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Partition Hard Drive


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#1 Thoughtful Skeptic

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 09:41 PM

I have a 7-year old Dell Dimension 4500 with 256Mb Ram, 40GB hard drive and a clock speed of 1.8 Ghz that uses Windows XP operating system but which has become unbearably slow. The data has all been backed up so I have the luxury of doing things knowing that mistakes should not cause too much harm.

To get it working again, I would like to do the following if possible:

1. Erase the hard drive and reinstall the operating system from the CD that came with the computer (all those years ago).
2. Download the updates for Windows XP and drivers.
3. Reinstall and update additional device drivers as necessary.
4. Load the following programs: ZoneAlarm (or other) firewall, Adaware, Avast Anti-virus, Mozilla Firefox, Open Office, Easeus Partition Manager,
Easeus ToDo Backup, IObit Smart Defrag, ccleaner.
5. Partition the hard drive into
- C drive for the operating system and programs,
- D drive for data
- and an E drive where I want to install the Linux operating system.
6. Create a ghost image of the operating system on a CD, using ToDo Backup.
7. Every six months or so, reload the operating system from the image, update the software and create a new image to be used next time. The purpose is to try to keep the registry free from unwanted items.

My questions are:
1. Is the entire XP operating system contained in the directory c:\Windows or are there
OTHER FILES (possibly hidden) that are part of the OS and which should be left on the C drive and included in the image?

2. How big should the C-drive be? I am thinking of 10GB for the C drive, 10GB for the D-drive and 20GB for the Linux. I would welcome advice from someone with knowledge.

3. Should I add additional memory?

4. I have never partitioned a hard drive before, so any help would be very welcome.

Thank you in advance.

Thoughtful Skeptic

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#2 1002 Richard S

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 12:53 AM

I triple boot Linux Mint, Linux Crunchbang and Vista Home basic. The partition for Linux that you plan is very generous, I've given 10gb each to my 2 Linux - so you've got room to move there if you wish.
Install Windows first is generally recommended.
I would also suggest using the partition editor in the Linux Live CD to do your partitioning, most use GParted I think. I found this easy and safe.
Other than that I can't answer the rest - but I took several attempts to get it right, so don't be put off if things snarl up. I've learned more each time. My son (10 yo) now dual boots Mint & Vista and has Linux Mint KDE running in Vista through Mint4Win (their version of Wubi) so this type of learning/development is highly addictive!!

Edited by 1002 Richard S, 02 September 2009 - 12:55 AM.


#3 hamluis

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 09:38 AM

<<1. Erase the hard drive and reinstall the operating system from the CD that came with the computer (all those years ago).>>

Easily done, regardless of whether this is a restore/recoveery CD or MS XP install CD. If a restore/recovery CD, I would make myself knowledgeabout about the proper sequence of steps and why I should take them...before I worried about deleting anything on the hard drive.

<<2. Download the updates for Windows XP and drivers.>>

7 years ago would have been 2002...the easiest way of updating would be to just install SP3 (assuming that SP1 is already installed), then installing all critical updates issued since then.

As for drivers...do not get driver updates from the Windows Update site. Go to the website of the system manufacturer and download the drivers which are specific for your system and version of Windows.

<<3. Reinstall and update additional device drivers as necessary.>>

Not sure what you are referring to here...drivers were covered in Step 2.

<<4. Load the following programs: ZoneAlarm (or other) firewall, Adaware, Avast Anti-virus, Mozilla Firefox, Open Office, Easeus Partition Manager,
Easeus ToDo Backup, IObit Smart Defrag, ccleaner.>>

What programs you install is up to you. But a system that's 7 years old with only 256MB of RAM...is not going to properly run a large number of burdensome programs.

<<5. Partition the hard drive into
- C drive for the operating system and programs,
- D drive for data
- and an E drive where I want to install the Linux operating system.

Whatever method you use for installing XP...covers the C: partition. You have to predetermine how large you want it. I guess that I don't think of a 40GB drive as being exceptionally large and I would not ever put two different O/Ses on the same hard drive. If the drive fails, then everything is conceivably lost.
Makes more sense to me to put them on separate hard drives, but...it's your system.

<<6>>. Create a ghost image of the operating system on a CD, using ToDo Backup.

I don't know if a Ghost image of the O/S will fit on a CD...I suspect that it won't, especially so after all critical updates are installed. If I recall correctly, the SP2 CD and the SP3 CD...each of those is over 300MB and a CD only holds approximately 700MB. I also don't see Ghost among the programs you intend to install....but I do see an Easeus product.

Since you have Easeus Partition Master (name has changed) among the programs you intend to install, I would suggest buying another hard drive and simply cloning your existing XP install to another drive.

<<7>>. Every six months or so, reload the operating system from the image, update the software and create a new image to be used next time. The purpose is to try to keep the registry free from unwanted items.

I don't think most persons understand much about the registry...it's not a garage that needs to be cleaned up periodically so that we can find last year's gardening tools. That being the case (or, at the least, my premise)...how do you determine what are "unwanted registry items"?

And...Win XP is not Win 9x, which required constant reinstallation (primarily because of a lack of tools to deal with problems).

In any case. my suggestion to clone the partition/drive...would cover this. If you choose to pursue a different plan, that's your strategy.

<<1. Is the entire XP operating system contained in the directory c:\Windows or are there
OTHER FILES (possibly hidden) that are part of the OS and which should be left on the C drive and included in the image?>>


The manner in which images are made...varies. The software that I have makes an image of whatever partitions that I specify, I cannot specify individual files/folders...nor would I want to. All of the O/S files necessary to have a functioning O/S lie on the C: partition (if XP is installed to that partition).

<<2. How big should the C-drive be? I am thinking of 10GB for the C drive, 10GB for the D-drive and 20GB for the Linux. I would welcome advice from someone with knowledge.>>

Answers here will vary...but I use a standard 20GB or so partition to install XP and all programs that I intend to run. I don't do linux...I would not waste time creating a 10GB data partition. I say that because 10GB of data is nothing (2 movie files, in some instances)...I need much larger partitions for data files on my systems.

Seems to me that you have it backwards when it comes to partition sizes for Windows/linux. You want to give a linux the size partition Windows should have and vice versa, based on my understanding of space needed for linux partitions.

<<3. Should I add additional memory?>>

If I sold RAM and computer parts for 7-year-old systems...my answer would undoubtedly be...YES.

I find it difficult to suggest to anyone that adding over-priced RAM to a system that is 7 years old...is going to prolong the life of that system.

If you intend to continue using that system...it needs more RAM, IMO.

<<4. I have never partitioned a hard drive before, so any help would be very welcome.>>

Already covered. If you have an XP install CD, just follow the prompts. If you have restore/recovery CDs, read up on how to use the system put in by the system manufacturer.

You have Easeus Partition Master on your list of installs...please read all instructions on how to use it.

You also have the Windows partitioning tool in Disk Management, Disk Management - http://www.theeldergeek.com/disk_management.htm

FWIW: I sometimes get the feeling that many persons do not realize how inexpensive systems can be these days. Small-form-factor PCs are readily available which provide much better computing at a reasonable price...than many users of older systems are likely to spend on repairs/replacement parts for the older systems.

That older technology...is never coming back, is never going to perform as it did when initially released. I suggest letting it go and moving forward to systems that are much better, have a warranty, and are considered to be reasonably priced.

Examples at http://www.walmart.com/browse/Computers/De...elected_items=+

Louis

#4 pablo49

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 09:55 AM

Hi Thoughtful,
It sounds like you have a good plan to both clean up the computer and do periodic maintenance. Here is my input on your questions in the order and numbering you listed. #1- the default location for an XP install in in the C:\ partition. Unless you intentionally change a setup feature - such as your plan to change the path to My Documents from C:\Documents and Settings to D:\Data - everything will be in the C:\ partition. #2 - Drive partition size. Since you are starting with a fresh install I would recommend putting a new and larger hard drive in the machine. Hard drives, being electro-mechanical devices, are prone to failure. At 7 years you have gotten your money's worth out of the original drive. However if you keep the original drive I would go 10 gig for XP, 10 for Linux and 20 for your data partition. #3 - Definitely install the maximum RAM the motherboard will handle - which is 1 Gig (http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dim4500/specs.htm#1101572). This will give you the best performance gain. #4 - Partitioning: Richard mentioned the popular Gparted included in most live Linux distros. From my experience a more intuitive, user-friendly and equally free option would be using Easeus Partition Master (http://www.partition-tool.com/download.htm).
Good luck on your project.
Paul

#5 1002 Richard S

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 09:00 AM

Yes, I've used Easeus in Windows & GParted in Linux - no probs with either.

#6 Thoughtful Skeptic

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 11:14 AM

Hi 1002 Richard S, Hamluis and pablo49,

Thank you all for your very helpful responses. I greatly appreciate your advice and comments.

For me. this will be a learning exercise as I have never had the courage to partition a disk before. Also, this will be my first experience with Linux.

I'll add another post with comments after the work is done, probably in about a couple of weeks.

Once again, many thanks.

Regards,

Thoughtful Skeptic

#7 hamluis

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 11:20 AM

Easily done, keep us posted :thumbsup:.

Louis

#8 Thoughtful Skeptic

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 05:36 PM

Hi Hamluis, Richard S and Pablo49

Once again, thank you for your help and also to lots of other people who have posted comments on various websites. It is surprising how often a small comment can be most helpful if you don’t happen to know that item. Here is my report of the work I have been doing. Perhaps my experiences will give you a smile and be of help to others.

1. I started by reinstalling the Windows XP operating system from the restore/recovery CD that came with the computer. I chose to format the drive using the NTFS file system. I then installed the drivers from the drivers/utilities CD. After the installation, the device manager showed that I still needed drivers for 5 devices. I found 4 of these on the internet and then installed the driver for my wireless card which is now my only connection with the internet.

2. I then tried to install ZoneAlarm firewall and, when that failed, Comodo but both needed
Service Pack 2 (SP2). With trepidation, I did the Windows updates without a firewall. I understood that SP3 includes SP2 and all previous updates, so I downloaded SP3 and prepared to install. But then I learned I needed SP1 before I could install SP3. So, still without a firewall, I downloaded SP1 (now called SP1a) and installed it without incident. I was then able to install successfully SP3 and discovered that it now included a Windows firewall. At this point, I was using 4.6 GB on my C-drive.

3. The next step was to download some programs that I wanted. My choices were: IObit smart defragger, Comodo firewall, Easeus TODO Backup, Easeus Partition Manager, Foxit Reader, Bellarc Advisor, Search Everything, Revo Uninstaller.

4. I then easily partitioned the C-drive using Easeus Partition Manager. The new D-drive had 19 GB and my C-drive had about 20 GB of which 6.2 GB were used. I was happily surprised at how easy it was and there was no loss of data.

5. The next step took me quite some time. I could not find the driver for a device called ‘Multimedia Audio Controller.’ After searching in vain, I telephoned Dell Support who told me that the driver ADI 198X would work. It was then a simple matter to download and install. It would have saved me much search time if I had just known about that driver.

6. I then did a smart defrag and ran Easeus TODO backup to create a disk image. This failed because of disk error. I ran the Windows disk error check with the option to fix errors and attempt recovery of bad sectors.

7. The error was fixed but then the taskbar disappeared. I restored the taskbar by using the Task Manager but was unable to access Windows Help.
I then tried to run an ad-aware scan since there had been a period of time without a firewall. Adaware was unable to access the system and when I tried to reinstall it for a second time I was told that the Windows installer is now missing. I concluded that the operating system was damaged and must be reinstalled.

8. I then installed 7-Zip. I was now using about 7.2 GB on the C-drive.

9. The next step was to reduce the size of the partition to: C-Drive 15GB and G-drive 25 GB.

10. I then reinstalled the Windows XP from the CD for the second time. This took about 1 ˝ hours. I had thought this would be easy, on the second occasion but surprisingly there were differences. I used the drivers/utilities disk that came with the computer and again 4 devices were missing their driver, including Multimedia Audio Controller. This time there were no desktop icons so I added a shortcut to My Computer. I next loaded the various programs and ran Ad-Aware. 11 objects were found and removed.

11. The C-drive now had 5.5 GB used and 10.3 GB unused. Surprisingly, the driver for the Multimedia Audio Controller had mysteriously appeared but not the driver for the USB controller. I made a second attempt to load it from the disk and this time it worked. The OS did not seem to need a driver for the DVD drive. I then loaded Nero software. My usage on the C-Drive was now 6.2 GB but the computer was slow. It seemed Comodo was doing a scan and consuming resources. Later, the response time speeded up and was quite acceptable.

12. I then added a new partition: C-drive 12GB; D-drive 3GB; E-drive 25GB. The idea was to keep the OS on C:\, data on D:\ and use the E:\ to install Linux. After rebooting, the wireless card was not connected and I could not access the internet.
I wanted a clean version of the operating system because I wanted to burn an image on to a DVD, to avoid going through all this process in the future. I decided to reinstall the OS for the third time.

13. By now, I was somewhat familiar with the process and I went through all the steps. This time, I also loaded Microsoft Office. Then I reduced the partition size to 7 GB of which 6.5 are being used.

14. I then tried to burn an image of the system to the E:\ drive and then restore it but the restore failed.

15. I then deleted the third partition because I had learned that Linux requires not a third partition but rather some unused space on which to create its own partitions.

Conclusion:

I. I had the luxury of being able to wipe out the hard drive and reinstall things because this was an old computer with no personal data, and was to be used solely for learning and experimenting.
I made many mistakes along the way (including some admittedly dumb ones) but that is the price of learning. I did learn how to partition a drive and adjust partitions. Easeus Partition Master made it very easy for me.

II. The objective was to create a bootable disc containing the OS and updates. I did not succeed in doing that. I have since learned that this is called ‘slipstreaming.’ BP describes elsewhere how this can be done if you have the full Windows XP install disk. But it is apparently not easy when you have a restore/recovery CD. I have found a couple of links that show how to do this but it seems like a lot of work. I think I prefer to follow your advice (Hamluis) to buy an (external) hard drive and clone my
C-drive there. I will have to learn how to do that and how to restore the image when needed.

III. I successfully loaded Linux on to the unused space on this computer (about 30 GB) using a disk included with a book on Linux. It was much easier than installing Windows XP but the system could not locate a driver for my network card. I have since found and downloaded the driver, but at this point, I do not know enough about the Linux system to be able to install the driver, so I do not have internet access on my Linux system at this point.

Once again, many thanks for your help. I expect that more questions will follow.

#9 hamluis

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 06:10 PM

Kudos to you...the documentation should encourage others who tend to be a bit leery of doing such things on their systems :thumbsup:.

The learning experience...tends to be worth the pain often. Because then...you KNOW...and aren't just reading directions that someone else who knew...thought were simple, easy to follow, informative.

We'll be here, if you need us...happy computing :flowers:.

Louis




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