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is there a reason to create a Windows partition on a new Dell server (it's in their configurator - none, 40, or 80 GB), and if so, what size should I choose?

I'll have Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard on there... not much more.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The choice on Dell website is just to make you less work when setting things up and is purely matter on how you would like your server to be. If you choose none you will just have to install Windows and create partition yourself.

I for example don't like partitioning at all as it slows drive access and at some point there's always saying in your had 'I wish i would have done the partition bigger, the 1gb free isn't going to last'. Considering that Windows 2008R2 takes about 16gb and 32GB ram will take about 32gb of SWAP file, you will loose the space in no time.

Having one partition for the whole drive does give you some speed benefit, but also as mentioned by LeoB it means that you can't just reinstall server if it comes to that (although formatting server is never easy if you got it running in environment, so you would have to prepare for that anyway making copying data not a big deal).

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+1 for mentioning the swap file. I always forget that when speccing out partition sizes for Windows partitions. – Mark Henderson Dec 9 '10 at 22:39
So 16 GB W2K8R2 + 24 GB Swap (I have 24 GB RAM) + Some free space = I should probably install Windows myself and make a 50 GB OS partition? – AX1 Dec 9 '10 at 23:39
In my opinion you should leave the whole raid 1 (of 2 drives for the system) and keep another raid 1 separated (from specs you said in other answer). Windows + Ram + Free Space.. but what about other data you will be installing, SQL server, any roles, Exchange stuff like that. Although you can surely move data (sql database, exchange db) to other drive the main files will most likely land in Program Files and you need space for that. You also need space for downloads, some unpacking, stuff like that. Sorry for being so vague but you gave no information what is the main role for the server. – MadBoy Dec 9 '10 at 23:59
From my experience I always have to go and merge partitions with external tools to fix lack of space on drive C or other drives just because some admin made partitions and some stuff managed to fill it out completely. – MadBoy Dec 10 '10 at 0:00
the first RAID 1 was for OS+Programs+Swap+SQLTempDB+SQL Log potentially, the second RAID 1 was for SQL Data. – AX1 Dec 10 '10 at 5:56

Really depends on how much overall disk space your server has and how you plan to use the server. Creating the partition will give you a place to install the OS that is somewhat separate from your data and would allow you to reformat the partition and reinstall the OS without losing your data.

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I have two RAID 1's with two 146 GB drives. – AX1 Dec 9 '10 at 21:46
How much memory does your machine have? – Chopper3 Dec 9 '10 at 21:53
You'll have to look at what the server is going to be doing. How much storage space is needed for data? Is it going to be on a network? If so, will it store it's data locally or be attached to a SAN? If attached to a SAN I'd just leave it all as one partition for the OS. If not I'd have to look at what the data storage requirements are for it's intended use and how critical that data is. – LeoB Dec 9 '10 at 21:54
24 GB memory... – AX1 Dec 9 '10 at 23:38

Google "WinSXS folder space", at least 80GB & 100GB isn't out of the question. Changing it later is a pain, eliminate that need as much as possible.

24 (Swap) + 16 (OS) + 10 (WinSXS) = 50 before anything has else is on there.

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