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  1. visualbuffs

    WD or SEAGATE?

    guys i had a question which is better hard drive manufacturer? Seagate or Western Digital? for me Seagate will last long but my favorite was WD for external hard drive best brand was Seagate but for internal?
  2. Hello everyone, I'm thinking about changing my laptop hard drive to SSD as this is the age of SSD now. Now, my concern is that, my laptop came pre-installed with Windows 10 Professional & I have an OS recovery DVD but it's older version. I'm stuck here with the activation process, as repository threads are removed now, which I'm not. And I don't wish to recover from the original DVD, because I've to update again my whole operating system, which will be a waste of both time & bandwidth. I have the latest ISO of Windows 10 & I'll be installing from it. My question is, will the OEM product key automatically slipstream to the OS if I install the latest version & activate itself over internet or I have to insert a product key separately & activate it? Please help.
  3. Over the past few years, the rate of hard drive density improvements has dropped significantly. While Seagate and Western Digital have both pushed ahead with larger hard drives (often thanks to more platters and the use of helium), the actual rate of areal density increase has slowed these last few years. As Seagate and Western Digital push towards 20TB, glass substrates could be a critical component of that effort. Right now, only laptop drives use glass substrates, which have several advantages over aluminum. First, glass is more rigid than aluminum, which allows the platters to be thinner (and lighter). Glass substrates are smoother and flatter than aluminum, which allows them to be packed together more tightly, and they expand less than aluminum under heat, which makes it easier to cope with thermal expansion. The amount of energy required to spin a glass platter at a given spindle speed will also be at least slightly lower than if the same platter was made of aluminum, due to the latter’s higher weight. Mock-ups incorporating Hoya’s glass substrate. The right and left mock-ups use 10 0.5mm-thick glass substrates and nine 0.635mm-thick glass substrates, respectively. A Japanese company, Hoya, believes that current HDD manufacturers will adopt its glass disks for 3.5-inch drives (glass is already used for 2.5-inch laptop drives). Hoya has prototyped glass platters that are 0.5mm and 0.381mm thick, compared with the 0.635mm platters currently in use. While each drive platter must have a gap between itself and the next platter, cutting the platter size by 40 percent means you can pack more platters into the same drive capacity. Glass substrates are also useful for HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording), which uses a laser to heat the part of the disk being written to. Seagate wants to introduce HAMR-equipped HDDs by 2018 and hit 20TB of available storage by 2020. Banking on Capacity One reason I suspect Nikkei is right about glass substrates being more widely adopted in 3.5-inch drives is because the hard drive industry really only has one card to play against SSDs — sheer storage capacity. The explosion in cloud services and the advent of so many comprehensive backup solutions means enterprise demand for back-end storage is going to continue to grow. Companies may use SSDs and NAND to cache data; we’ve even seen some interesting proposals for using NAND as a replacement for DRAM in cache servers. But while companies like Samsung sometimes make headlines for creating enormous NAND drives that dwarf anything hard drives can offer, they don’t bring those products to market for good reason: Nobody could afford them at the price they’d have to charge. The last two blue dots show consumer capacity in 2011 and 2014. The red dot shows the density growth rate at 20TB in 2020, Seagate’s stated goal for its own HAMR introduction. As the cost gap between hard drives and SSDs has fallen, we’ve seen SSDs muscling into what was traditionally the turf of higher capacity hard drives. The consumer market is clearly moving to NAND flash in the long run, with enthusiasts still buying some hard drives for local backups and archival purposes. Long-term, however, HDDs are going to be seen as cold (or at least cool) storage options. That means driving up capacities is the most important way to expand their appeal, and the businesses that adopt them won’t be put off, even if glass platters require a higher cost. SSDs aren’t going to be cost-effective if you need 100 to 500TB of storage in the near-term. With the total amount of data created worldwide continuing to grow, there’s no sign of slowing the world demand for data any time soon. View: Original Article
  4. Nobody would ever need monitoring software for all kinds of systems if all devices in the world were as hard-working and as trustworthy as yourself. But machines have their own flaws and their own performance issues and whims, and the best thing you can do is to monitor them every now and then before anything should happen that cannot be fixed. Here are 12 monitoring tools for your hard drive, your USB drive and also for your network, which you can use to make sure that everything that’s related to these systems keeps working as smoothly as possible. Best hard drive health monitoring software In case you are not aware of the state of your hard drives, you may not be able to save all of your precious data, before something nasty happens and then it becomes too late. You must surely know that not all hard drive crashes are random and this way you have to make time to backup your data before it fails for good. All the modern drives have a monitoring technology which is called S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) and this is targeted at continuously monitoring particular parameters on a hard drive. Various parameters can be monitors by this technology, and they include read/write error dates, seek error dates, temperatures, spin up time, and so on. In order to be efficiently warned when some of these parameters are becoming degraded or are on the verge of reaching their threshold, you need a program that is able to track down all these changes that are involved and then that will display them for you. Such monitoring software should be able to allow you to test and to see whether the hard drive is able to store your data in the safest manner possible, it should give you plenty of time to backup your important files and to start looking for a replacement drive. The monitoring software is not completely able to show you whether the integrity of all your data can be preserved on a particular hard drive and the best thing you can do is to scan for unreadable blocks of data once a month in order to make sure that your drive is not degrading and your data that you have stored in your system is not being lost. CrystalDiskInfo This is an excellent program for monitoring the temperature and health of your hard drive. The software is able to warn you if the temperature and if the health of your drive is deteriorating. The program’s default temperature warning is set to 50 degrees Celsius, and it can also be adjusted. It features graphs of the accumulated S.M.A.R.T. data, and it doesn’t have any problems telling users anything there is to know about the drive. CrystalDiskInfo lists both the Power On Count and the total Power On Hours. The software is open source, and there is a portable version of the program and also an installer. The main advantages of the program include resident monitoring, alarm for temperature and health, showing the temperature for each and every drive in the system tray, S.M.A.R.T. and general info about internal/external hard drives and setting for adjusting AAM/APM. Its minuses include the fact that you must set it up to be a resident and to startup in the system tray for constant monitoring. HDDScan This is quite an amazing piece of software even if its interface needs a little getting used to. One of its best features is the Graph when you are scanning the surface for unreadable blocks of data. It is able to list the blocks by response time and this way you will get to see how many blocks are getting close to being unreadable before the data in those blocks is lost. It will warn you about un-checking the box that disables the maps dynamic update. You are advised not to have any other programs running at the same time you are scanning, and there is also the Conveyance text that will turn out to be great in case you receive a new or an old internal/external hard drive. The program also features settings for adjusting the AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management), the PM (Power Management) and the APM (Advanced Power Management). Its main features include monitoring temperature, alarm for temperature, showing the temperature for each drive, S.M.A.R.T. offline conveyance and more tests, surface scan, information about internal and external hard drives and the ones that we have already described above. The temperature monitor must be selected for each and every drive for it to be able to be continuously monitored and this must be done each time you start the program. HD Tune HD Tune is quite a useful benchmark to test your hard drive performance. Its free version provides block scanner capabilities, and it works with both internal and external hard drives. This utility features a graphical benchmark to bench internal/external hard drives performances and it scans for bad data blocks on internal and on external drives with graphical diagrams. It can also display power on hours, S.M.A.R.T. and general info only for internal drives. You can also make the program portable, and all you have to do for this is to copy HDTune.exe to the folder you like after you install the program. The program’s free version is not updated anymore, and you have to go for a paid-for Pro version with some more complex features. The free version of the program does not include any external USB hard drive S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, temperature, and information as it is not updated. DiskCheckup This is a very capable tool to monitor the S.M.A.R.T. attributes of a hard disk drive. It displays information about the drive as well, and it features a temperature warning that your drive should get to 60 degrees Celsius and this can be adjusted. It is also able to warn you if a S.M.A.R.T. threshold has been passed and you have the ability to configure it to display a popup, or it can send you a notice via email. It can show both external and internal hard drives correctly. You can make the app a portable one by copying DiskCheckup.exe, DiskCheckupLog.txt, and also DickCheckup.cfg to a folder. Its main minus is the fact that it doesn’t feature any individual drive temps in the tray and the drive temp is not seen easily. It will not perform any surface tests or S.M.A.R.T. tests. Best Software for monitoring the USB flash drive Whenever you buy a new piece of computer hardware, whether it is the memory, a CPU, a hard drive and so on, one of the main factors that will help you determine your buying decision would be the performance of that certain component. Regarding the hard drives and the SSD drives you will have to look at their capacity and read/write speeds. The story will be quite similar in care you decide on purchasing a removable memory card or a USB flash drive. Besides from having to worry about USB drives being at their full capacity and not being fake in case you get them from places such as eBay, the performance of a flash drive can vary by massive amounts. This will strongly depend on the manufacturer and the type of memory that is used. Now, the modern devices are reaching up to 64GB and even more than this and, if you purchase a slow USB flash drive with a high capacity, this could literally take hours to fill it up completely. Besides being incredibly frustrating, this could also turn out to be a total waste of cash if you have to go and buy something else that will be faster and will fit all of your needs. Many users make their purchases based on the storage size without considering the speed of the drive. In case you already have some USB flash drives you might like to be able to find out how fast they actually are at writing and reading. In case a 16GB drive only writes at 3-4MB/s it could take forever to fill it. If you own a fast USB3 flash drive it could do exactly the same tasks in only a matter of minutes. Check out these tools to benchmark your USB flash drives or also your media cards to find out just how fast they actually are. Check Flash This is quite a simple flash drive testing and maintaining tool which can be used to run a burn in read and write test on the USB drives. If the device can survive after a few cycles, this means that the USB flash drive should be just fine. There are 3 access types and also 6 action types for you to select and to access the actions of Save image, Read stability test, Load Image and Full erase you will have to make some changes to the Access Type and switch from temporary file to a logical or to a physical drive. Apart from checking for disk errors, the program is also able to determine the read and write speed of the drive. The test length can be set to scan the drive only once, or it can leave it running until an error is found. It can also tell you to stop. The program is a free and single portable executable file and it is only able to text a USB flash drive. H2testw This specific software can test USB flash drives, memory cards and also internal/external/network hard drives for errors. The program just works by filling the device with 1GB of test data and then it will verify it by reading the data back again. It is very easy to use, and you just have to select the English language because it defaults to German. Then you have to choose the target device and choose whether you want to test all available space of just a particular amount of Megabytes. Although the software is non-destructive and it will not overwrite anything present on the drive, for obtaining the best results, it is highly recommended to have an empty and a newly formatted device. The program has been tested and re-tested, and it turned out to be excellent at testing for errors and also to find USB sticks with a fake capacity. The program is entirely portable standalone executable. RMPrepUSB The tool is a USB formatting, partitioning and bootloader creation utility as opposed to a USB testing tool. This tool is not really meant to be useful for doing a complex read and write scan, and it has a little function that can test your drive in order to see if there are missing parts or bad ones and what its actual size is. This is ideal for checking if the drive has the capacity that you believe it to be and the tool is much quicker than scanning the whole drive if this is all you want to do. You first have to make sure of the fact that the USB drive is empty because any of its contents will be deleted in the process. You simply have to insert your drive and then select Quick size test. Both portable and installable versions are available. This is also a great tool for experimenting with bootloaders on your flash drive because there are several types that you can use. SpeedOut SpeedOut is a small, user-friendly and portable tool that can measure the sequential read very quickly and write speed of your flash drive. This program will run the tests at a low level, and it needs to be run as an admin. This means that the scores will not be affected by the drive file system. You just have to choose your USB drive from the drop-down menu if you have more than one and the program will run four passes for both reading and writing tests. It will display the average for each and every one of them. You can save the scores, or you can copy them by right-clicking on the title bar. The tool is non-destructive and this means that no files are overwritten, and the flash drive does not need formatting to run the test Best networking monitoring tools If you plan on building a network you will have to start with architecture, then draw the design and in the end analyze and choose the hardware that best suits your requirements. Many organizations need their network up and running correctly for generating revenue so having the best set of tools for monitoring and for managing the one you created with so much effort is quite critical. If you’re wondering how exactly will you winnow out the best monitoring tools for your network from hundreds or even thousands of options we can help you. Today, there are various commercial products, freeware tools and open-source software to choose from. There’s also a lot of debate regarding free tools versus paid ones and there are both of them tried and tested and well recommended. Open-source choices are also a good option and they can even match the commercial tools. On the other hand, you should be aware of the fact that using an open-source monitoring tool will require a high level of involvement with that particular tool which may not best suit all of your needs. For one, open-source tools require a significant investment of time and resources for learning, installing, configuring and using that tool. Another thing is that some features may have to be built with the help of community support or with the support of an in-house IT team. Another consideration is the security, and this can very easy become an issue in case your enterprise features some strict security guidelines. Immediate customized fixes may not be available unless you spend some time on their development and so on. There are cases in which some major security flaws are not discovered in the auditing process. So, our advice is to stick with the free/paid tools for monitoring networks because they’re much more convenient. PRTG Network Monitor The PRTG Network tools will monitor every aspect of your IT infrastructure including all devices, systems, traffic and apps using various technologies. These technologies include the following: SNMP (ready to use and custom options), WMI and Windows Performance Counters, SSH (for Linux/Unix and MacOS systems), Flows and Packet Sniffing, Ping, HTTP requests and push data, SQL and more. The tool is able to scan network segments by pinging defined IP ranges and this way PRTG will recognize a broad range of devices and systems in an automatic manner, and it will create sensors from predefined device templates. All of these will save you lots of configuration work, and you will be able to start monitoring everything right away. The tool also allows you to create web pages with up-to-date monitoring data in your desired design. You will also be able to create maps with your monitoring data publicly available. PRTG will alert you when it discovers warnings or important metrics. You will also be able to get push notifications straight to your mobile device and you can setup the notifications via email and SMS the best way to suit all of your needs. Using the powerful API, you are allowed to even write your own scripts. CACTI Cacti is a network monitoring tool that allows you to collect data from almost any network element there is including switching and routing systems, load balancers, firewalls and servers, and it will put all of the data into graphs. If you own a device, it is possible that Cacti’s active community of developers has created a monitoring template for it. This tool supports SNMP polling which covers a broad range of network devices. You will also be able to extend Cacti’s capabilities to use scripts, queries or commands for data collection and then save it as a template and then to use for polling other devices for similar data sets. Cacti leverages the power of RRDTool. This is an open-source data logging and graphing system which is designed for storing polled data in the database. It also creates graphs from the stored data sets. RRDTool’s data consolidation allows you to store the collected data forever and it is limited only by the size your storage. Cacti leveraging on RRDTool can generate any type of graph for any data set. The graphing used in Cacti is the standard used by various open-source and commercial tools. Cacti also allows you to add more users and to give them access with or without edit permissions. This is just perfect for service providers and enterprises with a large NOC team. Cacti leveraging on RRDTool can generate any type of graph for any data set. The graphing used in Cacti is the standard used by various open-source and commercial tools. Cacti also allows you to add more users and to give them access with or without edit permissions. This is just perfect for service providers and enterprises with a large NOC team. NTOP (NTOPng) This is a traffic probe that uses libpcap for packet capture to report on network traffic. You can install it on a server with various interfaces and use port mirroring on a network tap to feed ntopng with the data packets from the network for analysis. The software can analyze traffic even at 10G speeds; to report on IP addresses, volume, and bytes for each and every transaction. It can also sort traffic based on IP, protocol, and port, it generates reports for usage and even on AS information. Such a level of traffic analysis will help you make some informed decisions about capacity planning and QoS design, and it will also help you find bandwidth-hogging users and apps in your network. The tool has a commercial version that is called ntopng pro which comes with some additional features, but the open source version seems to be good enough to quickly gain insight into traffic behavior. The tool will integrate with external monitoring apps such as Nagios for alerting and it will provide data for monitoring. The program also features some limitations, but its level of network traffic visibility makes it worth your money and efforts. Site24x7 The tool offers centralized cloud monitoring for DevOps and IT operations, and it monitors the experience of real users accessing websites and apps from desktop and mobile devices. The in-depth monitoring capabilities enable DevOps teams to control and to troubleshoot apps, servers and network infrastructure, including both private and public clouds. The end-user experience monitoring is done from over 50 locations across the world and various wireless carriers. The Site24x7 software monitors the performance of Internet services such as HTTPS, DNS, FTP, SSL, SMTP, POP, URLs, and APIs. It offers comprehensive monitoring for critical network devices such as routers, firewalls, and networks. It can help network teams to get deeper performance visibility that is required for managing complex systems. Browse through all the software tools listed above and choose the ones that best suit your needs for monitoring the performance of your hard/USB drives and of your network. Article source
  5. Hi Guys, I need your advice on this : Few weeks ago, I encountered a strange error when I rebooted the pc & I couldn't boot into it properly and instead of OS-Choice BS Screen; I was stuck on an error page, Hard Disk : S.M.A.R.T. Enable , Command Failed. Other than DEL or F11 & (Ctrl+Alt+Esc), no other keys were working & It was a confusing situation because whenever I rebooted my PC, I was going back to the same error page like I was in a loop.This Drive is barely 15 months old. However after looking up for it, I applied the fixes i.e. 1 .Disabled S.M.A.R.T feature in BIOS ( I knew it wasnt a perfect solution for long term.) 2 . Disconnected the power-cord and Bus to hard disk and reconnected after draining power from the PC . ( This one worked & after that, I enabled the SMART Feature.) But again, After few days the error started appearing sometimes while rebooting and sometimes not....so I looked on WD site for diagnostics utility to check the status of the drive cos I already did CHKDSK/r on it and it isnt fragmanted either cos Win10 has scheduled defragmentation on & like every other utility I tried to check the drive health status, it came GOOD and also on WD utility, it passed the test. So I'm asking is it possible tho that it still should be considered as sitting on the brink of failure or it can be replaced citing this strange error as a potential symptom of a brewing disease!!
  6. The comprehensive hard drive activity tracker SoftPerfect File Access Monitor is now freeware. The program enables logging and filtering all the file system activity on a PC, including file creations, reads, writes and deletions. Setup requires installing a service on your system. This isn’t as convenient as portable products, but does deliver more reliable results, and allows logging more of what’s happening as Windows boots. Using a service to log activity means there’s no tell-tale program window or system tray icon, handy if you want to secretly monitor the system. Reports are easy to understand, even for non-technical users. Hitting "Chronological" displays a list of recent file system actions in time order, and color-coding allows you to find key events -- file creates, deletes -- in seconds. There could still be thousands of events to explore, but simple filtering will help you tune out the noise. In a click or two you’re able to view operations of a specific type (create, read, write, delete, move, more), by a specific user or process, or within a particular time frame. Alternatively, you can set up the program to log only the data you need. If you’re looking for ransomware, for instance, you might monitor reads, writes and deletes of common data file types in your documents folders. Whatever you’re logging, a simple report manager automatically generates reports every hour, day, week or month. These can be saved to files or sent by email, which again could be handy for stealthy monitoring of user actions. A simple database manager completes the package by automatically purging old records, and keeping any drive space used to the absolute minimum. Overall, SoftPerfect File Access Monitor can’t compete with something like Sysinternals Process Monitor for low-level power, but its service-based logging and general ease of use make it a good choice for simple file logging tasks. Especially as it’s now free. Take a look! Article source
  7. Typical ransomware behavior usually involves encryption of a user's computer files after they run an executable program, or maybe a Javascript file, in order to lower suspicions. However, a new strain of ransomware goes for the bigger piece of the cake, encrypting an entire hard drive aside from the files themselves. Called Mamba or HDDCrypt, the malware was initially discovered in the Morphus Labs in Brazil. It was also found in machines in the United States and India. According to Renato Marinho, a researcher at Morphus Labs, the malware is believed to be spread through phishing emails and malicious downloads. Once it infects a machine, it overwrites the host computer's Master Boot Record (MBR) with its own variant, and from there, it will now be able to encrypt the hard drive. This would mean that if the computer is opened, the system would not fully load, and it would only display a screen controlled by the Mamba ransomware. It will refuse to boot the PC unless the decryption key is provided, which will set back the user one Bitcoin. It will then use two programs called "dccon.exe." and "mount.exe," which are responsible for encrypting the files on the computer, and all mapped network drives. Via Morphus Labs The ransomware note reads: “Mamba encrypts the whole partitions of the disk,” according to Marinho. “It uses a disk-level cryptography and not a traditional strategy of other ransomware that encrypts individual files.” While the Mamba ransomware seems to act a lot like the Petya ransomware, which also manipulates the boot process, the former uses free and legitimate tools. It utilizes Netpass, a free network password recovery tool, as well as DiskCryptor, an open source disk encryption utility. As per usual, we advise readers to be careful of the websites that they visit and the files that they download, as malware such as Mamba is always waiting in the wings for its next victim. Source: ThreatPost Article source
  8. You installed a new hard drive in your computer and, to your dismay, it’s nowhere to be found. Don’t panic, you just need to give Windows a little nudge to bring it online. The Most Common Reason Your Disk Is Missing You grabbed a nice big hard disk on sale, you cracked open your computer case, plugged the drive into the motherboard and power supply with the appropriate cables (no? better double check that before you keep reading), and when you booted your computer back up the new hard drive was nowhere to be found. Or maybe you followed along with our external hard drive tutorial and can’t figure out why, even though you can hear the disk whirring away in the enclosure, you don’t see the disk in Windows. What’s the deal? Unlike the hard drive that ships with an off-the-shelf computer or external drive, extra hard drives you purchase aren’t always shipped formatted and ready to use. Instead, they’re in a totally blank state–the idea is that the end user will do what they wish with the drive, so there is no benefit to preformatting or otherwise changing the drive at the factory. As such, when you put the drive in your system, Windows simply waits for you to decide what to do with the drive instead of automatically formatting and adding it to the drive list. If you’ve never added a hard drive to your computer before, however, it can be pretty disconcerting when it appears like the drive is missing (or, worse, dead). Have no fear, though! It’s easy to bring your hard drive out of hiding. How to Bring Your Missing Drive Online Assuming that the hard drive is installed properly, and is not, (by some horrible dumb luck) defective out of the gate, bringing it online is a very simple process. To do so, you first need to pull up the Windows Disk Management tool. Press Windows+R on your keyboard to launch the Run dialog box. Type diskmgmt.msc into the box and press Enter. Before we proceed, we want to appropriately scare you: Do not play around in Disk Management. Although the task we’re about to perform is very straightforward and simple to do, if you muck around with this tool you will have a very bad time. Double check every step. Make sure you’re selecting the correct disk, or you can lose lots of data. below.In Disk Management, scroll down through the list of disks in the bottom pane. These disks will be labeled “Disk 1” through however many disks you have. Windows assigns a number to all hard disks, solid state disks, USB drives, and card readers, so don’t be surprised if you have to scroll down a bit–in our case the new drive was “Disk 10” as seen below. There are four bits of information here that indicate we’re looking at the right disk. First, the disk is marked as “unknown” and “Not initialized” on the left, which a brand new disk introduced to the system would be flagged as. Second, the drive size matches the size of the drive we just installed (around 1 TB), and the drive is flagged as “unallocated”, which means none of the hard drive space has been formatted or assigned a partition. Right click on the name portion of the disk entry, where it says “Disk [#]”, and select “Initialize Disk” from the right-click context menu. In the first step of the initilization process, you’ll be prompted to choose whether you want to use a Master Boot Record (MBR) or a GUID Partition Table (GPT) for the partition style of your disk. If you want to do some in depth reading before making a choice, you can check out our explainer here. In short, unless you have a pressing reason to use MBR, use GPT instead–it’s newer, more efficient, and offers more robust protection against corruptions of the boot record. Click “OK” and you’ll be returned to the main Disk Management window. There you’ll find that your disk is now labeled “Basic” and “Online” on the left, but the contents are still “unallocated”. Right click on the striped box presenting the unallocated drive space. Select “New Simple Volume”. This will launch the New Simple Volume Wizard to guide you through the process of setting up the disk. In the first step, select how much space you want to include in the volume. By default the number is the full amount of available disk space–unless you’re planning on reserving space for additional partitions, there’s no reason to change this. Click “Next”. In the second step, assign a drive letter. The default is probably fine. Finally, format the volume. If you’re using the volume for routine computing tasks (storing photos, video games, etc.) there’s no real need to deviate from the default NTFS file system and settings. Curious about the differences between file systems and why you might use the different options? We’ve got you covered. Give your volume a name, click “Next”, and wait for the format process to finish. When the process is complete, you’ll see your new drive–allocated, formatted, and ready for action–in the Disk Management disk list. You can now use the disk like any other on your system for media storage, games, and other purposes. Credit to
  9. How to Turn an Old Hard Drive Into an External Drive So you’ve upgraded the hard drive in your computer, and you’re left with this old, seemingly useless bare hard drive. Don’t throw it away! It takes surprisingly little effort to turn an old (or new) hard drive into an external drive perfect for stashing your extra files on. Let’s look at how you can blow the dust off those old drives and save money in the process. Why Roll Your Own External Drive? You can, if you wish, head down to your local big box electronics store or favorite e-retailers, like Amazon or Newegg, and pick up an external drive at a seemingly decent price. But what seems to be a value on the surface isn’t always so. Not only is there no good reason to pay the hard drive company a premium to slap their drive in an enclosure on your behalf, there’s actually more than a few benefits to rolling your own external hard drive setup. First, if you already have a drive on hand, it’s extremely cheap to use it as an external drive, since the biggest cost (the drive) is already sunk and the smallest cost (the enclosure) is trivial by comparison. Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a hardware geek, there’s a good chance you have a few (or more) hard drives sitting around (we’ve got bunches sitting in drawers). Second, you get control over the drive quality and specifications. It’s a not so hush-hush secret in the hardware industry that external hard drive units rarely get premium drives, and even if you like the company you’re purchasing your off-the-shelf external drive unit from, that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting the cream-of-the-crop drive design from them in the process. If you use an old hard drive of your own or even purchase a new bare internal drive for this project, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. Third, if you have a drive with data on it that you wish to retrieve, you can easily use your external enclosure to mount the hard drive and retrieve it. Yes, you could mount the drive internally on your desktop computer, but it’s a bit more time consuming, and can be impossible on some machines. And, on most laptop computers, it’s impossible to add an additional internal drive. (Although, if you’re only interested in a one-and-done data pull from the hard drive and have no intention of using it as an external drive, you might find the cable and techniques we use in this article to be more helpful.) Lastly, you’ll get more long term value out of rolling your own external drive since any drive can be used within the enclosure. When you purchase an off-the-shelf external drive, the enclosure is mated to its drive (sometimes even literally soldered together). You can’t just crack open that Western Digital MyBook and throw any old drive in there, but with a third-party external drive enclosure, you can. So when you want to upgrade your external drive, all you have to do is swap out the drive inside–instead of buying a completely new product. With all that in mind, let’s look at drive selection considerations, enclosure selection considerations, and finally how it all comes together. Selecting Your Drive Whether you’re picking through a pile of old drives gathering dust on your office shelf or you’re considering buying a new one for the task, there are a few things to keep in mind. We’d suggest reading over this section twice. Once to help you decide which drive you’ll use, and then again to jot down the relevant specifications of that drive before moving onto the next section of the guide focused on purchasing your enclosure. Drive Health This is your primary consideration when reusing an old hard drive: drive health. Obviously if you pulled the old drive from a machine because it was having serious issues like a clicking drive head or other problem, then you shouldn’t even consider using it as an external hard drive. Even if your drive isn’t having problems, you should absolutely check the SMART settings–a process akin to checking the hard drive’s health history. If it turns out the drive has a a bunch of red flags, like thousands of bad sectors, you should consider using a different spare drive or purchasing a new one for the enclosure. Drive Form Factor Hard drives come in two sizes. Mechanical hard drives and mechanical/SSD hybrids meant for desktop computers have a 3.5″ form factor, and are about the size of a modest paperback novel. They’re bigger than laptop-sized drives, but they’re also cheaper for how much storage you can fit. They also require an external power source, which means you’ll need to plug your resulting external drive into the wall. Exercise caution when coming between the mother drive and cub drive. SSDs and laptop-sized mechanical drives come in a 2.5″ form factor. The benefit of using a 2.5″ drive, as you’d expect, is the size–2.5″ drives are about the size of a smartphone. Further, most 2.5″ enclosures do not require external power, so they just have one cable: the one that plugs into your computer. No wall outlet or bulky transformer plug required. The downside to using a laptop size drive is that 2.5″ form factor drives are usually lower capacity (or very much pricier if higher capacity), and unlike 3.5″ drives that have a set height, 2.5″ drives can be 7mm, 9.5mm, and 12.5mm tall. Drive Speed and Capacity Since you’ll probably be plugging your drive in via USB, the drive speed won’t make a huge difference in terms of performance. Technically higher RPM drives will have a slight advantage over USB 3.0 connections (especially for seeking and writing tons of small files) but for most people the difference is likely negligible when all real world factors are included–like variables introduced by file sizes, how many devices are hooked up to each USB root on your computer, and so on. Drive speed is certainly a factor in terms of wear and tear on the drive, however, since faster drives generate more heat. If you’re surveying your drive pile or doing some shopping, you’ll extend the life of your drive by opting for a hard drive with a slow rotational speed (like 5,400 RPM) and skipping over drives with higher rotational speeds (like 7,200 and 10,000 RPM). If the drive is used infrequently, like you just fire it up to backup files once a month, the drive speed distinction (and the subsequent heat) is a moot point. If you intend to use the drive continuously, opt for a slower drive. Now, on the matter of drive capacity, there’s only one real limitation to be aware of. Older USB 2.0 enclosures don’t have the hardware/firmware to support larger drives so be aware that it’s best to pair a large drive (2TB+) with a newer enclosure. Drive Interface We saved this consideration for last because, for most people, it’s not even much of a consideration at all anymore. Hard drives are connected to a computer’s internals via either a PATA or an SATA connection type. PATA connections (also known as IDE) dominated the hard drive market from the mid 1980s well until around 2005 or so, and had a wide connector type that resembled a printer cable, seen below in the image above–note the very large molex-style power adapter at the far right. SATA, introduced in 2003, is now the dominate connection type and features a very skinny L-shaped port, seen above the PATA hard drive above. The data is transferred in the larger L-shaped connection point and the power in transferred in the small L-shaped connection point. Chances are, you have a SATA drive unless it’s a very old drive (or a newer drive used in a very old computer). But check your drive and compare it to the above image before you go looking for an enclosure. Selecting Your Enclosure Once you’ve identified the relevant elements of your hard drive, it’s time to pick out a compatible enclosure. While external hard drive enclosures tend to be pretty simple, there are a handful of considerations we recommend you keep in mind while shopping. Although our goal is to educate you as a consumer so you can select just the right enclosure for your needs, we won’t leave you hanging–through this section we’re including links to specific enclosures we recommend. Internal Interface And Drive Size We left off in the last section talking about drive interfaces. When shopping for an external hard drive enclosure, the first consideration is that you pick an enclosure whose interface matches your drive’s interface and size. Have a 2.5″ laptop hard drive with a SATA interface? You want a 2.5″ SATA enclosure. Have an old 3.5″ desktop drive with a PATA interface? You’ll want a 3.5″ enclosure that supports PATA/IDE. Finally, those of you purchasing enclosures for a 2.5″ laptop drive should be extra aware of the aforementioned drive height issue. Check the fine print on your enclosure to see if the drive enclosure accommodates 12.5mm height drives, 9.5mm height drives, 7mm height drives, or all/some of the above. Fortunately, 12.5mm drives are pretty rare, and nearly every 2.5″ enclosure works with 9.5mm and 7mm height drives. External Interface Second in importance is matching the external interfaces. Do you want to connect your enclosure via USB 3.0? FireWire? An eSATA port (which is very fast, but not available on many computers)? In the photo above you can see a variety of common interface types: on the left we have a 2.5″ enclosure with a micro-B connector, in the center we have a beefy metal USB 2.0 case (that we totally bought to match our Wii and store our games) that has a USB 2.0 type-B connection, and finally a newer 3.5″ enclosure on the right that sports a USB 3.0 type-B connection. Note that both the 3.5 drives have a power port–as we noted above it takes extra juice to run desktop size drives. Above all else, carefully check the specs of the enclosure you’re purchasing to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need–that cheap enclosure might seem like a great deal until you realize it’s so cheap because it’s only USB 2.0. Enclosure Material Hard drive enclosures come in two materials: plastic and metal. For infrequent and short duration usage, the material the enclosure is made out of doesn’t really matter. But for external drives that will see a lot of use (especially if you intend to leave them on all day), a metal body construction that turns the enclosure into a big heatsink for the hard drive is a must have. Heat is the enemy of all electronics and any little bit you can do to keep your hard drive cool is worth it. The photo in the previous section highlights this decision making mentality. The big white enclosure we bought for our Wii is a giant hunk of aluminum that does a fantastic job dissipating heat during long gaming sessions. For short backup sessions, the plastic bodies of the other two enclosures doesn’t really matter much in terms of heat retention/dissipation. Finally, we’d encourage you to skip wasting the money on “ruggedized” hard drive enclosures. You end up paying a premium for a rubber bumper or a little extra protection inside the enclosure case. And in reality, what are the chances you’re going to throw your drive on the floor in the first place? Rather than pay extra for a ruggedized drive, just search Amazon for a padded drive case to put the drive in before you toss it in your backpack or briefcase. You can find hundreds of simple padded cases for all drive sizes for less than ten bucks, like this $8 padded case. The Alternative: Docks and Tethers There’s a special place in every geek’s hardware arsenal for a hard drive dock or tethering cable, and it would be remiss of us not to mention it. While a proper enclosure is great for long term use, sometimes you just want to pop drives in an out for a quick read or copy. Better yet, nice docks also support multiple hard drive sizes and often include features like one-touch copying if you want to clone the drive. In such cases, who wants to deal with taking apart the hard drive enclosure to replace the drive? With a cable tether you just plug it right in and with a dock you can stick the drive in like dropping a piece of toast into a toaster. What these solutions lack in drive protection (they generally don’t enclose the circuit board on the bottom or shield the drive in anyway) they make up for in speed of use and ease of drive changing. The Bottom Line At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to spend the extra few dollars for better features because time is money. The difference between one company’s old USB 2.0 model with outdated features and their newer improved model with a USB 3.0 connection, support for large disks, and more, is almost always $5-10 (if that). When in doubt, just buy the newest model and don’t fall into the trap of saying to yourself “Well these look identical but this one is $3 cheaper…” You’ll hate yourself for skimping on the $3 when dumping all your movie files to the external drive takes an extra three hours. Putting It All Together With the work of learning about the ins and outs of external hard drives and purchasing the right enclosure behind you, the rest is easy peasy. If you have a tool-free or toolless enclosure, you literally just have to snap the case open (like opening the battery compartment on an electronic device) and slide the hard drive in. In the photo above you can see two toolless enclosures–thanks to the compact design of the SATA data and power connections, you can literally snap these enclosures open, slide the drive in until it clicks into place, and then snap the cover back on. Boom. Done. If your enclosure has screws, there are typically two that hold the case together and–just like the hard drive cage in your computer–four screws to mount the drive. At most, you’ll need a Philips screw driver and an extra sixty seconds of time to install the drive. Finally, we’ll save you a bit of panic. If you purchased a new bare drive for this project, when you plug the enclosure into your computer for the first time, you’ll see… nothing. The drive isn’t formatted yet, so your OS will ignore it until you do something. In such cases you’ll need to allocate and format the disk with Windows Disk Manager, use the Disk Utility in OS X, or use a tool like Gparted in Linux. After that, the drive should show up just like any other drive. Now that old disk isn’t gathering dust, you saved more than a few bucks in the process, and you’ve got an enclosure that will outlive the hard drive you slapped in it. Source
  10. 10 Ways To Free Up Hard Drive Space On Windows The guide lists ten methods to free up disk space on Windows computers using various native and third-party programs. 10 Ways to free up hard drive space on Windows lists ten methods to analyze and clear used hard drive space on Windows computer systems. While you might say that such a guide is no longer necessary, as we are in the age of the Terabyte hard drive, I respectfully have to disagree. First, older computers running Windows may not use a Terabyte drive as the main hard drive of the system. Second, Solid State Drives, while slowly picking up pace in regards to storage, are mostly used as 512 Gigabyte or less drives. In some cases, computers may have a 120 Gigabyte SSD or even less than that as the main system drive. If you check out Microsoft's newest Surface device, the Surface Pro 4, you will notice that two models come with 128 Gigabyte of storage only. Last but not least, even if your computer has plenty of space, you may want to free up drive space anyway as most of it is dead weight. 10 Ways to free up hard drive space on Windows The following ten methods may be used in conjunction with each other, or individually. Analyze disk space The very first thing you may want to do is analyze the disk space. This gives you a pretty good picture of the biggest offenders space-wise. I like to use WizTree for that but there are plenty of alternatives such as TreeSize Free, the Disk Analyzer of CCleaner, or Xinorbis. WizTree offers two view modes that are both useful. Tree View displays a tree hierarchy of folders and files sorted from largest to smallest. File View on the other hand puts the focus on files only. Both are useful in determining which folders and files use a lot of space. You may want to jump to the methods below that are most lucrative when it comes to freeing up disk space. If you spot a 16 Gigabyte Page File for instance, you may want to start there by reducing it. Previous Windows installations / Updates Cleanup When you upgrade Windows to a new version, a copy of the old version is kept for a period of time. This is done to give you the option to restore the old version should you run into issues or are dissatisfied with the new version of Windows. This copy may take up more than ten Gigabyte of storage space. It is a bit different for updates. When you install updates, old updates or files may become useless as they are replaced by new files. Windows keeps these around as well and does not remove them. Updates cleanup refers to removing outdated update files that are no longer required. Note: if you remove old Windows installation files or old updates, you have no option to go back anymore. It is suggested to use the operating system for a time before running these clean up operations. Tap on the Windows-key, type Disk Cleanup and hit enter. Confirm the UAC prompt that is displayed. Select the main drive (c usually), and click ok. This comes up only if more than one drive letter is used by storage devices. Click on "clean up system files" when the Disk Cleanup window pops up. Select the main drive again, and click ok. Each entry is listed with the disk space it occupies currently. While you may check them all, it is suggested to only check the items that you know you don't need anymore. Select "previous Windows installation(s)" to clear up old Windows installation files, and "Windows Update Cleanup" to remove old files that are no longer required. You may also want to consider removing log files, system dumps, and temporary files. Patch Cleaner is a third-party program that you may use to remove old updates no longer needed. Pagefile The Pagefile, located at x:\pagefile.sys where x is the drive letter, may appear like a relic of the past to you, especially if you have plenty of memory installed. It is used for caching, and using a fixed or dynamic amount of disk space for that. It may be quite large, 8 or more Gigabytes by default which usually is not required. Use the keyboard shortcut Windows-Pause to open the System Control Panel applet. Select Advanced System Settings when it opens. Click on the settings button under Performance when the System Properties window opens. Switch to the advanced tab and click on the change button under Virtual Memory. This displays all hard drives connected to the PC and the paging file size for each drive. You may change the paging file size by selecting a drive, switching to custom size, and adding initial size and maximum size values. You may also consider disabling the page file for secondary hard drives as well. As an example: on a computer with 16 Gigabytes of RAM, I set the pagefile size on drive c to 2 Gigabyte, and disabled it on all other drives. This worked well and I did not notice any issues using the computer this way. The initial pagefile size was 8 Gigabyte on the computer, which means that I regained 6 Gigabytes of disk space. Hibernate Hibernate is a power state in which everything that is open at the time is saved to disk. The idea is to load the content again from disk when the PC is fired up the next time so that you can resume exactly where you left. The data is saved to the file hiberfil.sys. Obviously, it makes little sense for you to disable Hibernation if you make use of the feature. If you don't however, you will free up Gigabytes of disk space by disabling the feature. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, hold down the Ctrl-key and Shift-key, and hit enter. Confirm the UAC prompt that appears. This opens an elevated command prompt. To disable Hibernate, run the command powercfg.exe -h off. To turn it on again, run the command powercfg.exe -h on. The hiberfil.sys file is removed from the system as soon as you disable Hibernation. System Restore System Restore is a backup feature of the Windows operating system that uses disk space to store system snapshots. These snapshots may be created automatically by Windows, for instance before updates are installed, or manually by the user. Basically, what System Restore allows you to do is roll back the system to a recent state. System Restore may reserve quite a big of hard drive space for its functionality, and one option that you have to free up disk space is to reduce the reserved space. This means fewer snapshots that System Restore maintains at any point in time though. Use the keyboard shortcut Windows-Pause to open the System Control Panel applet. Click on "System Protection". The window that opens lists all drives and their protection state. On indicates that System Restore is enabled for the drive, off that it is turned off. Locate the main drive letter (usually c) and click on the configure button. This opens a new window with two main options: 1) turn system protection on or off and 2) change the maximum disk space usage of System Restore. You may reduce System Restore's max usage a couple of percent. How much depends entirely on you and other backup strategies you may make use of. I have set it to 2% on the main drive, and turned it off on all other drives. Clear Temporary Files Programs and Windows may use temporary files. Web browsers use them to store website files locally to speed up future visits. Temporary files are never essential, but they may help speed things up and perform certain operations faster. While it is certainly possible to clean temporary files manually, or through the settings in individual programs, it is often better to use specialized software for that. You may use Windows' own Disk Cleanup -- referenced above -- for that to a degree, but third-party programs like CCleaner or PrivaZer do a better more thorough job when it comes to that. CCleaner separates between Windows and Applications. Windows covers native programs and features such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge or Windows Explorer. All you have to do is select the areas that you want analyzed for disk space usage and temporary files. Once done, hit the analyze button to check these locations and display the data they contain currently. You may then add or remove options or click on run cleaner to clear the temporary files. Note: If you select cookies under browsers, you will be logged out of services you are signed in at the time. You may also lose access to your browsing history if you select to clear the history. Tip: CCEhancer adds support for additional temporary file locations and programs to CCleaner. Move Temporary Files / Downloads Clearing temporary files is just a temporary solution to space issues you may experience. Programs and Windows continue to add temp files to the system as you use them. While you may run temporary file cleaners regularly to keep the data use in check, you may also want to consider moving folders to another drive if available. How that is done depends on the program you are using. Most web browsers for instance let you pick a download folder where all files get downloaded to. Some allow you to select temporary file locations as well, and the same is true for Windows. To move temporary file locations in Windows, do the following: Use the Windows-Pause shortcut to open the System Control Panel applet. Select Advanced System Settings when the window opens. Select Environment Variables when the next window opens. Locate the user and system variables TEMP and TMP. Note that they point to a directory on the hard drive, by default C: \Windows\TEMP for system variables and AppData\Local\Temp for user variables. Double-click on a TEMP or TMP entry, and change the drive letter and path to the temporary files folder to another drive. Check out these guides on how to change the IE and Edge download folder, or move the Firefox cache to another drive as examples on how to do that. Uninstall Programs Programs, and especially games, may take up a whole lot of disk space. Modern games are Gigabyte-sized, and it is uncommon that games use thirty or more Gigabyte on the hard drive when installed. One option to free up disk space is to remove programs and games that you don't require anymore. While you may use Windows' native tools to remove programs, it may not be the best of ideas for two reasons. First, Windows runs only the uninstaller but no cleanup operations afterwards. Second, third-party tools may provide you with size information on top of that which may help you during the selection process. Programs like Revo Uninstaller, or Geek Uninstaller offer that functionality. If you use Revo Uninstaller, switch to the details view mode after the program listing has been populated initially. Click on size then so sort the listing by file size. Move files / programs You cannot uninstall programs if you still require them. Moving may be an option in this case then, provided that you have another hard drive available. Please note that you may need to take hard drive performance into account as well. If you move a game from a fast Solid State Drive to a low spinning 5400 rpm platter-based drive, you will notice longer loading times. I have covered the process before, check out how to move large apps or games to another drive, for all the instructions you need. The basic idea is the following one: you move the app or game to another drive, and use symbolic links to make them point from the new location to the old one. All files are then accessible from the old and new location so that you don't lose any functionality. Duplicate files Duplicate files are another thing that you may want to look into. The gain depends largely on how the computer is used. If you like to download large bulk archives from the Internet for instance, or use different programs for the same purpose, thing file synchronization, then you may end up with duplicate files on the system that may take up a bit of disk space. The best way to handle this is to use third-party programs to find duplicate files on the system. There are numerous programs that provide you with that functionality: CloneSpy, DoubleKiller or Duplicate Commander are just three. The main difference between the programs may be the methods used to determine duplicates. Basic duplicate file finders compare file names and extensions only. More advanced programs may use hashes instead, or even use fuzzy logic to find nearly identical files (think a photo that is available in two different resolutions). Resources You may find the following resources useful. They may review programs that you may find useful, or provide additional information on certain clean up methods. Check if System Restore is enabled on Windows 10 Free disk space by cleaning up the Steam folder How I freed up 12 Gigabytes of disk space on Windows 7 Reduce the folder size of Thunderbird to free up disk space Remove old Chrome versions to save disk space Now You: Have another tip? Let us know in the comments. Source
  11. If you are thinking of buying a high capacity HDD it might be worth a look at this data. We haven't looked at the periodical Backblaze hard drive reliability stats for a while. As the cloud storage firm has recently added 8TB drives into its drive mix I thought it was worth a look over the latest reliability data tables. Backblaze stores over 250 petabytes of data across nearly 70,000 spinning hard drives. In the most recent quarter it added over 7,000 new drives to its storage arrays – so it has a lot of experience and data concerning the performance of these drives, especially with regard to the irksome statistic of failure rates. The firm likes to try lots of drives, looking for a sweet price, performance and reliability balance. In the Q2 2016 reliability table, below, it lists data-only drives (not used for OS) and the table doesn't include any drive model of which there are fewer than 45 units in use. The adoption of 8TB HDDs began with 45 HGST HUH728080ALE600 Helium filled drives, this appears to be a test batch as Backblaze says that buying any more "did not make economic sense". However, assessing them while waiting for the price/GB to become more acceptable must have been judged to be wise. With an admittedly small sample size of just 45 these HGST drives have been faultless thus far. During the most recent quarter Seagate's 8TB ST8000DM002 drives became available at an economically sensible price for Backblaze so it went and purchased 2,720 of these. You can see in the table that they have suffered a failure rate of just over 3 per cent. According to the Backblaze blog writer such a rate of failure is "more than acceptable" to the company so it will likely continue to increase density using the Seagate 8TB drives as they are cheaper than HGST's equivalent capacity HDDs. Please keep in mid that the HDD reliability data, while interesting, will likely not mirror general consumer failure rates of the same makes / models of drives. Backblaze uses these drives in its 45/60 device cloud data centre Storage Pods running 24/7. View: Original Article
  12. The Department of Defense standards are for chumps. With the Molten Copper Overwrite™ even an incomplete destruction of the hard disk will result in an unusable metal puck with no clear way to access the scorched ones and zeros within. Best of all it works on HDDs, SSDs, CDs, magnetic tape, people, and portable drives—and it’s cross-platform. Try and read my One Piece slashfic now, NSA! Molten Copper vs Hard Drive Article source
  13. AOMEI Backupper 3.5 is the latest version of the popular free and commercial backup program for Windows. We have reviewed version 2.8 and 3.0 of the backup program previously, and found it to be an excellent free backup solution for Windows users. Backupper 3.5 extends the program functionality-wise without taking away any of the existing functionality in the process. You can download the latest version of the program from the official website. When you start it, you will notice that the interface has not changed at all. You find options to run backup and restore jobs on the left, as well as tools to clone drives or use various utilities. The tools allow you to explore previous backups, create bootable media or verify the data integrity of backup images among other things. Backupper 3.5 AOMEI Backupper 3.5 supports network mapped drives as destinations for backups in the release. This enables you to store backups on network drives, something that was not supported previously. The backup process itself remains the same for the most part, and you simply select a network destination when asked to pick the destination for the backup image. You may also select multiple files on network drives as the source for backups starting with this release. But there is more in the new release. You will stumble upon new options while you are using the program. For instance, when you open the schedule screen, you may notice the new event triggers option for backup jobs. Basically, instead of selecting a specific time for backup jobs, you may now set them to run during logon or logoff, on system start, or on system shutdown instead. You may also configure backups to run once everyday using the new event-triggered options, and backup jobs may run regardless of whether a user is logged on or not. The majority of changes are available in all versions of Backupper 3.5 including the free version. You can check out the changelog for an overview and a list of fixes Closing Words Backupper 3.5 improves the backup program for Windows further. It supports all operations that you'd expect from an application of its kind including file backup, hard drive backups and the cloning of drives. All of these features are available for free and paying users, and client versions of Windows. AOMEI Backupper Standard Article source
  14. Howdee, Maybe someone can help me with the following problem. I just bought an external 2.5 inch hard drive (Seagate Backup Plus 4tb) with the intension of playing videos on my Samsung tv (USB 3.0) but the hard drive does not appear on the screen. It seems my tv does not recognize the hard drive.The format is NTFS but i can change that to exFAT wich i already tried but no difference. It's nice to have so much backup space but the intension was to watch videos on my tv. I know there are some real technicians amongst you all. So could anyone please help me to solve this (if possible)? Thanks in advance and have a nice day! ronkanon.
  15. Microsoft released its first major Windows 10 update last week, and this comes with lots of shiny new features and general improvements including cosmetic changes, Edge enhancements, and new (and better) apps. As all Windows 10 updates are mandatory, if you’re using the new OS you’ll likely have the update installed and be running the latest build (10586) already. The November Update (Threshold 2 as it was codenamed) is pretty sizable and takes a while to download and install. Once the installation process has completed you might reasonably expect the new OS to clean up after itself and delete old files, but actually it doesn’t, meaning you can free up a large chunk of hard drive space by running a manual clean up yourself. And when I say a "large chunk" I mean it. Cleaning up after the November Update will give you back at least 24GB of hard drive space, so it’s well worth doing. The process is very straightforward. Click Start and type Disk Cleanup. Launch the Disk Clean-up app, make sure your system drive is selected, and click OK. The tool will calculate how much space can be regained. Ignore this for now and instead click on the Clean up system files button. Select your system drive once more, and click the OK button again. The tool will recalculate your space savings, but this time include a new option -- Previous Windows installation(s). This will include the 20GB+ created by installing the November Update. Check that box, and the Temporary Windows installation files one as well (which will save you another 4GB) and click OK to remove those backed up files and regain your missing hard drive space. Be warned, these files are used to roll back your system to a previous installation of Windows and removing them takes away that option. If, however, you intend to stick with Windows 10, they serve little use and so can be cleared out without problem. Article source
  16. With the release of Windows 10 November Update, along came the ability to install apps on a different drive. No longer are you restricted from installing your apps on your default drive (in most cases, drive C). If you enjoy downloading apps or games from the Windows Store, you may be concerned about storage space, especially on devices with limited disk space. Well, have no fear. Here’s what you need to do in order to install your apps on a different drive. Open the Settings app and tap or click on System, then select Storage on the left sideUnder “Save locations” look for “New apps will save to” and change “This PC (C:)” to any other driveAnd you are done! You can also adjust where new documents, music, pictures, and videos are saved in this area of Settings. Article source
  17. Police at the University of Washington have opened an investigation into an alleged burglary which occurred in the offices of the school’s Center for Human Rights last week. Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, a University of Washington professor and the director of the center, claims that a computer and a hard drive were filched in a super-stealthy break-in, reports The Seattle Times. The computer and the hard drive contain confidential information concerning a freedom-of-information lawsuit the human rights group filed earlier this month against the Central Intelligence Agency. The break-in occurred at some undetermined time between Thursday and Sunday, Godoy said. The now-disappeared hard drive held “about 90 percent” of a set of El Salvador-related research which is at the heart of the lawsuit, the professor also claimed. Godoy admitted that the alleged burglary may have been nothing more than a “common crime.” However, a press release from the University of Washington Center for Human Rights suggests that clandestine government espionage could be afoot. The burglary has all the earmarks of professional job against the tiny center (which has a staff of two), the center says. Signs of forced entry are absent. The office was not ransacked. Thus, the center alleges, the bandit (or bandits) must have delicately rooted around the office for the hard drive and computer. Also, the culprit carefully relocked the door upon leaving. These are “characteristics that do not fit the pattern of an opportunistic campus theft,” a press release obtained by the Times concludes. The Center for Human Rights also questions the timing of the incident because the group filed its lawsuit against the CIA just weeks ago. Additionally, the alleged theft happened around the same time that CIA director John O. Brennan was speaking at a law symposium on the University of Washington campus — the perfect time for the CIA to snatch a hard drive when no one would ever suspect it. The human rights group’s lawsuit asks a federal district court in Seattle to release records relating to an alleged massacre of scores of civilians during the long 1980s-era civil war in El Salvador between the government and communist insurgents. The military commander involved had once attended military training sessions in the United States. “We believe that the CIA is unlawfully withholding documents regarding a commander of the military operation that resulted in the Santa Cruz massacre, as well as files on a U.S. citizen caught up in the operation,” Godoy explained in a Center for Human Rights press release (also available in Spanish). Godoy said she has all the data backed up on an external hard drive. “What worries us most is not what we have lost but what someone else may have gained,” the Center for Human Rights declared. “The files include sensitive details of personal testimonies and pending investigations.” The Center is concerned that the pilfered information could now imperil the lives of human rights advocates in El Salvador. Officials with University of Washington warned against connecting the alleged theft to CIA Director Brennan’s campus visit. “Connecting those dots” might not be prudent but the school is taking the theft “very seriously,” school spokesman Norm Arkans told the Times. He called the incident “suspicious.” Citing the ongoing investigation, Godoy refused to comment on the alleged burglary. University of Washington police are also tight-lipped. “Right now, we just know that we have some missing hardware,” police spokesman Steven Rittereiser told the Seattle newspaper. Under Executive Order 12333, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, the CIA is prohibited from collecting intelligence or spying within the United States. “Collection within the United States of foreign intelligence not otherwise obtainable shall be undertaken by the FBI or, when significant foreign intelligence is sought, by other authorized agencies of the Intelligence Community, provided that no foreign intelligence collection by such agencies may be undertaken for the purpose of acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons,” the order reads. According the taxpayer-funded University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights website, Godoy’s interests include Latin America, labor rights, “health as a human right” and environmental justice. Source
  18. Western Digital My Passport Hard Drives Come with a Slew of Security Holes WD HDDs allow authentication and encryption bypassing For a couple of years, people who wanted privacy and security often chose Western Digital's My Passport portable hard drive. This HDD is not only quite small, good-looking, and very feature-packed, but also provides built-in security features for both its software and hardware parts. Some of its two most prominent features were the fact that users could protect the hard drive using a password, and that all data written to its disks was encrypted in real time. Hard drive encryption could be cracked using brute force attacks According to recent research that dug deep into the inner workings of various My Passport models, the hard drives seem to be affected by a series of security flaws that allow attackers to bypass both the built-in encryption and password-based authentication system. As the researchers explain, some of the models from the six they analyzed easily give up under the pressure of a simple brute-force attack, letting attackers break their encryption. Additionally, the password authentication could also be bypassed as easily, enabling any attacker to install fully functional backdoors on infected devices. Malicious firmware updates were possible as well To make things worse, all WD models analyzed allowed attackers to take over the firmware update mechanism via "evil maid" and "badUSB" attacks, and install their own malicious code instead. "The weakest hardware model in terms of security is the INIC-3 608 bridge," say the researchers. "The chip does not support hardware accelerated AES encryption. [...] One single command sent to the device will reveal the KEK [Key-Encrypting Key], even if the disk is in a locked state." A 36-page paper (PDF) about the researchers' findings and the various security holes detailed for each hard drive family is available on the International Association for Cryptologic Research website. Source
  19. Toshiba has announced a new 5TB hard drive, although it is not meant for the usual consumer market. The hard drive, dubbed the MD04ABA-V Series, is touted as a "surveillance hard disk drive" and was made to be used for (you guessed it) surveillance. The products specifications are pretty standard: it has the usual 3.5-inch desktop form factor, offering both 4 and 5TB options, 128MiB cache, a 1 million hour Mean Time Between Failures rating (or MTBF for short,) as well as rotational vibration damping for use in RAID enclosures. It also supports incoming data streams from up to 32 high definition cameras and is able to run around the clock. Also, they do not disclose the disk speed, claiming that it is "low," and could mean that the component may spin between 5000 and 6000 rotations per minute. Source
  20. Does anyone have a recommendation on a good hard drive wiping software that boots from CD/USB drive? I recently swapped out my parents' aging Athlon XP system to something from this decade and before I take their old machine to the local Goodwill, I want to be sure their data can't be read.
  21. My last two blog posts were about expected drive lifetimes and drive reliability. These posts were an outgrowth of the careful work that we’ve done at Backblaze to find the most cost-effective disk drives. Running a truly unlimited online backup service for only $5 per month means our cloud storage needs to be very efficient and we need to quickly figure out which drives work. Because Backblaze has a history of openness, many readers expected more details in my previous posts. They asked what drive models work best and which last the longest. Given our experience with over 25,000 drives, they asked which ones are good enough that we would buy them again. In this post, I’ll answer those questions. Drive Population At the end of 2013, we had 27,134 consumer-grade drives spinning in Backblaze Storage Pods. The breakdown by brand looks like this: Hard Drives by Manufacturer Used by Backblaze As you can see, they are mostly Seagate and Hitachi drives, with a good number of Western Digital thrown in. We don’t have enough Toshiba or Samsung drives for good statistical results. Why do we have the drives we have? Basically, we buy the least expensive drives that will work. When a new drive comes on the market that looks like it would work, and the price is good, we test a pod full and see how they perform. The new drives go through initial setup tests, a stress test, and then a couple weeks in production. (A couple of weeks is enough to fill the pod with data.) If things still look good, that drive goes on the buy list. When the price is right, we buy it. We are willing to spend a little bit more on drives that are reliable, because it costs money to replace a drive. We are not willing to spend a lot more, though. Excluded Drives Some drives just don’t work in the Backblaze environment. We have not included them in this study. It wouldn’t be fair to call a drive “bad” if it’s just not suited for the environment it’s put into. We have some of these drives running in storage pods, but are in the process of replacing them because they aren’t reliable enough. When one drive goes bad, it takes a lot of work to get the RAID back on-line if the whole RAID is made up of unreliable drives. It’s just not worth the trouble. The drives that just don’t work in our environment are Western Digital Green 3TB drives and Seagate LP (low power) 2TB drives. Both of these drives start accumulating errors as soon as they are put into production. We think this is related to vibration. The drives do somewhat better in the new low-vibration Backblaze Storage Pod, but still not well enough. These drives are designed to be energy-efficient, and spin down aggressively when not in use. In the Backblaze environment, they spin down frequently, and then spin right back up. We think that this causes a lot of wear on the drive. Failure Rates We measure drive reliability by looking at the annual failure rate, which is the average number of failures you can expect running one drive for a year. A failure is when we have to replace a drive in a pod. This chart has some more details that don’t show up in the pretty chart, including the number of drives of each model that we have, and how old the drives are: Number of Hard Drives by Model at Backblaze The following sections focus on different aspects of these results. 1.5TB Seagate Drives The Backblaze team has been happy with Seagate Barracuda LP 1.5TB drives. We’ve been running them for a long time – their average age is pushing 4 years. Their overall failure rate isn’t great, but it’s not terrible either. The non-LP 7200 RPM drives have been consistently unreliable. Their failure rate is high, especially as they’re getting older. 1.5 TB Seagate Drives Used by Backblaze The Seagate Barracuda Green 1.5TB drive, though, has not been doing well. We got them from Seagate as warranty replacements for the older drives, and these new drives are dropping like flies. Their average age shows 0.8 years, but since these are warranty replacements, we believe that they are refurbished drives that were returned by other customers and erased, so they already had some usage when we got them. Bigger Seagate Drives The bigger Seagate drives have continued the tradition of the 1.5Tb drives: they’re solid workhorses, but there is a constant attrition as they wear out. The good pricing on Seagate drives along with the consistent, but not great, performance is why we have a lot of them. Hitachi Drives If the price were right, we would be buying nothing but Hitachi drives. They have been rock solid, and have had a remarkably low failure rate. Back at the beginning of Backblaze, we bought Western Digital 1.0TB drives, and that was a really good choice. Even after over 4 years of use, the ones we still have are going strong. We wish we had more of the Western Digital Red 3TB drives (WD30EFRX). They’ve also been really good, but they came after we already had a bunch of the Seagate 3TB drives, and when they came out their price was higher. What About Drives That Don’t Fail Completely? Another issue when running a big data center is how much personal attention each drive needs. When a drive has a problem, but doesn’t fail completely, it still creates work. Sometimes automated recovery can fix this, but sometimes a RAID array needs that personal touch to get it running again. Each storage pod runs a number of RAID arrays. Each array stores data reliably by spreading data across many drives. If one drive fails, the data can still be obtained from the others. Sometimes, a drive may “pop out” of a RAID array but still seem good, so after checking that its data is intact and it’s working, it gets put back in the RAID to continue operation. Other times a drive may stop responding completely and look like it’s gone, but it can be reset and continue running. Measuring the time spent in a “trouble” state like this is a measure of how much work a drive creates. Once again, Hitachi wins. Hitachi drives get “four nines” of untroubled operation time, while the other brands just get “two nines”. Untroubled Operation of Drives by Manufacturer used at Backblaze Drive Lifetime by Brand The chart below shows the cumulative survival rate for each brand. Month by month, how many of the drives are still alive? Hitachi does really well. There is an initial die-off of Western Digital drives, and then they are nice and stable. The Seagate drives start strong, but die off at a consistently higher rate, with a burst of deaths near the 20-month mark. Having said that, you’ll notice that even after 3 years, by far most of the drives are still operating. What Drives Is Backblaze Buying Now? We are focusing on 4TB drives for new pods. For these, our current favorite is the Seagate Desktop HDD.15 (ST4000DM000). We’ll have to keep an eye on them, though. Historically, Seagate drives have performed well at first, and then had higher failure rates later. Our other favorite is the Western Digital 3TB Red (WD30EFRX). We still have to buy smaller drives as replacements for older pods where drives fail. The drives we absolutely won’t buy are Western Digital 3TB Green drives and Seagate 2TB LP drives. A year and a half ago, Western Digital acquired the Hitachi disk drive business. Will Hitachi drives continue their excellent performance? Will Western Digital bring some of the Hitachi reliability into their consumer-grade drives? At Backblaze, we will continue to monitor and share the performance of a wide variety of disk drive models. What has your experience been? Please see the source for the full tables: http://blog.backblaze.com/2014/01/21/what-hard-drive-should-i-buy
  22. Hardcore PC hardware enthusiasts love to create desktop mods of all shapes, sizes and designs. But what if you wanted to take parts of a PC to create something completely different? That's what Rob Ryan, a Technologist for the hard drive company Western Digital, recently did with his family members. As reported by Legit Reviews, Ryan and his family have made a model F1 RC car with the parts of 250 WD hard drives. The project took 400 hours to complete and the final result, as you can see in the image below, is pretty incredible to look at. The article goes over some of the ways the hard drives were used in the F1 model, such as the front wing which was assembled using WD Red Actuators. It looks like the car has been designed to destroy the rear end of any unlucky vehicle that's in its path. The car's rear wing is made from WD Velociraptor actuators and held up with Scorpio actuators. The engine was also assembled with Scorpio actuators. The sides of the car were made with anti-disks from WD Red HDDs. This project was truly unique - and ever so slightly mad - and shows that PC components don't even need to be connected to a computer to be put to amazing and creative uses. Hopefully Ryan and his family will surprise us with another hard drive modeling project in the future. Source: neowin
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