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Computer hard drive and file storage server questions.

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I ordered a new 30-gig hard drive for my Dell Inspiron 7500 Laptop. I
expect to be installing it tomorrow night and the installation is pretty
easy. I purchased a program called DriveLink which comes with a PCMCIA
card and cable attachment to do a mirror copy of the small drive to the
larger. I will then move the smaller drive (12-gig) to my second laptop
which only has a 4-gig drive installed. I expect to need a formatting
program like Ontrack to bypass the bios issue which restricts the drive
to 8.4 gigs max.

The 30-gig drive is much more than I need and what I intended to do is
to create a few virtual drives to move some CD-Rom's such as ICBO's 97
UBC disk to the hard drive. The software creates a virtual cd-rom drive
and the original CD's are compressed into a library format and stored
within the virtual drive OR can be "slipped in" by telling the software
to load whatever CD-Rom is stored on the drive. It is then recognized as
it would be if it were entered into my DVD or CD-Rom drive. (Actually,
it gives me an excuse to store all six of the Mad Magazine CD's on the
hard drive:O)

Question 1: Would the drive work more efficiently if I partition the
drive and create a small second drive dedicated to the Windows swap file
(I'm using Windows ME now and will switch to XP when it is available)? I
thought this would make it easier to defragment the swap file and keep
my hard drive in much more order.

Question 2: Is there any advantage to partitioning the drive -
efficiency and speed. The new drive is a new UATA/100 drive (compared to
the former ATA/66 drive) and although it is slower than a standard hard
drive (laptop drives rotate at 4200rpm compared to 5200rpm or faster for
standard hard drives) the transfer rate is 100mb/s. Do you think that
partitioning the drive into two smaller partitions (or three) will
increase the speed of the drive by cutting down the time it takes to
search from inside to outside of the sector limits? The new drive has a
2mb cache which may cut down the seek time (which is averaged at 13-ms -
about average for a laptop drive).

Question 3: Is there any advantage to upgrading RAM from 128Mb to 256Mb.
I understand that with Windows ME or 9x don't gain an advantage beyond
128Mb as resources will diminish before available memory. Memory is
cheap, but if there is no advantage to upgrading to 256Mb then I can
think of better ways to spend the money.

Question 4: This one is for someone like Bill Polhemus. I am installing
the old 12-gig drive in my older laptop. I am thinking of partitioning
the drive to two 6-gig drives and installing Linux on one partition and
Windows ME on the other. The laptop is rarely used by my wife and my
granddaughter who lives with us will use my desktop machine to play
games and to access the Internet. The bottom line is that I can turn the
laptop (a 266Mhz Pentium II) into a server and use it to augment the
Discussion forums and website as an FTP storage. This would keep my cost
down on the web-hosting services I pay for. I don't want to use the
Laptop as a full server because my discussion software is written for
Unix and I is too difficult to transfer to another site. 

Has anyone had any experience turning a laptop into a server for file

Thanks for your help on these issues.  

Dennis S. Wish, PE
Structural Engineering Consultant
(208) 361-5447 E-Fax

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