I'm getting a new machine and will be installing Windows 7 RC1 on it.

I want to partition drive(s) to make OS re-installation as painless as possible. I'm going to try to figure this out for NT/XP/2k/Vista/W7.

I'm going to update this question as I do more research.

Currently, I'm thinking:

  C: OS/registry apps
   \WINNT (NT/2k)
   \Program Files (NT/2k/XP)

  D: Data/non-registry apps
   \Documents and Settings
   \users (Vista/W7)

Based on experience with my latest install, I created 2 100GB partitions for the OS. That way I can re-install W7 on that partition and not blow away my old install.

See This link for instructions on how to move C:\Users to D:\Users after install.

Due to bios mis-configuration, I had to re-install the OS already. When I re-installed, I got a new UUID for myself and was unable to access my old D:\Users files. I tried to use the security tab under properties to change the permissions, but I couldn't figure out any settings that worked. The problem manifested itself as an immediate logout after trying to log in.

Anyone know how to change permissions on D:\Users after OS re-install so I can access them?

  • Can someone provide a list of root directories in vista and/or w7?
    – Scott
    Commented May 6, 2009 at 17:33
  • Per tomjedrz suggestion, I may ditch the T-drive since it's non-trivial to point windows at the new temp directories.
    – Scott
    Commented May 6, 2009 at 17:42
  • Please split your second question. Commented Jun 4, 2009 at 8:42

4 Answers 4


I will be re-installing next week! I do it a couple of times a year.

You may be over-complicating this a bit ...

1- I wouldn't split the temp files from the OS, unless it is to a different physical drive. It doesn't buy you much, and you want them blown away when you re-install. Don't skimp on C: space!

2- I don't know how to move the "users" folder, but the "Documents" is easy to move. This is easier than changing settings to default everything to a "D:\Data" folder.

3- I have found that a good practice is to only put shortcuts on the desktop rather than files. I have a "current" folder in Documents, keep active stuff there, and have a shortcut to it on the desktop.

4- I keep a text document log in the "current" folder and log every install in it. That makes it easy to gather the stuff I need for when I reinstall.

Good luck!

  • My reasoning behind putting temp on a separate drive is that as I install apps on C those files will intermingle with the temp files and get fragmented. I've read that NTFS handles fragmentation, but the fact that MS still provides a defrag tool, seems to belie that.
    – Scott
    Commented May 6, 2009 at 17:36
  • The symlinks is a good idea. I do that too.
    – Scott
    Commented May 6, 2009 at 17:39
  • Another point in your favor about the temp files is that it's a PITA (Pain in the arse) to tell windows where the temp files are...
    – Scott
    Commented May 6, 2009 at 17:40
  • Is there a good reason to reinstall a couple of times a year?
    – Tomalak
    Commented May 6, 2009 at 18:18
  • (Other than "I enjoy the setup experience of Windows, and I am amazed how fast it boots as long as nothing is installed"?)
    – Tomalak
    Commented May 6, 2009 at 18:19

That's pretty much the partition scheme I've been using for the last 8 years.

I can tell you from experience that re-installation (I re-install at lease twice a year) is a breeze as far as user data goes.

  • How do you change the permissions on D:\Users when you re-install the OS?
    – Scott
    Commented May 19, 2009 at 14:18
  • The safest thing to do is to rename the original D:\Users and let windows create the user profile stuff itself. Then Login as the user in question, and merge the files from the original D:\Users in. If you have any permissions issues you can take ownership of the files in D:\Users and that should solve it. Commented May 19, 2009 at 16:11
  • Sorry, missed your edit in the question. Everything I said in my previous comment is correct. But to make it more clear: Rename D:\Users to D:\Users2, then do then robocopy c:\Users to d:\Users, then copy files from D:\Users2 to D:\Users, this way you won't have to fight with the UUID issue. Commented May 19, 2009 at 16:15
  • That's what I wound up doing. I was hoping there was an easier way to solve it. Thanks for the replies!
    – Scott
    Commented May 19, 2009 at 19:12

I think that if you want to do this right, you'll use multiple devices. I probably take this to a bit of an extreme, but here's the scheme I've been using for many years now.

Physical drive 1: Smallish, holds OS and program files on partition A, small partition B at the end for swap.

Physical drive 2: Large, slow. Typically has a RAID1 mirror. Here, I store all user data. I use the registry (or TweakUI/VI) to relocate shell folders to a location on this drive.

Physical drive 3: Small, fast. On partition A I have temp files, browser caches, scratch space for audio and video editing programs, etc. Swap partition B again.

I actually find it pretty easy to relocate temp files. All you have to do is adjust 4 environment variables.

Once you have all your small swap partitions created, use the System control panel to assign them swapfiles that are (size of the partition) - 105MB. Leaving the open space will prevent Windows from nagging you about low free space.

The reasoning behind keeping dedicated partitions for swap is that I've found one of the best ways to crush Windows performance is to have a fragmented swapfile. If you have a whole partition with only one file on it, it can't fragment.

  • One more thing... best way to relocate all the user data folders is to use a Setup Information File (SIF). That will cause Windows setup to place the top folder wherever you want it, at install time. Look up docs on unattended installation to see how to do that. Commented May 19, 2009 at 19:55

If you want to recover the files on your other partition, you need to "take ownership" of the drive.

Right-click the drive, hit properties. Select Security tab. Click Advanced. Select Owner tab. Click edit. Select your account and click "OK". Now go get some coffee while Windows resets the ACLs on every file on that drive for you.


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