needed I can grab an earlier version and either restore it or just open it for comparison with the current version. This last has the added benefit that it will make it real easy to setup and maintain my iDrive backup service since all critical files will be stored in essentially the same folder on the 3rd drive.

    Also, for the purposes of adding the following to the Wilders database, I am posting a link to the one helpful non-Wilders page that I was able to find on the net on this subject. I found it explained the read-write issue and drive life issue nicely and so feel it would be good to have a link to it on this forum. It can be found at http://www.pcmus.com/hardrive.htm

    Thanks again all and if I have any further questions I will (obviously) ask for guidance.
     
  8. Raza0007

    Raza0007 Registered Member

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    bgoodman4, I agree 110% with whoever advised you. You should always have your OS and programs/applications on the same drive.

    The reason is that your programs not only use .dlls from the windows folder but also store their settings/files etc inside your "document and setting ---> application data" folder in XP and "users-->Appdata" in vista, which is always on the OS drive.

    If you then only backup your OS drive, then you are backing up the application data folder but not the program files folder which is on the other drive.

    Lets say that you update a software and it causes some problem and now you want to restore back to the last version. When you restore OS drive, your OS and the appdata folder get restored but not your Program files folder on the other drive. You will not be able to run your software as the files inside the program files folder are still updated, but the corresponding files in the appdata folder are the old ones. I hope you understand what I am trying to say. By putting your OS and program files on different drives, you are asking for trouble.

    Always have your OS and program files on one drive and your personal data like docs, emails, music, videos etc on the second drive.
     
  9. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I totally agree with keeping programs and OS on same drive. In fact unless your data is huge amounts of movies and photo's one partition/drive works fine.

    I have only one partition on my c: drive for OS/Programs/and data. Use separate D: drive for images, big movie files if any and installer packages type things.

    Works fine, no issues what so ever.

    Pete
     
  10. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    There certainly is nothing wrong with keeping everything on the same drive, but it is not true that it is faster. Nor that it is slower. It depends on the file system load, fragmentation, hdd speed, and the type of program. Having preferences stored in %profile dir% has not much advantage over storing on secondary drive. Indeed, the programs likely to benefeit from being located on another drive of equal or greater speed (not a partions of same drive !! ) are probably few. But it is a hardware bottleneck issue. Loading files from 2 drives in parallel does increase overall throughput simply because contiguous files across hdd sectors mean less head travel.

    Granted, heh, the speed improvement is most likely minimal, in the milliseconds to maybe 10 seconds max. But, having gone through many such tests myself, it is what can happen in the right circumstances. I would say the speed improvement is about the same as using ultimate defrag, where files are moved to outer portion of hdd where rotation is fastest. You need a program to even record the differences.

    But as you say, works fine on OS drive. Depends on just how blood you want to squeeze from the turnip ;)

    Sul.
     
  11. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Thanks for the explanation, whereas before I was not clear why you would need to have the programs on the OS drive it makes perfect sense now. Previously I thought the key point was the backup speed and size as well as restore speed but clearly there is more to it than that. Your point about the problems with possibly needing to revert from a program update was something I had not thought of and clearly it is an important point.

    Much obliged.
     
  12. chrisretusn

    chrisretusn Registered Member

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    I am of the keep programs on the same drive (partition) as the OS. There was a time I installed all programs separate from the OS. Putting Program Files on a separate drive requires a registry mod for it to work without problems. You could even place Documents and Settings on a separate drive than the OS. I've done that successfully as well. The problem lies in the fact the both of those directories (Program Files and Documents and Settings in particular) are to ingrained to the OS. One could argue that Program Files is not but experience has dictated otherwise.

    As Raza0007 mentioned when it comes to backing up and more importantly restoring. Having both on the same drive with the rest of the OS just make sense.

    I have two drive setup. The first is partitioned in to a small OS partition and a larger data partition. The second is used for backups and images.

    The OS partition consist of Document and Setting, Program Files, Windows and of course those two "hidden" directories.

    My data partition consist of My Documents, Shared Documents, and directories for my downloads, CD Images, Firefox Profiles, e-mail clients data directories, a couple of special application backup directories, a directory for standalone utilities (i.e., Sysinternals Suite) and some programs.

    My second and largest drive contains several image backups. One is a clean image of windows after all updates have been installed, no programs or third party drivers. This is my base image that I use for OS reinstalls. My daily data backups are also stored on this drive.

    With this setup I can easily wipe out the OS partition and start over by restoring my base OS image, then reinstall my favorite applications and with a couple of small tweaks I am back in business. My data remains as it is.
     
  13. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I am of the whatever is faster to load or easier to maintain. For me some large apps I don't want on my image of XP, so they go on secondary drive or partition if needed. This way when I restore my 4gb image in 3 minutes via BartPE or LiveXP, a couple registry files are all that is needed for new software not yet in the image. When I make a new image, those reg edits are in place so no difference then. It only requires a reg dump if you update the application, which I always manually do never auto.

    Sul.
     
  14. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Thanks for your comments chrisretusn and Sully, both sets make a lot of sense, I especially like the clean image idea, I think I will make one with just XP and its updates, then load my programs and then do a 2nd image. I hate having to reinstall programs and settings and the less I have to do in this regard the better. I have actually had the PC for a week now but have not gotten around to hooking it up as the tweaks and loading of programs etc is so unappealing.

    I have read that some imaging programs allow you to migrate systems from one PC to another even if the hardware is different. Can someone explain how this works? There must be something "extra" that needs to be done so that the programs work properly on the new hardware.
     
  15. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Ah, you now delve into troubled waters. 2 ways to go about it. First, you can collect a number of files from you current install which elude my brain ATM but it will come. These files are what is needed per computer hardware. So what you would do is install onto a different machine, collect these files, then use an image explorer to insert them replacing those in your image. It works, but I did not enjoy it much.

    Second, just have your hals available for boottime loading. This is more complicated, but offers way to boot into just about any hardware with your current OS. It is the hal (hardware abstraction layer) that proves the secure and downfall of these kinds of operations. I had a method at one point where i have a special folder in root called A_boot. In this was a custom .ini and associated files. Then I had all the hals extracted to sys32. I boot to this special .ini which then lets me pick with HAL to use. Works pretty slick for when you cannot boot at all because of ntloader corruption or such things.

    Not an easy road to hoe though lol. And if I recall that is why I used FAT32 for so long, because I had access to the file system with a boot disk. I dropped interest when I switched to NTFS for all drives. I am pretty sure though there are ways to use bartPE or liveXP to accomplish similar scenarios. Should be much easier. Just collect the HALS, extract them to sys32 with thier default names. Make an image. Place image on new machine. Boot into bartPE on new machine. One at a time, rename each HAL to hal.dll (if memory serves correctly there). Then try to boot to hdd. One of those HALS should work.

    Sul.
     
  16. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    WOW, now I have a headache :D Seriously though sounds complicated, maybe too complicated for me. I seem to recall that Acronis True Image is supposed to let you do this sort of thing (somebody mentioned it in a post some time ago but I was not really paying attention).

    I am of 2 minds here, on the one hand it would be nice not to have to set up a new PC from scratch. Pick the screen saver, pick the wallpaper, set the power management etc etc, as well as load all the programs and data. On the other hand a new set up has no junk carried over from the last set up. Which is real nice but...still,,,,a lot of time and work to get it all done.
     
  17. Raza0007

    Raza0007 Registered Member

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    You need professional versions of the imaging softwares like Paragon pro, symantec ghost solution etc.

    These softwares ask you to enter drivers for the new hardware during the restore process. I have never done it myself so can't help you there. But apparently it is an easy thing to do.
     
  18. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Thank you Raza0007, I will keep this in mind for the future.
     
  19. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Your goal can be accomplished easily with an automated setup install cd/dvd. For example, my xp dvd has both xp pro and xp home. I have a menu to choose what I do, install normal, provide defaults or full unattended. All I have to do is the formatting part. Then at first login, I run a tool I made or use other methods to autoinstall my software I always put on. Drivers are taken care of with Bashrat the Sneaky's Driver Packs. In XP, I use RyanVM's post update packs. Also at Ryans I get a lot of Add-on packs. These are premade to install things like foxit or firefox, useful programs. I make scripts with AutoIt to install other softwares, Avira, Firewall, Hips, security tools. I make .inf installs myself for any copy/paste or simple applications.

    The end result? I can go to someones house, and reinstall thier XP hom oem, xp home retail, xp pro oem, xp pro retail or xp pro volume. At first login I choose just what of my common apps I wish to automatically install. A few reg files for my install are automatic to tweak things. Otherwise I have a small collection of other .reg files to use on peeps computers when I set them up. Things like services or disabling tour, common things you do every time you setup and install.

    What does this mean? lol, that I can install my config of XP on all my machines (wifes, kids, mine). All I need is a key and hardware that is not newer than my driver packs. Takes about 1/2 hour usually. Then put office or games on, maybe import bookmarks etc. I do use macrium for imaging, but I have no problem reinstalling to make a new fresh image.

    Vista and 7 I have not done this for, as I don't use them enough. But once 7 goes retail and/or the I stop using the beta, I will be doing this for 7 as well.

    Just some food for thought.

    Sul.
     
  20. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    Food for thought?,,,,,,Well, I think you are talking way over my head,,,,,no, scratch that, I KNOW you are talking way over my head. :gack: Is there somewhere I can go to learn about this stuff? Sounds interesting but probably too sophisticated for my level of tech savvy (which ain't all that high). :)
     
  21. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Not over your head if you devote time to learning. Skip any xp stuff go to vista or 7, as that is where you will probably be anyway.

    Head over to msfn.org. Or google up unattended cd. The unattended part is really easy to do. Slipstreaming service packs is really easy to do. Many sites have good docs to walk you through that. MSFN has a good pdf on it. Skip all the hard stuff, just start with an unattended answer file. Intall, watch as you do nothing. Then, after you feel comfortable with that easy step, learn a little about using something called RunOnceEx, which basically lets you tell the setup:

    "Look setup, I have this directory on the cd called MyApps. In that is this file, AdobeSetup.exe. I want you to run that with this command line 'AdobeSetup.exe /q /l /is'. OK? Is that too much for you to do for me?"

    This is the easiest way to start, as many programs have install commands that put it in 'quiet mode' so it does not ask questions, just installs. There are whole threads devoted to what command lines work with what program.

    After this easy step, you will be comfortable enough to understand that some files on the cd are 'triggers', and that you can customize these files (like RunOnceEx.cmd) to do what you want. You can as I said, quietly install items. I use RunOnceEx.cmd to merge my set of reg tweaks. It is simply telling it to merge the file regTweaks.reg in the MyApps\MyRegs directory on the cd.

    After you see how easy that was, after of course a few times doing it, you will begin to wonder, how can I apply more of the common things I always do to a new install in automated way. Then you learn of other things, that now are not scary because you understand where you are. So you look into the DriverPacks, which is a repository and program used to inject nearly any driver you can imagine into your install cd, so your drivers are all done when you get to the desktop the first time.

    Next, you will wonder, how can I apply updates that came after my service pack. Rather than letting automatic updates do all that for you, you will find RyanVM's update packs. Like the DriverPacks, there is a repository of things you can apply and a program that does it for you. You will find the first time or two it is somewht confusing, but then it clicks and you go, WOW, those guys did a buttload of work, and it is so easy for me to use.

    Then of course you will have noted that on the update packs forum there are items called Add-on packs. These are little programs, freeware mostly, or you provide the setup or whatever, that are built as sort of modules to install the programs they are made for. They have a huge collection. YOu download the modules you want, and then use the same tool used with the update packs to choose your add-on packs. Sit back and when it is done, you have these nifty handy dandy tools you used to copy/paste or install, already done by the first time you see the desktop.

    You might stop there. that is a lot of automation and breezes through the installation process. However, if like me, you want to tweak it till you can't tweak any more, it becomes a matter of how much time you want to spend. Because at this point, you have made countless cd/dvds, installed an unknown number of times, and found how easy it really is if you invest the time to understand.

    I can tell you that nearly everything you do with your OS will become clearer for it. Not in a technical nature, but in a braoder "I understand now why that does that or so that is how that happens".

    Or, you can just install, spend hours modifying everything to your likings, and then image it up. It is easier probably, but I prefer to spend the time to learn some really geeky stuff so I don't have to rely on images even though I use them.

    And of course the number one best thing ever for this is... vmWare. It is why I shelled out the $$ to get it. I can test an image in about 10 minutes before I burn it. The number one favorite program of all time for testing, maybe with Sandboxie a distant second for lighter testing.

    Ah, take heart. Nothing worth having is ever easy or free.

    Sul.
     
  22. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    There is some discussion of this subject here.
     
  23. chrisretusn

    chrisretusn Registered Member

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    You quite welcome. More food for thought. We all have our way of doing things. There has been a lot of great advice, information, ideas put out in this thread. Pick and choose what fits best to your way of thinking. Here is more of mine.

    I hate reinstalling programs too, but you will find that in the time between when you made that image and the time you find you self wanting to restore it that many of your programs have been updated. In addition, it is inevitable that there will be programs on that image that you have removed and new programs that you have installed since that image was created. So you will find your self updating, removing and installing programs anyway.

    I found it much simpler to just create a base image of just Windows XP and updates. I also include Windows Internet Explorer and .NET Framework which I consider a necessary part of the OS. My rule of thumb if if gets updated via Windows Update I include it. Unless I don't use them, such as Media Player, or Messenger. I don't install any drivers, unless they are needed. I stick to only Windows default drivers. So no third party scanner, printer, video card, etc. drivers. I may have replaced one or more of those devices since the last image was created. As part of that base image I also set up my modifications and tweaks. For example set My Documents to d:\Documents. I also may want to install that image on another machine. In fact I just did that. I moved my Windows XP install from my Intel P4 machine to my AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core machine.

    When I do a restore after booting to that base restored image the first thing I do is run Windows Update to get all of the latest updates since the image was created and then make a new base OS image backup. The I proceed with installing drivers and programs.
     
  24. HungJuri

    HungJuri Registered Member

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    The registry is going to be located on the OS drive. If the reasoning for putting programs on another drive is to save the hassle of reinstalling those programs in the event that you have to reinstall Windows on the other drive, I think that many of your programs will also need a reinstall (or overwrite) - I know it is that way with Office products. True, some programs are standalone - but since they are standalone a simple copy/paste will put them wherever you want them. Plus (as has already been said) there are the files that go in the user settings ..... I would put the OS and programs on the same drive and then put just pure data (docs, photos, music etc) and pagefile on the non-OS drive.
     
  25. bgoodman4

    bgoodman4 Registered Member

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    :rolleyes:

    Sounds easy when you put it that way :D

    But really, does sound very interesting, I will take a look see initially out of interest but perhaps it will develop into a passion (as it appears to have done in your case). I am all for learning and as I said this stuff sounds interesting. One thing, the new PC has XP on it, does it make sense to do this with XP at this point?
     
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