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  1. #1
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    Newbie to the "Lounge" and Win7: some questions

    Hi everyone;

    As my subject line says - I'm a real newbie to Win7. In fact, I don't even have it yet. But here's a bit about me and my current setup.

    I'm no youngster, and I have been using computers for about 20 some years. I used to consider myself as fairly knowledgeable (say intermediate level), but technology has way outrun me. Most of the things I read now, are way above my head. I think I got totally lost somewhere along the way by not learning about the user accounts among other things in XP.

    I'm still using XP Pro SP3. I have two 500GB drives, both partitioned the same into 4 partitions. I do an image back-up once a week to the second internal drive as well as to a 1 TB external drive. I used "Tweak XP (or maybe it was "Tweak UI") to move my documents, music and photos folders to separate partitions renamed to what they contained, and have never incurred any problems with this setup.

    I started reading the thread: "Moving user folders off C:\ drive", as I would like to continue to use my previous method of partitions etc., and I'm now more confused than ever. Two things I picked up though:

    1- from "Tarbo" in post 3 Conversely, the loss of data folder continuity is not a risk to the Windows operating environment itself, so just moving the special folders within the user profile that can be moved is the way to go, and you don't even have to do that if you're a fan of libraries in Windows 7
    .

    2 - from "DaveA" in post 36: "I have done away with using partitions since the original reason has gone away, and have this second drive and/or networked storage in use. I do NOT direct the users folder there, I just elect to control where I save things by selecting the drive and/or folders as needed.
    I'm planning on having a custom machine built (I've always had custom machines) with the same set-up as my current machine with two 500GB hard drives (plenty of space for what I do). So now, I want to know:

    a - Obviously, I know nothing about libraries. What do they do that makes it unnecessary to move the "Documents" Music" and "Photos" folders?
    b - whether I should partition the drives (I'm not sure what the obvious reason for doing that was) and if not, why not?
    c - I have never used a "login window" or the "user accounts". I am the only one who uses my computer and I don't wish to start doing those things with Win7. I plan on turning off the user accounts, and would like to bypass the login screen. Possible???
    Lorraine in Westbank, BC

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    a - you can add any folder to a library. You can choose how much or how little organizational structure you want to use in storing your data but still have the data appear to be organized by including folders in the appropriate library.

    b - Partitioning is up to you. For what I do with PCs I don't see a reason to partition todays very large drives. My drives never become severly fragmented (use the Windows 7 defrag). I've never seen any provable appreciable performance benefit from multiple partitions. If you are looking for performance use multiple drives. Disk drives are cheap. I image each system every day automatically using Windows Home Server. I'm not concerned about restoring part of a system.

    c - You can easily set Windows 7 to automatically login. You must use a user account. Even with XP you have to use a user account. There is no good reason to try to not have a user account. When you are ready see one or more of the first few links at Windows 7 login automatically.

    Joe

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    Hi Lorraine, welcome to the Lounge.

    b - whether I should partition the drives (I'm not sure what the obvious reason for doing that was) and if not, why not?
    -
    You say your PC has a 500gb hdd, to my way of thinking its too big, as you have ample storage using your 1TB external hdd.

    Here's how mine is set-up & why.

    My PC has only one hdd @ 160gb, C: drive is 45gb, it only has the few files I need instant access to i.e. wallpapers & photos I use when sending mail.
    The partition D: drive has my music & movies. These do not require backing up as I have copies of them on 3 external hdd's.
    -
    All I download is saved to the desktop, (saves looking for them) and then put where I want them.
    -
    For doing a back up, I use the 'One Click' feature of Acronis 2010, as it is a 'System State' back up for C: drive only. It gets used after my installed programs get updated or before testing new programs. If they are not to my liking, all I have to do is use the 'Restore' feature. Its the only safe way to completely remove it, (as Acronis user guide states).
    My back ups are done in under 7 minutes, ( restore is even faster ) file size is approximately 4gb or less.
    D: drive NEVER gets backed up, as they are easily replaced if I lose one or all of them from my storage hdd's.
    George's PC Specs. / Laptop. Desktop.

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    Thanks Joe;

    Your answers have been very helpful.

    I've always found the partitions to be a bit of a pain, so I don't think I'll have any problem with not having them, as I've read a bit about Windows 7's def rag capabilities being excellent.

    As for the libraries, they sound great, but I'm sure going to have to do a lot of reorganizing (which is actually a good thing, as it's been needed on my PC for quite a while).

    As for the login - thanks for the links. I've included it in a "Win 7 Info" folder on my desktop.

    Those were my major concerns before having my new machine set up, which I can now go ahead and do. I'm sure I'll be back to the lounge often, once I get my new system.

    Thanks again for your help.
    Lorraine in Westbank, BC

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    There is a lot of merit to having a smaller C: drive in that reimaging and recovery time is greatly improved. So if you're setting a system up from scratch, that might be a good start. But like Joe, I also see no need for this. I have a 500GB drive in my laptop and have not had any issues with its size.

    As far as libraries, they are a great help in getting to things quickly that you use a lot. I'm really only just starting to get used to using them. I've been so organized with my files for so long that libraries aren't much different than my personal directory structure. That said, I store everything in a DATA directory, and point the defaults of all my software to various folder within. Then I only have to run a ROBOCOPY backup of the entire DATA folder. Its simple and elegant, and has served me well since the early days of XP.
    Chuck

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    Lorraine,

    Just putting my 2 cents in...

    I've always partitioned my drives for the following reasons which may or may not apply to you -- YMMV.

    1. I move my data {Documents / MyDocuments} to a separate partition. This allows me to take my image backups or my data faster as I don't have to image the whole OS & Programs. I image the data partition a lot due to writing a lot of VBA code and attendant documentation that I don't want to loose. It also makes it easier to move the data to another machine with different hardware and the OS already loaded should the need arise.

    2. When I futz around with the OS {a frequent occurrence} if something goes wrong I just have to restore the OS partition and not the data partition, again saving time. This also applies if malware should get past my defenses.

    3. I have my laptop set up the same way, I travel a lot, so I just use sync toy to sync up the data partitions. I know I could do this on a single partition but this way it doesn't fragment my OS/Programs partition which I like to keep de-fragmented.

    One more Welcome to the Lounge.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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    My thanks to all who replied.

    My current setup uses 46GB on C drive for System and Program files. The other three drives hold about GB in total.

    If it's possible to set up an extra partition after the Win 7 Pro and all of my programs have been installed and data copied, then I may start out without partitions and see how it goes. Although I do like the idea of keeping System and Program files separate.

    So I'm still sitting on the fence here, and I guess I'm the only one who can really make the decision.

    Thanks again to all of you for your input.
    Lorraine in Westbank, BC

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    Oops - I thought I had proof read this. The three drives hold 90GB of data. Sorry for the omission.
    Lorraine in Westbank, BC

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    Arrow Libraries, Partitions, and User Accounts

    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleRain63 View Post
    a - Obviously, I know nothing about libraries. What do they do that makes it unnecessary to move the "Documents" Music" and "Photos" folders?
    I'd say that right now you don't need to be concerned about Libraries, as the reasons for using them aren't really relevant to your other two questions. Once you get a Windows 7 system, however, you may want to read Fred Langa's article "Make the Most of Windows 7's Libraries." Also, you might find my post in the Lounge discussion of his article helpful ("Why Libaries?").

    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleRain63 View Post
    b - whether I should partition the drives (I'm not sure what the obvious reason for doing that was) and if not, why not?
    You don't have to partition your drives--but then, you never did. There are still (IMO) some fairly desirable advantages from doing so, however:

    • Data backup strategy: As others have mentioned, partitioning and segregating data from the OS and programs can make setting up a reasonable backup scheme easier. At it's very simplest (with a single HDD), my system is to leave the OS and all programs on C: so that I can make disk images of just my "static" data (I make a new image right after each major change, such as installing a Windows service pack or a new program; I maintain enough of those images that I can go back to an earlier system/program configuration if something goes sideways down the road, or if I simply want to start over with my original configuration; since there are no documents on C:, I haven't messed with them).

      I move my data, including my entire User folder, not just "My Documents," to D: so that I can back up those files using a file-by-file backup (you can also do an image backup of your data, but there's not really a good reason for doing so if you've got a verified file backup). The reason I move my User folder over is that this includes the "App Data" folder, which includes (among other things) all my custom configurations for my various apps (though especially my configuration and extensions for Firefox). Moving the User folder takes a special utility called Profile Relocator (available for download from LifeHacker.com--just search for it). Anyway, if that doesn't sound of interest to you, you could keep things simple and just move your "My Documents" folder (which it sounds like you already know how to do).

      BTW, my actual partition system is a bit more complex, as I have three HDDs, not one; just to keep this answer simple, I'll talk about that in a separate post.


    • Performance: If you have multiple HDDs, putting your Windows swap file (aka "virtual memory file") on a separate HDD from your OS and programs may help your system run faster, with the magnitude of the effect depending on how much RAM you have. It also helps to put the swap file in its own partition, as that makes it impossible to fragment the swap file (which slows down swap file accesses considerably); if you're going to do this, creating the swap file partition at the very beginning of the HDD will maximize swap file access speeds.

      Having said all that, it's not clear how much these strategies will improve performance in Windows 7 as opposed to in XP (where they could help a lot). I didn't find that it was that hard to set things up this way in Windows 7, however--the Disk Manager console (in Computer Management) can easily handle setting up the partition where you want it. FYI, I put my swap file partition on the HDD I use for storing my backups.

    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleRain63 View Post
    c - I have never used a "login window" or the "user accounts". I am the only one who uses my computer and I don't wish to start doing those things with Win7. I plan on turning off the user accounts, and would like to bypass the login screen. Possible???
    Windows 7 will set this up for you the first time you turn it on. By default, there won't be a logon screen unless you choose either (1) to set up a second user account or (2) setup a logon password for your user account. I did neither, so I never see a logon screen.

    Just remember, though, that your default user account will have Administrator privileges--it's possible to do things in an Administrator account that can really mess things up. This is why many experts recommend creating a separate user account named "Administrator" and changing the permissions level for your user account to "Standard User." Doing so will result in your having a logon screen, but it's no big deal--you'll just click on your personal account's icon to get to your desktop (and have the Administrator account readily available in case you need to do some system setup or configuration tasks).

  14. #10
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    Smile Multiple-HDD partition scheme

    Disclosure: I'm an engineer by training, so I may have some OCD tendencies that you might not wish to emulate.

    As promised in my previous post in this thread:

    My system has three HDD's--one 500GB WD Caviar Black and two 1TB Hitachis. Since the Caviar Black is the fastest drive, I use it for my two primary partitions (C: and D:) for Windows/applications and my data (in my case, my entire User folder, as I previously explained).

    The first 1TB drive (E:) I use for storing (in a single partition) all large media file collections (photos, videos, music, and podcasts). This leaves me with lots of room for those collections to expand, while not taking away space on my D: drive from all of my other data. Also, since I store only large files on E:, I'm using a larger cluster size than the default in order to speed up file reads and writes.

    The second 1TB drive is divided into swapfile (X:) and backup (W:) partitions. X: stores the Windows swapfile and nothing else, and is located at the beginning of the drive (to maximize read/write speed). W: contains my collection of disk images of C: and my file-by-file backups of D:. The choice of partition letter assignments is arbitrary--I've just always used X: for the swapfile, while Y: and Z: are external drives; W: was the next one available. I intentionally stayed away from using letters at the top of the alphabet in order to not create problems later if I should add another data drive or optical drive.

    For those who are interested, I used to use Acronis True Image Home (TIH) on my XP system, and was planning on installing it on my Windows 7 system. Before doing so, however, I heard good things about Win7's own backup capabilities, so I decided to give them a try. I can report that both the disk imaging and file-by-file backups work fine (both manually and automatically). Because the image files created via Win7 Backup are stored in a more transparent fashion than in TIH, I find that it's easier to selectively delete "interim" images (to save space), while maintaining my baseline" images (that represent various major stages of configuring my system to which I might wish to revert).

    Again, if you're interested, I also sync (using GoodSync, which I recommend) my D: and E: partitions to a rotating pair of portable external HDDs (the Y: and Z: drives I previously mentioned). The "out of rotation" HDD is stored offsite; I rotate the HDDs every 2-4 weeks.

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    Once you get a Windows 7 system, however, you may want to read Fred Langa's article "Make the Most of Windows 7's Libraries." Also, you might find my post in the Lounge discussion of his article helpful "Why Libaries?"[/URL
    Your URL to Fred Langa's article actually took to me to an article called "10 bizarre sports events you never heard of" but I did find the article from the website. Will check out yours also.

    I move my data, including my entire User folder, not just "My Documents," to D: so that I can back up those files using a file-by-file backup. Moving the User folder takes a special utility called Profile Relocator (available for download from LifeHacker.com.
    This sounds like a like a great idea. I will do it on my new PC. Already downloaded the utility.

    I haven't been here the last few days as I've been out shopping for a laptop. Came home with a Toshiba Satellite Pro, with Windows 7 Pro 64 bit, an Intel Core i3 2.4 GHz processor and 250 GB hard drive. It was a display model and the tech at London Drugs set it back to factory settings. I was going to partition this drive but the tech said it couldn't be done without using a 3rd party software (i.e. Drive Image). I took a snip of the disk configuration, but not sure how to insert it here. It has a 1.46 GB Recovery partition, 199 GB volume C: System and a pair of small "Healthy (primary partition)s". One is 21 GB and the other is 11 GB. He said these were a to do with Windows 7 and they shouldn't be touched. Does this ring true with the gurus here?

    As to performance, my new PC (and hubby's) will have an Intel Core i7 (2nd generation) 3.4 GHz processor with Win 7 Pro 64 bit and 2 500GB HDD's. So I don't think I need worry about moving the swap file. That's waaay over my head. I think I'll just go with 2 partitions, one for System and programs and the other for all of my data.

    I guess I forgot to mention that I'm just a home user (retired) and my biggest use of my PC is for editing and digitizing machine embroidery designs, as well email, photos, keeping track of household accounts, and all the other little things one does with a computer. Of course we mustn't forget web surfing . The laptop is mainly for travel and using as a second monitor so that I can have instructional videos (or PDF's) that I can watch and do what is being demo'd on my PC. Maybe more than we need, but we've never been unhappy with getting TOL anything. We don't like to skimp .

    One thing I have not been able to figure out is how to make ALL folders in Windows Explorer to open with the columns set to "Size all columns to fit". I've looked a few help files and articles, but I just can't get it to work.
    Last edited by PurpleRain63; 2011-05-14 at 17:52.
    Lorraine in Westbank, BC

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    I think you will like Win 7, but I suggest you exercise care in picking the version you get, as a lot of things are built into the system that can save you from having to buy third-party software. I also suggest that you keep your existing computer, as it will be familiar and it obviously runs the peripherals you have now, and they may not be compatible with Win 7.

    Computer economics might help, especially if your existing computer is ‘mature’ and your idea of prices similarly so. Hardware prices have plummeted so you will get a lot for your money in that department, and software may be the big budget item. Your preconceptions about proportions may not be realistic: if you are purchasing a new desktop and anyone mentions a 500 GB hard drive, you might say ‘Really? I didn’t know they were still making those things.’

    There is a sweet spot with components like drives, and it is best to keep relatively close to the sweet spot. In other words, get what everyone else is getting, with adjustments for quality or size. That way, you enjoy the benefits of mass production and get the most for your money. Drives are getting bigger and better all the time, and home computers have new applications that you might really like. You can download movies, which are real storage hogs, and feed them to your home entertainment center. (That’s a bad example, given that you may have been recording them for years, but when you tie a computer to the system you do make certain gains.)

    I purchased a new 2TB external drive with power supply and data backup software fairly recently for $99.98. That was a sale price ($30 off), but there are a number of such data backup devices in the same price range that back up your data whenever the computer is idle. And that, in turn, is one argument to support Joe’s no-partitioning rule: you can back up data on a continual basis to an external drive, and image the drive less frequently. (If you’re curious, it is an HP SimpleSave, at Staples.)

    I don’t know if there’s a store near you nor if the sale is chain-wide, but if you are a home user you qualify for the Home and Student WordPerfect Office X5, which Staples has on sale at present for $49.98. That’s just a consumer tip, and totally out of place in an MS Office-dominated Lounge.

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    Exclamation Corrected link for Fred Langa's article on Windows 7 Libraries

    The correct link is http://windowssecrets.com/top-story/...-7s-libraries/

    The original link was supposed to go to the full issue of Windows Secrets that had this article--not sure why it redirected to the humor page only.

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    Arrow Windows 7 partitions & partition management

    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleRain63 View Post
    Came home with a Toshiba Satellite Pro, with Windows 7 Pro 64 bit, an Intel Core i3 2.4 GHz processor and 250 GB hard drive. It was a display model and the tech at London Drugs set it back to factory settings. I was going to partition this drive but the tech said it couldn't be done without using a 3rd party software (i.e. Drive Image). I took a snip of the disk configuration, but not sure how to insert it here. It has a 1.46 GB Recovery partition, 199 GB volume C: System and a pair of small "Healthy (primary partition)s". One is 21 GB and the other is 11 GB. He said these were a to do with Windows 7 and they shouldn't be touched. Does this ring true with the gurus here?
    When I received my system (Win7 Pro x64), it had the recovery and boot partitions, but not any additional ones. What do you see when you access those partitions in Explorer (you may need to open "Folder Options" to turn on viewing of hidden and system files)?

    Depending on what you find (the partitions are empty, loaded with crapware, or relate to some Toshiba-specific utility), you may be able to use them as your extra partitions. If that's the case, you can manipulate the partitions to your heart's content with Window's Disk Management. It's not as flexible as a third party partitioning utility, but easy to use--it just takes a bit more planning in advance so that you know how you want things to end up.

    In your case, if the extra partitions are really extraneous (and after you reformat them or delete any junk; I'd recommend the reformat), you could simply shrink the C: partition to what's big enough for your system and apps (wait until you've installed all your apps, and leave about an extra 10-20% of disk space). The next available partition could be expanded and used as your data partition, and the third partition could be resized as needed to hold your swap file (more on that below; this is still worth doing on a single-HDD system, as it ensures that the swap file never gets fragmented; if your laptop has only 2GB of RAM, you will be accessing the swap file a lot, and fragmentation will slow down that process considerably).

    If there's something of real value going on with those two partitions, I'd be interested in knowing what it is, if you wouldn't mind posting that in a reply.

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    Arrow Moving the swap file is easy

    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleRain63 View Post
    As to performance, my new PC (and hubby's) will have an Intel Core i7 (2nd generation) 3.4 GHz processor with Win 7 Pro 64 bit and 2 500GB HDD's. So I don't think I need worry about moving the swap file. That's waaay over my head. I think I'll just go with 2 partitions, one for System and programs and the other for all of my data.
    If you're going to create a D: partition for your data on the first HDD (along with your system partition), how are you going to use your second HDD? At the very least, it would be a candidate for holding a swap file partition. Beyond that, you could store backups on the rest of the drive or large media files.

    FYI, creating the partition for the swap file on the second HDD would be the hard part, and it's not hard at all using Disk Management. Moving the swap file is done through the System control panel, as follows (note that you should first create the dedicated swap file partition, though you'll need to go through step 4 to find out what size the partition needs to be):

    1. Right click on the Computer icon on your desktop (or on the Computer item in the right column of the Start menu) and select Properties to open the System control panel.
    2. In the left panel of the System control panel, click on "Advanced system settings," which will open the System Properties dialog, with the Advanced tab already selected.
    3. In the Performance section of the Advanced tab, click on "Settings..." to open the Performance Options dialog.
    4. In the Performance Options dialog, select the Advanced tab; in the "Virtual memory" section, click on "Change..." to open the Virtual Memory dialog. You'll now see the swap file (aka "paging file"), usually on the C: drive. (Note: You'll need to look at this dialog before setting up the swap file partition, in order to see how much room you'll need; use the number shown at the bottom of this dialog for the "recommended" size.)
    5. Uncheck the box at the top of the Virtual Memory dialog ("Automatically manage paging file size for all drives").
    6. Select the C: drive from the drive list, and click on the radio button for "No paging file."
    7. Click the Set button.
    8. Select the swap file partition/drive from the drive list, and click on the radio button for "System managed size"; the dialog should now display approximately the same recommended size at the bottom of the panel as it did before (if it's slightly different, don't worry).
    9. Click the Set button.
    10. Click OK on this dialog and all other dialogs you've opened.

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