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I'm setting up some Vista boxes with dual hard drives (a 250GB and a 1TB). What should I install on both disks for best performance? They are for general use by developers.

Windows and programs on the first, data on the second? Should the temp folder or anything else windows related be on the second disk?


Both are 7200rpm drives.

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Are the drive speeds the same? If not, which one is faster? – Psycho Bob May 22 '09 at 18:13
RPM is a good indicator of speed, but cache size and data density also are big factors for performance. – Chris W. Rea May 22 '09 at 19:21

If you want better performance, you need a drive structre that is notably faster. Your options:

  • A faster HD: A 10,000RPM WD Raptor, 15krpm SAS drive, Solid State or RAM drive.
  • RAID0 on two drives for your OS*
  • RAID1 on two drives for your data

Fast HDs mechanical are not very expensive but they are small (but this doesn't matter because an OS and app deployment shouldn't be that large). RAID controllers that are built into the motherboard aren't very good... But they're something. If you've got the cash for a dedicated controller, it'll help.

You should never keep data you cherish on a RAID0 set-up. The risk of loss is twice as much as keeping it on one disk, and small as that risk is, it's there and it's almost completely impossible to recover from.

I'd suggest keeping your real data on RAID1. You get two copies of everything and that does speed up read performance (and slightly slow write).

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If I faced to this problem, I install Windows and the programs on the 250GB and keep data on the 1 TB

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I disagree, conditionally. If the 1TB drive were considerably faster, I'd use it for the O/S and most everything, and just put the 250GB in there as a backup/scratch/spare disk. Consider the case where the 250GB drive is 5400RPM with 8MB cache and the 1TB drive is 7200RPM with 32MB cache. Plus, higher capacity drives tend to pack data more densely and thus tend to have higher transfer rates, even at the same RPM and cache size as a smaller drive. – Chris W. Rea May 22 '09 at 18:42
I dont think there are 5400 RPMs in the market now. I think no vendor has released a 5400RPM 250GBs.. And I came up with that answer just concerning my requirements. I dont have a big issue with speed because I use 4GB RAM with Core2Duos. Then I just need more space to keep my a hell lot of movies + MP3s ;) – Chathuranga Chandrasekara May 23 '09 at 4:14

I agree with Oli. Plus, to answer the question about what applications go where, etc. I would stick most everything on the faster main drive. But, the additional drive would be useful for hosting virtual machines, which often benefit from running on a different drive than the host operating system. Other applications which access the disk often would also benefit from being separate from the operating system.

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