Manage and configure your HDD

HDD spinning speed is one of the most important factors to increase PC throughput. Once you have a disk with good spinning speed, there are three tasks related to HDD:

1. Preparing the HDD with appropriate partitions. This can be done with windows but it cannot resize the partitions with data persistence. So, if you have to resize or split a partition without losing data, you need a specialized app.

2. Backing up the OS installation to recover if it get’s corrupted. It’s not “if” but “when” you will need this. By backing up your HDD, you can be back with stable PC within minutes after disaster.

3. Keeping the HDD de-fragmented. This is extremely important, I have seen the results of keeping HDD de-fragmented. The inbuilt de-fragmenting tool in windows isn’t enough.

So, what are the available options? The tools I have used for these are:

1. For HDD partitioning, Partition Magic is ubiquitous but I have been using Acronis Disk Director Suite. The UI is more sophisticated and this allows you to split even the system partition.

2. For HDD backup and imaging, Acronis True Image works seamlessly. Click here if you want see it’s comparison with Ghost by someone who used Ghost extensively.

Both of these applications can either be used from within Windows, or used as standalone tool without any operating system. The standalone tools are built on top of a compact Linux kernel and provides comprehensive windowed UI.

3. And finally, for de-fragmenting HDD, Diskeeper is amazing. It keeps your HDD healthy by scheduled and background de-fragmentation. Don’t forget to read the myths about fragmentation on Diskeeper site.

My experience with all three is excellent and I highly recommend them. All of them are $50 each but Newegg will give around 40-50% cheap. Though Acronis apps are as per your needs, Diskeeper is a must have.


XPS M1710 Gaming Setup

I have been planning to assemble a mobile gaming setup for some time now, finally figured out a workable option. I was skeptical that a laptop might not be able to perform for gaming so I picked as good configurations as I could.

Dell XPS M1710

Intel® Core™ Duo 2 processor T7600 (2.33GHz/667MHz/4MB L2)
17 inch UltraSharp 1920×1200
512MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7950 GTX

Two most important things are CPU and GPU. I think choosing best in class gives you results. Another component you have to pay attention to while buying a laptop is the HDD. Most manufactures (especially Sony) just mention the capacity and ignore the spinning speed. Whatever CPU and RAM you get, if the HDD is consuming all the time in returning data, you are not going to get any performance.

After playing AOE III and NFS on this machine, I can say this works. I played these games on full settings and it gave awesome results, playing NFS with all effects on 1600×1200 resolution is amazing.

I configured this on dell’s website and price summed up to $4300. Don’t drop the idea of buying it due to this price though as there are some options on online forums which can drop the price. I managed to get this machine for $2900, delivered. A couple accessories to go with it:

Speaker: Klipsch Promedia 2.1A GMX ( $140 from amazon). Solid performance with good bass and high/lows.

Mouse: Logitech MX Revolution ($85) and its turning out to be a great. Click here to see the thread on NBF for this.

I will be posting some game shots. As of now I am playing AOE, NFS and Company of Heroes.

Dell’s PC Production Life Cycle

Came across this story about supply chain management for production of dell’s notebooks. I could recall the bits of functional understanding I collected about all this during development of some projects for manufacturing units.

Worth reading. Click Here to go to the post.