Linux admins usually split their hard-drives into partitions for /usr space, os space and whole other kinds of swapness. I know windows7 requires 20GB at least for the OS to be installed. What is the best way to partition a single 1TB hard-drive (if any) when using a Windows 7 os?

I have 4GB of ram btw. I am running Windows 7 64bit.

My space requirements are approximately:

  • 20-100gb for my documents, programming projects etc...
  • about 40gb for all the software (non-games) i will ever install
  • 50gb for games

A few questions come to mind:

  • Do i need a swap partition? (i.e. 8gb)
  • Should i create a separate partition for backups? Or just dump my backups to external USB?
  • How much space should my main OS take-up and should I account for things like application data that will get stored on that partition?



With a single drive the only benefits you gain from partitioning are in organisation, and in separating out your data from the OS. This in my mind is the main reason for partitioning, as if you need to re-install your OS then you can do so without needing to move you data elsewhere first.

Running applications and games from a separate partition won't give you much benefit, as they would need to be re-installed should you re-install the OS anyway. Moving Applications to a separate partition on another disk may give you some speed benefits, as would moving your swap file to another disk, as they would be using a separate spindle. However on a single disk, there is no such benefit.

Having backups on a separate partition again gives you the benefit of having them separate from your OS, but they are still vulnerable to disk failure, should your 1 disk die you have lost both your OS and your backups.

Applications like to install themselves on the C: drive, along with the OS, so you would make life easier for your self by just having a large c: drive for os and apps and another large d: drive for documents.

As for the swap file, see this question on whether or not a swap file is needed for systems with higher memory.

| improve this answer | |

You do not need to put the page file on another partition, but you should put it on the first partition which should be your OS and applications. Then you should store your data on a second, much larger, partition so that when you have to blow windows away, which you will have to if you are installing RC win7, you wont have to move any data around.

In your case, I would make 2 partitions, one 100-140 GB for your OS, games, and apps, then partition the rest of the drive for data files. You will then want to manually set a static page file (or virtual memory, linux calls it swap) to say 2 GB. Conventional wisdom was twice RAM size, but this is not necessary with high amounts of RAM today. Page file in your case will only be used for programs who ask the OS to be able to address page file specifically and 2 GB should be plenty for those purposes.

Backups should never be on the same drive as primary data. This does not account for drive failure, which is going to be your most likely source of data loss. So yes, go with an external USB drive for backups.

| improve this answer | |
  • Note, that if you'll be using hibernation, you need space for that on system partition. – vartec May 29 '09 at 14:20

For a desktop windows O/S you should have one partition with enough room for the O/S and applications and at least another partition for your user data. That allows you to do a clean rebuild of the machine but leave your data in situ.

Windows will not swap to a raw partition in the way that Linux does. By default it will put the swap file on the system drive.

| improve this answer | |
  • Is there any advantage to separating applications to another partition? – Andriy Drozdyuk May 29 '09 at 13:20
  • 2
    No. By and large apps on windows leave a lot of undocumented rubbish lying around in the registry. Often this is necessary for the app to run (such as COM component registrations) so they're impractical to reconfigure by hand. If you do a clean rebuild you're pretty much stuck with reinstalling all of the apps. If you expect this to happen on a regular basis get a re-imaging utility like ghost and make up a clean image with your main apps (at least the ones that are time consuming to install) installed. – ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells May 29 '09 at 13:24
  • 1
    Nobody tests their software on a drive other than C:, so you'll be tripping over bugs if you install elsewhere. – Mark Ransom May 29 '09 at 13:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.