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  1. #1
    Star Lounger Ibex's Avatar
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    Let's talk turkey about hard drives

    Hi,
    I have had a few computers over the years. Each has had a hard drive that killed the one in the machine before as far as capacity was concerned. I have always had my hard drives installed by a technician, so I know virtually nothing about their installation.

    Just to digress for a moment. My first hard drive in the early 1980's was of 70 MB capacity. I thought then that there was no way that I could ever fill that capacity. How wrong I was. Now there are individual programs which occupy more space than that alone. Now we come to the present and I am very confused, as most people would be. There are SATA and also IDE hard drives about. There are also supposed to be solid state drives around.

    I like to have tower desk top computers. They suit me. I like to have separate keyboards. I like to have physical mice. I don't like cordless operation because my desk top is always cluttered with tons of paperwork. I also have a fowl temper and occasionally thump my equipment. My computer hardware is capable of withstanding temper tantrums and performs well. When I cool off, my equipment is ready to go another day. Now I hear that companies like Seagate are going to stop making hard drives, probably to produce something cheaper and more flimsy than is on the market right now.

    I need tough equipment. I just don't like the look of the flimsy trash that I see for sale now. I also want to know about hard drives. Does it look like that I will have to buy up a few hard drives of the current generation and keep them in reserve? Why do I ask? Obviously because they could become extinct very quickly and my computer systems, I have two, will not be able to use anything else if the manufacturers go to those solid state drives. I was planning to buy a third tower system soon. I am on my machines about 16 to 18 hours per day. I need them, they suit me, and I want to keep them going. I'm not sure about the hard drive situation. Would you people please educate me about the various hard drives and also tell me about how to go about their installation? Technicians do it with ease, and they also cost a fortune. Often I tell myself after wathcing them at work: I could have dont that myself.

    Be sure to explain those solid state drives to me too. Will it be possible to adapt any of them to the older computer systems?

    Thanks for your time

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Hard drives
    As far as building a computer goes, in my experience, installing a hard drive is one of the easier tasks.
    Novices with the proper instruction and prep work can install drives as well, just as Linda demonstrates in this thread.
    http://www.informationweek.com/langa...plac/181502411
    http://www.informationweek.com/langa...n-bu/175801892

    Mechanical Drives
    Mechanical, or motorized "spin" drives, will not be going away anytime soon. In other words one does not need to worry about them
    being totally replaced by Solid State drives. High capacity storage on SSD's are still way too expensive.
    Mechanical drives are a "tried and true" technology. If you have a failure and loose data, it's your own fault, and that points directly
    to a deficient backup regimen. Backup is important and it cannot be stressed enough in any situation.

    Mechanical drives are excellent for the storage of data, and lots of it. 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB drives I find to be very reliable.
    I recently switched from WD and Hitachi to all Seagate 3TB drives. They are great for large files like video >1-2GB.

    Rule of thumb for mechanical drives:
    Avoid using anything over 1TB for your operating system. If you've got to use a mechanical drive for your OS, get yourself a fast 10000rpm, 150
    to 300GB SATA II/III drive to install Windows on. Too many cheesy manufacturers these days will sell you a computer with a 1TB drive with
    Windows installed on it and that's all. That SUCKS, because drives do fail and that entire drive will be useless, not to mention all your data as well.
    Remember, you don't have to settle with something a computer manufacturer, like Dell or HP, is selling you. Get informed and make your own choices.
    Many of the manufacturer's will attempt to simplify and dumb down their setups to minimize tech support.
    And rightfully so because most people don't know anything about computers.

    Multiple internal high capacity storage drives
    If you are like me and have tons of large files >1GB, then the 2 to 4TB drives are excellent for your storage needs. Just don't install an operating system on them.
    Take advantage of those extra SATA ports on your motherboard by installing a few more internal drives. Get drives that are at least 1TB in size, depending upon what your storage needs are. They are easy to install.
    Backup is important and it cannot be stressed enough in any situation.


    External Hard Drives
    External drives are always good to have around, not just for their portability, but for backup as well.
    Just don't be the kind of person who has six or seven of them constantly plugged into the computer, you'll start getting yourself into the
    counter productive category. If you find yourself doing that then you need more internal storage.
    I have at least 3 or 4 of them around for various, mostly hard data and image based backups. Some of them fit nicely into a safety deposit box
    in your local bank or post office. Having an offsite backup can be really important in many situations and it is part of a well
    thought up total backup regimen.
    Backup is important and it cannot be stressed enough in any situation.

    Solid State Drives
    SSD's offer one of the best speed increases in computers these days, and they are perfect for having just your operating system
    installed on them. SSD's are meant for the newer generation of hardware and software.
    Solid state drives work wonderfully when combined with internal mechanical drives; you get the speed of an SSD and the storage reliability
    of the many high capacity mechanical drives around these days.
    They can be worked into older systems like XP, but they will not be nearly as efficient.
    Backup is important and it cannot be stressed enough in any situation, especially so with an SSD. SSD's may fail without prior warning
    and their failures are usually total.
    http://www.computerweekly.com/featur...-right-for-you
    http://www.techradar.com/us/news/com...on-test-994095
    http://thessdreview.com/ssd-guides/beginners-guide/

    Windows XP and older Operating Systems
    As you may have guessed, your old Windows XP OS is in fact antiquated and it is not worth the effort in many instances to have it
    reside on a SSD. Too much work & effort to get it up and running properly imo. If your a novice don't do it.
    You will also be limited in the hard drive's size when it comes to Windows XP and older operating systems.
    My recommendation is to dump XP at all cost, if at all possible, and go directly to Windows 7 or 8.
    Older Hardware
    There will always be issues when adding newer hardware on top of an older foundation.
    This will require a more specific discussion of your intentions when it comes to installing newer hardware on older systems.


    Backup is important and it cannot be stressed enough in any situation
    Now you've seen me write that Four times, because unfortunately it's true. If you do not have a well thought out backup
    regimen tailored to your specific needs and computer usage then you do not have a reliable system. That is not based on an
    opinion, it is a fact. Learning the hard way through important data loss is called learning through negative reinforcement, and I don't recommend it because it is painful.
    Come up with a backup regimen that is the most simple and effective as you can for your specific needs. Avoid over complicating it when possible.
    Drive Imaging
    https://windowssecrets.com/langalist...aging-utility/
    http://www.geocities.com/~budallen/newpc_tips.html
    http://windowssecrets.com/top-story/...-7-safety-net/
    https://windowssecrets.com/langalist...drive-imaging/

    Most of us are doing drive imaging, mostly to preserve our operating systems, and that is what drive imaging is for. To get back up
    and running smoothly if a total system failure occurs, and one should not spend more than 30 min restoring an image.
    Drive imaging is not that good for backing up your non operating system related data.
    With this you will need extra real estate in the form of more internal or external drives, and use them appropriately based on how you generate data. Hard copy data to other drives for storage and backup purposes.
    Always attempt to separate out as much of the personal data you generate to another drive. Avoiding clumping all your data
    with your operating system will make image creation and restore much faster.

    Remember, your operating system is merely a means to an end.




    I need tough equipment. I just don't like the look of the flimsy trash that I see for sale now.
    If you have a need for sturdy equipment, then purchase equipment that is designed to stand up to abuse.
    You'll quite often have to pay good money for it, but don't go looking for the cheapest crap you can get a deal on and have high expectations.
    It will also be very important to research what you are purchasing before hand. Doing so after you make the purchase will just not cut it. (obviously)

    Will it be possible to adapt any of them to the older computer systems?
    Yes and no.
    This will require a more in depth conversation with and regarding specific instances and intentions you have in mind.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2013-03-09 at 03:51.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

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  4. #3
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    As long as SSDs (solid state drives) remain limited in capacity and are comparatively more expensive, and no other technology intervenes, the good old fashioned hard drive is going to be around for a long time. A lot of folks set up one SSD for the operating system and programs and then use a large hard drive for data. That way they get the best of both worlds, blinding fast performance for computer operations yet lots of storage space for data.

    SSDs have the same SATA connections as regular SATA hard drives and installation of an OS and other programs is identical to the hard drive process.

    As time has gone on, the SATA connection has become faster and faster. A SSD can be used on an older computer as long as it has the same SAATA connections but it may not be able to take full advantage of its speed capability due to a slower SATA connection. It's still pretty darn fast, just not as fast as it could be.

    If you have old IDE connections and want to have replacement drives for those connections, they are almost extinct. You can still get them but there are also little SATA to IDE adapters that fit between the IDE connection cable and the SATA drive so you can use a SATA drive on a IDE system. In general you want to keep those drives below 500 gigs in size since I doubt the IDE system could interpret and handle the sector information of a really large drive.

    Installation is literally just screwing a drive in place or using any number of quick attach methods the case may have, hooking the data cable up to the data connection on the drive and seating the other end into a SATA port on the motherboard and connecting a power cable. Often for SSDs, because they are so small, you need an adapter that the SSD is attached to and which then attaches to the case.

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  6. #4
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    SSDs up to 256 GB are very interesting now, price wise. Yes, they can double the price of a mechanical disk, but they are very worth it. Once you get to use an SSD with one of your computers, using magnetic disks will never be the same. Everything will look incredibly slow.


    Nice post, Clint .

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    Star Lounger Ibex's Avatar
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    Hi

    All I can say is "wow!" That is some impressive piece of work, Clint! You're worth your weight in computer chips. Now I know why you're a Super Moderator. Thanks for that. It will take me a long time to work my way through it. I have one other question before I hunker down to study all of this.

    My computer problems are complex; that's why I joined your site. I hear that there are portable hard drive cases out there where one can upload the contents of hard drives to other computers via their USB ports. I have such a problem at this point in time. My XP machine's external ports have all gone belly up. I don't know why and nobody wants to know me on that one when I ask questions. I did buy a spare mother board for that machine some time ago and its sitting by my side, waiting for a window in the future for me to change things over. I don't have the expertise for that at this time, and it will be a subject for the future. But right now, I am faced with the dilema of transfering the contents of the two hard drives in the XP machine to my Vista computer. My Vista machine also has two hard drives and I don't really want to mess around inside these devices interchanging drives. So my question is this: What can you tell me about these protable hard drive transfer devices, and how easy are they to use for the various types of hard drive.

    Thanks for you time

  9. #6
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    My computer problems are complex; that's why I joined your site. I hear that there are portable hard drive cases out there where one can upload the contents of hard drives to other computers via their USB ports. My XP machine's external ports have all gone belly up.
    That shouldn't be a problem with an external enclosures. Have a look here and see if any of these fit the bill.

    Take the drives out of the XP computer and use an external enclosure to connect them to the other computer via USB or eSATA.

    I'm currently taking a look at this one for my own usage, not for transport or regular usage, but something to have as part of a kit in the event I need this kind of setup.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2013-03-10 at 21:03.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

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  11. #7
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Ibex:

    If your USB ports have failed, it may be a Windows issue. Try what I suggested on the following posting:

    http://windowssecrets.com/forums/sho...l=1#post894496

    If that doesn't fix it, it may in fact be a hardware issue. You could likely solve that simply by installing a USB expansion card. Check out the three that are listed here:

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...expansion+card

    In all honesty, however, if they have all failed, it's likely a Windows issue, not a hardware issue.

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  13. #8
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    If your main interest in hard drives is to keep your existing XP system(s?) going, then the first thing you should know is that XP (well, 32-bit XP, anyway) supports drives only up to 2 TB in size (USB drives can be an exception, but without USB 3.0 support you probably wouldn't want to boot from one). Furthermore, many modern SATA drives in the 2 TB range (and sometimes even smaller) use an on-disk sector size of 4 KB (rather than the traditional 512 bytes) that XP will not use optimally unless you align the start-points of your NTFS partitions on 4 KB disk boundaries (FAT32 partition alignment is more complex, but attainable) in a manner that XP is not acquainted with (there are multiple ways to deal with such a situation, one of which I'll recommend if you get into it).

    The second is that PATA drives are getting scarce as hens' teeth and due to their rarity usually command premium prices, not to mention the fact that you won't easily be able to connect them to a modern system (should you later wish to) save via USB, so if your systems don't support SATA drives it would probably be worth getting either PATA/SATA converters as FUN mentioned or SATA PCI (or PCI-e) cards (which may support features that the converters don't, though whether XP makes much use of features like command queuing may be questionable).

    2 TB SATA drives are still about the sweet spot for price per GB, and while the largest PATA drives maxed out at 750 GB the PATA interface itself is good up to the petabyte range so unless a converter or PCI(e) card has its own internal limitations they should work fine even if you don't have SATA support on the motherboard (though you'll need XP SP2 or later in order to support anything over 137 GB). At 150 MB/sec even the slowest SATA interface will keep up with all but the outer disk tracks on the newest, fastest SATA drives, and at 300 MB/sec the SATA II interface easily exceeds the bandwidth attainable by any rotating SATA drive - only solid-state drives can make use of the 600 MB/sec SATA III interface.

    I wouldn't worry about rotating magnetic drives going away any time soon, since for a while now their cost per GB has remained less than 1/10th that of solid-state drives (and, as you observed, the thirst for GBs still seems unslakable). If you're reasonably happy with your current system performance using such a drive then you have little reason to go the SSD route (and going that route on XP may require a bit of special management - e.g., of 'trim' mechanisms and 4 KB alignment - for optimal performance) unless you can't keep yourself from 'thumping' your tower when you get mad (SSD drives can handle thumping a lot better than rotating magnetic drives can). For that matter, even if you're not entirely satisfied with your current XP performance if it's got less than 1 GB of RAM increasing that may give you better performance bang per buck than going SSD.

    Nor need you worry that getting too large a drive will slow down your system noticeably, especially if you organize it properly. As an example, my 5400 rpm HD204UI 2 TB Samsung drives perform comparably in both sequential and random access to my 7200 rpm 640 GB Western Digital Caviar Black drive (one of the faster drives around) when I use only the outer 1/3 of the Samsung drives (i.e., about the same size as the entire capacity of the WD drive). So if you place your operating system and other active data in an early partition on the large drive you'll get good random and sequential access performance for it while being able to use the rest of the drive for less-commonly-accessed (e.g., backups of other drives) and/or bulk (e.g., large video) data that won't interfere much with accesses to the more active partition.

    USB 2.0 - all you'll have on your XP systems unless you get a USB 3.0 PCI(e) card to provide it - provides relatively leisurely access to external hard drives (only around 1/3 to 1/5 the performance for large transfers compared with an internal drive, though small, random accesses are more comparable in speed), so if you have extra SATA connections on your motherboard you might consider eSATA (external SATA, which extends full SATA interface performance outside the case unless limited by, e.g., an enclosure's internal bottlenecks) as an alternative, using simple eSATA expansion cards that connect directly to the SATA connections on the motherboard. eSATA PCI(e) expansion cards are also available. Some external enclosures support connection via both USB and eSATA.

    Hope that gives you a bit more to chew on, anyway.

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    Disk caddies/enclosures

    To easily handle multiple drives, I have used disk caddies for years. They generally require 5" open drive bays and you place the hard drives into trays that slide into the caddies. You can get SATA and/or PATA but they are not interchangable - a SATA drive won't go into a PATA caddy and vice-versa.

    I have used them on Windows 98, 2000, XP and 7.

    Caddies can also come with fans to help keep your drives cooler.

    It makes backing up easy - just slide in the backup drive. You can easily add, change and copy drives. I even have different OS's on different drives rather than having dual boot. I have lots of audio and video that I edit and have them on multiple hard drives that I can slide in when needed. It also makes it easy to keep outhouse backup copies with a friend - just give them the tray containing your outhouse backup copy.

    Some motherboard and caddy combinations let you hot swap. Mine don't but I find I can hibernate, add a data only drive and it will be recognized on waking up. I can only do this once, if I hibernate again and put in a different drive, it can get corrupted! Safest is to reboot after any drive change!

    Hope this helps!

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    I have a question for Clint. I am awaiting delivery of a new desktop computer. As Clint had mentioned, it comes with a gigantic 1.5 TB SATA hard drive with Windows 8 on it. I had originally intended to get a smaller drive, partition it, then clone Windows 8 from the original drive in one partition, install Windows 7 pro (which I'm not ready to let go of yet) on another partition and possibly a Linux distro on a third eventually. I would then use the 1.5 TB drive for my documents, pictures, music, etc. My plans came to a screeching halt when I realized I may not be allowed legally to transfer the Windows 8 OEM to another drive. Would I be allowed to do that or not? Thanks... the various posts on this subject have been awesome and timely for me.
    Last edited by Kat1110; 2013-03-14 at 22:37.

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    The whole legality issues are only involved when moving a OEM installation to another computer. You can move any Windows installation to a different drive used on the same computer as many times as you wish or is required (to recover from failure).

    Also when cloning, any partitioning is overwritten on the target drive by the cloning process so don't bother doing it ahead of time. Use partition software after cloning to make more partitions for other OSes.

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  20. #12
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    My plans came to a screeching halt when I realized I may not be allowed legally to transfer the Windows 8 OEM to another drive. Would I be allowed to do that or not? Thanks
    I don't see any legal reason why you couldn't. As F.U.N has stated, it's moving an OEM installation to another computer
    that may be at issue.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

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    Clint, you seem to have a store of knowledge about hard drives. I posted this on another thread weeks ago, but haven't gotten any replies, so I'll try here. I have a RAID 5 system build with 2TB Western Digital Blue drives. Western Digital seems to have discontinued the 2TB Blue, and only Black and green are available in that size. I've seen a lot of chatter related to poor performance of the green and black series of drives in RAID arrays. Do you have any advice on an alternative for me to expand my RAID array? I can add up to two more drives, and I'll probably get to the point where I need to in 6 or 9 months.

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    Quote Originally Posted by F.U.N. downtown View Post
    Also when cloning, any partitioning is overwritten on the target drive by the cloning process so don't bother doing it ahead of time. Use partition software after cloning to make more partitions for other OSes.
    If I ever knew this, I've forgotten it, so thanks so much for the info... I'm sure you just saved me time and frustration!!! Thanks for your help with my question... after I read it, I was like doh!

  24. #15
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Do you have any advice on an alternative for me to expand my RAID array? I can add up to two more drives, and I'll probably get to the point where I need to in 6 or 9 months.
    I've moved from WD to Seagate some time ago. I purchased a few 3TB drives and they seem reliable, or as reliable as one can expect until a failure occurs.
    I don't do RAID so therefore won't be much help with them.
    But as far as I know all you need to do, in terms of replacing drives in a RAID array, is get similar or larger size drives.
    You don't need the exact make and model for a replacement.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

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