| By Lincoln Spector |
If you keep Windows and your programs in one partition and your data files in another, you’ll be able to make restorations faster and more easily.
Here’s why you should make the split, plus step-by-step instructions for how to do it.
Good reasons for segregating OS and data
What would you do if something went horribly wrong with Windows and you couldn’t repair it? Or if performance deteriorated so badly you’d like to reinstall Windows from scratch? (And nothing in my April 7, 2011, story, “Fix that problem without reinstalling Windows,” helps?)
Are there any options besides devoting many hours to reinstalling the OS and applications, then more hours setting your system preferences — and then restoring your data?
If you’ve made an image backup of your entire hard drive when it was healthy, you can restore Windows and your applications almost effortlessly using Windows 7′s built-in backup tool or a third-party application. There’s just one problem: restoring an image leaves you with old data — files deleted long ago but nothing created or changed since your last backup image. You have to restore all the newer documents, photos, spreadsheets, and music from your most recent file-by-file backup (if you have such a backup) and then redelete files deleted months ago.
There’s another option that’s been around a while but is still useful: separate your operating system from your data by creating two disk partitions. Leave Windows and your programs on the C: partition, and put your data files on another (typically D:).