Windows

Ask Slashdot: Are Post-Install Windows Slowdowns Inevitable? 517 517

blackest_k writes: I recently reinstalled Windows 7 Home on a laptop. A factory restore (minus the shovelware), all the Windows updates, and it was reasonably snappy. Four weeks later it's running like a slug, and now 34 more updates to install. The system is clear of malware (there are very few additional programs other than chrome browser). It appears that Windows slows down Windows! Has anyone benchmarked Windows 7 as installed and then again as updated? Even better has anybody identified any Windows update that put the slug into sluggish? Related: an anonymous reader asks: Our organization's PCs are growing ever slower, with direct hard-drive encryption in place, and with anti-malware scans running ever more frequently. The security team says that SSDs are the only solution, but the org won't approve SSD purchases. It seems most disk scanning could take place after hours and/or under a lower CPU priority, but the security team doesn't care about optimization, summarily blaming sluggishness on lack of SSDs. Are they blowing smoke?
Data Storage

When Will Your Hard Drive Fail? 297 297

jfruh writes: Tech writer Andy Patrizio suffered his most catastrophic hard drive failure in 25 years of computing recently, which prompted him to delve into the questions of which hard drives fail and when. One intriguing theory behind some failure rates involve a crisis in the industry that arose from the massive 2011 floods in Thailand, home to the global hard drive industry.
Data Storage

TRIM and Linux: Tread Cautiously, and Keep Backups Handy 182 182

An anonymous reader writes: Algolia is a buzzword-compliant ("Hosted Search API that delivers instant and relevant results") start-up that uses a lot of open-source software (including various strains of Linux) and a lot of solid-state disk, and as such sometimes runs into problems with each of these. Their blog this week features a fascinating look at troubles that they faced with ext4 filesystems mysteriously flipping to read-only mode: not such a good thing for machines processing a search index, not just dishing it out. "The NGINX daemon serving all the HTTP(S) communication of our API was up and ready to serve the search queries but the indexing process crashed. Since the indexing process is guarded by supervise, crashing in a loop would have been understandable but a complete crash was not. As it turned out the filesystem was in a read-only mode. All right, let's assume it was a cosmic ray :) The filesystem got fixed, files were restored from another healthy server and everything looked fine again. The next day another server ended with filesystem in read-only, two hours after another one and then next hour another one. Something was going on. After restoring the filesystem and the files, it was time for serious analysis since this was not a one time thing.

The rest of the story explains how they isolated the problem and worked around it; it turns out that the culprit was TRIM, or rather TRIM's interaction with certain SSDs: "The system was issuing a TRIM to erase empty blocks, the command got misinterpreted by the drive and the controller erased blocks it was not supposed to. Therefore our files ended-up with 512 bytes of zeroes, files smaller than 512 bytes were completely zeroed. When we were lucky enough, the misbehaving TRIM hit the super-block of the filesystem and caused a corruption."

Since SSDs are becoming the norm outside the data center as well as within, some of the problems that their analysis exposed for one company probably would be good to test for elsewhere. One upshot: "As a result, we informed our server provider about the affected SSDs and they informed the manufacturer. Our new deployments were switched to different SSD drives and we don't recommend anyone to use any SSD that is anyhow mentioned in a bad way by the Linux kernel."
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Hardware Is In Your Primary Computer? 558 558

An anonymous reader writes: Here's something we haven't done in a while: list the specs of your main system (best one) so we can see what kinds of computers Slashdot geeks use. Context would be interesting, too — if you're up for it, explain how and why you set it up as you did, as well as the computer's primary purpose(s). Things you can list include (but are not limited to): CPU, motherboard, video card, memory, storage (SSD/HDD), exotic Controllers (RAID or caching), optical drives, displays, peripherals, etc. We can compare and contrast, see what specs are suitable for what purposes, and perhaps learn a trick or two.
Hardware

NAND Flash Shrinks To 15/16nm Process, Further Driving Prices Down 60 60

Lucas123 writes: Both Micron and Toshiba are producing NAND flash memory based on 15 and 16 nanometer process technology, which reduces die area over a 16GB MLC chip by 28% compared with previous die technology. Additionally, Micron announced its upcoming consumer USB flash drives and internal SSDs will also use triple-level cell NAND flash (a technology expected to soon dominate the market) storing three bits instead of two for the first time and further reducing production cost. The advancement in NAND flash density has been driving SSD pricing down dramatically over the past few years. In fact, over the last year, the average price for 128GB and 256GB SSDs have dropped to $50 and $90, respectively, for system manufacturers, according to DRAMeXchange. And prices for consumers have dropped to an average of $91.55 for a 128GB SSD and $164.34 for a 256GB SSD.
Data Storage

No, Your SSD Won't Quickly Lose Data While Powered Down 106 106

An anonymous reader writes: A few weeks ago, we discussed reports that enterprise SSDs would lose data in a surprisingly short amount of time if left powered off. The reports were based on a presentation from Alvin Cox, a Seagate engineer, about enterprise storage practices. PCWorld spoke to him and another engineer for Seagate, and they say the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Alvin Cox said, "I wouldn't worry about (losing data). This all pertains to end of life. As a consumer, an SSD product or even a flash product is never going to get to the point where it's temperature-dependent on retaining the data." The intent of the original presentation was to set expectations for a worst case scenario — a data center writing huge amounts of data to old SSDs and then storing them long-term at unusual temperatures. It's not a very realistic situation for businesses with responsible IT departments, and almost impossible for personal drives.
Graphics

Dell Precision M3800 Mobile Workstation Packs Thunderbolt 2, Quadro, IGZO2 Panel 133 133

MojoKid writes: Dell recently revamped their M3800 model to better entice graphic designers, engineers, and other high-end users who often work in the field, with a true mobile workstation that's both sufficiently equipped to handle professional grade workloads and is thin and light to boot. Dell claims the M3800 is the "world's thinnest and lightest 15-inch mobile workstation" and at 4.15 pounds, it could very well be. In addition, ISV tools certifications matter for workstation types, so the M3800 gets its pixel pushing muscle from an NVIDIA Quadro K1100M GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Other notable specs include an Intel Core i7-4712HQ quad-core processor, 16GB of DDR3L memory, and a 256GB mSATA SSD. One of the new additions to the M3800 is a Thunderbolt 2 port with transfer speeds of up to 20Gbps that allows for the simultaneous viewing/editing and backing up of raw 4K video. Finally, the M3800 is equipped with a 3840x2160 native resolution IGZO2 display, which equates to a 60 percent increase in pixel density over a current gen MacBook Pro with Retina display. Performance-wise, the M3800 holds up pretty strong with standard productivity workloads, though as you can image it excels more-so in graphics rendering throughput.
Data Storage

Enterprise SSDs, Powered Off, Potentially Lose Data In a Week 184 184

New submitter Mal-2 writes with a selection from IB Times of special interest for anyone replacing hard disks with solid state drives: The standards body for the microelectronics industry has found that Solid State Drives (SSD) can start to lose their data and become corrupted if they are left without power for as little as a week. ... According to a recent presentation (PDF) by Seagate's Alvin Cox, who is also chairman of the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC), the period of time that data will be retained on an SSD is halved for every 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature in the area where the SSD is stored. If you have switched to SSD for either personal or business use, do you follow the recommendation here that spinning-disk media be used as backup as well?
Data Storage

Samsung's SSD 840 Read Performance Degradation Explained 65 65

An anonymous reader writes with a link to TechSpot's explanation of the reason behind the performance degradation noticed by many purchasers of certain models of Samsung SSD (the 840 and 840 EVO), and an evaluation of the firmware updates that the firm has released to address is. From the piece, a mixed but positive opinion of the second and latest of these firmware releases: "It’s not an elegant fix, and it’s also a fix that will degrade the lifetime of the NAND since the total numbers of writes it’s meant to withstand is limited. But as we have witnessed in Tech Report’s extensive durability test there is a ton of headroom in how NAND is rated, so in my opinion this is not a problem. Heck, the Samsung 840 even outlasted two MLC drives. As of writing, the new firmware has only been released for the 2.5” model of the SSD 840 EVO, so users of the 840 EVO mSATA model still have to be patient. It should also be noted that the new firmware does not seem to work well with the TRIM implementation in Linux, as this user shared how file system corruption occurs if discard is enabled."
Intel

New PCIe SSDs Load Games, Apps As Fast As Old SATA Drives 162 162

crookedvulture writes Slashdot has covered a bunch of new PCI Express SSDs over the past month, and for good reason. The latest crop offers much higher sequential and random I/O rates than predecessors based on old-school Serial ATA interfaces. They're also compatible with new protocols, like NVM Express, which reduce overhead and improve scaling under demanding loads. As one might expect, these new PCIe drives destroy the competition in targeted benchmarks, hitting top speeds several times faster than even the best SATA SSDs can muster. The thing is, PCIe SSDs don't load games or common application data any faster than current incumbents—or even consumer-grade SSDs from five years ago. That's very different from the initial transition from mechanical to solid-state storage, where load times improved noticeably for just about everything. Servers and workstations can no doubt take advantage of the extra oomph that PCIe SSDs provide, but desktop users may struggle to find scenarios where PCIe SSDs offer palpable performance improvements over even budget-oriented SATA drives.
Data Storage

Kingston HyperX Predator SSD Takes Gumstick M.2 PCIe Drives To 1.4GB/sec 51 51

MojoKid writes Kingston recently launched their HyperX Predator PCIe SSD that is targeted at performance-minded PC enthusiasts but is much less expensive than enterprise-class PCIe offerings that are currently in market. Kits are available in a couple of capacities and form factors at 240GB and 480GB. All of the drives adhere to the 80mm M.2 2280 "gumstick" form factor and have PCIe 2.0 x4 connections, but are sold both with and without a half-height, half-length adapter card, if you'd like to drop it into a standard PCI Express slot. At the heart of the Kingston HyperX Predator is Marvell's latest 88SS9293 controller. The Marvell 88SS9293 is paired to a gigabyte of DDR3 memory and Toshiba A19 Toggle NAND. The drives are rated for read speeds up to 1.4GB/s and writes of 1GB/s and 130 – 160K random 4K IOPS. In the benchmarks, the 480GB model put up strong numbers. At roughly $1 per GiB, the HyperX Predator is about on par with Intel's faster SSD 750, but unlike Intel's new NVMe solution, the Kingston drive will work in all legacy platforms as well, not just Z97 and X99 boards with a compatible UEFI BIOS.
Data Storage

Samsung SSD On a Tiny M.2 Stick Is Capable of Read Speeds Over 2GB/sec 72 72

MojoKid writes: Samsung has just announced its new SM951-NVMe SSD, the industry's first NVMe SSD to employ an M.2 form-factor. Samsung says the new gumstick style drive is capable of sequential read and write speeds of 2,260 MB/sec and 1,600 MB/sec respectively. Comparable SATA-based M.2 SSDs typically can only push read/write speeds of 540 MB/sec and 500 MB/sec, while most standard PCIe versions muster just north of 1GB/sec. The Samsung SM951-NVMe's performance is actually very comparable to the Intel SSD 750 Series PCIe x4 card but should help kick notebook performance up a notch in this common platform configuration.
Data Storage

New Samsung SSD 840 EVO Read Performance Fix Coming Later This Month 72 72

An anonymous reader writes: The Samsung SSD 840 EVO read performance bug has been on the table for over six months now. Initially Samsung acknowledged the issue fairly quickly and provided a fix only a month after the news hit the mainstream tech media, but reports of read performance degradation surfaced again a few weeks after the fix had been released, making it clear that the first fix didn't solve the issue for all users. Two months ago Samsung announced that a new fix is in the works and last week Samsung sent out the new firmware along with Magician 4.6 for testing, which will be available to the public later this month.
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Best Medium For Storing Data To Survive a Fire (or Other Disaster) 446 446

First time accepted submitter aka_bigred writes Every year as I file my taxes, I replicate my most important financial data (a couple GB of data) to store an offline copy in my fire-rated home safe. This gets me thinking about what the most reliable data media would be to keep in my fire-rated home safe.

CDs/DVDs/tapes could easily melt or warp rendering them useless, so I'm very hesitant to use them. I've seen more exotic solutions that let you print your digital data to paper an optically re-import it later should you ever need it, but it seems overly cumbersome and error prone should it be damaged or fire scorched. That leaves my best options being either a classic magnetic platter drive, or some sort of solid state storage, like SD cards, USB flash drives, or a small SSD. The problem is, I can't decide which would survive better if ever exposed to extreme temperatures, or water damage should my house burn down.

Most people would just suggest to store it in "the cloud", but I'm naturally averse to doing so because that means someone else is responsible for my data and I could lose it to hackers, the entity going out of business, etc. Once it leaves my home, I no longer fully control it, which is unacceptable. My thought being "they can't hack/steal what they can't physically access." What medium do other Slashdot users use to store their most important data (under say 5GB worth) in an at-home safe to protect it from fire?
Data Storage

Intel Launches SSD 750 Series Consumer NVMe PCI Express SSD At Under $1 Per GiB 67 67

MojoKid writes Today, Intel took the wraps off new NVMe PCI Express Solid State Drives, which are the first products with these high speed interfaces, that the company has launched specifically for the enthusiast computing and workstation market. Historically, Intel's PCI Express-based offerings, like the SSD DC P3700 Series, have been targeted for datacenter or enterprise applications, with price tags to match. However, the Intel SSD 750 Series PCI Express SSD, though based on the same custom NVMe controller technology as the company's expensive P3700 drive, will drop in at less than a dollar per GiB, while offering performance almost on par with its enterprise-class sibling. Available in 400GB and 1.2TB capacities, the Intel SSD 750 is able to hit peak read and write bandwidth numbers of 2.4GB/sec and 1.2GB/sec, respectively. In the benchmarks, it takes many of the top PCIe SSD cards to task easily and at $389 for a 400GB model, you won't have to sell an organ to afford one.
Data Storage

Micron and Intel Announce 3D NAND Flash Co-Development To Push SSDs Past 10TB 93 93

MojoKid writes Both Micron and Intel noted in a release today that traditional planar NAND flash memory is reaching a dead-end, and as such, have been working together on 3D memory technology that could open the floodgates for high densities and faster speeds. Not all 3D memory is alike, however. This joint development effort resulted in a "floating gate cell" being used, something not uncommon for standard flash, but a first for 3D. Ultimately, this 3D NAND is composed of flash cells stacked 32 high, resulting in 256Gb MLC and 384Gb TLC die that fit inside of a standard package. That gives us 48GB per die, and up to 750GB in a single package. Other benefits include faster performance, reduced cost, and technologies that help extend the life of the memory.
Intel

Tested: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Update W/ Intel Broadwell, Self-Encrypting SSD 87 87

MojoKid writes Lenovo just revamped the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and in this third generation of the machine, they've adopted Intel's latest 5th generation Core Series Broadwell processors, along with a few other updates. In addition, they've retooled the keyboard and trackpad area, returning back to more traditional roots versus the second generation machine, which was met with some criticism due to its adaptive function key row and over-simplified, buttonless trackpad. Notable upgrades to this 3rd gen model are a faster Core i5-5300U processor and a self-encrypting Opal2 compliant SSD. Performance-wise, the new ThinkPad offers up some of the best numbers in utlrabooks currently, though battery life is a bit middle of the road, but still able to last over 8 hours under light, web-driven workloads.
Data Storage

Endurance Experiment Kills Six SSDs Over 18 Months, 2.4 Petabytes 204 204

crookedvulture writes Slashdot has previously covered The Tech Report's SSD Endurance Experiment, and the final chapter in that series has now been published. The site spent the last 18 months writing data to six consumer-grade SSDs to see how much it would take to burn their flash. All the drives absorbed hundreds of terabytes without issue, far exceeding the needs of typical PC users. The first one failed after 700TB, while the last survived an astounding 2.4 petabytes. Performance was reasonably consistent throughout the experiment, but failure behavior wasn't. Four of the six provided warning messages before their eventual deaths, but two expired unexpectedly. A couple also suffered uncorrectable errors that could compromise data integrity. They all ended up in a bricked, lifeless state. While the sample size isn't large enough to draw definitive conclusions about specific makes or models, the results suggest the NAND in modern SSDs has more than enough endurance for consumers. They also demonstrate that very ordinary drives can be capable of writing mind-boggling amounts of data.
Chrome

Google's Pricey Pixel Gets USB-C and a Lower Price 139 139

The Register reports that Google's high-end Chromebook Pixel has gotten a few spec bumps, and a lower price. It's still a touchscreen with a resolution of 2,560 × 1,700, but now that screen is backed by 8GB RAM (rather than 4) as a base configuration, and the system is equipped with a Broadwell Core i5 chip, rather than the Ivy Bridge in the first rev. The price has dropped, too; it may still be the most expensive Chromebook, but now it's "only" $999 on the low end, which is $300 less than the first Pixels cost. ($1300, though, gets an i7, 64 gigs of SSD instead of 32, and 8GB of RAM. Perhaps most interesting is that it adds USB type C, and (topping Apple's latest entry) it's got two of them.