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WinXP and Raid 0 and more........

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  • WinXP and Raid 0 and more........

    Hi......I'm going from an old Mac to purchasing a new P4 system that will include 2 - 80 GB Hard Drives that I will have set up to run at Raid Zero. I'm new to the PC and WinXP and was wondering if I need to get WinXP Pro rather than WinXP Home to be able to assign the second drive to use for my windows temp files and scratch disk for PSD7? I'd rather just stick to WinXP Home, will WinXP Home let me do this or, do I need to go with XP Pro?
    If the system recognizes two drives of equal size as one larger drive in raid 0, how do I go about assigning the second drive to accept my temp files and to use as a scratch disk for Photoshop? I was also, wondering if WinXP will allow me to assign the amount of ram to use to run Photoshop and other programs? Or does WinXP only do that on it's own?
    Being that I'm new to the PC and new to WinXP and I will be the only user and not running on a network, learning curve wise and expense wise, I'd rather get WinXP Home. But, will WinXP Home let me do the things I mentioned above? Also, can anyone help me with choosing a good book to learn WinXP? Can you recommend a good one? I'd really appreciate some help with all of the above.
    Thank you,

  • #2
    Hi Bob,

    If you want to use one of the Raid functions on your PC you should know that either Raid 0 or Raid1 will result in the oerating system seeing only one hard drive. I believe that either XP home or Pro will work just fine. The main differences between XP Home and XP Pro is in the networking area. If you do not plan on setting up an elaborate network then Home should work OK for you.

    Now having said that I want to warn you about running a 2 drive Raid 0 array. The operating system will see only one hard drive and, because the data is distributed across both drives and they are treated as one, the loss of either drive will result in a complete loss of the drive system. It is very fast and will out perform a single drive system but I wouldn't recommend it unless you are able to buy 4 drives and run Raid 0 and 1. That way you have a mirror for the striped array. Raid 0+1 array is very fast and fault tollerant.

    Unless you are running a good tape backup system Raid 0 is dangerous. A broken Raid 0 array is not recoverable.


    • #3
      Hi Kevin,
      Thank you so much for the info, it helps me a lot!!!!!! I'm glad that I can stick to XP Home. I'm looking at having a system built and the mobo supports SATA Raid. I can't afford more than 2 drives at this time. So, I will look into running a Raid 1 setup at this time. The mobo I'm interested in getting is the Intel D875PBZ because of the "stability" of the board and it's also a fast board. So, I won't set up a faulty raid array at 0, I will set it up at 1 till I can afford more drives down the road. I'm mainly going to be using the system for Photoshop and web surfing, I won't be overclocking.
      I can only afford a 2.6 C 800 FSB at this time. But, that should give me enough power to run Photoshop, etc. Along with getting 2 - 512 DC DDR 400 Corsair chips, and thinking of getting the ATI 9600 Pro card. Thanks A Lot for all your advice!!


      • #4
        Hi Kevin,
        Will WinXP Home let me set up the second drive for windows temp and swap files? Could you tell me how do do that? I will also, be using the second drive for a scratch disk for Photoshop 7. The SATA drives I'm interested in are Seagate, Maxtor and WD drives, they all have a 8 mg cache. What Brand drives would you recommend? Thanks again for your help!!!!!


        • #5
          Hi Bob, I may have overstated Raid 0. It's not really faulty, it's a solid system. The problem with it is that with Raid 0 two 80 gig drives will make one 160 gig drive. The drives are treated as if they were one drive. If one of the drives fails you cannot just replace the bad drive and get back to where you were before the failure. You would have to start over and reload the whole array from scratch. What makes this dangerous is that with two drives you have twice the number of chances that you will have a drive failure. Also Raid 0 is difficult to set up. If you attempt it I recommend a program called "Partition Magic". This program makes partitioning hard drives much easier. With Partition magic you could set up a Raid 0 array and partition the drives so that you would have two 80 gig drives again, two really fast drives.

          If this sounds complicated, it really is. If you are new to PC's it is going to be a touch job. Also if you set up two 80 gig drives in a Raid 1 array you will end up with only one 80 gig drive. Raid 1 takes the two identical drives and mirrors them. This means that the second drive is a mirror of the first and is ready to take over if drive 0 fails. You cannot access the second drive. Raid 1 has no real performance gain over running a single drive. Raid 1 is designed to give you maximum protection against a hard drive failure. You can use a program like Partition Magic and set up two 40 gig partitions and treat them as two 40 gig drives.

          From what you are telling me I don't think that running a Raid set up is necessary for your PC. I run Raid 1 simply because I want to protect my data from a hard drive failure. Unless you have critical data to protect you don't need Raid 1.

          I think that either Seagate, Maxtor, or Western Digital drives are fairly equal. I am not aware of any problems with these brand drives. I have a pair of Western Digital 80 gig drives running Raid 1 in my main PC. The 8 meg cache is a nice feature.

          I hope this helps.


          • #6
            Hi Kevin,
            WOW.........You Really helped me a lot!!!!!!!!!! You told me pretty much everything I needed to know. I agree, I'm not going to go with a Raid set up at all!!! With both drives having a 8 meg cache, that is a good feature and I can use the second drive for my scratch disk and temp files.
            One more question if you don't mind? How do I go about setting up my second drive for my temp and or swap files? I really appreciate all the info you provided!!!!!!!!!
            Thanks again for your help,


            • #7
              I'm glad to be able to help. Which swap file are you asking about, the Windows swap file or Photoshop?


              • #8
                Hi Kevin,
                I was wondering if I can put the Windows Temp files on the second drive and how would I go about doing that? I would also use the second drive as a scratch disk for Photoshop. I guess I couldn't use the second drive for Windows Swap files, I don't think that would make any sense? Like I said, I'm new to the Windows platform.
                I was also, wondering if I could only afford ONE hard drive at this time, with using the partition software you talked about, would it be wise to set a partition on the one drive for Win Temp files and a Scratch disk for Photoshop? Such as a 120 gig drive partitioned to make it seem like two drives and setting up say 50 gigs on the second partition for the win temp files and the PSD scratch disk. Would that slow down Photoshop since it is Really using only the One hard drive? Again I really appreciate your advice!!!!!!
                Thanks again,


                • #9
                  Hey Bob. If You have the ability do do all of the above if you wish.

                  The Windows TEMP directory modifications are done through the "System" properties by bringing up the "Control Panel" and double clicking the "System" icon. Click on the "advanced" tab. Click on the Environmental button. In the window that opens look in the "User Variables" to locate the one called "Temp" and simply set the "value" to the new path.

                  The Windows swap file is called "Virtual Memory" you change that by going to the same location as the Environmental change. Near the top of the same window is a heading labeled "Performance". Click on the "Settings" button to pull up the "Performance Options" screen. Click on the "Advenced" tab and near the bottom of the that window is the"Virtual Memory" section. CLick on the change button to modify the virtual memory setting. My rule of thumb is to set the virtual memory size to 3 times your DRAM size. If you have 1 GIG of RAM you should set the swap file to 3 Gig.

                  Now having said all that, I must warn you that modifying these advanced Windows settings is dangerous if you make the wrong move. Setting the swap file to a specific size and placing it on your second drive is good for performance to a limited extent. If the file is set to default then Windows can dynamically change the size of the file as needed. When Windows adjust the virtual memory size it tends to slow things down while this is being done. But if you make it a static file, as in specifying the size and location, Windows will start up much faster. But if you do not make the virtual memory big enough, Windows will crash when it runs out of virtual memory.

                  You might want to let the system run at default for a while until you get comfortable with windows. Then if you want to make these changes proceed with caution.

                  Photoshop will definately run much better if the scratch file is on a different drive. Partitioning one logical drive into 2 partitions on the same drive doesn't give you much of a performance boost. I don't recommend it.


                  • #10
                    Hi Kevin,
                    You helped me out tremendously!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to print this out and save all the info you gave me. After reading this I agree with you about the fact that I should wait until I get comfortable with windows and let the system run at the default settings. The only thing I might do after a while is set the second drive up for the "Temp" files and also set the second drive for a PSD Scratch file.
                    If I see I can't afford a second drive yet, I won't do any of that till I can afford to get a second drive. Again Kevin, you helped me out a lot with all of this and I Really Appreciate it!!!!!!
                    Thanks Again,


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