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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

First home-built PC

I've been using PCs for a long time... the first one was a Tandy 1000 with an 8088 chip running at 4Mhz. My first upgrade was installing 256K of system memory and a gigantic 20 MB hard drive - which just shows how old I am :)

The machine I just built has the following components, and I've yet to get it working reliably - as I'll explain shortly.

Intel Pentium D 820 at 2.8 Ghz
GA-965P-S3 Gigabyte motherboard
2x1048 800 MHz memory
Two Western Digital 160 MB hard drives
Lite-On 48x (16x) DVD-R
GeForce 7900 PCI-e video card
1.44 Mb floppy - A little retro, but it turns out that I needed it!!!

I set up the hard drives to be RAID 1 (mirror image drives), which the motherboard supports. This was not too easy to accomplish - especially since it was my first shot putting a PC together. I had to change the BIOS (something I'd never done), make a floppy boot disc with CD drivers and RAID drivers (something I'd never done), and tell windows to set up the drives as RAID drives (something else I'd never done). It took a long time to figure all this stuff out, and the order in which it has to be done, since there's no step-by-step instruction that incorporates drivers, BIOS and Windows.

Anyhow, I got it all running to where on start-up it said (note the past tense) that it was confgured RAID1 and Windows ran fine.

However... *sigh* It didn't last long. I tied it onto the internet and Windows XP downloaded somthing like 64 updates. I clicked to install them, and the message said it was OK to continue working while Windows updated itself.

So I went about loading freeware firewall, virus, MP3 player, and Steam. That's about the time the PC locked up. Rebooting gave an error message saying that the PC couldn't locate any storage devices. Joy.

So I tried booting from the CD. Got a blue screen of death saying that system_registry was corrupted. Joy again. Couldn't even format the drives.

So I had to go into BIOS and delete the RAID configuration, and set it up as RAID 0 (striped) which *forced* windows to format the new Hard Drive configuration. And I'm in the process of re-loading windows as I type this. If it runs, I'll probably re-format it for RAID 1.

But to be honest, I'd had higher expectations of reliability from a RAID 1 setup Still learning...

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