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Help needed - setting up my HTPC

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by esta56, Nov 30, 2003.

  1. esta56

    esta56
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    Further to an earlier thread, I have now built my HTPC. Though it took all Saturday, the PC booted up first time with the only issues being the LED s (for power and HDD activity) not coming on and no response from my USB sockets. I seem to have sorted these two problems out - for the LEDs, I turned the connecters the other way round - for the USBs, changing a setting in the BIOS seemed to fix that.

    Before I detail my problem, it may be useful to know my set-up:

    Accent HTPC case (single bay)
    ASUS Motherboard P4C800 E-Deluxe
    Intel P4 3.2Ghz
    1Gb RAM
    Two 300GB Maxtors HDDs
    Plextor 708 DVD writer
    ASUS 9800XT Graphics card
    Creative Audigy Z2S soundcard
    Gyration Keyboard & Mouse

    I changed a few settings in the BIOS (like date, time etc.) but most I left alone as I hadn't a clue what they're talking about. I was going to look into the RAID facility with the MB but I'm afraid the instructions completely lost me as well as referring to a floppy drive, which I haven't got in my system.

    So I thought I'd move on to loading Windows XP, which I had bought in an OEM version, so there are no instructions. I opened the DVD tray put the disc in and hoped something would happen. Fortunately everything seemed to happen automatically except it asked me something I didn't understand about formatting my disk so I just press Enter and then it took about 2 hours carrying out this format after which it loaded the rest of windows and so I now have XP.

    Now I received loads of disks with everything I bought which I presume I have to put into the PC to load drivers etc. but when I looked in MyComputer to see the disk drives (I wanted to see the letters which I assumed would be C: and D: and how much storage space I'd got) there were no details just the name of the disks and their model number which is not what I was expecting to see. Is this OK? Is it just the way XP shows them?

    When I double clicked on the first drive and viewed the details (most of which is blank) it shows that there is about 286Gb of space.

    I guess I'm just a bit concerned that I've got everything set up OK before I star loading any other software or drivers etc.

    On another note I can't get the Gyration keyboard to work. I followed the instructions exactly and the Mouse was registered by the receiver (the green light flashing fast for a few seconds) and works fine but the keyboard did not appear to be picked up by the receiver no matter what channel I have it on, it's no joy. The batteries are the ones supplied and are in the right way round (as I get the LED light up on the keyboard). Does anyone have a clue what the problem might be - other than me?

    My problem, as I've stated in a previous thread, is that I don't really understand what I'm doing on most of the PC set-up side. The manual that ASUS supply's, tells you all sorts of settings and options I've got but doesn't explain them in straightforward English. So I haven't got a clue if something should be enabled/disabled or if I should opt for the %&$@ widget!! When I boot up all sorts of information appears most of which has me lost and I don't know if it is bad or not - such as 'Fastrack is not enabled - BIOS not loaded' - uhhh? Is that good or bad?

    Anyway, hopefully you get the idea (that I shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a PC)!!
     
  2. JohnS

    JohnS
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    You really should create a partition for the OS and a partition for data on the 1st drive, that way if you need to reinstall the OS you dont loose all the data when you reformat the drive.

    You can cut up the boot drive (the one the OS sits on) using a program like partition magic but if you haven't installed anything else yet its easier abd more reliable to reinstall the OS.

    Boot from the XP disk, it will ask if you want to repair the installation, say no, remove the partition on your C drive and then Create a partion of about 5 gb and then install to the new partition, dont worry about formatting the rest of the drive as you can do that it windows later.

    In windows right click on my computor and choose manage, then in disk management create a partion on disk 1 in the empty space of the rest of that drive and name it "data" if you like.
     
  3. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Congratulations on building your first PC, seems to have been pretty problem free. Just a few comments. :)

    1) LEDs do have a 'right' and 'wrong' way to connect them and it's nigh on impossible to figure out which is which until you try it.

    2) Motherboards these days can come with several CDs of drivers etc, your large disks too, often this is so they work with older versions of Windows than XP .. if you can see your hardware, like your disks, then you can indeed ignore these bundles.

    3) The Plextor is a NICE DVD writer, currently one of the new favourites. :)

    4) Explorer doesn't list device identifications, to see those you need to go to Control Panel, look for System Administration and then Computer Management, then in the left-hand pane double-click Device Manager and in the right you can select the category of device you want to examine.

    5) Sorry, can't help with the keyboard, I don't have that type.

    6) When you first apply power the BIOS kicks in and displays all that info before it starts to load the operating system .. by and large you can indeed ignore it.

    7) JohnS has a very good tip, split your first disk into two parts and have just Windows and your programs on C: and the rest of the space for data.

    In addition, you could consider getting Symantec's Ghost. What this does is copy the C: drive (where Windows lives) to a file on another partition, in your case you would use the second disk. This is a physical copy and contains everything, including Windows, programs, the Registry etc.

    This means that if/when your Windows system gets corrupted in some way .. it will, believe me :( .. you can simply re-copy the saved 'image' as it's called and be up and running again very quickly. You can also take a copy before installing some new software or an upgrade, then if things go wrong as sadly they often do again you restore from the image and carry on as before.

    IMHO, Partition Magic and Ghost are vital tools nowadays. :)
     
  4. MikeTV

    MikeTV
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    With sincere respect to the ealier posters, partitioning the disk isn't for everybody (although it can be useful). But I have had a lot of success using XP's system restore capability, to acheive similar goals. So far, I have not needed to reinstall XP, and hopefully will never have to. In the days of Windows 98 and 95, a reinstall was often the only solution to problems, but with NT/2000/XP, it is less necessary.

    There are no major issues with partitioning (and certainly some advantages), but some minor drawbacks are that the o/s may at some point out-grow the partition size, and need to be enlarged over time (or alternatively, disk space may be left unused and effectively wasted). The drive performance may be reduced slightly (but this is probably negligible). There is a slight danger of inconsistencies arising between the system disk vs. the data disk (eg. registered .dlls and program files). However this may be true when using system restore functions, too. Lastly partioning can add a little more administration effort.

    Anyway, that's just my opinion. In any case, keep backups of your data, and take care of your install CD's/DVD's, and you can't go too far wrong.
     
  5. KraGorn

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    I would certainly agree Mike that XP is proving considerably more robust than 98 with respect to re-installs .. maybe my advice is based on years of defending myself against M$ and all they perpetrate ... I prefer Ghost to System Restore, I TRUST Ghost. :D

    As long as the PC is used solely as an HTPC, ie. once it's installed it's barely fiddled with then to some extent preparing for the worst is arguably overkill. Your comments about the O/S outgrowing its' space are perfectly valid but I would argue that with a 300Gb disk, setting aside 10Gb for Windows is not a big problem and I've never seen a fully-loaded Windows system approach that size.

    Still, I accept that Partitioning and Imaging are not entirely intuitive for the newcomer to such things.
     
  6. MikeTV

    MikeTV
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    Good points. I think it's an interesting topic, worthy of discussion.

    I guess my own bias arises from finding many who advocate reinstallation of the o/s at the slightest sign of trouble. This can, in some cases, lead to worse stability, or can just make the whole PC experience more tiresome (especially if you need to reapply previous changes and updates).

    I guess it is horses for courses - rather like whether to apply the latest updates and patches. We are all trying to find the approach that requires the least amount of maintenance.
     
  7. esta56

    esta56
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    Well I've re-installed XP and created a partion on my Primary disk of 6Gb (C:) for XP and am currently Formating the rest of the disk (D:) which is taking a long time and then I'll start loading the Graphics card drivers and then the Soundcard ones. I'll leave the formating of the second disk (E:) until tonight, I'll set it off before I go to bed.

    I think from the various comments, I will leave the disk structure as:

    First Disk - C: at 6Gb and D: all the remainder
    Second Disk - E: whole disk

    It's really difficult to know what to set-up from scratch when you don't really have in depth underdtand of what you're doing. I guess in the months to come I'll get to know whether I've set-up the disks in the best way.

    Thanks for all the advice from everyone.
     
  8. KraGorn

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    You're lucky to be starting your PC experiences with XP, it's a real operating system rather than a DOS-based kludge like Win95/98 and is a lot more stable.

    As I said, my backup procedures are probably overkill these days and certainly as far as an HTPC is concerned .. just take care when you want to try out some new program or upgrade, things don't always turn out right and then your fall-back procedure is vital. System Restore on XP is supposedly very good, on WinME it's appalling and I've been bitten twice helping other people hence my aversion to it.

    Good luck, have fun with your new PC .. I envy you the 600Gb disk space. :D
     
  9. mephistopheles

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    Have to agree with JohnS and others. For the little extra effort involved it's well worth putting the OS on its own partition and data elsewhere. I can't see there's any advantage in not doing and everything to gain if you do, including a much faster install, particularly on larger capacity discs, plus defrag, system backup etc etc etc.

    In your case, since money doesn't appear to be too restricted, I'd consider getting a separate and much smaller capacity system disc. Maxlines are designed for near-line storage, as a replacement for optical and tape storage and NAS; they can't handle high I/O, and are unsuitable as system discs. They would be ideal for home media storage, though.

    I had the same problem with Gyration Suite. Sounds like the k/b isn't transmitting. You need to 'phone their customer service. They'll send you out a replacement with an RMA. When you know the new one works just send the old one back. No need to go through the supplier.

    For drivers etc, go to the manufacturers website for them to ensure you've got the latest set rather than just installing from the supplied CDs.
     
  10. esta56

    esta56
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    I take on board what you are saying about the disks as I have no expertise in computing (as some of my other threads will have no doubt proved). The reason I chose them was for the large capacity, slower spin speed of 5,400rpm (hopefully quieter) and their high MTTF (I think they quote 1,000,000 hours). I didn't think that a PC being used as an HTPC would have a need for fast, high I/O HDDs. Well I've got them now.

    I'm putting all my programs on my D: drive (same disk but different partition to XP which is in a 6 GB C: partition.
     
  11. JohnS

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    I wouldn't bother putting the HTPC apps on a different partition as you will usually want to re-install them with a clean OS, just load them to C and then rips etc to D and your extra drive.
     
  12. KraGorn

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    Agreed, if one is looking at a recovery-from-a-failed-upgrade on an HTPC it's likely to be a software upgrade or perhaps new device, in which case whether one's using Ghost or System Restore it makes sense to have all software likely to be changed on C: .. in my systems I only put large/massive programs on separate partitions, such as Visual Studio at 1.5Gb and games with their ripped ISOs.
     
  13. mephistopheles

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    60 quid will buy you one 80GB 7200rpm 8MB cache SATA/IDE system disc; it will be more compatible with your system, certainly speed it up, and leave both Maxlines free for media storage.

    If not now, later.
     

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