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RE: Computer hard drive and file storage server questions.

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Well, here is what I ended up doing;

1. The mirror image idea gave into Murphy's law and I nearly lost my
original drive as I destroyed the Master Boot Record in the process. To
backstep, I purchased a new 30gig Toshiba drive for my laptop which had
a Fujitsu 12-gig drive installed. FWIW - I purchased the new Toshiba
drive from Dirt Cheap Hard Drives out of Texas and found it for the
lowest price of $259.00 (nearly sixty dollars less than Drives 4 Less).
I added the Simple Tech PCMCIA drive cable running TwinDisk - their
drive mirror program. I kept getting a cluster error and when attempting
to fix the drive with Nortons Disk Doctor, I screwed up the  original
drive by mistake.

2. I ended up scratching the TwinDisk idea and was able to fix the
Fujitsu Master Boot Record by rebuilding it with Nortons Utilities. The
original drive was working again and I was tempted to call it quites -
well almost.

3. I switched drives and used Fdisk to partition the new drive. Then I
installed Windows ME and intended to reload all of my software. The one
problem was that I had no way to get information from my old drive to
the new drive except by swapping the drives. I figured the Simple
Technology device was a waste. I was only partly right - the software
was a waste, but the cable and pcmcia card turned out to be a lifesaver.
Simple Tech instructions are two pages long (both sides) and their
website has even less information other than sales. 
I started to play around with the cable and found that if I plugged it
in and connected it to my external drive, plug and play recognized the
pcmcia card and read the old drive as a second hard drive. How could
Simple Tech keep this a secret - with this cable you can use any
restoration software you want like Ghost and scrap their TwinDisk.

4. I used Partition Magic to partition the drive into three partitions.
The first is for Windows and Programs (I read Mark Jones comments but
running ME I find that the built in Restore feature (Like Roxio's Go
Back) has fixed my Windows system when I screwed it up. It works very
nicely and because of this, I keep the programs and Windows on the same
partition.
The 'D' drive is for Data which I can back up over my LAN to my office
machine or to a CD-RW connected to the office machine. 
The 'E' drive is for temporary files and my Windows Swap File. 

I noticed that by doing a clean installation like this, my machine works
better than when it was new. It's clean and much faster than it had
been. 

5. This is something I highly recommend for with larger drives. I
purchased a software called "Virtual CD 3". The program lets you copy
CD-Rom disks to a compressed library file (you choose the level of
compression from zero to heavy)and then to store the copy on your hard
drive. When you want to run the CD, you click on a taskbar icon and
insert the file into the virtual drive which is recognized as an optical
drive (like another CD-Rom). You can set up as many Virtual drives so
that you can run multiple CD's at the same time. I use the 97 UBC on one
drive and a product catalog on another. The downside is that  you lose
resources as you add drive so the trick is to keep the number of drives
down and switch out the library files as needed. They "load" instantly
so it is not likeyou have to wait for the virtual disk to read into
memory.

As my CD collection is growing (for Adhesives and coatings, UBC, soon to
be Seismic Design Manuals I, II, and III etc.) the virual drive lets me
move around the home/office or take my library on the road. I keep the
library stored on the Data Drive which I have allocated 12-gigs for. 

6. Finally, I set up a wireless LAN some time ago and this too has been
worth every cent. I transfer files between computers and store backups
on the office tower. Now there is enough storage on each of the Laptops
to do whatever we want except maybe build an MP3 library or run heavy
games (neither of which my wife or I am into).

The advice I received from each of you was very helpful - I couldn't let
you know sooner as I've been off line for a few days. It does take
longer to reload all the software and in some cases to obtain new access
codes from the software developers, but I think it was well worth the
effort considering how smoothly the machine is running. Next step will
be to load the Fujitsu into my wifes laptop. It will need to be
reformated with a proprietary (OnTrack) partitioning software as her
machine has a built in bios limit of 8.4 gigs. I went to the Fujitsu
site, which lead me back to the OnTrack website. After retrieving the
drive serial number and model number I was able to download the
partitioning software taylored for the Fujitsu drives free from OnTrack.
Considering her laptop only had a four gig drive, I now have the power
to do more with her older Pentium II laptop (like run a small office FTP
or Linux server).

Thanks to all for your advice.

Regards,
Dennis


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