DOC­TOR

> Noisy NAS Drives > Dual 4K Dis­plays > Up­date Fail­ures

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NAS Noise

I have a ques­tion re­gard­ing the Sea­gate IronWolf drives you’ve re­viewed, and which are now in my Net­gear NAS ap­pli­ance. I have tried two dif­fer­ent sets of these disks, so I’m fairly con­fi­dent that I’m not hav­ing is­sues with de­fec­tive hard­ware.

Did you test the drives in a net­work-at­tached sys­tem or a desk­top PC? Dur­ing idle pe­ri­ods, the disks make brief clunk­ing noises fol­lowed by what sounds like writ­ing to the plat­ters ev­ery minute or so. This hap­pens over and over, in­def­i­nitely. They don’t make the noise when pow­ered up in a drive dock.

I found one ven­dor that said the is­sue is caused by EPC (Ex­tended Power Con­di­tions). Sea­gate has a Win­dows-based utility that al­lows you to turn EPC off. How­ever, pulling drives from a NAS and boot­ing them up on a desk­top doesn’t sound like a good idea.

Did you run into the same sit­u­a­tion, and do you have a sug­ges­tion for solv­ing it? For now, my NAS is ban­ished to the base­ment. It’s just too loud for my study. –Bill THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: While the Doc doesn’t have any IronWolf drives in his test­ing Sea­gate’s IronWolf drives are de­signed for NAS ap­pli­ca­tions, but still re­quire op­ti­miza­tion. fa­cil­ity, there are some gen­eral steps he rec­om­mends to help trou­bleshoot your noisy NAS.

First, con­sider phys­i­cal reme­dies. You no doubt know that it’s nor­mal for disks to click and whir dur­ing reads and writes. But if they aren’t se­cured prop­erly, harm­less sounds may be am­pli­fied as a re­sult of vi­bra­tion. Rub­ber grom­mets be­tween the drives and trays go a long way to iso­late each me­chan­i­cal de­vice.

Rat­tling metal doesn’t seem to be the root cause of your co­nun­drum, though, par­tic­u­larly since a num­ber of fo­rums have IronWolf own­ers dis­cussing sim­i­lar symp­toms. Sea­gate’s own trou­bleshoot­ing guide calls out hard clicks as a nor­mal part of the drive heads park­ing. How­ever, it’s pos­si­ble that they shouldn’t be park­ing so of­ten, or so abruptly.

For­tu­nately, the tim­ing of this be­hav­ior can be al­tered. Sea­gate pre­vi­ously made the soft­ware needed to tinker with its drives avail­able to se­lect cus­tomers (it’s com­mand linebased and a bit com­pli­cated, af­ter all). But now its com­plete SeaCh­est suite is ac­ces­si­ble on its site, along with a de­tailed in­struc­tion man­ual. That’s the di­ag­nos­tic pack­age you were re­fer­ring to for dis­abling Ex­tended Power Con­di­tions. Only, it may not be nec­es­sary to dis­able EPC al­to­gether. Sea­gate’s Pow­erChoice Tech­nol­ogy is tiered into suc­ces­sively more ag­gres­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties, so try turn­ing off the top-level fea­tures first to avoid los­ing all power-sav­ing func­tion­al­ity un­der­neath.

Be­cause stand­alone Linux and Win­dows ver­sions come pack­aged in the same down­load, it may be pos­si­ble to run the SeaCh­est util­i­ties di­rectly on your NAS, with­out re­lo­cat­ing drives to your PC. In­ci­den­tally, the same soft­ware is used to up­date the IronWolf’s firmware. Nav­i­gate to http:// sea­gate.com/sup­port, click the “Soft­ware Down­loads” link up top, then type in your drives’ se­rial num­bers to search for a newer build. At the same time, hit Net­gear’s site for any up­dates that might be avail­able for your NAS. With im­proved sup­port from both man­u­fac­tur­ers for each other’s hard­ware, it should be pos­si­ble to dampen acous­tic is­sues.

Dou­bled Dis­play

Hi Doc, Do you have any rec­om­men­da­tions for a graph­ics card that I can drop into an older Z77-based moth­er­board and add sup­port for two 4K dis­plays at 60Hz? Cost is more im­por­tant than per­for­mance; I only do some light-duty strat­egy gam­ing, and this is mainly a pro­duc­tiv­ity rig. –Dan THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Driv­ing a pair of 4K mon­i­tors at 60Hz isn’t a prob­lem for most modern add-in graph­ics cards. How­ever, if you plan to do any gam­ing on even a sin­gle 4K dis­play, the Doc would rec­om­mend an af­ford­able model with 4GB of on­board mem­ory. AMD’s Radeon RX 560 is one op­tion priced around $160, or a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti sells for roughly $180.

↘ sub­mit your ques­tions to: doc­tor@max­i­mumpc.com

Stor­age De­ci­sions

Hi Doc! When some­one has two stor­age de­vices in their PC, and one of them is a solid-state drive, what is the ad­van­tage of us­ing it for stor­age in lieu of a me­chan­i­cal disk? I re­cently pur­chased a new lap­top con­fig­ured with two drives: one stan­dard 1TB hard drive (con­fig­ured as C:) and a 3TB SSD (set up as D:). My C: drive quickly filled up, and the lap­top started run­ning slower. So, I re­placed the 1TB disk with 2TB of stor­age.

This got me won­der­ing why the lap­top man­u­fac­turer con­fig­ured the SSD for stor­age. Shouldn’t it have been the sec­ondary drive for faster boot-up? There’s no ad­van­tage to hav­ing the SSD if it’s not the C: drive, right?

If a solid-state drive is more durable, more ef­fi­cient, and faster than a stan­dard hard drive, why are com­puter man­u­fac­tur­ers still out­fit­ting new lap­tops with a stan­dard hard drive and SSD, with the op­er­at­ing sys­tem run­ning on the HDD? –Bob McEl­wain THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Some­thing about that con­fig­u­ra­tion doesn’t sound right. Al­though 3TB SSDs do ex­ist, they cost thou­sands of dol­lars, and wouldn’t typ­i­cally be found in a lap­top. More­over, a mo­bile de­vice with that much solid-state stor­age doesn’t re­ally need a 1TB me­chan­i­cal disk for user files.

It all comes down to dol­lars. Ul­tra-fast SSDs cost a lot more per gi­ga­byte than hard drives. So, you fill their lim­ited ca­pac­ity with data that stands to ben­e­fit most from high per­for­mance. Mean­while, movies, mu­sic, pic­tures, and doc­u­ments can live on spin­ning disks, as they gain noth­ing from faster trans­fer rates or lower la­tency.

Now, be­tween the OS files you want on your SSD and the mul­ti­me­dia li­brary stored on me­chan­i­cal stor­age, there are ap­pli­ca­tions that can go ei­ther way. Games, for ex­am­ple, usu­ally aren’t bot­tle­necked by disk I/O. Rather, they spend most of their time wait­ing on your graph­ics card or CPU. But a game on an SSD still loads tex­tures and switches be­tween lev­els faster than one on a hard drive. As a re­sult, the Doc puts his games on solid-state drives when­ever ca­pac­ity per­mits.

Ex­pect SSDs and me­chan­i­cal disks to co­ex­ist for years to come. While ad­vances in NAND flash tech make larger, lower-cost SSDs pos­si­ble, our appetites for more space mean big hard drives are im­por­tant in the stor­age hi­er­ar­chy.

Win­dows Up­date Fail

Hi Doc, I don’t know if you’ve ad­dressed this is­sue be­fore, but it has to be one of the worst I’ve ever seen. As a re­tired IBM soft­ware en­gi­neer, I am ap­palled at the prob­lems re­lated to the forced au­to­matic up­date of Win­dows 10. How can it be ac­cept­able to per­form a two-hour in­stal­la­tion, only to have the process roll back with­out any in­di­ca­tion of what went wrong? Ad­di­tion­ally, af­ter fail­ing, it re­peats the same up­date at­tempt with the same re­sults a week or two later.

Why isn’t Mi­crosoft able to defini­tively pin­point the prob­lem so it can be cor­rected? Googling the return code, 0x8007042b, pro­vides no clue ex­cept to state that if dis­con­nect­ing USB de­vices fails to cor­rect the is­sue, you must per­form a clean in­stall of Win­dows 10. Even a full backup/re­store isn’t guar­an­teed to work; again, the prob­lem re­peats it­self over and over.

Do Mi­crosoft’s en­gi­neers have any idea how many wasted hours go into re­in­stalling their op­er­at­ing sys­tem and ev­ery­thing else on top of it? IBM had a man­ual called “Mes­sages and Codes” that fully de­tailed ev­ery er­ror, along with its mean­ing and cor­rec­tive ac­tion. So, now it ap­pears I’m forced to dis­able all up­dates. What can I do to pres­sure Mi­crosoft to get its act to­gether?

– AF Donato, re­tired SE

THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: In Mi­crosoft’s de­fense, its own repos­i­tory of Win­dows doc­u­men­ta­tion con­cedes that Sys­tem Er­ror Codes are broad, and can oc­cur in many hundreds of lo­ca­tions. This means their de­scrip­tions can­not be very spe­cific. But there’s a couple of steps you might want to try, other than dis­con­nect­ing USB de­vices, or com­pletely re­in­stalling Win­dows.

First, try run­ning Win­dows Up­date af­ter per­form­ing a clean boot, which loads up a lim­ited num­ber of soft­ware drivers and startup apps to min­i­mize the chances of a con­flict. Bear in mind that you must be logged in as an ad­min­is­tra­tor. As­sum­ing you’re run­ning Win­dows 10, type “mscon­fig” into Cor­tana’s search box, and click on “Sys­tem Con­fig­u­ra­tion.” Switch to the “Ser­vices” tab, se­lect the “Hide all Mi­crosoft ser­vices” check­box, and click “Dis­able all.” Now move over to the “Startup” tab and “Open Task Man­ager.” Un­der that win­dow’s “Startup” tab, se­lect each item, and click “Dis­able.” Close the Task Man­ager, return to the Sys­tem Con­fig­u­ra­tion win­dow, and click “OK.” Restart your sys­tem be­fore try­ing to re­in­stall the up­date.

Mi­crosoft also pub­lishes a Win­dows Up­date Trou­bleshooter. If you’re us­ing Win­dows 10, visit https:// aka.ms/wu­diag to grab the di­ag­nos­tic cabi­net file. Fol­low the wizard’s prompts to clear up any out­stand­ing is­sues pre­vent­ing Win­dows Up­date from com­plet­ing suc­cess­fully.

If all else fails, there’s al­ways the op­tion to speak up with your wal­let.

Re­in­stalling Win­dows

Doc, If any­one can an­swer this ques­tion, it’s you. My in­stal­la­tion of Win­dows 10 has de­cided to stop load­ing Edge, along with sev­eral other stan­dard apps like 3D Builder, Mi­crosoft Store, Phone, and Print 3D. Is there a way to re­in­stall/re­pair Win­dows 10 with­out los­ing my pro­grams, short­cuts, set­tings, or data? I’d like to end up with the same sys­tem, ex­cept fixed. I’d hate to start from scratch. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! –TPK THE DOC­TOR RE­SPONDS: Mi­crosoft of­fers a few ways to re­store the func­tion­al­ity and per­for­mance of a fresh Win­dows 10 in­stall, in­clud­ing the re­set (open Win­dows Set­tings, click “Up­date & Se­cu­rity,” and se­lect the Re­cov­ery pane) and Fresh Start (open Win­dows De­fender Se­cu­rity Cen­ter, click “De­vice per­for­mance & health,” and se­lect “Ad­di­tional info” un­der the Fresh Start de­scrip­tion). With a re­set, you lose your apps, though. A fresh start pre­serves per­sonal files and some set­tings, but also sac­ri­fices most apps.

Al­ter­na­tively, per­form a re­pair up­grade. Down­load the Me­dia Cre­ation Tool from Mi­crosoft’s web­site, which you can use to grab the .ISO cor­re­spond­ing to your copy of Win­dows. Mount that file by dou­ble-click­ing it, then run the setup file within. Fol­low the wizard, and you ba­si­cally in­stall Win­dows 10 over your ex­ist­ing copy, pre­serv­ing apps, set­tings, and files in the process.

For un­der $200, a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB of­fers plentyof 4K- ca­pa­ble out­puts.

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