Thinking about upgrading hard drive

I just had a problem with Win 98. For some reason when I shut down and clicked on restart in DOS Mode it got stuck in a loop and refused to get out of Dos thus I ended up screwing up my registry when I tried to reinstall 98. HP told me I would have to reformat of which I have now done but thinking maybe I should go ahead and either add a second hard drive or switch out to a bigger drive. I currently have an HP Pavillion 8280 333processor and 128 megs Ram with an 8 gig drive. I am thinking of replacing the 8 with a 20gig. Sounds easy but I know it isn't and if I run into problems I won't be able to simply get on here and aske you guys questions so thought I would try to find out what I was getting into before I started. I was looking at a Maxtor drive today at Staples and the guy told me that everything I needed was in the box to transfer all my files from my old drive to the new one.(Is this as easy as it sounds?) Do I really need a drivecopy program instead? Could I by chance use my upgrade copy of Windows 98 to put on my new drive without first installing 95? Maybe I would be wise just to invest in a new CPU. Any and all ideas are very much appreciated! Also, one other thing, do you think it is worthwhile installing Nortons System Works? I had it on my machine before I had my problems but it really didn't help me any getting out of this problem. Thanks for the help and listening.
jmillspAsked:
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dew_associatesConnect With a Mentor Commented:
JM, I believe I answered your original questions as well as the follow-on questions.
Dennis
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bparnesCommented:
It's not clear to me why you want to replace your 8 gb drive with one 250% bigger. Do you have any reason to believe the 8 gb drive is defective or getting ready to croak? If not, then  if you really do need more disk space, add a second drive to the system and leave everything on the first drive in place.

The addition of a second drive is quite straightforward, and offers little risk of downtime if you pay attention to the advice you'll get here if you ask for it. It also avoids the entire Windows upgrade/clean install issue.

We don't know enough about your current system specifications to advise you about a CPU replacement. Generally you are wise to replace both the CPU and motherboard if you want a significant upgrad. But until you tell us what is currently in place, and why you think you want to upgrade, we can only speak in generalities and not to your specific situation.

One last thing. No I don't think your quality of life will be enhanced if you install Norton System Works.
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CyberNerdCommented:
There is no reason to upgrade your hard drive if 8 gigs of your current hard drive suffies your need.  Just like pbarnes stated above you should not buy new hard drive just because you are experiencing abnormality in your current system.  My suggestion is to have you keep your current 8 gig of your hard drive and fix the problem unless you die for additional hard drive space.  Since you have win98 upgrade CD, you can not install unless you have win 95 installed.  It is always a good idea to have a full version of win98 cd if you can.  I also agree with pbarnes that Norton System Works will not help you much to aid you with PC problems.  So make up your mind and post us with more input.  We may able to give you optimal solution to your need.
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OttaCommented:
Note that some motherboards do *NOT* support any IDE hard-drive which is larger than 8.4GB.
So, if you buy a 20GB disk, you may only be able to use the "first" 8.4GB.
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My name is MudSystems EngineerCommented:
unless you use a third party software for the partition stuff...
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RudolfFraDKCommented:
There have been quite a lot of problems with win98, and one of them is that it refuses to shut down on some machines.
You can find a patch on Microsofts site!
What do you mean by screwing up your registery?
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jmillspAuthor Commented:
Wow, thanks for all the input. I really do not think my current hard drive has any significant problems, I just thought it might be a good time to upgrade since I already have lost alot of the programs I had installed etc. I thought a larger hard drive would speed things up for me. Seems to take much longer even fireing up the computer than it used to. I could simply add an additional harddrive but thought it would be more convenient in its actual day to day use and perhaps faster if I had it all on one drive. HP tells me that I can put in whatever size hard drive I want on this particular machine.
I did not have a problem with 98 shutting down but rather could not get back into 98 after shutting down and trying to restart in DOS mode. HP told me the registry was screwed up somehow as when I tried to reload windows it probably overlaid some files on top of others or something to that affect. I seemed to be stuck at something telling me about plug and play but do not remember exactly what it said. I guess that is all water over the bridge now. Thanks
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CyberNerdCommented:
Your best bid at this moment is just wipe out (reformat) all your hard drive (after saving all your important data ofcourse) and reinstall your win98 from scratch.  Computer slows down over time because people add more programs, patches, plug-ins over time; hence, it is a normal that your system slows down.  There are ways to maintain your system such a way you could stay on optimal level though.  You could use utilities from www.tucows.com or www.zdnet.com and download utilities that cleans and maintains your optimal level--it is free.  You might want to make friends with above two sites I mentioned to get to know your system better.
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bparnesCommented:
I disagree with CyberNerd. Your best bet is not to reformat the existing drive, since you own an upgrade copy of Win98, rather than a full install OEM copy.

Your 8 gb drive is quite new and likely quite fast. Replacing it with a drive 250% larger is not going to speed things up. On the contrary, your system is going to have to devote more resources to keeping track of the increased information required to manage that extra 150%. That will, at best, require a small amount of extra time; it will not speed things up. In particular, a larger drive will not help your computer start up faster or shut down more quickly.

What a larger drive will do is let you store more data on the drive. Period.

If you feel you need to store more data than can currently fit on your 8 gb drive then add a second drive. If you've still got plenty of room on your existing drive, then invest your money or spend it on something else and wait until your drive is closer to being full before expanding. If you wait, the price per gigabyte for the drive is very likely to be much less than now.



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compmaniaCommented:
If you are going to buy a new drive stay away from Maxtor drives, if you have problems with it and send it to be replaced they give you a pre-used drive that was sent to them to be fixed.

Western Digital on the other hand fixes the drive (if it can be repaired) or sends you a brand new drive.

My 2.1 Gig drive stopped working and W.D. replaced it for a 2.5 Gig free.
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jmillspAuthor Commented:
Ok, you guys have pretty well convinced me there really is no reason to get to excited about putting in a new hard drive now. I am still curious about Norton System Works. I have the program and have used it to delete programs and defrag along with detecting windows problems etc. but I sometimes wonder if it can cause more problems than what it actually solves. If you already had the program like I do, would you reinstall it or put on something else to help in cleaning up the hard drive etc.???Thanks again
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dew_associatesCommented:
jmillsp, there's been alot of good info posted here as well as some erroneous. Rather than repeat the good, I'll correct the erroneous.

First, you can, indeed, format your present hard drive and reinstall windows 98 "without" first installing Windows 95.

The most important single thing to do is to make sure you have a good Win98 setup boot disk (the one you made when installing Win98) and then copy over format.com from your present Win98 install to that same floppy.

As for the format and install process, all you need to do is boot to the setup floppy noted above. Format the "C" drive and use the /S switch to transfer the system files: eg: FORMAT C:/S.

While it isn't mandatory to transfer the system files, this will give you an opportunity to boot to the "C" drive to insure that it is bootable.

After you've tested the "C" drive for boot, reboot to the setup floppy and choose "With CD-Rom drive support" and note the drive letter assigned to your cd rom drive.

Insert the Win98 CD into the drive, and at the "A" dos prompt, type:

D:\setup<enter>

(Presuming that your CD Rom drive is drive "D")

The install will begin and take you through portions of the setup. It will pause to verify the existence of Windows 95. At this point, swap your Win95 CD for the Win98, point the install to the cd rom drive to find Win95 and then swap out the CD and continue with your installation. I recommend that you use the custom install over the typical, as this gives you the opportunity to choose what is installed in each area.

Now, as for Norton, while it has some nice features, it is more trouble than it's worth. Other than anti-virus, there's nothing in the tools section that you can't already do (within reason) within win98. So my advice would be to use the anti-virus only.

Lastly, as for Maxtor, they have a no nonsense, no questions asked replacement policy. While indeed you might receive a repaired drive, all warranties include the right to repair if possible or replace, at their descretion. In all but a very limited number of cases, Maxtor has replaced older style and type drives with newer and faster versions, and we have seen then replace two and three year old drives. Most important is the fact that they will send you the replacement "before" they receive your old drive.

Dennis

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compmaniaCommented:
Western Digital will send you a replacement before you send yours.

I have a good friend that had to send 3 (Yes I said THREE) hard drives back to Maxtor before he got one that worked.

W.D. will send you a new one.
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dew_associatesCommented:
Compmania, I can only relate our experience as an OEM that ships 500 to 2500 units per month. Our return rate in less than 1/2 of 1% per year throughout our customer base, and Maxtor has proven that we do not need to intervene between them and our customer. End of story!
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jmillspAuthor Commented:
So, I can use my UPGRADE 98 version to do as Dew recommends, right? How about just using McAfee for the virus detection since it shipped with my machine originally?
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dew_associatesCommented:
Right, you can use the Win98 upgrade as I noted. Just follow the dialogue I posted.

And yes, you can use McAfee or just the Norton Anti-virus, its really just a choice.
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bparnesCommented:
Yes you can use your UPGRADE 98 version as dew describes. Just be aware that you also should have copies of all the drivers for the devices in your computer since you made need to install one or more of the drivers after installing Windows to get your computer up to a proper level of performance.

McAfee is a very good virus detection and prevention publisher, but you need to understand that anti-virus protection is dependent on a regular and frequent update of the virus signature part of the program. The program part is often given away free in order to get you to pay for the updates. Before installing any anti-virus program you should evaluate the cost in both time and money in keeping the program up to date. McAfee has many different programs out in the marketplace. Be clear just what comes with the software you are installing. Do you get one "free" signature update? One year's worth of updates?
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jmillspAuthor Commented:
Speed wise, I still think if for example I have 5 gigs of info. on my 8 gig drive vs. 5 gigs of info. on a 20 gig drive that the 20 gig drive should be substantially faster. Am I wrong?
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compmaniaCommented:
Yes you are, size is not speed unless you have a 5400rpm drive and want to get a 7200rpm drive.
Even then the 20Gig is a little big, unless you have lots of stuff to put on your HD in the near future
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dew_associatesCommented:
JMills, bigger is not always better. You need to take a serious look at the amount of programs and data you have on your present drive. If you are using 50%-75% of your present drive, and intend to add alot more programs and data, substantially more as a matter of fact, then looking towards another drive may be feasible. On average though, most people have 2-3 gigs of programs and data. So if you're at 50% or less, save yourself some money and leave the drive as it is. Think of it this was, think of your 8G drive as a 45RPM record and a 20gig as a 78. It takes quite a bit more to get across a 78 then it does a 45.
Dennis
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bparnesCommented:
That's a nice metaphor, except I think you want the 20 gb drive to be a 33RPM record for the metaphor to make sense. I said the same thing way back early in this conversation, and I'll repeat it again so JMills sees it: a bigger drive will not speed things up. In fact it will probably slow you down a bit since there's a lot more information relating to a big drive that has to be managed. A 20 gb drive has 250% more to manage than does an 8 gb drive. It takes time to plow through all that extra information.
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jmillspAuthor Commented:
So, for optimal performance for the avg. person what is the biggest hard drive you might recommend?
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dew_associatesCommented:
JMills, if you use 2X the programs and data you intend to have, you should be fine.
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dew_associatesCommented:
bparnes, I'm certain that JMills understood the "metaphor".
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OttaCommented:
> A 20 gb drive has 250% more to manage than does an 8 gb drive. It takes time to plow through all that extra information.

Not always.
Given that the 8GB drive and the 20GB drive are physically the same size, how are all those "extra" gigabytes "squeezed" into the same space?

I can think of three ways:
 - decrease the space between "tracks"
(like printing a memo at 8 lines/inch versus 6 lines/inch)
 - use multi-level recording (compare it to remembering what you are reading right now, with remembering your telephone-number, i.e., use of different "levels" of recording)
 - use multiple platters (pile a stack of vinyl-records onto your turntable).

How do these methods perform?
The first way makes I/O faster on the large disk, since the data you need is *NEVER* further away on the larger disk, due to the same dimensions of
the two drives, and the same elapsed-times for "seeking" to a specific cylinder.

The second way also makes I/O faster on the large disk, for the same reason.

The third way is no faster, since the read/write mechanism is still moving over a specific platter at the same speed as on the smaller drive, and the "switching" between platters is instantaneous, since it's electronic, rather than mechanical.
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jmillspAuthor Commented:
Otta, O think you are thinking more like me now so what would be the optimal drive size fro the average person? I have had smaller drives before on different systems and I know the cpu and ram has alot to do with speed as well but I have always had a faster machine with about a forthe of my hard drive full vs. half or more full.
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bparnesCommented:
Otta, I'm not talking about the physical media. I'm talking about the database the computer uses to keep track of what is on the hard drive. As the database (FAT) gets larger so too does the amount of computing needed to access data in the database. Regardless, I don't think it useful to jmillsp to head off into a discussion about this. I was only trying to help him understand that bigger isn't always better.
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bparnesCommented:
Just to clarify, jmillsp, since I didn't see your latest comment when I was entering mine. It's not the proportion of drive that's filled with information that matters, it's the total amount of information that the computer has to wade through. Your drive will be faster when it is 1/4 full rather than 3/4 full because it has 1/4 the amount of information on it. Put the same information onto a bigger drive and so bring down the proportion of the drive that is full, and you won't (all other things being equal) speed up the computer.
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chineseCommented:
Concerning speed:
The amount of time needed to review where data is stored on a hard disk is dependent on the FAT table entries.  Larger partitions on the drive will increase the size of the FAT table, not larger drives.  If you divide the drive into 8 GB partitions it would have equal access time to an 8 GB drive.  

Newer drives are faster.  Access is faster, data transfer is faster, cache is larger (usually), spin speed is often faster.  Replacing an older drive (even 1-2 year old) will speed up performance of your system for some operations.  

A side note to the above... Having the fastest drive as the boot drive will make a difference in overall performance.  so adding the new drive as a secondary device is not as good an option strictly from a performance standpoint.  It is however, much easier to do.  

Windows gets all kinds of crap loaded in over time that slows down boot, and also impacts overall performance.   If you have your original software programs, I recommend starting fresh anyway, whether you keep your old drive or not.

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snowmobile74Commented:
well I just have a fyew sugestions if you decide you want to buy one first off
you should look on www.pricewatch.com see what they have for prices and second ANYTHING you buy try to get a review on it first www.cnet.com they have tons not very acurate prices but they have reviews and they are reliable also www.firingsquad.com, www.anandatech.com, those are just a fyew

Good Luck
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jmillspAuthor Commented:
Other than having to manufacture a bracket in my friends E Machine, I jsut installed a 13 gig Maxtor with little effort as a slave drive. I am still thinking about putting a 20 in mine or I might just go with a CDrw for now, anyway i do not have a clue who to try to give the points to at this point.
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jmillspAuthor Commented:
I agree! Thanks
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dew_associatesCommented:
And thank you!
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OttaCommented:
>  I'm talking about the database the computer uses to keep track of what is on the hard drive. As the database (FAT) gets larger so too does the amount of computing needed to access data in the database.

There's some truth in what you write, and some problems, too.

When the Operating System is searching for a command, e.g., 'FORMAT' or 'NOTEPAD', it searches only those directories defined by the 'SET PATH' command.
No matter how large your hard-drive is, the number of files in those directories named in the PATH statement is *constant* -- so there is no "performance-hit" for having a "large" hard-drive.

Only when you tell the computer to 'Open' a file, or use 'Save As' will the Operating System take slightly-longer, depending on the number of files in each directory through which you navigate.
Since you only use 'Open' or 'Save' maybe once a minute, the "performance" of your PC is only minimally-affected by the number of files in a specific directory.
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