Sunday 24 August 2014

More memory

Ladysolly will be playing bridge in Cheltenham, next November. And that's where my colocation is, so I'll use that time to do some computer maintainance.

The way I work, is I have frontline computers, backup computers, and computers that are powered-off, ready to be brought into service when a frontline computer goes down. Right now, I have three dead computers, and three giving problems.

The dead ones are easy - I'll just build three more to replace them. I have everything I need for that except the hard drives, so I'll need six 4tb drives.

The dodgy ones are a bit harder.

One of them is dodgy because it has two drives each with 20,000-odd bad sectors. That's fairly straightforward, I'll just replace those drives with a 6tb and a 4tb

One of them keeps crashing, every few days. The usual reason for that is faulty memory, so I'll replace the memory (and one of the drives) and hope that fixes it.

And one of them crashes every week or so. Again, a memory transplant. That also has a drive with 3000 bad sectors, that will be replaced.

So, overall, not too much work. I'm holding off buying the drives as long as I can, because the tendency in drive prices is downwards. Right now, 4tb drives cost £104 and 6tb £190. I need eight of the 4tb and three of the 6tb.

For the memory, I'll need 4 1gb sticks, and I want to give the memory a long, long test before I install it. So I had a look at my usual memory sources, and there's a bit of a problem.

The motherboards I'm using are old, very old. I bought them several years ago, they work fine, I still have a dozen in stock, and I don't want to use something more modern until I absolutely have to. But they use DDR memory, and these days, it's all about DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4. So much so, that one of my suppliers (Aria) doesn't seem to do DDR. My other frequent supplier, Bluepoint, does, at a mere £10.20 per stick. But then they hit me for (probably) £10 for carriage, based on past experience. So I thought I'd have a look on Ebay.

Buying memory can be a nightmare, if you don't know your onions. There's ECC and non-ECC, there's PC2100, PC2700 and PC3200, and it turns out (I hadn't known this until today) that there's two kinds of density, low and high. High density comes with a huge compatibility problem; low seems OK. So I want non-ECC, PC3200, low density, and I can get that on Ebay, from China, for £6.50, including postage, per gigabyte.

I remember, 25 years ago, buying 64kb ram chips for £80. 1024 kb make a mb, and 1024 mb make a gb. And a 10 mb hard drive cost £1000. Those were the days!

So I've ordered 4gb of memory; based on experience, it'll arrive within 10 days. It might be rubbish, but I've bought 1gb memory sticks from a reputable UK supplier, with the brand "Rendition" that I'll never buy again. If when I test them, they fail while being tested, I'm out £26, and I'll order more from one of my UK suppliers.

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