In a recent blog post, Brian Krebs mentions the following:
I also urge users to segment their systems so that important data files are on a separate chunk of hard drive space than the Windows operating system, which tends to make restoring backups a far simpler affair.
This is fantastic advice, and should be followed by every operating system rather then just Windows. I’ve espoused this method for years, and have actually gotten some grief about it.
I think this should into the “duh” category, but so many people opt for the easy and less safe monolithic partioning scheme (I’m looking at you, @mystic). If your OS implodes, and you have to re-install, it’s much easier to just wipe and reinstall the O/S partition and not worry about the user data in the /home partition. This does not in any manner replace the needs for backups - your /home partition could just as easily implode.
The event that really pressed this home for me was watching an old DOS 5 machine unravel when it’s FAT table got really confused. We ended up having to format from floppy, and reinstall everything. Total loss of all data.