Partitioning your Macs

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Al Quitos, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. Al Quitos macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    I'd be curious to hear everyones' thoughts on partitioning Macs.

    I was trying to plan organization for the G5 I'll purchase when I return to the States, and I was thinking something along the lines of setting the following volumes up...

    +System files
    +Scratch/VM file
    +Temporary files (such as IM, downloads, 'Net cache, CD burning)
    +E-mail (I can justify this as a seperate volume; may include IM logs)
    +Audio files
    +Image files
    +Web Development
    +Document archive

    Sizes are undecided at this point (I'll be getting 500GB internal, to start ,w/2.5GB RAM). How do you guys partition and organize your files on your Macs (assuming you do)?
  2. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    That seems like a lot of partitions! I don't quite see what advantage there is to partioning your hard drive except in certain special cases. In fact, I prefer to have just one large volume, that way I'm not restricted as to how big a file I can store on it. Also, I don't think OS X is really designed to have things spread across multiple partitions. It seems like your Home folder should all be in one place for the OS to operate properly.
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    From an access speed point of view, you would be better to get two drives rather than one large drive.

    Put the System, Scratch and Applications on one
    Put the data on the second.

    What is the benefit you are trying to attain with all the partitions?
  4. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    I prefer things a little more orderly than one 500GB-partition. ;)

    There are benefits to multiple volumes.

    For instance, a dedicated partition for a scratch-file allows some programs to run faster (such as Photoshop; a dedicated partition on a seperate drive would be even faster).

    Another benefit is that things are more easily kept clean and clutter-free. Which is why I would like a seperate volume for media files and a seperate volume for temporary files (which will be easier to keep track-of and delete).

    Lastly, if there's a problem with a program, file, virus, or whatever, seperate volumes help to better contain the problem. If a program were to get out of handm somehow, I might lose only that application or several applications...I don't risk losing all my audio files, image files, or (as much) damage to the functioning of the entire system.
  5. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    The Mac comes with two 250GB HDs. I'm not sure if they can be used seperately or have to be used in a RAID 0/1 configuration, so I'm planning for RAID 0.

    As far as access speed, scratch files are better kept on a seperate drive from Applications. The benefits I sort-of am trying to keep in mind are listed in this comment.
  6. SteveC macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2003
    How do you tell the computer where to store/access scratch files? How does it know where you want it stored?
  7. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    No, you don't want RAID 0
    You won't see any speed increase in typical desktop use, but you'll increase the risk substantially.

    Put a Scratch partition and and a partition for System and Apps on Drive One
    Put as much of your data as you can on Drive Two. The reason for this is to separate reading and writing between two drives, which is much faster than haveing one head shuttling between read and write operations. If the file being read and file being written are on the same drive it is slower - partitions don't help in that case.

    The reason for making a small scratch partition is to force it to be in the fastest area of the disk platter, so create it first.

    As far as the rest of the benefits you're looking for, there's little to recommend partitions over folders.
  8. revenuee macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2003
    A place where i am supreme emporer
    but you are still dealing with only one hard drive ... and what happens when you run out of space on one partition? you are really limiting your self

    the only speed benefits come from separate hard drives not separate partitions -- set up scratch for photoshop on a separate hard drive will give you a benefit, if you just partition you are still accessing the same hard drive

    seems more chaotic to me to have multiple partitions rather than just folders
  9. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    What CanadaRAM is saying is correct. It's fine to have a system drive and then a separate drive for data (in fact it'll give you a speed boost), but 10 partitions really isn't a good idea. For one thing, two partitions on the same drive is not the same as two hard drives, because both partitions still share the same read/write head assembly, so the computer can't access both partitions simultaneously.

    For example, on my PowerMac G5 I have the main hard drive with the OS and all my applications on it, then the second 250 GB drive is used for all video, audio and images, so that access to those files is not tied up by access to the system and applications files on the main drive. Apple recommends this kind of set up for video editing.
  10. daveL macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2003
    You're creating a storage management nightmare. What happens 3 months from now when the storage you allocated for a particular partition, say audio files, fills up, but you still have twice as much as you need in your Document archive? That's just silly, IMO. There's nothing more "organized" about partitions vs folders, except that you've lost flexibility. If you need a scratch partition, that's fine, but a single primary partition is the way to go for everything else. I think, however, you've already decided what you're going to do, so I'm curious why you started this thread?
  11. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    Because I haven't decided on what I'm going to do. I was inviting input on how everyone else manages their items. One common comment I've noticed is that everyone says you lose flexibility, but you can re-size partitions without wiping everything clean, so you really don't lose flexibility; you have data containment and if you don't plan ahead then you have extra time and effort that you must devote to adjusting partitions.

    For the person who asked about how you set scratch volumes and tell the computer where to do this...that's set in system and program preferences, depending what you're talking about. Sorry I can't be more specific at this moment.

    However, I can see what many of you are saying. I'm inviting this input because things in the Mac world might be a bit different than the PC world...and I'm doing pre-emptive planning for the switch.

    I asked about RAID 0/1 setups because I did not know if Mac shipped their systems like that by default; I don't desire being forced into a RAID setup for the reasons referenced (and another reason or two).

    What do you guys recommend for scratch volume size on Macs? What about using "RAM disks" for program scratch files and caches (say, with browser)? Any real performance benefits on Macs?
  12. GroundLoop macrumors 68000


    Mar 21, 2003
    I personally use two partitions on my PowerBook, one for OS/Applications, and another for data. I got used to doing this from my Windows days (it makes reinstalling the OS a hell of a lot easier). I know that I don't -have- to do this anymore. I guess it only really helps when major updates to OS X come around. Call it peace of mind.

  13. Duckfeet macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2005
    My Plan

    I have a new 2.3Ghz PM in "preparing shipping" mode at Apple right now. I too will have 2.5 GB RAM but with a 250GB stock drive with a 300 GB MaxLine III SATA (with that 16 MB buffer;) )

    The Maxtor will be my master:
    • Tiger
    • Tunes
    • Photos
    • Applications
    • Downloads
    • Documents

    The stock drive will look like this:
    • Swap/Scratch
    • OS 9.2.2
    • Deepstorage
    • Tiger backup
    • Documents backup

    As you can see, I prefer having "physical" space between different data. Anyone have any logical reasoning why the above is NOT a good idea? I don't buy the argument "I let OS X do its thing". This type a setup makes for easy restores, and when I do regular disk maintenance I have confidence when each partition is deemed healthy. If you have the misfortune of losing a volume you limit the damage.

    Mind you, losing a hard drive is more likely.
  14. TMA macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2003
    Are you quite sure about that? I know its been possible to do it on Windows aloooong time ago but I don't know about Macs, or even Windows XP. I wouldn't trust a program claiming to resize partitions with a 10,000 foot barge pole.

    Seriously fellas', there's no reason to set up this many partitions. Folders are there to keep your files organized without the need to worry about how much space you have left on each partition. They can be useful for scratch disks, but that's about it. Mark my words, what you propose wont make things easy in the long run.
  15. TMA macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2003
    Logical reasoning now follows:
    1/ More work for your mac and your HD. More things to go wrong. greater chance of loosing data.
    2/ You will be wasting space as there is no way for you to accurately plan how much you will need for each partition.
    3/ Mac OS X has its own neat way of organising photo's, documents and music. You don't have to use it, you can make nice little folders within your documents folder. Put aliases of each folder on the desktop if that helps you.
    4/ backing up is important, buy an external drive or some blank DVD media. In the long run this will be cheaper and quicker than messing about with partitions like that.
    5/ The 'physical space' is silly :p All your files go on your hard disk.
  16. broken_keyboard macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2004
    Secret Moon base
    Sounds like something out of science fiction :)

    I recommend that you use Tiger's disk concatenation feature to turn both the hard drives in to one giant partition. Then use folders for each of the data types. Or even better, don't organize based on the type of data, but rather based on what project each file goes with. Spotlight can easily find all the audio files in a split second, but it can't easily find all the files for Project X.
  17. Duckfeet macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2005
    I Beg to Differ...

    1/ More work? Apart from an initial format and a few alias folders, I don't agree. You mention that more things can go wrong & greater chance to lose data...why? so?...
    2/ I've been partitioning for years and have a pretty good idea of my needs, but I concede your point. Nevertheless, with 450 GB of space I will not be running out soon.
    /3 Ya,so? It also means that I would lose everything if I had to re-install the system. You might answer, well just use your backup of your documents, but what about all the programs that have been installed that would be lost on a clean install? Do you suggest re-installing them? For me that is a waste of time.
    /4 Why an external drive? What is the sense in that? DVD's...maybe for archives but not regular back-ups.
    /5 I was speaking "figuratively"... note the quotation marks in the original post. Your point is obvious.

    You have not made any arguments to change my mind. I think it boils down to being a "splitter" or not. Some people prefer to break up and categorize and others don't.

    I encourage further discussion though, perhaps from a UNIX geek who understands UNIX file structure and might be able to shed light on this issue.

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