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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Computer Setup and Rebuilding After Hard Drive Failure

Each Wednesday I tell you about a piece of computer hardware. Occasionally I talk about something fun that isn't computer related just to mix it up a bit. Today I'm not going to talk about a hardware product as much as the way I setup my computer and the reason I do it this way.

In each of my computers, I set things up to have three drives. The C drive is reserved for Windows and only Windows. On the D drive I install all of my software and any permanent data. By permanent data, I'm talking about things like clip art and font collections that never change. Lastly is the E drive and that is where all of my data is stored. With all my data on this one drive, it is the only drive I need to backup. Most of my software comes on a disc but the downloadable software installers are all stored on the data drive so they are backed up.

On my desktop system, I have two physical drives. Windows is on a dedicated drive and the programs and data are stored on the second drive. In the last few days, the Windows drive has started to fail. This certainly slows down my workflow, but I know my data is completely safe. A new drive has already been ordered and it is the Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Drive I told you about a couple of weeks ago.

I'll have to reinstall Windows and all my software once the new drive is installed. Because it is much larger than the drive it is replacing, I'll partition it into two drives for Windows and my software and then I'll make the remaining drive my data drive. Because of the way I've set things up, I feel comfortable knowing my data is very safe and the worst case scenario is the couple of days it will take to set up everything as I had it before.

When it comes time for you to get a new computer, give some thought to coming up with a system that will work for you. Should something go wrong, it will definitely give you a lot more peace of mind.



Blogger Adrian said...

A good idea is to have two drives in Raid 1 so if one drive fails, the mirror drive is always there.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

My backup strategy is a little different than yours but works for me. I clone my boot drive to a duplicate hard drive every 30 days or before I make any major software or hardware changes to my desktop. I also image the boot drive to an external hard drive. My boot drive contains Windows and all programs. I have three other physical hard drives where my data (mostly over 30 years of family and travel film and digital photos)is duplicated on each drive. I hopefully (with emphasis on hopefully) should never need to reinstall Windows or programs.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Foster D. Coburn III said...

Rick, thanks for sharing your strategy. I'm sure everybody has a slightly different system. The key is to have a system that works for you should disaster strike. By learning the strategies of others, we can tweak our own to make them better.

9:20 PM  
OpenID ericjaytoll said...

I'm installing my first SSHDD, I thought you also wrote an article about how to ensure the computer recognizes the new drive as the one for the operating system. I can't find the article on Google search. Can you direct me to it?
Also, I'm switching over to the drive because my five year old C: drive keeps reporting errors when running diagnostic programs (System Mechanic) and some of the applications are running funny.
With a continuous backup (Carbonite), would you recommend continuing to use the drive for data or is it just too risky?

8:24 AM  
Blogger Foster D. Coburn III said...

Eric, I'm not sure I've written anything about making sure any drive is set as C. If it exists, it would be in the Blog Archives at

Would I continue to use an old drive that often reported errors? Only long enough to copy the data to a new drive.

8:55 AM  

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