When I got this PC in at the end of 2008, I set it up as a dual boot Ubuntu/Windows XP machine. Its hard drive is split into four partitions: a Windows one, a 'most of' Ubuntu one, one for the Ubuntu /home folder (i.e. my data), and the swap partition.
At the time, I was using the Carbonite online backup service which is very very good at 'set up and forget' backup, but a) doesn't have a Linux client and b) is also fussy about what file system formats it will look at. On Windows PCs, if it's not a local FAT or NTFS partition, it won't back it up. (It's trying to stop people using a single licence to back up a whole network, but they never could tell me why they insisted you use file systems they have rejected as too problematic themselves – when they asked Microsoft why NTFS was falling over all the time, they were told it wasn't designed to store lots of files…)
So, partly because of that, and partly because I could, I set up the Ubuntu /home partition as NTFS. It takes some effort, but it's worked fine for the past 18 or so months.
Well, almost fine.
In practice, I've only booted into Windows to do updates: it's running Linux virtually all the time. I also got rid of Carbonite not long after getting the PC and replaced it with something that is OS neutral and doesn't care what format your partitions are.
One reason for having /home on its own partition is that it makes it easier to update / upgrade / replace the Linux distribution without losing all your data. Rather than go from Ubuntu 9.10 to 10.04, I wanted to move this PC to Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu, but 'better' in various ways, from application choice to including various codecs etc by default).
Ah. If I do that, I will need to mess around putting /home on NTFS again (it won't do it via the install routines because you need specific NTFS file system drivers that aren't normally installed).
So I've used this as an excuse to rsync the whole of /home onto an external drive, even the crap, and format /home as ext4 instead. As there's quite a lot of crap, this took a while..
.. but restoring my mail and browser data has been surprisingly easy.
I'll see what else actually gets moved back. One disadvantage of ext3/ext4 compared to NTFS is that you lose more space because of how it does journalling, so as I am always at least 95% full, it wouldn't all fit. Do I actually need 100GiB of videos I will not watch… ? 🙂
It does mean that I am a couple of days behind on reading and commenting though.