I’ve never been a fan of the oldschool linux way of seperating parts of the file system – keeping /home might make sense, but I generally went with a single, large drive. Ironically, on windows, I’ve chosen to go for a non traditional file hierarchy of boot+applications, storage and transient files on seperate drives, and I find it works very well.
Systems accumulate garbage. Desktops fill up with icons. Downloads are left uncleared until space is critical. I’ve more than once found ancient cryptic files that thankfully arn’t digital copies of some old evil tome. While ideally, avoiding clutter is good, I’ve chosen to segment the clutter out of the way.
Traditionally I’ve gone for a boot drive of reasonable size, and a large storage drive. This gives me a place to do backups on the system itself, and to some extent, keep clutter out of the main drive – I would tend to download files directly to the data drive.
I recently had my laptop HDD replaced for bad clusters and a reformat fixed it. I figured I’d run it to failure, and then replace it. Having a seperate drive for downloads is *brilliant*. I have seperate directories by source – firefox or torrents for example, and can then move it over to the storage drive as needed. This kind of lets me actually organise stuff as it goes into the storage drive. Sure, I could have a sub-directory, but lets admit it, I just tend to pile stuff up one on top of another.
There’s a few realizations I made – firstly, that a large quantity of the data we work with is transient in nature – assignments for example, are only really needed for term time (and can be archived or deleted later). Software installers are used once, then deleted. Seperating out transient storage makes sense!. The second is that having per application ‘download’ folders helps declutter things a lot. Things I download from firefox often has a shorter useful life and often are smaller than stuff on a torrent. I only have a seperate disk because I had one spare – anything from a folder of folders to a partition makes sense. Its not just a technical fix – it creates a seperate ‘bin’ for files like this, and you’re more likely to keep things neat.
YMMV – I only run 4 disks on my desktop cause I’m a packrat, and ended up accumulating disks – from my standard 1+1, then added a seperate disk for linux since I didn’t know if it would play well with windows 8, and a 4th disk off my laptop. It works VERY well, but naturally not everyone would have spare disks or space to mount them.