Category Archives: Storage

Kaby Lake (and Skylake) building tips: Enable XMP and Install NVMe drivers

A few days ago, all the parts arrived for a brand-new Kaby Lake Core i7-7700K build. Soon enough, a shiny black PC stood before me, assembled, and beckoned me to turn it on. And turn it on, I did. After marveling at how fast it booted, the first order of business was benchmarking!

There are a lot of benchmarks to run out there, but the one that I find fascinating is the program you can download from http://cpu.userbenchmark.com — The website takes data from each person who runs the benchmark and then loads the results into a giant database from which you, the user, can then compare your results against, including parts and processors that you don’t own.

When the benchmark program was run on the new Core i7, many scores came out on top, but a few were marked “performing worse than expected”. Fortunately, there were some easy fixes. Continue reading Kaby Lake (and Skylake) building tips: Enable XMP and Install NVMe drivers

The Best external HDD for the Nintendo Wii U is a 120GB SSD!

Updated 05/26/2016: If you are one of the 12 million Nintendo Wii U owners out there, chances are that you know how awesome the Wii U truly is. As you may recall with the regular Wii, there were the larger games found on disc and online shopping known as “WiiWare” that you could download. Because this downloadable content was rather small, it didn’t really take up much space on the internal memory system. And if you really needed more storage, there was always the SD card slot. No big deal.

black-n-white-wii-uWith the Wii U, there are two models:

  • The white model with 8GB of internal flash storage
  • The black model with 32GB of internal flash storage

By today’s standards, both sizes are rather paltry. And now that it is possible to download full games directly to the Wii U, it is quite easy to fill up the internal memory. (Xenoblade Chronicles X… Super Smash Brothers… etc…)

What to do… What to do…

Continue reading The Best external HDD for the Nintendo Wii U is a 120GB SSD!

How to get FreeNAS 9.3 to spin down your idle hard drives to Standby mode

FreeNAS is a pretty great (and free!) Network Attached Storage system. Recently, it was updated to version 9.3 which contained a lot of great improvements including automatic updates over the network. (Previously, the upgrade process was manual and kind of a pain in the neck.)

freenas-logo

Unfortunately, FreeNAS isn’t very good at the power-saving thing. (read: spinning down your hard drives when they’re not being used.) And prior to FreeNAS 9.x, it was pretty easy to get the drives to go into Standby mode using a few commands. But again, FreeNAS has changed the default install to put the system log (which it writes somewhat regularly to) on the very drives you’re trying to spin down.

Fortunately, there is a fix.

Continue reading How to get FreeNAS 9.3 to spin down your idle hard drives to Standby mode

Adding a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim HDD to my Wii U (or: How I hacked a USB 2.0 cable.)

The last article I wrote about was a review of 1TB portable USB 3.0 hard drives. During this review, I tested each drive with a variety of computers and other devices that had USB ports, including my Nintendo Wii and Wii U consoles. Part of this review was trying to answer the question of “Which is the best hard drive for the Nintendo Wii U?” — which I couldn’t definitively answer. I found that all of these slim 1TB drives worked just fine with the old Nintendo Wii (the previous generation console), but only 1 of them worked with the Wii U (the most current Nintendo console.)

wii-u+some-hard-driveWell, I should say that only 1 of the drives almost worked with the Wii U. That is, until I figured out a clever hack to get it to work reliably.

Continue reading Adding a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim HDD to my Wii U (or: How I hacked a USB 2.0 cable.)

1TB Portable USB 3.0 HDD review: WD My Passport Ultra -vs- Seagate Backup Plus Slim -vs- Toshiba -vs- HGST -vs- Samsung

It is this author’s opinion that 2015 should be the ‘Year of the Backup’. It is 2015 and almost no one takes backups. And even those of us who do take backups, well, we don’t do it often enough.

Originally the problem of backing up was not having a reliable, yet automated program. (Much less an easy way to restore a backup, if needed.) But Windows 7 has a good backup system now and Windows 8 has an even better one. And Mac OS X has had its excellent TimeMachine feature for quite a while now. So these are now non-issues. This leaves only one question: Where to back up to?

Tape drives were never a good choice for consumers, CD-Rs and DVD+Rs were too small and too slow. And until recently, most external hard drives were big, bulky, and required a power brick to be plugged in just to run them. Oh, and they were somewhat slow running over the USB 2.0 port.

all-five-1tb-drivesFortunately, technology has reached a point where portable, self-powered USB 3.0 hard drives the size of a deck of cards can hold a full 1 to 2 TB! And they’re fast, too!

Update 15-Feb-2015! Two new drives have been added to the review: The HGST Touro Mobile vs the Samsung P3 Portable.

For this review, we picked out a portable USB 3.0 hard drive from 5 major manufacturers, WD, Seagate, Toshiba, HGST, and Samsung and put each drive through its paces.

Continue reading 1TB Portable USB 3.0 HDD review: WD My Passport Ultra -vs- Seagate Backup Plus Slim -vs- Toshiba -vs- HGST -vs- Samsung

A list of UHS-II SD cards, readers, and cameras

For those of you not in the know, most current SD cards implement an Ultra High Speed bus (which is abbreviated UHS-I or UHS-1) because it is the 1st version of this bus. It has a maximum transfer rate of 104MB/sec. Since there are some cases which require higher transfer speeds, the SD card consortium has created a new bus called UHS-II (or UHS-2.) The difference is two-fold:

  1. UHS-II raises the maximum transfer rate up to 312MB/s.
  2. UHS-II uses an additional row of pins/contacts to get there.

uhs-i-vs-uhs-iiThis means that UHS-II cards can only be fully utilized if the device using it has physical support for these extra pins/contacts. If the device does not have these extra pins (and that’s pretty much all devices as of 2014), then the SD card will fall back to UHS-I mode. Continue reading A list of UHS-II SD cards, readers, and cameras

SanDisk Ultra Fit (SDCZ43) -vs- Leef Supra USB 3.0

In the 16GB USB 3.0 Flash Drives for under $20 review last month, it was noted that the incredibly small Leef Supra 3.0 was a blazing fast contender. The only thing faster was the large SanDisk Extreme and that was the funny thing: SanDisk didn’t have a tiny USB 3.0 drive! Up until now, the only thing SanDisk had in this category was the Cruzer Fit, a USB 2.0 drive.

sandisk-ultra-fit-vs-leef-sWell, SanDisk just released the Ultra Fit USB 3.0 drive which appears to be positioned exactly to compete against the Leef Supra 3.0. The question is “How does it perform?”

Continue reading SanDisk Ultra Fit (SDCZ43) -vs- Leef Supra USB 3.0

Which portable USB 3.0 SD / MicroSD card reader is the best?

After reviewing the whole SanDisk SD card line-up recently, it seems obvious that we all need to move more and more data around, faster and faster. So how to choose which SD card reader for getting pictures and videos off our cameras?

Looking on Amazon.com reveals a whole mess of USB 3.0 SD card readers. Some as cheap as $5, others are more expensive costing $10 and $15. But how do you really know what you’re getting? The average Amazon.com review isn’t all that comprehensive.

Three USB 3.0 SD card readers were picked from the pile (all around $10), put under the microscope, and then a bunch of SD cards were thrown at them to see what happened. Surprisingly, each SD reader had its own advantages and disadvantages with no clear winner. Choosing which one will come down to personal preference, mostly.

Continue reading Which portable USB 3.0 SD / MicroSD card reader is the best?

The best SanDisk SD card for your digital camera

If you’re not shooting pictures with your cellphone camera, then it’s probably a good bet that you’re probably using a digital camera that takes SD memory cards for picture storage. There are lots of SD card manufacturers out there, but perhaps the most popular SD memory card manufacturer is SanDisk.

3-Sandisk-sd-cards

Looking at SanDisk’s website, it appears that they have quite the line-up of SD cards. One would think that 3 different SD cards would be enough to sell to a camera-happy world, but SanDisk seems to think that 6 different cards is needed for all your different photo shooting needs. So which card to buy for your camera?

Continue reading The best SanDisk SD card for your digital camera

Review: Leef Supra 3.0 USB flash drive -vs- The 633x Lexar MicroSDHC card

When reviewing the Top 16GB USB flash drives under $20 of 2014, it was observed that the ever-tiny Leef Supra 3.0 was surprisingly fast for such a small thing. This warranted a closer comparison to something like a Lexar 633x MicroSDHC card (with USB 3.0 Lexar reader) which was a tad larger, but overall, pretty close to the same size. In addition to this, a generic USB 2.0 MicroSD card reader was thrown in for contrast.

LexarUSB3-vs-LeefSupra3
Lexar USB 3.0 MicroSD reader, Leef Supra 3.0 16GB, and USB 2.0 MicroSD reader

The nagging question was “How does the Leef stack up to the competition?”

Continue reading Review: Leef Supra 3.0 USB flash drive -vs- The 633x Lexar MicroSDHC card