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Any Suggestions on Rearranging Drives Dell Workstation


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#1 MaryBet82

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 05:56 PM

Dell 380 Workstation, winxp pro, 512 RAM, 3 GHz Pentium 4 w/ hyperthreading, 16kb L1, 2MB L2; 800 MHz FSB
Del MB 0G9322; 160 GB SATA RAID 1; 2 EIDE cenobyte DVD burners, BIOS configured for combination SATA/PATA mode

I would like to turn the RAID 1 into 2 160 GB hd's and replace the EIDE/ATAPI/insert correct term DVD drives w/ a SATA DL DVB burner. I also want to increase RAM. Per my BIOS I seem to have 4 SATA drive slots, 3 SATA ports and 2 EIDE drive slots, but I have to consult Mueller to figure out what is actually on this computer SATA & Eide wise and how SATA differs from EIDE. With the RAID 1 or the Dell system itself the step up from EIDE to SATA drives was not a wow.

I want to partition the hds so the OS is on a partition, personal docs are on a partition, and the pagefile is on the drive the OS is not. I've read numerous articles stating this improves performance - I don't know if this is many people repeating one opinion or the experience of a lot of authors. Anyone have personal experience w/ this pagefile setup?

I 'm reading the tutorial on cloning the OS installation to the 2nd hd in a compressed folder.

Does anyone have any suggestions regarding partitioning or what to put on what drive for better performance or stability?

Any opinions on whether it's worth putting money for the sata optical burner and more ram into this out of warranty system?
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 06:22 PM

I'll answer your query about the pagefile location.

You need to understand what the pagefile is and why it used to be important.

Originally, when Windows was first developed...hard drives were small and RAM was miniscule and expensive. Computers were pretty straightforward but they were new to the general populace. To make computers attractive, there was a ton of free software which often accompanied a purchase.

Problem was...running all this software (and certain types of software) drained the memory which normally was installed in a system.

So...the pagefile or swap file was devised.

This allowed users with insufficient amounts of RAM installed...to utilize part of the hard drive...for work done normally by the RAM. Very ingenious, right?

Well...the reality today is that any system with an adequate amount of RAM...doesn't utilize the pagefile that much and is certainly not dependent on it...even though it is still created as a RAM security blanket and is a necessary Windows component.

There was a time...when all those persons who said "move your pagefile" may have had a point worth pursuing. But with today's hard drives and today's RAM, I fail to see any reason to be concerned about pagefile location, just as I fail to see any reason for manually adjusting the size. XP seems to do a fine job of handling it.

Wiki Article on Pagefile

I think having SATA hard drives and installing the max amount of RAM for a 32-bit O/S such as XP...is a lot more performance-oriented and successful than worrying about the pagefile in a system that has sufficient resources for doing what needs to be done.

It appears that you have 4 SATA slots and 4 RAM slots, per http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/syst...y.htm#wp1112906

The one suggestion that I will make...since you have the capability for making optimal use of Windows 7...think about it as an O/S.

Louis

#3 cryptodan

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 06:39 PM

You will need more RAM.

#4 MaryBet82

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 09:42 PM

Thanks hamluis & cryptodan,

I've tried to read that article at wikipedia [my home away from home] before, but it's slow going. I need everyone writing articles on windows' use of memory to reserve "virtual memory" for when windows assigns a memory address space or range or whatever to a process and only call the pagefile the pagefile [or swap file is OK]. Plus I need to find my notes on memory "pages" and read them a few or fifty more times.

I know my 512 MB of RAM is considered very wimpy today, but when I got the computer it was supposed to be more than adequate for winxp and the applications I used and still use. 'Course, everybody could have been "telling stories" as my great aunt used to say. But I've got 1.5 GB RAM on a tablet pc running winxp tab ed and it's slow as molasses and word keeps crashing. I monitor startup programs and background processes, keep the hd defragged w/ adequate free space, and I've tried both letting windows manage pagefile size and setting the minimum to 1.5 x RAM.

I've read that winxp writes to the pagefile frequently regardless of RAM, but the statement wasn't referenced or expanded on. I've also read that w/ adequate RAM for the applications used the pagefile should be infrequently used in winxp. One article said that some applications running on winxp use the pagefile regardless of available RAM, but didn't say what type of application. If pagefile isn't read and/or written to frequently, then putting pagefile on the non-OS disk shouldn't help performance. The reason I understood it was done was so the read/write heads on the same drive weren't busy handling windows reads/writes + pagefile reads/writes.

Definitely, adding RAM is to be preferred to optimizing pagefile, if that's even possible. But $$-wise I might have to choose between RAM & the dl dvd burner. The whole question may be moot since the Dell is currently refusing to boot and I'm beginning to suspect failing hardware rather than corrupted files.

I came upon 2 articles where pagefile was monitored under winxp and both showed low values. One was on a machine used by a musician for playing music, doesn't relate to my usage. The 2nd was a tutorial in pagefile and it didn't say if the example was done on a real-life use machine. If the Dell ever boots again I'm going to run the pagefile counters and see if I can figure out what the pagefile usage is on my machine running my apps and see if I can relate specific apps to memory/page file use. I set up counters in performance monitor to monitor page file use as well as hd ques and cpu & memory counters previously. I got some weird results and I was having a hard time finding the actual good vs problem values to which to compare the results. I can go ahead and set up counters on the tablet again and see if I can figure out what its problem(s) is.

I've read that windows writes to the hd frequently and that it's not a good OS for multitasking, which is what I do - or try to do. Neither of those statements were referenced or explained [lot of those type statements around], but it's been my experience thus far w/ basically the same programs running on win2k & winxp on 4 computers that neither win2k or winxp seem to handle memory well for several applications running at once. Very similar to my experience w/ win3.1 and my short experience w/ Win98, except that the programs crash instead of windows itself w/ increasing time the apps are open.

So I've had basically 3 big questions I've been trying to get informed enough to answer.

1. Is the GHz processor and 512MB/1.5GB RAM supported by the rest of the computer's hardware? Did Sony/Dell /Lenovo slip in a hd that defeats processor/chipset/FSB/RAM specs?

2. Can win2k/xp be setup to properly utilize "new" [at the time win2k/xp came out & were supported] GHz/GB pc configurations? If winxp does write frequently to the hd, is there a hd that allows the processor/ram to actually do their stuff under windows? Is it toss a coin whether windows works w/ a pc's hardware because no one actually knows how windows works? Not even Microsoft?

3. Even if you can get Windows optimized on properly configured hardware, can you find the programs you need to work properly w/ windows?

I don't know about win7. I've tried to get an idea if it's a significant improvement by visiting the win7 forums and googling for win7 security updates, but it's too different. Lots of time & research to find out if it's worth the $$ and how much $$ it would actually cost in terms of software/hardware upgrades.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

#5 cryptodan

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 03:15 PM

With as many updates as Windows XP has had, it wouldn't surprise me that the system requirements would change.

#6 MaryBet82

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 06:36 PM

Thanks to everyone for info/opinions.

Said computer crashed and in the process of getting it to boot back into windows I learned some things.

1. I do not like RAID 1. I might see its advantage if I could find adequate info on how exactly mine works, but dell is not providing. I have the Intel® 82801GR/GH RAID "controller" on the dell motherboard. Putting 2 and 2 together from my reading and hopefully getting 4, I think the way it works is the chipset provides raid firmware on bootup and then other drivers take over when the processor switches to 32-bit. I'm guessing it's more of a software than hardware RAID. That's not supposed to necessarily impact on "today's" processors and RAID 1 speed, but I'm not sure my 3 GHz hyperthreading P4 counts as a "today's" processor.

2. Apparently the Intel equivalent of my system board can raid partitions, not just whole disks. My system board may have that function, but since dell doesn't provide a mobo manual [I found the list of what discs, booklets, accessories came w/ the dell] I'll never know. Dell's support pages and on computer help do not contain the info a mobo manual does - or I can't find that info.

3. If I was on a legitimate seller page, adding memory will be cheap. After the very confusing crash/troubleshoot I need to scan the hardware and make sure I want to put more money in the dell or set up a savings acct to replace it asap, but assuming the mb & disks are ok I should be able to add the memory & the sata dl optical drive.

4. I'm definitely getting rid of the raid 1 and partitioning os + programs separate from my files. I thought it would be a good idea to partition the 2nd drive and keep a clone of the OS+programs on the 2nd drive' matching partition, since I don't need to do a pagefile there. I think to make the 2nd drive bootable I turn off the computer and put the 2nd drive in SATA slot 0.

5. There's an fat utility partition on the dell w/ dell diagnostic utilities I have to figure out where and how to put - or leave out. I'm going to try it first to test my hardware. I used it a long time ago; apparently I wasn't impressed enough to remember it. Or I could just have been too tired to be impressed/remember.

I've wondered if all those security patches for win xp were making the os less compatible w/ its "compatible" programs and/or hardware. It seems to me a lot of software programs give up trying to stay compatible. Some hardware also. I'm just wondering if win 7 is going to prove to be any better in the long run. If if is better I'm wondering if I can afford the upgrade. The dell is the computer I use least, but IF win7 was more secure & stable, networked w/out a big hassle to my win2k & winxp computers, and IF I didn't have to upgrade all my current programs/hardware in order for win7 to be more stable/secure it might be worth it. My "server" computer would be more stable/secure w/out me having to sit at it for long.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening




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