Why 2 hard drives?

Feb 20, 2022
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I'm thinking of building a gaming computer later on this year and I have a silly question for everyone. I've seen some pre-built systems with two hard drives. One is a 500 GB or smaller M.2 drive and the other was a 1 TB or bigger HHD or SSD. Could someone explain to me why (I'm old and slow so be nice)?

[Mod edit: changed title for clarity from the unhelpful "question".]
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It's mostly about faster access to the files they need. For example: Storing your frequently used games on the smaller, faster drive. While storing things that don't require faster access on the larger drive. If you're not playing that game that requires 30GB of storage but you still want to keep it local, there's no point in it taking up space on your faster drive. You can just move it as required.
I'm thinking of building a gaming computer later on this year and I have a silly question for everyone. I've seen some pre-built systems with two hard drives. One is a 500 GB or smaller M.2 drive and the other was a 1 TB or bigger HHD or SSD. Could someone explain to me why (I'm old and slow so be nice)?
500GB SSD is for Windows ... so you don't have to reinstall all your games, programs, etc .. everytime you reinstall Windows. The second SSD (1TB/2TB) is for storage ... everything but 'Windows'. Personally I don't have all that much on my hard drive so I keep everything on a single SSD including Windows.
explain to me why
I'll explain my storage setup, which should help:

♣ C: 256GB SSD for Win10 OS & a lot of software—82GB free.
This is deliberately small to make my monthly disk images—just before the monthly MS OS updates—quick and easy, with a verified image in 30 minutes. These images mean if Windows or SSD crash n burn, I can be back up & running in ~30 minutes—proven twice back in '16 when Win10 was still a bit flaky. I recommend Macrium Reflect for this.

SSD is much faster than HDD, and so should contain files which are being used frequently—mainly OS, software installations, and your current game.

♦ D: 4TB HDD for data—2.26TB free.
Most personal & work files go here into an organized folder structure. When it got fullish, I moved media files off it onto the external. C:'s images live here too.

Things like documents and photos are only accessed occasionally, so there's little benefit from having them on a fast SSD.

♥ G: 1TB SSD for games—189GB free.
I don't do much with this drive, no backup because it's not a big deal if it goes bust—just download & install current games again and start afresh, or resume if there's an online save.

I don't play recent games, yet my largest is 130GB. Since my internet isn't great, I picked up this drive to keep games I want to replay. SSD can be a big help for games—always with the launch, sometimes also during play—so it's worth it imo.

♠ External 4TB USB backup drive for minding D:'s data files and latest C: images.
Rarely accessed files—which are over 80% of all data files—can be zipped to save a lot of space.

♣ S: 64GB USB in router for our network needs.
Very handy, since we leave the router on all the time but switch our PCs off—no space consumed, no need to leave other PC on so other person can have access to shared files.
No need to backup since we both have copies of its contents for working on.

♦ Biz server holds backup of vital data—upload speed is too slow for any more—but I'll probably move to using OneDrive 'sometime' soon, since I have it as part of our biz software.

♥ No optical drive, gone the way of the floppy.
My main reason used to be what Why Me said, recovery from reinstalling windows

C drive would just include everything you needed to reinstall with windows, mostly applications.
Hdd would have everything that can be reused. Such as steam games, Windows Library folders (windows library folders include Music, Videos, Documents, Pictures), other things... For about 10 years I had a nightmare of losing the hdd my music was on and having to spend days ripping it all again.

I say used to be as I have 1tb of space on Onedrive and on my last move from one PC to another I just had everything I needed already on Onedrive and just needed to download it all again. That and with 1tb C drive I haven't really used my hdd as much this time. I just play games on the nvme. When every document I make is auto uploaded to Onedrive I don't really feel need for 2 drives as much anymore.

That isn't to say I don't have 2 drives but the usefulness of the second is questionable. I don't really use space so I have ... over 3tb of space free out of 3.5tb total.

internet speed made a big difference too. Easier to recover if downloads don't take all day.

its not only backup either, all my music is on a 256gb flash drive.

Also, the number of times I have to reinstall windows has dropped off the cliff. I used to have to do it a lot but on Windows 10 I only did 2 reinstalls and both of those weren't windows fault, I was trying to find a solution to a problem. I had a lot of practice installing ME.
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Feb 20, 2022
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Great info everyone. I kind of figured that the two drives where what Why_Me said. I've had to reinstall Windows 10 a couple of thimnes and it is a PAIN to get things up and running again with one drive. Some to think about before I build my system (when my budget allows that is).
Do you recreate a new system image every 6 months
Oh no, every month just before the monthly MS Updates. I keep C: drive small for this reason, I got a verified image in 35 minutes last Tuesday.

If I ever want to do a significant change to C:—eg install big program or a new driver—I'll also flash off an image before that… but that's rare.

just after windows 10 updates its version
I don't take a version update unless there's something significant in it—certainly not every 6 months. I'm on 20H2 at the moment, may go to 21H2 in a while, or wait for 22H1 to become stable.


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