Some Hints for Optimizing
System Partitions should fit the operating system and the programs.
Depending on the system and the programs, the partition size may have
2 ... 5 GB. Or more. Windows NT needs less than 200 MB (incl.
Service Packs), the partition can be smaller. For a NT System only for
backing up the "main" system, you need only
300 ... 400 MB.
For checking the backup file later with "normal" security,
it is recommended to save a CRC32-Checksum with the backup.
After burning the backup file (.whx) to a CD, you can check the CD with
a double click on the file. Normally, the restore job is started. But
first, the checksum is calculated. When finished the check, you can cancel.
Make sure, that there is no write access to that partition, you want
to backup. The best way (with Windows NT/2000/XP): Remove the drive
letter with the Disk Manager, if possible.
If this is not possible, you can try to set the partition Read only,
remove network access or stop background programs.
With Windows 2000 or NT, you can use the Control Panel ->
System -> Environment to see, to which drive or partition the System
Variable "windir" points. Or, you use the set command.
Example: If windir points to "C:\WINNT", you know, that C:
is the partition of the currently running system. (which should not
used to back up!)
Use the Disk Manager to see, which partition "drive" C: is.
For "normal usage", even with administrator rights, you can
"dismount" non-active system partitions generally for
security reasons. Remove the drive letter(s). So, it is nearly
impossible, to alter or destroy files in this partitions. (The
defragment tool of Windows 2000 allows defragmenting of partitions,
which has no drive letters. You should be shot, if you do this during
the backup!) If there is an automatic defragmenter running in
background, stop this job for the time you create the backup.
Using Windows 2000, Defragmenting and Error Checking are possible with
In Disk Management, right click on the partition, choose Properties ->
Tools -> Error-checking. (Recommended before backing up.)
Before you intend to access the inactive partition, assign a drive
letter, do your job, and then remove the drive letter. Example:
For minimizing the backup file size with activated compression, you can
delete temporary files and folders, delete the pagefile, empty the
recycle bin and initialize the free space of the partition with zero.
Using the Disk Manager, assign the drive letter "Z:" (as an
example) to the partition.
Delete temporary files and folders of Z:. Delete Z:\pagefile.sys.
Empty recycle bin.
Start WinHex -> Disk Editor -> Logical Drives and select Z:
Go to Tools -> Disk Tools -> Initialize free space (with 00).
If there are two or more hard disks in the system, you should install
an (emergency) system with boot loader on the second disk. (Set the second
disk as first boot device in your BIOS of the Mainboard, .... It
remains as second disk in Windows, but it is now disk 0, ...rdisk(0)...,
for the Windows boot loader. See
Keep your system partitions slim. Store your data to data partitions.
This will make your system backups faster. The data can be copied with
xcopy <source> <destination> /m/s/h/k
in a .bat file. Some files from the system partition, which you cannot
store in a data partitions (like configurations, ...), may be saved
between system backup intervals by using xcopy.
When using Windows NT, make sure, the system partitions ends before
Cylinder 1024 of the disk. With older mainboards, which BIOS does not
have what are called "INT13 extensions", you have the same problem
with Windows 2000/XP.
For "Disk Geometry", use 63 sectors and 255 heads. 1024 cylinders
results in 63 sectors/head * 255 heads/cylinder * 1024 cylinders = 16450560
sectors = 8225280 KB = 8032.5 MB = 7.84 MB for system partitions. The files,
necessary for booting, and the directories to access them must reside below
the 1024 cylinder bondary.The files are (in C:\, normally):
- NTOSKRNL.EXE (in C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\)
If you have more than one primary partition on your disk (Windows
NT/2000/XP), you should install at least two boot loader into the primary
partitions. To install the second system, set the second partition
active with the Disk Manager. Don't set the active bit in the MBR
directly with the disk editor of WinHex.¹
Install the second system into the second partition. The systems,
you install in this way, have C: as the system partition.
But every system is in it's own partition. - Be sure, you have an
emergency bootable DOS-Diskette with fdisk or a second bootable disk.
After Installation, you have to add the other system partitions
manually to boot.ini of each installation.²
To remove a drive letter from an active boot partition (W2K:
"System"), set another primary partition (should contain a
boot loader!) temporary active with the disk manager, remove the letter
and set the original partition active again.
Be VERY careful when doing this. If you have to reboot and there
is no boot loader in the new active partition, you have a serious problem,
especially, when you have no bootable DOS diskette with fdisk or you have
no other possibility to boot, like a second disk or a diskette.³
To start Windows XP, you need the XP boot loader. Using this loader,
you may start Windows NT/2000. The NT loader will start NT and W2K.
The W2K-loader will start NT and W2K. So, use the newest loader for
all bootable partitions. Copy the "boot"-files from C:\
to the other bootable partitions. The file are:
boot.ini, NTDETECT.COM and ntldr. Some installation have additionally
arcldr.exe and arcsetup.exe.
¹ Otherwise, Windows NT may have trouble to assign the drive
letters of the partitions after reboot. To avoid this, use the
Disk Manager. After Installation of the second system, you can set
the old partition active again using the Disk Manager of the
second system. That is not a problem for the first (and second)
² Add to boot.ini:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="d(0)p(1) Win NT-1"
and to boot.ini from partition 1:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="d(0)p(2) Win NT-2"
Setting another partition active, means, that another boot
loader with another boot.ini is responsible for booting. It does not
mean, that the access to the boot.ini via Control panel -> System
is changed. Here, you access your "original" startup files.
³ If you have problems to boot a system, it is an advantage,
when you have an "emergency boot" diskette to start the boot
process. Format a
diskette, copy the "boot" files from C: to this diskette
(boot.ini, NTDETECT.COM, ntldr). When booting from diskette (-> BIOS),
you can start all partitions, you have added in boot.ini here. Make an
"universal" boot.ini, for 3 disks,
each with 3 partitions, you can start (if there is a system).
The first ten entries in [operating systems] will be displayed.
Fragmented disks may result in (important) slower access to the data.
To prevent fragmenting of single entries of the Master File Table,
chose a Cluster Size of at least 1 KB for the NTFS-Partition. The
optimum is 4 KB. (One entry in the Master File Table is 1 KB.)
If you install a new NT-System and use the partition and formatting
tool of the System CD, you cannot chose the cluster size, it is
fixed to 512 Bytes. So, if possible, use the Disk Manager or other
tools to prepare and format the new partition. Install the new system
to this optimized partition. XP allows defragmenting of clusters
larger than 4 KB For large partitions with large file sizes.
THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS PAGE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT
WARRANTY OF ANY KIND.
MUST NOT BE PUBLISHED WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT OF THE AUTHOR.
Daniel Groeger 24.8.2001, updated: 22.1.2004 (d.m.yyyy)
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