storing all data files on a separate partition with Windows Vista



I just bought a new laptop with Windows Vista installed. I have a 120 GB
hard drive, which I ordered Dell to partition into a 40 GB C drive and an 80
GB D drive (with my DVD drive being drive E).

So I got the laptop and the partitioning is all done as I requested. Now
what I want to do with it is to set it up similarly to the way I had my old
Windows XP machine set up, which was as follows:

I separated my old XP machine into a 17GB C drive, and a 23GB D drive. I
managed to set up my XP operating system so that the "My Documents" folder
(and all associated subfolders) was on drive D, while the OS and all
applications were installed on drive C, but whatever data files I created
were on drive D. The reason I did this was that I had a lot of data on my
machine, and having it on the same drive as the OS was slowing the OS down
substantially, but the OS performed well when all that data was on a separate

What I want is to do substantially the same thing with my new Windows Vista
laptop. I want to have the OS and all installed applications remain on drive
C, but put my entire user account folder (C:\Users\Joel_T_Dahl) on drive D
(my 80GB data partition). Or, if I can't do that, I'd like to move just the
major subfolders of my user account (i.e., "Documents," "Music," "Pictures"
etc.) onto drive D. I have a lot of music and pictures I want to put into
those folders, and before I put them into those folders, I want to move those
folders onto drive D, so that the data doesn't bog down my OS.

I know I could just deliberately save all my data onto drive D, but most
applications save data into these Vista equivalents of the XP My Documents
subfolders, and it would be nice not to have those defaults point to a folder
that's already on drive D (and not to have to change the default save
directory with each new application I install).

So in sum, I would like for C:\Users\Joel_T_Dahl to become D:\Joel_T_Dahl,
with all the associated settings within Windows Vista changed so that they
know what drive path to point to when accessing Joel_T_Dahl and/or any
associated subfolder.

Or, if I can't move my user account folder off the drive that has the OS,
I'd like for

(etc., etc.)

to become

D:\(etc., etc.)




To clarify more briefly:

I have two partitions set up already, C: (40GB) and D: (80GB). I want to do
with Vista what the article link below shows how to do on XP. How do I do

40GB seems to be the recommended size for Vista OS + applications, and I
know that 80GB is more than enough for my data needs, so I need no help with

Also, in browsing these forums, I noticed that several people say that
storing data files on a separate partition from the OS makes no difference
whatsoever in performance. I'm not even vaguely technically trained enough
to weigh in on that discussion, however personal experience showed a dramatic
improvement (on my old XP system) when I had separate partitions for OS +
applications and for data. I have roughly 15 GB of iTunes music, and when I
put all of that on my 40GB C: partition (only partition on the machine) on my
old XP machine, the whole system became slow as molasses. On a friend's
recommendation, I partitioned that old machine into C: (17MB) and D: (23MB)
and moved "My Documents" onto D:. Instantly, the machine was back to
performing at it's old speeds again. If this wasn't achieved by moving my
data onto a separate partition from the OS, what did do it? The reason I ask
is that I'm wondering if I should be pursuing a different option here.


Got it! This article details what you want to do, if you want to do the same
thing I describe in my posts here:

Here's what I did/recommend:

1) If you don't already have your hard drive formatted into two separate
partitions, do so. Format the C: drive so that it is at least 40GB. That's
the drive that will contain your Vista OS, Application Data, etc. Format the
remainder of your hard disk into a drive for your data files, drive D: (it
might end up being drive E, if there's a recovery partition in there
already). Search around elsewhere on this forum for how to do that.

2) Open up your user account folder by clicking Start >> (Your User Account
folder name here)

3) Open up your data partition that you just created (I'm going to assume
that it's drive D:), by clicking Start >> Computer >> D:

4) Drive D: should be a completely empty folder. Right-click and select
New >> Folder. Look at the folders in your User Account folder, and create
new folders (on D:) with the exact same names as all the folders in your User
Account folder.

4a) Assuming you're doing this on a fresh-out-of-the-box Vista machine, to
which you haven't installed any applications yet, the folders you will see in
your user account folder will be:

C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Contacts
C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Desktop
C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Documents
C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Downloads
C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Favorites
C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Links
C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Saved Games
C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Searches
C:\Users\(your User Account folder's name)\Videos

And the folders you will be creating on D: will be:

D:\Saved Games

5) In your USER ACCOUNT FOLDER, right-click on each of the folders listed
above, and click Properties.

6) Click on the "location" tab, and click "move"

7) Browse to the D: drive and click on the folder (created by you in step
4) with the same name as the folder you are moving. Click "select folder."

8) Windows will prompt you to ask if all files should be moved from the old
folder to the new one. Click "Yes."

**I recommend moving the Desktop folder before moving the "Saved Games"
folder. There was a file related to the desktop in the "Saved Games" folder
that did not want to be moved before the Desktop folder was moved.

***Also, there was another folder in the User Account folder on my new
laptop, "Bluetooth Software." My hunch is that this only comes with laptops
that are Bluetooth-enabled, as mine is. I opted NOT to move this folder onto
my D: drive, as I'm leaving the OS and all applications on drive C:

Steve Easton

I hate to tell you this, but moving / saving / working with files in another partition on the "Same" drive
does not speed up anything.
The only thing it accomplishes is that they're saved if you ever need to reformat the OS partition and

Using a second physical drive for data file storage and also moving the paging file there "Is" a definite
performance advantage.


An addendum to my instructions above:

It seems that Windows creates "Music" and "Pictures" subfolders of the
documents folder as soon as you move the "Documents" folder onto drive D:\,
and (presumably*) makes those subfolders the default "pictures" and "music"
folders, that are linked to from the Start Menu, are the default folders for
programs such as iTunes, etc.

So I would recommend doing the following: change the Documents folder (per
my instructions above) first, then restart your machine and take a look
inside the documents folder to see if subfolders have been created. Then
move any remaining folders from your User Account folder to drive D: as

If the subfolders for Music and Pictures (and perhaps some of those other
folders as well -- Music and Pictures and Documents folders are the three
basic folders I use) aren't created, you may need to create them as
subfolders, and then move the original folders there out of your User Account
folder on drive C:


I've seen that said elsewhere, and as I posted above, I don't even vaguely
have the technical training to argue one way or the other on that point,
however my past experience proves otherwise.

So, while I'm not challenging you on this point, allow me to describe why my
past experience leads me to believe that moving data onto a separate
partition on the same physical drive improves performance, and perhaps you or
someone else can explain to me the real reason for why this happens.

I had a Windows XP machine with a 40 GB physical hard drive, the entirety of
which was formatted as a 40GB C: drive. I noticed with this machine (and
with other machines I'd had previously) that its performance generally seemed
to slow down over time, the longer I had the machine (and yes, I did have
general system maintainance performed regularly, defragmenting the HD, etc.).
My presumption was/is that as time passed, I created and saved more data
files, so there was more data for the system to have to churn through the
longer I had the computer.

It got REALLY bad when I took my entire CD collection and imported it all
into iTunes (about 15 GB worth). Basic windows processes (booting up,
minimizing or maximizing a screen) would have a noticeable lag with an
hourglass on screen before anything would happen).

A friend suggested to me that I separate my C: drive into a 17GB (the
minimum for XP, apparently) C: drive, and leave the remaining 23GB as a new
D: partition, and transfer the My Documents folder, and all the data it
contained (including my newly bloated iTunes folder, which was the main
offender in slowing down my system) onto drive D:

I did so, and AS SOON as I did, the computer returned to its original,
fresh-out-of-the-box level of performance.

So my question is, if moving my data onto a separate partition on the same
physical hard drive didn't cause the speed-up of my OS, what did?

This story is about my old XP machine. As for my new laptop with Vista, I
can't say for sure if the same rule will prove true (though I've obviously
been assuming that it will). I haven't put a whole lot of data on it yet,
and now that I've moved the Documents folder onto my D: partition, that's
where I'm going to put all my data when I do put lots of data on it.

Thanks for your input! I really appreciate it!


Steve Easton

Ah, Ok.

With the scenario you posted below, it makes perfect sense that the machine would boot faster.
You've significantly reduced the size of the Master File Table for the C drive and also greatly reduced
the area that the drive has to search during the boot sequence.

My reply applies to when the machine is up and running, reading and writing files.
If you really want to see a significant performance boost, run two drives with data files and the paging file
on the "Drive" separate from the OS.

fwiw I run a Dual core machine with 1 GB of Ram and 2 160 GB sata drives.
Dual boot with XP and Vista Ultimate.
Both clean installs on brand new drives.
The XP paging file is on the Vista drive
The Vista paging file is on the XP drive

Contrary to what others have posted, Vista is "much" faster than XP
with this set up.


Steve Easton


Interesting. It sounds to me like you and others on these forums are much
more "power users" than I am. I will definitely keep your tip in mind if I
find that my machine slows down enough to really bug me.



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