The Winnah: Windows By A Length

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The Winnah: Windows By A Length

Postby Yogi » 24 Aug 2014, 06:44

I'm impressed by simple things when it comes to computers. Recently I discovered how simple it can be to copy a Windows operating system to a new drive and then use that drive as if nothing happened. While there can be some problems in certain situations, it's generally just a matter of making an image of the working system and booting from the image.

You may be wondering why I wanted to do such a thing. My inspiration came from my use of virtual machines inside my Windows 7 environment. The VM's run amazingly fast because for the most part they operate out of RAM. This made me wonder what would happen to Windows in a similar situation. Thus I purchased a Solid State Drive at a bargain price and moved Windows 7 onto it. The first bit of good news was that it booted in under ten seconds. Previously it took 38-42 seconds, but now it's merely 7-8 seconds. None of my various installations of Linux Ubuntu can match that boot speed, although they do come up pretty quick from the mechanical hard drives.

As far as system performance goes, the news is mixed. Loading programs from disk is lightning fast, but after that it's the same restrictions imposed by the hardware and distant servers on the Internet. The increase in performance is noticeable but it's not the blink-of-an-eye response I was hoping for. If you do a lot of disk access, I now know it's crazy not to use an SSD.

So the race to the desktop from a cold start was won by Windows 7 on my SSD. And, yes, I do realize it's not a fair comparison to my Linux OS's given that none of them are installed on SSD. Perhaps my next go around will be to install one of those silicon drives solely for Linux. I can't imagine what will happen there. :grin:
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Re: The Winnah: Windows By A Length

Postby Kellemora » 24 Aug 2014, 14:59

Hi Yogi

SSD's are FAST, but they can only be written to like 10,000 times per cell.
So it's best to use them only for read only programs, and save the data, or write actions to a HD.

I still have not put a larger hard drive in my wife's computer. But I don't think I can make an ISO since her drive is too full to even run defrag. I moved thousands of files off of it to an external, and still not enough room.
I made a copy of CloneZilla, but just never got around to it.
And now, after losing my computers, I have other things to worry about for a bit yet.

SSDs are NEAT for sure. They probably will last longer than a CD too, and I don't mean a rewritable either.
CDs in storage DIE, or as they say now, they ROT...

TTUL
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Re: The Winnah: Windows By A Length

Postby Yogi » 30 Aug 2014, 06:49

When I migrated to an SSD I was aware of the limitations imposed by the finite R/W cycles of the technology. I was encouraged on by some suggestions that flash memory has improved quite a bit over the years. No hard figures were forthcoming but I read of many instances where people did exactly what I am doing now. If I get two years of service from this SSD, I'll consider the experiment a success.

One of the unexpected pleasures of my new Windows hardware is in running security software. I have a few programs for scanning my computer looking for malware. A deep scan used to take between 30 and 45 minutes depending on the program being used. At that rate a deep scan for malware would take hours to perform. Now I can use all three in the deep scan mode in the same amount of time it took to run just one of them. I am still scratching my head over the fact that two of the scans now take about 5 minutes while that third program takes slightly over 20 minutes to do it's job.

Another unexpected benefit of the SSD is defragmentation. It's not necessary to do it anymore. From and OCD point of view it would be nice to have all your software lined up in contiguous blocks of non-fragmented files. Doing that supposedly speeds things up, but on SSD's there is no mechanical movement to slow things down.

Windows 7 includes something called a Windows Experience Index (WEI). This is basically evaluation software that looks at five key performance characteristics and rates your experience on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9. If the index is low enough, automatic defrag takes place behind the scenes. In the end that improves overall system response and performance, but the defrag process slows things down while it's in progress. My former WEI was 5.6 mostly due to the hard drive issues. Now the composite WMI is 7.6 and no auto-defrag is necessary. The SSD index is 7.8 which makes me wonder what the heck it takes to reach the top score of 7.9. LOL
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Re: The Winnah: Windows By A Length

Postby Kellemora » 30 Aug 2014, 13:37

Hi Yogi - SSDs are awesome, that's for sure!
If I understood correctly when I listened to the spiel at our computer store.
Unlike a SD Card, which can lose data, an SSD drive doesn't lose anything. If a storage location wears out so it cannot be written to again, the data is moved to one that can in the next write operation that calls that location into play.
I was concerned at first when I was told you could only write to each location 10k times. Because I may be saving the same file 25 to 100 times a day. Which by my way of thinking was only a few months of use out of such an expensive device. This was before I learned it writes to new locations each time, so the entire unit wears out slowly and more equally. Should get ten or more years use out of one before it is near useless.

FWIW: I still us the Windows NTFS file storage system on all of my external and backup drives. I don't have to defrag them, because the data did not come from an NTFS file system, and when you write a file, it is written sequentially. It is when you Edit a file where it becomes fragmented.

The EXT3 file system works like pigeonholes, and does waste storage space. But your entire document is stored in one pigeonhole, unless it becomes to large, then it is stored in two pigeonholes. If you make a change to the document stored in that pigeonhole, it puts it back in the same pigeonhole.
Whereas the NTFS file system is like one great big long chain. It stores the data link for link. Which is fine for read only files. But if you change a document, it does not store the unchanged part of the document at the end of the chain, it simply stores the changes as a new set of links at the end of the chain. The more often you make changes to a document, the more places it is scattered to, and opening the document takes longer each time because its pieces must be sought out and assembled back into a document again. You can delete the original and save the changed document as a new document, thus unfragmenting that document. But where you took it from leaves a hole. Unless you save something that fits into this link of the chain, reusing it, the hole remains. By running defrag, it puts all of these scattered elements back together in sequential order again.

I don't think SSDs work this way at all. I know when SD cards first came out, it was suggested to use the FAT file system, rather than NTFS on them. But on SSDs, NTFS is the file system of choice on Windows computers.

I have not looked much into file systems since setting up my computers. Seems I looked at ext4 and decided to stick with ext3 the last time I set up a new computer. Even so, I use NTFS for my backups, so they are readable in Windows computers.

Remember my many comments about how SLOW my NAS was?
What I can copy from my hard drive to an external drive connected to the computer might take 15 or 20 minutes, but to move that same data to the NAS took 5 hours.
Now that it's gone and I have an external drive down at the house, I copied my master data file to it. It didn't take 5 hours, copied the entire thing, which is everything, in under 50 minutes, just shy of an hour. Over the same LAN the NAS ran on, and with more devices to go through to get there too.
I don't know if it was because it was a RAID system, or if the NAS really was that lousy from day one.

The external I'm using down at the house for my daily backups, never spins down. The NAS did, so I had to wait for the platters to spin back up again before downloading data to it. Only a few seconds wait.
My newer externals do seem to spin down when idle, but take no time at all to spin back up again. Not like the NAS did. Maybe they don't actually sleep, just spin slower, but the box they are in runs cooler when not in use. The only time the box gets cold is if I physically turn off the external unit. My old one I put down at the house does not have an on/off switch, nor does it have any buttons you can accidentally push.

Hoping to afford a new bare bones computer soon, this one is acting a little strange sometimes. It has no sound, and a plug-in LAN card to get it back going again after the lightning hit. Monitor shifts colors momentarily a couple times a day. So the graphics card will probably go next.

TTUL
Gary
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Re: The Winnah: Windows By A Length

Postby Yogi » 30 Aug 2014, 14:43

From this distance I would say you had an under-performer of an NAS. Perhaps it was state of the art when purchased, but your descriptions of it's performance (or lack thereof) seems like last century's technology. Today you can get NAS devices that behave as well as any full blown server. In fact that's exactly what they are with Linux OS's et al.

My experiences with SSD are gloriously rewarding so far. I'm sure you can save hours of data transfer time if your backups were to solid state drives. You have the right idea about what happens to dead memory cells. Mechanical drives use the same concept, but due to the time it takes for the r/w head to move across the platters, defrag is almost a requirement. A fragmented file is retrieved just as fast as a solid block of data when it comes to SSD's, thus eliminating the cause of access delays. You are also correct about file chains in NTFS systems, but memory is so cheap these days a bit of overkill on size will not strain your budget.

When I was searching the Internet for options, it looked like I'd have to pay $100/100GB of solid state storage. I did quite a bit of searching but could not find anything significantly less expensive. Then I found the Crucial drive listed among others of similar size. The Crucial was $208 for 500GB. Similar drives in the list were twice that price or more. At first I thought it to be a mistake, but it turns out the price was correct. So I bought it knowing it was fully twice what I needed. My initial approach was to partition the drive to 300GB and leave the rest unallocated until the drive started to deteriorate. Then I'd move that partition to the end of the drive where there are fresh memory cells that have never been used. Doing that should double the life of the drive. By the time it breaks down, prices should come down even more than they have already.

In any case, I'd highly recommend a migration if at all possible.
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Re: The Winnah: Windows By A Length

Postby Kellemora » 31 Aug 2014, 10:47

Hi Yogi

I'm sorta glad the NAS is gone anyhow. I didn't trust that thing, and went back to using an external drive connected to the computer down at the house for my daily backups. The external is old, but fast. If it dies, I still have the data on this computer, and once a week it is saved to the external up here. Once a month or more often I make a mirror of the external up here and store the copy in our fireproof lock box.
I will no longer be able to back up to my drives in St. Louis. They are moving again, and dumbing down to laptops for everything. Don't know how you can run a business on laptops, but I'm seeing more of this.
I don't trust cloud storage places yet. But can stash some really important stuff on hidden pages on my website. Maybe I'll check to see what an additional 200 gigs of space costs.

I only make 588 bucks a month from social security after deductions, which means zero left after paying bills. Which is why at 65 I had to go back to work at a menial job that doesn't pay even half of minimum wage. What little extra I do come up with, goes to help with the frau's insulin costs.

After the lightning hit, just replacing the peripheral items emptied the hip national bank again, so I have to save up just to get back to having two reliable working computers. I usually go bare bones, mobo, CPU, memory, and case to get a new power supply with the right connectors. I use external devices for almost everything else. Placing an old CD/DVD reader in the cabinet from another machine. I use an external writer. I can usually get by for under 250 bucks, unless I add a new hard drive, which I usually don't. By the time I add assembly cost and taxes, it comes out to 300 bucks for a new computer.

My computer guy has offered me a big break on an 8 core 8 gig memory bare bones machine, for 599 bucks. Since I didn't have the money, I didn't question him too much about it. I don't know if it is an 8 core CPU or if it is two 4 core CPUs. I also don't think I would ever need 8 gigs of memory either. After all, the last new machine I bought he put in 4 gigs. I had him take 2 gigs out and put in another machine to keep the cost for it under 200 bucks. I used an existing case, and only bought a 65 dollar rather than 85 dollar mother board, and a cheap dual core CPU. This was not going to be my main computer, just the one I used for daily work, with very low internet usage. I use the main computer for almost everything else.
The machine he wants to sell me for 599 uses cards for graphics and LAN, they are not built into the mother board, the 599 price includes these two boards, but they are not gamers graphic cards, but can support two monitors, maybe four monitors. I didn't ask about sound, because I rarely turn sound on anyhow.

TTUL
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