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Experiences with adding External Storage
Part A

By Rudy Wolf

Although I back up my data daily, and save it to CDs weekly, I do have some digital photographic data that I would sorely miss but I don’t want to take the time to categorize and save to CD until I can fill a CD for each category. So after watching George Margolin’s presentation on digital photography using his External IEEE 1394 (Firewire) storage device, I decided that would be the way to go. I already had a 40 gig hard drive that I intended to use for another application but I decided to use it for external backup. I purchased an ADS Technologies Pyro 1394 Card and Drive Kit through BUY.com. This kit included the following:
a drive enclosure with built-in Power Supply
a six foot - 6 pin to 6 pin 1394 cable
a 10 inch - 6 pin to 6 pin daisy chain cable
flat ribbon cable
screw kit for installing hard drive or CD/DVD drives
removable bezel cover for CD/DVD drive installation
Pyro 1394 Three-Port Host card (PCI)

The Drive Kit supports:

ATA - IDE, Ultra DMA 33 or 66 Hard Disk drives (if you use a 100 Hard Drive it will run but only at the 66 rate).
ATAPI - CD-Rom/CD-RW, DVD, DVD RAM

Total cost, including tax (shipping was free for orders over $100), was $123.86. The hard drive, purchased at the beginning of the year, cost about $100 including tax and rebate. I first installed this kit in a spare computer that wouldn’t cause me downtime on my primary computer. The install was very simple for me because I am running Win Me. After removing the case and installing the card in an open PCI slot, I powered up the computer. The new hardware was found and since this computer was running Win 98 SE, I was required to insert my Win 98 SE install disk in my CD-Rom so that the driver could be located and installed.

Next, I opened the Drive Kit case, used the provided ribbon cable to connect the hard drive to the internal IDE connector, then connected the kit power supply cable to the hard drive connector, used the mounting screws provided to fasten the drive to the case and closed up the kit. I connected the power cord and the Firewire cable from the kit to the computer, powered up everything, and I had a new drive on the system!

The down side to Firewire is the same as USB—Windows must be working in order for the drive to be recognized. So if you lose your boot drive, you would have to install Windows and the Firewire drivers before you can restore everything else. Norton Ghost does have USB support but I haven’t been able to verify that it works (more about this in another article).

When I decided to install the Firewire system on my primary computer it was a little simpler because that computer is running Win Me and the 1394 driver is already available so I was not required to put my Win Me CD in the drive to find the driver. I transferred all the data that I considered important, including the files created by Power Quest Drive Image 4.0 from my internal hard drives. Several of these files are greater than 2 GB.

The results of two tests are as follows:

Copying two files of 518,520,832 bytes and 2,147,352,576 bytes for a total of 2,665,873,408 bytes.
From one internal drive to an-other: 122 MBytes/min.
From an internal drive to the external drive through the Firewire port: 218 MBytes/min.

The specifications say 50 MBytes/sec for the Firewire. My results fall far short of this but, surprisingly, almost twice as fast as the transfer rate between the two internal drives. I have a PIII 733 MHz computer with 512 Meg of RAM. I would assume the 50 MBytes/sec are for small files which I wouldn’t be able to measure with any degree of accuracy. I also tried a USB 2.0 based kit that included the hard drive. My experience was not as smooth. I’ll write another article about that.

ADS Technologies http://www.adstech.com/

From our June 2002 newsletter


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