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Win2000 on 16GB Compact Flash drive

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#1
Phenomic

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Attached File  IMG_6683_25P.JPG   123.75KB   43 downloads

I replaced the slow, clunky, noisy 5GB hard drives on my ThinkPad 770E with 16GB Compact Flash drives. I’m using two 44-pin IDE adapters, works in Ultra DMA mode, read 20 MB/s, write 6-10 MB/s.

I copied my existing installation. Win2k disk manager will not “make active” removable drives so I plugged it into my Linux machine with a USB adapter and used Gparted to create an NTFS partition and set the “boot” flag. Success!

Win2k will run OK on an existing installation, but has some trouble creating a new install from scratch on an unformatted & unpartitioned flash drive. Also fixboot & fixmbr reported success but produced an unbootable partition, and trashed a good bootable disk previously formatted in Linux. Perhaps for this reason Addonics has not listed Win2000 on their list of “Tested” OSes.

Win2000 considers these CF drives removable and as such:
- No recycle bin, any ideas?
- No recovery console, or works unreliably.
- No default network shares c$ d$, but can be added manually for the session.
- Windows update won’t run, says you have to be an Administrator.

No other major weirdness observed so far, the machine suspends, hibernates and is perfectly silent, so I’m keeping it for another 10 years ;)

PS: I read somewhere that there’s a utility that can overwrite the firmware in the CF drives so that they appear as hard disks. Anybody tried it?

Edited by Phenomic, 03 January 2012 - 01:48 PM.



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#2
jaclaz

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PS: I read somewhere that there’s a utility that can overwrite the firmware in the CF drives so that they appear as hard disks. Anybody tried it?

Sure :), it is an UNsupported utility somehow "leaked" from SanDisk techical support, called ATCFWCHG.COM.

Before attempting to use it, I would rather see if either of cfadisk.sys or dummydisk.sys work on 2K (I seem to remember that I did test cfadisk.sys on 2k successfully).
Post if you need links to either.

jaclaz

#3
Phenomic

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As you can see this is 133x speed (cheap) CF from Transcend, the Pentium II Thinkpad probably couldn't handle more data ;) Not bad for $20, the original IBM HDs (made in Japan) cost around $600 apiece, amazing.

Attached File  untitled1.jpg   91.9KB   30 downloads

#4
pointertovoid

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Hi you all!

The "utility" is, as I understand it, a complete microcode for Sandisk CompactFlash card. I would not use it for any brand nor model except the one it's made for - and yours is a Transcend! If the size, the organization, the processor differ: big trouble!

Yes, a CF does improve an older computer a lot. Your 133x is an MLC and as such, writes slowly small files (IOMeter shows it well, CrystalDiskMark and Atto also).
You'd gain more if using an SLC card, at least for the OS and your documents. Throughput is the same, the reaction time not at all.
Transcend is the best choice to avoid worries; the 266x and 300x are quick in this series, and affordable at eBay. Fixed.

In my laptop (P1 120MHz 40MB) I have two CF in one hard disk tray thanks to two double adapter (be careful it fits in the size).
The Bios is programmed not to detect the slave, but as W95 redetects all hardware anyway, it installs the slave CF perfectly.
The Dos driver for the host ("controller") also gives acess if needed. Only Nt4 would be doubtful.

Be very careful with CF size if your laptop limits it. I've had endless worries with the hibernation mode.
Also, some CF series get slow at bigger capacity, so check users' measurements.

I've described in this forum the cluster alignment of Fat32 (and the easier Ntfs), it helps CF cards a lot.

#5
dencorso

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Why don't you ask karyonix for a custom IDE version of his great DiskMod filter? He might very well consider doing it. And it would solve most, if not all the problems you've listed.

#6
Phenomic

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Wow, thanks for all the replies. Been busy lately, I'll have more soon. However I fixed a couple of things:

"no network shares" problem fixed. I put a batch file in the startup menu:

@echo off
net share c$=C:\
net share d$=D:\

"No recovery console", I simply bypassed this problem by creating a bootable copy of my win2k installation on the 2nd disk. I've done this for years on other machines. The backup is done daily, automatically, usually a scheduled task at night. I'm using a .vbs script, it runs robocopy, regback and a registry tweak to fix the MountedDevices discrepancy and make the clone bootable. Done!

"No recycle bin", no solution so far


More importantly, I haven't disabled the swap file or the browser caches. So there's probably a lot of useless writing to the disk which may shorten its life. The ThinkPad ram is MAXed at 300MB, do I still need a swap file?

#7
Phenomic

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Also, the Thinkpad adpter has 50 pins, so it's easy to plug the IDE adapter wrong since it has 44 pins. I took a couple of photos as a reminder -- do NOT use the 6 pins on the far end.
Attached File  IMG_6695_25P.JPG   104.58KB   27 downloads
Attached File  IMG_6690_25P.JPG   112.77KB   23 downloads

#8
pointertovoid

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With W2k on 300MB Ram, you do need a paging file, and a rather large one. Unless you have no antivirus, no firewall, no browser, no Google Earth... only Office 97. Anyway, W2k doesn't allow to suppress the paging file as Xp does. You can only make it small.

Here I have an SLC CF only to house the paging file and temporaries from Firefox, IE, Opera, because the i815ep limits to 512MB Ram. It's been used heavily for one year now, with no worry. One reason more to replace your MLC.

I suppose the registry writes more often than the paging file does.

You might try to disable NtfsLastAccessUpdate, but the Avast antivirus seemed to go crazy when I did it.

#9
Phenomic

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With W2k on 300MB Ram, you do need a paging file, and a rather large one. Unless you have no antivirus, no firewall, no browser, no Google Earth... only Office 97. Anyway, W2k doesn't allow to suppress the paging file as Xp does. You can only make it small.

Here I have an SLC CF only to house the paging file and temporaries from Firefox, IE, Opera, because the i815ep limits to 512MB Ram. It's been used heavily for one year now, with no worry. One reason more to replace your MLC.

I suppose the registry writes more often than the paging file does.

You might try to disable NtfsLastAccessUpdate, but the Avast antivirus seemed to go crazy when I did it.



Thank you that's excellent advice.

The biggest problem is that Win2k considers these drives removable. The consequence: NO recycle bin and too many apps refuse to install. e.g. Microsoft office would not install until I copied over the CD to hard disk. Many installs fail, questioning the users' access to disk, administrative rights and other BS error messages. I copied my existing installation, so I'm OK – except for NO recycle bin. Any ideas welcome.

#10
Phenomic

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PS: I read somewhere that there’s a utility that can overwrite the firmware in the CF drives so that they appear as hard disks. Anybody tried it?

Sure :), it is an UNsupported utility somehow "leaked" from SanDisk techical support, called ATCFWCHG.COM.

Before attempting to use it, I would rather see if either of cfadisk.sys or dummydisk.sys work on 2K (I seem to remember that I did test cfadisk.sys on 2k successfully).
Post if you need links to either.

jaclaz


Thank you. Converting the disk to “fixed” would solve the problem! I googled but I can't find any assurance that the utility will work, so I'm reluctant to risk trashing the flash drives. Have you tried it with Transcend CF drives?

//

#11
pointertovoid

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The "utility" is, as I understand it, a complete microcode for Sandisk CompactFlash card. I would not use it for any brand nor model except the one it's made for - and yours is a Transcend! If the size, the organization, the processor differ: big trouble!


Read "microcode" as "firmware" or "Bios" if you prefer.

I'd really prefer a fixed SLC card, like the 266x or 300x at Transcend. Faster, safer, easier.

One other possibility is to access the removable card through a Raid controller added on the Pci. The Ft100 showed any Raid array as fixed, even if built from a single removable CF. I have not checked this on the far better SiI0680a.

Dandu.be made many tests about Win installation on CD, including raid arrays.

#12
Phenomic

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The "utility" is, as I understand it, a complete microcode for Sandisk CompactFlash card. I would not use it for any brand nor model except the one it's made for - and yours is a Transcend! If the size, the organization, the processor differ: big trouble!


Read "microcode" as "firmware" or "Bios" if you prefer.

I'd really prefer a fixed SLC card, like the 266x or 300x at Transcend. Faster, safer, easier.

One other possibility is to access the removable card through a Raid controller added on the Pci. The Ft100 showed any Raid array as fixed, even if built from a single removable CF. I have not checked this on the far better SiI0680a.

Dandu.be made many tests about Win installation on CD, including raid arrays.



Are you saying that Transcend SLC CF cards appear "fixed" to Windows 2000?

Promise Technologies have several drivers for download, which is the FT100 you're referring to?

#13
dencorso

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Yes: Transcend has some CFs that appear as non-removable.

#14
pointertovoid

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My Transcend 266x 4GB, Transcend 266x 8GB, Transcend 300x 4GB are all fixed as checked by myself.
My A-Data 266x 4GB is fixed while my A-Data 266x 8GB is removable.
My Lexar 300x 2GB are removable.

Among these agile SLC cards, I recommend Transcend, which seems to have stronger line buffers to drive the P-Ata ribbon, and also transmits at full speed if supplied with 5V - others need 3.3V for it, unavailable at disk interfaces. Or any other explanation, but fact is that I've had errors with other brands, not with Tanscend.

SLC may give an even longer life, if this is any critical, but the decisive advantage is that its write latency is much smaller. MLC SSD achieve now good write performance on small files thanks to cache Ram and subtle write caching strategies by better controllers (Barefoot and followers) but CF cards, at least from the 300x era, lack the big Ram, the subtle controller and the proper software, so MLC CF cards exhibit poor performance on small writes, which slows down an OS quite a lot.

Once you have an SLC CF card, you must still align the clusters with the Flash write pages, which is rather easy with Ntfs but far less with Fat32:
http://www.msfn.org/...n-its-clusters/

This is the performance obtained from the Transcend 300x 4GB (SLC) by aligning Fat32. AttoDisk is easier to understand, IOMeter makes more sensible measurements which confirm the improvement.
Attached File  Atto88sect133MHz.png   12.63KB   11 downloads
(Click to magnify)
I've never seen an MLC CF as agile on small writes.

Edited by pointertovoid, 02 January 2012 - 11:45 AM.


#15
Phenomic

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My Transcend 266x 4GB, Transcend 266x 8GB, Transcend 300x 4GB are all fixed as checked by myself.
My A-Data 266x 4GB is fixed while my A-Data 266x 8GB is removable.
My Lexar 300x 2GB are removable.

Among these agile SLC cards, I recommend Transcend, which seems to have stronger line buffers to drive the P-Ata ribbon, and also transmits at full speed if supplied with 5V - others need 3.3V for it, unavailable at disk interfaces. Or any other explanation, but fact is that I've had errors with other brands, not with Tanscend.

SLC may give an even longer life, if this is any critical, but the decisive advantage is that its write latency is much smaller. MLC SSD achieve now good write performance on small files thanks to cache Ram and subtle write caching strategies by better controllers (Barefoot and followers) but CF cards, at least from the 300x era, lack the big Ram, the subtle controller and the proper software, so MLC CF cards exhibit poor performance on small writes, which slows down an OS quite a lot.

Once you have an SLC CF card, you must still align the clusters with the Flash write pages, which is rather easy with Ntfs but far less with Fat32:
http://www.msfn.org/...n-its-clusters/

This is the performance obtained from the Transcend 300x 4GB (SLC) by aligning Fat32. AttoDisk is easier to understand, IOMeter makes more sensible measurements which confirm the improvement.
Attached File  Atto88sect133MHz.png   12.63KB   11 downloads
(Click to magnify)
I've never seen an MLC CF as agile on small writes.



I saw the Align option in Gparted but I had no idea what it means. But I did notice that total disk space bytes was different if partition was created in Windows 2000 vs. Gparted, and a slight speed advantage in the Win2k volume (but that could also be sample variance).

Are there SDHC flash drives that can be connected to ATA interface?

#16
pointertovoid

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SD and SDHC cards have an interface that differs from P-Ata and CF, so any adapter would need added electronics.
Anyway, I know no agile SD. They seem to be all MLC, with a long access time.

In discussion as a follower to SD interface were memory sticks with a S-Ata interface. I didn't follow if they're offered now. That would be nice as a fixed disk as well, especially if seriously fast sticks are produced, because I don't always need the capacity of present SSD.




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