Creative ways of using two hard disks on Win7

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Creative ways of using two hard disks on Win7

Postposted on Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:05 am

This is for the average joe by the way. A customer wants a Win7 install on a laptop with two hard disks. She doesn't have any preference about how the disks get used.

In the days of Win2k/XP, I would have junction'd "Program Files" and/or "Documents and Settings" off to the second disk, but my experience with Vista with trying to junction the Program Files folder leads me to think this probably won't work (Windows Updates that involved anything in that folder would fail).

I'm probably going to put the customer's user folder on the second disk, and leave a backup icon that will synchronise her user files to a hidden location on the first disk, to make the most of performance. I just wondered if anyone had any ideas that would be suitable for the average user.
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Re: Creative ways of using two hard disks on Win7

Postposted on Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:39 am

1. Libraries are the ****.
2. Symlinks (untested)

For #1, you can simply tell Windows to store that stuff on another drive- and it's seamless to the user. Great if the primary drive is something fast that you don't trust, like an SSD (my case). Also great if you have to wipe a drive due to some unrecoverable operating system problem.

I've used #2 to move games from their installed folders on spinning drives to my SSD, seamless to the game, operating system, and download manager (EA Downloader, Steam, Games for Windows Live). The games will run without issue and the manager will still keep them updated happily. I haven't used this to move operating system files around, but it would appear to work for anything in the Program Files directory, or the directory itself. Might try it with the /Users directory and see if it's an easier solution.
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Re: Creative ways of using two hard disks on Win7

Postposted on Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:24 am

'junction' is a sysinternals utility used for creating symlinks on NTFS.

Libraries make me nervous. They're a good idea, but my initial feeling is that it adds to the general confusion for what I regard to be the average joe in knowing where their data is stored*. Add to that a possible bug I've seen on my setup where the file search function simply does not work at all for a library, and it makes me step back from them even more. My documents folder isn't in the default place, but Windows is set up to treat it as my documents folder (Start > Documents goes to the correct place), and yet any file search (even *.*) results in 'no results', but going to my documents folder manually and searching works fine. Perhaps it is fixed in SP1.

* - Perhaps the average joe has no idea where their documents are actually stored in the file system, but still...
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Re: Creative ways of using two hard disks on Win7

Postposted on Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:38 am

mikeymike wrote:* - Perhaps the average joe has no idea where their documents are actually stored in the file system, but still...


This :). If it's transparent, it's transparent, though I think that if the search function didn't work I wouldn't consider it transparent.
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Re: Creative ways of using two hard disks on Win7

Postposted on Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:45 pm

You could just mount the second hard drive to a local folder on the primary drive then use the basic redirection functionality to move the data. To the user the second hard drive becomes transparent, it is the folder you've mounted.

The AIK or MDT would allow the creation of an answer file (through Windows SIM) that could move the users directory and programdata to another location.

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/For ... 44769fbd1c
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc722177(WS.10).aspx
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/949977
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929831

Not sure it's worth the hassle given the caveats.

You could span the pagefile onto the second drive (not condoning filling it, reasonable sized pagefile for the system) and the VMM will then alternate between the pagefile on the primary and secondary drive to store data based on the criteria of which drive is presently seeing less I/O activity.

You could make the disks dynamic and create a spanning volume.
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Re: Creative ways of using two hard disks on Win7

Postposted on Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:23 pm

With two drives, I usually put the pagefile and hibernation file on the second (all but the 8-50 MB of pagefile Windows makes you keep on the system drive). Does it make a real performance difference? Probably not a noticeable one.

On the other hand, with this being a laptop, you probably want the second drive to spin down and turn off as often as possible to conserve power.

On the gripping hand, a laptop with two hard drives is probably a whompin' DTR with no battery life to conserve, anyway.
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