OT: Partitioning your hard drive?

Subject: OT: Partitioning your hard drive?
From: "Geoff Hart" <Geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 09:33:19 -0400

Julie Johnston <<...will be purchasing new PC's for the tech
writing department... We are trying to decide what the most
logical partitioning structure would be.>>

That depends on a range of factors. For one, you can
calculate optimal partition sizes based on the size of the disk
allocation blocks that your operating system (OS) defines for
each partition size. Unless you're using one of the most recent
file systems, block size increases rapidly with the size of the
partition. I don't have the actual sizing info. handy (someone
here can surely provide actually numbers), but for the sake of
illustration, consider that the minimum block size might range
from 4K for a small partition to 32K or even larger if you
don't partition a large disk at all. This is a problem because a
2K letter to your boss wastes only 2K on a drive with 4K
minimum blocks, versus 28K on the larger partition. These
small losses add up over time. (Newer file systems are
smarter, and some don't use such rigid minimum block sizes.)

A few other guidelines:

It's usually a good idea to keep your data and application
software in separate partitions, since this simplifies backups.
It may also fool the occasional older virus that isn't smart
enough to switch between partitions, thereby buying you a
measure of security. Don't count on it, though.

Speaking of security, it may be possible to use software to
write-protect a partition (various products exist for this
purpose on the Mac; I don't know what the equivalents are
for the PC). This obviously won't work on your data partition,
which you'll be modifying frequently, but wouldn't it be nice
to lock your operating system into its own write-protected
partition so it's safe from all but the most clever viruses? (This
can be done on a Mac; I don't know whether PCs let you do
this, but imagine you could fake it with a little ingenuity.)

Speaking of the OS, wouldn't it be nice to keep that separate
from the applications, and perhaps even create an additional
partition with a working backup of your OS? If the main
version, from which the PC boots, gets damaged irretrievably
(e.g., by a virus or a faulty installation program), boot from a
floppy, then reload the entire OS, complete with all your
settings and customizations intact, from the backup partition.
I now consistenly back up a working copy of my computer's
OS folder before any installation, so if the installation screws
things up, I can restore the old, working version easily.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Perhaps there is something deep and profound behind all those sevens, something just calling out for us to discover it. But I
suspect that it is only a pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence." George Miller, "The Magical Number Seven" (1956)

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