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  1. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    18 Jun '08 04:09 / 3 edits
    I have had a string of bad luck with computers, two Dell's died and a friend Leboeuf, he plays chess here, gave me a mothballed computer he replaced with a new Vista number. So I loaded Trend Micro AV, one of the best, it found a bunch of trojans and stuff, so after that cleared, running for a few days, all of a sudden there was a message, disk drive problem. So thinking the drive was bad, I dusted off an old 40Gb drive, formatted and installed XP on that drive. So it worked fine but a couple of times I am playing chess on the blitz site and the comp went totally dead then restarted. I'm going, thats wierd. So I look around and found the hard drive ribbon cable was bad. I scrounge up another cable and sure enough, it came back to life. Then I said to myself, what about the original drive? I took out the 40Gig drive and replaced it with the original 120 and with the new ribbon cable, it comes back to life! So now I have two HD's with windows on each one, either one runs the comp fine. So I am thinking, with a setup like this, I could have two HD's going and if one goes bad for real, just change jumpers from master/slave and off you go on the other drive, even if the first one has a nasty virus. So I got to thinking, ( a perilous activity, I know and came up with this thought: suppose you took a plug that would plug directy to the jumper plugs, usually four sets of two leads, connect to cables, one on the jumper outs of each HD, run the lines to an external switching box, and with appropriate switching, enable one HD or the other (of course after turning off the machine). That way if the HD dies, you can have similar programs on each HD and if one dies, hit the off switch, switch jumper configs from the switch box, turn on the comp and off you go again, no matter what happened to the bad HD. What do you think? Any computer guru's out there heard of such an arrangement? I would think it should work fine but wonder if its already been done. If not, I think I have a new idea here.
    Thinking about that external switch box, it could just as easily be internal with a new switch added to the front or rear panel of the comp, you could control which one is master easily that way.
  2. 18 Jun '08 11:10
    It sounds like fun.
    However, it also sounds like totally unnecessary work. You would spend several hours making the thing in order to save yourself several minutes (moving a jumper) next time a HDD packs up. Chances are you'd open up the machine anyway to see if the HDD cable is at fault.
    I also suspect that it is better to unplug the dead drive anyway (to save power and maybe gain a little speed - I don't know what impact sharing a cable actually has).
    My PCs bios lets me choose which HDD to boot from so no jumper changing is necessary anyway.

    I also suspect that if you did something dumb like switch the jumpers when the machine is powered up, you might damage your drives.
  3. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    18 Jun '08 14:45
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    It sounds like fun.
    However, it also sounds like totally unnecessary work. You would spend several hours making the thing in order to save yourself several minutes (moving a jumper) next time a HDD packs up. Chances are you'd open up the machine anyway to see if the HDD cable is at fault.
    I also suspect that it is better to unplug the dead drive anyway ...[text shortened]... ing dumb like switch the jumpers when the machine is powered up, you might damage your drives.
    I for sure would not make that mistake. (change jumpers while running) I was thinking about the situation that I have now, a good bunch of programs on one HD and a relatively virgin one. I think it wouldn't be that much trouble to just keep it internal and have a switch accesable from the outside, faster than going into bios. So have you ever heard of this idea before? I was thinking I could write up a small blurb about it for like, PC mag or something. The one thing I am not sure of is how the system would react to having wires going out a foot or more hooked to the jumper pack, not sure if it would introduce unacceptable noise or not. If so, I would have to use some kind of shielded cable like RG 159 (small diameter coax, great for low level audio). I would hope I could do it with just ribbon cable.
  4. Standard member KellyJay
    Walk your Faith
    18 Jun '08 17:27 / 4 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    I have had a string of bad luck with computers, two Dell's died and a friend Leboeuf, he plays chess here, gave me a mothballed computer he replaced with a new Vista number. So I loaded Trend Micro AV, one of the best, it found a bunch of trojans and stuff, so after that cleared, running for a few days, all of a sudden there was a message, disk drive proble the front or rear panel of the comp, you could control which one is master easily that way.
    There are external boxes that connect to your PC with a USB port,
    you can put your extra hard drive in one of those. The boxes do not
    cost all that much, and the cool thing about that you can use the hard
    drive you put in that box to connect to several PC so it can acts like a
    very large pin drive. If you don't have a home network you can use
    that to transfer pictures and files around, I like the one I have, and
    if you have a couple of hard drives you can change them out too,
    you just can only use one at a time.
    Kelly
  5. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    19 Jun '08 03:18
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    There are external boxes that connect to your PC with a USB port,
    you can put your extra hard drive in one of those. The boxes do not
    cost all that much, and the cool thing about that you can use the hard
    drive you put in that box to connect to several PC so it can acts like a
    very large pin drive. If you don't have a home network you can use
    that t ...[text shortened]... couple of hard drives you can change them out too,
    you just can only use one at a time.
    Kelly
    What I was thinking about in my application was a kind of cheapo Raid storage, if windows is in both HD's, and I have a master/slave switch, stuff needing storage can be put into both HD's, so the data won't be lost if one HD dies. I have a stack of dead HD's already, a half dozen or so. It seems the HD is the weakest link in a system. I think as drives get larger and larger, the reliablity issue gets bigger because it takes a long time to fill up a terabyte drive, the bigger the drive, the longer it takes to fill up and so the drive gives out way before the drive is full of data. So you have to have backup as a safety net. I tried using backup programs like Norton's Ghost, and such but with the switching method, you can save your work twice, where for instance, my wife uses Print Shop 22. If PS22 program is loaded on to both HD's, you can call it up on either one and you won't lose projects. We have already lost gigabytes of data due to bad HD's. I want to make a system more reliable than what we have now. People want 600 bucks and more to retrieve data from bad hard drives so I am thinking prevention is the best medicine. I want to be able to use the data on either HD, something you can't do with a USB drive unless you have already loaded the app also. I wish there was a command that would save to both HD's at once, but don't know how to do that. It is not that big a deal to me but it would be a convenience not to have to save twice. We have already lost hundreds of family photo's to bad drives. Anyway its an experiment. I use those little USB drives to store my music compositions but the thing is so small, I lost it! So now I have to re-record the music again. BTW, speaking of music, have you listened to the latest music tournie? If you like music, listen and vote! I have three entries and so do the rest of us, its only 24 cuts to listen to, some of the music there is outstanding, world class.
  6. Standard member scottishinnz
    Kichigai!
    19 Jun '08 03:52
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    What I was thinking about in my application was a kind of cheapo Raid storage, if windows is in both HD's, and I have a master/slave switch, stuff needing storage can be put into both HD's, so the data won't be lost if one HD dies. I have a stack of dead HD's already, a half dozen or so. It seems the HD is the weakest link in a system. I think as drives get ...[text shortened]... its only 24 cuts to listen to, some of the music there is outstanding, world class.
    Why not invest in some cheap seagate SATA drives, and set them up as a RAID system??
  7. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    19 Jun '08 04:41
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    Why not invest in some cheap seagate SATA drives, and set them up as a RAID system??
    Do you know how much that costs? I don't, but I bet it would be a thousand bucks or so, not sure. For instance, you can get a decent HD for 150 bucks, times 4, 600 bucks already just for the HD's. Then you would need an external box, none of my comps have slots for 4 drives.
    Then you would need a HD expander PCI card to plug each drive into the comp, probably 100 bucks or so, 700 bucks plus (100 bucks?) for the extra case, plus Raid software, 100bucks? we are up to 900 bucks there. My way I use a couple of drives I already have, ribbon cables to the master/slave jumpers and a switching network, way under 100 bucks.
    Can you get a raid with 2 drives, where the data is parced to both at the same time? That would do much of what I want. So under that system, if windows gets corrupted on one HD, the raid system uses windows from the other drive? Don't know that much about raid.
  8. 19 Jun '08 07:55
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Do you know how much that costs? I don't, but I bet it would be a thousand bucks or so, not sure. For instance, you can get a decent HD for 150 bucks, times 4, 600 bucks already just for the HD's. Then you would need an external box, none of my comps have slots for 4 drives.
    Then you would need a HD expander PCI card to plug each drive into the comp, proba ...[text shortened]... n one HD, the raid system uses windows from the other drive? Don't know that much about raid.
    As I said before, the whole external switch idea is a waste of time. Your drive will only die once and opening up the box to move the jumper is not that hard. If you are so concerned about backup you will probably be replacing the dead drive at that point anyway.

    The simplest form of RAID is mirrored drives. You just need two identical drives and the system will write everything to both. I believe windows XP can do raid as a software solution, and a lot of new mother boards have it built in as a hardware solution. I have never tried either. I have only experienced raid in servers with special SCSI raid controllers.

    With a mirrored raid system if one drive goes down you should still be able to carry on working with the other doing the work. You then replace the dead drive and the system rebuilds the data on the new drive.

    I see no real problem with your cheepo solution except the external switch to be used only once just makes no sense at all.

    What you need to do is keep all your data in one particular part of your hard disk then set up a batch file that simply copies all the data in that folder (s) to the other drive once a day / week depending on your need. You can have the batch file run automatically by task scheduler.
  9. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    19 Jun '08 10:36 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    As I said before, the whole external switch idea is a waste of time. Your drive will only die once and opening up the box to move the jumper is not that hard. If you are so concerned about backup you will probably be replacing the dead drive at that point anyway.

    The simplest form of RAID is mirrored drives. You just need two identical drives and the s ...[text shortened]... / week depending on your need. You can have the batch file run automatically by task scheduler.
    There is one advantage to my system: if I have two hd's going and can switch back and forth, it won't be a one time thing. I am thinking of my kids getting onto the comp and getting viruses from their junk sites. So if one HD is set for the kids to use, and the adults use the other one, I can use them both for back up still but if the kids get a virus, it doesn't spread to the other drive. Therefore I have a good chance of using an AV from the other drive to attack scumware on the virus drive. So it can be like having two computers and except for rootkits, the virus/trojan's will confine themselves to the one drive it infected. I think anyway

    Well I looked at a tutorial site on how to set up a raid system. Its complicated for sure, and the tutorial assumes you will be doing it on a new windows install so it is set up from day one, not on an old computer. I am getting a new computer in a few days so it might be a possiblity for that one. The tutorial says the newer motherboards can come with a raid controller onboard so you don't need an extra PCI slot controller. I'll find out when the new comp comes in. A raid system does sound like a good solution for the poor reliability of the HD's coming out today. Thanks for the advice. The old comp will still get my HD switch so I can keep the kids off of one drive, just have their crapware sites on the one drive and still have backup capability.
  10. 19 Jun '08 11:01
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    There is one advantage to my system: if I have two hd's going and can switch back and forth, it won't be a one time thing. I am thinking of my kids getting onto the comp and getting viruses from their junk sites. So if one HD is set for the kids to use, and the adults use the other one, I can use them both for back up still but if the kids get a virus, it d ...[text shortened]... s, the virus/trojan's will confine themselves to the one drive it infected. I think anyway
    Some virus' will not confine themselves to the one drive but will infect every exe they can find on any drive. some virus' and other badware however would be confined to a given windows installation. Not many virus' stop your antivirus from running and those are the very same ones that would find your antivirus on the other drive and infect it too.

    I have even come across virus' recently that sit on your USB drive.

    The fact that you want to leave both drives powered on and accessible at all times means that they are both at risk from most things.

    Being able to switch OS so as to not be affected by all the other things your kids do would be useful, but you can minimise their impact in other ways (dont give them a system account).
  11. Standard member scottishinnz
    Kichigai!
    19 Jun '08 12:18
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Do you know how much that costs? I don't, but I bet it would be a thousand bucks or so, not sure. For instance, you can get a decent HD for 150 bucks, times 4, 600 bucks already just for the HD's. Then you would need an external box, none of my comps have slots for 4 drives.
    Then you would need a HD expander PCI card to plug each drive into the comp, proba ...[text shortened]... n one HD, the raid system uses windows from the other drive? Don't know that much about raid.
    Well, perhaps less than you think. On the UK website, Dabs.com, they have Seagate SATA 160 GB drives for 30 pounds, so approximately 60 bucks each. 2 of them would be 120 bucks. Since it's serial ATA they all plug in one long loop, and you can add pairs of larger drives later (how about a pair of 1TB drives?!). This does require your motherboard to be SATA complient though, which older ones may not be....

    However, my real advice would be to invest in just 1 seagate drive - I have never had a seagate drive die on me ever. I've never known a Seagate drive to die either....
  12. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    19 Jun '08 14:57
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    Well, perhaps less than you think. On the UK website, Dabs.com, they have Seagate SATA 160 GB drives for 30 pounds, so approximately 60 bucks each. 2 of them would be 120 bucks. Since it's serial ATA they all plug in one long loop, and you can add pairs of larger drives later (how about a pair of 1TB drives?!). This does require your motherboard to ...[text shortened]... never had a seagate drive die on me ever. I've never known a Seagate drive to die either....
    You may have something there. None of the seagate drives are dead. The dead ones are Maxtor's. That might be part of the problem, but with me it's once burned twice shy. I have had two Dell's go bannana's. It starts (on both machines, which are very similar technology, Rambus memory, which sucks because it is so expensive to upgrade. What happened is intermittently the video res would go nuts, 4 bit color and 480X640 which produces a very weird screen, and the video settings can't change things, so the only way to get back my native res is a restart, reboot XP. So now I am wondering if rebooting so many times may have done the drives in. It would happen a dozen times a week. Then it was no longer intermittent but permentent. At that point I chucked the comps and now am redoing the comp my buddy Leboeuf gave me, I found a number of things wrong but I am getting all of that stuff fixed. I am getting a new HP machine as a fathers day present (I am not supposed to know about it I wish I could have had some input into what I wanted in a machine but at least it's the newest technology. It might even have a raid controller. The thing I don't like about HP is they load it up with crapware, like sign up for AOL, gambling sites, shopping networks, ad nauseum. So there is about 5 gigs of utter crap on HP machines now. The bad part about that is if you reload Vista with the DVD or CD that comes with it, it just reloads all that crap again. In order to get rid of it I would have to buy a virgin copy of Vista which seems to be what you have to do to incorporate raid into your system. It's quite a job to do, from the tutorial site I visited. Wish me luck, eh.
  13. Standard member KellyJay
    Walk your Faith
    19 Jun '08 17:30
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    What I was thinking about in my application was a kind of cheapo Raid storage, if windows is in both HD's, and I have a master/slave switch, stuff needing storage can be put into both HD's, so the data won't be lost if one HD dies. I have a stack of dead HD's already, a half dozen or so. It seems the HD is the weakest link in a system. I think as drives get ...[text shortened]... its only 24 cuts to listen to, some of the music there is outstanding, world class.
    I'm not talking about a USB drive, but the hard drives you already
    have, you slip into the box and hook up to your system with the
    USB port. It may not do all you have talked about, but for some
    files it is very handy, inaddition to that, it is also a quick way to
    make sure your drives are really dead. Either way, I hate losing
    a hard drive without fail something goes you didn't want to lose.
    Hope you get it worked out.
    Kelly
  14. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    20 Jun '08 04:16
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    I'm not talking about a USB drive, but the hard drives you already
    have, you slip into the box and hook up to your system with the
    USB port. It may not do all you have talked about, but for some
    files it is very handy, inaddition to that, it is also a quick way to
    make sure your drives are really dead. Either way, I hate losing
    a hard drive without fail something goes you didn't want to lose.
    Hope you get it worked out.
    Kelly
    Not yet I haven't but you did give me another idea. You mentioned viruses that can infect all the HD's. So that gives me this path: I can include in the switching arrangement to cut the four wire power lines as well, switch them on or off at will. If the drive is turned off, there can be no infection coming in. One thing I am not sure about: If you leave the ribbon cable (or SATA cable) connected and have the power dissed, will that effect the operation of the other drive? I guess I will just have to experiment with it. Also, suppose I assume there is no virus attack and I have the second HD powered down with my so far mental power switch, can I power it up with the other HD already powered up? Has anyone done that kind of experiment to see what happens, like will the drive just come on normally and the system just finds a new drive or do you have to do such power switching on bootup?
  15. Standard member scottishinnz
    Kichigai!
    20 Jun '08 04:18
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Not yet I haven't but you did give me another idea. You mentioned viruses that can infect all the HD's. So that gives me this path: I can include in the switching arrangement to cut the four wire power lines as well, switch them on or off at will. If the drive is turned off, there can be no infection coming in. One thing I am not sure about: If you leave th ...[text shortened]... lly and the system just finds a new drive or do you have to do such power switching on bootup?
    SATA drives can be hot booted, or whatever the term is, but the old ATA / IDE (PATA nowadays), ones won't. Having it connected on the IDE cable, but not powered is ok. No problem.