Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

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Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:34 am

I have this old beige Dell I'd like to use as a music player for the garage. It has a BX board, 900Mhz P3, 768MB, and WinXP. I'd like to install Win7 and store my music on a 250GB HDD. I know the performance will suck, but Win7 is much better with digital audio, and my old stereo has an optical jack.

The BIOS only recognizes 137GB, but XP reports the correct size. I remember reading somewhere that older versions of Windows could corrupt data stored beyond the 137GB BIOS limit. But since the BIOS hands control of the HDD to Windows (it does this, right?), shouldn't I be safe with Win7? Thanks.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:45 am

Yea, with modern versions of Windows, it should be safe, as pretty much all protected-mode OSes directly access the hardware. The only issue is if you are booting from it. In this case, it is probably a good idea to partition the HDD.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:52 am

Thanks. Will repartition it.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:11 pm

Or, set up the garage PC with an old 40GB or 80GB drive and access the music over the network, either from a server PC or a consumer NAS device. Then you only have to update your music library at one location.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:11 pm

Just so. Subsonic is an excellent music-streaming program and it's free. All the client needs is a web browser with Flash, and the server can run Windows, OS X, or Linux & requires Java.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:40 pm

All you need is a PCI IDE card. It will let you use a big drive in windows no matter what the board or windows supports. Ive used several in my old rigs to use bigger drives with no issues.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:12 pm

Even with my WNDR-3700, which I think is a good router, the WiFi signal in my detached garage is quite weak. Besides, not having an active internet connection on this old machine gives me a great excuse *not* to install 120 updates+SP1. With only 768MB of RAM, the hard drive would probably conk out. I have no problem just using a flash drive to update the music library once a month.

"All you need is a PCI IDE card. It will let you use a big drive in windows no matter what the board or windows supports. Ive used several in my old rigs to use bigger drives with no issues."

But with Win7 on a much smaller boot partition, there shouldn't be a problem with having a >137GB storage partition, right?
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:56 pm

Nope, partitions work also.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:31 pm

Have you made sure the motherboard does not have an update that would let the mobo see more than the 137 gig's. The OS should let you see the full size of the drive, but it might be better to make 2 partisions just to be on the safe side. Make an OS system partition, and the rest of the drive as a data partision.

The other thing to think about is Win7 system requirenments - I ran win7 on an old 1 Ghz w/1 gig ram and it ran VERY slowly, which I think is the win7 minimum requirenments; think like running notepad slowly. Even for basic music playing, you may want to consider running XP or a slimmer linux build, even if your just jamming tunes in your garage.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:50 pm

ShadowEyez wrote:Have you made sure the motherboard does not have an update that would let the mobo see more than the 137 gig's. The OS should let you see the full size of the drive, but it might be better to make 2 partisions just to be on the safe side. Make an OS system partition, and the rest of the drive as a data partision.

The other thing to think about is Win7 system requirenments - I ran win7 on an old 1 Ghz w/1 gig ram and it ran VERY slowly, which I think is the win7 minimum requirenments; think like running notepad slowly. Even for basic music playing, you may want to consider running XP or a slimmer linux build, even if your just jamming tunes in your garage.

On point. And if it's not connected to the Internet regularly, as you indicated, an old XP SP2 installation will be perfect once you get past WPA. It will run acceptably fast and you could run a really lightweight antivirus program like e.g. Avira.

Referring back to the OP, digital audio support is not really a big deal, lots of XP-era soundcards supported optical-out and all of the decode happens in the receiver anyway.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:10 am

An older machine may indeed have a BIOS limitation of 137GB unless you use a 3rd party SATA controller card. Quite honestly, I wouldn't put the money into it. You're better off using some sort of cheap media streaming box and pulling the music off your main rig. It'll save you hours of screwing around, and also money off your electric bill. Plus it will be much more streamlined and also give you the ability to play Pandora, etc.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:32 am

Agee with Egglick: don't screw around with it too much.

If you insist on using the machine though, use XP, and make 2 partitions during the install: a 10-20 gig system partition, and a 220-230 gig everything else/music/data partition so the system can use the full drive.
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:22 am

Thanks guys. Installed XP and the digital audio seems to be working fine. I don't know why I had so much trouble with SPDIF in XP before. PEBKAC, maybe?

Currently in the process of TeraCopying my entire collection over wired Ethernet. No corruption yet. :D
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Re: Old board, new OS. Safe to use large HDD?

Postposted on Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:54 pm

Glad to hear it's working. Though I'm not an audio expert, I think with most OS's including the windows family, SPDIF and audio out in general as a lot to do with the sound card (integrated into mobo now in many cases) device drivers. If the OS has a good driver, and the application supports that driver/framework, you should have good output.
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