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 Post subject: Re-using old IDE drives?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:15 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:04 am
Posts: 175
Location: Australia
Hi,

Currently spec'ing up a machine for use as a home server - it will be used for virtualisation of some Linux machines, and it will be a quad core - so I've decided to go with a 45nm chip like a Q9300 or Q9450 to keep the power consumption down compared to say a cheaper Q6600.

I'm planning on using a WD Caviar Green 1TB drive as the main drive, but I've got a couple of old 20GB IDE drives kicking around empty (tiny in comparison). I'm trying to find an excuse to use them - one for example is a Quantum Fireball Lct 20 (20Gb). Now I can't find power specs on these things anywhere - they're perfectly serviceable, and I can use them with an IDE to SATA converter. I'm thinking of dedicating each of them to a VM where I need to transfer data between VMs, so I'm not thrashing my nice new WD 1TB. I'm doing some application development/testing at home - I'm not too concerned about the disk dying and losing data (have backup strategy), but I don't see the point in leaving them unused in a drawer when I could be utilising them.

Any thoughts on this? Anyone know what an old ATA-100 drive is likely to consume power-wise? Would they be a good candidate to install the base OS (Ubuntu) and VMware Server on as a system disk, given I'll be running VMs from the WD 1TB? Probably cripple the nice grunty CPU... might stick to the VM disk idea.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:06 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:12 am
Posts: 2831
Location: USA
Save the planet, and don't use them. Clean off any personal data and dispose of the them properly at a place that recycles computer parts. That is my opinion.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:16 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:04 am
Posts: 175
Location: Australia
Yeah... guess so. It's not like I'll be pressed for space once I get a 1TB drive in there - it just seems a shame to dispose of working tech.

I've got a USB to IDE/SATA kit that I use to access bare drives - might just use them for long term off site backups of photos etc.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:20 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 11:48 pm
Posts: 575
Location: Finland
"Any thoughts on this? Anyone know what an old ATA-100 drive is likely to consume power-wise?"

Varies greatly between drive model. Some old drives are suprizingly power-efficient, take Seagate ST-3660A (= Seagate Medalist 545XE) for example: it uses less than 2 watts when idle. And that is, in mode it can start to operate without a delay (heads are not unloaded like with GreenPower's idle state after a few second of no transfer).

There's some big problems.
- capacity: what can you do with 544 megabytes today? (Yeah 545 only has 544 megabytes. I wonder why the name.)
- environment: how many 545XEs would one need to do something useful? GreenPower can replace 1800 of these HDDs. Or to make 1000 gigs one would need 1800 of these... that is 3500 watts of power to keep them spinning idle (more if intensive seeking is performed).
- noise: single ball-bearing 3811rpm 545XE will make more noise than 8 terabyte server made with GreenPowers. (Yeah 3811rpm is quite odd spindle speed. Not 3600rpm, not 5400rpm but something in between. WD has done similar things recently with "7200rpm" drives which were only ~7000rpm in reality. And GreenPower which spindle speed is "IntelliPower" but 5400rpm in reality.)

This example with 545XE is certainly exaggerated but to a lesser extent, it'll apply to Quantum Fireballs. Even though 20GB may sound relatively recent, it's still a Quantum. Even though I don't know the model, I do know Quantum was bought by Maxtor quite a while ago so this must have been some sort of flagship capacity back then. Probably consumes quite a bit juice running also and likely makes some noise too.

But I shouldn't be the one giving advice. I practically have a HDD museum here... 22 HDDs at the moment if I'm not forgetting someone. 9 of them is >200GB. 4 of them are 80-120GB. Rest are more or less obsolete. 42MB being the smallest, 420MB, 544MB, 2.5GB, 2.5GB, 3.2GB, 4.3GB and so on... "Half-height" 3.5 inchers... 5.25" Bigfoots... or kinds of weird stuff... For what purpose. I've also tried to find an
excuse
for having them around. So far, I have not even found a way to fool myself, let alone others. But I continue to keep them around because playing with them is fun. I keep OS back-up images on them and verify periodically whether they are still alive. I know I could fit all my back-up images on a single 80-gigger and not have to play with 10 extra HDDs.

Also they're quite a contrast to my attempts at computer silencing. Some of them make quite a noise but they all sound unique. I could easily identify them. In fact, when watching anime, I usually identify noises... and that usually makes me LOL... watching a relatively recent TV series that is supposed to happen 50 to 100 years in future having a computer that just happens to sound like Quantum Fireball or 545XE is just plain hilarious. I guess they use sound samples of ball-bearing harddrives because they are recognized as computer noises. Modern harddrives just woosh and hum and are not always recognizable from fan noise. The only unique part of modern HDD sounds is the series of clicks after powering up... and even that is usually boring. With 420MB Quantum ProDrive LPS it's more like a melody... the always so recognizable tick-tock-tick-tock-tico-tico-tico-tico-TRRRR. Or the hollow seek noise of 545XE.

Too bad I don't have a single one with a stepper motor. All have voice-coil actuators, even the Miniscribe 42MB. It one of the very first voice-coil operated HDDs. It was also one of the first ATA interfaced HDDs and it works even with my newest computer. I wish I had Seagate ST-412 (MFM) but I acknowledge it wouldn't be much fun because I'd need a MFM controller for it... and they're not available for PCI. I don't think they're even available for ISA or any other legacy bus my 486 has and I would need to get a computer that's even older. A HDD weighing 10kg would be nice. And a RAMAC weighing a few tons would be nicer. 50 platters. 50 years of age. Lots of noise. <3

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 11:13 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:05 pm
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Location: Toronto Ontario
Perhaps you could install your OS on one of those spare drives. If you have more than one then you can even RAID them if you're worried about the age of the drives. It probably won't give you much of a performance boost, but might as well run down the old drives first and reduce the wear and tear on your new drive.

Or ebay them for $10. :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 4:42 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:50 am
Posts: 1705
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
20gigs goes a long way when it comes to most "critical" personal files. Think of your tax return files, resume, and so on...maybe even also your digital camera photos, depending on how much you have. It's likely they will fit on 20gigs. An old drive of this size can be quite useful as a backup.

I use old hard drives down to around 2gigs in size for silent computing. 2gigs is a comfortable size to contain an OS and applications, as well as a full RAMboot image. This lets me use a computer with 640+megs of RAM as a silent and FAST workstation. The entire OS and applications get loaded up into RAM and then the hard drive spins down.

Now, old drives like these tend to be really noisy but this is actually a slight advantage for this purpose. It's easy to hear whether the hard drive is spinning, so I can manually spin it down again. The hard drive may spin up if I do something that I forget accesses the hard drive, or something.

For my purposes, 20gigs isn't really big enough for a backup of all the files I care about. My digital camera photos and video clips consume space at an alarming rate. My solution is to use an old clunker computer as a backup storage device. I just cram in 4 old hard drives and use AUFS to combine them into one big device.

Is this green? Sure it is. I leave the computer powered off and unplugged most of the time. Every once in a while, I turn it on and use rsync to backup my files. A computer that's only on for a few minutes once every week or two isn't going to eat up much power. And I get a more or less zero cost backup of my files which is protected in case of an extremely nasty power surge.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:37 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:54 pm
Posts: 301
Location: Oz
Spend $10 and get a IDE to USB external case and use the drives as a backup.

I've got 1 case and about 10 drives as backup, some get copied to and left at family members houses in case something really bad happens. Its good for things like wedding photos, etc.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:07 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:04 am
Posts: 175
Location: Australia
dragmor wrote:
Spend $10 and get a IDE to USB external case and use the drives as a backup.

Yep - decided to do this instead of installing them in a PC. I've got a cable for connecting a bare drive to USB, but will just get el-cheapo cases and keep photos, critical files etc on them as off-site backup outside of the house.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:04 am
Posts: 175
Location: Australia
Haha! I hooked the drive up this afternoon to copy my iTunes library onto the disk - I reformatted it, and then the drive packed it in :)

Off to the next PC recycling day it is.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:26 am 
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Friend of SPCR

Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:53 am
Posts: 1310
Location: CT
I have a maxtor 60GB drive for backup (OS disk image, pics...) It's noisy in it's external USB enclosuer but It's turned on once a month for an hour at most. Makes me realize how quiet my computer really is now (thanks SPCR :D )


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:52 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:50 am
Posts: 1705
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
dragmor wrote:
Spend $10 and get a IDE to USB external case and use the drives as a backup.

I'm too cheap even for that. I have old computer systems for free, whereas an IDE->USB adapter would cost money. Plus, my extra IDE drives are smaller so they're more useful if I can union into larger combined file systems.

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 Post subject: my old eide drives
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:19 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:56 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: San Jose
I recently went through and replaced a bunch of my old pata drives with some newer sata drives, and wound up with a pile of them, so I stuck them all in my biggest case with my oldest usable motherboard (an old dual P3 600Mhz board) with a couple extra ide controllers, slapped them all into removable drive trays and hooked them up. I have one 80GB drive set up as the windows xp boot drive, and the rest as a spanned volume of 980GB. I run the system basically my spare XP system, and it backs up half my NAS. Since I started it, I've lost a couple drives, but the remaining 7 (ranging in size from 10GB to 400GB) are still going strong.

But really, is it worth it? I could probably pick up an Atom motherboard that's more powerful, toss in a TB hard drive and get about the same amount of space, and have a system that's a lot less power hungry and probably a lot quieter. I feel bad about tossing out components that work just fine, though. I did try the external idea, I got this Venus case that hold 4 pata drives and can automatically span them, but damn that thing was noisy. What do you guys think, is it better to run a less power hungry rig, or create more e-waste?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 5:54 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:50 am
Posts: 1705
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The average power draw is insignificant if you use the rig for periodic incremental file backups. It will only be powered on for a few minutes per week.

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