Category Archives: Hard Drive

Solid State Drives – Do You Really Need One?

I’ve slowly faded from the ranks of the early adopter cult and instead, I now count myself amongst the laggards – those that are less likely to jump, with both feet, onto the new technology bandwagon.

No, it’s not because I’ve lost interest in technology. It’s just that so much of the “new” technology seems to be focused on connectedness – always on, always reachable, technology. I can easily admit – I’m not interested in being “always on”, or “always reachable”.

Still, I had an itch to give an SSD (Solid State Drive – no moving parts) a whirl. Since SSDs reportedly are capable of faster boot times, faster system shutdown, along with faster sleep and hibernation modes, scratching the itch was a no brainer – I just had to do it.  Faster application load times (including games), clinched it.

Following a trip to my supplier, I installed an OCZ Vertex Plus 60GB SATA II SSD (a tiny little thing!), into a test machine. Installing the drive was easy and straightforward.

Installed and secured the drive.

Connected the power and drive interface cables.

Set the BIOS so that the drive was recognized by the machine as the boot drive.

Installed Windows 7 Enterprise.


OCZ Vertex Series SATA II 2.5″ SSD Specs:

Interface Type: SATA II

Buffer Memory: 64MB

Average Seek (msec): 0.1 – My first 10 MB HDD (back in the Jurassic Period, had a seek time of 198 msec.

Write Speed: up to 90 MB/sec

Read Speed: up to 185 MB/sec

Form Factor: 2.5″

MTBF: 1,500,000 hrs.

Temperature, Operating (°C): 0 to 70

Noticeable improvements following installation

Boot time: reduced from about 90 seconds, to roughly 15 seconds.

Application load times: appear to be at least twice as fast.

Application installation time: fast, fast, fast!

Gaming: this is the area in which I noted the biggest improvement. As strange as this may seem, characters in Far Cry 2 (the game I used for testing), moved faster. Initially, I assumed that my perception was off – but, no. Ubisoft, the well know game developer, has posted a comparison video which clearly shows the improvement in character speed – SSD versus HDD. Quite amazing!

Before proceeding with a series of Disk benchmarks, I took a look at the Windows Experience Index and happily noted a major improvement in Disk data transfer rate.


Benchmark: SSD – OCZ Vertex Plus 60GB – SATA 2.


Benchmark: HDD – Western Digital WD3200 320GB – 7200 RPM – SATA 2. Seek Time 8.9 ms. Read/Write Time 10.9 ms.


Clearly, the Benchmark tests show the SSD running away with the prize for efficiency.  

Bottom line:

After running with this SSD, for a week or so, it’s easy to see why SSDs can lay claim to HDD “bottleneck elimination” – read and write speed, is what it’s all about. The boot takes only one sixth as long, application launches are at least twice as fast as with the Western Digital WD3200, and file handling speeds are dramatically improved. What’s not to like?

After experiencing the performance gain with an SSD configured as a boot and system drive, there’s no turning back. I can already see the cash in my accounts dwindling.   Smile

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Filed under flash drive, Hard Drive, Opinion, Solid State Drives, SSD, Windows Tips and Tools

License Giveaway – iCare Data Recovery Software Worth $69.95

imageSoftware developers seem particularly generous this holiday season. From now until December 25, 2010, iCare Data Recovery Software is giving away iCare Data Recovery Software Version 4, which is regularly priced at $69.95.

I have not tested this application, but at this price you might decide that it’s worth a look. I know I’m going to take it for a spin.


Fast facts from the developer’s site:

    • Never lose photos and files again
      This data recovery software is an award-winning Windows recovery software, works when other utilities have failed.
    • Recover files from external drive, usb drive, hard disk drive
      Recovering files from a corrupted external drive, reformatted external drive, unreadable external drive, bad external drive (not physically damaged); Recovering files from formatted, deleted, virus attacked usb drive, hard disk drive
    • Rescues lost/delete photos and files
      iCare recovery software helps you to recover digital photo, audio and video files even when they are lost, deleted or the memory card, removable media is formatted.
    • Support recover files
      IDE / ATA / SATA / SCSI hard disk drives, SD Cards, CF Cards, XD Cards, CF cards, Memory Sticks, external Zip drives, FireWire and USB hard drives.
    • Support RAW files
      This software has highly advanced algorithms ever designed to support file recovery from RAW file system when your drive is read 0 byte while you have tons of files in it or usually known as RAW drive.
    • Very Easy to use
      With this file recovery software, you can recover your photo, RAW photos, music, video and audio files with only a few clicks.
    • Windows 7 compatible data recovery software
      Supported Windows Platform: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, Windows Server 2000, 2003, 2008
    • Recover deleted or lost files emptied from the Recycle Bin
      iCare Data Recovery Software is able to restore deleted files that has disappeared in your recycle bin if you emptied or you used hot keys SHIFT+DEL. “Advanced File Recovery is the right module to recover your lost files. And what’s more, files deleted after format can also be restored.”
    • Support FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS/NTFS5 file systems
      Recover files from most Windows file systems like FAT32, FAT 16, NTFS… And iCare Data Recovery Software can restore files when your file system becomes RAW or is marked as RAW drive and the drive became 0 byte.
    • Recover office document, photo, image, video, music, email, etc.
    • Get back files after a partitioning error.
      iCare Data Recovery Software is able to restore files from a partitioning error when you failed in merging partitions, disk partitioning, resizing partitions, copy partitions etc.

    System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, Windows Server 2000, 2003, 2008

    To get iCare Data Recovery Software for free, visit the developer’s site and follow the instructions.

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    Filed under Backup Applications, Backup Tools, Free Full Versions, Giveaways, Hard Drive, Software, Software Giveaways, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

    What You Need To Know About RAID

    If you’ve ever wondered about RAID, and what it might mean for you, then guest writer Bryan Keller’s article will provide you with the answer – and then some.


    What is RAID?

    RAID is the acronym for either ‘redundant array of inexpensive disks’ or ‘redundant array of independent disks’.  When first conceived at UC Berkley the former was the actual term that was coined but the latter is more commonly used today intentionally to disassociate the technology from the word inexpensive and the perception that RAID somehow implies a low cost solution.

    Why Use RAID?

    RAID is a storage technology that provides increased data reliability through data redundancy.  This is achieved primarily by duplicating data across several storage drives in a configuration referred to as an array of disks.

    How Many Different Types of RAID are There?

    There are several different types of RAID array configurations each type being denoted by a single digit numeral, 0 through 6 (and various combinations thereof).  These types are commonly referred to as RAID ‘levels’.

    What Distinguishes one RAID Level From Another?

    The makeup of the different RAID levels is varying combinations of redundancy, spanning, mirroring and striping.

    What is Redundancy?

    Redundancy is the duplication of data onto more than one physical drive to increase fault tolerance.  If one physical drive in a redundant array fails no data is lost and there is an opportunity to replace the failed device.  As long an one drive is functional, data is secure.  However, in the case of a failure, the failed device must be replaced and the array rebuilt onto the new device.  In very large data structures this can sometimes take a great deal of time.  If there were to be a failure during the process of rebuilding the array all data would be lost.

    What is Spanning?

    Spanning is the configuration of two or more physical drives into one ‘logical’ drive.  The logical drive is treated exactly the same as a physical drive and will appear as just one device.  Spanning is used to increase the amount of storage capacity of an array.  As an example: if three 100 gigabyte hard drives are configured as one spanned array, the result would be one logical drive 300 gigabytes in size.

    Spanning alone provides no redundancy or fault tolerance and it is commonly combined with mirroring.

    What is Mirroring?

    Mirroring is the duplication of data onto two or more drives simultaneously to create data redundancy and increase fault tolerance.  A mirrored array sacrifices half of its storage capacity to achieve a redundant status.  If two 100 gigabyte drives are mirrored the result is a single 100 gigabyte mirrored array.

    What is Striping?

    Striping is a bit more complex.  Striping is used to increase performance.  This increase in performance is achieved by splitting the read and write data down into ‘blocks’ and then writing or reading that data simultaneously onto two or more physical drives on the same sector of each respective drive.

    In a simplified example imagine that you are writing 100 megabytes of data out to a striped array.  If you were to take that data and split it into two 50 megabyte chunks and then write both of those chunks simultaneously, one 50 megabyte chunk to drive (a) and the other 50 megabyte chunk to drive (b), you would theoretically half the time required to perform the process.  That, in essence, is the theory behind striping.

    Striping provides a significant increase in performance but it is also the most dangerous of all the RAID levels when used alone.  Not only is there no redundancy but if either or any of the drives in a striped array fails, all of the data from the entire array is completely lost.

    RAID Level 0

    RAID Level 0 – (2 Drive Minimum – no Fault Tolerance) Block Level Striping without Parity or Mirroring:  Because this type of RAID offers no fault tolerance or redundancy it is technically not actually RAID.  Raid 0 offers the best performance of all the RAID levels.  Data is broken down into fragments called blocks and is then written to all drives in the ‘array’ simultaneously across what is called a ‘stripe’ (on the corresponding disks in the same sector).  When data is read it is broken down into smaller pieces which can be read in parallel thereby increasing bandwidth.  With RAID 0 if any drive fails all data is lost across the entire ‘array’.  Even at minimum the likelihood of a catastrophic loss is double that of a single drive without any RAID at all.  RAID 0 should never be used alone for critical data.

    RAID Level 1

    RAID Level 1 – (2 Drive Minimum – Data Redundancy) Mirroring:  In its simplest form RAID 1 simply duplicates data onto two different hard drives simultaneously, thereby providing data redundancy.  Data redundancy means that if either of the two hard drives fails for any reason no data will be lost as there is an exact duplicate or ‘mirrored set’ of the data on the other drive.  Data integrity is maintained as long as either of the two hard drives in the array is functioning.  In the event that one of the drives does fail it is simply swapped out for a new working drive.  The ‘array’ then ‘rebuilds’ itself by duplicating all of the data onto the new drive and recreating the ‘mirrored set’.  Data is, however, vulnerable while a rebuild is in progress.

    RAID Level 5

    RAID Level 5 – (3 Drive Minimum – Redundancy Through Parity) Block-Level Striping with Distributed Parity:  RAID 5 combines the increased speed of striping with redundancy through distributed parity.  In RAID 5 one drive out of the array will always be sacrificed to achieve redundancy.  In other words, when there are three 100 gigabyte drives present in a RAID five, the array will be 200 gigabytes in size.  However, by using distributed parity, the redundancy is spread across the entire array.  Therefore, if any one drive in a RAID 5 fails, data integrity is maintained and an opportunity exists to replace the failed device and rebuild the array.

    RAID Level 6

    RAID Level 6 – (4 Drive Minimum – Redundancy Through Parity) Block-Level Striping with Double Distributed Parity:  Very similar to RAID 5, RAID 6 builds on the security of RAID 5 by adding an additional level of redundancy.  In a RAID 6 up to two drives can fail and no data will be lost.  RAID 6 makes very large arrays possible, where the time it takes to rebuild the array after a drive failure can be quite lengthy.  In a RAID 5 scenario data would be vulnerable for far too long while the rebuild is in progress.  RAID 6 addresses this concern by adding an additional redundancy drive.  RAID 6 is the solution that should be used where data is extremely critical or high system availability is important.

    RAID Level 1+0

    RAID Level 1+0 – (2 Drive Minimum (though 4 are more commonly used) – Redundancy Through Mirroring) Mirrored Sets in a Striped Set:  Fault tolerance and increased performance.  This RAID level is a combination of RAID 1 (mirroring) and RAID 0 (striping).  RAID 1+0 can sustain multiple drive failures as long as no mirror loses all of its drives.

    RAID Level 0+1

    RAID Level 0+1 – (4 Disk Minimum; must be even number of drives – Redundancy Through Mirroring) Striped Sets Mirrored:  Here, a second striped set is created to mirror the first striped set.  In contrast to the 1+0, in RAID 0+1, all the drives in one mirror can fail without a data loss but if drives fail on both sides of the mirror everything on the entire array is lost.

    There are also more combinations possible, but I will stop here.

    Guest writer Bryan Keller:

    I own a Computer Repair and Data Recovery business in San Antonio, TX, San Antonio Computer Repair. I spent 10 years in database development. I am now also providing Website Development, Hosting, and SEO services. We use the Joomla CMS.

    Altogether, I have been involved in computer programming for over 30 years. I was a self-taught programmer back when the ‘Atari 800′ was all the rage! I had an Atari 800 with 16 kilobytes of ram and a 6502 8-bit processor that ran at 1.7 MHz, no hard drive and a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk that stored just 180 Kilobytes of data. Of course there was no internet but we had the dial in bulletin boards that we connected to at 300 baud.

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    Filed under Hard Drive, Operating Systems, RAID, Technicians Advise