Laptop/Desktop fresh install

 Posted by on June 15, 2008  Add comments
Jun 152008

Last updated on December 1st, 2010

Well after the first attempt at this post being wiped, I hope it doesn’t this time. After maxing out my drive and installing and uninstalling about 10,000 pieces of software, drivers and what-not, its time for a fresh install. I have a couple of queries though. I plan to partition the disk as follows; 10mb partition for boot log, 25GB partition for audio files/DAW files and the rest for programs(40 GB hard drive). This way the audio files are at the outside of the platter, resulting in a faster seek time. The other thing I was wondering about is that I have 1GB of RAM installed, so was wondering if I should set up a 2GB partition for the paging file? I hoping to run all my songs at 24bit/96K, so Im trying to get every last bit of juice out of her. Any suggestions would be appreciated



  2 Responses to “Laptop/Desktop fresh install”

  1. Cool man, thanks for that
    On other posts, Ive been informed to get a new, bigger , faster internal drive for progs and then an external firewire drive for audio.
    But until I can afford that Ill be going down your route

  2. Hi Paul.
    I’ve fannied around doing all sorts of partitioning etc over the years but generally, I just do it for convenience now. I think the “speed” thing is quite often in people’s heads – a bit like the placebo effect! However, despite all that, there are a few general “rules” that make stuff work better and more reliably.

    Keep windows on it’s own partition. Make sure the partition is big enough to take debug files unless you’ve turned it off. The log and dump files should stay with windows.

    Put the swap file on a separate drive and let windows manage it. There’s no benefit to making it a fixed size on a separate partition. In fact, this can be dangerous! How? – the recommendation is to make the swap file 2 to 2.5 times your main memory size. If you are making huge temporary files such as when doing huge editing of picture or audio files, windows will page to the swap file. If you’ve made a partition the same size as a fixed swap file, that actually stops windows making it bigger if it wants to. The end result is a big crash and the loss of your work in progress!

    If you only have the one drive, defrag the windows partition after a good clean up, and then set the swap file to be on the windows drive. Let windows take charge.

    Always keep the partition(s) no more than half full. If you need more space, get a newer bigger and faster drive. Windows likes to have loads of “headroom”. Defrag them often. This single paragraph will give you more speed than anything else!

    These two things imply a Windows partition of 5-20Gb with the swap file on it, managed by windows and the whole thing having at least 50% free space.

    When installing windows, always use NTFS. DO NOT use FAT and then the convert program at a later date. This will really make windows run slowly.

    If you say you can put the audio files on the edge of the disc, then go for it! Personally, I’ve never found a way to do this and even if I could, I wouldn’t be sure that the files were actually there without looking at them with some sort of disc editor program. The disc manufacturers have their own algorithms that put files to disc and present them to the operating system in the best way. I just leave them to it! I like to put the OS on first on a nice clean drive, do a few registry tweaks and make sure everything is working, and then I put all the data and programs back.

    If you’ve several discs, then separating the operating system from the data and other programs is generally considered “a good thing” as the mainboard disc controllers do all the work like they are designed to.

    WinXP has a 4Gb memory limit. This is TOTAL memory, including the swap file. It means that if you’ve got 3Gb main memory, the swap file max size should be 1Gb. You can make it bigger, but then windows will stop using so much of your fast main memory, which kind of defeats the object of the exercise in getting more memory! This is why most XP machines max out at 2Gb main memory. You’ve got to be really clever to wangle any improvements out above this 2Gb limit, which is a good cost-benefit sweet spot anyway..

    If you have an audio library that’s properly backed up, putting it on a striped disc array will really speed disc access times right up, much more than any other technique. Just remember that the data integrity is compromised by this.

    You can speed up boot times with the -b switch on defrag run from the command prompt.

    Basically, the overall rules are two:
    more discs = good, with programs, OS and data separated; more memory = good, but >2Gb is not cost-effective and probably self-defeating.

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