Posts Tagged ‘hard disk drives’

Western Digital VelociRaptor 10,000 RPM Hard Drive is Fast

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
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I recently bought a Western Digital 150 GB VelociRaptor SATA 10,000 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Enterprise Hard Drive WD1500HLFS. Reviews of it on some sites said anywhere from a 15%-35% speed increase. Many of people said not to bother and to get a SSD (solid state) drive instead. While it’s not lightning fast like a SSD drive, its still fast and I can definately see the speed increase. If you don’t want to spend lots of money for a SSD drive, this is a great upgrade to get. It makes my 3 1/2 year old computer seem new again, because upgrading memory wasn’t going to gain me any more speed on my computer.

My bootup time before had gotten quite slow, but I have avast! Antivirus, Norton Ghost, Vmware, ZoneAlarm, Microsoft LifeCam, MySQL, Apache, VirtualCloneDrive and some minor things all loading up at boot time. My Windows backup that took 8-11 minutes now takes 3 minutes and 16 seconds. And my Norton Ghost backup of my C:\ drive used to take 20-22 minutes now takes less than 7 minutes.

SATA Switches – (HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors Part 6

Monday, December 8th, 2008
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I thought I would update an old series of posts I had about hard disk drive selectors. The previous solutions I had covered were all for IDE drives. Although you could buy adapters for them to work with SATA drives it isn’t worth the effort in my opinion. Indus Technologies does make SATA selectors that allow up to 4 drives, but they are quite expensive (their cheapest model is $179.95). Rumor is that they had a patent on IDE HDD selectors and that killed the RomTec Trios and the Trios II, as well as the Combox (which seems to have finally sold out on eBay). I’m not sure if they hold any patents that would prevent anyone from legally making any SATA selector products or not.

I was able to find a device called the SATA Switch also known as the SW-SATA2X4.

SATA Switch SW-SATA2X4

SATA Switch SW-SATA2X4

Here are some of it’s features:

  • Uses a 3½” bay
  • Supports SATA II (thus is SATA I compatible)
  • Supports up to 4 drives
  • Controls the drives by only powering the one selected
  • LED to show which drive is selected
  • Can be locked with a key to prevent someone changing drives
  • Costs only $89.99

I haven’t been able to figure out the original manufacturer of this device, but it’s being sold on a number of sites.

I’ve also come across a guide on how to make your own SATA HDD Switch. The author also sells this homemade device for $29.95 and has another version that supports switching between 2 sets of RAID 0 or RAID 1 drives for $32.95. It doesn’t have LEDs or a button to press, it works with a toggle switch (although you might want a shield for it so you don’t accidentally bump into it).


(HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors

Alternatives and Summary – (HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors Part 5

Sunday, February 4th, 2007
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Alternatives

If you can’t find one of these devices or are just curious about alternatives here are a few. You can use a multi-boot system and either set that up on a one or more hard drives and partition it how you want. Another alternative is to use removable hard drive bays, but that can end up being more expensive as you have to buy a removable case for each drive and then have to deal with swap them in and out. There is software that can change what partition is set to be active. I’ve tried Acronis OS Selector and a few free alternatives, but didn’t like any of them since none of them worked right.

Apparently http://www.industechnologies.com sells HDD selectors as well but they don’t seem to be as nicely designed as the reviewed items here. Some PC cases also feature hard drive selection.

 

Summary

I’ve owned the NickLock, Romtec Trios and the Combox and I personally recommend the Combox (which is what I currently use). It’s a great device and the best solution as far as setup goes. Although the Trios II is the next best device and the only choice if you to run two drives at the same time. I don’t know who owns whatever patent Romtec/Troyka seemed to infringe on though, but it’s a shame that they went under as their devices were very well designed. But I suppose it’s a niche market.

You can also make these much more complex, for instance if you setup a multi-boot on one of the drives or if you setup a removable hard drive in combination. Why buy or build more than one computer when you can have the setup you need all in one. Plus the fact you don’t have to mess with any boot loader or any software and have each hard drive completely isolated. So if you want a testing station (for beta or demo software), a tweaked game PC, a work computer or multiple operating systems, you might look into getting a HDD selector.

Although, there are times when you might need different OSes running at the same time, or computers with different hardware for testing, but if that’s the case you can built a few computers and set them up on a KVM or use VMware Player.

Since writing this summary, I have added a Part 6 that covers SATA selectors. However, I have not tried out any of the SATA selectors yet.


(HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors

Combox – (HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors Part 4

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007
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Troyka Combox Drive Swapper
note: Dell & Compaq owners may need a power cable adapter.

Complete Combox Package

This is the device I currently use. It only allows for one hard drive to be used at a time and has a system protection switch to prevent you from changing it while the computer is running. Since Combox controls power distributions to the drives, it will work with any drive interface (IDE, SCSI, Serial ATA) and any system whether old or new (Pentium and higher or equivalent, according to the old Troyka website). It also works with Primary/Secondary channels and PCI or Raid controller cards.

Combox Troyka Combox

Selection device is done by a digital touch control similar to the Trios II (basically just buttons similar to remote controls so don’t pop in and out like the Trios), however it is not a wired remote. Like the Trios II the LED stays on when the computer is powered off so you can see what selection you have picked. It takes up a 5 ½ “ bay with the touch selection on the outside, but at least you can place one of the hard drives inside the base of the unit. It takes up a card slot but doesn’t actually plug into the motherboard, basically the card just controls which device gets power, it also has to plug into the power supply connector, and the power supply cable plugs on the top of this. This allows it to control the power any device being used and gives the touch interface its power. It comes with a special hard drive cable that can connect to three hard drives so you only have one cable to deal with.

Combox

Unfortunately, this item wasn’t around for very long and there probably weren’t many made. Their website went down within a month. Supposedly Troyka is the same company that Romtec was and was infringing on some patent. These items were on sold on eBay by one user for quite a while, so apparently he had access to their left over stock.

Combox

Pros: Only the selected hard drive gets power. Only have to deal with one hard drive cable.

Cons: Hard to find.

Combox Complete Combox Package


(HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors

Romtec Trios II – (HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors Part 3

Friday, February 2nd, 2007
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Romtec Trios II PX-920T2 Multi Drive Selector
note: Dell & Compaq owners may need a power cable adapter.

Trios II

I’ll admit I never owned the Trios II model, but will summarize the features of the Trios II over the original Trios. Here are some exact quotes of the device from the now defunct Romtec website:

“TRIOS II controls not only one drive at a time but also controls 2 drives simultaneously. Master + Slave setup enables you to run 2 drives, one drive as Master the other as its slave. You can create your own configuration among the Hard Drives (O/S or Data drives).

Besides running up-to 3 OS independently, it allows you to run 2 drives simultaneously, clone drives, transfer data, and back up systems.”

It comes with a wired remote that plugs into a card that just uses a PCI slot but doesn’t actually use the slot other than just to hold it in place. Apparently it only gives power to the hard drives selected. You can run one drive as master and another as slave, or have one OS and 2 slave drives and switch between the slave drives or use it with three separate systems like the original Trios. Rather useful if you want to have a drive with just data and keep the OS on another drive, although you could also spread a virus to the other drives.

Trios II

note: There was a Trios II plus model also.

The old Romtech website states:

"TRIOS II Plus guarantees you 100% compatibility with all systems old and new. It is an upgraded version to our already reliable and dynamic TRIOS II which works with all systems up to Pentium III or equivalent.

TRIOS II plus is not only for hard drives, but any IDE drives. Hard Drives (O/S or Data drives), CD-ROM & Writer, 3D Imation Drives, DVD player & writer, ZIP Drives, etc. Flexible and compatible, you’re in good company with TRIOS II plus. TRIOS II plus controls not only one drive at a time but also controls 2 drives simultaneously. Master + Slave setup enables you to run 2 drives, one drive as Master the other as its slave.

Since you have up-to 3 C: Drives in your single PC, you probably need to transfer or share files among those drives. No problem. With TRIOS II plus, you can directly transfer files between your C: drives. Now transferring data is as easy as 1-2-3
* Caution: The Drive should be same file format system in order to transfer data among them.

Clone drives to keep your system backed up and secure. Now you don’t have to disconnect a drive or deal with removable racks after cloning in order to keep one in a safe place. TRIOS II plus allows you to clone and hide without all the hassles by using a 3rd party cloning utility such as Symantec Ghost."

Whether or not the regular Trios II allows you to use other IDE devices, I’m not sure, but it seems reasonable. The LED on the remote stays on even when computer is shutdown, but that’s so you can swap drives and see which one is selected.

Pros: Wired Remote is touch based. It doesn’t take up any bays. You can run two drives at the same time. Only selected hard drive(s) receive power.

Cons: Requires 4 IDE cables coming off the PCI card.

Romtec Trios II


(HDD) Hard Disk Drive Selectors