Monday, 7 June 2010

Buying Caviar By The Terabyte

Some of you may remember that back in March I blogged about a rather poorly researched/written news article on the BBC's website. The article was about a change to the way computer hard drives are manufactured, moving from 512 byte to 4K sectors. At the time I claimed that it was a complete non-story that seemed to be aimed at scaring users of Windows XP to upgrade to Vista or Windows 7. Well I now know just how much of a non-story it really was.

Having recently run out of disk space (again) I decided to add another drive to my computer. Given the difference in price between the different drives I was looking at I eventually opted to buy a Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5 Terabyte drive. The drive is clearly labeled as using the advanced format and explains how to configure the drive depending on how you will be using it. Having installed and formatted the drive I visited Western Digital's Advanced Format webpage and downloaded their recommended tool for aligning the 512 byte and 4K sectors to provide optimal performance. I loaded up the tool (a simple to use graphical affair), selected the disk to align and 10 seconds later the job was done. Ten seconds, that was all it took to align the sectors. That just shows how much of a non-story the original news article was. For anyone who can read the label on the drive there is no problem at all.

What really scares me is the amount of disk space I now have. I have three drives in my computer totaling over 2TB. Given that the first computer I used with a hard drive (I so don't miss loading programs from tape) was my Dad's laptop that would hold about 80MB of data 2TB seems insane. How times change.
7 June 2010 at 15:46 , Ian said...

I remember our first 20 mb hard disk. The man in the store assured us that we would never fill it. He was very wrong. I wouldn't like to think how much it cost either!

8 June 2010 at 09:31 , Mark said...

Yeah, it took us an age to get anywhere near filling the 80MB of storage on that laptop. By the time we did the laptop itself was quickly becoming an antique. What is weird is that I can't actually remember who small that hard drive was. I know it would hold about 80MB of stuff but that was only with DoubleSpace active to make more out of the tiny disk. I'm guessing it was probably around the 40MB mark (taking a guess from the name DoubleSpace).

I suppose the main reason they took so long to fill was no one had MP3 collections or full length movies on their computers back then. Word documents, no matter how many pictures you include, don't really get huge, especially when the pictures are just line art as there are no digital cameras to provide great photos!

8 June 2010 at 10:38 , Ian said...

DoubleSpace -- sounds familiar, I remember the later version DriveSpace in MS-DOS 6.22, we upgraded specially (using a free cover disk from PC Review magazine) having eventually filled the 20 mb (probably by copying 1.44 mb disks onto the HD! or recording wav files!) and then had to delete eveything and start again with DriveSpace. I remember worrying that the OS was being compressed too!

I can remember that like it was yesterday, but I struggle to remember what happened last week ...

11 June 2010 at 08:14 , GB said...

Gosh. Reminders of things I'd forgotten - probably wiped when I did my own memory re-format! Even I have just supplemented/rationalised my many WD Passport drives with a WD 1Tb external drive.

Talking of memory though my first computer used two separate 5" floppy drives and had no internal storage memory.

Before that my memory of personal computers was the ZX Spectrum. Andrew started his computer career programming that in Basic at a very early age.

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