DOC­TOR

> Stor­age Ceil­ings > Of­fice Work > Me­mory Band­width

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Stor­age Lim­its

Hi Doc, I have a Plex me­dia server on a Win­dows 10 sys­tem, us­ing stor­age spa­ces for the me­dia files. I was us­ing five 4TB hard drives in RAID with par­ity, but de­cided to up­grade the drives one at a time, so pur­chased a new 8TB disk, re­moved one of the older, smaller HDDs, and in­stalled the larger repos­i­tory.

When I went to in­crease the size of the stor­age spa­ces, I re­ceived an er­ror say­ing they could not be ex­tended, be­cause the num­ber of clus­ters would ex­ceed the max­i­mum sup­ported by the filesys­tem. Ap­par­ently, I de­faulted to a 4KB clus­ter size, and now my stor­age spa­ces are gimped to 16TB. Is there any way to in­crease the clus­ter size with­out wip­ing ev­ery­thing and re­for­mat­ting each disk?

– Jon Preu

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: What you’re run­ning up against is a lim­i­ta­tion of Mi­crosoft’s pro­pri­etary New Tech­nol­ogy File Sys­tem, which keeps vol­umes con­strained to 2^32-1 clus­ters. Mul­ti­ply­ing that out by a 4KB clus­ter size gives you your 16TB ceil­ing. Jump­ing to, say, 64KB clus­ters (the largest al­lowed by NTFS) in­creases the max­i­mum to 256TB, yield­ing plenty of head­room for ex­pan­sion in the fu­ture.

This means the small­est unit of disk space al­lo­ca­tion grows to 16x the ex­ist­ing 4KB clus­ters, so avail­able ca­pac­ity is uti­lized less ef­fi­ciently. For in­stance, a 65KB file would nor­mally span 17 4KB clus­ters, wast­ing 3KB on the last one. The same file eats up 128KB across two 64KB clus­ters, 63KB of which goes unused. On a server host­ing lots of lit­tle files, big clus­ters are more of an is­sue. For­tu­nately, me­dia servers typ­i­cally host large files, min­i­miz­ing the im­pact of this in­ef­fi­ciency.

The Doc has men­tioned MiniTool’s Par­ti­tion Wiz­ard be­fore; the free ver­sion is very use­ful as a sup­ple­ment to Mi­crosoft’s Disk Man­age­ment con­sole. Up­grad­ing to the Pro­fes­sional ver­sion for $39 un­locks a fea­ture to change clus­ter sizes with­out data loss. Acro­nis Disk Di­rec­tor of­fers sim­i­lar func­tion­al­ity for $50. If you’re al­ready run­ning back­ups (and ver­i­fy­ing them), there’s al­ways the op­tion to wipe the pre­vi­ous vol­ume and re-for­mat with larger clus­ters be­fore restor­ing your me­dia files.

Sud­den Shut­downs

Dear Doc­tor, I have an Asus Trans­former Book T100TAM run­ning Win­dows 10 that has a 500GB hard drive. It shuts off au­to­mat­i­cally after be­ing on for 29 min­utes and 39 sec­onds. It does this whether I plug into an AC socket or run on bat­tery power. I checked all the Win­dows power set­tings I am aware of, and found noth­ing that might be trig­ger­ing shut­downs. I read a num­ber of on­line fo­rums as well, and no­ticed oth­ers with a sim­i­lar prob­lem. To de­ter­mine whether my is­sue is caused by hard­ware or soft­ware, I even tried boot­ing into Linux from a USB thumb drive (which didn’t work). This doesn’t ap­pear to be a prob­lem caused by high tem­per­a­tures, be­cause there is no fan to be­gin with. Please help!

– Calvin

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: The 30-minute shut­down is­sue pops up in­ter­mit­tently across the web, and doesn’t seem lim­ited to one spe­cific PC make or model. What most of the threads with so­lu­tions have in com­mon, though, is moth­er­board work—most sug­gest­ing a re­place­ment.

Boot up your Trans­former Book, en­ter the BIOS, and let it sit. If it shuts down right when you’d ex­pect, Win­dows isn’t the cul­prit. Make sure you’re run­ning the lat­est firmware (build 400, re­leased on 5/19/2016), even if it doesn’t sound like up­dates fix this is­sue for most peo­ple re­port­ing it.

You may be able to pick up a used T100TAM for cheap on

eBay if all else fails. Then again, given the newer T102HA’s faster Atom x5 CPU, dou­bled RAM, and im­proved wire­less net­work­ing, that might be a bet­ter op­tion for less than $300.

Mi­crosoft Of­fice Is­sues

Doc, I have a long-stand­ing is­sue with Mi­crosoft Of­fice 2010 32-bit (on a sys­tem run­ning Win 10 Pro 64-bit). I've ex­hausted ev­ery av­enue for get­ting help from Mi­crosoft, in­clud­ing its night­mare of a public sup­port fo­rum.

When I dou­ble-click any Of­fice file, I get a message that the soft­ware is in­stalling Mi­crosoft Of­fice Sin­gle Im­age in­stead of just open­ing the cor­re­spond­ing pro­gram. But if I open Word, say, through a short­cut I make to the app, the message doesn’t ap­pear. I need help un­der­stand­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween dou­bleclick­ing a file and open­ing the same file with Word, or any other Of­fice app, al­ready open.

Of­fice 2010 is cur­rently the only soft­ware on this ma­chine, al­though I’ve in­stalled and unin­stalled pre­vi­ous ver­sions along the way as I up­graded.

–Ken St. John

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: For some rea­son, Of­fice files are point­ing to the bi­nary OEMs used for de­ploy­ing the var­i­ous ver­sions of Of­fice 2010. And as you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced, search­ing for an­swers can be an ex­er­cise in frus­tra­tion with such a large and com­plex suite of apps.

Pro­vid­ing you have the means to re-in­stall your copy of Of­fice, it may be best to com­pletely unin­stall it and start afresh. Check out https://goo. gl/NY4Kdm for in­struc­tions to man­u­ally erad­i­cate ev­ery bit of the suite from your sys­tem.

Un­der­stand­ing GPUs

Doc, I’m try­ing un­der­stand how me­mory band­width on GPUs works by com­par­ing the Zo­tac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP Ex­treme and MSI Radeon RX Vega 64. Cor­rect me if I am wrong, but the GTX 1080 Ti of­fers band­width of 1Gb/s per pin, while the Vega 64 boasts 2Gb/s per pin (Pascal ver­sus HBM2). Re­spec­tively, they in­clude 11GB of GDDR5 and 8GB of HBM2.

What does the dif­fer­ence in me­mory band­width per pin mean for per­for­mance? Is there a use for the higher band­width that would al­low AMD’s card to out­per­form the 1080 Ti? Is the dif­fer­ence ir­rel­e­vant when we con­sider that the Zo­tac board only costs $100 more?

–Kevin G

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Me­mory band­width is a func­tion of me­mory tech­nol­ogy, clock rate, and bus width. Al­though HBM em­ploys very wide busses, it also op­er­ates at much lower fre­quen­cies than GDDR5X. So, in the case of GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ver­sus Radeon RX Vega 64, you’re look­ing at dis­sim­i­lar ar­chi­tec­tures.

On the GTX 1080 Ti, Nvidia en­ables 11 of the GP102 pro­ces­sor’s 12 avail­able 32-bit me­mory con­trollers, yield­ing an ag­gre­gate 352-bit bus. Each con­troller hosts 1GB of GDDR5X op­er­at­ing at 11Gb/s. Take 352 bits, di­vide by eight to turn the num­ber into bytes, then mul­ti­ply by the me­mory’s trans­fer rate: you get 484GB/s of peak band­width.

On the Vega 64, AMD uses two stacks of HBM2, fa­cil­i­tat­ing a 2,048-bit bus. Each stack adds 4GB, which is how the card gets its 8GB to­tal. Com­pared to the GTX 1080 Ti’s 11Gb/s GDDR5X, though, Vega 64’s HBM2 runs at 1.89Gb/s. When you plug those num­bers into the same equa­tion, AMD’s the­o­ret­i­cal band­width matches Nvidia.

As we’ve al­ready seen in the bench­marks, the Radeon RX Vega 64 per­forms more like the GeForce GTX 1080 than the higher-end 1080 Ti, so gam­ing per­for­mance in this case isn’t de­fined by a me­mory band­width bot­tle­neck, but by other ar­chi­tec­tural trade-offs that AMD made to give Vega work­sta­tion/com­pute ap­peal.

Elec­tronic Snail Mail

Hi Doc, do you know any ser­vices that al­low you to send snail mail print­outs from the web, sim­i­lar to those post­card-from-photo ser­vices? I know there is FlyDoc from Esker.com, but it re­quires a min­i­mum $100 fee up­front.

–Tatyana Sh­mel­eva

THE DOC RE­SPONDS: If you’re look­ing for a low-vol­ume al­ter­na­tive to FlyDoc, check out Let­terStream, Doc­s­away, and Mail A Letter. Be­tween them, send­ing a ba­sic one-page, onesided letter starts un­der $1, and quickly gets more ex­pen­sive if you need track­ing, Cer­ti­fied Mail, or Reg­is­tered Mail to other coun­tries. Options abound for dou­ble-sided print­ing, re­turn en­velopes, post­cards, and even check/pay­ment print­ing.

Rip­ping CDs in 2017

Hi Doc, I am a long-time reader of Max­i­mumPC, and I’d like to fol­low up on a cou­ple of ques­tions about rip­ping au­dio CDs that were asked in pre­vi­ous is­sues.

In the “Ul­ti­mate Guide to Dig­i­tal Me­dia” from May 2011, you men­tion that if you want to en­sure ripped CDs are 100 per­cent er­ror­free, use Ac­cu­rateRip, Ex­act Au­dio Copy, or dBpow­er­amp Ref­er­ence. Does the Doc still think that those rep­re­sent the best way to rip a col­lec­tion of over 200 newly ac­quired CDs?

From “Rip Archival-Qual­ity MP3s from Au­dio CDs” back in the Hol­i­day 2009 is­sue, you men­tion Lame and EAC. Again, are they still the best for archival-qual­ity MP3s?

Lastly, if a hacker gained ac­cess to a ma­chine pro­tected by BitLocker, wouldn’t the sys­tem’s in­for­ma­tion be use­less be­cause it was en­crypted?

–Marvin Malasky

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: The rec­om­men­da­tions you cite are still good to­day, Marvin. Ex­act Au­dio Copy is re­garded as per­haps the best free CD rip­per, while dBpow­er­amp is top-shelf as far as paid soft­ware goes (a sin­gle-PC li­cense sells for $39). Both take ad­van­tage of Ac­cu­rateRip’s tech­nol­ogy for ver­i­fy­ing the per­fec­tion of ripped tracks against an on­line data­base.

If your BitLocker-en­abled PC is com­pro­mised by a hacker, its con­tents are not pro­tected while Win­dows is run­ning. The fea­ture safe­guards against of­fline at­tacks. In the event that your hard drive is re­moved and at­tached to an­other ma­chine for the pur­pose of read­ing its data, 128/256-bit en­cryp­tion makes the disk un­read­able. But if some­one sneaks off with your note­book or con­nects to your desk­top over a net­work, BitLocker won’t help. Strong pass­words, strict per­mis­sions, and some com­mon sense are your best de­fenses against unau­tho­rized guests.

Asus’s Trans­former Book T102HA of­fers strong specs, yet is quite cheap.

HBM2 helps AMD save space on its Vega-based cards, while match­ing the band­width of GTX 1080 Ti.

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