Windows 10: How to set up new Windows 10 Pro PC with separate hard drives

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  1. Posts : 88
    1: Windows 10 Pro (64bit), 2: Windows 10 Pro (64bit)
       01 Jul 2017 #1

    How to set up new Windows 10 Pro PC with separate hard drives

    From my latest posts you can see I've had my share of issues to deal with and thanks to you all here and other communities, I've managed to power through unto workable solutions. Still, the stress, hassle and too many hours lost to PC maintenance don't make me enjoy computers yet. My stock 6 year old HDD began failing, was fixed then failed again then fixed, then replaced in October, then it failed really fast last week! But thanks the Hard Drive Sentinel, it alerted me fast enough to clone it to another new HDD and so things are back to normal, although I'm stuck with an unfixable situation of not being able to update from v1511 to v1604. I decided to get a new PC with a fresh Win 10 Pro OS, which has more speedy features for today's demands, instead of continuing to spend time and money on my current PC.

    I'm already doing separate backups and a clone of my C: drive which has the OS and my installed software. I have a separate HDD to put my data, of which I have a second copy of too. For my new PC I'd like to take this step further, although I'm not sure it's possible. I'd like to have a HDD dedicated just for the OS, another HDD just for installed software and a third HDD for just data. Then have backups of each one of these. Is is possible to install software to a separate HDD from the OS HDD without issues or do software installs have to go into the same HDD as the OS? Also, I read somewhere that the latest Win 10 update coming this fall "Creative ..." has a problematic install issue. I'm thinking that if I keep OS, software and data separate, restoring them individually may reduce many of the headaches I've had in the future. Is the separate OS and software setup possible and if it's not complicated to do or restore from, how is it done?

      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2.    01 Jul 2017 #2

    I'm not sure I understood all of that.
    Let me see, You have a new computer with 2 disk drives. One with W10 on it and another one for data, backups etc. ?
    You want to install programs to that other disk drive to keep them safe and separate from OS ?
    Do you or don't you want to have second OS on that other disk drive ?
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  3. Posts : 88
    1: Windows 10 Pro (64bit), 2: Windows 10 Pro (64bit)
    Thread Starter
       01 Jul 2017 #3

    Thanks for the reply.

    The idea is to leave the stock 1TB HDD with just Win 10 OS on it. Then another, separate HDD with only my software on it. Then a third and separate HDD for data only. Each of these three would have their own respective external backup HDDs. The desktop PC I ordered has 2 HDDS slots for sure. If it doesn't have 3 slots then I'll dedicate an external HDD dock for the data HDD.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4.    01 Jul 2017 #4

    You can keep data files on a separate hard drive, but it is only feasible to install "portable", meaning completely self contained, programs on a separate drive. The reason is because most programs install files in Windows system folders and the registry.

    You would be better off to keep a copy of their setup/install exe files on the data drive.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  5.    01 Jul 2017 #5

    Most software programs like to be installed on the C: drive by default. Only a few programs allow you to install it to a separate drive., You can move your Personal directories (ie) Pictures, Music, Documents etc to a separate drive. That way, if the OS drive fails, you will still have your personal files on a separate drive.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  6.    01 Jul 2017 #6

    Ah, OK.
    You can do that by choosing to install a program to other disk during it's installation but there is a side effect to it. Programs, other than portable ones, write part of it to disk with OS you are installing from and if you have to replace the disk with OS or OS on it those programs wouldn't work without re-installation any more. Portable programs can work like that but links for them in OS disk would have to be recreated.
    Other way would be to install all the programs on OS (BOOT) disk and set second one to keep full backup of it using for instance Macrium Reflect Macrium Software | Macrium Reflect Free and/or make incremental automatic updates to it. Program makes one large file that is about 75% of space used on on first disk you are backing up from. If you keep a small USB pen drive for rescue MR makes you could change primary disk or OS on it in matter of minutes and have system same as at the time backup was made.
    Yet another way would be to use 2 identical disks in RAID 1 mode that write at same time on both disks and so keep identical copies on either disk. In case you have to replace one or OS on it all you have is to rebuild that RAID array. It's a bit more complicated way and requires more knowledge but all modern desktop systems have RAID capability.
    In either case you could use third disk to keep just personal files on it and/or their backup because OS and programs can be replaced much easier than personal files.
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  7.    02 Jul 2017 #7

    It's an excellent idea to keep data on disks/partitions other than C: - and that can include data used by some programs.

    Example: I use Roboform, a password manager. All the password and safe note data it uses is on a different drive to the one my OS is on. Similarly, all data related to Thunderbird (email etc).

    I long ago gave up using the default libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures....) and use my own on another disk. (As the only user, privacy issues are irrelevant).

    Why? Because those folders are filled with folders created by programs I've installed - esp. multimedia programs. So to me they are 'their' folders, not 'mine'.

    Another possible advantage of using different partitions and disks for your data is in planning your backup strategy. For example, certain data may change very infrequently- if that's on one partition, you don't have to update your backup so often, if you do that manually.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  8. Posts : 88
    1: Windows 10 Pro (64bit), 2: Windows 10 Pro (64bit)
    Thread Starter
       03 Jul 2017 #8

    Sorry for the delay in replying - I never got a notification after the first one.

    Those are great suggestions, thanks! I've heard of RAID but I think I'll keep it simple for now with scheduled backups and periodic clones then. I'll keep my OS and installed software on my C: drive and the downloaded software on the data drive with everything else too.

    BTW: I've been trying to use Macrium Reflect free for months and it hasn't been very reliable for me. I burned the recovery disk from the PC it's installed in and when it's gotten in trouble the disk is never read. Although my Acronis rescue disk works and so does the Windows Repair Install disk. Also, incremental backups aren't possible with the free version, plus every attempt to create a clone with it has failed. I think one time I tried to restore a backup and in order to do that I had to buy it. The only program I've been able to clone successfully with is AOMEI free but I couldn't create a recovery disk with it. I've also got EaseUS installed too but haven't tried it - supposedly it's not that good at accurately restoring data. I've read the ITs swear by Acronis as the industry standard but it's very expensive. I'm afraid if I get in another jamb and rely on Macrium for a recovery, it may let me down.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  9.    03 Jul 2017 #9

    my Acronis rescue disk works
    If you have an Acronis disc, just use that.
    I have had mixed results with Macrium too. For Cloning, I have never had a problem with Acronis.
    Aoemi is a great program. As well as Easeus too, you can make boot discs of any of these programs and choose to make an Image file of your computer and save it to am External drive.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  10.    03 Jul 2017 #10

    I've used Aomei and its boot disk (CD/DVD) successfully in the past. I did a forensic (sector by sector) clone of a disk for my PVR TV box (records TV programs) as the disk failed, and only an exact copy of the disk works in another box, using Macrium. Macrium's boot disk also works well.

    I feel you're seeing rather too many things that don't work for you for some reason.

    It's a long time since I had to restore anything- Win 10's been stable from when I bought this PC over a year ago and installed it- and used Easeus and Aomei previously - all restores succeeded.

    Restore is (of course) supported in M R free
    Macrium Software | Macrium Reflect Free

    There is a marginal advantage in incremental backups in speed and size, but a disadvantage in reliability- restoring a differential backup requires the base + 1 differential image file. Restoring using an incremental backup requires the base + as many incremental image files as exist to date.

    As regards speed, using SSD + USB3, the difference isn't worth bothering about.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

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