It all depends upon your personal preference.
The performance differences in having a single or more than one are rarely noticeable to anyone unless unusual circumstances exist(e.g. an intensive work environment with large scale applications and sizeable files). I'm sure one could monitor speed, access, drive head movement and create nifty little graphs and tables showing the difference, but in a normal distribution use environment the differences are hardly significant until one reach the extremes of distribution.
Vista partition ? forget about the speed issue.
Software partition ? forget about keeping it separate. Install software to the same partition as Vista.
How much space assigned to each partition is a personal choice. As an example this system is two internal 160GB drives(master and slave) and two external drives (80 and 40 GB dedicated to images and other backup). 40 GB or the first internal drive is dedicated to Vista and software applications(Vista, Office07, N360, Itunes*, graphics programs for pictures, support utilities[Acronis True Image, Adobe Reader, malware scanners etc). Currently about 12 GB of the 40 total is in use on that partition.
The rest(120GB) of the master drive is and extended partition with 3 logical three drives approx 50, 50, 20 GB(Ipod*, Pictures, Data). All of these drives have 80% or more remaining free space.
The slave drive has two primary partitions one holds XP Pro and software(30GB with only 9GB in use) for dual booting and another with organized folders(Windows Updates, Drivers, Programs, Image, Setup, and Misc with a subfolder for each o/s). Similar setup with XP and software installed(XP,Office2K3, Itunes*, graphics programs and utilities(NSW2006 Premier, etc)
Itunes* - Itunes software resides on each o/s partition but each o/s uses the same Ipod* folder on its stand alone partition. And each o/s uses the same folder for Pictures and Data.
The external drives as noted are only for backup(images or copy/drag and drop etc). The entire system image and backup easily fits on the external drives and each o/s image in a redundant backup fits on single dual layer DVD. The entire balance of all drives can fit on redundant 4 dual layer dvds.
Compression-imo effort and expense should be placed on spare and external drives before considering compression.
How and what you decide to do is your personal choice. Assess your needs, decide how the manage the system without or without partitions, and more importantly invest in a capable image program compatible for Vista(e.g. Acronis True Image or Ghost 12) and a properly sized external usb drive for storing images or the o/s and software and backup of data.
And finally in a pre-purchased system you may not have much choice upfront on partitioning. Vista has its own tool, but it certainly is not as flexible as Acronis Disk Director Suite(do not use Norton Partition Magic on Vista).
"Philip K." <Philip@aol.com> wrote in message news:Op0QqZmoHHA.3892@TK2MSFTNGP04.phx.gbl...
: Hi Everybody,
: I am about to buy a Dell computer with a 320 GByte hard drive. Does
: anyone have any suggestions for partitioning the hard drive to maximize
: performance. Specifically, I was thinking of three partitions -- Vista,
: applications, and data.
: 1. Will partitioning degrade performance.
: 2. How much should be allocated to a Vista partition to get maximum speed.
: 3. How much -- or rather how much extra space -- should be allocated to a
: partition containing applications.
: 4. Do I need much extra space for a partition assigned to data.
: 5. Will compressing any partition serve a useful function.
: Thanking you