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Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-17-2004, 11:12 AM   #1
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Adding an OLD hard drive

I've cannibalized a couple Win95 machines (from back when IDE hard drives were hot stuff) and I'm about to pitch the carcasses.

It occurs to me, however, that an old 3.2 GB HD might be useful for daily data backups. I know that they're giving away HDs in cereal boxes these days and I know how to install them, so those aren't issues unless I'm about to cause harm or really drag down overall performance.

Our "new" box is an eMachines floor model, a 2 GHz AMD Athlon with 512MB of PC2100 DDR RAM and a Western Digital 80 GB HD running WinXP Home. Its HD is all by itself on one IDE channel and the CD/DVD drives are on a second, so there's only room for one more drive and it'll have to share the WD HD's cable. It looks like the bus clock is running at 133 MHz.

The old HD is a 1997-vintage ATA-2 JTS Champion II. I haven't plugged it into the new machine yet, but I'm going to assume that the eMachine's BIOS will be able to recognize the drive and that WinXP will remember how to wipe/format it. All it'll do is daily backups of 1-2 MB of data folders from the master HD, probably handled by WinXP's scheduler. Of course I'd still be doing weekly CD data backups and occasional full settings backups.

What I don't know is what the old drive will do to the rest of the computer. Is an old HD likely to drag down the bus speed or affect data transfer? Will it load down the power supply or overheat the case? Am I looking at a BIOS "upgrade" or should I segregate the drives to separate IDE channels? Anyone have any horror stories on this subject?
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-17-2004, 12:40 PM   #2
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

The answer is yes and no. *If you put this old drive on the same channel (cable) as the existing drive then only one of them can use the channel at one time - this is one of the big downsides of IDE vs. SCSI and why real high performance systems still use SCSI RAIDs. *Based on what you want to do with this drive I would consider sticking it on the same channel as the optical drive. *This will mean faster backups from the main drive to this backup hard drive. *It might slow down the backup from the backup hard drive to the optical but the speed of the optical drive might be the real limiting factor here.

Another thing to consider is whether this drive uses PIO mode rather than DMA. *This was a drive read/write technique that required the processor to do a bunch of stuff rather than leave it all to the drive controller. *Doing that extra work basically slows the processor down. *If it does that will only affect speed while you are actually using the backup drive.

Note that I am not a low level driver geek (though I have friends who are) but the above should be reasonably accurate.
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-17-2004, 01:36 PM   #3
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

That drive WILL mix with other ide drives, ata-2 is the older pentium II era ide standard and will do dma-2 speeds (iirc, which is iffy).

The problem you'll have mixing this with your other hard drive is that your backups will be slooooowwwwwwwwwwww. The controller will need to shift to dma-5, read from your zippier drive, then downshift to dma-2 and write to your other drive.

Two options: can this one and scrounge up a newer disk and a pci ide card to put this drive on or just get an extra ide card and run the old drive on it and hope for the best. They usually sell for five bucks or less in the bargain bins or throw one on as an extra on your next online order. Hell, I have five or six good ones that came with hard drives that you can have for the cost of shipping.

In fact, not only do I have controller cards out the ying yang, I have a box FULL of 30 and 60gb quantum and maxtor drives. They're likely to end up in a dumpster shortly when I have to clean the piles of office stuff I relocated to the garage recently. Yours for the cost of shipping...
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-17-2004, 02:01 PM   #4
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

Quote:
The problem you'll have mixing this with your other hard drive is that your backups will be slooooowwwwwwwwwwww. The controller will need to shift to dma-5, read from your zippier drive, then downshift to dma-2 and write to your other drive.
I think you're exaggerating the slowness here. It's much faster than tape or CD-R backup, and no matter how many ATAPI controllers you have it's write-speed-bound process, and the read side is buffered at the drive and the OS. Sure the geek ideal is separate controllers on separate interrupts, but I think his idea will work fine as long as there are no master/slave issues, but everything should use cable select so it should be fine.

Quote:
In fact, not only do I have controller cards out the ying yang, I have a box FULL of 30 and 60gb quantum and maxtor drives. They're likely to end up in a dumpster shortly when I have to clean the piles of office stuff I relocated to the garage recently. Yours for the cost of shipping...
Seriously? I'll take 'em! I got room and determination to make 'em into LVM sets...
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-17-2004, 07:11 PM   #5
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

A case of variable expectations...I think any backup that takes longer than 20 minutes to be slooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwww I've done disk to disk on separate channels and disk to disk on the same channel; its not quite a halving of speed, but its a huge performance hit.

Not like we have anything else to do with our lives though.

I'll be emptying out my technology cache sometime in the next week or so. I'll make up a list of everything I'm going to heave and see if ya want it. I've got a bunch of Pc133 RAM, at least 4-5 30gb drives, a couple of 60's, a couple of cpu's. About 50 of every type of cable thats ever been made. A little SV25 shuttle case with a (cough) power supply mod. A couple of old BX boards in cases. Couple of old laptops in mostly operable condition. Who knows what else.
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-18-2004, 01:51 AM   #6
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

TH, I'm simultaneously in awe and slightly repulsed. I could never throw that stuff out. I still have most of my 80's-vintage I/O cards, and some of them are still doing useful work. And I always try to find ways to breathe life into old laptops. They make great low-power dedicated systems.

It's the Microsoft stuff you should toss. Install Linux on your tired old hardware. Even an antique 386 can still perform well if you spare it the Humiliation of Redmond.
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Old 08-18-2004, 10:49 AM   #7
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-18-2004, 12:00 PM   #8
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

I know it Wab...but its a case of "do I want a bunch of stuff I'll probably never use but will need the day after I chuck it?" or "would I like to have a garage?"

I was actually bitten just last week by the "just threw it out and now I need it" bug. We sold 3 vcr's at a yard sale a few months ago, but I reserved one...supposedly the best of the bunch, a Sony I used for about six months and then quit using when I bought a tivo. Of course, the wife comes home with a stack of video tapes for a resuscitaion class. And the damn sony vcr doesnt work anymore.

I actually had to go to the store in 2004 and pay $40 for a damn vcr.

A large pile of dvd players in the garage taunting me.

Given its running close to 100 degrees out these days, I'm opting for the garage.

If it helps though, I spent most of the last two years playing with 'toys'. I just finished converting an old msn companion into a digital photo frame, and just the other day I got an old ergo audrey out and hooked a network adapter and a wireless bridge to it and set it up in the kitchen for "kitchen internetting". Now I dont have to print out recipes! I had a full time file server running for a couple of years, streaming mp3 players scattered around the house, a PC pulling in audio and video and distributing that to 3 different rooms in full digital quality. All the good stuff.

When I moved I decided that while it was fun it was making me feel like a little IT manager keeping all the stuff working and fixing all the glitches.

I'm back to one desktop, one laptop, and I even gave up on the home theater pc and went back to a plain old dvd player.

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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-18-2004, 08:43 PM   #9
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

Quote:
just the other day I got an old ergo audrey out and hooked a network adapter and a wireless bridge to it and set it up in the kitchen for "kitchen internetting".
I hear you, brother geek. * I've got one too. * A cute device. * Too cute to throw away, and that's the conundrum. * Having been on the dev side of stuff like this, I know the effort that went into creating it, the risks taken getting it to market, and the money spent producing it. * *It's heartbreaking to throw something like that out, but on the other hand, it is useless crap *
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-19-2004, 10:42 AM   #10
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

Weeeelll...there are some custom flash images for it. One brings it up to a current QNX load with a more modern browser without losing the audrey goodies like the touchscreen and the buttons. Another has a digital picture frame capability but requires an NFS server on to pull the photos from.

I've got the new QNX image on mine, a USB ethernet adapter, and a little wireless bridge box. Dropped on a kitchen counter next to the fridge, and I gots internet in the kitchen for recipes and whatnot. I just saw (I think it was samsung?) a refrigerator with a touchscreen internet terminal built in and I swear its the same touchscreen setup thats on the audrey...looked like they just tucked one in the door.

The MSN companion was a little more hackable since its got a intel compatible processor in it. I was able to short out the bios to make it forget its MSN bondage days, and with the aid of a CF microdrive get windows 95 running on it. Wiped the interior flash and loaded it with JPG's. Now I can boot it on the microdrive, start a screensaver flipping the jpgs every 5 minutes, and after a few minutes I can pull out the microdrive and it runs all on its own until the power fails.

Not bad for $35!

If you wanna check out some more fiddling options, and you have some kind of old appliance or all-in-one machine, check out the I-Appliance board.
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-19-2004, 01:18 PM   #11
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

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just the other day I got an old ergo audrey out
You didn't used to work for the company with 3 rings and a huge white elephant of a campus on Great American and 237 did you? I spent a couple of years working for a company that they acquired that made even smaller devices.
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-19-2004, 01:39 PM   #12
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

Is that where 3Com is these days? Actually I did work for them a looonnngg time ago. Worked for Bob Metcalfe, who was a real super guy. Great sense of humor.

Company got weird in the late 80's when they decided their big market wasnt routers and bridges, but diskless workstations and servers. I disagreed vehemently and was considered an idiot, so I quit. Whoopsie! I wonder if any of them ever sat around a conference room table saying "Gosh, Tom was right!" :

To be fair, a while before that I made a statement that I didnt think we'd ever get ethernet to run on unshielded twisted pair wiring. Hell, we could hardly get it running reliably on thick coaxial cable!

I just bought the audreys because I wanted to tinker with a couple of cheap appliances.
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive
Old 08-20-2004, 12:11 AM   #13
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Re: Adding an OLD hard drive

Yeah, that's where 3Com is/was. Last I heard they were desperately trying to sell/lease the big campus they built. The small device maker that they bought (Palm) was sold off, broken into hardware and OS bits and kicked out of the facility. Never met Bob Metcalfe but he was long gone when I was on that campus.
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