ask the doctor


Free Backup?

Ask the Doctor LogoI have Windows Vista on my desktop computer and I’m stuck on what to do about backing up my more than 500GB of videos and music. I’ve read that external is the way to go, but I’m a little iffy because of expense and the fact that the backup drive can crash. DVDs are not a bad idea, but it takes forever to back up that much data. I use these files every day and want easy access to them. The most reliable method, plus easiest to access, would be an online site, but that costs a lot of money. Please help me make a decision so I can install Windows 7 worry-free.

—Tony Fugate

Read the Doctor's recommendation for Tony after the jump.


Eject! Eject!

Ask the Doctor LogoIs it necessary to eject a USB flash drive, or can I just yank it out? They’re called flash drives, so shouldn’t they be like SWAT teams or something: Get in and get out, job done?

—Jamie Mack

Read the Doctor's answer for Jamie after the jump.


WHS Hardware Support

Ask the Doctor LogoI’m really hoping you can help me with a Windows Home Server build. I’m using an Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard with an AMD Athlon x2 4400+ CPU at 2.2GHz, 1GB Corsair RAM, a 500W Apevia PSU, and an EVGA 8800 GTS videocard, with a 500GB SATA drive.

I downloaded the Home Server Evaluation copy from Microsoft three different times and installed it three times, wiping the drive each time and starting from scratch. Each time it took more than 12 hours to install the OS, and when it finally did, the CPU was running maxed out and extremely laggy. Installing Nvidia’s chipset drivers made no difference, either. Please help! I’m about to purchase a new mobo and CPU but I’m not sure if that’s the problem.


Read the Doctor's advice for Gary after the jump.


Delayed Write

Ask the Doctor LogoI have a Gigabyte 8KNXP Rev 1 motherboards that gave up the ghost. It had a RAID 0 array of two Maxtor DiamondMax 10 drives on the Gigabyte board’s onboard IT8212F RAID controller.

I replaced the dead motherboard with an EVGA nForce680i SLI board. Not wanting to risk the loss of 150GB of data from the last four years, I bought an IDE RAID controller card with the same IT8212F chipset and reinstalled XP SP2.

When I access the RAID drive, I can read the directories and even open the folders within. Yet, Windows XP will give me a balloon in the lower right-hand corner saying: “Windows – Delayed Write failed. Windows was unable to save all the data for the file G:\xxx. The data has been lost. This error may be caused by a failure of your computer hardware or network connection. Please try to save this file elsewhere.”

How might I ensure that I can save my data from this drive without risking permanent data loss?

—Paul Andrew

Read the Doctor's answer for Paul after the jump.


Just a Bunch of Disks

Ask the Doctor LogoI have a small collection of PATA hard drives: 4.3GB, 15GB, 20GB, 40GB, and 160GB. All still function fine, even the 4.3GB, but I want to use them collectively for backup or as a server.

I use a 500GB hard drive in a single-drive Ximeta Network Direct Attached Storage device as my server (file access for all my networked PCs) and a second single 250GB NDAS for backup of three PCs (three equal partitions).

Do you have any solutions for these small drives? I’m not too familiar with RAID, if that’s an option, but I’m willing to learn about it, or maybe something like FreeNAS. The only conditions are low cost, low noise, and minimal heat output, as whatever is chosen may end up in my bedroom.

—Cassandra M.

Read the Doctor's advice for Cassandra after the jump.


Laptop Proc Upgrade

Ask the Doctor LogoI’m considering upgrading my laptop’s CPU but don’t know what to use as a replacement. My laptop is a Dell Latitude D820 with an Intel Core2 T5500. This CPU does not support virtualization, so I am looking to replace it with a CPU that does. How do I go about figuring out which CPUs go with my laptop motherboard? If I am going to void my (very expensive) warranty doing this, I want to be sure that I have the correct part.

—Anne Richley

Read the Doctor's advice for Anne after the jump.