General Computer Advice

Discussion in 'Techforge' started by Captain X, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    I foresee asking a number of different questions regarding computer upgrades or restoration, so rather than making a new thread for each, I think I'll just start a general thread.

    First up, I've recently gotten an old HP Pavilion 4443 minitower, and I plan on turning it into a game machine for some old games I have that won't work on my newer PC that's running Windows 7. Surprisingly, the original HD still works, but I'm thinking that I'd like to replace it with an SD card. I've actually already done this on an old laptop, and it worked pretty good. There was an adapter piece that connected the SD card to the laptop's cables, and it seems to me that when I was shopping for it, that I saw a version for a desktop computer. The problem is, I forget what that piece was called. Anyone happen to know?
  2. mburtonk

    mburtonk mburtonkulous

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  3. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    Maybe, except that it'd have to have the older style connectors for the computer end of it. I guess I thought there was a name for it other than "adapter." :unsure:
  4. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    your HP uses IDE cables (the old flat ribbon cables) and drives, not SATA (skinny cables). mburtonk is on the right track but you need an IDE to SD card.

    Here's an adapter that plugs into an IDE cable connection and lets you plug an SD card into it. There might be better/cheaper cards. That's just the first I saw that might work.
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  5. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    If I wanted to transfer old VHS recordings to my computer as a typical video file (AVI, MP4, whatever), what hardware and software would I need?
  6. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    TV tuner card with composite video input, or a USB interface video input, or a dedicated video input card.

    I'd go for a PCI tuner or video input card; it will perform better than USB.

    Oh and a VHS vcr (those are hard to come by).
  7. gul

    gul Revolting Beer Drinker Administrator Formerly Important

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    @steve2^4, you need to advise some of the people who shot early versions of home porn. The transfers never seem all that good.
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  8. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    I have a VCR, and I'd thought about a USB interface video input cable, but I'd read that the video quality wasn't that great with those. Essentially I'm looking to take old VHS tape recordings I have of various Wings episodes and make avi files out of them. I'm not sure that one-shot of a job is really worth getting a card, but I was hoping for the best possible transfer given the source isn't the best to begin with.

    What software would I need to record and convert to a common video file?
  9. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Are we talking about your old HP or new win7 machine?

    For user-friendliness I'd go with a USB device/software on your win7 machine.
  10. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    I think I paid about $80 at Staples for an RCA-to-USB cable and the accompanying software, and it's working on a fairly old, not-top-of-the-line PC. The brand name is Roxio -- I don't remember the exact name of the software.
  11. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    This is for my newer Windows 7 machine. The old HP is basically going to be a gaming machine for my old games that won't run on Windows 7.
  12. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    So, I'm thinking about upgrading my computer's HD to an SSD. I was wondering if anyone could advise me on reliable brands/models, how long SSDs last vs. regular platter HDs, and anything else I should probably know about SSDs. This is for the Windows 7 machine, just to clarify. ;)
  13. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    the tech is changing so fast, I'd look for a current article reviewing them. I look for greatest I/O per second. Huge transfer rates aren't very interesting as most files are small, and the greatest waits are seeking the many files that are needed for the OS or to start a single application.

    Here's a current article. I see Samsung is still favored. Look at input/output per second (IOPS). Prices are about the same but size has more than doubled in the last year. I don't see any difference in performance between the highly rated budget Samsung and the highly rated performance Sandisk except for warranty. There might be some difference in dependability, but for my money I'd go for the cheaper drive and backup important data. In three years if it fails you can probably get a much better replacement.

    The form-factor is to fit in laptops, but the connections are the same SATA as desktops. Some come with a bracket to fit the larger bays on desktops, but if they don't and that's your use; duct-tape will do just as nicely (you don't have to buy a bracket).

    If on a desktop, keep the HDD for data and use the SSD for OS and applications. SSD is much more expensive than HDD.

    I've used Samsung (3) and Seagate (1). No failures over 4 years. They do have a limited lifespan but considering no moving parts I think they're a better choice than spinning HDDs, especially on a laptop.

    A year ago, on a new cheap ($300) win7 machine (acer desktop) with an I3 processor, first thing I did was install a 100GB Samsung SSD. Cloned it from the HDD using Samsung's software. Put it in, boot it up. Installed the original 1TB Western Digital HDD and used their software to do a low level format getting rid of the manufacturer's hidden partition. The windows logo doesn't get a chance to do its little dance before the desktop is ready (maybe 5 seconds?).

    Stunning fast boot times even on older PCs. Sparkling performance in between boots. They're the biggest bang for your buck to upgrade system performance.
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  14. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    I was actually planning on doing what you're describing, as far as using the SSD for the software and an HDD for storage. I built the Major in 2011 and I think my current HD is two or three years old at this point, which was actually cloned from the original 1 TB HD onto a new 2 TB HDD. I generally prefer the Western Digital Black series of HDDs, as I know them to be pretty reliable, and with a decent transfer rate. I recently got another 2 TB HDD identical to the current one to make a cloned back-up, but I've recently come around to the idea of using a 1 TB SDD to put all the Windows stuff on, along with my games (even if I never play them due to being currently obsessed with World of Tanks), and using the 2 TB HDD to put all the My Documents/Pictures/etc. and such on.
  15. IDNeon

    IDNeon Fresh Meat

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    Get Virtual Box, it's free, and create a "virtual machine" using the OS platform-requirements needed to run the games you want to run, and save yourself the trouble of working with old hardware.

    https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads

    As for home use SSDs, utterly wasteful crap. There's no point to get 1/10th the storage for 1/10th greater speed when all you're doing is saving Microsoft Word documents.

    Speed is important in RAM and your RAM is big enough to handle most important applications YOU will be using, read/write speeds or I/Os are important for servers and that's about it. Games don't use storage and Applications don't use storage for typical use, only to save states and changes.

    What do you want...to start your WoW 1.6seconds faster at the cost of 10th the storage and hundreds of more dollars?

    The "SSD/HDD" hybrid solution just is a marketing gimmick to get people who don't need SSD to compromise and buy SSD.

    Besides:

    1) SSD performance craters after its first initial write because Windows7/8.1/10...other standard operating systems don't have the features and YOU don't have the expertise to optimize read-writes to an SSD so as to maximize the use of each page-write before going on to the next page.

    The fact you probably don't know what #1 is talking about means you should stay away from SSD it's just a waste of money.

    2) SSD is 5 to 8 years behind HDD technology. It's only useful application, I can think of, is in very high performance Server environments where read-writes are occurring on large scales.

    3) SSD costs way more than HDD and is sensitive to power-surges and electrical problems which HDD are not sensitive to.

    Even if your HDD fails you can typically remove the read-write head and replace it and the HDD will be recoverable...IF you didn't BACKUP and care that much.

    If SSD fails it is much harder to recover data because the component failure is electronic not mechanical.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  16. IDNeon

    IDNeon Fresh Meat

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    Why would you put applications that run in RAM on an SSD drive? (Go back to my last post). SSD's only up-tick currently, beside the need for greater knowledge to handle them properly, is their faster transfer rates, but that's completely pointless when the applications you are using are ENTIRELY loaded into RAM before even being used.

    That's what RAM is for, you need "4GB of RAM" to run some game, so that all the necessary parts of the game to be used are in RAM while in use. The only thing storage is for, is to save the state at the END of use.
  17. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    mmmm no.

    SSD is an order of magnitude faster than HDD. HDD seek times are around 10ms. SSD are less than 1ms (much less).

    SSD "wears" by writing to it frequently, "worn" sectors are removed from active use so it ages gracefully. If you use SSD to store the OS and applications that get written less frequently to, and use the HDD for highly updated data you have the best of both worlds. Their performance doesn't crater, and for older OS's (XP, Vista) it's easy to install the manufacturers' performance utilities to monitor and maintain the SSD.

    256GB SSDs are under $100 today. An OS and all the applications you need are less than 50GB.

    On a laptop a single SSD is much more robust than a mechanical HDD.

    I've added SSDs to all my computers, old and new. Would never buy another HDD unless I needed terabytes of storage and would do for the purpose of a server. But then I'd configure them in a raid to reduce the possibility data loss resulting from HDD failure.

    Your statement "2) SSD is 5 to 8 years behind HDD technology. It's only useful application, I can think of, is in very high performance Server environments where read-writes are occurring on large scales." is utter shite. A competent server would use HDDs for frequent write performance with large solid state cache memory (but not SSDs).
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  18. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    I was a curious to see how two of my machines fare today. Both have SSDs for the OS and HDDs for data. HD Tune (freeware) was used to benchmark performance.

    First up, an 8 year old Dell Vostro 200 biz machine. It sports a Core 2 E6550 with a clock speed of 2.33Ghz, 3GB RAM and Windows 10 Home 64 bit. It cost about $350 in 2007. The SSD was about $100, and the 1TB HDD $45.00
    It's running a 120GB Seagate SSD installed in August of 2013, so it's about 2 years old.
    It aslo has a 1TB Seagate 5900RPM HDD installed in July 2011
    SSD is on the left (120GB) and HDD on the right (1000GB).
    SSD HD tune Performance graph.JPG HDD HD Tune Performance Graph.JPG
    The left display is the SSD. It registers an average transfer rate of 228MB/s. This number is less interesting than the access time (seek time). It registers an average access rate of 0.1ms.
    The right display is the HDD. It registers an average transfer rate of 110MB/s. Access time is 16.8ms
    So the SSD (2 years old) on an 8 year old machine is twice as fast for sequential read transfer rates, and 168 times faster for access time. I suspect the SSD is even faster than 0.1ms access time, but that's probably as low as the HDTune can measure accurately.
    Also interesting is the shape of the curve. The SSD performs the same for all sectors. The HDD gets slower as you reach the inner cylinders of the platter as these have a slower rotational velocity than the outer cylinders. The dots on the HDD display represent random reads to derive the access time. on the SSD these are all jumbled at the bottom of the graph, too low to really see on the graph.


    Next up, a 6 month old Acer desktop. It sports an I3-4160 with a clock speed of 3.6GHz, 8GB RAM and Windows 10 Pro. It cost about $300 in 2015. The SSD was about $100 and the 1TB HDD (western digital) came with it.
    The SSD is a Samsung 120GB drive installed when new (HDD was cloned to this).
    SSD Performance.JPG HDD Performance.JPG

    Access rates are about the same as the older machine, but the newer architecture is able to attain much higher transfer rates on the SSD.

    Burst rates are a measure of the hardware interface between the drive and the computer. This is one area where HDDs perform better. Many small files (i.e. the DLLs comprising the OS) will load much faster from the SSD, while large files will load faster on the HDD. This is a good reason to keep both, using the smaller SSD for OS and applications, but using the HDD for larger read and more importantly write I/O.

    Subjectively the SSDs scream over the HDDs they replaced. Both machines load the Windows OS and quiesce in about 30 seconds. They're usable in about 10. The old Vostro when the OS was on the HDD took many minutes to reach this state. Both machines respond quickly. Applications load click-bang fast. Of course the newer Acer I3 performs better doing cpu intensive tasks such as rendering videos (that I only use the HDD for), but subjective performance is not that much better for everyday tasks over the 8 year old Core 2 machine.

    Here's some more info on the machines:
    computer properties.JPG
    Acer Info.JPG

    Here's more on drive performance measurements.

    Where the rubber really meets the road is perception of subjective performance between the two drives. SSD is lots more faster for daily PC use.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
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  19. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    My explanation of burst rate didn't ring true. It turns out HDTune is faulty when it comes to this measurement.

    An older tool, HDTach interfaces using an older direct (but primitive) interface but more accurately gauges burst rates. Burst rate is the rate at which the PC can fetch data (or put) from the drive's solid state cache. HDDs prefetch based on their firmware and can attain higher performance using cache. It seems less important for SSDs. But the burst rate should always be faster than the sustained transfer rate, or the measurement tool is not working correctly.

    HDTach hasn't been updated since 2004 and has to be run in XP compatibility mode if on a later windows OS.

    First up the 8 year old Dell Vostro. For comparison it shows the Dell's burst speed (red bar) compared with other types of drive interface hardware in use in 2004. The sustained sequential read speed is close to the measurement that HDTune found (still a bit higher). More important, the Burst rate is higher than the sustained rate. Also interesting is the CPU utilization is much less for the SSD. Left (top) graph is the SSD, right (bottom) is the HDD.
    ssd.JPG hdd.JPG



    Next is HDTach on the two Acer I3 drives (6 month old PC). SSD on the left (top), HDD on the right (bottom)
    ssd2 long bench.JPG HDD.JPG

    SSD vs HDD running on the same machine. SSD is 160 times faster than HDD for random access seek times. This is going to be the largest factor in perceived (subjective) performance of your computer. Sequential sustained reads are 2 times faster (even a bigger difference on a newer computer). This is a measure of how fast large files are accessed. And the burst rate is where it should be (not so important on SSDs as the SSD is just about as fast as its cache.).

    Measure for measure the SSD is at least 2 times faster, 160 times faster where it counts: random access.

    As far as SSD speed "cratering" after time this is not evident on the 2 year old Dell's SSD. Nor is it on the 2 laptops I'm running SSDs on.

    Reliability could be an issue, but the only drives I've had fail in the last 20 years have been HDDs, both laptops, one desktop. Of course this isn't scientific as the SSDs I've been using have only been on 4 machines over the last 4 years. Back up important data no matter what type of drive you use. Definitely put SSDs in your laptops for improved performance and durability. HDDs don't like to be knocked around.

    On configuring your system. The SSD's manufacturer always provides software to deal with this. Win 7 and above do a lot by default, but there are still tweaks that can be made to increase either performance or reliability.

    I've thrashed this drive over the time I've had it, install the OS 3 times and upgrading to Win10. Normally you wouldn't see this much total bytes written and this is a measurement of the drive's life expectancy. Samsung warrants the drive for 300TB worth of writes or 10 years whichever comes first. The acer along with its SSD were put into service in December 2014, so it's about 6 months old. At the rate I've used it in the current 6 month period it would have an estimated service life of 94 years. This will drop off if I can keep my hands off updating the OS monthly :). Running OS optimization for reliability turns off unnecessary windows services and tweaks other memory settings.

    samsung magician.JPG

    From Samsung's website:
    With twice the endurance of the previous model*, the 850 PRO will keep working as long as you do. Samsung's V-NAND technology is built to handle 300 Terabytes Written (TBW)** which equates to a 40 GB daily read/write workload over a 10-year period. Plus, it comes with the industry's top-level ten-year limited warranty.​
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015
  20. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    So as it's come to pass, I'm actually using the same SD card that I used for that old laptop for this HP minitower. The catch is, this SD card has Windows 98 on it (it's what came with that laptop, an old Gateway 2000. Well, I plan on using this HP minitower as a gaming machine for my older games that either don't run well on Windows 7, or straight up can't run because it actually needs an OS no more sophisticated than Windows 95. So, that's the thing - I bought an old, unused copy of Windows 95, and I'm trying to install it on the SD card, which is now installed as the HD of this HP Pavilion, but it won't let me because Windows 98 is already installed. Is there a way to get around this? Or, is there a way to uninstall Windows 98 so I can start fresh with Windows 95?
  21. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Boot from the install disk and not the SD card. It will let you format the SD card for the fresh install of Win95.

    If it's not a "full version" of Win95 it may not allow you to do this (i.e. if it's an upgrade version). Is there something that won't run on Win98 that will run on Win95? They're very similar.
  22. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    As far as I know, it's a full version of Windows 95. The booklet that came with it has a certificate of authenticity with that holographic strand woven through it similar to what later versions of Windows had. Apparently it was meant for a new Compaq back in the day but was never used. I can't figure out how to boot from the disk, though. I've tried looking it up on Google, but I haven't found anything that's worked. The HP doesn't display a key to go to BIOS when it starts up the way pretty much every other PC I've ever used has, and the only thing I've gotten to by randomly hitting function keys on start-up was once I got into a menu that would let me do a normal start-up, safe-mode, MS-DOS, or an option to approve each and every thing in the start-up routine. Nothing to let me change the boot-up order to put the CD drive before the HD.

    The reason I want Windows 95 is that I need it to run Star Trek: Borg. There are also a few older games that would probably work better on it than my attempts at running them in Win7 on my main computer.
  23. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  24. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    F1 actually worked. As it turned out, the CD drive was already set to boot before the HD. The disk drive was first, but I set the CD drive first instead to see if that would make any difference. Unfortunately, it didn't, and it booted from the HD again. :/

    I tried removing the HD altogether, but rather than booting from the disk, it just sat there and said it couldn't find an OS. So for some reason, it's going to the HD no matter what.
  25. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

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    It's probably not a bootable CD. If I remember the last millennium correctly, it may have been necessary to load DOS (you need a dos disk) first, and then load drivers for the CD drive, then execute the setup exe from the win95 disk. Making a dos disk back then was easy (it was a function under windows); I don't know how you would do it today (google it). The drivers would have come from the manufacturer. HP still has some on that link for 4443 instructions.

    I think I'd find a new hobby if I were you...
  26. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    It may be a weird goal, but I've been wanting to play some of these old games for a while, but apparently I need a Win95 machine to do it, and since I had an old PC fall into my lap practically (gift from a friend cleaning out his old stuff), I'd like to do it. As it happens, I have some old floppy disks I can probably use, assuming I can use the old HP to make the DOS disk. It just seems strange that I couldn't boot from the disk since it's an OS disk.
  27. Soma

    Soma OMG WTF LOL STFU ROTFL!!!

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    This site might be of use to you: http://www.allbootdisks.com/download/95.html
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  28. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    WRT games which do not run on Win 7... Just download dos box and everything will run fine. No need for the old junk computer.
  29. Captain X

    Captain X Responsible cookie control

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    Tried that.
  30. 9nkit

    9nkit Bad habit.

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    Reset your bios. Enter current date. Then try to boot from cd drive.
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