I have what some might consider an odd setup. I use three hard drives.
Two IBM 75GXPs are paired up like Noah’s Ark in a RAID 0 setup, and I have an older IBM 22GXP I had laying around off by its lonesome on an IDE channel.
The initial reason why I did that was to use the 22GXP for my swap files. Now why would I want to use a slower drive for my swap file rather than my nice fast RAID setup?
Well, first, since I’ve got a lot of RAM (512Mb in the system now), I try to keep as much in RAM as possible so I don’t use a swap file too often.
However, when Windows insists on using it, it can do all the swapping it likes on the 22GXP, while my RAID array can do other things.
Remember something about IDE. It basically does one thing at a time. It might jump between Task A and Task B, but it still has to do the two tasks on one hard drive (one array in this case).
You put two hard drives into action, it can give one task each to each hard drive, and get the two tasks done faster than it could with just one.
I grant you, using a 13.5Gb hard drive just for swaps seems like a wasteful luxury, but think of what else you can use it for.
It’s the fastest, most convenient backup system you can have. If you don’t regularly use it, pretty unlikely Windows is going to ever scramble it, so you can keep hard disk copies of your OSs and programs you regularly use on it.
Since I end up swapping out mobos with different chipsets pretty frequently, I tend to reinstall from scratch anyway, but you can certainly put images of at least the bare essentials of your working drives as Ghosted images, so if your system gives up the ghost, you can put the Ghost right back in.
This isn’t for everyone, just for people who have an extra hard drive lying around. Nowadays, the difference between X Gb and X+10 Gb is often about $20, so you’re not really saving a bunch of money if you’re thinking about using a new one and old one together.
Nor would I suggest you use that older hard drive as your one and only backup for irreplaceable files, you should still back that up to permanent media.
But for around $20, designating that older drive as your Swap Plus drive will give you a faster system (not only due to the swap being on a different channel, but because all your regular files are on the newer, faster hard drive), while giving your older equipment a valuable role which will usually save you a lot of time should disaster strike.
That’s a lot better than having it sitting around attracting dust and guilt (and maybe nagging).