For the third time in as many years,Gene and Linda Barlow graced our September meeting and shared the knowledge gleaned over many years of visiting computer user groups in North America.
Back when I had a 1.6GB hard drive, some of Genes tools and tips for keeping my operating system and hard drive(s) running at maximum efficiency really didnt make much impact on my computer use, however as I upgraded my system and boosted my memory capacity grew to 20 gigs Genes recommendation to divide the hard drive into four partitions made great sense. The Primary partition "c:" I call "OS" contains only the windows operating system. The second partition "d:" called "APPS" contains all of my applications. The third "e:" named "DATA" holds all of the data files, and the forth "f:", which I call "SLUSH", is for games and programs that I want to try that I probably wouldnt keep for extended periods. The program also permits converting each of the hard drives from fat 16 to fat 32 files, which more efficiently saves storage space and, by keeping partitions limited to 8GB (where possible), also reduces wasted space. A special utility is needed to move and connect your applications. The file COA2 may be freely downloaded from www.pcmag.com/utilities/ to do this function.
Normally, dividing a hard drive into multiple partitions usually requires formatting the drive and starting from scratch and guessing as to the size needed for each partition. Using PowerQuest "Partition Magic", one of the programs Gene represents, makes this reorganization of the hard drive a simple matter. Now partitions can be sized to fit the applications and the data to be stored and relocated to the specified partitions; the operating System Registry is able to keep track of all the moves. All this can be done without having to delete and reinstall all of the programs that reformatting the drive would require. An added feature included with "Partition Magic" is "Boot Magic", which permits, with the creation of additional primary partitions, the ability to add additional operating systems, OS/2, Linux, DOS etc. and to be able to switch between them.
Now, when I defragment and back up my hard drive, I only have to worry about the "data" partition, as that is the only partition that changes regularly. The "operating system" and the "applications" partitions seldom change, and can be reinstalled from the original disks, if necessary.
Recently, I suffered what I call
Operating System terminal rot, or more gently put, OS Decay.
The windows system begins to act strangely, with even more system
lockups and crashes than usual. The normal approach is to run
ScanDisk, Defrag and possibly RegClean, followed by a reinstall
of Windows. After a while, even these drastic measures no longer
help. The only recourse is to reformat the "C" partition
and do a clean reinstall of the Windows OS. Although the Applications
and the data are protected by being in a separate partitions
from the Operating System, the applicationswill have to be reinstalled,
so the newly installed windows can generate a new clean Registry,
and Windows will know what applications are on your computer
and where they reside. This brings us to the newest of Genes
recommendations: Add a second hard drive close to or larger than
the one now in the computer. If the current drive is 20GB add
a 20, 30 or 40GB drive.
Tip: check www.driveservice.com for reviews of current drives
Why add a second drive? Gene states that hard drives are mechanical devices and will eventually fail. The second drive offers the simplest and least expensive way to quickly back up your existing drive. Prices have come down to affordable levels (40GB = $100-135), and most retail establishments will install the drive for you free.
PowerQuests "DriveCopy" allows exact and speedy duplication of your existing drive, with each partition resized proportionally to fit the increased capacity of the new drive.
The next PowerQuest program Gene described, was "DriveImage" this permits increases in the operating speed by placing the OS(s) on one drive and the applications and data on the other (two drive heads are faster than one). Doing this also is the start of creating a real time backup system. An additional function of "DriveImage" is "DataKeeper". "DataKeeper" backs up your data files automatically as you create them. The following is easier to diagram than to explain, but here it goes:
On the first physical drive create
one "c:" primary partition where you can place all
your operating systems, and a second partition "d:"
which well call bkup1.
Now backup the "c:" partition on drive one onto the "g:" partition on the second drive; then copy the "e:" and "f:" partitions on drive two on to the "d:" partition on the first drive "DriveImage" creates each of these backups in a compressed mode, reducing the space needed by about 50%.
Now all of your files are protected, as they are duplicated on both drives. These 50% compressed backup copies can be quickly expanded and restored into their original positions with all of their settings intact.
Once a month, or once a quarter,
copy the two backup files to CD-R/RW disks. These files can be
daisy chained if they take up more space than a single disk can
hold. Blank CD-R disks cost less than $.50 and can store more
per penny than ZIP or Tape storage media. For the real paranoid
these disks should be stored in a remote location or safe deposit
box in case of fire or theft.
|Marc Cohen is a founding member, a DACS director and production editor of dacs.doc. A perpetual novice, he started out having problems with his Osborne computer, and still has problems with Windows.|