BT's Hard Drive Partition Recommendation

So you did it, bought yourself a big, new hard drive. Now, you ask yourself, how should I partition this sucker? Well, read on for the best way to do it. This is assuming you are only installing a single operating system (OS) and aren't sure how to proceed.  I've found this is absolutely the most efficient method of using the space.

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Avoid Using the Microsoft "FDisk" utility
In most cases, the FDisk utility will only confuse the inexperienced and it definitely struggles on today's large drives. Unlike the manufacturer utilities available, you will have to manually format the partitions too. If you ever formatted a giant partition like this, then you know it can take virtually forever to complete. The best route is to use the utilities supplied with your drive or download them from your manufacturer. They will make this process much easier than you can imagine. The best utility I've ever used is IBM's "Drive Guide".  It can partition and format a 45GB drive in about 5 minutes!


On to the BEEF!
The drive should be partitioned into 3 sections. 


The first partition or C DRIVE for the operating system should be about 6 GB. This will give you plenty of room to install the OS and programs. I recommend letting ALL programs install to their default directories. In general, this will be C:\ Program Files. This will make your life much easier in the long run and keeps all of them in one tidy location.


The second partition or D DRIVE should use the remainder of the drive minus 1 GB (we're saving that for the E: drive). Use this partition to store all of you valuable data. For example, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MP3 files, etc. data. That way, should your C: drive become badly corrupted,   you can format C without losing your data! It's ALWAYS a good idea to isolate your data from the OS system drive for this reason alone.


The final partition or E DRIVE will use the 1 GB you saved back. This partition should be used for the "swap file" or "page file", temp files and Internet Explorer temp files. Immediately after getting the OS installed, go and set the swap file to use the E: drive BEFORE putting anything else on it. My preference is to make it 256MB minimum and 256MB maximum. This is more than enough for 99.9% of circumstances. Doing this while the E: drive is clean will give you what's known as a "contiguous" file. A contiguous file is one that spans consecutive sectors on the drive keeping it in ONE piece. It will operate much more efficiently as one solid, static piece.  Next, go into Options in Internet Explorer and tell it to use drive E: for temporary internet files. Also, create a couple of folders called "temp", "temp2", etc. Use these folders to keep stuff that you know you're not going to need again. That way, when you're cleaning up the system, you know items in there are safe to delete. Setting up  your E: drive like this keeps all the "garbage" in one location.



More Tips
Try to always keep at least 20% of each drive free for effective defragmentation. Before defragmenting, delete all your temp files. Defragment your drives about once a month and be sure to disable/stop ALL programs running before starting the process or it will take forever. This means antivirus programs, screen savers, zone alarm, etc. Hitting CTRL+ALT+Delete will permit you to shutdown any programs quickly.
If your C: drive starts to reach the 20% threshold, start installing programs to your D: drive. Setup another folder called Program Files to keep them isolated from your data as much as possible.
Periodically delete all the temp files on the E: drive. Especially the temp internet files. Excessive temp internet files will SLOW down your internet browsing experience!
If you use Microsoft Office, setup folders on D: drive called Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Access, etc. and set the default file paths in the programs to these folders. This is normally in the "Tools">"Options" menu choice.


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