VOGONS


First post, by UltimaPlayer12

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Hello fellow retro enthusiasts! I've got a question that I can't find a super clear answer on that I was hoping someone here would be able to assist with 😀

I have a Windows 98 PC that has a currently dying hard drive. It's started locking up again, and it is annoying me to the point that I'm looking into alternatives. I know a lot of people use CF cards for their DOS rigs, and because of no swap file there is little to no issue at all. However, 9x obviously has a swap file. Is this going to cause too many writes to the CF card and kill it quickly? I can't find a definitive answer.

The Beast 2.0:
CPU: AMD K6-III 450MHz GPU: Nvidia FX 5600 128MB HDD: 20GB (Seagate?) Mobo: ASUS P5A-B RAM: 512MB Sound Card: SB 16 PnP ISA OS: Windows 98 SE

Reply 1 of 15, by JoeCorrado

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Not exactly an expert here, but if you have sufficient RAM memory available- how about creating a virtual drive in RAM and assigning that as a temporary swap file? Windows will recreate the swap file each boot and your read writes to the CF will be kept to a minimum.

As to the overall feasibility of using a CF card in place of a hard drive and life expectancy- others would be far more qualified to answer.

I am sure others will be along soon to provide more.

-- Regards, Joe

Expect out of life, that which you put into it.

Reply 2 of 15, by UltimaPlayer12

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JoeCorrado wrote:

Not exactly an expert here, but if you have sufficient RAM memory available- how about creating a virtual drive in RAM and assigning that as a temporary swap file? Windows will recreate the swap file each boot and your read writes to the CF will be kept to a minimum.

As to the overall feasibility of using a CF card in place of a hard drive and life expectancy- others would be far more qualified to answer.

I am sure others will be along soon to provide more.

This would be a good idea, but I'm trying to keep the system as accurate internally to what I had as a kid as possible. So I don't really want to use the unofficial patch to allow over 512MB of RAM while remaining stable, because that didn't really exist then. I'm also not certain if there would be RAM drive software for Windows 98, but there very well may be.

The Beast 2.0:
CPU: AMD K6-III 450MHz GPU: Nvidia FX 5600 128MB HDD: 20GB (Seagate?) Mobo: ASUS P5A-B RAM: 512MB Sound Card: SB 16 PnP ISA OS: Windows 98 SE

Reply 3 of 15, by derSammler

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I'm using such a setup in one of my palmtop PCs. Unless you plan to use it 8 hours/day, I wouldn't bother about the CF card's lifetime. Simply disable the swap file completely if the machine has enough RAM.

Reply 4 of 15, by Jo22

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There was a MS blog about SSDs in Windows 7. Interesting is the "Should the pagefile be placed on SSDs?" paragraph.
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/e7/2009/05/0 … d-state-drives/

But please note that this was written with SSDs+Win7 in mind, not CF cards+Win98.
There are some notable differences.
a) SSDs and Win7 both support TRIM
b) SSDs use 4K sectors (matches the Windows memory model, which uses 4K chunks), while CF cards traditionally use 512byte sectors (perhaps different now).
c) Filesystem. Win98=FAT/FAT32, Win7=NTFS

Anyway, in case of doubt, just disable pagefile. 😀
But keep in mind, that some programs demand for virtual memory (AutoCAD and PhotoShop Elements, for example).

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 5 of 15, by PhilsComputerLab

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I've done that and it works well. I don't know about long-term performance and reliability though.

YouTube, Facebook, Website

Reply 6 of 15, by UltimaPlayer12

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Thank you guys for the input. I'm ordering a few CF adapters for my rigs in the next couple of days, including my 5400 LTE laptop that I'm going to do a restoration of! I'll be very interested in seeing how long these last, considering I do intend on using these gaming rigs quite a lot once I have them up to snuff for what they're meant for.

The Beast 2.0:
CPU: AMD K6-III 450MHz GPU: Nvidia FX 5600 128MB HDD: 20GB (Seagate?) Mobo: ASUS P5A-B RAM: 512MB Sound Card: SB 16 PnP ISA OS: Windows 98 SE

Reply 7 of 15, by firage

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CF is fantastic for DOS machines that routinely peak at a couple megabyte throughput, but they have pretty weak performance in many PCI Win9x scenarios.

My big-red-switch 486

Reply 8 of 15, by Kodai

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There are industrial CF cards that will handle long term use with swap files, but they tend to be 5-6 times the price compared to normal consumer CF. Its also harder to find them now days and easy to end up with a fake consumer version relabeled as an industrial grade CF. If you want to do it on the cheap, go with an IDE to SD adaptor. Unless you are running it as a main system day and night, it should last a few years or more. Then replace with new, cheap, and easy to find SD card.

Also, the "official" patch for more than 512MB in 98 is nothing more than a one line tweak to a .ini file. I can't remember what line or file, but that's all it is. MS put an artificial ram limit in 98 to get a good idea of how much ram the average user had and was upgrading too. When you hit the problems caused by the limit, you called support and they walked you through editing the file and the problems were gone. By the end of 98SE's life, the just put out a patch that fixed the .ini file. It was done to understand where the current market (at that time of course) was really at and how fast it was growing in terms of installed system memory.

Reply 9 of 15, by Jo22

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You're right in terms of CF cards (and SD cards are cheap in several ways). Another idea is to use a DOM (Disc On Memory module).
As far a I know, these devices still use SLC memory. 64 to 128MiB types are quite common also.
Why not use one of them for the swapfile ? They do fit nicely on sound cards, too. 😀

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 10 of 15, by Kodai

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DOM's are great for DOS rigs, but not the best choice for 9x rigs for a couple of reasons. It can be a bit of a pain to find a female DOM (no jokes), so that you can also use the slave (don't even bother) drive. Also DOM's cost much more than SD cards. Also an IDE to SD adaptor will max out the bandwidth of the IDE channel that its placed on. Putting the swap file for 9x on a second disk would mean using IDE channel 2, to get the speed benefit. If you put a CD-ROM drive on that channel, it will slow down the swap file drive. That kinda ruins the point of a swap file drive. If you don't have a CD-ROM drive in that rig then you're really missing a key component of a 9x rig.

An SD card or SSD drive (via SATA to IDE adaptor), are perfect choices for maximum bandwidth on a 9x rig as they are cheap, easy to get and will last for years with the sporadic use a retro rig tends to get.

DOM's are great for DOS because Most DOS games are small in size, there is a 2GB per logical drive limit, and a 8GB DOM will hold almost every golden age DOS game. You won't need a second drive, and the loss of a slave drive on channel 1, is negligible at worst and unnoticed at best.

These are just my opinions from several years of playing with these ideas. Others may suggest other options that may work as well or better, but these options are cheap, simple, and reliable.

Reply 11 of 15, by chinny22

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I think what Joe was saying about virtual Ram drive is using a program such as ramdisk for your swap file.
Say you got 256MB Ram, you could set 64MB as drive R: and set your swapfile here and keep 192MB as normal ram.
Windows Install disk used to do this to extract more utilities then the 1.44MB could handle.

So its "official" but I tried this in 3.11 and get an error about not able to set swap file on removable disk or something similar.
You can still create one for temp files or anything else to save wear on your CF card if you wanted. and if you have a lot of ram you can probably disable the swap file all together anyway, give it a try and see if you have any problems.

If it was me, I would go with a SATA drive ad use a SATA to IDE converter for Win9x, but if it works for you then its still the right decision,

Reply 12 of 15, by nforce4max

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Been using CF for 98 for some years now and no issues, if you Know how to research and shop around you can find SLC type CF cards and they will just last but one common rule with all SSDs is that free space is very important if you want it to last.

On a far away planet reading your posts in the year 10,191.

Reply 13 of 15, by UltimaPlayer12

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Do you all think that 512MB of RAM is enough with Windows 98 to disable the swap file and not see notable performance hits? I'm not going to be playing many "newer" games, mostly late-era DOS games and some early 3D stuff. The newest stuff would be Shogo on low settings, using the early Lithtech engine.

The Beast 2.0:
CPU: AMD K6-III 450MHz GPU: Nvidia FX 5600 128MB HDD: 20GB (Seagate?) Mobo: ASUS P5A-B RAM: 512MB Sound Card: SB 16 PnP ISA OS: Windows 98 SE

Reply 14 of 15, by chinny22

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I would think 512MB is plenty, 128MB was a lot back in Win98 days, 256MB was round XP started to go mainstream.
Of course the best way to find out is simply give it a try!

Reply 15 of 15, by Erik765

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My CF card on my Win98 rig works great, it's just ridiculously slow each time I boot it. Guessing it has to do with the swap file which, after reading all this, I'll now try disabling completely.

When I boot it, the HDD access light stays on solid for at least a minute and the machine is unusable until it finishes and then it's fine.

512MB of ram on a Win98 rig is much more than enough, yes. Plus, you can start running into other performance impacts with different RAM configurations. Check out Phil's latest video on that.