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Installing Second Hard Drive Dell Dimension 4550, and RAM question.

Hey guys, a couple of questions here that may take some space to write, so bare with me.  First of all, someone in my office recently upgraded their computer and was getting rid of a Dell Dimension 4550.  I currently work on a dell Dimension 2350.  The 4550, from the specs I read, was a better machine, and I read that it could hold 2gb of ram, and since I work in grpahic design, that was too good of an opportunity to pass up.  I said I'd fix up the machine.  After finally finding an adapter for a dvi to vga cable, I was up and running.  Installed two 1gb sticks of ram.  The machine runs fine, but I found a couple of problems I need help with.  First off, upon some second opinion checks on ram, I found that there are two versions of my system.  One with a frontside bus of 400 MHz and one with 533 MHz.  Apparently the 400 MHz can handle two gb of ram, while the 533 can only handle 1gb.  Can anyone explain to me why that is?  I did a check and found that my system is 533 MHz.  However, I am running the 2gb of ram.  If it supposedly can't handle the ram, am I in danger of hurting the system?  Or does the ram just max at 1 gb, and I'm wasting the extra 1 gb stick in there?  That's question 1.  Question two arises from the fact that I realized upon turning the machine on that it's only got a 30 gb hard drive.  I need at least 80 at work, so this was a problem.  I found an internal hard drive on ebay, of 160 gb, that matches my computer and bought it.  It will arrive tomorrow (the hard drive can be found here: http://cm.ebay.com/cm/ck/1065-29392-2357-0?uid=114345498&site=0&ver=EOIBSA080805&lk=URL&Item=8816445291
Now, I have instructions for how to install the hard drive from the dell site.  I can install it stand alone or as a second hard drive.  My question now changes to hard drive installation.  I know very little about how a computer accesses multiple hard drives.  I'd like to install the second hard drive and use it for all my programs, etc.  And I'd like to have the original hard drive just carry the operating system.  So if the OS crashes, I can jsut reinstall on that hard drive and not effect the other drive.  Question is this...can I install programs on the second hard drive and access them via my start menu, desktop, etc just like I would if they wer eon my C drive?  Will that cause any problems?  Will certain things automatically install to C:?  Or can I designate the new drive as my PRIMARY drive and have everything default to it, with only exepctions made when I tell it to?  These are my many questions.  if you need any more info, please don't hesitate to ask.  Oh, and lastly, when I install my new drive, what happens if I install it as the master and the original as the slave?  Will that cuase problems?  Lemmie know.
Matt
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matthewaschenk
Asked:
matthewaschenk
3 Solutions
 
CallandorCommented:
It really is strange that it works with 2GB RAM, since Crucial also says 1GB is most that is supported: http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.asp?Mfr%2BProductline=Dell%2BDimension+%2F+Dimension+XPS&mfr=Dell&tabid=AM&model=Dimension+4550+%28533MHz+FSB%29&submit=Go.  Perhaps you really have the 400MHz version; try running Everest to find out what it says about the FSB: http://www.majorgeeks.com/download4181.html

You can continue to keep your current disk as the boot drive and install a second drive and install programs on that; you just need to choose other than the default path when installing programs.  They will be accessible just as if you had installed them on your C drive.  System updates will install to the boot drive, so make sure there is space on it left for future additions.  You could also use a tool like Acronis True Image or Ghost to clone the original drive to a new drive and put the new drive in as the boot drive and keep the old one as a slave.

You most likely need to set the boot drive as master, though if your motherboard has a boot priority option in the BIOS, you can choose to boot from any drive.
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matthewaschenkAuthor Commented:
I used belarc advisor, and it told me that I had the 533 MHz, is that the same as the program you suggested above?  Also, are the true image and ghost programs difficult.  Let's say I clone my current hard drive onto the new one.  Would it mess things up with the computer sensing the same starups on both drives.  or would I have to run the clone program.  Turn the machine off, change the hard drives, and then start it.  This is the first time I've done anything like this, so I don't know these things.
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CallandorCommented:
Belarc is a different tool, but excellent also.  True Image and Ghost are very easy to use.  You boot from the CD, choose the source drive, choose the target drive, and let it go.  When you are done, shut down, jumper the target drive as master and jumper the source drive as slave and reboot.  Some systems are finicky about having two bootable drives present, but you can first boot with the source drive, change the partition to not be active, shut down, and then change the jumpers as described before.
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matthewaschenkAuthor Commented:
How do I change the partition to not be active?
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matthewaschenkAuthor Commented:
Also, do you know why a lower frontside bus can handle more ram than a larger front side bus?  And if it's not causing problems, does that mean it's compatable, or do you think that it's just not using the extra 1 gb.  WHat typically happens when you have more ram in your machine than it can handle?
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CallandorCommented:
>How do I change the partition to not be active?

Go to www.bootdisk.com and create a bootable floppy, with fdisk included.  After you are satisfied that the system boots fine with the newly cloned drive, attach the original drive as a slave and boot with this floppy.  Use fdisk to select the original drive and change the active status of the partition.  Reboot as normal.  See the section on changing status here: http://support.euro.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/kb/en/document?DN=FA1011782

>Also, do you know why a lower frontside bus can handle more ram than a larger front side bus?

This is usually related to how many slots are being used.  When all four slots are being used on a motherboard, memory timings need to be more forgiving to account for more signal interference, or the bus frequency needs to be lower to avoid the effects completely.  In your case, I think it's using it, but you can tell by right-clicking properties on My Computer and seeing how much RAM is available.  If it couldn't handle it, the board wouldn't boot up.
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matthewaschenkAuthor Commented:
When I check the properties on My COmputer it tells me I have 2 gb in there, so I guess I lucked out.  Thank God too...I bought that ram and doubt I could have returned it, not to mention, the only reason REALLY to upgrade was the ram increase from 1gb to 2gb.  Can't wait to see how fast Photoshop cs2 runs on a 2gb system.  As for all the other instructions I'm printing everything out and taking it home, drive arrives tomorrow, I won't be able to get to installing it proper until the weekend, but when I get everything up and running, I'll close the question and distribute points.  Thanks for your help, but, be prepared, I'm sure I will still have some more questions on this subject.
Matt
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garycaseCommented:
Interesting that your PC supports 2GB -- the technical specs clearly say there's a 1GB maximum (for either FSB):  http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dim4550/specs.htm#1103227   I didn't download all the BIOS updates and check the release notes; but apparently one of the BIOS updates increased the memory handling capacity.

As for the installation of your 2nd drive ==>  IF your current drive is a 7200rpm drive (Everest or Belarc will show you the model number and may show the rotational rating;  if not you can "Google" the model number of the drive and easily find its specs)  then I would not bother to "clone" it and swap primary drives.

... instead, I'd suggest you do the following:

(a)  Install the new drive as a slave;  initialize it; create a partition and format the partition.   You can adjust your drive letters to make it whatever letter you want ==>  I'll assume you change the optical drive to E: and call the 2nd drive D: for the rest of these notes.

(b)  Relocate your "My Documents" folder to D:   (Easy to do -- ask if you need instructions)

(c)  Create a folder on D: called "System Images"

(d)  Move any personal data that was not in "My Documents" to the D: drive.

... at this point your C: drive will probably only be using a fairly modest amount of its capacity (typically 10-15GB or less).   If it's using a lot more, then you'll need to look at what's using the space.

(e)  Now create an "image" of C: on the D: drive in the "System Images" folder.   I like to use Boot-It NG for this (an excellent, well-focused little utility => and the free demo download will work fine to let you give it a try), but any of the major imaging utilities will work.   I do NOT recommend doing a "live image" ==> i.e. do not create the image while running Windows.

I suggest you continue to install your programs to C: as always -- but configure them to keep your data on D:   Then just take periodic "images" and store them in the "System Images" folder.  You don't need to keep more than 2 or 3 of these images -- and if you ever need to restore your system it will be completely up-to-date; including all of your installed programs, configuration settings, etc.

That's just a basic outline -- but the process is simple and work very well.   You might want to read a few more details about how I suggest setting up systems here:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Desktops/Q_21582113.html

NOTE:  If your current drive is NOT a 7200 rpm drive, then I'd use the new drive for the system so you get the benefits of the higher rotational speed (faster access; better transfer rate).   In this case, I'd put the system in a relatively small (30GB should be plenty) partition; and use the rest of the large drive as a 2nd "drive" (another partition) for your data.   You could then use the 2nd drive to store the system images.

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NicoLaanCommented:
Most likely the new drive is faster, so I suggest installing system, apps, swap, temp and data on the new drive.
Only use the old one for image, backup and extra space when needed. I guess it could be a working copy of the big drive (without the big data) so you would still have a fully working windows and apps if something happened to the big drive. Only without the data.

Another note, you mention (if I understand correct) installing windows on C: and apps on another drive i.e. D:.
If so, you need to image or backup both C: and D:.
If you reinstall windows on C: it won't recognise the apps on D: yet.

By default software installs in C:\Program Files\..... it's easy to always choose D:\WinApps\...... All software will give this option.
It's less easy to never forget to mention the new default location. ;-)
However there will still always be some things installed on C: for some apps either in "C:\program files" or "C:\documents and settings".
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