Do I want the extra Win7 partition?

Surly73

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Hi all:

Just looking at doing a whack of Win7 installs/upgrades. Google and searches of this forum have given me plenty of people's positions on HOW to stop Win7 from making the extra partition but none have done a good job of telling me WHY I would want to stop it (other than being a control freak) and what advantages (other than Bitlocker) it may offer to go ahead and let Win7 do its thing.

Some of these systems are straight installs and are for other people like my dad. Some are currently running Vista or XP systems on which I want to squeeze/move partitions, install Win7 and get dual booting working for a transition period.

What are the pros and cons in a "resize and dual boot" scenario or do I even have any options here? What about life after Win7 when I want to do a similar thing - reduce a running Win7 system partition, install Win8 and dual boot for a while? My systems are pretty stable yet complicated (lots of software, configs, codecs, preferences, multiple users) - but I typically do not "reformat" during the life of an OS and have never needed to for performance or stability. Will allowing or disallowing the creation of this extra Win7 partition interfere with future resizing and multibooting? I realize this may be a best guess as "Win8" is a total unknown.

Thanks,
 

Forceman

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I've seen the same advice and have no idea why people would advocate not allowing Windows to do its thing. I guess if you have an SSD, then space is important, but on a terabyte class drive who cares if Windows takes 100MB or whatever it is that it uses. I'm pretty sure it puts the System Recovery tools there, though I can't be bothered to google that to be positive.
 

evilsofa

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If you pre-partition your disk the the installation will install everything into you boot partition (usually C:\).
It is possible to delete this small partition. I boot with Linux, delete the partition and merge the free space to the Windows 7 partition. After this Windows 7 will not boot. But I boot from Windows 7 installation DVD and do a system repair. This installs the boot manager IN the Windows 7 partition and after this Windows 7 boots fine.
http://www.sevenforums.com/installation-setup/10408-whats-100mb-partition-can-i-delete.html
 

Tawnos

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Main reason to keep is that it has emergency recovery tools and allows for adding bitlocker at any time. Only reason to delete is if you're on a very space limited drive.
 

Surly73

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Thanks for the responses so far, folks. I'm not trying to be a jerk when I say "there's nothing new here".

I know it contains the boot manager, I know it contains recovery tools, and I know that there are ways to get Win7 to install the old way.

What I don't know is key reasons WHY (other than space or concerns about the number of primary partitions) I would want to do it one way or the other when I intend to do things like shrink and multiboot in the future. I'm not talking about multi-booting windows+linux now, I'm talking about one of two scenarios:

1/ I'm adding win7 to a running XP or Vista system and want to multi-boot W7 to allow the user to make a transition to Win7. Once the transition is complete remove the old OS partition and grow the Win7 partition to fill the drive. Each OS should think its system partition is C:.

2/ The system will be Win7 only today, but when Win7 is replaced I may wish to shrink the Win7 OS partition to install Win8 for the same type of transition period.

How will a future version of windows theoretically handle this 100MB recovery/boot partition from Win7? Won't the code and recovery consoles in this partition need to be updated from whatever the new version of windows is? That's an "irreversible" change to the win7 install then.

I understand a lot will be thinking "Who cares? I reformat 4 times a year!". That's not my world. My principal desktop system is in a transition state right now, but for this system I waited to do win7 until I found a sale on an X25-M. I'm using the BIOS boot drive switch method right now to transition from Vista x64 to 7. As it is, I used this shrink and dual-boot for XP->Vista and my old XP install is still on a shrunken partition on my HDD that I haven't bothered to erase. Right now I can technically tri-boot. My plan is that when I'm done moving all of my settings, apps, licenses to Win7 I'm going to erase both Vista and XP and my HDD will be a pure data drive. My "data" has always been at least a separate partition.

I'm doing a system tomorrow for my dad who is very entrenched in his XP. In theory I'd like to shrink and move his XP OS partition to the end of the drive, install Win7 and dual boot for now. How is win7 going to handle this scenario? I understand I can use the partitioning tool to influence whether it's permitted to create the extra partition or not. What makes things easier or harder for me down the road? I have the feeling a single partition may appear on the surface to be less messy, but I also don't want to undo a best practice based on a hunch.
 
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Tudz

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Wait, what? Windows creates its own partition? Where? lol

I've installed Win7, ummm, 5 times (2 times on the release client, 2 64 bit versions and 1 32 bit version). I never noticed it creating its own partition, lol. There's nothing in "disk management" to suggest there's an extra hidden partition. :)

In theory I'd like to shrink and move his XP OS partition to the end of the drive, install Win7 and dual boot for now. How is win7 going to handle this scenario? I understand I can use the partitioning tool to influence whether it's permitted to create the extra partition or not. What makes things easier or harder for me down the road? I have the feeling a single partition may appear on the surface to be less messy, but I also don't want to undo a best practice based on a hunch.
I've tri and quad booted for years, the only problems I've encountered was when the MBR was on a drive that I removed, and also going between Windows and Linux (Linux sees windows boot loaders but windows fails to see linux ones, and sometimes misses other windows ones too).

The only real problem I have had was my hard drives being partitioned into too many smaller bits, making it difficult to manage. But that was due to having 3 or 4 different OSes in addition to a couple of data partitions. When I last reformated I consolidated all my data into a single partition to simplify things.
 

Surly73

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Wait, what? Windows creates its own partition? Where? lol

I've installed Win7, ummm, 5 times (2 times on the release client, 2 64 bit versions and 1 32 bit version). I never noticed it creating its own partition, lol. There's nothing in "disk management" to suggest there's an extra hidden partition. :)
I've seen it do it every time, but I was making no attempts to stop it. I presume since you've made a habit of multi-booting, you were probably very specifically controlling the partitioning so this put it in a "mode" where it did not create it.

I have one "low class" PC for my dad to play with which is purely win7 (no dualboot) and it made the partition.

I let it make the partition on my primary PC too as Win7 OS is going on a new SDD by itself.

I can see the extra partition doing more harm than good in a multibooting scenario. If you're using Windows to multiboot, I can see it as a good thing. If you're using GRUB or something, now what are you supposed to do with legacy Windows OSs mixed with Win7? GRUB would only have a "Windows" entry which would then fall through to the 100MB partition where you'd get the MS bootloader? Feh...
 
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mlewis

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I did a clean install of Win7 when I got it and it only put one partition on the disk.
 

Surly73

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Wow. I can't believe this discussion is going in the direction that people are denying the behaviour exists. It's very well documented all over that Win7 creates and extra 100MB partition if told to "install into unallocated space", which is the default "get it done" way of installing win7.

Many of you seem to be intentionally or inadvertently using the method which disables the creation of this extra partition - creating a specific partition for W7 manually and ensuring that there is no other unallocated space on the drive. I guess that's not really surprising from a generally competent forum of enthusiasts accustomed to knowing exactly what they're trying to do.

When left to its own devices Win7 ALWAYS creates the extra partition and it IS visible from Disk Management. This is what it looks like on my SSD when I allowed W7 to create the partition by installing into "unallocated space":



So my point is that down the road, what is this going to be like to shrink C: and install the next OS? What about if I was adding Win7 to an already existing XP or Vista install? What are the pros and cons (other than 1/ wasting 100MB 2/ being unable to micromanage the partition count and 3/ having to use the DVD for recovery tools) of disallowing the extra partition?
 
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sirmonkey1985

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Wait, what? Windows creates its own partition? Where? lol

I've installed Win7, ummm, 5 times (2 times on the release client, 2 64 bit versions and 1 32 bit version). I never noticed it creating its own partition, lol. There's nothing in "disk management" to suggest there's an extra hidden partition. :)



I've tri and quad booted for years, the only problems I've encountered was when the MBR was on a drive that I removed, and also going between Windows and Linux (Linux sees windows boot loaders but windows fails to see linux ones, and sometimes misses other windows ones too).

The only real problem I have had was my hard drives being partitioned into too many smaller bits, making it difficult to manage. But that was due to having 3 or 4 different OSes in addition to a couple of data partitions. When I last reformated I consolidated all my data into a single partition to simplify things.
yeah im with you.. ive installed windows 7 on 3 or 4 different computers and never have seen a second partition.. even did an update install on one of my laptops that had vista and it didnt install an extra partition..
 

GreenMonkey

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I can't believe you're angsting over a 100MB partition.

But here's a way to install Windows 7 without it...

http://www.sevenforums.com/installation-setup/14858-install-without-100mb-partition-new-drive.html

As far as troubles multibooting it later...seriously? You're worrying a possible problem that you might or might not encounter in the future? If you're worried about how it handles multibooting, try setting it up to boot Win7, Ubuntu and XP (or whatever else) and see how it goes. That's better use of your time than angsting about the problem that might occur someday, and you learn something when you do it.
 
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Surly73

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It looks like you didn't actually read my posts. I'm not "angsting" about losing 100MB - I specifically said I'm not and that's why most threads aren't helpful to me - other people want to micromanage everything and "angst" about preventing it without fully disclosing both sides of the issue. Other than Bitlocker needing the 100MB partition, I haven't seen a lot of hard arguments either way.

I'm concerned about how it might jack up multibooting, imaging, growing/shrinking the OS install, future partition (not whole drive) encryption with Truecrypt and all kinds of other things.

Yes, I'm worried about having trouble later, after getting everything all tuned and installed and THEN realizing I should have done something different in the first 5 minutes. That's how you prevent problems down the road - thinking ahead of time. I also want to know when I do these installs for other people what scenarios I should leave it be and what scenarios should use the workaround.

I installed Win7 at the end of March along with all of my core apps. I finally sat down yesterday and it took me ~6h just to finish setting things up and configuring. I don't just have a couple of games and a web browser on here. Re-installs are something I don't do because of the time involved.
 

tormentum

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The purpose behind the 100MB partition (as was outlined previously) is for BitLocker, and BitLocker alone. I don't think Windows does store any recovery/testing tools there (except \boot\memtest.exe), as the smallest bootable Wind7 WIM size is ~131MB.

In order for BitLocker to function, Windows requires a very small part of the boot sequence to be stored unencrypted. This unencrypted part stores no sensitive information. This unencrypted partition acts as a unlocker and bootstrapper for the full Win7 to boot from. If there was not this need, this partition would not exist.

The question you need to ask yourself is:
1) Do we need BitLocker enabled or BitLocker capable systems
2) At any time in the future do we want to use BitLocker

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then keep the partition (it's only 100MB!). You will save yourself a LOT of time by keeping it now, rather than trying to manually create it on X machines after the fact when you decide to use BitLocker.
 

DeathFromBelow

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I'm concerned about how it might jack up multibooting, imaging, growing/shrinking the OS install, future partition (not whole drive) encryption with Truecrypt and all kinds of other things.
I've restored actual Win 7 OS partitions with Acronis Trueimage and I've used Truecrypt's full disk encryption on several occasions, no issues here.

yeah im with you.. ive installed windows 7 on 3 or 4 different computers and never have seen a second partition.. even did an update install on one of my laptops that had vista and it didnt install an extra partition..
Every Win 7 install I've done has the extra partition.

Keep in mind that it doesn't have a drive letter. You won't see it unless you open up disk management or you look at the drive in partitioning software.

 
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NoxTek

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I fin this conversation intriguing, because I haven't seen this behavior since the beta versions of Windows 7.

Maybe it has to do with my hardware or my method of installing Windows 7.

Whenever I do a reinstall of Windows 7 I boot the Windows installer, have it delete any existing partitions on the drive, and then simply hit 'next' when there are no partitions and the entire drive is 'unallocated space'. From what everyone here is saying this should cause Windows 7 to create the extra 'recovery/bitlocker' partition but it sure doesn't for me. The only thing different I do is load the intel SATA/RAID/AHCI drivers during installation.

This is on the system in my sig.

I do distinctly remember this behavior in the betas though, in fact I remember when it was creating a 250MB partition and M$ changed it in an updated beta to only be 100MB.
 

nessus

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If you install onto an unpartitioned disk, the extra partition is created. If you install onto a disk with existing partitions, but the disk has more than 100 MB of unpartitioned space, the extra partition is created.

In all other cases, the extra partition is not created.

For all UEFI systems, this partition is required. If it is at all possible you may want to:

1. Move the disk in the future to UEFI hardware instead of BIOS based hardware and be able to boot
2. Want to use Bitlocker on BIOS based hardware

You will need the partition.

Microsoft Technet article about Windows 7/2008 R2 partitions: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd799232(WS.10).aspx

Not much of a mystery.
 

tormentum

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I have not had any issues with Ghost (11 or newer), Acronis (Home or Enterprise) or ImageX (MS Imaging). I do a fair bit of imaging for different clients with different requirements and Windows 7 has been a hot topic.
 

MrF

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The Windows 7 installer inspects the hard drive that has boot priority (in the BIOS). If an active partition exists on that hard drive, it uses that partition as its system partition. This could be an existing XP or other OS or an empty active partition.
This could also be on a secondary hard drive. It does not matter what drive you install on. What matters is which hard drive has boot priority.
In this case, there will not be a hidden 100MB partition created.

If an active partition does not exist on the hard drive that has boot priority, Windows 7 creates a hidden (no drive letter) 100MB partition on that hard drive and uses it as its system partition.
 
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