1. I prefer Windows 7, myself. I don't have a touch screen and therefore have no use for Win 8. We'll see what happens with Win 9. I am running Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit.
2. You can use whatever you prefer as a partition editor, including Windows. I prefer Parted Magic. I'll get into this later.
3. Windows 7, installed, with applications, takes up more than 20GB. Most of my Acronis Images are in the range of 30GB. I use an external USB drive of 2TB to store backups and data archives.
4. Boot disk:
a. Using Parted Magic or the equivalent, create two partitions on the disk of roughly 50% size. When the second partition is finished, delete the first partition, leaving the first half of the disk unallocated. Install Windows 7 on that unallocated space. The Windows installer will create two partitions, one of 100MB or so for "System Reserved" and the second of the remainder of the partition for Windows itself.
b. Once Windows 7 is installed and running, under Disk Management, delete the partition in the second half of the drive (don't mess with the first two Windows partitions). Linux or Windows 8 or just about anything else can be installed in the now unallocated back half of the disk. Linux and Windows 8 will set up the dual-boot controls for you.
5. Data Disk. In my setup, I have a separate drive designated as D that contains all of my data. This includes the "pagefile.sys" disk cache file, and all system data files like My Documents, Favorites, etc., that normally reside on C. Windows allows this. Because I have a lot of RAM (32GB), I find that the page file is never used, and have reduced it to 4GB. It still never gets used, but I leave it there just in case.
6. OS Backups: I use Acronis True Image Home to create and store an image of the boot drive. As stated, that image file usually runs around 30GB, so a single DVD or even single-layer BD won't do. I use an external USB drive. One of the reasons for moving all data to D is to minimize the amount of writing to the boot drive. Once the system is installed and running, very few writes occur. The reason is that I have transferred the image to an SSD - which boots the system MUCH faster - 23 seconds vs 2.5 minutes.
7. Data Backups: I keep a spare data disk or two, plus the external drive. On Sunday, every week, I run Beyond Compare 3 between the D drive and the spares. I use BC3 to compare the contents and to synchronize the drives. This normally takes around 10 minutes per drive, and they can be done simultaneously.
As always, should you or any of your team get killed or captured, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of you. This posting will self-destruct in 15 seconds. Good luck, Mr. Skeptic.
Edited by davnel, 16 March 2014 - 07:28 PM.