Friday, July 27, 2007

Work time workaround...

There is an old saying "Make do with what you have".

At work I have a craptastic old D(H)ell Dimension 2350 with a 2.8Ghz Celeron (Celery) a 160GB hd and 512mb of RAM running Win XP Pro.

Overall, it would be a fairly good system for a typical user.

I am not a typical user.

As many of you may (or may not) know, I am a heavy duty power user and I typically place a demanding load on my home system.

Work isn't too much different, I have numerous programs open all the time in order to do my job including, but NOT limited to, Outlook, Firefox, IE (Don't ask), an Access Database, Gaim, a music player, Acronis (drive imaging software), an interoffice chat client, SMART reporting software and numerous others including Virtual PC, Partition Magic, Excel and Word (ick)

512mb of ram is WOEFULLY insufficient for running this many ram hogging applications and while I will close down most of them when I can, I hate waiting forever for them to relaunch when I need them a few minutes later. It doesn't help that several of these application also intensely access the hard drive as part of their function.

Combine those two factors and you get one dragging system as the hard drive thrashes itself to pieces trying to swap and read and write data at the same time.

Worst part is this system is just a junker and my manage doesn't want to bother doing anything to upgrade it and I can't blame him.

So, in permanent lack of any official upgrades, I have been scrounging bits and pieces off of disposed systems and the junk bin to upgrade it a tad, including a DVD-RW drive, up from a 24x cd-rom, a 2.8ghz Celeron, up from 1.8ghz.

Since no 512mb ram modules were making themselves available, I decided I had to take another action to eek more speed out of my crappy work box.

*Ping!* Idea!!!

When you have lots of mediocre parts to work with, sometimes quantity can be better than quality.

I grabbed one of the 60gb scratch drives out of my pile of extra HD's and stuffed it in. I then wiped it clean and scanned for bad sectors (these things are pulls from systems in various conditions so it is wise to inspect them).

I don't have RAID capabilities on this old Dell board so I left it as a single drive instead of striping it into a RAID for speed.

I then off loaded some of my most often thrashed files to it including my windows swap file, virtual pc hd image, and some of the Acronis disk image files.

The speed difference is excellent! Granted, it's not QUITE as good as having 1 (or 2!)GB of RAM and a high powered Pentium or Core Duo as well, but it's better than nothing!!

It's much more usable than it used to be, especially when I'm torturing the system... I don't care how fast they are, single processor systems are so wimpy when it comes to multitasking.

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