Is it a bad idea to "re-use" a hard drive?

Rob Varto

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Mar 5, 2000
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Im trying to cut any costs out of my new computer system and Im definitely not afraid to open the case up and install new components. My question is this - should I get a HD installed in my new computer or can I re-use the 20 GB drive I currently use? I have a Pentium III 600 Mhz with Win 98. I've heard that you can experience "conflicts" by installing an old HD as a "new" primary drive. Is this true? Should I just shell out the $100 or so for a new HD? Thanks in advance!
 

Andrew Pratt

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well generally speaking you should be ok using the old hard drive in the new machine. There are a few things to consider though. One is I'm not sure if that "old" hard drive is UDMA66 or ATA100 if its ATA100 then its going to be faster transfering data then the older UDMA66's providing your motherboard supports this speed (or you're willing to purchase an adapter card) Secondly do you know what the RPM rate is on your current drive? The newer hard drives are available at speeds or 7200 RPM (at least in in the IDE world ie non SCSI)
So if your old drive is an ATA100 7200 RPM drive then I'd say yes its a good drive to use in the newer machine. If its not you can still use it but I'd religate it to being for storage of games, MP3's etc and not your primary drive.
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Rob Gillespie

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Reusing an older HD is only a bad idea when it has bad sectors (or other faults) or doesn't suit your needs.
I've heard that you can experience "conflicts" by installing an old HD as a "new" primary drive. Is this true?
You'll get conflicts by putting an HD with Windows already installed into a different PC. Many of the hardware setups will be different and you're basically asking for trouble. Also, if you're putting the older HD in as a second drive you need to make sure your master/slave settings are correct and that there aren't two Primary DOS partitions set to active (Windows doesn't like that much).
If you're getting a new PC, by all means use the same HD but do wipe, partition and format it before installing Windows again. If you need help on that just ask.
 

SteveBjr

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One way is:
Make sure you have any information you want to keep backed up somewhere.
Create a boot disk in windows. Put it in your diskdrive, reboot, and get to the A:/ prompt.
At the prompt type "fdisk". Delete all partitions on your hard drive. After all have been deleted create a new partition. Set your partitions however you like them. I usually just use one partition but some people like to have 2 or 3.
After you create your partition you need to format the hard drive. Once you're done formatting install your operating system and you're good to go.
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Steve,
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Rob Gillespie

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What Steve said

If you're going to be reinstalling Windows onto the drive, you will need to make a Primary DOS Partion on the disk (should be the first partition you create). You'll also need to set this to ACTIVE. You can do all this via the FDISK menu.
If you only create one partition on the drive, then it should be as above.
If you want more than one partition, do the above to whatever size you want it. Then create an Extended DOS Partition over the entire remainder of the drive space. Within that you can then create Logical Partitions which Windows will see as separate 'drives'.
Ask away if you're unsure.
 

Steven K

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The smart way to set up a system is to have 1 partition for your Operating System and then another partition (or multiple partitions) for your applications. I set up all of my systems like this: for example, my Laptop setup:
Partition 1 (boot): LILO
Partition 2 (primary): Linux
Partition 3 (primary): Win2K (NTFS)
Partition 4 (logical): Linux Apps
Partition 5 (logical): Win2K Apps (FAT32)
Partition 6 (logical): Win2K pagefile (NTFS)
Partition 7 (logical): Linux swapfile
This setup is geared for speed. Rarely will you ever have to write data to your OS partition (you can set your browser cache to your applications partition). Therefore, your data on the OS partition wont become fragmented. Also it helps alot to have your swapfilevirtual memory file on a completely seperate partition. Make it equal to 150% of your RAM (actually I have it to 250%, so if I want to upgrade RAM, it will be in sync).
 

Rob Gillespie

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I'd have to disagree with Steven a little on his layout (don't take it personally Steven!):
Moving the swap (or page) file into a different partition will only really make a difference if that partition is on a separate physical drive. HD transfer speeds get slower as you move further into the disc, so if your OS is at the start of the HD and the swap is towards the end, you'll most likely see a slightly lower overall performance than if the swap was on the same partition. Obviously this doesn't apply to Linux

Fragmentation with NTFS is not really an issue, certainly nothing like it can be with FAT/FAT32.
Also, if the swap file is configured to be a set (rather than dynamic) size, fragmentation and access speed becomes even less of a problem. You can also configure the registry in Windows 98 to use all physical ram before hitting the swap file. If you have a large amount of memory, the swap file may never get above 0kb. I have 384mb and my swap is - 0kb! This doesn't work the same in Windows 2000 as it always requires a page file to work efficiently, but it can still be tweaked. Mine is set to a permanent size of 512mb and is on my second physical drive.
Keeping the apps installed on a separate partition may help in some circumstances but I'm not sure it would really make much of a difference in speed. Again it comes back to the HD speed being higher nearer the start. Plus for every new partition you create, it's just another drive letter jump you have to make when browsing around.
Obviously this is just my opinion but since we're here...

Out of interest, this is how mine is configured:
Drive 1:
Windows98 (1gb)
Windows 2000 (3.5gb)
Mandrake Linux / (3.5gb)
Slackware Linux / (3.5gb)
Linux swap (shared between both Linuxs) 512mb
Files partition (all my own data) 40-something Gb
Drive 2:
MP3s (30gb)
Big stuff like CD images: 35gb (W2K page file also)
Spare parition: 15gb
I use Ghost to for all backups and Ghost only works on partition or disk level. The drive configuration I have now gives me good speed and the best flexibility. I can Ghost the Windows installations in and out very quickly without affecting my own data. Same for MP3s. The Spare partition is, well... just for spare. Useful if I have to reapply an archived Ghost image back in for any reason.
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"We shall never surrender"
Winston Churchill.
[Edited last by Rob Gillespie on October 22, 2001 at 01:21 AM]
 

Steven K

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Rob makes a good point about having the swapfile on a seperate drive as opposed to having it reside on the same drive. This is actually a better setup than having it on the same drive.
The most important thing overall is to have a seperate partition for your OS, and a seperate partition for your apps. If you aren't running Linux, then you dont need a seperate boot partition (just write to the MBR).
I have my data partition for Win2K as FAT32, because I need to see it and access it from Win98 machines (Win9598ME cannot see NTFS partitions). FAT32 isn't nearly as secure, but I'm really stuck with no choice for that.
 

Rob Gillespie

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Steven - purely out of curiosity - what's your reasoning for keeping apps on a separate partition (for Windows)?
 

Steven K

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Jan 10, 2000
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Rob,
My apps (along with all other non-OS related files) are on a seperate partition for 2 reasons:
1. The partition is FAT32 (so that I can see the files on my Win98 machines at work and at home)
2. Preventing data fragmentation- since I wont be doing much (if any) moving, copying, etc... of OS files, that partition wont become as fragmented, and as such, the OS files will be accessed faster.
My Win2K OS and swap partitions are NTFS (for obvious reasons). I actually also have a seperate partition for programming. I'm a programmersoftware engineer, so I'm constantly rebuilding and modifying programs. This can fragment a HD so quickly, its not funny (even when using pre-compiled headers).
I use MasterBooter at work. It's very nice: what it does is allows you to have an unlimited number of primary partitions (normally you can only have 4; Im sure you know that but alot of people dont). When you boot, MasterBooter hides every other primary partition except for the one you boot with. I work with several environments: 98, 2K, NT, RedHat Linux, Solaris, and others (and unfortunately, now XP). MasterBooter is a Godsend...
 

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