computer questionS

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by D_Gunther Snotpole, May 26, 2008.

  1. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    FIRST QUESTION:
    I have a rather ancient Compaq computer with a nominally 20-Gig hard drive.
    I have 15.6 gigs of Used Space.
    3.99 Gigs of Free Space.
    I've just done disk cleanup.
    Now, I can compress the drive to save disk space.
    Is that wise? Always problem free?
    Will all programs work as before?
    How much space will I save?

    SECOND QUESTION:
    I've just gotten a 160-gig USB external hard drive.
    I have XP-Pro as my OS.
    It will allow me to do a backup onto the external hard drive.
    Is that trouble free?
    And will it give me something that will recreate, right off the bat, the experience of booting off my internal hard drive? Will my desktop be the same, for example? All the programs work the same?
    (And BTW, how well do USB external hard drives work? I've found the little 'thumb drives' don't last long. Can I expect better wear and endurance from this much larger unit?)

    I am not very sharp with technology, kidz, so excuse me if my questions seem stupid.
    Some weekend, I must spend 20 hours or so to really, intimately shake hands with my computer.
    (But y'see, he's a Hatfield ... I'm a McCoy.)
     
  2. Honey123

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    First question. I've not been fond of the disk compression that MicroSoft provides. I know some people think it's the greatest space saver though so that one is a coin toss. Using the disc defrag is also a good idea. it rearranges the files so that they are more quickly accessed by the applications and clears up a little disk space. not much, just a little.

    Second question. I've also got a 160 gig external hard drive. You can back up to it using the XP backup utility or you can select and copy over the files you want to save. It's big enough to handle either option. You can also plug it in and use it like an extension of your pc and save files to it however and whenever you want to. I have some files on it that are no longer on my PC cuz I have this fear that if something should happen to me I don't want my sister to kill over after seeing porn on my PC.

    Be happy with your XP and take good care of it. There are only a few programs that won't run on it and it is far more stable and dependable than the Vista OS. Here's to hoping that the next OS is better (I was lucky enough to completely bypass ME version and go straight from Windows 98 to XP, just got a Mac and it's a bit finiky - not sure if it operator trouble or not.

    Good luck.
     
  3. Mem

    Mem
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    As far as the external hard drive I have 250 Gig one and it is about 80% filled (with downloaded porn videos). :biggrin1:

    I don't keep it running very often, and it does get very hot.

    They are very easy to use. I never used it to backup my hard drive but you can easily drag and drop large files into it.

    You can also right click on a large file and "send to" your external hard drive .

    If you can afford it or save up you should get a budget laptop. I got a Gateway Vista Home Premium with 1 G Ram and 120 G hard drive and a dual core processor for $600 last year. I now use that instead of a desktop PC.
     
  4. VeeP

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    DON'T compress the drive... it'll take that ancient machine straight to Mezozoic. You've never seen a machine so slow as one that's had it's drive compressed, especially if it's an older one. One of the absolute stupidest features Microsoft ever added to Windows, IMO.

    Better yet, move whatever files you can to your external USB drive. 20 gig is mighty, might tight these days, so there may not be much. Obviously you're not into downloading the p*rn! LOL :biggrin1:

    The answer to your backup question gets complex rather quickly, but in short you would need a "cloning" application (such as Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, etc.) in order to create something with which you could resurrect your primary drive in the event of a failure.

    Most external USB drives work well and are quite reliable, btw. Keep in mind, however, that it's also a mechanical beast that can fail.
     
  5. JustAsking

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    Outboard USB drives are pretty reliable. Naturally, there is the potential for it being kicked around, dropped, and otherwise abused. But they are quite reliable these days.

    Ordinarily, backing up a computer usually means copying files to another hard disk or other storage device, either file by file, or into a special compressed file. Some sophisticated backup utilities allow you to do a wholesale backup of all your files and then backup just the ones that changed on a periodic basis.

    But this kind of backup doesn't actually clone the entire computer's environment. They only backup important files. I think what you are alluding to are programs that will backup the exact image of your hard disk such that it could be completetly restored to a different hard disk and used from there.

    The most famous utility for that is called Ghost. It does what you are looking for. For example, you could Ghost your 20G hard disk to a big honkin ghost file on your USB drive. Then replace your internal 20G drive with a bigger one and unGhost from the USB drive ghost file back to the new internal drive. When you fire your machine up after that, it will come to life and operate as it did before, but it will have the increased disk space of the new hard drive.

    If you were proposing to use the new USB drive as your main drive, the Ghost application would help you to do that. I suppose it would be ok to run with it that way, but it is a bit unusual.
     
  6. Dorian_Gray

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    Just a side note... if you're computer is as old as I'm thinking and only has a 20GB drive you might not have USB 2.0 which may make those backups or "transfers of information" awfully, awfully slow (read: watching paint dry).

    Ghost is a very good backup program, it basically just clones the entire HDD right down to the partition tables... it makes and keeps (if configured correctly) an EXACT replica of your HDD. This program is famous in the TiVo community, because you can clone your TiVo HDD and upgrade the HDD in the TiVo itself to give you more recording time (up to 1TB if I'm not mistaken).

    And yes, drive compression will dramatically slow down an already slow computer. Basically whatever is compressed on the drive has to be uncompressed>used>recompressed... and that takes a decent amount of processor muscle to handle in tandem with the OS and the EU not notice any signifigant speed changes.

    One more side note... often times if you replace your OEM HDD with a newer model with newer firmware, you'll see speed increases just from a HDD upgrade. Now, I'd be willing to bet a large amout of money that you don't have SATA. So you could get a seagate (my personal drive brand preference) 750GB U-ATA for about 50-80 USD.
     
  7. D_Portelay Porquesword

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    Don't compress your primary drive if you have all that space on the external.
    I have the same set up but my laptop is newer. I used to download to the laptop but now i use and semi ancient Hewlitt packard that is hooked up to my hi def tv.

    I have had good success with my Maxtor external. I have had it for about 4 years now.

    Anything i want to store, i put on the external when that gets full i archive to dvd.

    Good luck.
     
  8. VeeP

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    Good point... it's probably USB 1.1, but some still perform respectably.

    If it's as old as I think, the BIOS may limit the size of the drive. Perhaps as low as 40 GB. But I must agree, replacing them on general purposes can result in a rather dramatic performance transformation with some machines.
     
  9. Dorian_Gray

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    It's not the BIOS that limits the size of the drive... in Win98 it was a problem because it was using the FAT32 file system. On windows XP this does not apply because it uses NTFS v3 (vista = NTFS v5).

    BTW.. USB 1.1 = 11Mbps
    USB 2.0 = 480Mbps
    USB 3.0 = 4.8GBps w/optical interconect .... to be released Q3 '08
     
  10. compguy

    compguy New Member

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    1st question: Do not compress the drive – this would slow down disk access speed substantially. Use the external USB to store new data.

    2nd question: Copy your important files to the USB drive as a backup. As someone mentioned previously, you most likely have (the older, slower) USB version 1.1 and this can take a while, so be patient.

    Also, any discussion about replacing the hard drive is beyond this user’s ability (read first post).
     
  11. transformer_99

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    I'd use your usb drive to transfer what data you need to it and then delete it from the primary drive. Then do disk cleanup, compress and defrag on the 20 GB drive. Nothing wrong with compressing old files on the 20 GB hdd.

    As for the backup, on the 20 GB drive, I wouldn't worry too much about a clone. Just keep the data on a separate drive and if the 20 GB hdd goes bad, replace it with a larger one and do a clean install that day.
     
  12. Reallyonlyme

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    @XGX, there could be a bios issue with larger internal drives, it may lack LBA mode. If the large drive was plugged in via the USB this would not apply.

    Compressing the whole drive, don't do it! Unless you don't mind half your old machine's processor power going into expanding/compressing the data. However if you have a lot of text documents, you might want to just compress those. You can right click on a folder or file(s) and select "Advanced" and just compress those. Music (MP3), movies (MPG,AVI etc) and pictures (JPG) will not compress by much at all, and are not worth even trying.

    Last but by no means least, as someone else mentioned, you may have USB 1.1 instead of 2. This is painful, you won't believe how slow that is.
    USB 1.1 - 12Mbit/s (max)
    USB 2 - 480Mbit/s (max)

    To put that into perspective, the current desktop standard of hard drive interface is SATA 300, which is 300Mbit/s. So USB 2 should cover that, and to be honest it's pretty close, but the drive will still be faster on-board the machine than in an external USB case.

    USB 1.1 running a hard drive is a nightmare, I've had friends in your situation, and it's quicker to go wait for the shops to open, go there, buy a USB2 interface (£15), install it into the machine, then use that to support the drive and do the copies than it would be to wait for the USB 1.1 to finish!

    Have you checked the hidden temp folder that windows often forgets to tidy up?

    C:\Documents and Settings\yourname\Local Settings\Temp\

    Put your log on name in place of yourname. All files in there can be deleted. Don't worry if you can't delete some of them, they might be currently in use by some applications, best close everything running before.
     
  13. dong20

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    If it were me and I didn't want to buy a new unit:

    I would by a 160 GB bare IDE drive and install it into the base as a second drive using that drive as a secondary. I'd also reinstall all apps from the small 20G to the new one leaving it as an OS disk only.

    I'd move the swap file (page file) is moved from the 20g to the new drive and use the USB drive as a backup or 2nd level archive.

    The main benefits will be speed increase from not having the OS, apps and paging running on the small old, slow (Poss 4200 RPM) drive may will be coming close it's demise. You will also gain security from not having all your eggs in one basket.

    Caveats:
    • You may not have a spare IDE connector available on cable but machines of that age will probably have a second IDE connector but not all and Compaq were a bit 'standards weak'.
    • If you have slimline case you may be tight on internal space.
    • You will need to be comfortable with working with your 'sleeves rolled up' - although it's a fairly simple task.
    You could save a few $ by extracting the USB drive but that would involve taking it out of the case - also it may be a SATA drive internally and thus incompatible (basically) with your PC architecture.

    External USB drives are no more or less reliable. They are after all the same drives inside. Just make sure there's decent airflow around it, however drive failure due to overheating isn't the risk it's made out to be. The real danger is physical damage due to it falling off the desk.

    That's what I would do, your mileage may vary. There other options but as you profess a limited level of 'skill' they may be moot so to answer your question; NO don't compress the old 20G drive, the resultant slow down will drive you bonkers and for generally small gains (although this does depend on the nature of the files). That said, you can compress individual folders, that can be viable if they're of an archive nature.

    Perhaps it's time to 'upgrade' more fully. :biggrin1:
     
  14. Cobalt Blue

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    Yep, all good advice..
    I would also recommend regular use of Ccleaner [formerly CrapCleaner] free from CCleaner - Home think of it as a deep steam-clean of your hard drive compared to the superficial dusting performed by XP's lame Disk Cleanup. You will be amazed at how much deep grime your PC collects - unused Registry entries; DLLs; uninstaller files left behind after installs - cookies; caches; the list goes on. Ccleaner combined with regular Disk Defragmentation will make your XP experience zip along.
     
  15. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Thanks, all, for what sounds like excellent advice.

    What I think I'm going to do:

    1) Move vids and movie files over to the external HD and delete them from the Compaq's HD.
    2) Get the 'Ghost' software and make an exact-image copy of the Compaq's entire HD on the external HD. (As some have suspected, I have only USB 1.1 for an interface, and obviously making this copy will take a lot of time. But hey, I got time.)
    3) I will use the 'Ghost' software to keep updated copies on the external HD of any adds to the Compaq HD.
    4) I will move up to a newer model in the next six months or so.

    While the Compaq is working surprisingly well, it must be getting creaky, and I don't need any rude surprise.
    I can eventually keep it as a backup computer if the new one develops problems.
    And it's surprising how cheap computers are right now.

    Thanks again, everyone, for all the time you've kindly taken to answer my questions.
     
  16. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Just downloaded the app and ran it, nicky.
    I can only assume it will improve things.
    Thanks for the advice.
     
  17. B_ScaredLittleBoy

    B_ScaredLittleBoy New Member

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    I've got a Firewire hard drive.

    It transfers 1GB per minute which is quite fast. I think USB 2.0 usually transfers 1GB in perhaps five minutes at best.

    There is software that backs up for you but basically for a full backup just copy and paste your my documents folder to the external drive.

    Its also a good idea to keep a backup of programs and drivers that you use in case you ever need to format or anything gets corrupted.

    PS my Firewire hard drive only cost ~$150 and its 320GB. I recommend Firewire.
     
  18. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    I take it you have a Mac.
    I have an iBook, but my desktop is a Compaq PC.

    In truth, I have astonishingly little in the way of data. I've saved almost all of that to USB thumb drives ... you know, the little doowinkies [AKA whatchamacallits, SLB] that don't seem to last very long. But I'm still able to read off them.
    I do have some vids and music files, and those could easily be transferred.

    Wouldn't this be a good reason to do a full backup with Ghost or some similar program?
    I just priced the Ghost software and I can get it for 60 bucks. I'm tempted.
    But really, I also looked at computers, and for 400 smackeroos (204 quid, moy deuh fellow), I can get a new Compaq with a duo-core processor, a gig of RAM (maybe worth upping to two?), and a 250-gig HD.
    How are the manufacturers making money these days?
     
    #18 D_Gunther Snotpole, May 27, 2008
    Last edited: May 27, 2008
  19. B_ScaredLittleBoy

    B_ScaredLittleBoy New Member

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    They make money on cheap parts and labour...

    I'm on Windows too, you can get a Firewire PCI card that plugs into your PC.

    Also I had foolishly assumed you were a porn connoisseur. How wrong I was...

    I have 103GB used up on my Firewire drive although a lot of it is music and videos of the non-porn variety.

    But for what you're using it for a store-bought PC should be okay.

    I suppose you could use the Ghost Software but my way of doing things is different. I just back up My Documents and add anything new that comes in to the Firewire HD. And I have loads of programs. Even ones that are now Shareware such as amcap, I have the old, free version.

    But whatever works for you :smile:
     
  20. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Interesting. What does it cost?

    Hmmm.
    * rubs chin *
    Wellll, I look at a lot, but don't download that much. Maybe that makes me a real connoisseur.:biggrin1:

    Sure, sure, baby. Anything you say.:rolleyes:

    Well, aren't almost all of them well beyond any normal (heh heh) consumer's needs? (I'm just sayin' ... have no idea.)

    I have my OS disks and a few others. (Also MS Office, so I can reload a lot of programs.)
    When I think about it, I'm not strapped.
    But having an exact image of my HD on the external would give me a comfort margin if, as you say, things got corrupted.
     
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