should i install win 7 immediately or wait to decide if i need it

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by rkayd, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. rkayd macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2011
    #1
    I ordered a mac mini and am wondering if I should install Windows 7 on it. I know sometimes there are problems (at least with windows disks) with partitioning them after you've saved files to it. Is mac the same? I'm just wondering if I will want Win 7 on it (I've only used Windows before but I have another computer with Windows 7 on it so don't know if I will want it on my mac). Or should I make a partition for it immediately in case I want Windows 7 later and if I then decide not to, use that partition for something else or combine it with the mac partition? Or does it matter if I make the partition at some later time? I may also decide to just create a virtual Windows 7 machine in which case I wouldn't need a partition. My question then is does a virtual machine recognize the network and connected usb devices such as a tv tuner or something like that?
     
  2. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    #2
    Yes, macs do have problems with partitioning after you have a lot of data and programs installed on it. You can partition now, and later decide whether you want to install windows on it, or use it as a data partition. I believe you can even remove the partition later, but not sure how "safe" that is to do.

    As for windows 7, it depends a lot what you plan to do with it. If you need the occasional app to run, you might as well use the other computer you already have. But if you want a full blown media center, or to run windows 7 full time, you'll have to up the RAM to at least 4 GB, and preferably 6-8 GB.
     
  3. rkayd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2011
    #3
    I may be getting my mac as early as Wednesday so I want to be prepared. As long as a virtual machine can read the network, I think I will just create a virtual Win 7 machine. All I'll use it for is for emergency legacy programs (such as retrieving backups or something like that) and possibly watching old recorded tv shows (if it's capable of that). For some of them I can use my other PC. I don't do games so that isn't a problem. I will also be installing a 32 bit Win7 and my mac will have 4GB memory so I won't make use of the full memory anyway.

    I plan on creating a seperate partiton on my mac for my data files (I hate having them on the system drive). I don't know much about the mac file system or how large an average app is so I'd like to know what a good size would be for the system partition. It has a 500 GB drive. I will be using it a lot for media (tv, movies, music, audio recording, etc.) so will I need a lot of free space for temp files, etc? I want as much space for my data files as possible but I also don't want to starve the system for needed space. I have a tendency to install lots of apps on my iPad & iPhone so don't know if I'll have that tendency on my mac too. On my Windows PC I have the system drive set at 160GB with 87GB free. I have quite a few programs installed on it and it seems to run fine for what I need it for. Would this be a good judge of what I will need on my mac? Say 150-200GB? Or do I need more or less in comparison to a Windows machine?

    Also, does mac come with its own partitioning software or do I need to install a third party app? If I need a third party app, what is a good one (preferrably free)?
     
  4. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #4
    Sounds like you have a well thought out plan.


    I'm not a fan of partitions, and would recommend you not go there. Many of the reasons to do that on Windows aren't present if you use the Mac as a Mac. Plus, if you do decide on using Windows natively on your Mac, it will be made more difficult because of your non-standard partition scheme. (Boot Camp Assistant requires the Mac OS X drive to be a sinlge partition to help you install Windows.)

    Disk Utility (included) can repartition your drive safely, even to do a manual Windows install, but again, I would not recommend it.

    B
     
  5. rkayd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2011
    #5
    I should have maybe asked some other questions first before stating my plan to partition since I know so little about the mac system.

    The reason I like to keep my data files separate is if I ever have to restore my system I don't need to worry about losing my personal files. I really don't like the iPad file system since it is very hard - sometimes impossible -to share files between apps. Is the mac file system similar or can I save say all my videos on one drive (external) and access them from any program?

    So why is it unadvisable to partition the drive, using one for the system files and one for data files? Is this a general consensus for mac users or mainly a personal preference?
     
  6. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #6
    It's clearly only a personal preference, but one that has arisen over many years. I fought the system for many years, trying to keep a small "C:" drive and kept running into problems with apps not respecting that and insisting that they must install on "C:" etc... A precursor to my return to the Mac platform was letting go of this, as well as giving in to iTunes' organization of my music, etc...

    Mac OS X is a Unix based system. Unlike Windows, there is no concept of drive letters, and everything looks like a file or folder. Including devices and many other things that are not so on Windows. Generally a separate partition will mount under the "/Volumes" folder, so a data partition might be accessed as "/Volumes/Data".

    With backup and restore tools like the built in Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC), it's just as easy to create separate backups of your system and /Users/rkayd as it is to backup /Volumes/Data. They are both essentially folders. The partitioning doesn't really buy you anything.

    Another advantage of Mac OS X over Windows is that you can, using CCC or SuperDuper, create a perfect bootable clone of your system on a removable drive. Then, you don't even have to restore your system, just boot from the clone when you have an issue.

    Unlike iOS, you have full access to the file system just as you would on Windows or another Unix. You can store data files anywhere you want to, including an external drive or NAS.

    Macs also use EFI and GPT instead of BIOS and MBR for the boot process. This is (partially) why Boot Camp Assistant doesn't work unless your internal drive is a "single" partition. There is actually a hidden FAT system partition on top of the OS partition and Lion further adds a system restore partition to the mix. This leaves only a single partition for Windows to stay within the 4 partition MBR limit (a hybrid MBR is still required to boot most versions of Windows.)

    So, again, if you were leaving Windows behind altogether or if you were familiar with Mac OS or Unix to begin with. You could go with a partitioned system, otherwise I would recommend leaving it to the default at least until you have used it like that for a while....

    I've helped enough folks around here who have created work and/or problems for themselves in multi-partition systems that I don't need that kind of aggravation myself.

    B
     

Share This Page