In this post, I will assume that you wish to deploy Windows 8.1 (or newer) to your UEFI computer on a blank GPT Hard Disk in the best possible manner.
“Best” is a highly subjective topic of which you can write bibles and treaties about.
My vision of “best” mainly (not always!) revolves around “most scalable”, “most efficient” and “sustainable”.
But why write a post on how to best partition your GPT hdd when Microsoft has already published a “Recommended” GPT partitioning scheme (at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd744271(v=ws.10).aspx & http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824839.aspx)?
Always deploy WinRE to its own partition.
For one, when you simply run the default Windows setup (ie. the installer) and point it to a blank Disk, Windows setup (loosely) deploys your copy of WinRE (“winre.wim”) to C:\Windows\system32\Recovery
‘Though the above technet articles recommend you to deploy WinRE to its own partition (to which I fully agree).
So, in other words:
- Always deploy WinRE to its own partition.
Winre in its own partition (IMHO) is of advantage when you wanted to perform an offline “chkdsk /f /r” (without relying on the Windows Setup media), since the “chkdsk”-command would then be able to obtain exclusive access to the (usually b0rked..) Disk.
When you install Windows 8.1 by following my partitioning scheme, WinRE willl be automatically deployed to its own partition.
“Recovery Image”-Partition before Windows & Use the whole Disk.
Since the MS-recommended partitioning scheme has already been introduced, I will assume you are now familiar with it and you’d like to stick to it.
If that is the case, then it’s all good -- have fun!
In case you wanted to know my opinion, read on.
My objection to the MS-recommended partitioning scheme is its inflexibility:
- On the linked technet articles, Microsoft recommends you to create a fixed ~75GB “Windows”-Partition, followed by a “Recovery Image”-partition -- but I get that, these are “bare minimum” recommendations.
- Secondly, they moved the “WinRE tools”-partition to the beginning of the Disk (while instead on another popular FAQ they advise you (as a MUST!) to always deploy the EFI System partition to the beginning of the disk(!).
“Popular FAQ”? –> Here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/302873 <-Did Microsoft techies change their mind or what?
Also, MS recommends for the “Recovery Image”-partition to be the last “just in case you wanted to claim back its space” or “to move the Recovery Image to a USB Key“.
Having options is a good thing (that’s also a reason why I like Windows), ‘though:
- Why bother making a “Recovery Image”-partition in the first place if you wanted to claim its space back?!
- Why “waste” an USB Key only for a Recovery Image?!
…”de gustibus” (“thanks but no thanks”)!
(inflexible) 512GBs SSD EXAMPLE.
To better introduce you my UEFI/GPT Partitioning scheme, I will use an example:
- Let’s assume you have a blank/unformatted 512GB SSD (usually 476GB available).
- Let’s assume you followed the technet “Recommended” GPT partitioning scheme.
By following the “Recommended” GPT partitioning scheme, you’d end-up with a disk with the following partitions:
- 300MB WinRE Partition.
- 100MB EFI Partition.
- 128MB MSR Partition.
- 75GB Windows Partition.
- 15GB Recovery Image Partition.
For a total of ~91GB.
Unless you wanted to dedicate 385GB to overprovisioning, the remaining disk space would be wasted (here my point is that they could at least explain you “how to do the maths” -- Re overprovisioning, some SSD manufacturers are already increasing the overprovisioned space).
Then there’s that 300MB WinRE Partition at the beginning which looks quite limited (IMHO).
And at last you have the 15GB Recovery Image Partition (which I wouldn’t bother to setup at the end of the hdd if I wanted to get rid of it at some point).
(improved) 512GBs SSD EXAMPLE.
Enter my recommended UEFI/GPT 512GB SSD partitioning scheme:
- 520MB EFI Partition.
- 2054MB WinRE Partition.
- 128MB MSR Partition.
- 16390MB Recovery Image Partition.
- <THE REST> Windows Partition.
For a total of 476GB.
This way, you’ll end-up:
- Using the whole disk space (ie. no need to specify a fixed size and/or learn the math).
- Deploy an EFI System Partition to the beginning of the Disk.
- Setup a Recovery Image Partition before the Windows Partition.
I’ve been more generous with the space allocation to:
- Prevent potential VSS, Backup & 4-k sector drives issues (search on technet for details).
- Allow Custom WinRE images (potential subject for a future post).
- You’ll never know what you might end placing into each of these partitions in the future (ie. shrink the Windows Partition to install Linux).
- Plenty of space for both a Refresh and a Recovery Image (within the same partiti0n No.4).
- Lots of space for Windows (and potentially other OSs).
- Space for Bitlocker.
Here’s an example that would create my recommended Disk partitioning scheme with DISKPART.
Please note – the below example will work with EVERY DISK you throw at it (ie. INDEPENDENTLY of its size). In other words, you can use the below commands to install Windows to a smaller (ie. 256GBs) or bigger (ie. 1TB) without having to do the maths.
select disk 0
create partition efi size=520
format fs=fat32 quick label=System
create partition primary size=2054 ID=de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac align=1024
format fs=NTFS label=WinRE quick
create partition msr size=128
create partition primary size=16390 align=1024
format fs=NTFS label=Recovery quick
create partition primary align=1024
format fs=NTFS quick label=C
You can reuse the above during the Windows Setup – just press “SHIFT” + “F10” to launch a command prompt and then run DISKPART to customise to your pleasure.
If you wanted to use 8k sectors, you could’ve added the “unit=8k” to the “format fs=NTFS[..]“-command, ‘though that would prevent you from using the native ntfs compression.
I guess next I will have to show you “How to put to good use that ~16GB Recovery Partition”.
If you wish to know more re what all those partitions are, read this excellent technet article: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824839.aspx
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