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As far as I know, this just amounts to a change in the partition table and it is a relatively safe operation that is rather cheap.

Is there any significant cost or drawback(s) to...

  • Creating and destroying partitions all the time
  • Having lots of partitions, mounting them, and actually using them to write and read lots of data and expecting this to perform at the same level as if we were dealing with directories in a larger partition

For the latter, I can think of several factors that could affect this in theory, but all of them should be negligible in practice.

Just general curiosity, this is not something with a real use case

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    This isn't specific to Unix - it may be better suited for Superuser. – DannyNiu May 30 '19 at 2:16
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    It is specific to unix-like OSes and how they behave, I don't care about how windows or a specific application would handle writing to multiple partitions at once as opposed to a single larger partition. – Lacey May 30 '19 at 2:19
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The single most important reason to avoid too many partitions on the same harddisk is space usage: As your harddisk fills up, the partitions will fill up to a different degree, and you can't use free space in one partition in another partition if the latter partition gets full.

While you can resize partitions, doing so is time consuming, and in case of SSD causes unnecessary wear.

To a lesser degree, destroying and re-creating partitions is also time consuming: You must not only create the partition, you also must initialize the file system on it (mkfs), and that takes a bit for large partitions.

Otherwise, there's in principle no downside to mounting and using many partitions with respect to performance etc. However, it's a bit difficult to come up with a use case for that, and in particular a use case where it's obvious how to distribute the files you have on those many partitions.

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Assuming human error never occur and all partitioning operation always succeed in consistent partition structure, the biggest drawback would be in performance.

Many Unix systems have disk quota, which is more flexible than fixing a partition size. And file IO are much faster and occupy much less kernel-space memory, than re-partitioning and re-scanning geometry layout.

  • Why should many partitions have worse performance than a single partition? – dirkt May 30 '19 at 10:22

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