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Thread: How To Upgrade?

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    How To Upgrade?

    My main PC is one I built a few months ago, using an MSI mobo and an Antec tower case, running XP Pro. The mobo has connections for 4 SATA drives, in addition to dual IDE controllers. I currently have 2 IDE drives on one controller, totalling 80GB, and a DVD/CD writer on the other controller (no SATA drives). The case has bays for several internal drives and 3 external bays (in addition to the one occupied by the optical drive).

    I'd like to provide for backups, starting with this PC and eventually the other ones on my network, but have no clue how to proceed hardware-wise. Can anyone suggest a plan of attack?

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    Since you've got plenty of drive connecting ability, I'd start by using one or more of those external bays for something like <!post= removable drive racks.,343,720> removable drive racks.<!/post> It's been awhile since I bought any, so I don't know if there are SATA models around.

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    Big Al,

    >> Since you've got plenty of drive connecting ability, I'd start by using one or more of those external bays for something like removable drive racks. It's been awhile since I bought any, so I don't know if there are SATA models around. <<

    Me either. How about if I start with an internal SATA drive, and then look around for a removable rack that can handle SATA? If I do that, do you have a recommendation for how large a SATA drive to buy? For now, I'd just be backing up the 2 IDE drives, which have a total of 80GB (not all in use). I've seen 100GB and 200GB SATA drives on sale locally this week.

    Eventually I'd like to move my C drive contents to a SATA drive, but MSI says that you have to jump through some hoops to do that with my motherboard (at least, they say so for Win2K, and I imagine I'd be looking at the same hoops for XP). Once I accomplish that, I could move my 60GB and 20GB IDE drives to other PC's.

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    Look at the price per gigabyte and buy the largest you can afford. If it's backups you're concerned about, I've found that external drives with a USB 2.0 connection are an excellent option.

    As in a recent post, if you've got the ability to go with SATA, do it. That along with a larger than necessary drive will carry you farther towards the next inevitable upgrade.
    -Mark

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    WyllyWylly,

    >> Look at the price per gigabyte and buy the largest you can afford. If it's backups you're concerned about, I've found that external drives with a USB 2.0 connection are an excellent option. <<

    Circuit City has a 200GB Western Digital SATA for $90 (after rebates), and that's the largest SATA drive I saw on sale in this week's circulars. Sale ends today, so I have to decide if anyone will beat that on Black Friday <grin>.

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    There's always a deal going on somewhere... you can also check out PriceWatch for some good deals.
    -Mark

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    WyllyWylly,

    >> If it's backups you're concerned about, I've found that external drives with a USB 2.0 connection are an excellent option. <<

    Picked up a Western Digital 250GB External USB hard drive yesterday, and am surprised how long backups are taking. Started one with the Manual Backup button this morning, for instance, and after 3.5 hours, the backup of less than 20GB is only 2/3 done. Transfer speeds keep going up and down, but they drop as low as 0.4MB/min. Is this normal?

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    That doesn't seem right. Are you sure it's a USB 2.0 connection that is being made between the computer and the external drive?

    You should also consider the speed of the CPU and the amount of compression that is going into the backup. Without knowing what software you are using to perform the backup or other technical details it's hard to say, but 0.4 MB/s is pretty pathetic no matter what.
    -Mark

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    0.4MB a minute, I think was said!

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    WyllyWylly,

    >> Are you sure it's a USB 2.0 connection that is being made between the computer and the external drive? <<

    As far as I can tell, all the USB ports on my motherboard are USB 2.0. I'll doublecheck with the guys I bought it from, though.

    >> You should also consider the speed of the CPU and the amount of compression that is going into the backup. Without knowing what software you are using to perform the backup or other technical details it's hard to say, but 0.4 MB/s is pretty pathetic no matter what. <<

    I'm using the Retrospect Express software that came with the drive. The CPU is a 1.80Ghz Athlon 64. The 0.4 was the worst I saw during two different backups: although it occasionally got over 200, it more commonly stayed around 50-75.

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    Then it's approximately 60 times worse than I originally thought... <img src=/S/wink.gif border=0 alt=wink width=15 height=15>
    -Mark

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    With the specs you stated it's certainly not the speed of the CPU. Is it possible that you have any disk-intensive tasks or applications running while the backup takes place? Virus scanning and Windows deciding to optimize your hard drive come to mind...

    Given the fact that you have a current/modern system I would find it hard to believe that you are equipped with older USB 1.1 ports. Take a look at the Device Manager (Start - Run - devmgmt.msc) and expand the entry under Universal Serial Bus Controllers. If it shows "Enhanced" in the entry, then it's a USB 2 port. Not that you shouldn't double check with the vendor to be sure, though.

    Is this an isolated incident or does it occur on every backup?
    -Mark

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    WyllyWylly,

    >> Is it possible that you have any disk-intensive tasks or applications running while the backup takes place? Virus scanning and Windows deciding to optimize your hard drive come to mind... <<

    Nope, nothing like that going on.

    >> Take a look at the Device Manager (Start - Run - devmgmt.msc) and expand the entry under Universal Serial Bus Controllers. If it shows "Enhanced" in the entry, then it's a USB 2 port. <<

    Device Manager shows:
    Standard Enhanced PCI to USB Host Controller
    Standard OpenHCD USB Host Controller
    Standard OpenHCD USB Host Controller

    >> Is this an isolated incident or does it occur on every backup? <<

    I've tried two backups, and both ran like that. I'm going to try uninstalling the Retrospect software and reinstalling it. If that doesn't help, I may have to exchange the drive.

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    WyllyWylly,

    >> Is it possible that you have any disk-intensive tasks or applications running while the backup takes place? <<

    While I didn't have any competing tasks going on, the fact I couldn't do the simplest other task while a backup was running finally got me on the right track. I decided to bump the RAM from 512 to 1024 on Sunday, and that appears to have improved things considerably. Peak and average transfer speeds way up, no more terrible low points, and my first backup completely free of errors! It looks like I may have to upgrade to the full-blown version of Retrospect to get some features that Express doesn't include, but at least the drive itself appears to be a keeper. And things may even get better if I can move the contents of my IDE drives over to SATA drives.

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    Re: How To Upgrade?

    Glad to hear that things have gotten markedly better. Sounds to me like Retrospect is a memory pig, if the solution was that simple - but then again, it's also nice to have a gig of memory too!
    -Mark

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