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What Hard Drive Setup is Best?

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December 29, 2003 11:53:48 AM

I'm going to building a new system utilizing GigaByte GA-8KNXP, 2 512 MB DDR400, ATI 128 MB 9700/9800 Pro and either a P4 2.6/2.8/3.0. I normally just play a lot of games, so I do use quite a lot of hard drive space, although currently on my old system I have two 80 GB drives and only have used maybe 50% of that so far. They are networked together with my wifes computer. I intend in a few more months to rebuild her system as well. Originally I was going to map out one of the harddrives so that both our systems was sharing to allow us to share files back and forth easier.

I'm not that familar with SATA/PATA or RAID, I've just used EIDE 7200 rpm WD drives. My motherboard has the capacity for these new features though so I'm trying to figure out what would be the best setup. I was thinking about getting 2 36.7 GB SATA WD Raptor Drives because I do like smooth gameplay as well as graphic rendering when I use photoshop.

From my limited knowledge of RAID if I use them then it treats them as one big hard drive, instead of seperate drives... so does that mean I won't be able to map out one drive for my wife to use on the network? I was also thinking of partitioning my drive so that the OS was on its own partition so if I had to reinstall I'd just reinstall it and not lose data due to OS corruption. Is this still feasable and advisable or am I just better off using a standard EIDE connection for the 2 drives?

Any help and advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

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December 29, 2003 4:03:59 PM

Read the RAID FAQs on top, it helps.
December 29, 2003 6:06:50 PM

I did read the RAID and HDD FAQ. However I'm still confused as to the best setup for speed as well as system security. I have had OS corruption before and having to reload my OS and all other software can take hours. So I wanted to put my OS on its own seperate partion that way hopefully I'll just have to reinstall it and not all my other software. Since I'll be using the GigaByte GA-8KNXP motherboard which supports RAID and I believe SATA I was thinking of doing something like that since I heard its faster espcially if I get the WD 10,000 rpm Raptor Drives.

Level 0 seems to be the fastest, but from what I understand if I lose one of the drives, then my whole array goes down. So if I have to reinstall my OS it sounds like I'd of lose my other data.

Essentially I'd like either 3 partitions of a couple drives or something just using 3 seperate drives. Basically a C drive for WinXP, D drive for software and games installs, E drive for shared disk for the network and work space for video editing. I'm still not sure of the best way to get something that is stable, hopefully won't involve me reinstalling everything if I have to reinstall XP. So I thought maybe WD in a SATA or Raid 0 (since it looks like to do 0+1 I need to have 4 drives), part partitioned for XP (C drive) and then rest of space is D drive for games and software. Then get a seperate 120 GB 7200 rpm drive or something to use as the E work space, shared drive. Does this sound like a good setup or would something else better and what happens if I have to reinstall XP do I have to reinstall my other stuff as well?
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December 29, 2003 6:39:54 PM

Hard drives won't help your render times unless you're only running with 64 MB ram are hitting your swap file a lot. It won't affect your framerate in games either, unless the same is happening. A fast hard drive will allow you to load photoshop more quickly, load levels faster in game, and it will help with photoshop if you're dealing with insanely huge images that are larger than your ram size.

I would suggest a 74 GB raptor (it's expensive though) for your c: and d: drives if you wanted to do that (I always just go with one partition for that stuff though). It's a great drive, faster than the 36 GB version, and has a 5 year warranty. Of course, the 36 GB drive is a good way to go too, and might be a bit better for you, as well as being quite a bit cheaper.

As for the other drive, I'd suggest a single WD drive at whatever size you feel is warranted. The 120 GB drive is cheap, and the 200 jumps in price a bit, but might be worth it for you.

My personal setup:

I have a 74 GB raptor and it smokes. This drive is so fast it's incredible. It's quiet while idle, but it gets pretty loud when accessing files.

I also have a 120 GB WD SATA drive and love it too. The drive is whisper quiet (I couldn't even hear it moving files in my defrag last night) and is pretty fast too.

As for SATA vs PATA, there is no speed difference between otherwise identical drives. You do get neater cabling, the option of raptor drives, and hot swapability (prolly unneeded though). I went with all SATA and am very happy with it.

As for partitioning, I put my programs/games/OS all on one partition because I found that if I reinstall the OS, the registry entries of the programs and what not are lost. You can get around this by using drive image software, but that's an additional cost. Also, some of my apps NEED to be on the same partition as the OS in order to run.

Some day I'll be rich and famous for inventing a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet.
December 29, 2003 7:34:09 PM

Are you using a RAID setup or something else? When you use SATA is it similar to IDE where you have one for primary and another for secondary or completely different?
December 29, 2003 10:41:08 PM

If you need to do an OS reinstall you can do a repair or install over your old windows XP installation which amounts to pretty much the same thing, whilst preserving the registry and the installed software.

I tend not to do that though. If there is something screwed in my XP installation I wipe the whole OS partition. That means you have to install everything again, programs, games, updates, the lot 'cos you wipe out the registry see?. And without registry entries, your programs won't work. It's a pain but it doesn't happen that often and normally I have all my programs/games stuff as .iso files on my backup drive so I can quickly reinstall software as I need it.

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/myanandtech.html?member=114979" target="_new">My PCs</A> :cool:
December 29, 2003 11:58:30 PM

I currently have a whole bunch of Raptors and Caviars I'm trying to organise into something sane, however, I would recommend re-reading the RAID FAQ and just deciding which RAID setup is best for you. Personally I'm not too bothered about using RAID for security/backup, I simply ghost my whole OS/apps partition to another drive every now and again and clone it back if I have any problems, takes about 2mins for 16gb. That way you don't have to re-install anything.

So, personally I'd say just get two raptors striped (will give you either 70gb or 140gb depending on which you get) for OS and apps and partition them as you see fit, and a caviar (say 120gb or so) for everything else. You can clone your raptor OS partition to the caviar and clone it back if you ever have any problems.

However...

There's a lot of current thinking that says striping isn't worth it for the average windows user (as has been mentioned above). Most benchmarking is done using STR (Sustained Transfer Rate) and that isn't necessarily what'll be going on during you average windows use.
December 30, 2003 4:00:50 AM

No RAID here. There are two SATA connectors on my mobo, and two cables that came with it, each able to connect one drive.

On SATA1 I have the 74 GB raptor for windows/linux/swap/communication partitions.

On SATA2 I have the 120 GB drive for my data

Some day I'll be rich and famous for inventing a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet.
December 31, 2003 6:35:59 PM

My setup is:

40 GB (Will be 2 drive raid parity if I get around to it)
|
-> 5-7 GB Windows partition, small programs like winrar
-> 35 GB for Games, Large programs in d:\program files,
and programs that have settings and things (like
if I have files set to download in getright, and I
restore a ghost image, those files are still set
to download). I also move my desktop-my documents-
favorites to the D drive, so those aren't lost
when I restore an image.

80 GB ->Movies, Music, Downloads.

Install windows fresh, load drivers and maybe a few little utilities that you always use and make a ghost image (call it XPclean.gho or something) it's handy in case something gets hosed doing updates and stuff.

Install the other programs you use a lot, and the games you play consistently on D drive, tweak all the settings, share out drives, all the network stuff, get everything perfect, and make another ghost image.

Now anytime you have a big problem, you can restore the image and the games that were installed before will all still work and have all the saves and patches.

I think my ideal setup would be maybe four 60 GB drives with a 7 GB windows part, a 55 GB programs, and a 55 GB movies. In a Raid 0+1 for speed and security.
!