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Kaya Systems

The doctor tackles Recovering a Laptop RAID, PSU Questions, Wireless Uploads, and more

Recovering Data from a Laptop RAID

I have an MSI GT683 laptop with two 500GB hard drives in RAID 0. My motherboard failed under warranty. The laptop is not worth repairing, so they are sending me a new laptop. The new one is an MSI GT783R with two 750GB hard drives in RAID 0.

The techs did send back the drives from the old laptop in the hopes that I could recover data from the RAID. Could someone explain how to remove the data from two hard drives in RAID 0 and reinstall on my new laptop? I have a stand-alone hard drive dock used to clone hard drives and also an adapter used to transfer info from one hard drive to another. Unfortunately, neither device works in my situation. How do I get the data from my old drives?

- Dan Tiefenbach

The Doctor Responds:

It's difficult to restore data from a RAID without using the same chipset/RAID controller as was used to create it. However, given how similar the new laptop is to the old one, you may be in luck. Since you were able to remove the drives from your old laptop, you ought to be able to do the same on your new laptop. And since both are Sandy Bridge notebooks in the same general product line from the same vendor and both use the same HM67 chipset, your old RAID should be visible on the new computer once you have enabled it in the BIOS. Replace the 750GB drives in the new laptop with the 500GB drives from the old laptop. Hopefully, the RAID will be recognized and you can boot from the drives. If so, copy the data you need to an external drive. Then remove the 500GB drives and replace the 750GB drives in the same configuration they were in when you got the new laptop, and move the recovered data to the new laptop. If you’re a bit skittish about swapping the drives, you can try file recovery software such as Quetek’s File Scavenger available from Quetek.com. We’ve long been fans of File Scavenger as a recovery tool.

Set your default Library locations to a storage drive to keep space-hogging files off of your SSD

No More Room on the SSD

Nine months ago, I put together a sweet little system. Almost every article I read recommended a 120GB boot SSD paired with a bigger mechanical-storage drive. This may have been practical then, as SSDs were notoriously expensive at the time of this build. However, it is nine months later and my SSD is nearly full! I have 6.89GB free! I wish I had bought a bigger boot drive, even with the exorbitant prices of the time. You are still recommending these small drives for your budget and intermediate builds.

Let me give my advice to anyone considering building a computer with these miniscule drives: don’t! I don't even have any games on mine.

I've picked up bits and pieces of articles about how to conserve space on boot drives, but apparently not enough. Could you go through step-by-step all the ways you know of to make Windows send the proper data to the storage drive so I could at least put one game on my boot drive? Could you also recommend a good program that could clean the junk off of my boot drive?

- Paul Lamb

The Doctor Responds:

You’re right, SSDs are now cheap enough that you should be getting at least a 250GB model as your boot drive, to avoid the kind of trouble you’re having now. Let’s see if we can’t free up some space on your 120GB drive now, though.

First, make sure the default save locations for each of your media Libraries points to a folder on your storage drive. By default, those libraries save to your SSD. That’s bad.

Go to Explorer and right-click your Documents library and select Properties. Under Library Locations click Add, go to your storage drive, create a new folder called Documents, and then select Include Location. Back under Library Locations, select the folder you just created and hit "Set save location." Do this for each Library—music, documents, video, pictures, and any other libraries you've created. Be sure to move your public libraries, too, if you plan on sharing music on your network.

Now, move any documents from their original locations on your boot drive (say, My Music) to the new location on your storage drive. Make sure they've copied over correctly and then delete them from your C:\ drive. This should free up a lot of space. You should also go back to each Library’s Properties menu and remove the old C:\ drive locations.

You should also make a Downloads folder on your storage drive and make sure your browsers download to that folder rather than the default, which is in My Documents.

Finally, download WinDir-Stat (free, www.windirstat.info ). Run it on your C:\ drive and it'll give you a visual representation of exactly what's taking up space. Move any lingering documents to the storage drive. Don’t just go deleting large files willy-nilly, though.

Three Questions about Power Supplies

I recently upgraded my HP Blackbird 002 with a P9X79 Deluxe with a Core i7-3820, a Samsung 840 Pro with a Barracuda 3TB for archive, and 16GB of Corsair Dominator Platinum 1866. I’m still using the water cooler that came with the original system, and have two XFX Radeon HD 6950s in CrossFire. Every once in a while, the computer will trip a breaker forcing me to switch the computer onto one circuit and have my peripherals plugged into another. My questions are these: Would swapping out the 3-year-old power supply for, say, a modern Corsair modular PSU be more energy efficient? Is 1,100W overkill for my system as listed above? Would I be better served with an 860W PSU? Last, if I swap out PSUs, can I use the existing modular power-cabling or is that just a horribly bad idea?

- Matthew Bryington

The Doctor Responds:

Yes, a modern power supply should be more efficient than the behemoth that came with the Blackbird. You mentioned Corsair and an 860W PSU, so you’ve clearly been doing some research. Corsair’s AX860 PSU is 80 Plus Platinum certified, so it’s very energy efficient. It’s also fully modular and it should be more than enough power for your system. To answer your third question, no, you can’t use the same modular power cabling. It won’t fit and even if it did, it’s a bad idea. Take the opportunity to do a fresh rewire. And don’t worry—even though new PSUs don’t have that 10-pin power connector for the SATA backplane, HP in its wisdom enabled the backplane to be powered by one 4-pin Molex connector or two SATA power connectors instead. That backplane will work just fine for your current drives, even the SSD, if you get a 3.5-inch-to-2.5-inch adapter that fits (IcyDock makes one). The backplane is just a straight pass-through and you will still get 6Gb/s SATA speeds out of a 6Gb/s SATA drive as long as it’s plugged from the backplane into a 6Gb/s SATA port. You didn’t ask, but the Doc thought he’d mention it anyway, since he had to figure this out recently.

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