A Computer Conundrum

Once again, I’ve filled up my hard drive. It’s inevitable, really – I tend to keep everything, and my music, picture, and video collections are quite… extensive.

What’s sad is that I bought my computer a little over a year ago, and I distinctly remember remaking that its 160 GB hard drive should be “big enough to last quite a while.”


But that’s not the question I’m struggling with. I’ve bought a new 500 GB SATA Seagate hard drive, and it will arrive in a few days. The question is, what do I do once I get it? The way I see it, I have two basic options:

  1. Use a tool like GParted to copy my existing partition onto the new drive, expand it to fill the available extra space, and set the new drive to be the primary drive and boot of of it. This has the benefit of duplicating my data – effectively making a backup of it – and when I’m done and satisfied, I can wipe the old drive and use it for extra storage. The downside is that Windows partitions don’t like to be resized – and the process takes a long time, especially on bigger drives. Switching the drives around will also take some time as well.
  2. Use Windows’ built-in support for “directory junctions” to basically “junction” the new hard drive to an empty folder on my computer. I would probably do some finagling and “junction” the “My Documents” folder to the new drive. The effect of this would be that anything in the “My Documents” folder would actually be on the new drive, although from my point of view it would just be a normal folder on my C: drive. (As you may have suspected, it’s the “My Documents” folder that takes up most of my hard drive space.) This has the benefit of being relatively straightforward to do (although I’ll have to move things around temporarily, as you must junction to an empty folder) and it won’t mess up my existing file/folder hierarchy (no having to switch to a new drive letter or anything). The downside is that I’ll be devoting an entire 500 GB hard drive to just my “My Documents” folder, which seems somehow… wasteful.

So, basically, the decision is – copy the entire Windows partition (the “C:” drive) and fiddle around with re-sizing partitions (can be risky), or just devote the entire new hard drive to just one folder through directory junctions.

Although, I suppose I could split the new hard drive into different sized partitions, and junction them to key places on the old hard drive where space is tight.

If you have any suggestions for me, or if you’d like to share what you’ve done under similar circumstances, feel free to post in the comments.

Author: Keith Survell

A geek, programmer, amateur photographer, anime fan and crazy rabbit person.

4 thoughts on “A Computer Conundrum”

  1. I’ve run into similar issues in the past. At one point, I hooked my “huge” 200-GB drive in an external unit, and kept files there that I wanted to keep but wouldn’t often use (video and the like). Of course, I also had a laptop, which changes the equation.

    Though what I ended up doing was buying a new laptop drive and replacing the drive on my laptop at the time–oddly enough, in between my ordering the drive and it arriving, the hard drive on my laptop died. That made the choice easy.

    With a desktop, I would strongly consider installing the new hard drive as a primary with the smaller one as a secondary, and just going with a fresh installation of Windows. After all, that needs to be refreshed every so often.

    This is also why my latest computer purchase has two 1-TB hard drives in it 🙂

  2. I haven’t had to “refresh” my Windows installation like that since Windows ME – and I’d like to keep it that way. There’s a certain amount of pride involved – that I can say I don’t have to reformat & re-install Windows every year or so. It’s a testament to how well I keep my computer.

    Besides… I don’t have original installation media for this computer. 🙂

  3. I understand the pride of doing an fresh install once and once only ;-). My XP is running for 5 years now (first install on new hardware).

    I did move the whole “document and settings” folder to a new partition and used a mount point on the system drive. I also install programs on another partition. I’ve got some problems with it, but I already wrote that in a comment on another of your posts (“Really Annoying Flaw in NTFS Mount Points”)

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