benefit of a second drive?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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bbzidane
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benefit of a second drive?

Post by bbzidane » Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:13 am

i was wondering what are the opinions of people of getting a slight performance boost when using two drives

when using just 1 drive, the drive is constantly being accessed by multiple programs, windows itself, downloading stuff watching vids
multitasking seems to be limited with the speed of the hdd

does it make sense to add a second drive so you can reduce the number of simultaneous programs accessing the same drive all at the same time?

would a second drive really make a difference?

Arvo
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Post by Arvo » Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:47 am

Yes, it would. Even if your PC has lot of RAM, it makes difference. Of course you should divide your disk access evenly between drives.

Using two drives I usually have windows swap drive and archive folders on second HDD; currently I've 3 HDDs, one dedicated to video recording/processing or downloading (usually I don't do both at same time :)).

cmthomson
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Post by cmthomson » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:13 pm

Using an SSD (eg, X25-M) as the system drive and an HDD as the bulk data drive gives you outstanding performance. If your HDD is a Samsung F2 (assuming 500GB is enough for you), it will be silent as well.
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bbzidane
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Post by bbzidane » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:19 pm

ssd is nice, and i can probably get away with one sized 32gb, but its still relatively expensive

though it is tempting

Kaleid
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Post by Kaleid » Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:15 pm

Benefits of a second drive..

Use it as a download disk, or to stream music from...this frees up the primare harddrive for surfing or something else, making it more responsive.

Also, if you code for example wave to mp3 its good to have a source and destination which are not on the same harddrive. Speeds up things. Same with extracting..

Minimum two harddrives is my rule.
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widowmaker
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Post by widowmaker » Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:45 am

I'm not sure how useful using separate drives would be, but I think you would be better off using separate partitions. It doesn't give you a performance boost, but if you install your applications onto another partition than your OS then you may be able to rerun those apps even after an OS reinstall. If you're not worried about data loss, raid 0 would be more useful.
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piglover
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Post by piglover » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:50 pm

I use two drives on any system I build (if i can). First drive is OS/Apps only, 2nd drive has all my user file. This way I never have to worry when i make a decision to reload things - I can just wipe out the first disk and start over and never risk my files. Also works great for multi-boots - my user files look the same whether I've booted XP, Vista, 7, OS-X, Linux, whatever...

Its just tough to build things this way on most laptops - but for that you can simulate it with partitions.

Shamgar
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Post by Shamgar » Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:07 pm

I concur with most of what has already been said. A second drive is highly recommended. Even if simply used as simple storage and backup device in case the system drive malfunctions.

There are many situations where separate physical disks are a must. It is quite common for creative professions who work with media like audio, video and digital images seriously to use multiple disks in their setups. Asking one hard drive to run an OS, page a swap file, access thousands of tools/plugins and save massive files in real time is asking a bit much of it. Home uers who might dabble in these pursuits will also benefit from the practice of using separate disks, although it is not entirely mandatory.

I survived using one physical disk for years, mainly because hard drives were too expensive for me to afford back then (or even if I could, I just never quite got round to getting one). Now that they are just a common PC parts commodity (recently picked up a 1TB drive for AU$89 ~ US$80 in today's rate) and I now have a reemphasised high value of my data, I would not hesitate to buy several drives if necessary.

I also do partition my system drive into a few partitions for organisational purposes and mainly because it is what I'm used to doing. For mass storage drives it is not necessary to have more than one partition, although you can divide it up to make formatting and maintenance easier for yourself (500GB+ drives take hours to scan, format and perhaps days to secure erase... something to take into account). If you already have a system drive with a primary partition on it and later install a new secondary drive, you can make it an extended/logical partition(s) instead of making another primary one. Then you won't have to worry about any master boot records (MBRs) being formed and possibly corrupted on your separate storage drive(s). If you want to run different OSs on these drives, you can ignore this piece of advice and do what ever is necessary.

spartan117
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Post by spartan117 » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:02 am

multiply drive pc's are the way forward. I have recently upgraded to an intel 25-xm that i got for cheap :P and have a 320Gb seagate for programs and a 1Tb Wd green for bulk data storage. Setting up like so means that windows 7 has a whole hdd to it's self, my boot times are crazy sub 40 seconds and shut down even faster.

Also as each drive has it's own SATA connection ur pc is not limited by the speed of which it can access a single hdd but 2 or more hdds :)

Although having muiltiply drives means greater power consumption and NOISE (depending on hdd).
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audiojar
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Post by audiojar » Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:39 am

I'm going to go against the grain here a bit. For an average PC user (or even above average) the performance gains are going to be minimal, perhaps unnoticeable. Things like web browsing, email, and listening to mp3s are so light on data that you are just working from RAM in most cases. Most applications will only access the drive occasionally. Video and games are about the only thing a normal user does that constantly accesses the drive.

Even if you are doing data intensive tasks, for most tasks it either works or doesn't. Your video either plays fine or it has problems. The only time you'll really notice a performance difference is tasks like copying a big file. But that doesn't even benefit from having 2 drives, unless they are in a RAID.

There certainly are more professional uses (audio, video, graphics) where using a separate drive gives real and noticeable increases in performance. However, I think it's a fallacy to apply these special cases to a general computer user.

So, give me an example of an everyday PC task that uses so much data transfer that it warrants having a dedicated drive. I can't think of one.

audiojar
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Post by audiojar » Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:46 am

spartan117 wrote:Setting up like so means that windows 7 has a whole hdd to it's self, my boot times are crazy sub 40 seconds and shut down even faster.
That is due to using a solid state drive, not due to the fact that you are using multiple drives.
Also as each drive has it's own SATA connection ur pc is not limited by the speed of which it can access a single hdd but 2 or more hdds :)
Give me a scenario where you are maxing out SATA's capabilities on multiple drives.

It sounds impressive and the numbers are nice and big, but all of these awesome advantages are mostly in your head. I could swap your programs and storage drives for one drive, partition it so it looks like your two drives, and you probably wouldn't notice the difference.

Cryoburner
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Post by Cryoburner » Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:10 pm

I agree with Audiojar. Multiple disk-based drives are probably not worthwhile from a performance standpoint for the vast majority of home users. It might potentially reduce access times a little, but any performance benefits would be minimal unless you're performing very disk-intensive tasks on a constant basis.
audiojar wrote:The only time you'll really notice a performance difference is tasks like copying a big file. But that doesn't even benefit from having 2 drives, unless they are in a RAID.
Technically, it could benefit, but only when copying a file from one drive to another. The heads can sequentially read and write on both drives, without having to skip back and forth between different locations on the disk. However, in common use, this would typically only be useful for large backups. Having a second disk for backups isn't a bad idea, but for performance gains, it's probably not very useful unless you're running professional software specifically designed to benefit from such a setup.

I do have two drives in my current system, but that's because I added a second larger drive when the first became full. I left the old one in to make the transition easier, and it now serves as a readily accessible backup location. I'll likely use two drives in my next system, but one will be a fast SSD. That way, I'll have fast access for Windows and my applications, and a large hard drive for data storage.

Linnaeus Tripe
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Post by Linnaeus Tripe » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:28 am

The thought of using a fast SSD for the OS and a larger, slower, cheaper disk for the user data/storage sounds appealing.

With the release of Windows 7 approaching, any thoughts on how to put the User data to the second drive in this OS?

kiwik
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Post by kiwik » Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:54 am

You can change the "My documents" and "My [...]" folder emplacements in Windows 7 the same way you do in Vista, and possible Windows XP.

toronado455
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Post by toronado455 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:26 pm

I've been using two drives in this config:
C: system drive (Windows XP), all apps, small amount of user data (ie Firefox Profile)
E: data drive, most user data, docs, files, etc.

I use my system as a DAW, so having the large audio projects, files, etc. on a separate drive seems to make sense to me.

I recently started using the C drive as a secondary backup to the E drive by having a folder on the C drive that stores copies of data.

Been considering reconfiguring the two drives as a RAID 1 instead (only for convenience sake - wouldn't need to do backups since the second drive would be a mirror of the first), but I would loose the separation of data and OS/apps if I did that, so not sure if I want to do that.

andyb
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Post by andyb » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:30 pm

Audiojar is spot on.

Thats not to say that I am a one drive person.

Strictly speaking I am a 4 "Volume" person.

I have my living room PC, one drive, for loading the OS and downloads.

My Main PC, 64GB SSD for the OS, apps and Games, a spinning disk for random crap, the desktop, my documents, game ISO's so I dont have to sod around with small plastic discs, and older smaller games that dont take long to load.

My Server, this is where I keep my Music, Films, backups etc etc.

This has all of the benefits of everything that everyone else has already said with the added advantage that there is nothing to interfere with my main machine, and the only disadvantage compared to having all of that in one PC is that I have to put up with the slowness of Gigabit ethernet - what a bummer.
Been considering reconfiguring the two drives as a RAID 1 instead (only for convenience sake - wouldn't need to do backups since the second drive would be a mirror of the first), but I would loose the separation of data and OS/apps if I did that, so not sure if I want to do that.
I would suggest that you DONT do that. Mirroring has one benefit, drive failure. I can name many where mirroring wont help, such as viruses screwing windows, data corruption caused by a random power outage etc etc.

Mirroring has only one purpose, in a mission critical server, where there can be no downtime due to drive failure, everything else is a worthless argument.

Keep your drives as they are, continue the backups, and ideally an image of your boot drive/partition so you can at least get your machine up and running in a sensible timeframe whether a drive dies or your OS gets wrecked by other means.


Andy
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toronado455
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Post by toronado455 » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:57 pm

andyb wrote:My Main PC, 64GB SSD for the OS, apps and Games, a spinning disk for random crap, the desktop, my documents, game ISO's so I dont have to sod around with small plastic discs, and older smaller games that dont take long to load.
That sounds cool. I'd like to learn how to have my documents and the desktop somewhere other than the OS drive. Sounds interesting.

andyb wrote:
toronado455 wrote:Been considering reconfiguring the two drives as a RAID 1
I would suggest that you DONT do that. Mirroring has one benefit, drive failure. I can name many where mirroring wont help, such as viruses screwing windows, data corruption caused by a random power outage etc etc.

Mirroring has only one purpose, in a mission critical server, where there can be no downtime due to drive failure, everything else is a worthless argument.

Keep your drives as they are, continue the backups, and ideally an image of your boot drive/partition so you can at least get your machine up and running in a sensible timeframe whether a drive dies or your OS gets wrecked by other means.


Andy
Thanks for pointing that out. If my C drive had a virus I'd just end up with a mirror of said virus.

andyb
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Post by andyb » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:50 am

That sounds cool. I'd like to learn how to have my documents and the desktop somewhere other than the OS drive. Sounds interesting.
thats really easy if you are using XP, all you need to do, is to download "TweakUI" (made by MS themselves), install it, and then go to "My Computer", then "Special Folders", those special folders include My docs and the Desktop.

Under Vista and W7 I dont know how to do it yet. But I am going to install W7 on my home PC, followed by games and benchmarks, and see how I get along. But if I like it I will want to image it to my SSD, which will mean partitioning the drive to start with, and as I really dont want or need my docs or the desktop on my SSD that will go onto the 500GB Samsung F3 W7 will be tested on.
Thanks for pointing that out. If my C drive had a virus I'd just end up with a mirror of said virus.
Exactly, not to mention the performance benefits you can get from using 2 seperate drives - which are real and positive benefits like I have. Apps - huge = SSD, Docs - tiny - HDD, Games - massive load times = SSD, Videos - Massive files, low bitrate = HDD.

Sense is everything, asking is the next level.


Andy
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toronado455
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Post by toronado455 » Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:59 pm

andyb wrote:
That sounds cool. I'd like to learn how to have my documents and the desktop somewhere other than the OS drive. Sounds interesting.
thats really easy if you are using XP, all you need to do, is to download "TweakUI" (made by MS themselves), install it, and then go to "My Computer", then "Special Folders", those special folders include My docs and the Desktop.
Wow this is so cool! I have my desktop on my E drive now! Thanks so much for this tip!

EDIT: Darn it, it didn't stick. Windows recreated a desktop on the C drive, so now I have two. (Even with TweakUI showing it as on the E drive).

I actually used the suggested right click and drag, then 'move to' method so that the files would be moved along with. Probably could have used that method without installing TweakUI had I known about it, but I found other uses for TweakUI... such as disabling Autoplay in every conceivable way, shape, and form. :wink:

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