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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tech Tip of the Day: How to configure a RAID volume on an Intel motherboard

Description: This guide will walk through how to create a RAID volume on an Intel motherboard. Most Intel motherboards will support RAID 0 or RAID 1. RAID, or Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks is a technology that provides storage reliability through redundancy, combining multiple hard disk drives in to one logical unit wherein data is stored in multiple copies across multiple hard drives.

There are many types of RAID but the two most common are RAID 1 and RAID 0. RAID 1 is a duplicate drive, essentially Drives 1 and 2 will be exactly the same. This is done so that if either of the two drives fail, an exact copy of that drive is readily available.

Example:
Drive 1: File A, File B, File C, et cetera.
Drive 2: File A, File B, File C, et cetera.

RAID 0 is in fact not really RAID at all because it is not redundant. RAID 0 splits a file in to pieces and puts some of the pieces on Drive 1 and some on Drive 2, to increase speed. The theory is that if Drive 1 reads the first part of File A, and Drive 2 reads the second part of File A, the information is actually read twice as fast and thus the computer is twice as fast. The major downside is that this actually doubles your susceptibility to hardware failures as if one drives fails, all of the information is lost.
  1. Make sure two hard drives are connected to the motherboard and are connected to the power supply.
  2. Enter the standard BIOS by pressing the F2 key repeatedly on POST.
  3. Once in the BIOS go to the Configuration tab, then select SATA Drives

    SATA drives

  4. Within the SATA Drives heading set the Chipset SATA Mode to <RAID>

    RAID

  5. Save changes and Exit.
  6. After the settings have been saved, power down the machine
  7. Power on the machine and immediately begin tapping the Ctrl key and the I key repeatedly. This will access the RAID BIOS.
  8. The RAID BIOS will show both drives connected to the system. In this menu select Create RAID Volume

    Create RAID Volume

  9. Select a Name for the volume and press the Tab key

    Volume name

  10. Select the RAID type (0 or 1) using the up or down arrow keys and press Tab again.

    RAID type

  11. Press the Tab key through the rest of the options until you get to the Create Volume option and press the Enter key.

    Create Volume

  12. A data loss warning will appear when creating a new volume: All data will be lost on both drives. Press the Y key to create the RAID volume.

    Warning

  13.  The two drives will show in a RAID once this is complete. Press ESC then Y to Exit the RAID BIOS then install your operating system on your drives which are now in RAID.

    ESC
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tech Tip of the Day: How to save space on Solid State Drives (SSDs) - Part Five: User Directories

Description: This is a technical article on the topic of saving space on Solid State Drives. Part five covers moving the user directories.

The purpose of this article series is to show how to save space on Solid State drives, which are typically smaller than standard hard drives. In this article we will use a secondary hard drive, presumed to be larger than the solid state drive, as sort of repository, so we may move files from the faster SSD drive to the bigger standard hard drive.

Backup
Although we haven't had issues in our testing, we do recommend you do a backup of your important files before proceeding.

User Directories
The User Directories are the folders such as Documents, Pictures, Videos, et cetera, which are stored in your user directory. In this document we will move these to save space. We will be moving these directories from the C:\ drive (SSD) to the E:\ drive (HDD). This configuration may differ per system, so make sure the drive letters are right with your system.
  1. Go to Start, then click on your Username in the top right.

    Start

  2. Right-Click on a folder - we will use My Pictures and choose Properties.

    Properties

  3. Choose the Location tab, then click Move.

    Move

  4. On the left in the new window, select the E:\ drive from the list, under the Computer section.

    E:\

  5. Once that is selected, select New Folder at the top.

    New folder

  6. Name the new folder appropriately - typically it would be the same as the username we clicked on earlier. In this case, it is Example.

    example

  7. Open the new folder by double-clicking on it.
  8. Create another new folder using the same method, this time naming it My Pictures, or the name of the folder we are moving over.
    • Both of these names can be whatever you like, but this is the best method for keeping things organized.

    my pictures

  9. Highlight the new folder, and then choose Select Folder at the bottom to complete the selection process.

    select folder

  10. Click on Apply to complete the move process.
  11. Repeat this process for any folders in the user directory that need to be moved - anything that takes up substantial amounts of space would be recommended.
  12. Once all the selected folders have been moved, restart the computer to complete the process.
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tech Tip of the Day: How to save space on Solid State Drives (SSDs) - Part Four: Index

Description: This is a technical article on the topic of saving space on Solid State Drives. Part four covers moving the search index from the C:\ drive to the E:\ drive.

The purpose of this article series is to show how to save space on Solid State drives, which are typically smaller than standard hard drives. In this article we will use a secondary hard drive which is presumed to be larger than the solid state drive as sort of repository for the Windows search index files.

Index
The Search Index is one of the best features of Windows 7 - when you search for anything on your computer, it pops up almost instantly. We certainly don't want to disable this feature, so what we will do is move the index to save space. We will be moving this from the C:\ drive (SSD) to the E:\ drive (HDD). This configuration may differ per system, so make sure the drive letters are right with your system.

Note:
Moving the index from your SSD to your standard hard drive may slow down search results marginally. At worst, the search results would return at the speed of a computer without an SSD.
  1. Click on Start, enter Index and select Indexing Options

    indexing options

  2. On this new window, select Advanced towards the bottom.
    • Note: Approve or allow any permission prompts.

    advanced

  3. Under Index Location, select the Select New option.

    select new

  4. Select the E:\ drive, then choose Make New Folder.

    make new folder

  5. Enter Index as the name of the folder, select that folder and then click OK to complete.
    • Note: You can put the Index wherever you like, the above is just an example.
  6. Click OK on the Advanced Options window.
  7. Restart your computer to complete the process. Once complete, the Index will have been moved from the C:\ to the E:\ drive.
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tech Tip of the Day: How to save space on Solid State Drives (SSDs) - Part Three: System Restore

Description: This is a technical article on to the topic of saving space on Solid State Drives. Part three covers limiting the amount of space available for System Restore.

The purpose of this article series is to show how to save space on Solid State Drives, which are typically smaller than standard hard drives. In this article we will limit the amount of space used by System Restore to free up (and prevent further use by System Restore) space on your solid state drive.

System Restore
System Restore is a troubleshooting feature, designed to roll your computer's configuration back to a previous date while not affecting your files. What we will do is limit the ability of System Restore to save restore points, so the end result is instead of being able to restore the computer by a month or more, you will only be able to restore it by a week or so.
  1. Go to Start, right-click on Computer and choose Properties.

    Properties

  2. On the left in this new window, choose System Protection.
    • Note: Approve or allow any permission dialogues.

    system protection

  3. On this new window, select the Local Disk (C:) and choose Configure.

    configure

  4. On this page, you can change the system restore settings or even turn off the feature completely to save the maximum amount of space. We do not recommend turning it off completely unless you are an advanced user who runs regular system image backups.

    system restore settings

  5. You can see the current usage, and select the Max Usage option here, as well as delete previous restore points. It is recommended to leave at least 1.5GB to 2GB of space. Once finished, choose Apply to make the changes.

    Apply

  6. Restart the computer to complete the process.
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tech Tip of the Day: How to save space on Solid State Drives (SSDs) - Part Two: Disable Hibernation

**EDITED**


Description: This is a technical article on to the topic of saving space on Solid State Drives. Part Two covers disabling Hibernation mode, which will free up several gigabytes of space on most systems.

The purpose of this article series is to show how to save space on Solid State drives, which are typically smaller than standard hard drives. In this second article we will be disabling Hibernation Mode, which saves several gigabytes of space by removing the hibernation file, which is typically 75% as big as your total system RAM. In other words, if you have 4GB of ram, the hibernation file will be about 3GB in size.

Netbook and Notebook Users
Hibernation is a commonly used feature for notebooks to save battery, and typically is the "go-to" mode for laptops when the battery is running low. If you are using a notebook or netbook, we do not recommend disabling hibernation.

Hibernation File
Let's start by seeing how much space the hibernation file takes up on the system, and then remove it. Note that this document uses the command line. Be sure to enter only and precisely the commands as they are displayed in this document. Failure to do so could result in damage to your system.

Hibernation is a feature that isn't often used - its purpose is to save energy by putting the machine in to a low-power state, but it sometimes takes several minutes to go in to and resume from hibernation and only saves marginally more power than Sleep Mode, which is nearly instant to enter and resume from. For most people, sleep mode is more than sufficient and doesn't take up any of your hard drive space. If you are unsure about whether or not you need the hibernation feature, consult a technician or just skip to the next document.
  1. Go to Start, enter CMD, then right-click on it and choose Run As Administrator.

    Run as admin

  2. On the new window, enter "CD C:\" (without the quotes) in to the box and press enter. The Command Prompt will return a C:\> prompt.

    command prompt

  3. Enter "dir /as" (without  the quotes) and press enter to see the size of the hibernation file.
    • Note: It displays the size of the file in bytes, so just think of the left-most number (in this case ‘3’) to be roughly the number of gigabytes it is using on your hard drive.

    dir /as

  4. To turn off the hibernation file, enter "powercfg -h off" (without  the quotes) and press enter. It will return a C:\> prompt.

    powercfg -h off

  5. Now enter "dir /as" (without  the quotes) in to the box and press enter. The hiberfil.sys file should now be gone, and the space is freed up on your SSD. If not, then it should disappear after a reboot.

    dir /as

  6. Once this is completed, restart your computer to complete the process. Hibernation is now disabled on the system, and the space is saved on the SSD.
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tech Tip of the Day: How to save space on Solid State Drives (SSDs) - Part One: Paging File

Description: This is a technical article on the topic of saving space on Solid State Drives. Part One covers moving the Paging File.

The purpose of this article series is to show how to save space on Solid State drives, which are typically smaller than standard hard drives. In this article we will use a secondary hard drive, presumed to be larger than the solid state drive, as sort of a repository, so we may move files from the faster SSD drive to the bigger standard hard drive.

Paging File
The first, easiest and biggest file to be moved is the paging file. The paging file is a "backup" for the RAM in your computer, so it is a large, mostly empty file that simply waits for Windows to input information to it. We will be moving this from the C:\ drive (SSD) to the E:\ drive (HDD). This configuration may differ per system, so make sure the drive letters are right with your system.

  1. Go to Start, right-click Computer and choose
    Properties.

    Properties


  2. On the new window, choose Advanced System Settings on the left.

    • Note: Approve or allow any permissions dialogues.

    advanced system settings


  3. On the new window, choose the Advanced tab, then in the Performance section click on
    Settings.

    settings


  4. On the newest window, choose the Advanced tab again, then choose
    Change.

    change


  5. Uncheck the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives box at the top.

    automatically


  6. Select the secondary drive (E:\ in this case,) choose
    System managed size, then click Set.

    set


  7. Select the C:\ drive, choose No Paging File, then click
    Set.

    no paging file


  8. When prompted, choose Yes to allow the change to go through.
    • Don't worry, although Windows doesn't recognize it yet, the new paging file will take all the information Windows needs.

    yes


  9. Click OK to proceed through the windows. If prompted to restart, choose the option to
    Restart Now. If not, go ahead and restart your computer to complete the process.
For more assistance contact Technical Support, click here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tech Tip of the Day: How to access the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) for Windows XP mode from Windows 7

Description: Windows uses the VHD format for XP mode. This can be accessed through disk management.
  1. VHD - Virtual Hard Disk
    • The XP mode is stored in a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) file. This format is used by several programs that run virtual machines. The format can be used for several operating systems as well as Windows XP. Windows 7 has the ability to mount and display these files as though they are a real physical drive.
  2. Setting up XP Mode
    • Saving files to the standard "My Documents" folder within XP mode will not allow access to them from the Windows 7 side because of incorrect permissions. (XP mode and win7 are considered two separate machines)
    • Make a new folder in the root directory of C:\ within XP mode.
    • Open XP mode
    • Click on Start, then on My Computer
      My Computer

    • Double click the local drive C:

      C:
    • Go to File » New » Folder

      Folder

    • Rename the folder to XP Mode Files (or any other name that is descriptive).

      XP Mode Files

    • Create a shortcut to the folder on the desktop by right-clicking the folder and then choosing send to desktop.

      Create shortcut

    • Shut down XP Mode
    • Click on Ctrl-Alt-Del from the top menu
    • Choose Shut Down button from the menu
      Shut Down

    • Then Choose shut down from the pull down menu.

      Shut Down

    • Note: The XP mode will not work as long as the VHD file is attached to the windows 7 system.
  3. Attach the VHD
    • This will allow you to explore the virtual hard drive (like a flash drive).
    • Click on Start
    • Move the mouse pointer over Computer and right-click the mouse.

      Manage

    • Choose Manage from the menu
    • Right click on Disk Management
    • Choose Attach VHD

      Attach VHD

    • Browse to C:\Users\dphillips\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Virtual PC\Virtual Machines

      Browse

      Windows XP Mode

    • AppData is a hidden folder. If it is not visible take the following steps.
    1. Start » Computer
    2. Tap the ALT button once on the keyboard
    3. Choose Tools
    4. Choose Folder options
    5. Click the button to show hidden files folders and drives

      click

    6. Click OK

      OK

    • Close computer management and open computer. You will now see your new attached disk as a drive under Hard Disk Drives.

      Close

    • You can browse to this drive and transfer files in and out of your created folder.
  4. Detach the VHD
    • In order to start the Windows XP mode you will need to Detach the VHD. Windows 7 and Windows XP cannot use the Virtual Hard Drive at the same time.
    • Open Disk Management as above except left click to open the drive view.
    • The mounted VHD will show in blue and will have the same drive letter as in Computer (I:) in this case.
    • Find the Disk that also has a blue drive icon beside the number and the volume is labeled with the same drive letter as at the top.
    • Right click the white area to the left (that has the Disk 5 - or whatever number)
    • Choose Detach VHD

      Detach VHD

    • Click OK on the pop up window and the drive will detach.
    • Windows XP Mode can now be opened.
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.