VOGONS


First post, by khyypio

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I know that people have been succesful using SSDs with old systems but there seems to be a lot of negative opinions about it, although most of them are in the lines of "NOT WORK FUKC SDDz UZE PERRRIOD CORECT HEARTWEAR HERRRB DERP...". So if your advise is to use a spinning hard drive, don´t bother because I will never use those.

First, I´d like to clarify what I got to work with here and how I´ve set it up. I have an Abit ST6 motherboard and right now it uses IDE>SD adapter with Sandisk 64GB Extreme Pro SDXC SD card. Here´s what I did from the start:
1. I ran FDISK, deleted the original partition and created a new primary DOS partition (maximum available size).
2. I formatted C:\ and made it bootable (format C: /s)
3. I´ve heard that Master Boot Record needs to be created for SD cards, so after formatting I reboot and type fdisk/mbr in A:\
4. At this point I created a path C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS and copied the content form Windows 98 installation CD into it, just for practical reasons.
5. Then I just ran the installation from C:

Windows 98 runs beautifully, it´s fairly fast and perfectly stable, I can recommend this setup for anyone who´s thinking about alternatives for spinning hard disks. However, my game collection has gotten a little bigger than I originally intended and I also found some music videos and mp3´s from old CDs, so I´m experiencing a little shortage of space... 😁

Now, I have a spare 120 Gb Kingston A400 SSD which I want to utilise in my retro PC. It has a SATA connector, so obviously I need a converter and I thought about this: https://www.delock.com/produkte/G_61702/merkmale.html
1. Can I run the installation process as I did when using SD card?
2. If not, what preparations do I need?
3. Due to much larger size of the SSD, would it be a smart thing to do an extended partition? Say ~20 Gb for C: and ~100 Gb for D:?

Reply 1 of 89, by aha2940

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khyypio wrote on 2020-03-25, 13:15:
I know that people have been succesful using SSDs with old systems but there seems to be a lot of negative opinions about it, al […]
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I know that people have been succesful using SSDs with old systems but there seems to be a lot of negative opinions about it, although most of them are in the lines of "NOT WORK FUKC SDDz UZE PERRRIOD CORECT HEARTWEAR HERRRB DERP...". So if your advise is to use a spinning hard drive, don´t bother because I will never use those.

First, I´d like to clarify what I got to work with here and how I´ve set it up. I have an Abit ST6 motherboard and right now it uses IDE>SD adapter with Sandisk 64GB Extreme Pro SDXC SD card. Here´s what I did from the start:
1. I ran FDISK, deleted the original partition and created a new primary DOS partition (maximum available size).
2. I formatted C:\ and made it bootable (format C: /s)
3. I´ve heard that Master Boot Record needs to be created for SD cards, so after formatting I reboot and type fdisk/mbr in A:\
4. At this point I created a path C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS and copied the content form Windows 98 installation CD into it, just for practical reasons.
5. Then I just ran the installation from C:

Windows 98 runs beautifully, it´s fairly fast and perfectly stable, I can recommend this setup for anyone who´s thinking about alternatives for spinning hard disks. However, my game collection has gotten a little bigger than I originally intended and I also found some music videos and mp3´s from old CDs, so I´m experiencing a little shortage of space... 😁

Now, I have a spare 120 Gb Kingston A400 SSD which I want to utilise in my retro PC. It has a SATA connector, so obviously I need a converter and I thought about this: https://www.delock.com/produkte/G_61702/merkmale.html
1. Can I run the installation process as I did when using SD card?
2. If not, what preparations do I need?
3. Due to much larger size of the SSD, would it be a smart thing to do an extended partition? Say ~20 Gb for C: and ~100 Gb for D:?

I think it will work, however the SDD will be kind of wasted. The ATA100 interface of the board, coupled with the SATA-IDE converter, will never manage to use the full speed of the SSD. I think it will be very similar to using a bigger SD card with your current setup. You might consider doing just that and using the SDD into something that can take full advantage of its speed.

Reply 3 of 89, by Sedrosken

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As aha2940 said, just make peace with losing most of the throughput of the drive to the controller it's attached to and you'll be fine. I run my old 256GB Samsung SSD from my main on my PIII-S now, and I'm pretty much maxing out what the controller is capable of though I had some minor hiccups trying to get to this point. I got a cheap no-name adapter at first and it was stuck in PIO mode no matter what I tried, and then I got the (more expensive) Startech one and that's rock-solid. I didn't even have to manually install Windows to it -- I just cloned the drive using the Seagate DiskWizard on a copy of Hiren's. Windows XP has never been so snappy for me in all my life, and I've run XP on some pretty beefy machines -- just, nothing with an SSD before, obviously.

Something that may or may not end up being a bit problematic -- my configuration does not support TRIM. I don't even have an option in the latest version of Defraggler to "Optimize" rather than defrag it to prod its automatic garbage collection. To be fair, IIRC the only thing that happens when you don't TRIM is the throughput drops -- and since I'm bound hard by my 815E's UDMA-100 controller, I doubt I'd even notice a difference.

As for 98SE, I don't see anything being much of a problem, except again you won't have any support for TRIM. But, again, IIRC that probably won't be an issue anyway as you'll be IO-bound on the controller side. In fact, an SSD would probably be better for 98SE than an SD or CF card, since it doesn't have the issues with limited read/write cycles (or, well, at least those issues are much reduced).

A small tip would be to pop the thing into a modern machine real quick first to give it a plain MBR partition table -- I had a GPT table on mine from where I had been using it before, so I had to do that for mine before my PIII would even notice its presence.

Hebian-To: P4P800-VM, 3.4 Prescott, 4GB RAM, 9600XT, SB0730, 256GB SSD, XP USP4
Shoushi: D815EAA, 1000EB, 512MB RAM, Ti4200, YMF744, 128GB SSD, 2000 SP4
Cragstone: Alaris Cougar, 486BL3, 16MB RAM, Trio64V+ VLB, CT2800, 16GB SD2IDE, 98lite

Reply 4 of 89, by derSammler

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Sedrosken wrote on 2020-03-25, 14:21:

To be fair, IIRC the only thing that happens when you don't TRIM is the throughput drops -- and since I'm bound hard by my 815E's UDMA-100 controller, I doubt I'd even notice a difference.

No, it's not the throughput that changes, but write access time (reading is not affected). Without TRIM, every write access causes a huge delay once all flash cells were written to at least once. That's because flash cells are organized in larger blocks and a block must be completely erased before new data can be written to a cell. Erasing is very slow, that's why TRIM is there: it tells the SSD which blocks are no longer in use, so they can be erased while the SSD is idle.

I gave up using SSDs for Win9x, because once that point is reached, the system becomes so slow that it's unusable. You can lessen the issue to some degree by turning off virtual memory or moving the swap file to a mechanical hard disk. But in the end, the SSD becomes as slow as an ordinary HDD.

Reply 5 of 89, by Sedrosken

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Well, can you pop the drive in a newer machine that properly supports TRIM and just issue the command from there to fix it? Pain in the butt, I know, but it's probably worth it.

Hebian-To: P4P800-VM, 3.4 Prescott, 4GB RAM, 9600XT, SB0730, 256GB SSD, XP USP4
Shoushi: D815EAA, 1000EB, 512MB RAM, Ti4200, YMF744, 128GB SSD, 2000 SP4
Cragstone: Alaris Cougar, 486BL3, 16MB RAM, Trio64V+ VLB, CT2800, 16GB SD2IDE, 98lite

Reply 6 of 89, by chinny22

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re the partiton sizes, your right on the limit for a Win98 boot partition (128GB) That would make me feel uncomfortable.
Partition sizes are up to you but personally I prefer around 4GB for c:\ and only installing Win98 and apps then not making any changes to it
2nd large partition for games
3rd scratch/temp/dumping partition, usually about 1 or 2 GB, enough to extract an iso or something
I find that helps to keep the hard drive tidier longer

Reply 8 of 89, by dionb

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derSammler wrote on 2020-03-25, 14:39:
Sedrosken wrote on 2020-03-25, 14:21:

To be fair, IIRC the only thing that happens when you don't TRIM is the throughput drops -- and since I'm bound hard by my 815E's UDMA-100 controller, I doubt I'd even notice a difference.

No, it's not the throughput that changes, but write access time (reading is not affected). Without TRIM, every write access causes a huge delay once all flash cells were written to at least once. That's because flash cells are organized in larger blocks and a block must be completely erased before new data can be written to a cell. Erasing is very slow, that's why TRIM is there: it tells the SSD which blocks are no longer in use, so they can be erased while the SSD is idle.

I gave up using SSDs for Win9x, because once that point is reached, the system becomes so slow that it's unusable. You can lessen the issue to some degree by turning off virtual memory or moving the swap file to a mechanical hard disk. But in the end, the SSD becomes as slow as an ordinary HDD.

There are a few things you can do to mitigate that:

1) don't use a modern TLC or MLC SSD, but get an old SLC one. The write amplification is much greater on MLC or TLC, so the impact of not having TRIP is greater. I love Intel X25-E drives and run Win98SE on one in my Tualatin system.
2) make sure you align partitions along 4k sectors. DOS/Win9x FDISK can't do that, but if you create the partitions on a newer system (Linux generally easiest), it massively streamlines the number of reads/writes. Here's a pretty straightforward guide: http://wp.xin.at/archives/1449
3) overprovision. Leave a lot of drive space unpartitioned so the SSD's own firmware can do its magic to keep stuff working quickly. Leaving 1/4 or so should generally be more than enough.

Tbh, that A400 is probably the worst choice you could make - it's TLC, it's already quite slow in terms of access times, so it will suffer badly from not having TRIM. it's also vastly too big for Win9x filesystems (yes, you can format FAT32 up to 16TB, but no, max file size is still 4GB).

Reply 9 of 89, by khyypio

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Well, it´s a good thing I didn´t start changing anything before asking for insight 😁

Main conclusions thus far:
- For what I want to do, this particular SSD is simply the worst choice
- Quick search showed that the desired SSDs (SLC) are INSANELY expensive
- My mobo doesn´t support TRIM nor aligning (IDK what either of those means)
- SSD needs to be prepared on a newer system
- No matter what I do, the storage device will only be as fast as my motherboard allows it to be? Meaning, it won´t any faster than my current SD solution?

So basically, like aha2940 said, it´s probably better to just buy a 120Gb SD card?

Reply 10 of 89, by dionb

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khyypio wrote on 2020-03-25, 16:34:
Well, it´s a good thing I didn´t start changing anything before asking for insight :D […]
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Well, it´s a good thing I didn´t start changing anything before asking for insight 😁

Main conclusions thus far:
- For what I want to do, this particular SSD is simply the worst choice
- Quick search showed that the desired SSDs (SLC) are INSANELY expensive

Things like this can be found with patience. The cheapest on eBay are fairly pricey, but EUR 40 doesn't sound "INSANELY" expensive to me. I got two X25-E 64GB drives for EUR 30 on the local craigslist-lookalike - seller just pricing based on age and size 😉

- My mobo doesn´t support TRIM nor aligning (IDK what either of those means)

TRIM doesn't matter as Win98 doesn't support it either. Everything I posted above was a workaround for not having it.

Aligning is software, not hardware, so your mobo isn't relevant.

- SSD needs to be prepared on a newer system

Doesn't need to be, it needs to be prepared on a newer OS. That could be Linux on the same computer.

- No matter what I do, the storage device will only be as fast as my motherboard allows it to be? Meaning, it won´t any faster than my current SD solution?

Define "fast"... throughput is limited to the weakest link in terms of bandwidth. On an old system that tends to be the IDE interface, although some SD cards or adapters can also bottleneck. Thing is, raw bandwidth isn't what feels 'fast'. It's response time. That's why in the day SCSI drives had a good reputation despite bandwidth being hardly any different to IDE. That's where SSDs can shine, but you need a good SSD and you need to set it up correctly. It will feel much, much faster than any mechanical drive. Compared to SD it can also shine because SD isn't particularly fast and adapters heap on latency.

So basically, like aha2940 said, it´s probably better to just buy a 120Gb SD card?

Why the obsession with SD? SD's only advantage is price. It's not natively supported by anything so you're always facing conversion. For systems too old/slow for an SSD to be sensible, CF is the way to go. CF actually implements IDE, which in itself is based on the ISA protocol. So CF can basically run on anything remotely PC-like without any conversion which massively improves compatibility and keeps down latency.

Reply 11 of 89, by khyypio

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dionb wrote on 2020-03-25, 17:52:

Why the obsession with SD? SD's only advantage is price. It's not natively supported by anything so you're always facing conversion. For systems too old/slow for an SSD to be sensible, CF is the way to go. CF actually implements IDE, which in itself is based on the ISA protocol. So CF can basically run on anything remotely PC-like without any conversion which massively improves compatibility and keeps down latency.

I wouldn´t really call it an obsession, it´s just a storage solution that I´ve found to be silent, reliable, cheap and fast. I did originally choose it over CF solution, because I heard CF cards are perfect for DOS machines but they´re not recommended for Win9x machines. However, I did look at CF solutions and they really would be too expensive just see if it´s fast enough.

So, it seems I should either buy that bigger SD card or try to find that SSD of desires. Aside of being SLC, what other requirements there are?

Reply 12 of 89, by dionb

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Not much really - at least, all the things to really avoid aren't present in SLC drives anyway. The affordable ones will be small enough, and they all have good random write performance. That's the Achilles' heel of low-end SSDs. The old JMicron monsters were so bad at it you could almost hang a system by running ICQ or a similar chat program due to the limitations. That's also where the Kingston A400 performs worse than a 10-year old Intel or SandForce drive, although not even close to JMicron awfulness.

Just did a broader search for SLC drives and if you broaden your search there are more available at better prices, even on eBay. If 20GB is enough, you can get it in the form of the Intel 313 for EUR 11 (and shipping from UK, so probably cheaper than all those US options).

Reply 13 of 89, by khyypio

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dionb wrote on 2020-03-25, 22:35:

Not much really - at least, all the things to really avoid aren't present in SLC drives anyway. The affordable ones will be small enough, and they all have good random write performance. That's the Achilles' heel of low-end SSDs. The old JMicron monsters were so bad at it you could almost hang a system by running ICQ or a similar chat program due to the limitations. That's also where the Kingston A400 performs worse than a 10-year old Intel or SandForce drive, although not even close to JMicron awfulness.

So something like this should work: hhttps://www.ebay.com/itm/Silicon-Power-SSD-A55- ... SwXYxeXxrN

Just did a broader search for SLC drives and if you broaden your search there are more available at better prices, even on eBay. If 20GB is enough, you can get it in the form of the Intel 313 for EUR 11 (and shipping from UK, so probably cheaper than all those US options).

No, 20 Gb isn´t enough, that´s why I want to switch my 64 Gb card to a bigger one 😁

Reply 15 of 89, by dionb

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khyypio wrote on 2020-03-26, 09:08:

[...]

So something like this should work: hhttps://www.ebay.com/itm/Silicon-Power-SSD-A55- ... SwXYxeXxrN

Lies, damned lies and eBay auction titles:
https://www.silicon-power.com/web/product-Ace_A55

Adopts TLC 3D NAND flash and "SLC Cache technology" to improve overall performance

The official product site is honest enough to put inverted commas around the "SLC Cache technolgy". This is plan low-end TLC. Probably similar to that A400...

Reply 16 of 89, by khyypio

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Alright, first: thanks everybody for your very valuable advice! This was extremely useful and helped me to do more extensive research on the subject. I haven´t done this to my Win98 machine yet, nor even made any final decisions but we´ll come to that.

I had a little practise when I installed an SSD (the same Kingston A400 I mentioned earlier) in my friends XP machine. Here´s how I prepared it:
1. I plugged the SSD in my modern Win 10 PC as a secondary drive
2. I ran "Create and format hard disk partitions"
3. I right-click on the new recognised SSD, selected "New simple volume"and let the volume disk size be as it was by default
4. Next I selected "Do not sign any drive letter or drive path" and Ialso selected "MBR" at some point, I cannot remember where exactly...
5. I formatted the partition by setting File system to NTFS and Allocation unit size to 4096
6. Then I just shut down my computer, unplugged the SSD, plugged into the XP rig and installed XP normally, so far (couple of weeks) it works beautifully!

I did this right, right? Or did I left something undone or do something wrong, should I do it again?

Anyways, this wasn´t as big of a hassle as I thought so I think getting MLC or TLC is a viable option for my Win98 PC. But which one? I also thought about getting two SSDs:
- a 32 Gb SSD as a primary disk for operating system, drivers, programs, etc.
- a 120 Gb SSD as a secondary for games.

Overkill? Yes, but my collection keeps growing, so... You guys mentioned that part of the SSDs should be left unpartitioned. How much, what would you recommend?

Reply 17 of 89, by kepstin

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For a modern SSD controller running an OS without TRIM support (e.g. Win98-WinXP), I'd leave around 25% of the drive space unpartitioned. That's probably overkill, especially on 250gb+ drives, but it should be sufficient that the drive won't ever run out of space to perform background garbage collection. If the drive has previously been used in another system, make sure you use a secure erase tool to reset the drive so it knows what space is unused.

I wouldn't bother worrying about finding an SLC drive for a vintage system. It's unlikely that a pre-SATA vintage system can write to the drive fast enough to exhaust the SLC cache area on a good TLC drive; the SSD controller will have lots of spare time to perform background garbage collection. I would recommend getting a drive with a DRAM cache since that can reduce write amplification and latency issues on filled drives, so for example AData SU800, WD Blue, Crucial MX500 are all good choices. There are some cheaper drives that might be good too, check reviews.

I'm personally using a "Vintage" SSD in my Windows 98 box - an OCZ Agility 2. This drive is old enough that it predates wide OS support for TRIM, and has some extra features like transparent compression to mitigate that a bit. That said, I purchased this drive new back in the day. I do not recommend buying a used older model SSD!

Reply 18 of 89, by darry

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You can run TRIM under DOS on a FAT32 partition . http://lonecrusader.x10host.com/rloew/trim.html .

SSDs can work just fine under Windows . See my experience in Corruption issue when using rloew's TRIM.EXE (TRIM utility for DOS) with FreeDOS FDISK 1.2.1/1.3.1 partitioned DISK
The only issue I had was due to using FreeDOS' FDISK.EXE .

Reply 19 of 89, by kolderman

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I prepare and maintain most of my retro HDDs on my modern Win10 PC. They are all installed in hot-swap drive bays, so I just take them out, put them in a USB HDD dock on my modern PC, and I can format/backup/restore them, TRIM SSDs etc. Much easier than trying to make stuff like TRIM run under Win98/DOS.

So for Win98 the process is simple - just format an SSD as FAT32, copy on the WIN98 folder, then boot using a CD or floppy, and then run setup directly from the HDD.