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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Much has been written about separating the operating environment and the user data. This can be done as multiple partitions, either as an additional partition on an existing drive or as a partition on a whole separate drive. The main reasons to do this are:
    1) The backup/restore patterns are different for the operating environment and the user data.
    2) Better accessibility to data by multiple operating environments

    My major reason for attempting this is backup and restore. As I see it, the operating system itself and the programs are very intertwined in windows because of the registry. As a result, if the operating environment (operating systems + programs) becomes broken, and back-out solutions do not work, either a reinstall or a format and restore kind of solution is required. It is far easier to do either of those if the data is all safety hidden away in a separate partition.

    I just got a new machine with Win 7 home pro 64 bit. I am going to migrate from an old machine running XP pro 32 bit. I want to set up the machine as outlined above. I have partitioned the hard drive into a c: drive of 200GB and a D: drive with the rest. What I want to do is keep the operating system and the programs on the C:\ drive and the user data on the D:/ drive.

    Windows 7 has finally gotten allmost all of the user data into c:\user.... However, Microsoft has NOT made it easy to move this file to another partition I am not at all sure why they didn't. They made it easy to relocate PIECES of this folder, but not all of it. I am looking for either insight as to why they made this difficult (as in this is a bad idea because...) or for the secret magic technique to accomplish this.

    The simple solution would have been a way to go to computer... c:/; then right click users, left click the locations tab go down to the location, change the c: to a d: and click apply... This works for documents, music, fotos, desktop and others, but not for appdata... But, for some inane reason, this does not work at the c:\users level.

    I found a 35 page description of a way to do this using "junctions" that is sounding promising aqlthough a bit complex. For those who are interested, it is located at http://www.starkeith.net/coredump/20...another-drive/

    If there are better ways, I would like to hear about them.

    The reason to move the data to it's own place is also to allow backups that can be either restored in bulk or that can allow a single file to be restored. I am curently surveying to see what backup program will allow this and yet be as simple and automatic as possible. I think I am going to investigate Accronis first I am just starting this search so any leads would be appreciated.

    Please chime in here with thoughts and suggestions......

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    5 Star Lounger
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    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    Jim, is there a reason why you need a C: Drive of 200gb ? My 2 PC's are both 45ish gb and both have ample free space available.
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I was also going to add that I use a C drive of 75 GB on my systems. 200 GB does seem much more than necessary if all data is going into a sepatate partition. Moving you data to a separate partition is relatively easy. PCWorld shows a method that is very easy and straight forward, than does sound similar to what you mentioned. I included this link for others that may not know how to do this. It does show easy step by step instructions.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  5. #5
    New Lounger
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    Mercyh....
    Thanks for the reference. It will take me awhile to digest it, but is looks like a valuable reference. It seems a bit strange that one has to go to such lengths and be concerned about using standard backup techniques just because you separated the backup of system and data...

    Roderunner....
    I made my system partition 200gb mostly because I was afraid I might wimp out on this effort and leave some data on the c:\ drive. In addition, I am not moving my programs folder and have no idea how big that might become. I also didn't know if I was going to tackle temporary data that does not need to be backed up, like internet temp, paging, and the hibernation files. Moving these have performance implications. Does your 45ish gb partition have user programs on it too?

    Ted....
    Thank you for the reference. This article follows the path started on before I started this thread. It seems to follow the path that Microsoft wants you to use to accomplish this objective. My biggest problem with it is trying to move appdata. Of course, the whole process should be made much easier. The article does suggest ways to get outlook data moved from appdata, but other applications also appdata to store user data too. So if you leave appdata on c:, you do not have all of your user data together in your data partition.

    To continue:
    I do not know why Microsoft elected to make this process so difficult. All they had to do is put a step in the install that asks where I would like to place my data and then set things up to support that. Or, alternatively, they should allow me to go to computer; right click on c:\users (or c:\users\Jim); select location; change the location; and click apply and then answer the questions.. Why they don't do this mystifies me. Is it better to move some of the data microsoft's way; to move everything using things like junctions or just give up? All I want is to do is simplify the backup/restore process..... I want to do infrequent full backups of my operating system, where I will only want to restore the whole thing. And, I want to do much more frequent, reasonably automated, backups of changed data in such a way as I can either restore all of my data or any file or folder in the data. Does anyone else want to do this too?

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    5 Star Lounger
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    Why they don't do this mystifies me. Is it better to move some of the data microsoft's way; to move everything using things like junctions or just give up?
    I think you mentioned it earlier yourself that parts of the Users substructure is very intertwined with the registry so MS doesn't want it to be moved so in order to do so you would have to go with the junctions option. I do it the so-called Microsoft way by moving the data folders that are allowed and then use a syncronizing program (I use Syncback) to syncronize the data with another network location on a daily basis. I image the system partition after the initial base install and then whenever there is a big change or for me on about an annual basis.

    Of course the easiest method I ever used for moving data folders (the Microsoft way) is with XP in that I just right click and hold, drag and drop to the new partition, it ask me if I want to move the data over as well, I click yes and its done. Still can't beat that for simplicity.

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    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Long View Post
    Roderunner....
    I made my system partition 200gb mostly because I was afraid I might wimp out on this effort and leave some data on the c:\ drive. In addition, I am not moving my programs folder and have no idea how big that might become. I also didn't know if I was going to tackle temporary data that does not need to be backed up, like internet temp, paging, and the hibernation files. Moving these have performance implications. Does your 45ish gb partition have user programs on it too?
    Jim
    All I put on C: is my installed progs and my pictures that is used for wallpaper and adding to emails. Everything else is on partition D: and 2 external USB connecting hdd's. When I do a backup image its under 5gb's.
    The only file you could or IMHO should move is 'My Documents' I did it when using XP Pro. W7 is a different kettle of fish, so have not done so, mainly as I don't know how or need to.
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!

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    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Long View Post
    Mercyh....
    Thanks for the reference. It will take me awhile to digest it, but is looks like a valuable reference. It seems a bit strange that one has to go to such lengths and be concerned about using standard backup techniques just because you separated the backup of system and data...
    If I may...
    Windows 7 uses hundreds of Junction Points. Applications that call out a specific path can traverse these junctions points if they have the required permissions. However, attempts to enumerate the contents of the junctions points will result in failures. It is important that backup applications do not traverse these junction points, or attempt to backup data under them for two reasons: doing so can cause the backup application to back up the same data more than once; it can also lead to cycles (circular references).

    I have used drive imaging for backup for a number of years for the reliability and safety. To a drive image, a junction point is just 1's and 0's; nothing at all special about it, and it will be included in the image without incident. I continue to recommend only drive imaging for backup purposes because of the ability to achieve a total recovery under even the most dire circumstances.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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    5 Star Lounger
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    recommend only drive imaging for backup purposes because of the ability to achieve a total recovery under even the most dire circumstances
    That's a fine method as long as one doesn't mind firing up the big dog (image software) as often as is required to keep the data partition(s) up to date.

    I've never seen any difference in recovery restrictions either because even in the event of entire hard drive failure, the system partition goes back on and the Data partition relationship is dead simple to re-establish either before or after the data backup is put back on.

    Whatever works best as far as the user is concerned and causes the least time annoyance.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Byron Tarbox View Post
    That's a fine method as long as one doesn't mind firing up the big dog (image software) as often as is required to keep the data partition(s) up to date.

    I've never seen any difference in recovery restrictions either because even in the event of entire hard drive failure, the system partition goes back on and the Data partition relationship is dead simple to re-establish either before or after the data backup is put back on.

    Whatever works best as far as the user is concerned and causes the least time annoyance.
    The "big dog" I use fits on a floppy disk; and not everything needs to be backed up every time. A well thought-out partitioning system and file placement strategy makes it fairly simple, quick and easy.

    What works best for me is being able to restore my entire system to bare metal without losing a beat. I can do that. Check my web site for more details.

    One's backup regimen depends on what one is willing to lose forever.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
    Unleash Windows

  11. #11
    New Lounger
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    Brian:
    I have found that almost all of the folders in my "users" directory can be moved by using the "right click properties; change the location method. This must be done on the highest folder in the tree that will allow you to do it. After you are done, you have essentially reproduced the entire c:\users\jim directory on another drive.

    I have not tested what this actually does in practice. I am concerned that new apps will add more folders to my root c:\users\jim and I will miss that they are there. This could result in having an incomplete data backup. I also have not tested yet to see if things go where I intend them to by default (i. e. if my documents go into d:\users\jim\documents and music goes into d:\users\jim\music and the like.

    Moving this stuff was definitely easier on Win XP as you point out. Now I have to move all of the folders separately. If there is "intertwined" stuff, I think that Microsoft should create a file like the registry that kind of thing.. They definitely made this process more complex.

    Roderunner:
    I have been looking at the other stuff that goes in c: by default and having moved every folder that I could relocate using the location property as described above, I see no need for a c:\ partition as big as I have. I will be shrinking that to somewhere between 50GB and 100GB over the weekend. Then I will start using my new structure and let you all know how it works for me.

    bbearren:
    I am only just now learning about junction points. I am even less savvy about the intricacies of permissions.. On one hand, using the junction point method of moving c:\users in it's entirety would seem like a good approach that ties up all the loose ends... But on the other hand, there seem to be lots of hidden gotchas with the junction method. I am not exactly sure I understand what you meant when you referred to having a backup program "traverse" a junction point. In my fantasy world, I want to back up your os partition C:\ with an imaging program. This will work well because:
    1) the drive doesn't change much 2) the backup is small 3) All of the data should be restored together.

    On the other hand, I would want to back up the d:\ partition (where my data is) using a more sophisticated backup scheme that would allow either bulk recovery of the entire drive, or selective recovery of a single file or group of files. These backups would be taken much more frequently and may incorporate things like "incremental" backups. I have not yet figured out what program to use for this.

    If I am backing up d:\users\jim where i have set it up under the junction point method, I am traversing the junction point, yes? And that is bad, yes?

    Your concept seems to be to do an image of system and data. That would seem to create huge backups. Because data changes frequently, they would need to be done frequently. I am unaware of any kind of "incremental" capability in any image program I have used. Does such exist? I am guessing what you are suggesting is to take images of pieces of partitions and then reassemble as needed at recovery time. Seems to me, this approach just begs me to screw it up, either because I forgot to back up a piece or because a piece changed in a way I didn't expect, so I back it up incorrectly.

    All:
    I am going to shrink my c:\ partition over the weekend. Then I may test my "Microsoft method" environment and see how it works. I will study junction points some more, but I am really hesitant about the gotchas with that method. Thank you for all of your input!

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    5 Star Lounger
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    I have found that almost all of the folders in my "users" directory can be moved by using the "right click properties; change the location method. This must be done on the highest folder in the tree that will allow you to do it. After you are done, you have essentially reproduced the entire c:\users\jim directory on another drive.
    That's the "Microsoft way" that has been mentioned. I've been using that method for the better part of a decade now and its very transparent and effective. Once in a while something will be hard coded and want to put a folder in original location but that can almost always be redirected. I can't remember the last time it happened to me but it has happened.

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    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Long View Post
    bbearren:
    I am only just now learning about junction points. I am even less savvy about the intricacies of permissions.. On one hand, using the junction point method of moving c:\users in it's entirety would seem like a good approach that ties up all the loose ends... But on the other hand, there seem to be lots of hidden gotchas with the junction method. I am not exactly sure I understand what you meant when you referred to having a backup program "traverse" a junction point. In my fantasy world, I want to back up your os partition C:\ with an imaging program. This will work well because:
    1) the drive doesn't change much 2) the backup is small 3) All of the data should be restored together.

    On the other hand, I would want to back up the d:\ partition (where my data is) using a more sophisticated backup scheme that would allow either bulk recovery of the entire drive, or selective recovery of a single file or group of files. These backups would be taken much more frequently and may incorporate things like "incremental" backups. I have not yet figured out what program to use for this.

    If I am backing up d:\users\jim where i have set it up under the junction point method, I am traversing the junction point, yes? And that is bad, yes?

    Your concept seems to be to do an image of system and data. That would seem to create huge backups. Because data changes frequently, they would need to be done frequently. I am unaware of any kind of "incremental" capability in any image program I have used. Does such exist? I am guessing what you are suggesting is to take images of pieces of partitions and then reassemble as needed at recovery time. Seems to me, this approach just begs me to screw it up, either because I forgot to back up a piece or because a piece changed in a way I didn't expect, so I back it up incorrectly.

    All:
    I am going to shrink my c:\ partition over the weekend. Then I may test my "Microsoft method" environment and see how it works. I will study junction points some more, but I am really hesitant about the gotchas with that method. Thank you for all of your input!
    Visit my website and give a read to "Partitioning and Backup Options" for a more in-depth look at my backup regimen. I've made some changes to my systems since that was written, but the underlying principles are the same, and work the same way in Windows 7 for drive imaging.

    I use multiple partitions/drives. Not everything need be backed up frequently. The Program Files folder, for example, only needs to be backed up when you install a new application, or uninstall an old one IF you have all your applications' preferences set to save to your data drive(s), which I have done. For my own purposes, when I am trying out a new application to see if it fits my needs, I will install it to a temporary folder. If I decide to keep it, I'll then move it to the Program Files folder. If it doesn't suit me, I simply uninstall it.

    By using multiple partitions, the drive images are smaller, and more specific.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
    Unleash Windows

  14. #14
    5 Star Lounger
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    I fully agree with bbearen on this one. In my mind drive images actually use LESS space for backup then other methods. You basically want the whole machine backed up anyway. If you can create a partition that includes ONLY data, you will be replicating that partition somewhere for backup. If you use Synctoy or some other method of copying just the files you are doing it with no compression. If you do it with an image, you can take advantage of compression and can do a better job of saving versions.

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I also use imaging for my major back up needs and have restored more often from thiose images than I care to admit. When I image my HD, I include all 3 partitions (OS, page file and data partitions) The Image creation only takes about 20-25 minutes including validation. I do recreate a new Image each time a major change takes place or new app is installed. This usually occurs weekly. My images are stored on a USB Ext HD (Seagate Go 1 TB) My use of my personal PCs does not include the massive data changes that many others do include, so imaging my data partition does not create a major problem since the amount of data is very manageable. For those that have huge data files, the Imaging path for the data partition would not be practical. This is why I suggest a C Drive of something in the range of 75 Gb or so is plenty for the OS and all apps and non-moveable portions of Win 7. This way Imaging the C Drive is very manageable and not particularly time consuming. My C Drive presently is about 25 Gb with all 3 partitions at about 35Gb or so.

    A C Drive of 75 Gb is generally more than enough to hold the OS and all apps. (I have Win 7 Ultimate, Office 2010 complete install and many other apps and only have the 25 Gb in size.)

    Well, I guess that's enough for now. Good luck with your back up needs. Mine are very much fullfilled by Imaging, using Acronis True Image 2011 (my PC) and Acronis True Image 2010 (wife's PC).
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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