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HD setup and format advice pls.



I'm using windows xp. I currently own a 40gig drive, I'll get a new 120gig in the mail thursday. I've never used NTFS and really don't know anything about it. I will use the 120 as my main drive, because it's faster, and I'll use the 40 if I have a use for it! I know I'm going to need to format at least part of the 120 with NTFS because I need to be able to use very large files. How would you set this up for optimal performance? I've heard different suggestions about partitions for OS, progs, data. Some suggest using fat32 for the OS and or progs and the rest NTFS. Others have suggested using either all FAT32 or all NTFS. What would you do? Thanks!


re harddrive

I woud use fat32 because its compatable with all and when you format ntfs let me now how you do this i never formated ntfs,I heard its not easy need third party software they say .

Hipster Doofus

Good grief Charlie Brown
If you are not going to dual boot with win9x then go with NTFS. The XP cd will format the drive to NTFS no problems. Never heard of it being hard to format to NTFS though.

You can always dual boot with XP then use xcopy to back your main operating system up. Takes a bit of time but once done is great for keeping xp running.

Welcome to the forums. :)
if u use fat32 for the operating sytem partition u will not be able to see the nt partitions.but if u use nt for the os u will be able to see fat32 partitions
Use NTFS. It's just as easy as FAT and much better. Just select NTFS when you install.

The way I have it set up now is 5GB for OS only, the rest for everything else and the pagefile on my slave disk. I think that's a quite reasonable setup.


OSNN Gamer
Formatting a drive with XP is simple ~ start run ~ diskmgmt.msc
XP installed on FAT is quicker & can read/write to NT partitions
initial installation with the XP CD may not give you option to format FAT
a few ways round this
1. simplest is fdisk ~ create a small partition for your OS less than 7 gig
2 install the new drive as slave then format and partition
3 install XP to an NT partition
start run ~diskmgmt.msc
right click on the non formatted drive create a small partition format it fat
reinstall XP you now have the choice to format both NT & FAT

this is how I would set it up
120 gig
1. XP & apps ~ 7 gig FAT32
2 media files ~ 100+ gig NTFS
3 drive image back up ~ 7 gig FAT32
40 gig
1. pagefile ~ 1 gig FAT32
2 games ~ 32 gig FAT32
3 data 5gig FAT32
4 temporary internet files ~ 1 gig NTFS


Thanks for all the info! I liked the setup 2Z's provided.

I do have a couple of questions though, just because I am new to this and don't understand it all yet. The 40gig drive is my slower drive. Both drives are 7200, the 120 has an 8mb cache, while the 40 doesn't have any. I will also be hooking the 120 up to ATA/100, and I don't think I will be able to for the 40.

Given that would you still set it up that way? Like having the games on the slower drive seems like a bad move to me.

Thanks again for all of the advice


OSNN Gamer
your game play wont be slowed down because it runs from RAM
the only slow down will be read and write to disc
which will be quicker than it was because there's no OS on there keeping it busy


when you first install XP to the 120 gig ~ remove the 40 gig from the box if it has a previous install of winXP
otherwise your drive letters will be messed up

don't use FAT32 on your system disc, NTFS fragments alot less easily, also the way it writes data is more secure, and more reliable. There is no speed difference in modern computer systems, in the past when we were running 200 MHz CPUs there might have been performance loss. but not anymore, I'd use NTFS on the whole thing.


OSNN Gamer
sorry but NT & FAT fragment the same ~ data is written to a fixed sized cluster
NT is slower than FAT ~ before any file is read it is first referenced in the master file table ~ resulting in a slight lag
NT is more secure FAT ~ but how many files do you have that need NT protection (I have none)
NT is more stable FAT ~ how often does XP crash (not a lot ~ for me its twice in 18 months)

its up you at the end of day to weigh up the pros & cons
I tried all NTFS for 6 x months & the extra overheads wasn't worth it



I wasn't sure about changing from Fat32 to NTFS but decided to take a chance and I've been very please with the results. If you are doing any video editing, NTFS is a must!!! With Fat 32 you are limited to 4GB AVI files and NTFS is 10GB or more. Another very good reason to choose NTFS over Fat32 is to save hard drive space. Fat32 uses 32KB size clusers, if you had a text file that was say 8KB it would still take up 32KB on your hard drive. NTFS uses 4KB clusters, that same file would only take up 8KB of space using NTFS compared to the wasted 24KB on Fat32.


OSNN Gamer
not quite

FAT32 cluster size increments depending on the drive size
A partition less than 7 gig gives you a cluster size of 4k ~ perfect for an OS

NTFS wastes more space than FAT ~ 10% of the drive is preallocated for the MFT (master file table)

yes NTFS is a must for video editing
thats why I recommended the second partition to be 100 gig NTFS

* NTFS fragments alot less than FAT32 because:
- FAT stores files in the first free cluster. Even if the file is bigger than the "hole".
- NTFS stores files in the first pack of clusters big enough to contain the whole file if possible.
* NTFS is journalizing. No more chkdsk, lost clusters or broken files.
* NTFS is faster than FAT32 on drives > ~30 GB.
* NTFS is a new advanced filesystem, FAT32 is stone age technology.
* NTFS supports files over 8 GB.

The only reason to still use FAT is for backwards compatibility when dual-booting.

I'd partition this way:
120 GB:
~5 GB - XP
~115 GB - apps, games, media, whatever
40 GB:
40 GB - pagefile + apps, games, media, whatever

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