Questions

Does partitioning a HDD decrease performance?

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0 Votes
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Does partitioning a HDD decrease performance?

wompai
Okay, I've read a lot of articles on this subject and it may be a kind of newbie question to ask, but; will partitioning a HDD increase or decrease performance? There are a lot of articles to be found on this subject, some people say that it decreases the performance of the drive others say it increases the performance of the drive and I have no idea which to believe... Any ideas?
  • +
    0 Votes

    It the harddrive is old then it would slow (decrease) the performance of the drive.
    But, if the drive is new (or new-ish) then the speed is consistant to the whole drive no matter how many partitions you have. But it all depends on your system, motherboard etc, basically it would not decrease performance (to new drives), new drives have the added on memory extension so that the drive(s) do not slow down during usage (including partitioning).
    Hope this irons out a few questions you have on this issue.

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    1 Votes
    capodieci

    First of all, let say we are talking of NON SOLID STATE hard drives. Solid states hard drive are "limited" in speed just by the controller, as they can access several location of the hard disk memory in the same time, while "traditional" hard drive need to move the magnetic head to the right track to access the right file (memory address of the hard drive). If you use only one hard drive, and in this hard drive you use a partition as swap memory (the computer uses the hard drive as if ti was ram memory), and you use a partition for video editing memory buffer, another for other heavily memory access application (photoshop, etc), then having 2 or more hard drives makes a HUGE difference. If you use a partition just to save some documents, then the difference is none (even with an old hard drive). "Traditional" hard drive have a physical limitation of being able to access just a memory address per time, and to do so they must move an arm with a magnetic head to the right position. A little bit like changing song on a vinyl music disk. If two different areas need to be read simultaneously the head of the hard disk needs to keep moving back and forward, and being a mechanical thing is for sure slower than electricity, thus giving lower performance to the computer (data arrives to the application slower, consequently all goes slower).

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    0 Votes
    wompai

    ... how a HDD works. Yet, there are so many articles on the net with different stories... Well ,we are talking here about a 120 GB maxtor IDE which is at least 5 years old...

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    0 Votes
    seanferd

    If something is enumerating or searching files in C:, and it doesn't have to go through all the stuff you've moved to or whatever, the operation will be faster.

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    0 Votes
    TheChas

    As stated, it will depend on how you use the different drive partitions.

    In most instances, a partitioned drive will run slightly slower than 2 or more physical drives. This will be most significant when transferring files from 1 drive to another. However, 2 partitions on the same IDE drive should have about the same data transfer rate as 2 physical IDE drives on the same cable.

    This is because of how data is routed from one drive or partition through the storage controller hardware.

    The biggest problem I see with partitioned drives is making any partition too small. It does not matter if we are talking physical drives or logical drives. Once you have less than 20% free space on the Windows / Boot drive performance will suffer.

    Here is a very good article on partition planning.

    http://www.aumha.org/a/parts.htm

    Chas

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    0 Votes
    rubendlct

    No, it does not! In fact, partitioning a hard drive helps it mantain it's top performance provided you defragment the drive periodically. And, by the way, defragmenting a smaller partition is done a lot faster than defragging a large one. Have you ever tried to defrag a 2 GB drive? Likewise, if you defrag our drive periodically, you will find out that it will performbetter. Movies, graphics/photos take a lot of space in your harddrive, hence, try to keep them on an external hard drive, for they ( depending on the amount you have) will sloww down your computer. I hope this will help you out a bit.

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    1 Votes
    TAKlecker

    If by performance you only consider how fast an application loads you may be missing a larger point in system performance.

    I have used hard drive partitions to segregate user files from the 'system' disk OS and application program files for over 15 years now.

    This strategy has improved MY performance by providing for quicker, more complete recovery from drive and file system failures.

    I set the default location for MyDocuments to a partition. I also use the partition for my email files, templates etc. I also have other drives, internal and external, and partitions to store media files and archived files.

    Microsoft and other software publishers seem determined to make changing the default drive location for critical user files and configuration settings to a drive other than C: as difficult as possible. Google seems especially arrogant in this regard - they seem to regard the users of their software as children - they don't seem to consider their users as their clients but as the product they market to their real clients, advertisers.

    The segregating of difficult to replace files and, in some cases, of irreplaceable files makes the creation of backups simpler and faster which in turn allows for more frequent, more current backups. Often just keeping my important files in another partition has allowed for re-installing the OS in drive C: without having to do anything more to recover from a system failure.

    That's performance!

    I use still another partition for temporary and cache file folders to segregate those from the OS and application files and from my user files. There is no need to back them up and since these folders are more active in terms of disk access during computer operation the opportunity for fragmented system and user files is reduced - that has a small but beneficial effect on 'performance'

    If you have more than one physical hard drive, the segregation can be more complete and helps to protect you from hard drive failure as well as corruption of the C: file system.

    If the paging file is located on a separate drive as the OS partition there is some performance gain by allowing for faster disk access because drive heads are more committed to either swapping RAM or accessing user files. With the paging file on the same drive as the user files, the read heads are tasked to alternate between the two types of operations which can then entail greater head movements and greater read/write delays.

    +
    0 Votes
    Who Am I Really

    let's say you have a 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM HDD
    and you make the following partitions:

    2,000,000,000,000 (2TB) / 24 = 83,333,333,333.3...

    C: 83GB
    83GB
    E: 83GB
    F: 83GB
    G: 83GB
    H: 83GB
    I: 83GB
    J: 83GB
    K: 83GB
    L: 83GB
    M: 83GB
    N: 83GB
    O: 83GB
    P: 83GB
    Q: 83GB
    R: 83GB
    S: 83GB
    T: 83GB
    U: 83GB
    V: 83GB
    W: 83GB
    X: 83GB
    Y: 83GB
    Z: 83GB

    the performance of that system and drive will suck terribly,
    especially if you have:
    - System Restore,
    - Recycle Bin
    - Indexing Service
    enabled on all drives / partitions (which is the winders default settings)

    however,
    if you do the following with the 2TB disk

    C: 120GB (OS & Programs only)
    1.8TB (Data Drive only)

    disable System Restore, Recycle Bin and the Indexing Service,
    that 120GB will perform as good if not better than a 10K Raptor of a similar size with the same configuration settings (disabled: Recycle Bin, System Restore, Indexing service)
    at a fraction of the cost and noise of a Raptor

    a 10K 120GB Raptor still has to do the full stroke
    however, the first 120 GB of a 2TB drive is the first 6% of the drive thus producing barely any head movement and using the fastest part of the disk

    -
    edit: add the following:

    for your 120GB disk depends on what it's used for
    if it's a secondary data disk just leave it

    if it's the OS boot drive then it depends on the OS

    win2K use the first 20GB
    winXP use the first 30GB

    win vista /7 get another drive

    any other OS *nix
    the same as 2K / XP

    .

    +
    1 Votes
    prawe

    Lets discuss few things...

    HDD : Secondary Storage Device (Comparatively Slower than primary Storage = RAM)

    HDD Performance depends on :
    Rotations Per Minute
    Cache Memory of HDD
    HDD Seek Time.
    Operating System & System Hardware
    Updated Sata Drivers

    For instance : Market's one of the fastest HDDs, Raptor has
    10k RPM
    32 MB Cache
    Better Seek Time than normal HDDs.(its manufactured with smaller platters to increase seek time)

    Lets say, we have normal WD, 7.2K rpm, and have
    Win 7 X64
    Core 2 Duo Processor
    4 GB DDR2 or DDR3 RAM

    Now, if you partition your drive in to too many partitions as one of my peers mentioned, performance will go down.

    Reason : When user's requests for data on a x partition then HDD actuator has to wait till that cylinder is reached. (seek time matters in this case) and also processor and RAM matters when you're running a complex application or (multi tasking).

    =>Its always good that you have limited partitions in order to gain speed on Low RPM HDDs..
    =>Always make sure that you have 10 % of space available on each drive in order to gain a good performance.(can't help win OS, thats how it works better)
    =>Indexing is useful, if you "search" frequently for things..(who doesn't do that ?)..
    =>Have your hardware works without bottlenecks.
    =>Have your Virtual Memory space increased (if you have less RAM)
    =>If you have more than 2 TB memory to store than go for a storage device instead of HDD.
    => For desktops : spend money on better RPMs and cache memory HDDs
    For Laptops : go for a Solid State HDD.

    I personally use 4 partitions on 1 TB HDD with Win 7 x64, 4 GB DDR3 RAM on my desktop, I never felt the difference between my desktop and Laptop, which has 500 GB, 7.2k rpm as a single drive...

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    0 Votes
    mrmichaelhallett

    Depends totally on how you are using the partitions and how many.
    If you are accessing data on 2 or more partitions on the same physical drive at the same time access will be slower than with the data on 2 or more separate drives.
    Windows can access data on 2 separate drives at the same time ... without having to wait for the heads to travel back and forth between partitions on the same drive.
    The read/ write heads can only be in one place at a time.

    To speed things up on an older PC I have addedd a small extra drive and moved all swap files to that drive and also a 3rd drive to store all the data files.
    This strategy helped me get an extra year out of a computer that was borderline too slow for XP.

    In the case of a really slow computer with lots of RAM and one very fast hard drive i would think that the difference would be small.

    On the other hand , on a very fast PC with slower drives I think having OS . Swap Files, and data files on separate drives could be much faster.

    Not a simple answer to a seemingly simple question but it turns out that it is not really a simple question ...

    Also keep in mind that the speed of your storage (hard drive etc) setup is but one small factor in the apparent speed of a computer.

    Depending on what you are using the computer for speed can be limited / enhanced by:
    The video card and resolution
    The speed and amount of memory
    The operating system in use
    The disks and partitions
    Applications in use , how efficient they are and where they are stored
    Internet speed and type of network card
    Web Browser that you use and even what version of browser

    There are lots of factors that go into how fast a computer seems to the user.

    Check out the Windows 7 User Experience Index for clues as to what the bottlenecks are on your Windows 7 system. Most benchmark programs (some are free) will give you an idea about what is slowing things down too.

  • +
    0 Votes

    It the harddrive is old then it would slow (decrease) the performance of the drive.
    But, if the drive is new (or new-ish) then the speed is consistant to the whole drive no matter how many partitions you have. But it all depends on your system, motherboard etc, basically it would not decrease performance (to new drives), new drives have the added on memory extension so that the drive(s) do not slow down during usage (including partitioning).
    Hope this irons out a few questions you have on this issue.

    +
    1 Votes
    capodieci

    First of all, let say we are talking of NON SOLID STATE hard drives. Solid states hard drive are "limited" in speed just by the controller, as they can access several location of the hard disk memory in the same time, while "traditional" hard drive need to move the magnetic head to the right track to access the right file (memory address of the hard drive). If you use only one hard drive, and in this hard drive you use a partition as swap memory (the computer uses the hard drive as if ti was ram memory), and you use a partition for video editing memory buffer, another for other heavily memory access application (photoshop, etc), then having 2 or more hard drives makes a HUGE difference. If you use a partition just to save some documents, then the difference is none (even with an old hard drive). "Traditional" hard drive have a physical limitation of being able to access just a memory address per time, and to do so they must move an arm with a magnetic head to the right position. A little bit like changing song on a vinyl music disk. If two different areas need to be read simultaneously the head of the hard disk needs to keep moving back and forward, and being a mechanical thing is for sure slower than electricity, thus giving lower performance to the computer (data arrives to the application slower, consequently all goes slower).

    +
    0 Votes
    wompai

    ... how a HDD works. Yet, there are so many articles on the net with different stories... Well ,we are talking here about a 120 GB maxtor IDE which is at least 5 years old...

    +
    0 Votes
    seanferd

    If something is enumerating or searching files in C:, and it doesn't have to go through all the stuff you've moved to or whatever, the operation will be faster.

    +
    0 Votes
    TheChas

    As stated, it will depend on how you use the different drive partitions.

    In most instances, a partitioned drive will run slightly slower than 2 or more physical drives. This will be most significant when transferring files from 1 drive to another. However, 2 partitions on the same IDE drive should have about the same data transfer rate as 2 physical IDE drives on the same cable.

    This is because of how data is routed from one drive or partition through the storage controller hardware.

    The biggest problem I see with partitioned drives is making any partition too small. It does not matter if we are talking physical drives or logical drives. Once you have less than 20% free space on the Windows / Boot drive performance will suffer.

    Here is a very good article on partition planning.

    http://www.aumha.org/a/parts.htm

    Chas

    +
    0 Votes
    rubendlct

    No, it does not! In fact, partitioning a hard drive helps it mantain it's top performance provided you defragment the drive periodically. And, by the way, defragmenting a smaller partition is done a lot faster than defragging a large one. Have you ever tried to defrag a 2 GB drive? Likewise, if you defrag our drive periodically, you will find out that it will performbetter. Movies, graphics/photos take a lot of space in your harddrive, hence, try to keep them on an external hard drive, for they ( depending on the amount you have) will sloww down your computer. I hope this will help you out a bit.

    +
    1 Votes
    TAKlecker

    If by performance you only consider how fast an application loads you may be missing a larger point in system performance.

    I have used hard drive partitions to segregate user files from the 'system' disk OS and application program files for over 15 years now.

    This strategy has improved MY performance by providing for quicker, more complete recovery from drive and file system failures.

    I set the default location for MyDocuments to a partition. I also use the partition for my email files, templates etc. I also have other drives, internal and external, and partitions to store media files and archived files.

    Microsoft and other software publishers seem determined to make changing the default drive location for critical user files and configuration settings to a drive other than C: as difficult as possible. Google seems especially arrogant in this regard - they seem to regard the users of their software as children - they don't seem to consider their users as their clients but as the product they market to their real clients, advertisers.

    The segregating of difficult to replace files and, in some cases, of irreplaceable files makes the creation of backups simpler and faster which in turn allows for more frequent, more current backups. Often just keeping my important files in another partition has allowed for re-installing the OS in drive C: without having to do anything more to recover from a system failure.

    That's performance!

    I use still another partition for temporary and cache file folders to segregate those from the OS and application files and from my user files. There is no need to back them up and since these folders are more active in terms of disk access during computer operation the opportunity for fragmented system and user files is reduced - that has a small but beneficial effect on 'performance'

    If you have more than one physical hard drive, the segregation can be more complete and helps to protect you from hard drive failure as well as corruption of the C: file system.

    If the paging file is located on a separate drive as the OS partition there is some performance gain by allowing for faster disk access because drive heads are more committed to either swapping RAM or accessing user files. With the paging file on the same drive as the user files, the read heads are tasked to alternate between the two types of operations which can then entail greater head movements and greater read/write delays.

    +
    0 Votes
    Who Am I Really

    let's say you have a 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM HDD
    and you make the following partitions:

    2,000,000,000,000 (2TB) / 24 = 83,333,333,333.3...

    C: 83GB
    83GB
    E: 83GB
    F: 83GB
    G: 83GB
    H: 83GB
    I: 83GB
    J: 83GB
    K: 83GB
    L: 83GB
    M: 83GB
    N: 83GB
    O: 83GB
    P: 83GB
    Q: 83GB
    R: 83GB
    S: 83GB
    T: 83GB
    U: 83GB
    V: 83GB
    W: 83GB
    X: 83GB
    Y: 83GB
    Z: 83GB

    the performance of that system and drive will suck terribly,
    especially if you have:
    - System Restore,
    - Recycle Bin
    - Indexing Service
    enabled on all drives / partitions (which is the winders default settings)

    however,
    if you do the following with the 2TB disk

    C: 120GB (OS & Programs only)
    1.8TB (Data Drive only)

    disable System Restore, Recycle Bin and the Indexing Service,
    that 120GB will perform as good if not better than a 10K Raptor of a similar size with the same configuration settings (disabled: Recycle Bin, System Restore, Indexing service)
    at a fraction of the cost and noise of a Raptor

    a 10K 120GB Raptor still has to do the full stroke
    however, the first 120 GB of a 2TB drive is the first 6% of the drive thus producing barely any head movement and using the fastest part of the disk

    -
    edit: add the following:

    for your 120GB disk depends on what it's used for
    if it's a secondary data disk just leave it

    if it's the OS boot drive then it depends on the OS

    win2K use the first 20GB
    winXP use the first 30GB

    win vista /7 get another drive

    any other OS *nix
    the same as 2K / XP

    .

    +
    1 Votes
    prawe

    Lets discuss few things...

    HDD : Secondary Storage Device (Comparatively Slower than primary Storage = RAM)

    HDD Performance depends on :
    Rotations Per Minute
    Cache Memory of HDD
    HDD Seek Time.
    Operating System & System Hardware
    Updated Sata Drivers

    For instance : Market's one of the fastest HDDs, Raptor has
    10k RPM
    32 MB Cache
    Better Seek Time than normal HDDs.(its manufactured with smaller platters to increase seek time)

    Lets say, we have normal WD, 7.2K rpm, and have
    Win 7 X64
    Core 2 Duo Processor
    4 GB DDR2 or DDR3 RAM

    Now, if you partition your drive in to too many partitions as one of my peers mentioned, performance will go down.

    Reason : When user's requests for data on a x partition then HDD actuator has to wait till that cylinder is reached. (seek time matters in this case) and also processor and RAM matters when you're running a complex application or (multi tasking).

    =>Its always good that you have limited partitions in order to gain speed on Low RPM HDDs..
    =>Always make sure that you have 10 % of space available on each drive in order to gain a good performance.(can't help win OS, thats how it works better)
    =>Indexing is useful, if you "search" frequently for things..(who doesn't do that ?)..
    =>Have your hardware works without bottlenecks.
    =>Have your Virtual Memory space increased (if you have less RAM)
    =>If you have more than 2 TB memory to store than go for a storage device instead of HDD.
    => For desktops : spend money on better RPMs and cache memory HDDs
    For Laptops : go for a Solid State HDD.

    I personally use 4 partitions on 1 TB HDD with Win 7 x64, 4 GB DDR3 RAM on my desktop, I never felt the difference between my desktop and Laptop, which has 500 GB, 7.2k rpm as a single drive...

    +
    0 Votes
    mrmichaelhallett

    Depends totally on how you are using the partitions and how many.
    If you are accessing data on 2 or more partitions on the same physical drive at the same time access will be slower than with the data on 2 or more separate drives.
    Windows can access data on 2 separate drives at the same time ... without having to wait for the heads to travel back and forth between partitions on the same drive.
    The read/ write heads can only be in one place at a time.

    To speed things up on an older PC I have addedd a small extra drive and moved all swap files to that drive and also a 3rd drive to store all the data files.
    This strategy helped me get an extra year out of a computer that was borderline too slow for XP.

    In the case of a really slow computer with lots of RAM and one very fast hard drive i would think that the difference would be small.

    On the other hand , on a very fast PC with slower drives I think having OS . Swap Files, and data files on separate drives could be much faster.

    Not a simple answer to a seemingly simple question but it turns out that it is not really a simple question ...

    Also keep in mind that the speed of your storage (hard drive etc) setup is but one small factor in the apparent speed of a computer.

    Depending on what you are using the computer for speed can be limited / enhanced by:
    The video card and resolution
    The speed and amount of memory
    The operating system in use
    The disks and partitions
    Applications in use , how efficient they are and where they are stored
    Internet speed and type of network card
    Web Browser that you use and even what version of browser

    There are lots of factors that go into how fast a computer seems to the user.

    Check out the Windows 7 User Experience Index for clues as to what the bottlenecks are on your Windows 7 system. Most benchmark programs (some are free) will give you an idea about what is slowing things down too.