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Security and Privacy Guide

Step 2 - File System and Partitions

Creating partitions will make your files more secure, save space and minimize fragmenting, which, if you have an older, slower hard drive, will make your computer run faster. And if you have a newer, faster hard drive, even if you don't detect an improvement in speed, it will prolong its life. But what has really sold me on partitioning is that...

  1. ...when Windows gets corrupted and I have to reformat and clean install it, I now no longer lose the saved files and e-mail I didn't back up, like I did before, more times than I care to count, because they're on another partition. (For some reason, every time I tried repairing Windows XP or reinstalling it on top of itself without formatting, it always got even more corrupted than before, forcing me to format it and start over.) And...
  2. ...it makes saving and restoring Windows' disk partition as an image possible, since at least two partitions are necessary to do it, and takes very little time now, whereas doing it on a single, large partition takes much longer.

Note: ''If you plan to capture and edit video, you should have a separate physical hard drive dedicated solely for that function.'' - Rad

WARNING: If you're not familiar with creating partitions, have a technician do it for you, or you may lose all your files. If you are familiar with creating partitions, remember to back up your files first, and check to make sure the backup works, before doing this step.

Preparing your hard drive for one operating system:


For a Windows-only system:


Rad recommends creating two or three NTFS hard drive partitions.

If you have a new computer or a new hard disk, Doc highly recommends creating them with FDISK because he says ''none, [including PartitionMagic] offer better compatibility,'' which means better stability for your operating system. ''Microsoft's FDISK is the closest thing there is to a partitioning standard.'' Once you've created the partitions with FDISK, load your Windows XP CD and format them with NTFS.

WARNING: If you've already installed software and saved files on your hard drive, be sure to create, and if necessary, resize them with Norton PartitionMagic or Acronis Disk Director instead, because Fdisk erases all the data!

CAUTION: Converting from FAT or FAT32 to NTFS is not recommended. In fact, many say you should never convert an NTFS partition to FAT32. It's better to format with NTFS than convert to NTFS.

I have Windows XP Pro on the first partition, to make creating disk images faster; temporary Internet files and e-mail on the second partition (and the memory file's minimum and maximum size limits set to the same size), to minimize fragmentation; and my applications and documents on the third partition, to limit file corruption. (more on disk images later)

Recommended Partition Size:

Windows XP requires at least 1.5 Gigabytes (GB), and Microsoft recommends 2 GB for XP Home or Pro and 4 GB for MCE. Some experienced users recommend at least 5 GB for typical use and up to 10 GB if installing many small or medium-sized programs or several very large programs in Windows XP or MCE. Rad, of Radified.com, recommends at least 8 GB.



Partitioning Strategies and Guides


Once you've finished creating and formatting the partitions, do a clean installation of the full version, not the upgrade version, of Windows 2000 or XP Professional, for best performance.

Paul Thurrott's Windows XP Pro Clean Installation Guide

Then be sure to create a disk image of your operating system's partition with one of the following disk imagers, to save your Windows installation before it gets messed up for whatever reason, and save time restoring it after it gets messed up. (Restoring the disk image takes less time than reinstalling your operating system.) skip

Security and Privacy Guide

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