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Re: Computer hard drive and file storage server questions.

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Dennis,

Regarding partitioning, the primary reason (at least that I know of) for
partitioning a drive (other than the fact that some versions of OSs and
BIOSs cannot handle larger dirves OR having multiple OSs installed) is an
issue of wasting space. When you format a drive, the drive is broken into
"blocks" or "clusters".  The size of these "blocks" are a function of the
drive/partition size.  Thus a 20 Gb drive will have bigger "blocks" than a
2 Gb drive.

When you place a file on a drive, it will take up a certain number of
"blocks".  Let's say that you have a 18k Word file.  If you place in on a
small partition that uses blocks of like 4k (I am making this up since I
don't recall actual numbers), then it will take up 5 "blocks" meaning that
you have about 2k of wasted space.  If you place this same file on a
larger partition with say blocks of 16k (again making up a number), then
the file will take up two block and waste about 14k of space.  Thus, may
people will recommend that you create smaller partitions for use with
storages of smaller files (Word, Excel, etc) but then a larger partion for
larger size files (JPEG/TIFF, MPEG...i.e. graphics, MP3, video, etc).

I found this interest little article on paritions on TechTV's site:

http://www.techtv.com/screensavers/showtell/story/0,23008,2139722,00.html

In that article, they do suggest creating a partition for the swap file.
The article also mentions the point that I made above, but without too
much detail.

I don't believe that if will affect the speed other than it might make it
easier for you to defrag stuff on a regular basis, which means that you
are more likely to be willing to do that.

Be careful about the ATA/66 vs ATA/100.  If you Inspiron does not support
ATA/100, then you can encounter a few problems.  In nothing else, you will
not get the speed benefit.  I found this site on ATA/100:

http://www.seagate.com/support/kb/disc/ultra_ata100.html

You can "set" a ATA/100 to work with either ATA/33 or ATA/66 according to
that site...this supposedly allows for "better compatibility".

I cannot really speak to the benefits of more RAM on a Windoze platform.
I still (after many years of playing with infernal Windoze machines) don't
quite understand the whole RAM thing on Windoze.  If it were a Mac, I
would say...yep, buy that RAM, especially if you run multiple programs.  I
have to be that more RAM will help even a Windoze machine with today's
versions of Windoze that don't rely on DOS underpinning near as much.
This is especially true of XP.  All that old DOS crap (sorry, Roger...not
that I like Windoze much better) should be gone from XP.  Of course, there
tons of other things as to why I WON'T be upgrading to XP anytime soon.

As far as using a laptop for a server, I can't see why not.  The biggest
reason that most don't use a laptop for a server is the lack of
expandability.  Laptops are just not scalable enough to tradition server
use (i.e. in a business).  Typically, you want the ability to have TONS of
disk space on a server (i.e. several drives) and also lots of empty
expansion card slots.  For a home personal server, however, this type of
thinking does not apply.  One obvious benefit of using a laptop
(especially for a "critical" server) is that you don't need to buy a
battery backup system for power outtages...you already have one built in!!

HTH,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI  


On Fri, 13 Jul 2001, Structuralist wrote:

> 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
> storage?
> 
> Thanks for your help on these issues.  
> 
> Regards,
> Dennis S. Wish, PE
> Structural Engineering Consultant
> mailto:structures(--nospam--at)engineer.com 
> (208) 361-5447 E-Fax
> 
> 
> 
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