> Storage Ceilings > Office Work > Memory Bandwidth
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.