Fastest Boot drive?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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Aris
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Fastest Boot drive?

Post by Aris » Sun Sep 10, 2006 6:04 pm

I was wondering if there is any types of drives or setups that i could use as a boot drive for just the operating system.

Ideally id like to have like a 2-4gb drive, a solid storage device with no moving parts, that would have extremly high read/write times, so that when i power on the machine it would be at the desktop within a few seconds.

I wouldnt want somthing that would require dedicated power to hold the information. I'd use a larger capacity notebook drive for programs, games, mp3's etc once i'm in the OS.

Also, it would need to be under around $200-$400 price range.

Howard
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Post by Howard » Sun Sep 10, 2006 6:46 pm

The M-Systems mSSD SATA 2GB drive should suit you, but I wouldn't know where to buy one.

Aris
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Post by Aris » Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:11 pm

whats your boot up time with it?

Aris
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Post by Aris » Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:30 pm

from what ive gathered, SSD's would be faster boot up times over traditional mass storage, but not THAT fast. I think the quickest time i saw was around 30seconds.

Id want somthing to make the system boot up in under 10 seconds.

Aris
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Post by Aris » Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:55 pm

It looks like i will have to settle with the gigabyte ramdisk. Though the 15hour time to deletion is a bit worrysum. I guess i could make a backup partition on the mass storage drive with a ghost of the OS on it, then if anything happens to it, just ghost it back to the ramdisk.

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Post by Eunos » Sun Sep 10, 2006 8:15 pm

Just be warned, I had an i-RAM and it wasn't particularly faster in boot-up. Defrag etc was a great deal faster though.

If you want ultra-fast boot-up, I think the solution might be in trying to use hybernate mode instead of turning the PC off. I heard Windows Vista is going to be pushing in that direction.

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Post by Aris » Sun Sep 10, 2006 8:36 pm

my entire windows directory after a full year of using it is only 2gb. my programs directory is only 1.8gb, and theres at least a few large programs there that ive never used, i just got for shits n giggles.

So the 4gb limit on the ramdisk would be plenty.

its not really about leaving the computer in hybernate. typically i run my system 24/7, but when i need to restart, or power goes out, or my computer crashes, i dont like sitting and waiting for a min or two for the system to come back. Plus the desktop can get pretty laggy when i have alot of programs running at once, which is often.

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Post by paapaa » Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:20 am

It seems very odd that your reboot takes 1-2min - have you actually timed it?? Better/other alternatives:

1. Start using a Linux which can be configured. My Gentoo boots in 12-15 secs on a slowish Athlon 3000+. If you don't play games it is a viable alternative.
2. Reinstall Windows.
3. Remove all unnecessary services in Windows.

For $400 you can get a new C2D+mobo+fast HD. It might be a wiser option.

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Post by Cerb » Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:26 am

The HDD isn't much of a bootup bottleneck. It is to some degree, but not enough to be worth the trouble, typically (for multitasking, yes, but bootup, no). Your best bet for fast boots is to use an OS that can do fast boots (not Windows 2k/XP, not FC, not Ubuntu) without much trouble. I used Source Mage until recently (ironically, I got rid of it because I kept blowing Windows up messing /w dual-boot!), and it's boot-up was nice and speedy (if you back up regularly, RFS should be quite nice). Most boot time is taken by hardware detection, driver loading, starting services, etc., and generally not too much HDD access.

I don't think anything will get a modern version of Windows booting in under 10 seconds, w/o major loss of functionality (hibernate is typically not that quick, either). Even fairly small desktop Linux distros can't quite reach that speed (though some get close, now). We expect an OS to do a lot of work for us, to abstract use of hardware and software features, and longer startup times than in ages past are part of the price paid.

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Post by Aris » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:26 am

well when games work on linux the day they are released, mabey i'll switch.

until then i'm stuck with windows xp.

as far as the hard drive not being the bottleneck, ive seen a few reviews state that bootup times were less than 10 seconds with the gigabyte ramdisk.

its not even so much boot up times. Its just daily desktop activities. I wait a few seconds for little things to pop up. like right clicking on the desktop, or switching IE windows. Its a little slow till it cache's things when i first boot up, but mostly when im playing games, and i'm "Alt-Tab'd" out of the game looking things up, or playing music, i find the interface lag is HUGE.

I would be able to place my entire programs directory and windows directory into the 4gb ramdrive, that should definately eliviate all of my problems.

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Post by jackylman » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:38 am

There are a lot of things to try before you go throwing money at the problem.

- First and foremost, do a Ctrl-Alt-Del and lookup the names of all the services running and what they're for. You'd be surprised at what can be eliminated.

- Disable unused hardware in BIOS (floppy controller, serial/parallel ports, onboard audio/LAN if you don't use them, USB ports that you don't need)

- Set your hard disk to be the first boot device so the computer doesn't waste time looking for a boot CD or floppy

- Look in the registry to see all of the programs that are running at startup

- ScanDisk and Defrag regularly

- Run antivirus and a spyware detector

- Eliminate unused icons on desktop

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Post by mysh » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:59 am

jackylman wrote:- Look in the registry to see all of the programs that are running at startup
Or, rather than looking in the registry yourself, use CodeStuff Starter (http://members.lycos.co.uk/codestuff/). This is a fantastic tool that collects all the items that will be run at startup in one place, and allows you to just disable them, rather than necessarily deleting them outright. Very handy.
jackylman wrote:- Eliminate unused icons on desktop
I think this is a very underrated/underused performance tweak, but it definitely works.
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Post by alleycat » Mon Sep 11, 2006 5:59 am

This might help.

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Post by paapaa » Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:02 am

Aris wrote:Its a little slow till it cache's things when i first boot up, but mostly when im playing games, and i'm "Alt-Tab'd" out of the game looking things up, or playing music, i find the interface lag is HUGE.
This is an easy one. You don't need a new HD, you need more RAM. How much you have now? Double the amount and enjoy fast Alt-Tabbing. The difference will be HUGE and costs a lot less.

Aris
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Post by Aris » Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:07 am

jackylman wrote:There are a lot of things to try before you go throwing money at the problem.

- First and foremost, do a Ctrl-Alt-Del and lookup the names of all the services running and what they're for. You'd be surprised at what can be eliminated.

- Disable unused hardware in BIOS (floppy controller, serial/parallel ports, onboard audio/LAN if you don't use them, USB ports that you don't need)

- Set your hard disk to be the first boot device so the computer doesn't waste time looking for a boot CD or floppy

- Look in the registry to see all of the programs that are running at startup

- ScanDisk and Defrag regularly

- Run antivirus and a spyware detector

- Eliminate unused icons on desktop
im not a noob, ive been doing these things for years now. the problem still exists.

and as far as ram goes, i use a minimum of 1gb in all my systems, typically 2gb now. my memory usage is never anywhere close to capping out, typically its at most, HALF of 1gb while everything is running.

how about instead of all the nay sayer reply's, i get some people that actually use this device, or devices like this for this intended purpose. id like to know if you ran into any issue's setting it up, and what i should expect.

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Post by jhhoffma » Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:46 am

Aris,

If you're looking into RAMDrives (which need to be powered all the time) why not just setup your PC for S3 suspend, which shuts off everything except for RAM (even fans and CPU)

I have my HTPC and my gaming machine setup to do that and it resumes within 10 sec.

It is a pain in the a$$ to setup on some configurations. But I have two AthlonXP system and they are both working fine. thegreenbutton.com has a lot of good info on how to do this (as well as htpcnews.com) as it's a very critical feature for HTPC users.

Hope that helps.
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Aris
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Post by Aris » Mon Sep 11, 2006 7:17 am

suspend doesnt work when the power goes out, or the system needs to be reset because windows' allocation of resources gets messed up after being on for too long, or windows decides i need to restart the machine before a new program update will work correctly.

suspend just isnt for me. i want an actual drive that will take a cold boot system to the desktop in under 10 seconds, and have zero desktop lag even during intense gamming applications running in the background.

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Post by NyteOwl » Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:05 am

ANother way to speed up boot is to empty the c:\windows\prefetch directory, change the registry entry at

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters

and set EnablePrefetcher to 2 (default is 3). This will cause prefetch to only cache the system files rather than applications. Apps will start a bit slower but boot should be a bit quicker.

Note that the first time you reboot after doing this will be a bit slow while all the system files are cached but subsequent boot speed should improve.
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Post by Aris » Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:14 am

i doubt a registry tweak will drop boot times to under 10 seconds.

also, it would slow desktop performance with my applications, which is one of the reasons i want the drive.

----------------------------------------------------------

i really dont like the direction of the thread. i didnt make it so you could all give me reasons why not to spend my money. I've looked over the options, i know whats available and what is capable of doing what.

I want feedback on the product, and like products that are used for this perpose by other people. Mabey i should just make a new thread with a more focused topic.

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Post by paapaa » Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:41 am

Aris wrote:i really dont like the direction of the thread.
The reason for this kind of comments is simple:

1. You wanted to speed up the boot time of a computer which runs 24/7 for $400. That is not very wise thing to do - but it's your money. A cheap UPS would be a better alternative. On a 24/7 machine things are always pretty much in cache so RAM is also a good alternative.

2. Then you wanted to speed up task switching and program launch. If task switching from games to desktop makes a lot of I/O activity, you are most likely low on RAM. A SSD won't help program launch unless it is a big one. 2-4GB is usually not enough for programs - or at least for games. The 150GB Raptor shouldn't be that much slower and you can fit all your programs/games/media/OS'es on that disk. And it is cheaper. (Although I think that a Raptor is a waste of money, any new HD can give almost as good performance with fraction of cost...)

Sorry, but it really looks like you haven't really thought this out. If you want to spend your money wise you have to tell what your system is and what programs you are using etc. If you just want to buy a SSD, well, it's your choice.

But yes, you are correct, we are not answering your original question. Sorry about that.
Last edited by paapaa on Mon Sep 11, 2006 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by hmsrolst » Mon Sep 11, 2006 9:36 am

Eunos wrote:Just be warned, I had an i-RAM...
I noticed the past tense. How come you no longer have one?

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Post by alfred » Mon Sep 11, 2006 10:01 am

Just my 2 cents -- why not trying to speed up everything and not only boot & task-switching times? Depending on which CPU you're currently running, a good option would be an upgrade to a Conroe. They're quite cheap, and a E6600 or E6700 can be overclocked to a great extent without getting as hot as a moderately overclocked, 6-months old X2. As for the budget such an upgrade would represent, it obviously depends on several factors, for example do you already own DDR2 ram sticks, etc. Some middle-priced Conroe motherboards appear to have good enough overclocking capabilities.

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Post by Aris » Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:57 am

the system is up to date. multitasking may be sped up slightly with a dual core processor, but i really dont wanna chuck a fairly new (within a year) computer just to get dual cores. Memory is not an issue, 1gb of ddr2 is plenty. As for my programs, i already stated i have less than 2gb worth, and in reality i probably only USE about 1gb or less worth of programs, as i have things like dreamweaver just sitting collecting dust that ive never used. So i definately could easily fit ALL of my programs and my entire windows directory onto a 4gb drive. I have a 120gb samsung desktop drive right now, and i only actually use about 30gb of it. This is also one of the reasons i've started to switch to using notebook drives because i dont need the excessive amount of space on current 3.5" drives, and notebook drives are alot less noisy. But with the lower noise i also get slower response speeds than i already have with a desktop drive. So i want a way to at least keep, but preferably increase my desktop performance, multitasking, boot up etc while at the same time keeping with the entire reason i switched to notebook drives, which was to lower system noise.

So all desktop drives are out of the question as they are too loud, so no raptor.

amount and speed of ram is fine, and i'm not prepared to upgrade to a new motherboard/cpu at this time.

a cheep UPS doesnt really solve any of my issue's. i dont have a problem with it running 24/7 right now without one, but i still have slow multitasking speeds on the desktop with applications as well as the typical long windows boot times.

Linux is not an option. it does not give me the capabilities i need

While hardware/software tweaking and optimizations help, i want to start with somthing significantly faster first, then tweak it up afterwards if i feel the need.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

so actually yes, i have thought it out. i dont really see how $400 is an unwise investment. The options you provided would 1. not solve my problems, and 2. cost just as much.

Its not just about doing a boot time in under 10 seconds, or about quick multitasking, its also about doing it all silently. SSD's and ramdrives both can perform silently. Is there anything else? As is right now SSD's dont look to be fast enough for what i want, and are still a bitt too expensive. They may be a good replacement for notebook drivees when prices come down, but not now.

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Post by jackylman » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:25 pm

Sorry, but I think this thread ends here (i.e. outside the realm of possibility) Congratulations, you've discovered the bottleneck of modern computers - storage.

Boot Windows XP in 10 secs.? Good luck with that.

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Post by highlandsun » Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:38 pm

Well, you've probably hit a wall, sure, but it's Windows, not the hardware. I have 2GB of RAM in my laptop, and running Windows XP 1.5GB is usually free, even with a dozen apps open. The problem is that the Windows memory manager is pretty much allergic to RAM. It continuously runs thru memory and pages out anything it can, even though there's no particular memory pressure on the system. A good memory manager would only force things out of memory when some other apps are requesting more memory than is currently available, but the Windows memory manager isn't a good one.

As long as you're tied to Windows, you're going to see slow response, no matter how much RAM you install or how fast your hard drives are.

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Post by Aris » Mon Sep 11, 2006 5:09 pm

jackylman wrote:Boot Windows XP in 10 secs.? Good luck with that.
http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdo ... i=2480&p=7

boot up time in 9.12seconds, and that was the original version 1 of the i-Ram. The current "revision 3" is a bit faster than that.

why even post if you have absolutely no clue what your talking about?

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Post by qviri » Mon Sep 11, 2006 5:51 pm

That's from the boot menu (basically the first time you see Windows), not the power-on beep.
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Post by jackylman » Mon Sep 11, 2006 10:31 pm

qviri wrote:That's from the boot menu (basically the first time you see Windows), not the power-on beep.
Exactly. Regardless of OS, the computer has to do a POST and give you a chance to enter the BIOS. Then, Windows has to show its logo screen and give you a chance to enter safe mode before loading all the drivers. If your whole boot takes less than 10 seconds, I'd imagine you'd have a hard time hitting keys fast enough to get either one.
Aris wrote:why even post if you have absolutely no clue what your talking about?
Believe it or not, I have read the about the IRAM. It piqued my interest when I learned that Windows would rather page to my hard disk than to my 2GB of RAM. I thought of using it as a pagefile, but was discouraged by the article you linked to.

If the only suggestion you're open to is the IRAM, why don't you go ahead and get it? But I'll stand by my original comment of, "Boot Win XP in 10 secs.? Good luck with that."

I'm using a WD Scorpio notebook drive and my computer boots in about 20 - 30 secs (including password entry). I really think you need to look at your startup process and streamline it as I outlined above, not throw money at the problem.

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Post by Cerb » Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:05 pm

If multitasking is a problem, and you've got enough RAM, then there are three basic ways to help:
1. Do some Googling for RAM settings tweaks. IIRC, XP paging things out so much can be minimized by some registry tweaking (I still run Win2k :)).
2. If you don't have dual-core (you've not given full specs, and I don't see CPU mentioned), get one, if at all possible. They do rock. If it's only a year old, how is it chucking it? Worst case is that the CPU and mobo need replacing. Everything else will be fine (oh, except that XP install...).
3. Backup, format, and reinstall. This is an easy way to fix many Windows ills :). If it's taking more than a tenth of a second to get a menu dropping down or popping up (assuming you've got fade/scroll turned off), something is wrong somewhere, and it's not your hard drive.
While hardware/software tweaking and optimizations help, i want to start with somthing significantly faster first, then tweak it up afterwards if i feel the need.
The trouble is that the problems you're describing are largely software related. I fairly regularly use P4C, P4D and A64 machines with specs that outstrip my lowly AthlonXP by miles, and they run like molasses (I'm comparing P4s with DC or HT over 3GHz w/ 1GB+ RAM to a Athlon XP at 1150MHz w/ 1GB), with delays for just about everything but major task switching (P4s w/ DC or HT do have some advantages), and even that isn't too much faster--however, I know from building and setting up a few similar PCs that they have the capability to absolutely scream; and I was practically salivating the first time I had a chance to use a A64 X2 w/ a virgin Windows install on it. The problems you describe are exactly those I experience on others' computers that have too much crap running and/or junked up OS installs.

Start nice and lean, tweak from the beginning, and carefully watch services, the starup folders, and run key throughout the OS' life, and don't install anything you're not truly going to use. Also, be paranoid about apps rather than use a local firewall, and tweak AV settings (FI, to exclude most of your app folders, browser and mail caches and saved files, etc.).

If there were something really cool that would solve these problems with throwing money at it, you'd be recommended such a thing with passion. If it exists, though, most of us clearly don't know what it is; and spending $400 would be unwise if you get near nothing back from it.

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Post by paapaa » Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:33 pm

If your task switching is very slow and there is heavy I/O, you must be low on RAM - no matter how much you deny it. 1GB might not be enough for latest games and a few applications (and a crowded desktop?). You could at least find out how much paging is happening while you task switch in cases it is slow.

If you have decided not to add any RAM, try to find a way to tune Windows's swap policy. Linux has this setting called "swappiness". It basically controls how easily the kernel moves thing from RAM to swap to free up memory for cache. Don't know if it exists for Windows. You can read about it here:

http://kerneltrap.org/node/3000

And trust us, we are just trying to help you solve your problems without spending money. I would:

1. First try every free solution.
2. Then make sure what causes the problems.
3. Then invest only if needed.

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