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Should I Use My New SATA2 Port For My New Hard Drive?

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September 8, 2009 11:18:29 PM

I'm getting a PCI E x1 SATA 2 card that has 1 eSATA port and 1 internal SATA 2 port. I can get 2.5Gbps with this card. I really got it for the eSATA port. However, I am upgrading my hard drive to a 500GB that happens to be SATA2. I can use the port on my motherboard (SATA) with a jumper. Or use the new SATA2 port.
According to HD Tune, the HD I'm getting tests at 69.9 MB/sec (0.56 Gbps). Is there any point to using the port on the card? Is there something other the data transfer that SATA2 gives me to justify the the hurdles that may come from switching ports?
Thanks, I should have the gear by tomorrow.

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a b G Storage
September 9, 2009 12:24:11 AM

No real reason to switch, no. You're not anywhere close to the bandwidth limit of SATA 1.5 Gbps (~150 MB/s).
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September 9, 2009 2:42:49 PM

Here's another reason per the vendor:
"are you trying to make your computer boot from the card? if so please refer to your windows installation guide on how to do a clean windows installation on a add on card
unfortunately a clean install of windows will be required when using any add on card "

Do you know if there's any way around this fact?
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a c 342 G Storage
September 9, 2009 3:56:11 PM

My guess is NO, you are right - booting from a hard drive connected to the card will be trickier to set up, and the card maker's note hints at that.

Windows has certain "built-in drivers" - ways it already knows to deal with devices - for common things like devices on a IDE or PATA port or a floppy port, etc. The Windows Install routines on your installation disk also have a technique for adding in drivers for specific devices (for example, SCSI, RAID or native SATA) at the time of installation. That way the devices become usable for the installation process itself, plus they are incorporated into your own Windows installation so they are permanently usable for everything, including future use as a boot device. For this purpose, usually you must install them from a FLOPPY disk prepared before the installation. (To get around this, modern mobo BIOS makers have a way to let Windows use modern SATA drives without the step of extra driver install disks, and VISTA and above actually added those drives to their collection of "built-in" capabilities.)

Now, a SATA controller card on the PCI x1 bus, and/or its SATA II drive, may well be beyond the "built-in" abilities of Win XP and some other versions. So in some cases you MIGHT need to do this adjusted Install routine to use them for booting from. That is why the card maker advises you to consider a new "Clean Install" if you want to boot from that card.

cjl is dead right, however. The actual data transfer process between a SATA drive and your mobo is nowhere near as fast as the original SATA spec for the MAXIMUM speed of data transfer, so changing from it to the new SATA II capabilities of the card will give you NO benefit. And there is no real extra feature in SATA II beyond the speed specs. So leave your system as you have it. You will have a spare SATA II port available for future use with another drive. Just do not try to use it for a BOOT drive.
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September 9, 2009 4:30:56 PM

My current Windows install was done by CompUSA. They installed a FAT32 partition for the OS, and the rest on the NTFS partition (including Windows Updates, etc).
I am seriously considering a RAID 1 setup in the future, as this card has the option (jumper).
So I guess it seemed like a good time to do a fresh install, as I'd have to eventually anyway. Or perhaps I should wait until I am actually set to do my RAID 1 (later on sometime)?
And for some reason, that FAT32 partition has bothered me, and a fresh istall would rid me of it. Which might have more to do with my ignorance than anything else. Is there a benefit I am missing here?
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September 10, 2009 3:57:58 AM

ske, I'd be bothered by the FAT32 partition too - can't see any advantage to it. Might be something the CompUSA folks do to make it easier for them to re-install if it came in for service. Several years ago, I kept a drive or two formatted with FAT32 to ensure backward compatibility but never needed it and all are NTFS now.

I fully re-install Windows every 18 months or so just for cleanup purposes. Nothing like a fresh install to make your computer run tip-top. That assumes you keep a nice \Master folder like I do with copies of everything you've ever put on the computer - including updates and such. And it means your computer will be out of service for a few days if you don't have 12 hrs straight to devote to it.

Is your current OS drive an IDE? If so, might want to just make the new SATA the system drive. I was going to stick to my fairly fast IDE/133 drive when I bought a SATA 1TB drive this week, but after seeing how fast, and quiet, the new drive was I decided to go ahead and partition the SATA with 60GBs for the OS and Programs and the rest as a separate volume. So far, very happy and very fast.

What do you need the RAID for?
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September 10, 2009 3:13:20 PM

Perhaps I can convert the FAT32 partition to NTFS, and merge the two?

Since I started using CCleaner and Glary Utilities, my system runs great. That might save you the trouble of reinstalling the operating system. Actually, you could keep a clean install on it's own hard drive, and clone it to your C: drive via a docking station. You could keep a virgin hard disk of your entire system, clean OS, programs and all. After you clone it to your C: drive, just restore your backups.
I have a clone put aside right now, just in case. 30 minutes instead of 12 hours with Acronis True Image.

The RAID 1 would be a nice bit of security against a physical disk failure. But not worth the trouble at the moment. Maybe on the next system.
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September 10, 2009 4:33:23 PM

I used the Acronis program to clone last week's Win install on a Maxtor 80GB to a 60GB partition on my new 1TB WD Caviar Black and was quite impressed. I'm kinda old-school on backing up and reformatting, keeping lots of old drives around and manually copying the key folders to them. I have a special user set up to back up from and my data is in C:\Data along with ALL of my Doc and Setting files.

But now that I've got everything the way I want and almost all programs installed, I'm going to take your suggestion and clone it to another old drive. Dang Acronis is just too easy to pass up! Only thing is that I find their method of renaming the target volume to match the source a bit confusing.

See, I do have a few extra drives around - all nicely labeled of course!
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September 10, 2009 5:01:21 PM

I did the Manual Clone option, and didn't see anything about renaming. The only oddball thing was the drive letters on the clone didn't match up during the process. However, when I shut down and replaced my old C: drive with the clone, all was just fine. Be sure to keep your clone in a safe place.
Any ideas on merging the OS partition with the rest of the hard drive?
I like the photo. You've created the Anti-Apple!
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September 10, 2009 8:02:15 PM

That's the nicest comment I've gotten on it yet! I stack my drives 3 high in a nice covered shelf where they're handy - haven't had a drive fail now in almost ten years, maybe longer.

By renaming, I meant that my 1TB, which was previously formatted, changed from volume of WD_1TB-1 to be MX_80, matching the source of the clone. Can be confusing when both in system and trying to figure out which one booted - I renamed it back immediately.

Sorry, I know there are utilities that are supposed to do it, but haven't used any. I tend towards single partitions on drives or when I have more than one, later copying off and just re-partitioning - when the massive size of say a 6.4GB doesn't seem to big anymore when I get a nice new 80GB!

The 1TB is first I've partitioned into 2 in many years, sorry can't help.
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