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  1. #1


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    What's the best way to go about a relatively complex partition scheme?
    I just ordered a new macbook pro, and I want to avoid the same hard drive sluggishness and disorganization that has come after years of adding random extensions and junk to my current macbook. I've been doing some research on how to keep the hard drive running in ship-shape, and I've come up with this general partition scheme for a 500gig hard drive. If this won't work (which wouldn't surprise me) I'm not super dedicated to any particular scheme.

    5 gigabytes dedicated OS X swapfile (Not sure about this one, read that it helped speed. According to Matt Wolanski's formula, this should be about right. HFS+)
    150 gigabytes for windows (games mostly. NTFS, I assume)
    200 gigs for normal OS X (applications, the OS itself, etc. HFS+)
    145 gigs for large files (storing large downloads, P2P, movies, music etc. here should help speed things along. This would be formatted HFS+ probably. Maybe shared with windows?)


    I would think that disk utility could handle all of the HFS+ partitions, and boot camp could handle the NTFS partition for windows 7. The problem is, I'm not very good with this kind of stuff, I've only ever done partitions in VMs, and I didn't really know what I was doing.

    Do you all have any advice on which order I should do this, which tools I should use etc? I really have no idea what could cause this to go wrong, and I'm one of those people who, if they break something, will stay up for the next 20 hours trying to fix it, so I want to get this right the first time.

    Thanks for the help!
    Will

  2. #2

    Slydude's Avatar
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    I'm sure folks smarter than I am will chime in with opinions on both sides of this issue. The last time I checked into the issue of moving the swap file to a separate partition I came to the conclusion that the performance improvement, If there was one, was not worth the hassle. This was quite some time ago so the consensus may have changed.

    I used to partition my drives all the time when the drivers were smaller and slower. I eventually stopped doing it because I got tired of reformatting the drive. It seems that no matter how much I tried to anticipate space needs I always seemed to get at least one of the partitions either too large or too small.

    Instead of separate partitions I do have a folder structure set up somewhat similar similar to your partitions. My OS X Partition has a Data folder that is further divided into subfolders.

    The only other partition I have at the moment is a Win XP partition. I am currently debating adding a partition that could be used for scratch files in Photoshop, FCE, etc.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

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  3. #3


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    Quote Originally Posted by Slydude View Post
    I'm sure folks smarter than I am will chime in with opinions on both sides of this issue. The last time I checked into the issue of moving the swap file to a separate partition I came to the conclusion that the performance improvement, If there was one, was not worth the hassle. This was quite some time ago so the consensus may have changed.

    I used to partition my drives all the time when the drivers were smaller and slower. I eventually stopped doing it because I got tired of reformatting the drive. It seems that no matter how much I tried to anticipate space needs I always seemed to get at least one of the partitions either too large or too small.

    Instead of separate partitions I do have a folder structure set up somewhat similar similar to your partitions. My OS X Partition has a Data folder that is further divided into subfolders.

    The only other partition I have at the moment is a Win XP partition. I am currently debating adding a partition that could be used for scratch files in Photoshop, FCE, etc.
    OK, maybe I won't do a swapfile then. As for the data partition, won't having a separate partition for large files, especially P2P files which tend to get really fragmented, speed things up?

    I read about having a "scratch files" partition, but I don't know what this means or how it works. Can you explain it to me?

    Thanks!

  4. #4

    Aptmunich's Avatar
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    OS X auto defrags your drive, so unless you have a specific requirement for separate partitions you won't see much of a speed improvement.

    hard drive sluggishness and disorganization that has come after years of adding random extensions and junk to my current macbook
    Partitions won't really help you avoid that either: extensions etc. are still written to your home / system folders, so you're not isolating those.

    If you really want to speed things up, ditch your optical drive and stick a SSD in that slot.

  5. #5


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aptmunich View Post
    OS X auto defrags your drive, so unless you have a specific requirement for separate partitions you won't see much of a speed improvement.



    Partitions won't really help you avoid that either: extensions etc. are still written to your home / system folders, so you're not isolating those.

    If you really want to speed things up, ditch your optical drive and stick a SSD in that slot.
    I always hear this but I've never seen it in action. What daemon is responsible for actively re-organizing files? It's entirely possible that I'll be downloading some 5gb linux distro or something off P2P (which can be sort of slow) while at the same time downloading a bunch of MP3s. I find it hard to imagine that something in the background is automatically moving things around all the time, as this would be very resource-intensive.
    Edit: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-10328197-263.html
    It looks like fragmenting can happen... this is one of the reasons a separate partition would be easy; Copying, deleting, and re-writing a data partition would be a lot easier than doing that to the OS partition, as this seems to be the only way apple suggests de-fragging.

    A secondary reason I wanted to have a data partition is so that I could file share between OS X and windows. Is there another way to have a shared directory both OSs could read and write to?

    I looked up scratch space-if I make a separate partition formatted with HFS+, can I just choose that from the photoshop/illustrator settings? How big should it be?

  6. #6

    McBie's Avatar
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    Mate, I know I am not answering your question but .... relax ... you are making this way too complicated for yourself .... no need for all this partitioning and scratch space and defrag ..... OS X isn't windows.

    Cheers ... McBie
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  7. #7

    chscag's Avatar
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    +1 for McBie's advice.

    Something to keep in mind... The Boot Camp assistant will not work on a drive that has multiple partitions so if you intend to set your drive up that way, you'll be forced to use Disk Utility. And that will mean manually installing Windows.

    You could always use Boot Camp first, install Windows, and then use Disk Utility to create other partitions. However, that method may result in killing Windows and harming your OS X boot sector.

  8. #8


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    Quote Originally Posted by McBie View Post
    Mate, I know I am not answering your question but .... relax ... you are making this way too complicated for yourself .... no need for all this partitioning and scratch space and defrag ..... OS X isn't windows.

    Cheers ... McBie
    The idea that macs don't suffer from any of the problem PCs do is an illusion. Apple chose not to allow de-fragmenting on OS X, which seems like a stupid move on their part... I'm just trying to compensate for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    +1 for McBie's advice.

    Something to keep in mind... The Boot Camp assistant will not work on a drive that has multiple partitions so if you intend to set your drive up that way, you'll be forced to use Disk Utility. And that will mean manually installing Windows.

    You could always use Boot Camp first, install Windows, and then use Disk Utility to create other partitions. However, that method may result in killing Windows and harming your OS X boot sector.
    Hmm.... sounds like a real pain. I wish boot camp had multiple profiles you could set up.

  9. #9

    Aptmunich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wyager View Post
    The idea that macs don't suffer from any of the problem PCs do is an illusion. Apple chose not to allow de-fragmenting on OS X, which seems like a stupid move on their part... I'm just trying to compensate for it.
    There are a bunch of defragmentation apps for OS X, run them if you want to.

    The fact of the matter is major defragmentation issues are usually caused by a lot of small files being spread all over the harddrive. OS X takes care of that so it's not an issue for the majority of users.

    From wikipedia:
    "The HFS Plus file system transparently defragments files that are less than 20 MiB in size and are broken into 8 or more fragments, when the file is being opened."

    Knock yourself out!

  10. #10


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aptmunich View Post
    There are a bunch of defragmentation apps for OS X, run them if you want to.
    Free ones?

    I know OS X defrags files under 20 megs, that has zero importance to me. I'm talking about files multiple gigabytes in size.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by wyager View Post
    Free ones?

    I know OS X defrags files under 20 megs, that has zero importance to me. I'm talking about files multiple gigabytes in size.
    Files that large don't really matter from a fragmentation standpoint.

    I agree with McBIe, you're stressing about nothing. But hey, all us long-time Mac users could be wrong.
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  12. #12


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    Quote Originally Posted by schweb View Post
    Files that large don't really matter from a fragmentation standpoint.

    I agree with McBIe, you're stressing about nothing. But hey, all us long-time Mac users could be wrong.
    I don't know about that... Ever mac I've owned has, over time, developed intolerably long seek times resulting in hang-ups and long open/save times on large files. But it's not something I'm willing to pay extra to fix. I feel like a utility should probably be included on the OS to keep it working smoothly long-term, but I guess that's just me...

  13. #13

    chscag's Avatar
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    If you feel you need to defrag then purchase iDefrag for $29.95.

  14. #14

    McBie's Avatar
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    Also, let me paint the picture in another way ...
    A single physical disk, connected to a single controller with a single disk channel and a single set of read/write heads.

    I am not sue what this partitioning fuss is all about, you are not running a Mac Pro, but a MacBook Pro if I read correctly.
    Also check out file fragmentation versus disk fragmentation and then decide if you need to defrag.

    I understand you feel the need to ask these questions and that is good, my only advise is to relax, don't make things complicated and ENJOY your Mac.

    I will now rest my case.

    Cheers ...McBie
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    The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

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