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Welcome to IvanF's HardDrive & Cd-Rom TweakUI!!! -
I know that everyone already knows that you're supposed to update those drivers but who really does? We computer guys may spend hundreds of hours on the internet each week, but we're just too doggone lazy to type in a web-address and search for new drivers! And trust me, drivers make a world of difference, though not really in speed. I've found that new drivers for my Panasonic CR-585 help get some CD-Rs working, but not much more. That's good enough for me considering I use my Cd-Recorder all the time.
Make sure that you install the CD-Rom onto the secondary IDE channel and not on your hard drive's IDE channel. Oh, and make sure your CD-Rom is set to be a master drive and not one of those mindless slaves. Being a slave drive is sort of okay for a hard drive, but trust me, I've tried having a CD-ROM drive as a slave and its okay for copying but terrible for gameplay. I'm not sure why, but according to Tweak3d, it's to "increase access time by allowing the CD-ROM drive to pre-empt other traffic on the channel". Huh? I guess it just leaves the CD-ROM and the Hard Drive with more individual bandwith or something.
In the performance/file system section of your system panel, you'll find the CD-ROM cache properties. Always set Windows to optimize patterns for quad speed, even if you have a 2x CD-ROM or something. All software today is designed for quad speed or over CD-ROMS so its best to make Windows as compatible with them as possible, I think... Now, the supplemental cache setting is up to the user to decide. If you have 64MB of RAM and you play a lot of games, you might as well set the cache to the full 1238 kb. However, if you're stuck with 32MB of RAM or less like me or you only use your CD-ROM to install programs, set the cache to the minimum of 214KB. It'll sometimes save you about 1MB of RAM that can be used to satisfy hours of saturating internet surfing.
Okay, open up the device manager in the control panel, go to your Cd-ROM's preferences and there you have usually 4 useful settings to play around with. Nero Burning Rom warns me that keeping disconnect off would damage my CD and possible my CD-ROM. Could be true - I trust Nero... From a historian's point of view, that didn't sound very correct... But I choose to leave disconnect off on my Panasonic CR-585 because disabling it seems to improve speed and compatibility with CD-Rs. I can't even copy from CD to CD properly if disconnect is on. Then again, maybe my computer just really screwed up... Next, we have the sync data transfer setting. Hmm, is it good to sync a CD-ROM's speed? For a CAV CD-ROM (16x-40x I think), you shouldn't sync it because then your CD-ROM would never reach over 12x...
Update- I just saw over at Tweak3d what sync-data really means. I thought it means the CD-ROM will always spin at a constant velocityfor data CDs, but according to Tweak3d, sync means the motherboard will sync transfer rates with the CD-ROM. Therefore, you should always enable this setting for improved speed and reliability... Anyways, moving on...
CAV drives usually have an average of 14x-20x speeds. Only at the edges of a CD can a CAV drive read at full speed. Near the centre of the CD, a CAV drive reads at 8x-12x. However, I choose to keep my 24x CD-ROM on sync data transfer because it provides more stable CD recording. I find that if I leave sync off, my CR-585 spins up and down too often (since my CD-Recorder has a max of 4x recording). I get scared from the spinning up and down whirling noise. Does it give you nightmares too?... Uh, maybe not. Moving on, I always recommend to keep that auto-insert notification option off because its so annoying! I mean, while I'm working on a school project, the least thing that I want to happen is this huge game screen popping up in front of me and ends up corrupting my Microsoft Word file! Now, maybe this occurs because my computer's screwed but the amount of RAM and CPU power that it takes to start up the CD-ROM and play that god-awful noise can actually kill my computer! I've had computer freezes when my Need for Speed 3 CD auto-runs, and that's sometimes 5 minutes after the first auto-run message came up! Okay, if you like the auto-run, go keep it on. I swear, all of you with 128MB of RAM don't know how lucky you are... And finally, we have that strange DMA message. Just in case you're new to the tweaking word, DMA means Direct Memory Access. We always want to let our devices access RAM without the CPU having to let them pass so always check that DMA box. It'll lower your CPU usage in games and usually shaves a few moments off of your CD-ROM access time.
Okay, I've never used a CD-ROM caching program but many people recommend it so I will too. I'm not sure what they do with CD caching these days. Do they optimize the amount of files in the supplemental cache (the file cache), do they make the cache size more flexible, do they improve the file and directory caches (how many directories can be stored in the cache, I think...), do they put a cache on the hard drive like Windows9x Virtual Memory, or do they do all of these things? Me dunno, but go ahead and check out the goods: Tweak3d recommends these two programs: Cd-Quick Cache and Magellass Winboost2000. By the way, I know this info is obvious too but go ahead and get yourself a CD-lens cleaner. Those little brushes that clear the area for your little red laser can add compatibility back to your CD-ROM. And always make sure that you don't scratch or fingerprint your CDs. My brother always does that, thinking that it doesn't make a difference. But seek time does increase if the CD isn't as clean as it could be. It sucks to be playing Quake3 and notice that because of scratches, your CD-ROM is starting to make those chugging sounds...
Okay, I know that this tip is REALLY obvious but the fastest hard drive that you have deserves to be the master drive. If it isn't, it's bandwith is seriously cut by the slower master drive. Also, make sure to check thta your hard drive is set to LBA mode in the bios (well, at least that works for my 16MB transfer rate Hard Drive) and make sure your UltraDMA setting is enabled. If you've got an ATA33 or above, you sure wouldn't want to waste it.
In your performance/file system directory, make sure you
set the typical role of your machine to network server. This increases Windows9x's
file and directory cache limits on Windows95 OCR2 and above. As for Windows95 retail, it
doesn't work so well unless you edit something in the registry which I pretty much forget
even though I use Windows95 Retail. Also, always have the read ahead optimization at
the full 64kb. Unlike the CD-ROM, we always use the hard drive so its best to use as
much RAM for it as possible. And now we come to the Hard Drive's individual properties:
disconnect and dma. I always keep disconnect on simply because I don't want my hard
drive to burn up. I'd like to keep my data safe for the next 20 years, thank you very
much, and even if disconnect can give you a 0.5 fps boost in Quake3, is it really worth
it? Maybe... And too bad I can't keep that dma box checked - my hard drive doesn't seem to
work with it on! ACKKK!!! How am I supposed to function without direct memory access? You
know how slow games run without the hard drive being able to get to the RAM? It's like
playing with 4MB of RAM and 256MB of Virtual Memory! Not good, this is not good... Always
try to enable DMA, which is normally recommended for any hard drive over my 4GB. Now
Tweak3d has a little tidbit of info to help cut down on those DMA conflicts that are bound
to arise: "To make sure that DMA doesn't cause any internal Windows conflicts
(assuming the drive supports DMA), you are going to need to add these two lines to the
Mshdc.inf file at the bottom of the [ESDI_AddReg] tag: HKR,,IDEDMADrive0,3,01
Hmm, never tried that but anything's possible in this weird sort of world.
Here's the tip that ever computer guy and gal knows by now: the defragmentor (did I spell that right?). Just go to the accessories/system tools directory in your start menu and use the Windows98 disk defragmenter. Always make sure that you ask it to reorganize files to make them run faster. All this does is it checks when your files were last accessed. If they were accessed lately, it puts them near the head of the hard drive where access is most quickly found. I've heard my friends laugh in delight at the lovable 5% speed increase or something that they get from this. HA! Well, I don't have Windows98 and the Windows95 defragmentor is just plain crap so I bought Norton Utilities 3. I know, I know that Utilities 4 is better but I don't really mind. In Version 3, I can get the reorganization of files, I can choose which programs to put at the head of the hard drive and which to put at the end, and it runs at sometimes twice the speed of that Windows98 defragmentor! It was well worth the money, and that's one of the few times that I will ever say that in life. As for WindowsNT, Norton offers a free disk defragmentor for that so pop by download.com and find yourself a copy.
Okay, you're wondering about that bus mastering thing now. Well here's a shocker: everyone already has bus mastering installed - except me! ARGGGHH!! You see, Windows95 OCR2 and above come with Microsoft's Bus Mastering installed. Everyone gets that little dma check box... except me... I have the retail Windows95 so I'm forced to use Intel's Bus Mastering driver from www.intel.com. It doesn't work so well, but it's better than nothing. I'd do anything for more bandwith! Efficiency is my life! Too bad it can't show in my programming...
I know that this is a RAM compression program but it's oh-so useful for hard drive related matters. It has several features to speed up those access times: the launch rocket (memorizes the most efficient way to load a program's files), the smart read-ahead (tries to predict and preload which files you will load - works great for non-gaming uses), and -why don't I just mention it here? - the RAM Compressor. These are the three most useful tools I have ever seen in an optimization program. The launch rocket DOES work for anything but games; I can't stand watching Netscape load without it now! Smart-Read Ahead cuts my Windows9x boot-up time in half (after I booted up a 4 or 5 times to let it see the pattern), and the RAM Compressor does slow down games a little in general, but for my 32MB system, it's a joy not to see that Swap File light blink 50 times per second. Without a RAM Compression ration of about 5 to 1, it's true that my framerates while walking are 6 or 7 fps higher than with compression enabled, but then again - my computer slows to a crawl during memory-starved gaming scenes. I sure as hell don't want to get 2 fps when there's 7 bots on screen! But sadly enough, 5 fps is enough for me...
Ok, a normal CD-R disc holds 650 MB or 74 min of data on it, right? Wrong... There's always a small area on the outskirts of the disk that remains unused. Usually its about 20 or 30 MB worth of space, enough to fit onto your CD that song you're trying to get from that 80 min CD. But the problem is, a few recorders (mine included) seem to choose suicide rather than overburn. Many attempts to tame the outer CD layers have caused Cd-Recorders to burn themselves out and whither away to die... Overburning is known to succeed on Yamaha CD-Recorders (model 400 to 4416 and higher), Teacs (awww, and I thought that they made crappy pieces of recording technology...), and Plextors (YAH! Me gotta get me one of those babies...). It is possible to overburn with my Cd-Recorder (it's a Matshushita 7502B) but I can only do in CDRWin in TAO mode. I hate CDRWin. I'd rather burn down Rome.
Stop using that word! I hate the word 'burn'... Cd-Recorders are too precious to be given such an improper name... They deserve the title of tsar or Caesar or something, or at least of Nero... I use Nero Burning Rom 4.x for all of my copying needs. It seems to have a bit of trouble with Cd music Digital Audio Copying but it makes duplicates of my games perfectly... except those with security... To access the overburning (stop saying that!) feature, go to the expert settings in the preferences and try to get the CD up to 77 or 78 min long. Now you must turn copy your CD in Disk-at-once mode; any other mode will say there's not enough space on the CD (because it would use the extra space to finish off the ISO or something). Now do a test run of the recording process and see if you get any error messages. If you don't, go gun-happy and be a happy-camper!
Stop it! Overburn this, overburn that, stop using that word! So the doggone process uses a laser; doesn't matter! It is sophisticated technology that does not deserve to be given embarassing names like 'boom-box'. We all remember that name, don't we? And listen to how stupid it sounds today! Don't let the same thing happen to our beloved recorders. I pray you, I beg you, watch out for the future generations and save the recorders... Oh, and yes, you can overburn (ARGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!) with the Panasonic. First make an ISO of the 78 min CD. Then in CDRWin, tell it you want to record an ISO file, choose your ISO, uncheck the write postgap spot (to allow overburning... don't say it... don't say it...), and voila! It should work, albeit a little dangerously...