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Author Topic: The Rule of 3 Drives: How to Build your Next PC  (Read 17100 times)
mouser
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« on: January 06, 2008, 03:20:46 PM »

After using a 3 drive setup for a few iterations, i'm convinced it's the way to go.

I thought i'd post about it for those who are building new PCs.

The idea is to build your PC with 3 hard drives in it:
  • The first, the C drive, will be the system drive which will hold Windows should be as fast as you can possibly get it.  I recommend a 10k rpm raptor.  These are pretty expensive (close to $200) and top off at 120gb or so.
  • The second, the D drive, will be a nice big 500gb or larger scratch drive and backup drive.  You can use this for storing lots of backups, temp space, etc.  Just get a normal 7200rpm drive here.
  • The the third, the E drive, is for your data.  Make your own MyDocuments folder here and store your own data files here.  Use a fast 10k rpm raptor 120gb if you like, or a normal 7200rpm drive.

Some key points:
  • Having a large backup drive in the pc, independent of both the windows system drive and your data drive, is wonderful.  Makes it so easy to backup and restore quickly and gives you plenty of space to do so.  Also gives you great space for any temporary stuff.
  • Upgrading to a 10k rpm superfast C drive which holds windows and your program files, feels like buying a new computer.  the speed difference is remarkable.

As a bonus, I highly recommend getting one of the pass-through sata rack systems for your C drive, and getting a spare HD.  If you ever want to experiment or install a different OS to experiment with, you can swap out your main OS and swap in the alternate.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 03:23:13 PM by mouser » Logged
Lashiec
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2008, 03:28:10 PM »

First you recommended two, now three? Get your act together, already! Grin

I'd recommend the second drive to be external, if you don't want to play around with what mouser suggest. And, if you can, get a motherboard with e-SATA support, and a matching drive for the connection.
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2008, 03:53:36 PM »

I install all programs to physical drive 2. That way I have two drives (in most cases) chugging away when I load a program. I have an aversion for MS-given names. How many of us know exactly what progra~1 is, if you know what I mean? smiley
« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 05:09:24 AM by nosh; Reason: Rectified typo (after 4 years). » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2008, 04:00:28 PM »

external drive is a must as well..
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Lashiec
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2008, 04:06:28 PM »

So, four drives?
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2008, 04:12:45 PM »

yeah 4. but i dont count the 4th external since i dont consider it part of the pc, but part of your house, shared among all pcs, etc.
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2008, 05:15:38 PM »

Thanks for the advice mouser, I couldn't agree more.
However as I'm thinking about my next pc, I'm wondering if anyone considered using Solid State drives?
Ok, I know these are still a bit Wink expensive!...
By the way, Samsung recently announced a 128Gb SSD

Cheers  /jerome
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Liquidmantis
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2008, 05:27:00 PM »

That's the way I run:
C: (OS)
D: (Program Files)
E: (Storage, with My Documents remapped)

When I reinstall I just rename my D:\Program Files to D:\Program Files(OLD) and I have an easy reminder of what apps I need to reinstall and have a backup of any config files if needed.
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2008, 05:36:14 PM »

Does the current SSD technology use the same tech as typical flash drives?

Hard drives will basically last "forever" as the physical media (platters) are not damaged by writes, but flash drives are damaged by writes and the media itself slowly degrades.

So I'm not sure that SSD are a great idea for reliable storage. (???)

Does anyone know the underlying technolgy enough to comment further on that here?

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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2008, 06:50:31 PM »

I'd bet great odds that an SSD drive will long out last a HDD.

In the ReadyBoost thread Justice posted this quote from Wikipedia:
Quote
With these mechanisms in place, some industry analysts[1] have calculated that flash memory can be written to at full speed continuously for 51 years before exceeding its write endurance, even if such writes frequently cause the entire memory to be overwritten. This figure (51 years) involved a worst-case scenario using specific data parameters and should not be confused with a particular "shelf life" for a flash memory device. The bottom line is that a typical user using a commercial device, such as a camera, with a flash drive will probably not wear out the memory for the effective life of the camera.
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f0dder
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2008, 07:15:25 PM »

Renegade: flash-based SSDs made these years will probably outlast harddrives, since they aren't prone to mechanical failures, the amount of erase-cycles have been greatly improved, and there's internal wear-leveling algorithms in use as well. Thing with current SSDs is that while their random seek performance is super++, reads and especially writes are still relatively slow, unless you go for the top-of-the-line and sell your kidneys.

Also note that you should use physical drives, not just partitions on the same drive.

And (somebody please link the old thread smiley), I would really recommend that you go for one fast system+apps drive (raptor is a good bet), and then chain 2 drives to a RAID MIRROR. Mouser's 3-drive suggestion won't really help you if your data drive crashes, a mirror will (yeah sure, you should be doing automated backups, but if you only do that once per day, you can lose up to 23 hours of work if your data drive crashes. And what if it crashes during a backup? in-con-sis-ten-cy).

Personally I have 2x74gig raptor drives in my box, and a 400gig mirror on a fileserver on a gigabit LAN; too bad windows filesharing is so slow (expect to get 25-30megabyte/sec top, even though the LAN can easily go 90+ meg/s), but it's a lot of peace of mind this way, especially since my bulk storage is separated from my main box.

If I didn't have a fileserver, I'd have gone for one or two raptors, and a raid mirror in my own box. Perhaps external firewire or eSATA case as well, but I don't feel that I need that with my fileserver and all.

And oh, RAID isn't a replacement for backups, it's just a safeguard from when your drive dies from mechanical wear and tear.
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2008, 08:02:56 PM »

Linked upon f0dder's request

I wonder if Seagate et al. are going to have SSD drives in their lineup. So far, I didn't saw anything out of them... apart from Samsung, but as Renegade will know, is there something Samsung is not manufacturing?
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Armando
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2008, 08:09:13 PM »

(Thanks Lashiec)
f0dder: you use your RAID MIRROR as an "instant restore" backup system ? impossible to use that system with a normal laptop (not talking alienware here...) i guess...
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Glenn Gould
f0dder
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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2008, 08:13:22 PM »

(Thanks Lashiec)
f0dder: you use your RAID MIRROR as an "instant restore" backup system ? impossible to use that system with a normal laptop (not talking alienware here...) i guess...
I use RAID MIRROR as a "oh fsck, the drive died, thankfully I can continue running now (although I should wait until I have a spare disk and can reconstruct mirror), and thankfully I haven't lost up to 23 hours of backups". IN ADDITION TO raid-mirror of your data, you should do regular (and preferably automated) backups to an external storage media (external harddrive enclosure, local or remote fileserver, ...).

No, RAID MIRROR wouldn't really work for a laptop, but neither would mouser's 3 (physical) drive solution smiley

An alternative to RAID MIRROR in your workstation, you could do real-time syncing (and I do mean realtime, not something that runs every hour) to a (local, don't even try realtime sync remotely) fileserver with RAID MIRROR... and then do backups from there too.

Oh, and don't even think about RAID-5 (aka parity).
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Armando
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2008, 08:17:42 PM »

An alternative to RAID MIRROR in your workstation, you could do real-time syncing

Since I only have a laptop, this would be the only viable solution (+ my usual daily backup system on 3 different HD, of course...  smiley)

What would you use for that (IBM's Tivoli Continuous Data Protection? MirrorFolder?) -- I remember you were looking for something some months ago for your job at the museum  Wink....  And does it consume a lot of resources ???


[edit : added mirrorfolder to my ???]
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 08:19:47 PM by Armando » Logged

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Glenn Gould
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2008, 08:22:47 PM »

Haven't had time to properly test MirrorFolder yet (ie., giving it some really stressful testing), but it seems to be able to do the job well enough. The problem is that if the connection to the server is lost, iirc you have some relatively long timeouts when working with your local files. But I guess there's not much you can do about this, as long as windows filesharing is used, instead of a custom protocol.

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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2008, 08:28:59 PM »

Haven't had time to properly test MirrorFolder yet (ie., giving it some really stressful testing), but it seems to be able to do the job well enough. The problem is that if the connection to the server is lost, iirc you have some relatively long timeouts when working with your local files. But I guess there's not much you can do about this, as long as windows filesharing is used, instead of a custom protocol.

I see. Thanks f0dder.

In my case, I was  more or less thinking of using it with an external USB drive as a kind of RAID mirror replacement for when I'm working at home (when my big external USB drive is available). Better then nothing...

So I'll have to see which software does this best, and maybe invest some $$ if it seems like a viable solution (not too resource hungry, and reliable)
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2008, 08:32:47 PM »

MirrorFolder probably does exactly what I want since they say it can synchronize documents/files through USB flash/hard drive

Quote
How do I synchronize my documents/files between my home and office computers through my removable USB flash/hard drive?

For this you need to setup mirror for the same source folder on both your office and home computers to a single folder on your USB drive. Now enable the following options for the mirror folder on both computers.

    * Synchronize on startup or when connected
    * Mirror under current logged on user account
    * Compare file size and last modified time stamp
    * Bi-directional synchronization
    * Copy file differentially with block size (enable this if you have relatively large sized files and only a small section of them are modified normally)

You may also enable archive options to archive older and deleted versions of files into a third location on your home and/or office computers.
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« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2008, 08:34:51 PM »

Yes, MirrorFolder will work for you, and it seems very light on resources. You will want to use what it calls "RAID mode" iirc., which is a silly name for it, since it has noting to do with RAID - it's automagic/instantaneous data replication through use of a filter driver, instead of re-scanning files etc. Should work flawlessly for locally connected drives smiley
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Armando
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« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2008, 08:42:33 PM »

thanks, i'm going to try that in a few days.

BTW, here's a link to a review of some Continuous Backup utilities.
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« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2008, 08:46:25 PM »

thanks, i'm going to try that in a few days.

BTW, here's a link to a review of some Continuous Backup utilities.
That review fails to mention whether the apps simply detect change & copy file, or if they use a filter driver and thus only copy over THE EXACT CHANGES. This might seem a bit anal, but it's pretty damn important if you have data files of several gigabytes where only a few megabytes change.
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« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2008, 08:53:04 PM »

thanks, i'm going to try that in a few days.

BTW, here's a link to a review of some Continuous Backup utilities.
That review fails to mention whether the apps simply detect change & copy file, or if they use a filter driver and thus only copy over THE EXACT CHANGES. This might seem a bit anal, but it's pretty damn important if you have data files of several gigabytes where only a few megabytes change.

Hummmm... Yes, I remember you mentionned that there : File synchronization: moving away from incremental backup (HELP!)

Some related threads :
     
MirrorFolder compared to reviewed programs?
SyncBackSE vs. SuperFlexible
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« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2008, 09:21:43 PM »

If I might comment on the RAID topic, be very wary of where you place your confidence.  After multiple failures on a variety of "SOHO" type RAID implementations (low/moderate cost cards, motherboard built-in offerings, etc.) I've written them off and use non-realtime disk mirroring.  As an added bonus you get some degree of versioning protection that way.

The problem with the budget RAID solutions is that they won't rebuild.  The failures I've had in RAID1 configs made the mirror drive unreadable.  Since moving to a multilayer asynchronous drive mirror solution my file servers at work have been bulletproof.  And from skimming Google's whitepaper on data protection they use a similar system.

Now our enterprise level RAID systems recover well, especially when configured with a hotspare.  The only RAID system I'd consider at home now though is a Drobo.
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« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2008, 10:02:29 PM »

mouser, I am setup almost exactly like your first post:  C: = a Western Digital 80 GB drive with only Windows XP Pro and Program Files;  D: = a Seagate SATA 500 GB 7200 RPM drive used only for data and media files;  E: = a second Seagate SATA 500 GB 7200 RPM drive used only for backups and occasionally for Temp files.  K: = an external Western Digital 500 GB My Book Essential drive which I use mostly for an additional backup and to mirror all my important folders.

Of course after 14 months the E: drive (backups) failed.  Figures...

Jim
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« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2008, 11:13:35 PM »

Interesting... Learn something everyday. smiley
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