External Hard Drive -To Partition or not?

  wee eddie 16:17 01 Jun 2003

I have just bought an External Hard Drive. Which will, I hope take care of my Off Site security for the next few years.

Maxtor 5000XT. USB2 and Firewire. 250 Gb.

In the future it will probably be used on PC's and Laptop's that are running W-XP or later, so NTFS. But it will initially be used with XP, W98se, so Fat32 as well, and if possible W95.

I have not even plugged it in yet and am still reading the set-up, and planning a longterm strategy.


Q1. Should I Partition the drive with a different partition for each Computer, and is it possible to have a different file system on each partition.

Q2. What would be the best solution to handle the creation of back-up copies? Norton Ghost or equivalent, from what I have read so far. The actual program I use will be a later decision, after I have read the vast batch of relevant postings on this board.

Q3. Maxtor have a proprietary One Touch Back-up called Dantz Retrospect Express, but I gather it overwrites the previous copy and I have found nothing on how it would handle the information from several different computers on the one drive and possibly the choice of which partition to place its copy?

Thats enough to confuse the issue for now. Thanks in advance for any contributions, but please keep them simple as I am working at the outer limit of my knowledge portfolio.

aka - I don't know what the hell I'm doing!

  Lú-tzé 16:38 01 Jun 2003

My advice:

create a seprate partition for each machine you are backing up.

Use Norton Ghost to create daily (more / less frequent as you require) backups. Create these locally.

Copy them to the relevant external disk.


If you are only backing up user data, try something like Cobian Backup. click here - it's free.

  Lú-tzé 16:40 01 Jun 2003

As for file systems, you can have whichever you wish or whatever combination you wish. As you know, some will not be recognisable by others though.

  wee eddie 17:47 02 Jun 2003

This is the thread that helped.

click here

Q3 has now become the main focus.

  BillEmm 12:51 03 Jun 2003

Wee Eddie, Format to FAT32 which is common to all OS.

Partitioning is dependant on use. Remember that this is an external drive and can only be used for data storage. If you are looking to Image your various systems then you have to produce those on the respective systems before you can transfer the result to your external drive. I believe there are backup programs that address USB and Firewire external drives, but I am not familiar with any of them.

I have 3 PCs: two are WinXP and the other a Win98SE runner. Drive Image is my favoured backup program and I output the images (CD Sized) to internal disk within each of the PCs. These images are then transferred (as data) to an external USB 2.0 drive for safekeeping. The space on the internal drive is then freed up for operational use.

I have several USB 2.0 and Firewire external drives that I use for transferring and sharing data between my systems. While I still have the Win98SE system the drives are FAT32 formatted.

Just a few thoughts.

  wee eddie 15:30 03 Jun 2003

Partition Magic 8. has a theoretical 160Gb limit, I am told.

So what can I use for a 250Gb Drive

  wee eddie 20:24 03 Jun 2003

Hope for some more thoughts

  BillEmm 22:53 03 Jun 2003

wee eddie. The 160GB limit referred to by PM 8 is 'partition limit' not disk. It may well be higher but PowerQuest only tested to 160GB on a 70 percent used partition.

PowerQuest actually quote an example of putting multiple 160GB partitions on one drive.

Anyway, didn't your disk come with a Maxtor formatting program?

  jeez 23:23 03 Jun 2003

billemm, totally agree. I cna see no great benefit of partitioning to ntfs for a backup solution. Wee eddie - I would reccommend norton ghost, have tried others and (for me) none can compare to it's simplicity and reliability. It supports usb and firewire and disaster recovery from boot floppies is a breeze. You select which partition to back up to and from, I use it with pm8 for a total solution. I'm not sure how many comps you can use it on though (license). I also use a free little prog called ranish partition manager click here it's not user friendly and it's quite complex but it's extremely powerful for that "in the trenches" type work. (I have used this on all windows platforms even xp and it has worked brilliantly and it's about 100 times faster than partition magic but be warned it assumes you know what you are doing (i.e. it dosent move data for you to prevent a partition from becoming corrupted by chopping it in two)

  wee eddie 08:04 04 Jun 2003

Thanks BillEmm, it shows how easy it is to misinterpret or fail to read all in my case, a simple piece of text on the 160Gb limit.

I shall now advance 1 or maybe 2 steps.

There may be partitioning software in the Maxtor bundle, it was not immediately obvious, so I shall look even more thoroughly this evening.

I think Ghost will be the next purchase, I have read the other threads and this seems to end up with the fewer problems

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