Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ultimate Image Backups

As part of my upgrades, I had the opportunity to play with several new Vista features. Because I had already had a copy of Ultimate installed when the new hard drive arrived, I used the Vista Backup and Restore Center to create an image backup of the laptop on an external drive that I already own.

I then swapped the old HDD for the new one, booted from the Ultimate install CD and requested that the image on the external drive be used to install the OS instead of clean-installing it.

It worked perfectly.

The second feature I used was the built-in partition manager. When I installed Ultimate to the 80GB drive, I set aside 64GB for the OS/boot/system partition, and the remainder was created as a data partition. With the drive upgrade, I had an additional 20GB available. Given that this is a very new laptop, I could've simply deleted the data partition and recreated it with the 30GB+ free space. However, that wouldn't have helped me test the graphical partition tools built into the OS.

"Diskpart", the command-line partition manager for Windows, has been around a while; I use it regularly on SAN-attached systems to handle partition offsets, etc. It's also available on Vista, but there is also diskpart-type functionality in the Disk Management MMC snap-in. I was able to right-click on the small Data partition and select "Extend Volume..." from the popup menu.

After a few seconds, the partition was resized to ~30Gb, and I was done with the setup.

Of course, the MFT and metadata for the partition wasn't optimal for the new volume, so I ran PerfectDisk against it in both offline and online mode.

Laptop Upgrades

Along with upgrading to Ulitmate, I also threw more hardware at my new lappie:

I upgraded the hard drive and memory (to 100MB and 2GB, respectively) and the performance specs bumped up as follows:
  • Memory: 5.2
  • Graphics: 3.0
  • Hard disk: 5.0

The disk I installed is a 100GB/7200RPM Seagate Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS (OEM). The RAM was 2 x 1GB Kensington KTH-ZD8000A/1G. Less than $200 from Newegg.

May seem like an excessive expense for a $500 laptop, but the perceptible improvements in performance have been worth it, IMO.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Second Vista system

I've just acquired an HP/Compaq F572US laptop from MicroCenter for less than $500, which I will continue to use with Vista.

System Specs:
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 TK-53 processor (dual core, 1.7GHz)
  • nVidia nForce Go chipset, including G0 6150 graphics
  • 1GB DDR2 (2 x 512MB SO-DIMM)
  • 15.4" widescreen WXGA display (1280 x 800)
  • 80GB 5400RPM SATA HDD
  • DVD+/-RW DL
Vista Home Premium performance metrics out-of-box:
  • Processors: 4.6
  • Memory: 4.5
  • Graphics: 2.9
  • Gaming graphics: 2.4
  • Primary HDD: 4.8
I'm not satisfied with the hardware on this just yet; it really needs a 7200RPM drive, and Vista craves 2GB or more RAM. I'll be upgrading everything in the next few days, and will post again with the results.

While I'm focusing more on the Vista-related aspects, another fellow has been keeping a blog about the hardware side of this laptop, which you can check out if you're more interested in that side of the equation: