Consider the different levels of storage in the computer:

  1. Active memory (primary memory ; RAM less than 16GB)
  2. File storage (secondary memory; SolidStateDisk, hard disk )
  1. Programs can only be executed from active memory.
    Data (for example documents, images, emails, audio files, etc) can only be viewed or modified while in active memory.
    The electronics that comprise active memory are relatively expensive and
    there is a limit to the amount of active memory a system can support.
    (You should install as much as your system can support).
    This results in systems having much less active memory than needed.
    When not being used, programs and data are are stored in files to make room for other programs and data.
    Active memory electronics must be powered on. Storing data and programs in files preserves them when the system is powered off.

  2. The electronic components for file storage (for example, a magnetic hard disk drive) have 100 times the capacity of active storage for the same price.
    These electronics retain programs and data even when not powered on.
    The time it takes to transfer programs and data from files to active memory is dependent on the size and location of the data. This includes itime to collect portions of the data which had to be stored in pieces that ended up spread in various locations.
    Keeping the programs and data used frequently together, minimizes the time to transfer them to active memory.
    While storing data in files, portions of the data that are duplicated (multiple occurances of the same word in a document and even things as seemingly insignficant as multiple spaces or zeros) can be compressed resulting in less storage requirements which takes less time.

    The electronics used to store files include mechanical components and they will fail within several years! Check the warrenty on your hard disk some of which as as short as one (1) year. The biggest contributor to failure of file storage is the rapid temperature change which occurs when system is powered up and again when powered down.

    Storage Segregation

    Keeping all your data on one volume is a mistake because:

    1. A single write error, (which results in an unreadable location), can cause the Operating System to be unable to complete the review of the entire volume. This may result in the system refusing to make the entire volume available.

    The benefits of segragation include:

    1. accessability after single write error, (which results in an unreadable location) that does not exist within the system volume will allow allow the system to startup. If the error is in a temporary area of the disk other areas will still be accessable.
    2. much higher performance resulting from the minimization of fragmentation of free space.
    3. system upgrading is more reliable since none of "your data" is involved.
    4. backing up and recovery are much simpler both on a filesystem basis or a volume basis. (find sufficient space to store backups is much more likely if smaller backups are created)

    The following steps setup the disk for optimal configuration and for efficient usage during normal running and for ease of backup.

    Suggested disk partitioning (drive letters are your choice).
    Size shown are for a Windows 10 system totaling 100GB.
    If you choose not to allocate a separate executables partition add 20GB to the system volume.
    Size the partition for Photos and for Audio based on your experience.
    Allocate the remainder for backups.
    It's not really as complicated as it may seem at first and you rarely even need to be aware of the fact that the disk is partitioned. Think of volumes as directories.

    Partition layout for optimal performance keeping most frequently accessed files adjacent

    recovery | System | swap + cache| executables | data | photos | audio |backups
    
    The downsize of this many partitions is that free space is distributed and may not be where you want it when adding files. With a large disk this is a minor problem. Placing photos between your data and audio files permits the most flexibility in the event that you need to adjust the partition sizes in the future.

    The upside is that free space is distributed near the active files. This means that new files can be located with other active files as opposed to at the very end of the used space.


    Procedure to set up your storage

    Maybe it's a good idea to Back up your storage

    Yes it is, so go here before continuing!

    1. Prepare a "live CD" with software to revise the partitions on your hard disk
      A "live CD" is bootable CD that contains everything needed for the task at hand.
      It is no dependence on any existing Miscrosoft, Mac, Linux operating system or other software on any media.

      Here are choices of live CDs that contain the partition managment tool gparted

      1. Parted Magic linux windows environment.
      2. SystemRescueCD Choose this if your system has smaller memory.

      Save the file and when download completes write it to a "bootable" CD

    2. Select properties of the C: drive and compress it.
      Compressed files use fewer locations on disk so retrieving compressed files is much faster.
      Uncompressing files every time you access them is rather quick, much quicker than reading extra locations.
    3. Defragment the C: ( at least twice)

      You did backup didn't you?

    4. With the live CD in the drive, Shutdown MSWindows and Boot the CD
    5. Press enter to accept the default boot options
      If you are using the System Rescue CD:
      At the command prompt enter startx to start the X-Windows manager
      1. click on the icon to start Gparted
        Gparted will take a while invoking utilities to examine the existing disk structure.
        The time this takes Depends on the number and size of the partitions you have (be patient)
        1. Shrink the C: volume
          1. click on the largest partition (the C: one)
          2. click on the Partition menu
          3. click on Resize/Move
          4. In the New Size box enter 60000 (60,000 Mega Bytes aka 60 Giga Bytes)
            If you already have files on the C: drive, make it as small as possible but leave 50 megabytes safety space.
            After you are done setting up a paging partition, you will move the paging file off the C: rive which will free up space for the future.
          5. in the Align box select cylinder
          6. click Resize/Move
            gparted will acknowledge the requested change then allow additional actions before performing the changes.
        2. Create an extended partition (only 4 primary partitions are permitted. Additional partitions are placed in an extended partition)
        3. Create a partition (within the extended partition) for the windows paging file and browser cache together and separate which never needs to be backedup:
          selecting NTFS as the type
        4. Create a backup image partition
          Size it at least 30% of the size of the C: volume, select NTFS as the type
        5. Create other partitions, documents, executables, photos, media …
        6. PERFORM the pending actions
          (gparted accepts a list of actions but does not perform them until explicitly told to,
          just incase you change your mind)
      2. click on the menu icon at the bottom of the screen and select Log out, click on logout
      3. Shutdown by pressing [ctrl][alt][delete](Don't press reset)

    1. Boot the HD and watch as Micro$oft windows complains and repairs the C: volume (no worries)
    2. Restart and watch as system boots without complaining
    3. Restart one last time just to be thorough

    Now you need to

    1. change windows perofrmance options to reduce the size of the paging file on c: and allocate several Giga Bytes on the volume you created for the paging file.
    2. Start you browser (internet explorer) and change the preferences so it uses the volume for the networking cache.

    Backing up your storage

    A side note: Stand-alone, bootable CD virus scanner can be downloaded from Avast here