PDA

View Full Version : Partitioning 101



Dogstarman
06-15-2001, 05:48 PM
To avoid any stomping on anyone's thread, I will start this puppy off.

I have a few questions, but I am kinda looking for a little rant and some thick tech explanations. So how about this:

1) How much overhead in the entire system does partitioning eat up? If anyone wants to give specifics, please do. If it is believed to be a trivial amount, then spill your guts.

2) Why not keep a nice little drive to boot from instead of partitioning a separate drive into multiple volumes? You could have an OS on both.

3) Going kinda back to #1, does partitioning have any place in either end of the spectrum (low-end vs high-end)? Or should it universally accepted or avoided?

I personally never really liked partitioning. Not cuz I am old-school. Just because I like things generally simple. Unless I really understand the item in question and can truly decide on a vast knowledge base, that is. And here is as good a place as any. Better, actually.

So have at it, ladies and gents. And thanks much in advance. Yet another barrier being broken down. http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Jim Hef
06-18-2001, 06:43 PM
Since the Finder is keeping partitions and hard drives in order as equal beings, what can the "overhead" be? I wouldn't be able to justify that statement technically, but why would you not want to partition the drive? You basically are doing the same thing by adding folders to organize the larger drive body. I would think you would want the fastest drive to contain your startup system, and these just happen to be the inexpensive large size drives we are now buying. Partitionin them into the various functions just seems to be an organizational tool. So, for #1, what is the speed of the Finder?

Dogstarman
06-20-2001, 12:18 AM
Well, there has to be some sort of overhead in maintaining the directory info for multiple volumes on one drive. I imagine there would be, anyway.

Why would I not want to partition? Well, it takes time to create. And unless someone can argue a good reason why having a separate for a games "folder" and another for "graphics apps" (etc) is a good idea, I am not willing to spend more time than I need to. If I want to have things ready on my desktop instead of digging into a drive, that is what aliases or OS9's tabbed-folder feature is all about.

There are some die-hard advocates for partitioning here. I really just want to hear some passionate responses and opinions. It exists for a reason. What's the practical reasons that can't already be handled by the OS? I understand the older machines and OS's had volume size limits. But that was then.

Jim, do you partition? Why or why not?

chatwood2
06-20-2001, 09:15 AM
DSM,

I just recently started partitioning on one of my machines and I find it to be very useful. My G4 has 2 Seagate X15s in it, with a total of 5 partitions. The first partition (the outermost one on the platter) on both drives is 4 GB, this is my boot and application partition. I have one for OS 9 and one for OX X (once I install OS X). There are no documents on these partition except the unavoiable iTunes stuff in the documents folder. Next on both drives is a 650 MB partition. I use one as a scratch disk when buring CDs and the other will be OS X dedicated swapfile partition as outlined in this article http://www.resexcellence.com/hack_html_01/06-01-01.shtml . The remaining space is a stripe across both drives with a size of 26 GB, this volume has all of my files.

I find this setup a joy to use. I can defragment or run Norton DiskDoctor on the stripe without booting off a CD, while running other applications. I share only the stripe on my office network, preventing people from pirating software or messing with my applications. Buring CDs is very easy, I assemble all of the files in the scratch disk, add a system folder if needed and burn away. Backups are also much easier with my dedicated document partition, I just synchronize that whole partition with my company's NAS.

To answer your questions directly:

1) I think the overhead is close to zero.
2) I don't want to use an small drive to boot from because there are no small drives as fast as Seagate X15s.
3) I see it useful everywhere, but I guess it is more appropiate in high end setups. It allows you to fine tune your system to a degree that is not required and is frankly unnecessary in a low end system.

- Chris

Jim Hef
06-20-2001, 10:36 AM
Chatwood beat me to it. Partitioning allows the system to think you have separate drives. Backups are easier, you can rebuild desktops of smaller packets, and you can isolate startup systems. I can't imagine that the "overhead", if any, could be noticed. I would think that having the system on a drive partition where it can't be fragmented with other writes would be a benefit to the overall operation.

Dogstarman
06-20-2001, 03:07 PM
OK. Seems like fragmentation is the one thing that is universally making the most sense to me.

I know Mag and some others have opinions on this practice....I wish they would stop by.

I will give this partitioning thing a whirl (again) on the new machine when I am done building it.

mactheripper
06-21-2001, 12:33 AM
Where's rwm? He was trying to start a partitioning thread, and Mag told him to start it in a dedicated thread. Here's what I had to say to him. (This discussion does not include OS X, only 7.x.x through 9.1!)
http://www.macgurus.com/ubb/hr.gif
Unless you have the ability to backup 100% of your total formatted drive capacity size onto some kind of media (big slow IDE, CD-RW, tape, Jaz, etc.), I do not follow mag's usual advice to leave it all one large partition.

I have found that partitioning a drive into multiple parts makes it a lot easier to redo the partitioning of individual volumes, which is/was useful for a number of reasons:

<LI>Booting from 2+ system folders appeals to you because of software compatibility, troubleshooting hardware/software, or radically different extension sets that are too complicated to play with,
<LI>You install a new system (say, 9.1 from 8.6) and you want to tweak the new system without kissing the stability of your old one goodbye,
<LI>You can't afford a dedicated backup drive or tape drive, and want to use a portion of your hard drive for backing up one or more partitions of data, etc.


Over the years since 7.5.3, I have used multiple partitions to give myself flexibility. I create a boot volume of about a gig, then two or three equally sized volumes. This way, if you need to reformat a given partition, which I like to do anytime I change system versions or encounter really bad directory structure errors, you can copy most of the files to the other two partitions without deleting anything. This has proved useful to me through Systems 7.5.3 - 8.6, the HFS+ conversion, different versions of Photoshop, netscape, etc.

The OS X thing kind of changes all that, though. It doesn't make as much sense to split everything up now, so you'll have to make the decision based on what you run and how. That said, Linux and UNIX machines like to have separate partitions for swap space, filesystem, and user files, so even OS X would have a reason to partition, especially once OS 9 goes away.

My bottom line is: if you can afford a dedicated backup device, great. If not, I think partitioning is a great way to prevent disaster in the event you have to cleanse the volume and you don't have a place for your data.
http://www.macgurus.com/ubb/hr.gif

Macdaddi2u
06-23-2001, 07:03 AM
My bottom line is: if you can afford a dedicated backup device, great. If not, I think partitioning is a great way to prevent disaster in the event you have to cleanse the volume and you don't have a place for your data.

The previous paragraph seems a very compelling argument for partitioning.
Did I understand correctly that by separating applications and separating their potentially conflicting extensions, you might not only enjoy smoother operation, but reap a performance increase as well?

06-24-2001, 11:54 PM
Here I am - late as usual http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Well my thoughts are -- What are your needs?

I think partitioning is and can be helpful - I see the thought behind it. This is the first time I have done it, again the biggest drive I had was 2 gig until I bought a new 18 gig Cheetah http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

For most people I think 2 or 3 are plenty for those running at a high level of knowledge and computing above the "norm" with special apps or needs might have to partition more.

I went 2 GB for system, 5 GB for applications and the remainder storage.

For my uses and needs I gave them maybe too much room (Everything is back on the drive and I am looking at the system and application partitions thinking I need to fill them - did I waste space - for me right now yes). I think I could have lived with about a 4-7 GB partition for the system and applications and the remainder storage.

Games?? They are apps but if you are really into them you might want some space for them. I don't usually do alot but now that I am set up better (faster) I might and will put them in apps and storage if needed.

I am set up and going again - thanks to all involved!

Randy

[This message has been edited by rwm (edited 25 June 2001).]

mactheripper
06-25-2001, 03:33 AM
Two things:

1) First, I just wanted to present one side of it. Some people feel pretty strong about not partitioning. If you can afford the backup storage, it's a lot simpler.

2) To answer this:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Did I understand correctly that by separating applications and separating their potentially conflicting extensions, you might not only enjoy smoother operation, but reap a performance increase as well?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
No. You can't separate extensions used by different apps, since extensions get installed into the system folder, which has to be on one partition. No way to smooth operation; that's why troubleshooting extension conflicts takes so much of people's time.

Also, it's worth noting that you should theoretically derive a performance benefit from partitioning your drive so that the most accessed files are on the outer tracks, making the reads faster for these files. I would think that this would be the system files for greatest speed, since most apps don't save files that often. Except for rendering apps when rendering.

mactheripper
06-25-2001, 03:38 AM
Oh. I just reread, and, as happens so often, with rereading comes enlightenment.

If you (MacDaddi) meant that you could separate different apps' extensions onto different boot partitions, and thusly enable both apps (although never at the same time), you are 100% correct.

Keep in mind, though, that if you do this, you can never run both apps at the same time. Extensions for all running apps have to reside in the booted System Folder. (Otherwise you could put them on removeable media and remove them mid-operation. That would hose the system.)

This is useful so infrequently that I don't really recommend it.

Macdaddi2u
06-25-2001, 06:06 AM
Mactheripper, yes my thought was in separating entire apps as a possible conflict/performance solution. It was just my impression from what I was reading so I had to ask. I guess it wasnt such a good idea, but thanks for answering the question for me.

CushMacs
07-22-2001, 02:39 PM
mactheripper, Guru Forum Ruler wrote:
"...Also, it's worth noting that you should theoretically derive a performance benefit from partitioning your drive so that the most accessed files are on the outer tracks, making the reads faster for these files. I would think that this would be the system files for greatest speed, since most apps don't save files that often. Except for rendering apps when rendering."
Um, how does one know which partition is at the outer tracks of a disk, especially when using Apple's Disk Tools?
Regards. Seth Wissner

magician
07-23-2001, 03:08 PM
if you partition, the first partition you create will utilitize the outer tracks.

i must say, i think chatwood2's partitioning scheme makes more sense than any other i have seen, though i myself am booting off an OS9.1 RAID 1(2x9GB 10 Cheetahs) right now, with docs and apps on a RAID 0 (2x18GB X15's), all backed up onto a dedicated 36GB 10k Cheetah. I run OSX off a separate 60GB IDE drive, and back up the local backups across the network to a network drive, which in turn is backed up to VXA tape.

on occasion, on those machines here that have CDRW attached to them, i do like to use a 650MB "drop-box" partition.

primarily, i am a proponent of the "use one volume and be done with it" school, if only to avoid conversations like this one. (sorry for the snobbery). I prefer to use folders to organize, that way I never have to agonize over the size of partitions, etc.

i'd rather stick pins in my eyeballs than debate the merits of this or that partitioning scheme.....i think it's just a nervous tic, or an outright bias of mine which represents a fundamental schizoid character flaw or something.

anyone got a bat? Please smack me. Thanks.

http://macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

gmidd
08-10-2001, 10:28 PM
Mag's wisdom and experience not withstanding, it certainly seems from my perspective as a new mac user with some- albeit limited- experience with multiple volume schemes, that the potential benefits of partitioning merits further discussion and clarification.

I for one have been thinking in particular about the possible performance gains (if any) of running a system folder partition/startup disk on one fast drive- let's say a x15 cheetah, then graphics apps on another fast hd, then docs on another separate fast hd, and finally a scratch volume on another separate fast hd for a total of 4 separate hd's.

It seems to me if each of these hd's were of comparable speed and each component of the software was located on an outer partition of each of these seperate hd's, a certain overall reduction in seek time would result during prolonged pshop or other graphic apps operations...

Having said this, I'll bet the 'gurus are gonna' tell me that any gains from this particular scheme pale in comparision to the gains resulting from striping volumes... http://www.macgurus.com/ubb/tongue.gif

Still, perhaps if a mac user had no possible immediate relief provided by fast and multiple scsi drives + raid 0, but only a boatload of smallish, older, slower ata's plus ext. fw, some overall performance improvement, though modest, could be realized by seperating out the components as above..

Whaddayaall think? -g