Recently, I installed a Maxtor 300GB hard drive. It seemed that a dynamic drive would be a good thing, so when the opportunity presented itself, I created a 300GB dynamic drive and installed Windows XP Pro on it. However, I did not intend to create a 300GB boot disk. How do I change the size of the dynamic drive?
According to Microsoft, you can’t resize a dynamic volume when it’s the system or boot volume. Or rather, you can’t do it with any version of Windows XP.
Windows Vista will allow you to resize any dynamic volume, regardless of whether it’s a system volume or not. But purchasing Vista is a rather pricey fix if all you want to do is shrink or extend a volume. The Doctor knows of a good freeware solution, but it’ll require a little bit of technological know-how. It’s called GParted (http://gparted.sourceforge.net), and it’s a Linux-based partition-management utility that loads off a LiveCD.
After you download the program, burn its .iso image to a CD. Once that’s done, simply leave the CD in your drive and reboot your computer. If your motherboard doesn’t give you a keyboard shortcut for a boot menu, you’ll need to go into the BIOS and change the boot priority to CD-ROM before hard drive. GParted will fire up and you’ll be able to tweak the sizes of your volumes until it hurts—easy as pie.
GParted doesn’t come with any built-in help, so it would behoove you to back up your important data before mucking around with drive partitioning. If you’re still apprehensive about the entire process, your other option is to pick up a copy of Norton’s Partition Magic—it’ll do the same thing as GParted for around $50.
On a side note, dynamic drives in Windows are a poor man’s RAID. If your motherboard supports RAID, you’ll get faster speeds (and more options) by chaining drives together than any dynamic drive configuration could provide.
I’m Burnin’ for You
I have a homebuilt computer with the following components: an Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, an Asus P4S800D-X mobo, an ATI original Radeon 64MB videocard, and a Lite-On SOHW 1633 DVD-RW drive.
When I go to fill a DVD-RW full of files (4.3GB or so), I pick maximum (16x) for the burn speed. However, the burns take almost an hour! Do you have any suggestions as to what I could do to speed up these burns? The files are mostly MP3s from 3MB to 6MB in size.
The Doctor consulted with the ol’ Optical Storage Technology Association for this one, which explained that a 4x DVD read/write speed translates to about a 5.28MB/s transfer rate. If you’re packing 4.3GB onto a DVD, that equals about 13.9 minutes of time, which is nearly one-fourth of the 60-minute times you’re reporting.
Now that the Doc’s finished the math lesson, let’s address your problem. He suspects that your computer is running your optical drive in PIO mode instead of DMA mode. The former stands for programmed input/output mode, and it’s absurdly slow compared to the latter—direct memory access mode.
To switch to DMA mode, right-click the My Computer icon and select Properties. Then click the Hardware tab at the top of the System Properties window that pops up. From there, you’ll want to click Device Manager. When that window jumps to the forefront, click on the plus box to expand the IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers listing. You’ll now want to right-click each nested category, hit Properties, and scroll through the associated tabs. Look for any options that speak to a Transfer Mode or Current Transfer Mode. Undoubtedly, you will find that some are set to the PIO Only value. Change these to DMA, and you’ll be set. If you find that your write speeds are still slow or your OS doesn’t exactly pick up on the changes as well as expected, you can try uninstalling and reinstalling the IDE channel. To do that, just right-click both your primary and secondary IDE channels and uninstall them. Restart your computer once you’re done. Windows will refind the channels, and they should go to DMA mode by default.
The ____ Hits the Fan!
I just built my new rig, and it’s great. There’s one problem though. I put all my gear in an Antec P190 case, and I’m using an 8800 GTX videocard. The power cables coming off the card are millimeters from being in that huge 20cm fan on the side of my case. If any pressure is applied to the case door, the cables touch the blades and a nasty sound ensues. Is there a more malleable cable I can use?
The Doctor suspects that you’re using the thinnest power supply cabling possible, as opposed to chunky, hard-to-flex modular cable. Seeing as your cables just barely clear the fan, you might want to grab some cable ties and bundle the cables as close to the 8800 as you can—at the very least, you might be able to get them taut enough so that they’ll always stay right up against the card and never move. Make sure the rest of the bundled cable is routed in such a way that the section near the card’s PCI Express power connector will never move.
When the Doctor was 17, he had a very good computer. A very good computer he ran with an OS called Windows XP. His rig’s name was Brian McGee. All night it played nothing but Queen. When the Doctor was 17. If you need computer help, you should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.