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Thread: Looking for new hard drive advice

  1. #1
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    Default Looking for new hard drive advice

    I'm leaving in a few days for a vacation to another continent (N.America) to ski and visit my mother. When at my mother's I had planned to install a second hard drive on her PC (160 GByte) to either augment or replace her current 60 GByte drive.

    Currently her PC tri-boots (on the 60GByte drive) to:
    • winXP # for all the family but me and my mother
    • winME # for my mother (when its running)
    • openSUSE-10.2 # for my mother when winME is not running.

    My mother wants me not to lose winME. I can't re-install it easily, as old service packs are long since impossible to find and without service packs the PC is a menace on the Internet (even with its a bit of a menace, although she does have a good router (and winME ) firewall to partially protect).

    I took pictures of the inside of her PC when I was last at her place (about 1 year ago).

    I'm worried about the cabling if I tried to install a second drive. ... To illustrate, take a look at the following pix.

    Pix-1:

    The right = the top of the PC in the pix. At the top of the PC is the CD-reader/burner, then blank space, then floppy drive, then power supply, and at bottom PCI cards visible.

    Pix-2:


    This pix-2 better illustrates my cable wiring concerns. Power supply on left. Top = CD drive, blank space, then floppy drive, circuit board. Current 60 GB maxtor hard drive on right. PCI slots at bottom.

    I had wanted to place new hard drive in blank space (between floppy drive and CD drive), but with IDE connections in this old PC, I can't see how I can run cable from mother board to current 60 GB maxtor, to new hard drive. So I don't think two hard drives can share the same cable. Hence I think I need to put the CD drive and the new hard drive on the same cable, ... if it is possible (they will be adjacent to each other). But I don't have the cable and I do not know the dimensions in advance (prior to arriving). I should have measured last year. My 82-year old mother is not going to crawl inside the PC for me (in advance) either. In addition to living a continent away from me, she also lives far from any computer store (1 hour drive) which is not so great a store, and 2 hours away from a "Future Shop" and "Radio Shack" which are better stores for parts. So I need to specify/measure things very carefully in advance. I'm only visiting her for 6 days and at most I will get one visit to the "Future Shop" / "Radio Shack" computer store.

    Alternatively, an easy approach may be to remove 60 GB maxtor and insert new 160 GB drive, but I don't want to re-install winME on new 160 GB drive, except for one thing. She wants me to keep winME. < sigh > I can't chuck winME as 82-year old mother would not forgive me. I would need to learn how to image WinME to new drive such that it is bootable on its own parition. Thoughts? Is imaging winME and then copying to a new drive (to boot in its own partition) easy to do?

    Or should I stick with appoach of adding new 160 GB drive as secondary drive and wrestle with the cabling?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    Not a good idea to put a hd on the same ide cable as a cd/dvd. This will cause a reduction in the hd performance.

    Best bet is to try and get both hd's on the same ide cable,and make sure you use an 80 wire IDE cable if it is not already an 80 wire. Cant tell from the pic. Again using 2 hds on a 40 wire cable will have a performance hit.

    It does look unlikely that the above can be achieved.

    There are long ide cables available on the market, not sure if one would work in your scenario.


    Your other solution is a good idea and very easy with the right software.

    I would suggest using software such as Acronis 11 to image the entire 60GB drive to the new 160gb drive.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    Quote Originally Posted by FizzyFanta View Post
    Your other solution is a good idea and very easy with the right software.

    I would suggest using software such as Acronis 11 to image the entire 60GB drive to the new 160gb drive.
    Thanks for the suggestion ... as you note, "with the right software" is the key. I will have an external 60GB hard drive with me that I could use to back up the two Windows partitions (winME and winXP .. I don't care too much 'bout the Linux as that is easy for me to re-install). I suppose I could also plug in the internal 160 GB drive but not fastened (when the PC case is open) and image then to the 160GB drive directly ... and then shut down, swap drives (change pins on the 160 GB to make it primary) and then presumably its done.

    I note Acronis is commercial software, although not too expensive, given I could waste hours doing this if I mess it up. ...

    Still, I can't help but wonder if there is not a free openSource software approach. I note partimage: Main Page - Partimage

    and if I knew "dd" better, I suspect it is also a potential approach ... but its not the most friendly way and I don't have a lot of time to brush up on its use (I've been very lazy over the years and did my best to ignore it) . ...

    Any one with experience with various hard drive imaging software ?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    I've only ever used Acronis 11 and that would indeed work perfectly, however if you check out the ultimate boot cd which is free and has a mix of linux/dos tools it has about 3 or 4 hdd cloning tools, so i imagine at least one of those would work okay, but i've never actually tried one.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    i do know that WD drives if bought brand new come with software for imagining hardrives one to another

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    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    How is that 60GB doing in terms of disk errors, have you got SMART monitoring it? If it's nearing end of life you may have no choice but to move everything to a new drive.

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    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    Quote Originally Posted by ken_yap View Post
    How is that 60GB doing in terms of disk errors, have you got SMART monitoring it? If it's nearing end of life you may have no choice but to move everything to a new drive.
    Gulp ! I confess I have not set up SMART monitoring on my mother's PC. I'm guilty there.

    I do log in every few weeks, and keep openSUSE-10.2 up to date on her PC. I typically train her on her PC (on openSUSE-10.2 using vnc and long distance on the phone) around once/month. Support for 10.2 stopped in November, so I've only been updating Packman packages (as they have not yet stopped 10.2 support, although I anticipate that won't be long before Packman support for 10.2 stops).

    I'm beginning to think my "favoured" re-cabling approach may not be such a good idea. The 160GB drive is new. The 60 GB drive is 7 years old. The new 160 GB is an OEM sale from the local PC store. It comes with no documentation. No disks. But a cheap price. Thats typically how I purchase any new external hard drives.

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    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    New disks should be backward compatible with old controllers, it's just that you will not be able to use faster transfer modes. The cable is probably already 80 conductor, if not, one is needed.

    I think the reimaging idea has the most prospect. I'll have to defer to others where it comes to reactivating (if at all) Windows after the image has been transferred. I'm glad FLOSS has none of this nonsense of reactivation after hardware change.

    You should be able to install the smartmontools package from a RPM even though it is no longer in support.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    My thoughts are.
    1. 7 years is pretty good longevity for a hard drive.
    I'm not sure how many more years you can get out of it.

    2. The power supply in some of the Dells aren't real robust. So probably the less you had running off of the power supply the better off you would be.

    3. If you had to run both drives. I would cable the secondary drive to the cdrom drive.
    4. Is the new drive you got IDE or Sata?

    5. Probably easiest way would to clone the 60 gig onto the 160 drive. But I'm not totally sure if Linux and windows clone nicely together. I have never tried it.
    Inquiring minds want to know?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Looking for new hard drive advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Doog View Post
    4. Is the new drive you got IDE or Sata?
    New drive is IDE.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doog View Post
    5. Probably easiest way would to clone the 60 gig onto the 160 drive. But I'm not totally sure if Linux and windows clone nicely together. I have never tried it.
    I've been researching this, looking at dd and partimage. For a user starting with minimal dd/clone-disk knowlege, its not as easy as I had hoped. The physical approach, if doable (and if the smaller old hard drive could survive, and if the cable could reach), would be much easier.

    The replacement of the 60 GB with the 160 GB is fraught with some complications.

    Finding the "dd" commands to copy a partition appears straight forward. There is also partimage for copying a partition: Main Page - Partimage

    But to copy partitions, and end up with a bootable new hard drive appears unlikely without lots of work.

    Questions started to come up in my mind, as some Linux files can be hardware specific (such as fstab, maybe hal) and so doing a dd duplication, and expecting a larger hard drive to boot, may not be so easy. Still, loosing Linux is not a concern, as I plan to replace 10.2 with 11.1. But I need to ensure I do not lose winME/winXP and that I retain the capability to boot winME/winXP. Given my total lack of windoze knowledge, that gives me some pause.

    So currently, the issue of the MBR and booting to the larger drive has me puzzled.

    .. anyway, I need to give this some thought.

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