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i just got a 1 Tb drive to replace my other 3 and basically the title says it all is it better to partition it or leave it as one large disk . also what would the benifits be either way
I would make at least two partitions. One for the operating system and the other for almost everything else. The root partition should be no smaller than 30 GB to give yourself a little room to grow but would be better at 50 -60 GB. Personal experience provides me that size not any official reason.
After that the partition sizes are up to you and your preferences for organisation. One factor with partition size used to be the larger a partition was then the minimum block size got bigger. The block size is the minimum storage area used by a single file. If a file is 30 KB big and the block size is 64 KB then that file takes up 64 KB of room. With FAT partitions this is a major concern. With NTFS based partitions it's not as significant. FAT has smaller limits on how many blocks a partition can have.
Creating a boot partition will allow you to reinstall the OS without possibly having to reinstall everything else too. If you do this then you might also want to move the default location for all user account of everything stored in the My Documents directory trees to the or latter partitions. That will help keep you from trying to backup all those personal files during what may be a stressful time.
The unique ID numbers for user accounts that NT based OSes create and use are not recognized by a completely fresh install of the operating system. The ID numbers are retained if you basically do an OS repair or upgrade. If you essentially wipe out the Windows directory tree you lose those unique IDs and thus access to the information protected by those IDs.
A hard drive platter is shaped about like a CD or DVD, except smaller. If you spin a hard drive platter, the linear speed toward the inside of the platter is less than the linear speed at the edge. The way a hard drive works is that the platters spin, while a drive head darts back and forth radially above the platter, reading or writing data to the platter as the platter spins by. Thus, a hard drive can offer faster sequential read and write speeds toward the edge of the platter, because the platter is spinning faster there.
Ideally, you'd like to have the files where speed matters (loosely, the OS and applications) toward the outside of the platter, and the files where speed doesn't matter toward the middle. You can do that by partitioning the hard drive, to put a relatively small partition at the start of the drive, and a larger one for the rest of the drive. Then you install programs on the first partition, and put stuff like music or videos on the second partition.
Whether the relatively small performance benefits are worth the hassle is a matter of personal taste. Though personally, I wouldn't buy a 1 TB hard drive in the first place, as I don't need that much capacity.
If your 1TB HDD suffers mechanical failures, then all information regardless partitions are lost. Three smaller hard drives means you will not all data spread between them if one blows out. Partition at your own risk.
There really is no benefit to multiple partitions. It doesn't protect against crashes, and its not simpler. I would opt for 3 or 4 HDD instead of 1 big HDD. One for OS, One for Applications, One for Data Files, and One to backup those Data Files. For the OS and Applications, its nice to opt for a small SSD if its in your budget.
If I had only 1 HDD to work with, I would place everything on it into 2 equal sized partitions. 1 for OS and Applications, the other for data. This way if you upgrade your OS, you can do it without touching your data files and do it cleanly with a reformat. If you do reinstall your OS chances are you will have to reinstall your apps as well due to registry keys, and drivers in the Windows Folder.
I would try not to break things up into small partitions. With Magnetic drives, its better to have more GB on a partition to get faster read/write times. Its also good to have alot of freespace available.