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Advantages to single partitions?
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axlepin
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Jul 12, 2004, 09:48 PM
 
Ever since the early days of OS X, I've been using 2 partitions; one for OSX and certain apps, another for files and apps which don't seem to "need" to be installed into the boot volume..

Are there advantages to having all on one partition? Does OSX function better or do applications interact with OSX better when everything's on the same partition?

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wataru
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Jul 12, 2004, 09:58 PM
 
In my opinion there's no need for separate partitions anymore: You can easily replace the system itself with archive & install. There's no reason to keep your Classic system separate. With one partition you don't wind up with wasted space.
     
Mr. Blur
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Jul 12, 2004, 10:12 PM
 
i would suggest searching this forum using the word "partition" and you will see many threads with many opinions on this - it comes up just about every week.
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mdc
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Jul 12, 2004, 10:18 PM
 
personally, i prefer a single partition for organization. i get a bit anal when it comes to the organization of my home folder, and the rest of my hard disk.
     
DBvader
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Jul 12, 2004, 10:26 PM
 
I have two 80s in my MDD, and it's a huge hassle when I am trying to make DVDs because of all sorts of space considerations. Sometimes, I run out of space on one and have to use the other (my projects then span 2 HDs). The worst case is when I have room on both HDs, but not on any single one for my project.

I can format them to be one 160 GB HD, but I have nothing to back up ~140 GB of data.

If you don't run into specific issues with your set up, then there is nothing wrong with it. There are no other advantages except that all your space is consolidated.
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Jul 12, 2004, 10:51 PM
 
With Mac OS X, the only good reason to partition your HD (for most people) is if you want multiple installations of Mac OS X on the one HD. Eg, Jaguar, Tiger, Panther (or even two of the same version, in case one gets hosed).

Generally most people should only need 1 partition.
     
Randman
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Jul 13, 2004, 01:21 AM
 
If you're worried about corruption, create a new user with admin rights and only log in to that account if you suspect a problem. That'll determine if the problem is software- or hardware-related.
A hard-drive failure (or theft in a laptop) will not be deterred by multiple partitions.
If you need extra security, create an encrypted disk and store files/documents in there.
Repairing permissions is a must-do in OSX. And you have the potential for greater problems with partitioning than just keeping things on one drive and keeping partitions up-to-date.

Since OSX mounts all non-boot volumes in the /Volume folder of the filesystem it makes more sense to keep everything on the same partition.
X uses a very specific filesystem structure, and it doesn't easily permit you to mount volumes in those specific Folders.
Traditional Unix systems would provide the ability to mount volumes wherever you liked in the filesystem; /boot could be a tiny partition at the start of the Physical Drive (so the OS would boot quicker), followed by the SWAP Partition (X uses a Swap File, and doesn't need a separate partition) and then the /, /usr and /home partitions.
If User Directories were stored on a separate machine, the whole /home partition could be mounted over the network. If a Particular User wanted to use an account on their personal workstation, the SysOp could mount their remote Volume locally in the /home partition.
You could end up with;
/ (local)
/boot (local machine specific)
/usr (local or over the network, not machine specific, could be shared by all machines)
/home (local, off a local RAID array or over the network, not machine specific)
/home/dan (local, over the network from a different computer or off a portable storage device)
The location and access controls of mounts was controlled by the SysOp through the /etc/fstab configuration file. Desktop Linux users still have to edit this file by hand.

MacOS X users can still edit the fstab file by hand, but X usually automatically mounts all non-boot volumes in the /Volumes folder.

Also, since X uses Filesystem Resources to Index (for Finder searches), store aliases and locate File Handlers, it's probably better to keep everything in the same partition.

As you also might know, from Windows, some programs don't run properly when installed on a partition other than the boot partition, or on a different partition to the OS.

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workerbee
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Jul 13, 2004, 01:40 AM
 
Originally posted by wataru:
In my opinion there's no need for separate partitions anymore: You can easily replace the system itself with archive & install.
OTOH, for those occasions when you feel that a format and clean install is needed, having your work data on a separate partition can be helpful: it does not get deleted with the ~home folder. Example: doing a clean install here would mean backup and restore of about 3GB data (mails, stuff I keep in the filevaulted ~home folder, prefs of course, and some music on a shared user's home folder), and would let me keep my 25+GB data on the work partition.
(Of course, now that I have a nice big fast backup FW disk, this would not save as much time as when I had to backup everything on CD-Rs).
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ginoledesma
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Jul 13, 2004, 03:08 AM
 
Like workerbee, I have 2 partitions for the very same reason he mentions: a separate partition is handy in the event of a system upgrade/reinstall. I put most, if not all, of my third-party apps in the separate partition. So when I reinstall my OS (like I did a few days ago), I didn't have to reinstall all my apps. It was a matter of just restoring some of their preferences to get them registered again. For those apps that have slightly more advanced copy protection, simply keying in again the serial is no big deal.

Having a single partition and doing a clean install in the above situation would have meant a reinstall of all apps or a restore from backup.
     
Chuckit
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Jul 13, 2004, 04:17 AM
 
But why would you feel compelled to do a clean install over just your core system? What is the advantage of that over an archive-and-install? I can understand doing a clean install over a whole disk, but I'm not seeing the advantage of doing it over part of a disk at the moment.
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ginoledesma
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Jul 13, 2004, 05:40 AM
 
1. Space constraints.
2. Because the core system can get screwy (Library, etc) but third party apps (or your data) need not be. I can reinstall/clean install/format/whatever the "system disk" but keep all my data (which would've been in Documents or somewhere in my Home directory) without an explicit back-up first.

These two are reasons enough for me to maintain my partitioning.
     
wataru
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Jul 13, 2004, 08:54 AM
 
Originally posted by workerbee:
OTOH, for those occasions when you feel that a format and clean install is needed, having your work data on a separate partition can be helpful: it does not get deleted with the ~home folder. Example: doing a clean install here would mean backup and restore of about 3GB data (mails, stuff I keep in the filevaulted ~home folder, prefs of course, and some music on a shared user's home folder), and would let me keep my 25+GB data on the work partition.
(Of course, now that I have a nice big fast backup FW disk, this would not save as much time as when I had to backup everything on CD-Rs).
There is little, if any, benefit to a clean install over an archive install.
     
Millennium
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Jul 13, 2004, 09:32 AM
 
I prefer separate partitions, just from an aesthetic sense; two cleaner filesystems rather than one filesystem which I find rather jumbled (two Applications folders? Two System folders? This does not make much sense). However, there is no technical need for two partitions; it just looks nicer.
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ul1984
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Jul 13, 2004, 10:27 AM
 
i have 2 partitions, a 12GB "System" and 44GB "Files", i keep my homedir on my Files partition(/Volumes/Files/joel), that way if i want to reinstall OSX, i dont have to backup anything.

another good reason to keep it seperate like this IMO, is if you transfer a lot of big files and always have you're partition very near full, in time,the partition will be VERY fragmented.
(i use my "Files" partition for this, downloading files using BT, deleting them, copying files from other machines over ethernet as backup, copying it back, then delete it etc), by not exposing my System partition to this, it will stay pretty non-fragmented)
     
wataru
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Jul 13, 2004, 12:02 PM
 
Originally posted by ul1984:
i have 2 partitions, a 12GB "System" and 44GB "Files", i keep my homedir on my Files partition(/Volumes/Files/joel), that way if i want to reinstall OSX, i dont have to backup anything.
I'm going to keep saying this until people actually start reading my posts:

You don't need to back anything up if you use an archive install. There is little to no benefit to a clean install over an archive install.
     
SMacTech
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Jul 13, 2004, 01:15 PM
 
Originally posted by wataru:
I'm going to keep saying this until people actually start reading my posts:

You don't need to back anything up if you use an archive install. There is little to no benefit to a clean install over an archive install.
There is a benefit to the lazy ones who don't create a separate user account to test and troubleshoot problems with. However, it creates a lot more work restoring all of the settings, thats for sure.
My Dad had problems with his account, with Safari, that an Archive install didn't fix, because the problem was in his user account only. Of course doing a clean install fixed the problem for him.

Back on topic : there was an earlier thread on partitioning, where many including myself chimed in on the benefits of partitioning. It is a personal choice, depending on the needs of the user. For the average web surfer, email user, blah blah, a single partition is all they need.
For developers, professionals and geeks, partitioning is a MUST have, unless you have a lot of extra money for external/additional drives.
     
Randman
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Jul 13, 2004, 01:49 PM
 
Originally posted by SMacTech:
For developers, professionals and geeks, partitioning is a MUST have, unless you have a lot of extra money for external/additional drives.
Depends on the profession. And as far as geekiness, that's a personal choice.
And external drives are getting cheaper and cheaper and it makes sense to have some type of backup on an external or DVD/CD, in case of a hard drive failure (or theft, in case of a laptop).

Many of the pro-partition posters mention ease in reinstalling an OS, but how many times is the normal user going to this in a year? A handful, max. I still say that, for the vast majority, it's just something carried over from the Windows platform or pre-OSX days.

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Laurence
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Jul 13, 2004, 01:56 PM
 
If the problem exists only in his user account just create a new one and start using that. Once all the settings you need are copied over just delete the original account.
I have no use for partitions. I think the ideal situation is to have 2 separate drives and have CCC do a clone operation once a week or something. I have it set up to do a nightly backup and a weekly backup to a third drive. Internal drives are so cheap now you can pick up a 120GB for less than $70 without rebates, much less with the rebates.
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SMacTech
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Jul 13, 2004, 02:12 PM
 
Originally posted by Laurence:
If the problem exists only in his user account just create a new one and start using that.
I know that, he didn't, however, I would not go that route. Too many things rely on my account name and being user ID 501 , etc. etc. First thing I do when trouble shooting an account specific problem is remove the Preferences from the ~/Library folder and then log out and back in. If that fixes the problem, then I add the old preferences back, as needed. It usually isn't hard to fix those kind of problems, but my Dad on the other hand would have a problem with it.
Randman : as you and I both stated, it is clearly a personal choice as to wether you WANT to partition.
     
chris v
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Jul 13, 2004, 04:32 PM
 
One thing I've noticed over the years is that a partition with nothing but data on it is much less susceptible to directory corruption than a partition with an OS on it.

There have been a couple of occasions where I have done a nuke-and-pave on my OS partition, and it was reassuring not to have to worry about losing files.

Also, if all your files are on a separate partition, they can be accessed by multiple users, so it's handy, say, if you've got 1000 pictures you want everyone in the family to be able to access, or 2500 mp3 files that you want to have available for everyone's iTunes.

But it's really not necessary.

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chris v
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Jul 13, 2004, 04:37 PM
 
Originally posted by wataru:
You don't need to back anything up if you use an archive install. There is little to no benefit to a clean install over an archive install.
I would argue the opposite-- you should always back everything up before you do any kind of install.

The last update I ran from 10.3.3 to 10.3.4 stalled out in the middle of prebinding, then wouldn't get past "starting apple file service..." upon re-boot. Fortunately, I had a completely current backup, and just CCCd from one drive to the other, and didn't even worry about troubleshooting it.

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Mac Write
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Jul 13, 2004, 05:20 PM
 
I have 3 partitions on my 120GB boot drive:
  • Mac OS X 85GB
  • Mac OS 9 20GB
  • Testing Drive 5GB
This of course being the world's fastest OS 9 machine will be my OS 9 machine indefinitely which means my next Mac (160GB-250GB base drive gasp) will have 10GB testing and remaining OS X. Then I use a seperate drive for my User folder, and then a third drive for a scratch disk.

Now a 500GB HD for my home folder would be nice though, along with a 500GB External for backup

The only thing that should be partitioned is the boot drive for testing OS/backup OS (when you don't have the time to clean install when you have a deadline), OS 9 Native for those on sub Dual 1.25GHZ systems.

I will never ever trust keeping my data on my boot drive EVER I have seen it go belly countless times, (beta through 10.2) and need that barrier. Now on a PB I would have to use a partition.
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Brass
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Jul 13, 2004, 06:58 PM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
If you're worried about corruption, create a new user with admin rights and only log in to that account if you suspect a problem. That'll determine if the problem is software- or hardware-related.
A hard-drive failure (or theft in a laptop) will not be deterred by multiple partitions.
Not quite. That will only determine if the problem is related to files in the user directory. It will not help if the corruption is in the global /Library directory somewhere (or anywere else outside of the /Users directory).
     
wataru
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Jul 13, 2004, 07:41 PM
 
Originally posted by chris v:
I would argue the opposite-- you should always back everything up before you do any kind of install.

The last update I ran from 10.3.3 to 10.3.4 stalled out in the middle of prebinding, then wouldn't get past "starting apple file service..." upon re-boot. Fortunately, I had a completely current backup, and just CCCd from one drive to the other, and didn't even worry about troubleshooting it.

CV
Well that's fine, but if you're backing up anyway then again there's no benefit to multiple partitions.
     
ginoledesma
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Jul 14, 2004, 11:16 AM
 
Originally posted by wataru:
Well that's fine, but if you're backing up anyway then again there's no benefit to multiple partitions.
Unless you're backing up to that other partition.
     
Randman
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Jul 14, 2004, 11:33 AM
 
Originally posted by ginoledesma:
Unless you're backing up to that other partition.
And if a hard drive fails? Not that common, but it does happen? What then? Backing up to the same drive, regardless of partitions is taking as big a chance as not having a backup in the first place.

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ginoledesma
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Jul 15, 2004, 01:31 AM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
And if a hard drive fails? Not that common, but it does happen? What then? Backing up to the same drive, regardless of partitions is taking as big a chance as not having a backup in the first place.
Oh, of course no one should be silly enough to treat the second partition as the only backup. I use the second partition as a temporary backup solution -- this is particularly useful for laptop users who only have one disk (they HAVE to backup to an external media in most cases). The case of having partitions for laptop users (for me) is beneficial (as in the above situation).
     
badtz
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Aug 4, 2004, 06:25 PM
 
For those that have two partitions [two hard drives] .....

what do you do for things like music, documents, photos?

do you create an alias from the primary drive to the secondary?

[i know for iTunes/iPhoto you can change the library location] but how about documents that you save?

Also, for applications [like GarageBand] where you NEED to install it on the primary drive .... do you use third party [search versiontracker] software to be able to install it elsewhere, or do you just leave it installed on the primary drive? [just curious ]
     
workerbee
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Aug 5, 2004, 02:19 AM
 
Originally posted by wataru:
There is little to no benefit to a clean install over an archive install.
One advantage is that you get a clean slate of pref files.
Another is that the various invisible security files written when testing software (Office 2004 et al.) get deleted and not copied.
I keep finding files I have no idea about when I use Path Finder -- things like .rdb.stkdc-itrwcdadvxth.pvtci.lcf in ~/Library or .pbsaParams11 in ~/Library/Application support. I quite like the thought of losing these files when doing a clean install.
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Aug 7, 2004, 05:55 AM
 
I have 3 partitions on my 80gb harddrive and I use it to the fullest. 1 for OS X and all the apps I might install. Another for all my icons and wallpapers and movies- all graphics related. My Pixadex iconfolder is there aswell. The third is where I have my downloads and is simply named Storage Harddrive.

I find it useful to have 3 partitions when the OS X installation fails. then I do not lose my precious icons or wallpapers + movies. Some are hard to get. I'm in the middle of backing up to DVD though so I may sleep better at night and day. But it's hard to fit all my icons on one DVD.
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jasong
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Aug 7, 2004, 10:17 PM
 
Does anyone find it weird that the only people who seem to have problems here are the ones with multiple partitions?

-- Jason
     
Randman
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Aug 8, 2004, 02:53 AM
 
Originally posted by jasong:
Does anyone find it weird that the only people who seem to have problems here are the ones with multiple partitions?

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Fonzie
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Aug 8, 2004, 05:11 AM
 
Originally posted by jasong:
Does anyone find it weird that the only people who seem to have problems here are the ones with multiple partitions?

-- Jason
what a load of bull. It's because people don't know what the hell they are doing. That's what's wrong.Example; "Oops, I deleted my CoreServices folder and now my Mac won't boot into OS X" "I had to type my admin password, why is that? I'm the only one using this Mac"

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Maflynn
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Aug 8, 2004, 09:20 AM
 
I tried the multiple partition route for a while. I had the system on one partition and the user area on another. The idea was I could install/upgrade the OS whenever I wanted to w/o whacking my user folder. Nice idea but the archive and install obsoleted that.

I used the sym link method and didn't touch the netinfo database. It ran pretty well but to be honest not as clean and simplified as the single partition.

Some people mentioned issues with office - I had none. Though acrobat reader was not liking the two partitions as well as Apple's backup. acrobat would balk but start up but backup wouldn't run at all.

I'm back to using a single partition. If I want a backup partition to hold an image or data, I'll just buy a firewire drive.

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Aug 8, 2004, 11:43 PM
 
I've been creating/using multiple partitions since my Grape iMac days without issue. I just prefer to have my OS(s), applications and documents/work/downloads etc. on different partitions. It has served me well so far. I also feel that if I need to perform any maintenance on the OS, I do not have to worry about screwing all my other data. Small chance of that, yes, but it works for me.

Some have claimed a small performance gain, but that is subjective, and probably minimal. One of the original reasons I did create separate partitions was because it was suggested that Virtual PC might see a small performance gain if run from it's own partition, directly after the primary partition the OS is installed on. Thus, I have always created a 5 gig partition for the primary OS, the second 5 gig is for VPC, next one for apps, and one I call Filing Cabinet for everything else, documents, downloads, pics, email storage blah blah blah. I also find it is faster to perform maintenance on the OS partition, being smaller, with less clutter. I also keep a secondary OS installation on another of the partitions, just in case I do hose the primary, as I am always screwing around with stuff!

I think it all boils down to personal preference, rather than one way being superior to another. Do what is comfortable for you, and it will probably work out fine.
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SMacTech
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Aug 9, 2004, 08:22 AM
 
Originally posted by jasong:
Does anyone find it weird that the only people who seem to have problems here are the ones with multiple partitions?

-- Jason
I don't know what you are referring to, but all of my Macs use multiple partitions, and have been for many years.

I have no problems and if there problems using them, it might be because of the user. Using partitions DOESN'T cause problems, as it looks to be just another volume to the OS.
     
Millennium
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Aug 9, 2004, 09:15 AM
 
The only real advantage to a single partition is that the system comes that way.

Then again, the only real advantage to multiple partitions is that it can be made to look cleaner; an aesthetic difference and nothing more.

Truth be told, there are no technical advantages to either scheme anymore. You shouldn't back up one volume to a separate partition on the same volume anyway, since if the disk goes it is very likely to take out all of the volumes on it.

By the way, SMacTech, thanks to the wonders of Unix, multiple partitions don't even look like other volumes to the OS except at the lowest levels: for most of the OS (and pretty much all applications except disk-repair ones), they look like plain folders.
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SMacTech
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Aug 9, 2004, 09:56 AM
 
Originally posted by Millennium:

By the way, SMacTech, thanks to the wonders of Unix, multiple partitions don't even look like other volumes to the OS except at the lowest levels
Well then I was partially correct, at the lowest levels anyways, but you got my point!

That's the part of the the OS I was referring too
     
jasong
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Aug 9, 2004, 10:55 AM
 
I wasn't trying to imply that partitions cause problems, my beige G3 is runnning with its OS X enforced 2 partitions, with absolutely no problems. Not how I want to run it, but you take what you can get sometimes. What I was implying that sometimes looking for trouble gets you in trouble. I can't recall ever seeing a single partition on a disk fail, it's the whole disk or nothing. So having your user space on a separate partition doesn't protect you from anything in that case. Partitions don't protect you against file corruption, either in or out of your home folder, so no protection against that. If OS X gets corrupted, do an archive and install. If you user folder gets corrupted, toss out your Library. Disk fragmentation? I'm not even going to get started on that, suffice to say you will spend way more time managing two partitions than you will save with the resulting decrease in fragmentation. Now if you were talking about getting a second drive to run your swap space on, maybe you could make an argument for speed (I've not tried in on OS X, so I can't say yes or no).

So to answer the original question, the advantage to single partitions? The system is simpler, leaving fewer things to go wrong.

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Millennium
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Aug 9, 2004, 12:33 PM
 
Originally posted by SMacTech:
Well then I was partially correct, at the lowest levels anyways, but you got my point!

That's the part of the the OS I was referring too
Yep. Your point was that to almost all programs, partitions are no different from volumes; I was just pointing out that to almost all of those programs, volumes are no different from folders. Either way, it's just showing how the OS abstracts this stuff out so that it becomes very simple to work with these things.
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