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CF vs DOM vs SSD

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First post, by Parni

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I’m strugling to find a solid answer that what is the best option to replace vintage 3.5” Hard drives? Im having several 233MHz MMX computers with 128mb of memory, now it seems the old hard drives are taking their last breaths and I’m looking to replace them with some modern solution. However what i’ve undestood is that Win95 wears and tears the modern solid state solutions like CF, DOM and SSD and I’m looking for solid facts which of the aforesaid is the best option? Aren’t all of them NAND Flash technology (SLC or MLC) so how to determine the best choice? Or does it matter if I have 128mb of memory? Does windows still use swap file? Or should I just disable swap? With what should I replace my old hard drives?

Reply 1 of 30, by Joseph_Joestar

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These two videos by Phil might be useful:

Personally, I prefer an IDE to SATA adapter paired with a small SSD (less than 128 GB).

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Reply 2 of 30, by Parni

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-03-20, 16:10:
These two videos by Phil might be useful: […]
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These two videos by Phil might be useful:

Personally, I prefer an IDE to SATA adapter paired with a small SSD (less than 128 GB).

Thanks for the links! Didnt know you can alter the capacity with Sea Tools, maeby I’ll just buy modern SATA drives and change the capacity?
Are you using MLC or SLC SSD drives? How does old BIOS:ses detect moderns SSD drives even it would be less than 128gb?

Last edited by Parni on 2021-03-20, 19:15. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 3 of 30, by Joseph_Joestar

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Parni wrote on 2021-03-20, 16:21:

Are you using MLC or SLC SSD drives?

I use the cheapest ones, which tend to be MLC. If you're worried about wearing out the SSD due to lack of Trim, read this.

How does old BIOS:ses detect moderns SSD drives even it would be less than 128gb?

It varies. Older motherboards may not be able to work with drives larger than 32 GB or even 8 GB in some cases. Both of my rigs support drives up to 137 GB with the latest BIOS updates, so I have no personal experience with anything older than that.

Note that Windows 98 has issues with drives larger than 128 GB, regardless of what your BIOS supports.

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Reply 4 of 30, by cyclone3d

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If you have PCI slots and have issues with the motherboard not supporting 128GB SSDs, just get a PCI SATA RAID controller. There are some that have Win9x drivers.

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Reply 5 of 30, by Jo22

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Hi, good evening! It depends on the situatios, I guess (CF vs DOM vs SSD)..
Old or low-capacity CFs and DOMs aren't necessarily a bad thing. Old SSDs (first gen, 64GB and below) are definitely something to avoid.:
They are slow, have issues with miss-aligned data and technically require TRIM, but their TRIM support is buggy/beta.

So if you're running DOS, Win3.x, OS/2 or more exotic systems, say, MacOS 9 or BEOS , then a CF/DOM is fine - no need for an SSD
If you're running Windows 98SE, a DOM or a good CF card sub system is recommended to avoid jerkyness - 80pin cable, CF adapter with DMA line and 3.3v regulator, UDMA capable CF card, low latency.

In case Windows XP is the OS in charge, and SSD or an SSHD is recommended. XP reads the Removable Media Bit, is bigger in size (1,5GB+) and does more swapping than the other OSes.
Same goes for Mac OS X 10.4.x. Unless a Mac OS 9 "partition" is around. Since that can't be moved without breaking Mac OS 9, you must leave its unlucky missalignment intact. Which is not optimal for an SSD..

Anyway, these are just some thoughts of mine. 😅

For Windows NT and *nix systems, a real RAM disk (physical device connected to PATA/SATA) would be wonderful!

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Reply 8 of 30, by Parni

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So to conclude SSD is best choise because of carbage collection feature? However one additional question came to my mind, I’ve read that SSD’s are poor for long term storage, sometimes my computers are stored for a good while, so just wondering could a long time in storage and up in loosing the data? Also how could I identify the SSD is not first gen as Jo22 mentioned? Is it just the size?

Could for instace a 16gb version like this work properly? https://www.ebay.com/itm/GOLDENFIR-SSD-Hard-D … CEAAOSwggJe8aTF

Also I noticed that there are new 2.5” classical drives sold on ebay quite inexpensively, would’t this ve better for long term storaging? Something like this with an adaptor and alter the capacity with sea tool so the bios can detect it? https://www.ebay.com/itm/Seagate-PATA-60-GB-7 … XIAAOSweuxWTIQl

Last edited by Parni on 2021-03-21, 05:51. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 9 of 30, by kolderman

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Parni wrote on 2021-03-21, 04:57:

So to conclude SSD is best choise because of carbage collection feature? However one additional question came to my mind, I’ve read that SSD’s are poor for long term storage, sometimes my computers are stored for a good while, so just wondering could a long time in storage and up in loosing the data? Also how could I identify the SSD is not first gen as Jo22 mentioned? Is it just the size?

Could for instace a 16gb version like this work properly? https://www.ebay.com/itm/GOLDENFIR-SSD-Hard-D … CEAAOSwggJe8aTF

Also I noticed that there are new 2.5” classical drives sold on ebay quite inexpensively, would’t this ve better for long term storaging?

SSD is best choice because 120gb models are cheap and readily available, unlike for HDD/CF - and the IDE/SATA interface and real drive electronics make them more stable than CF/SD under 95/98.

Any 120GB SSD is fine. Win95/98 does not generate enough write activity to pose any kind of problems for an SSD. WinXP might but with new SSDs even unlikly.

Reply 10 of 30, by douglar

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kolderman wrote on 2021-03-21, 05:50:

real drive electronics make them more stable than CF/SD under 95/98.

Pretty sure that most CFs have native PATA controllers built into them.

Could you elaborate on why you think CF/SD cards are less stable under windows 95/98?

Reply 11 of 30, by debs3759

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douglar wrote on 2021-03-21, 20:08:
kolderman wrote on 2021-03-21, 05:50:

real drive electronics make them more stable than CF/SD under 95/98.

Pretty sure that most CFs have native PATA controllers built into them.

They do, which is why they are such good substitutes for spinning rust

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Reply 12 of 30, by kolderman

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debs3759 wrote on 2021-03-21, 20:10:
douglar wrote on 2021-03-21, 20:08:
kolderman wrote on 2021-03-21, 05:50:

real drive electronics make them more stable than CF/SD under 95/98.

Pretty sure that most CFs have native PATA controllers built into them.

They do, which is why they are such good substitutes for spinning rust

That doesn't mean they were designed to handle the large amount of concurrent random IO anything after DOS throws at them. I have found both CF and SD quite unstable under win98 while SSDs have always been rock solid.

Reply 13 of 30, by Nemo1985

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I use CF for dos (2 gb for 6.22, 4gb for 7.1) and windows 98 (8gb) the only which gives me problems (it corrupts the files when used attached to cf reader on my daylife pc is the 4gb.
The others works like a charme, the 8gb is split in 2 partitions one for windows the other for the data.
On the other hand I had issues when I tried to use ssd on ss7 motherboards (64gb) and even with windows xp mounted on socket 478.
Thic could due to the adapters (chinese) but it's something to keep in count, I know from others that startech adapters work fine but they are not cheap

Reply 15 of 30, by GigAHerZ

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I've been using cheapest chinesium 4/8 GB CF cards on my 386 with dos up to P-MMX with Win98SE, with absolutely 0 problems.

It almost sounds like maybe people just don't know, how to prepare the CF card. (partitioning, "active" bit on partition, but if i remember, there was a bit on card as well, to make it fixed drive, etc.)
But maybe i've been just super lucky?

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Reply 16 of 30, by Jo22

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kolderman wrote on 2021-03-21, 20:35:
debs3759 wrote on 2021-03-21, 20:10:
douglar wrote on 2021-03-21, 20:08:

Pretty sure that most CFs have native PATA controllers built into them.

They do, which is why they are such good substitutes for spinning rust

That doesn't mean they were designed to handle the large amount of concurrent random IO anything after DOS throws at them. I have found both CF and SD quite unstable under win98 while SSDs have always been rock solid.

I assume you were no early adopter then ? The early SATA SSDs (low capacity), which not seldomly had early SandForce controllers, were not exactly smooth on 98SE or XP. 😉
Also, there's that FAT32 issue (or annoyance).. I think I mentioned this before. NTFS structures can be much better aligned to 4K boundaries than FAT32's.

CF cards on the other hand, often shipped with FAT/FAT32 file systems and never were expected to be aligned by the user.
Which makes me assume that the makers of CF cards either used an internal mechanism that takes care of that or correctly pre-formatted CFs with special software
or used FLASH memory cells with a Bytes per Sector ratio (say 512B, 1K, 2K) that's less troubling with legacy software than that of SSDs (4K).

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Reply 17 of 30, by digistorm

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You can buy CF cards that have SLC or MLC nand memory and support global wear leveling, such as the industrial line from Transcend. I would personally not use CF or SD cards that are meant for the storage of photos, videos or word documents.

Reply 18 of 30, by kolderman

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Jo22 wrote on 2021-03-23, 14:45:
kolderman wrote on 2021-03-21, 20:35:
debs3759 wrote on 2021-03-21, 20:10:

They do, which is why they are such good substitutes for spinning rust

That doesn't mean they were designed to handle the large amount of concurrent random IO anything after DOS throws at them. I have found both CF and SD quite unstable under win98 while SSDs have always been rock solid.

I assume you were no early adopter then ? The early SATA SSDs (low capacity), which not seldomly had early SandForce controllers, were not exactly smooth on 98SE or XP. 😉
Also, there's that FAT32 issue (or annoyance).. I think I mentioned this before. NTFS structures can be much better aligned to 4K boundaries than FAT32's.

Unless you are producing lots of tiny files all the time, this is not really an issue, and games typically install a small number of large files. Nonetheless I have run Win98 on modern SSDs for a while now and I would never go back.

Reply 19 of 30, by creepingnet

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I still use old ATA-133 drives a lot. The reason is they are the happiest thing in these old machines, espcially finicky laptops.

My next move will be SATA/mSATA adapters since I like to have huge hard disks in my old machines. I'm moving further and further away from needing removable media-en-masse on these boxes and more towards having everything on down to the CD's turned into a disk image. It just makes everything that much easier to carry-out, and saves my old media from having to be used all the time.

The thing I don't like about CF is that while I understand CF natively uses an IDE interface, it's on it's way out for most uses and I expect in a decade, CF might be hard to come by. ALso, I hear how fiddly some of those setups can be at times, and it might be a bit difficult for me to cram such a setup into a vintage laptop.

The thing about DOM's that I'm not a fan of is the lack of master/slave capabilities. Not all my machines have dual IDE channels and I usually have some form of secondary, large capacity data storage attached for when I need it (usually IDE DVD-RW drives).

That said, my method has flaws too. Like some IDE/SATA converters lack Master/slave just like DOM, some laptops don't like to play nice with mSATA (like my NEC Versas sure don't), some SSD register at full capacity with a DDO (like the mSATA drive in my DX4-100 desktop), while others don't (LiteOn 128GB SATA on ADP-09 SATA/IDE converter). Sometimes finding a quality converter is hard too, because there's so many nameless Chinese solutions, especially on e-bay, and they vary widely in capability from the 44pin mSATA enclosure I have that only works with my DX4-100, or the ADP-06 which has no master/slave but works with everything I've thrown at it regardless of the computer it's used in.

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