After my article Separate Your Data from the Operating System For A More Effective Backup Strategy, subscriber Ron wrote with comments and questions:
I’ve been on the separate Data drive/partition bandwagon for years. However, I’m not sure about the validity of a separate APPS drive.
After restoring windows, what about all of those pesky registry entries that programs make when they are being installed? (And forget to remove completely when they are uninstalled!) I thought that most Windows programs wouldn’t run without those registry entries. The obvious registry entries would be file associations, which are easy enough to recreate. But what about app sub modules?
I haven’t tested the hypothesis. Have you? If yes, could you expand on your experience. What apps (versions) have you tried it with? Which ones worked, which didn’t.
If most apps work "well enough", why bother separating apps and data? I could still see having separate directory trees, ie D:\apps\… and D:\data\… . I could see that separating them would speed up backups, but that could also be handled simply by limiting the backups the the appropriate directory trees mentioned above.
Ron has a good point about the applications storing critical information in the Windows Registry.
Fortunately, the critical information is put in the Windows Registry when the program is installed. Sure, there are some tweaks to it when you change preferences and use the program, but that’s all they are — preferences and changes.
If you restore C: (including the Windows Registry) from a backup, while your application and data files are on another partition/drive, you get the Windows Registry as it was when the backup was made. If that backup version was made when a particular program was installed, then that program should work with those settings that were backed up.
The big advantage to storing applications (Ron referred to APPS) on a separate drive or partition is size — size of the backup.
When you’re making routine backups, there’s no need to back up all your programs over and over. The same thing applies to C:.
You probably install a lot of programs. Rather than having to back up all the programs every time you back up C:, you can back up little more than Windows. Some programs, though, insist on being installed on C:. Some others insist on storing at least some of their program files on C:.
Of course, if you have a separate applications drive, you’ll need to back it up, too. But, it won’t have many changes, either.
I would expect you to make routine backups of C: drive and of your data drive. Occasionally, perhaps only when you add programs, you would back up your applications drive.
If I was going to limit to two drives, I would separate C: for Windows and the programs that simply would not install to anything but C:, and then put the applications and data on a separate drive/partition.