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What hardware do I need to have a spare computer?

I have a computer that is used to capture x-ray images using a video capture board.   The company that supplied the hardware has gone out of business.   I want to have a spare computer available in case the existing one goes down.   I would then remove the capture board and install it in the new computer.   I have ShadowProtect backup software that backs up to an external hard drive.   I could use this to restore a hard drive image in case of a hard drive failure, however this is a slow process.   Having a spare computer available would make the job much quicker.   The existing computer has a RAID 1 installation.   The OS is XP Professional.   What hardware would I need to buy to configure the replacement computer?
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DoctorK12008
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DoctorK12008
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2 Solutions
 
speak2abCommented:
I see two main considerations you need to have in mind for your replacement computer. First is the hardware compatibility. Regardless of the difference in other hardware spcifications (which should at least be same if not higher than what you currently have), it should support your video capture board. You don't want to buy a replacement without the appropriate slot to plug the board in.

Secondly, if you are migrating the installed softwares from the previous PC you willl need to be certain that you have thesame firmware to support the pre installed software on the old machine. In this case you will need to list out what exactly the configuration of your current PC is and go search for a similar machine.

Generally, since the video board you are interested in is no longer supported I will recommend not deviating too far from your present system config.

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Andrej PirmanCommented:
First, explain RAID 1 more in detail:
- is it Software RAID 1, mirroring, configured inside Windows OS? You can determine it by going to Computer Management --> Disk management and if you see BOTH drives, saying one is a mirrored, then it is software mirror
- if it is Hardware RAID 1, being it good or bad, the story is a bit different

Now, my approach would be to prepare spare PC before failure occurs. This is the only way to minimize restore time window in case of disaster.

To create IMAGE of existing computer, I have very good experince with ACRONIS True Image Enterprise Server. Version 8.3 or newer will handle XP just perfectly.
Install Acronis True Image Ent Server + Universal Restore on 3rd computer, then install Agents on your X-ray PC, and create IMAGE of working X-ray machine. It is quite fast.
Then use Universal Restore option (manage it from 3rd machine) to restore X-ray PC to SPARE PC. During Universal Restore have MOTHERBOARD and SATA controller drivers of SPARE PC ready, because restore process will ask you to inject new drivers onto SPARE PC.
It will create working copy of X-ray machine on SPARE PC.

So if your X-ray PC fails, you just install Video capture card into SPARE PC, maybe reboot once to catch up with drivers, and your SPARE PC should take over the role just fine. Except that you won't have latest images or settings there.
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garycaseCommented:
Building a spare PC is only a part of the problem ... it would provide NO protection if the video capture card fails.     Do you know the make/model of your capture card?  ... now would be a good time to see if you can find one on e-bay (or possibly a retailer may have some NOS units).

As for the PC ... as noted above, you need to be sure it has the appropriate slot for your capture card, and the BEST choice would be to build one using the same chipset as the original unit, although that may not be possible.    One key consideration:   Does the software you're using require on-line activation?    Does it use a hardware key? ... if so, what port is required for this key (parallel, serial, USB)?

If your key concern is to simply be back up quickly in the event of hard drive failure, you're already protected via the RAID-1 array ... if one drive fails, the system will continue to run.   Just be sure you keep a spare drive, so you can start the rebuild process immediately after a failure, to minimize the "at-risk" time.

But if you want a complete spare, I'd build exactly that:  a complete clone, including the capture card.
Then if you had a failure, it'd be a simple case of turning on the spare and restoring your data from the external drive  :-)


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Andrej PirmanCommented:
I forgot to mention:
be sure to provide healthy environment for X-ray PC, so it will last longer:
- protect it with UPS, probably on-line dual conversion topology
- make sure vents are clean and air flow is not blocked
- better to have it in air-conditioned room
- and maybe you might remove "Gateway" settings off from TCP/IP properties, so local network will work, but internet won't. So surfing the web would be impossible, minimizing risk.
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nobusCommented:
you can use siw to have a list of all the components of your pc : http://www.gtopala.com/
then you can look for the parts  at the stores, or internet
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DoctorK12008Author Commented:
As far as I can determine, there is no RAID card installed, unless it is somehow integrated into the motherboard.   Although 2 hard drives are present, only one shows up as a drive letter (C:).   It is set up as RAID 1.   I am still not sure if this means software or hardware RAID.   The capture card shows up as Electron devices...Eluni in device manager.   I have no idea what this means.   Has anyone heard of this?   I tried to look at the RAID setup by pressing F4 during boot up, but it says that the utility is disabled.  
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PCableGuyCommented:
Is it the video capture board and its PC that is no longer supported or the whole X-ray machine setup no longer supported?

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garycaseCommented:
Right-click on the capture card in Device Manager;  select Properties;  click on the Details tab;  select "Hardware ID" in the drop-down list, and post the detailed hardware ID information.

r.e. the RAID => you most likely have a motherboard with an integrated RAID controller.   If you post the make/model of the motherboard we can confirm that.
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DoctorK12008Author Commented:
The attached files are reports created by SIW.   Hope they provide the appropriate information. SIW-FREEWARE-USER-20111013-15212.html SIW-FREEWARE-USER-20111013-15230.html
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garycaseCommented:
Well ... I THINK your capture card is an ImagePro from MediaCybernetics.    But you have a lot of software installed that may may/not be easy to replicate on another system.    Do you have all of the software installation media?   ... and does your licensing agreement for the software allow installing a 2nd copy?

... if not, you'll also have to buy additional software licenses to create a duplicate system.

What you may want to do instead is (a) buy another Intel D955XBK board (still available from e-bay and from a few NOS suppliers);  (b) be SURE you have a current Image of your hard drive (no more than a month or so old) and current backups of your data;  and (c) keep a spare hard drive ready to go.

Then if you have a hard drive failure (the most likely failure) you can simply replace the failed drive and let the RAID rebuild.

If you have a more significant failure, you can replace (or have someone replace) the motherboard, and you'll be ready to go.     Alternatively, you could, in addition to the 955XBK board, buy another P-IV D and memory, and build a duplicate system.    Check with MediaCybernetics to see if you can still buy the exact imaging card you have and you can possibly buy a spare one of those as well.


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speak2abCommented:
By the way except you do have critical reasons to keep the present card, i will recommend you start thinking about getting a more recent card that is still supported by its manufacturer. Otherwise you might find yourself facing the same situation again down the line.

Back compatibility is always a hanging pain in the neck and the earlier it is dealt with the better. That's my 2 cents for you.
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nobusCommented:
nothing for me -bèèh  :(
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