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Everything posted by phoenix

  1. phoenix

    Storage Review Site Update

    Another area of interest - different variants of existing models.... a 1TB drive may undergo evolutions from 4 platters down to 3 then down to 2. Different model codes but same product name and line. Having a page that simply shows this information would be quite useful when shopping.
  2. phoenix

    Storage Review Site Update

    I'm glad to hear that the site is attempting a resurrection. I hope it's not too little too late. As another long-term reader of this site, I agree with Futureshock's conclusions. Frankly, reviewing the latest Hitachi 2TB consumer drive isn't going to bring SR back if that is what you were intending. There are too many places to go to for that information nowadays. It was more relevant when SR was the only one who even did the benchmarks, but that was ten years ago. It's the raid controller or chipset disk interface performance, the storage protocol performance, the filesystems, the entry level to mid range NAS units - that's what's missing these days, and it's spread out all over. Toms Hardware and various forums occasionally hit up the RAID controllers... but inconsistently. HardOCP forums tend to have some good storage design and filesystem and storage management community members. Smallnetbuilder does a simple but adequate job with entry level NAS. But it's all spread out, and it ought to be here.
  3. Why do you assume desktop apps are limited by I/O?
  4. Help! In versions of Windows previous to Vista, there was no funky clunky searching replacing the start menu. This made keyboard shortcuts very easy. For example if I wanted to start Internet Exploder, I only needed to hit the windows key then the "I" key on the keyboard, and boom, it was launched. I could do all sorts of these things in less than a second from developing some finger memory. Then came Vista. The windows key brings up the Start menu, but hitting I starts up some clunky search thing. After a couple of seconds I have a list of everything that began with "I" and now I have to up arrow/down arrow through it or use the mouse to pick which one I want. It's incredibly annoying. I've been using XP lately and realizing what a step backward Vista was for me in this regard. Is there a way to turn off all the Vista start menu searching crap and make it behave exactly as it did in XP? Where if I want to run an .exe I type Windows-R? Email is Window-E? Hitting any key with the start menu open highlights the first item that begins with that letter--and launches it if it's the only thing on the start menu's "home page" that begins with that letter?
  5. phoenix

    USB 2.0 performance

    What factors affect USB speed of an external hard drive? I bought a new 1TB external... it's the WD My Book Essentials 2.0 model which as far as I can tell as the recent Caviar GP 1TB drive (but not the RE model) inside it. It's great--it was cheap and had only the slightest bit of warmth after a 12 hour stress test. It's also utterly silent, I can't hear anything. I can only sustain 22-23MB/sec off of it over USB 2.0 and was wondering, with external storage being a big part of our lives and so much discussion about things like 16MB-vs-32MB cache, firmware tuning, etc etc etc., is there anything that can be done to speed up USB 2.0 transfers? Do different operating systems (Vista, XP, Linux) perform better or worse when managing transfers across USB devices? What about the PC itself, do different chipsets implement different quality USB interfaces, perhaps with lower or higher effective bandwidth from model to model? I guess the performance tweaker/nut in me is trying to get a sense of what this drive is capable of
  6. I think that's a somewhat fair assumption... at least, it's how I like to think of it. When provisioning ten or fifteen spindles to a system, I sometimes have trouble justifying the cost of a true SAN with the bells and whistles (high bandwidth backplane, FC switching fabric, etc.) for the performance you get versus direct-attached storage. Especially since you often can get a good percentage of the manageability benefits using host-based volume managers anyway. It's when I get past that threshold (or into clustered environments) that larger SAN/NAS solutions start to make sense (to me).
  7. phoenix

    USB 2.0 performance

    I did find it to be very chipset-dependent. My old P4 at home couldn't get more than 22MB/sec out of this drive. My Qosmio laptop running a Core 2 Duo chipset of some kind pulled 30MB/sec. The various P35 desktops and workstations around the office average about 35MB/sec. Everything is running Vista, all measurements using HD Tach. So I guess the biggest tweak (if you're not getting 30+ MB/sec with a modern fast device) is to look at the chipset platform you're on. This is a surprise to me because I assumed that USB 2.0, being such an "old" spec, would have had every ounce wrung out of it long ago.
  8. Previous posters caught some of the key issues. I'll throw in some other things you're achieving with a SAN, 1. Scalability. While you are right that it's possible to match the performance of a SAN disk-for-disk with a small number of disks, a SAN gives you shelf and frame space to scale far beyond. I've managed SANs with hundreds of disk spindles, which is something I'm not going to accomplish with Newegg parts. At the higher end, it's nice for scalability to be as simple as putting another shelf of disks onto the chassis. 2. Feature richness. If you've got the money, a SAN can be a starting point for snapshotting, realtime site-to-site replication, DR, integrated SAN/NAS-to-tape backup systems and so forth. Some of this is fluff, but sometimes it's quite useful. Then there's this whole new emerging field of built in ILM and compliance capabilities that, while I consider to be largely bureaucratic/overhead, is still a fact of life in many environments. 3. Performance. Disk for disk I'm not going to get a six-figure or seven-figure storage system so that my 5 disk RAID volume is faster. But again you do see higher ceilings. I've had requirements for sustained gigabyte-per-second-to-host throughput for extremely large data warehousing environments; this is something I can accomplish easily with multiple 4Gb fiber paths load balanced to a host, with 40 or more disks behind them. Again, more difficult to achieve with Newegg parts. 4. Support. SANs have dial-home capabilities for making service calls. 5. Integrated software stack certification. If I'm running a clustered database using some sort of raw or semi-raw clustered filesystem accessed via all nodes over multiple paths... well, EMC and its ilk have a complete, certified solution stack to handle all these piece. No mucking about with a Linux multipath package of tweaking an OS i/o scheduler or the like. I've dealt with -many- "issues" in the storage interface software subsystem in high performance database clusters to have recognized the need for solutions that have been field tested. vs. solutions that some lone consultant put together reading HOWTOs.
  9. phoenix

    USB 2.0 performance

    Ditto. I am curious too. I understand eSATA but bottom line, USB is pretty much ubiquitous. 95% of the places I might take this drive to aren't going to have any eSATA connections, so I got interested in USB performance on its own. I been able to find much in the way on tweaking... just anecdotes that the standard should support a sustained 35-40MB/sec after accounting for overhead... but I've never seen anything close to this.
  10. Any recommendations on a good easy to use backup software package for backing up laptops to say an external hard drive? Need something semi-business like (easy to use, reliable, updated) that can walk people though setting up a backup schedule. Some basic security features like password-protected backups would be nice to haves. Just have a lot of laptops running around with no backups... external hard drive is definitely the preferred destination for backup sets at this time. Just don't know any good XP or Vista client software that does this other than freeware stuff I've played with in the past.
  11. phoenix

    Raptor or fast 7.2k for SQL?

    I would focus your efforts on tuning the existing environment. What kind of raw I/O are you seeing? What transactions are running slow, what is the bottleneck, and why? Why is so much RAM needed for each user connection and what is it used for? What kind of DB caching are you using? How do you know disk I/O is the bottleneck, such that you would consider upgrading the disk? Etc. 2.5GB is a pretty tiny database in this day and age for the kind of hardware you've already invested to support it. I don't think throwing more hardware at the problem is the solution.
  12. phoenix


    I'm okay with web site advertising to generate some revenue. That said, whatever is being used for this site has over the last month soured me to the point that I don't care much to return. Things seem slow, unresponsive, with full page ads, popups, basically everything that makes me not want to visit a site at all. And I'm one of those types who is okay with ads and sometimes even actually clicks a few of them. It's just my two cents and I wanted to share the feedback.
  13. I've managed to exceed 1.0GB/sec using fiber channel on a couple of occasions. Four 4GbE connections streaming data off SAN 10K or 15K disk. Tested using dd if=<target> of=/dev/null in linux environments. Did some looking a year ago to see if such rates could be achieved with more workstation-oriented controllers (e.g. Areca) but didn't seem to find much of a track record.
  14. I have the same motherboard and drive. I could not even get the thing to boot in AHCI. After fiddling for a bit I realized that just running the thing in native mode, getting it up and running and doing actual work with it was more important than spending time trying to deal with drivers and other issues.
  15. I'm sure this is a very simple question; I'm mostly a unix/linux person and am a bit lost here. Trying to setup a simple office network. I have Windows Server 2003 Std Ed. R2 installed on a box. All clients are connected via switch to this box and I'm trying to do very simple file sharing. I don't need security. Everyone using this basically works in one room and the door isn't open unless someone's moving in or out So I just want to put hard drives in the box, create volumes, share 'em and map 'em to consistent drive letters on everyones' PCs. I don't want them to have to log in or authenticate against the server, these are pretty much personal laptops, there is no Active Directory. So I set things up so that everyone is in the same Workgroup and I can share folders out, however when I'm sharing a Server 2003 folder, anyone connecting to it is prompted for a password on the server. Is there a way to turn this off? If I share something from my PC to another PC, password authentication isn't mandatory but I can't figure out how to turn it off on Server 2003. My dream scenario would be to make all shares accessed via a particular NIC publically accessible. Any ideas?
  16. phoenix

    Vista Sucks!

    Any help on these would be greatly appreciated! 1. How do I make every single folder I see in Explorer appear like it did in the normal Details view in XP? e.g. name, date, type, size. No Movie Folders with thumbnails, no music or picture folders with star ratings etc. I am spending more time switching folders back to some standard view than I am actually working on their contents. I turned on classic folders but it doesn't seem to work or solve the problem. I have random folders (like those with a bunch of .gif and .jpg files that are a dump of a web site /images directory) that have star ratings for pictures when I need to be seeing file dates. 2. Is it just me or does Vista Wifi just not like hibernation all that much? Half the time it doesn't come back when resuming from hibernation. 3. Is there a way to turn off the "Vista is currently spending the next 10 minutes thinking about files it's about to copy before actually copying them" thing? I want it to be like every other OS on the planet: start copying the files, show me immediately how long it's going to take. 4. How do I switch the alt-tabbing display back to what XP had? Thumbnails don't help me when I'm tabbing between many windows of the same app. My productivity switching between windows using either the Vista alt-tabbing or new 3D tabbing is a fraction of what it used to be. Now I have to mouse to the task bar to figure out what to use. 5. While I'm at it, can the Desktop be removed from the list of "Applications" that I tab to?? I don't know what nut thought of that feature. I don't often need to tab to nothing. Maybe it's there to let people show off Dreamscene or something but in terms of getting work done it's sort of silly. 6. How do I get the start menu to behave like XP's with the accordion-like expansion to the left as I move through submenus? I take many times as many clicks to launch a program as I did in XP? 7. How do I turn off that whole search thing in the Start Menu anyway? I've spent years hitting Crtl-ESC to bring up the start menu, and I to start a browser. Not anymore. Typing -anything- with the start menu open puts what you type in some slow and new-fangled search box. Since I mostly just run the same few applications over and over, and now need to either mouse to click 'em or have to type out their names, I'm again... you guessed it... less productive. 8. When I copy files, is there a way to tell it to just copy the files and folders and overwrite everything without me having to confirm & select a checkbox for files AND folders separately?! Right now copying folders takes 4x as many clicks as it used to in XP. yet another pain. I'm not a luddite and usually like leading edge and bleeding edge tech but honestly I've never been as unproductive with software as I am with Vista. I've a new laptop that came with it and it's hard getting things done without wanting to break the keyboard. This is an OS clearly targeted toward the least common demoninator, with questions and confirmations for every silly little thing. XP was so much nicer--it had a pretty GUI but you could still get through it fast to get the job done. Vista seems to be far more about form than function.
  17. phoenix

    Vista Sucks!

    Oh, yet another thing. 9. I was trying to upgrade a XP PC to Vista Home Premium. Fully licensed XP, and a perfectly legal, bought-with-my-hard-earned-money upgrade key for Vista. I started the Vista install, it mysteriously froze the computer halfway through. Powered off, restarted, reinstalled but this time it told me I couldn't do an upgrade so I'd have to do a clean install. Ok fine whatever. Finish install, install 939439493 security updates, and start the activation thingy. It tells me my key is only valid for upgrades and therefore I have to purchase a better key. @#$#?#?$@?? Do I need to reinstall XP, then reinstall Vista to get this thing to work?! Because if I have to do that, then I'll reinstall XP and put the Vista key on ebay
  18. phoenix

    Deathstar longevity record?

    I have an old Dell P3 with a Deathstar still running. The original that came with the PC died and was replaced within a month of use; its replacement also died and was replaced. Third time's the charm: it's been running nearly 24x7 since then.... probably four or five years now.
  19. I'm building a set of web sites for a collection of small companies (family/friends related, strictly gratis, not high traffic sites, just html/css and a little php for contact forms, etc.) and was wondering if anyone could recommend a hosting provider. What I'm looking for is, - some name recognition (important to these small companies, don't ask why!) - php support for some scripting - really nice email support - this is key. Each company needs 5-10 email addresses, web access to the email, as well as POP/IMAP ideally, and the web access should be fairly slick and easy to use. - cheap - these are small companies, non-profits and a school - ideally separate billing and admin functions. That is, I'd like these companies/organizations to be able to manage their own hosting/billing (not looking to make money here) but I still want to be able to FTP in to change content as I'm asked to. Any suggestions? I don't do too much of this (from a hosting perspective) and have only used godaddy, which has performed reasonably well but has a somewhat ugly email client and a truly horrendous home page with massive advertising overload. I do like the performance and pricing of godaddy, just wish there were something more conservative looking with stronger email offerings. Tips welcomed...
  20. One thing I had wanted to see were more enterprise level benchmarks. I used to built fairly large database systems (terabyte size on up) from the server on up using SAN or NAS hardware. I visited SR because the low level data available on individual drives gave me some sense as to the theoretical capabilities of a bank of disks in some SAN/NAS that a VAR wanted to ship to me... so that when I did my own OS- or database-level benchmarks, I had at least a ballpark estimate of what the loss due to layers of inefficiency would be. (e.g. if my SQL full scan read an aggregate 4MB/sec off a set of disk that I know should be capable of 500MB/sec that's connected to the host via multiple 2/4Gb fiber, then an alarm bell goes off and I know to investigate further.) In that sense it's still useful to me, but in the process I've become very interested in the matter of software and hardware layering itself--how much inefficiency do different kinds of filesystems add and how can this inefficiency be measured? How much inefficiency do different kinds of database systems add? RAID controllers? LVMs? Virtualization drivers? And so forth. I don't have a good handle on how this could have been measured, unfortunately, but have long been interested in trying to make something like it happen. But where's the time!
  21. I'm one of the many who doesn't visit much, nowadays, due to the lack of reviews. I think this site could learn a lot from a place like, which doesn't review every camera under the sun, but still manages to do enough to remain relevant and retain interest. I used to consider those two sites to be very similar in their mission and high standard for quality but I feel that somewhere along the way, SR just gave up.
  22. phoenix

    Upgrading /speeding-up an old PC

    I've gotten much less powerful computers to feel very responsive with Windows XP. Some suggestions, - Deinstall programs that you don't need or use - Clear out your startup folder, registry, etc. Laptops tend to have lots of extra startup programs to support special services, however a desktop should be relatively unburdened. - Latest drivers, obviously. - Occasionally I will run a PC without AV or spyware... my experience has long been that nothing makes up for safe browsing habits and I've yet to run an AV or spyware program that doesn't impose a huge penalty on system responsiveness - Go to an XP tweak site and run the gamut. Optimize page file, defrag disk, disable services that aren't going to be used. Not too long ago I did this with an old P3/866, 512MB, 40GB box and had it running more responsively for web surfing than my friend's brand new Core 2, 2GB, 7200rpm HD laptop with gobs of bloatware. By modern standards, XP is actually quite light on system resources. Now if anyone knows a good Vista tuning site...
  23. phoenix

    Programming languages

    I'd cynically add for the OP that the proliferation of languages is also due in part to companies attempting to establish market share and developer-types seeking to perpetuate their kind by developing yet another language or API. The many modern languages in some cases are easy to componentize, and APIs exist today (opengl, directx) that didn't exist 20 years ago. Manageability of humongous amounts of code(100's of thousands of lines) is better. But for many applications, programming languages and platforms haven't made the task at hand one iota easier... and in fact have often made life much harder. Good example would be a web-based data entry form (who cares what it's written in) often being far less efficient than your standard 5250 green screen terminal data entry program when it comes to the program's intended purpose: allowing data entry personnel to enter information into the system as quickly as possible. Or maybe it's how so many modern IDEs take 5, 10, 20, 30, 45 seconds to start up on my Raptor-fueled Core 2 when good ol' text mode Microsoft Professional Basic or Professional C editors started up in a second on machines with maybe 1% the compute power of modern systems and still featured full syntax highlighting, code lookups, rich help systems, etc. Or maybe it's the fact that abstraction has led to programming languages that let you get a task done in any of a dozen ways, leading to widespread confusion about exactly how a new programmer is supposed to go about getting a job done. And every couple of years, there's another group with another paradigm (XP, agile, pair programming, OOP, KISS, write-once-run-anywhere, waterfall, blah blah blah) advocating a reinvention of how people do their job in the name of some allegedly tweaked process. This has been going on since the early 80s (maybe longer, I'm not THAT old!) and shows no sign of abating. Having watched the flow of things sometimes has me reflecting on how programming regularly changes, but doesn't always become better.
  24. phoenix

    SCSI raid vs SATA raid

    What games are we talking about here, anyway? I've played most of the ones being discussed and level load times are usually single digit seconds across the board with a single 150GB raptor. Are we really talking about spending closer $1,000 to shave a second or two? Minutes saved in Photoshop is one thing... I don't know many computer games whose level load times take as long as a complex photoshop action...
  25. I have an old PC that I built that's having problems. Specs are a P4/2.8, 875P board, 36GB Raptor + a pair of 400GB 7200rpm WD drives, and an AGP Radeon 9800 Pro. Couple of gigs of RAM. Power supply is one of the Antec TruePowers, I think the 430W version. This PC has been running pretty reliable for a long time - I built it the moment the first 875P boards showed up so I guess it's been a few years. Anyway I think either the video card or the power supply is going. At first I'd notice in XP that whenever I fired up a 3D-intensive game, hard drives would start powering down then spinning back up every couple of minutes. All it would do is freeze the action for a few moments but it was happening and only when the Radeon was being stressed. It slowly got worse over time and frequency seemed unaffected by how many other devices were plugged in - I removed PCI boards, optical drives, even HDs and this would still happen. Now I've installed Vista and am noticing that the system blue-screens within a minute or two of login with Aero enabled. I can boot into safe mode and work with the PC all day long. So I'm guessing that either the video card is going or the power supply is going. The video card is one of those that has a connector to draw power from the power supply through a separate PS lead. Anyway, is there any good way to ascertain which would be at fault here? I'm kind of assuming that the power supply has been running 24/7 for three years straight and is just dying on me and should be replaced, but if there's something I can check to verify, that would be helpful. It's kind of what I'm assuming based upon the symptoms but I don't have as much experience here as ya'll...