Posts tagged: Upgrade

Fail! Sony Drivers for Win 7, but Win 7 is Great!

By , October 22, 2009 10:43 pm

So today I was able to successfully upgrade my laptop computer to Windows 7. It was mostly good, but it was frustrating in a few ways. Props to Sony for updating their website to cover Windows 7 support!

However, they provided a link to Windows 7 drivers that had no content! There was a nice large droplist with all the versions of Windows 7. This was exciting at first because I thought I would be able to upgrade without issue.

But then I clicked on the links, got all ready to download the drivers and then I got this long list:

No matter what you pick, no drivers are available.

No matter what you pick, no drivers are available.

Every option got this result

Every option got this result


OK guys at Sony, what’s up with this? I went through the process of choosing every version of Windows 7 only to see the message that nothing is available. Why even bother to put all this up there if nothing is available! That’s insane.

I decided to proceed anyway. Here’s how it went.

  • 12:15p Uninstalled incompatible programs, DeActivate iTunes
  • 01:27p The Upgrade begins
  • 01:44p Copying of files completed
  • 02:15p Gathering Settings, files, and programs (more than 500K files!)
  • 02:22p Reboot, then Expanding (2,224 MB)
  • 03:01p Transferring fils, settings an program (552,396) 42% complete
  • 03:43p Starting Windows again (72% complete)
  • 04:02p Preparing for first use
  • 04:03p Enter the Product Key
  • 04:10 Done – first Windows desktop appears.

So after almost 4 hours, I was in Windows 7. I don’t know why mine took so long. I had read that most people completed it in 1-2 hour. Before I went through the pain of installing all my drivers for my Vaio laptop, I thought I would just explore a little.

Here I discovered a most pleasant surprise. Everything worked! All my special keys, peripherals, everything! I tried my various programs and they were all happy. Even my wifi was fine and I didn’t have to reinsall the Intel ProSet Wireless software that Sony has warned me about.

So there was a happy ending. After being somewhat annoyed by the lack of drivers and the reports of things that wouldn’t work, it all worked! I can only assume that the team at Microsoft went to great lengths to be sure that my upgrade from Vista 32 Business to Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit went as smooth as possible. Great job!

Now you boys at Sony need to improve the experience a bit….

SSD Drive Characteristics – cont.

By , August 22, 2009 12:11 pm

This is part 2 (finally) of my experiment with using an SSD as my main drive for my laptop. If you want to read part 1 first, go here SSD versus 7200rpm Drive. In this installment I wanted to share with you some telling charts about the characteristics of an SSD drive. As you may know, SSD drives have great read access times. It’s almost instantaneous as you don’t have to wait for a mechancal drive head and the spindles to spin up.

Here I have 2 charts that show read and write times for two 256G drives. One is a fast 7200rpm mechanical drive and the other is the GSKILL SSD. The program I used basically exercises the entire drive and records the time to read and write to each sector. Here’s what each of the lines mean.

Blue Line – Access/Transfer times
Yellow Dot – Read times across the drive.

7200 RPM MECHANICAL DRIVE:

A Standard 7200rpm drive

A Standard 7200rpm drive

Let’s analyze this first chart. As you can see, it’s very linear and predictable. As we move farther out in the drive sectors, the access times slows down a bit. Similarly, the read times increase (yellow dots) over time as we get farther out in the drive.

256G GSKILL SSD:

The SSD drive is a bit erratic, but read times are great!

The SSD drive is a bit erratic, but read times are great!


In this chart we see a lot of weird behavior. The blue line shows that while mostly fast, there are time when there’s a drastic drop in the transfer speed of the drive. It seems to be consistently slow at set intervals. I beleive this is the “stuttering” problem that you may have heard of as the drive controller get overloaded. Although normally very fast at 100MB or more, there are several times where it drops down to the 50MB and less. This is worse than the mechanical drive at these points!

However if you look at the read times (Yellow Dots) you can see that reads are instantaneous. In fact, you may have missed the dots as then are all along the x-axis at the bottom. The average access times are under half a mili-second! That’s pretty much instantaneous to us humans.

CONCLUSION:
So there you have it. Proof positive that this particular SSD is not going to be the overall excellent performer when compared to a fast 7200 rpm mechanical drive. In the end, I sold this SSD and went back to a standard drive. I hear that the Samsung and Intel drives have remedied the problems I see here, but at $800-1000 they are not going to be in my laptop anytime soon. I will wait until they drop to about half that, and then I’ll do this all over again.

Are Solid State Drives Worth the Money?

By , May 18, 2009 9:38 am

Solid State Drives (SSD) are said to be the future of storage. They are mostly in premium laptops and servers and can cost quite a bundle. Samsung seems to lead the pack with their 256GB SSD drives for roughly $800-1000. Now with Tera-byte hard drives running less than $100 these days, can an SSD be worth the premium? How fast are they really? This is part 1 of a series where I’ll try it out on my laptop and report the results. I wasn’t willing to pay $1000 for a SSD, but a new entry in to the 256GB fray appeared and caught my interest. It was about half the price of the Samsung and seemed to have avoided a lot of the issues that had been reported regarding the “lower” priced drives. You see, a drive controller from JMicron seems to be very common in value priced SSD drives and has various issues with “stuttering”. Basically the data bus of the controller is overwhelmed and everything will freeze for a moment. This can become very annoying. Along comes G.Skill. G.SKILL 256GB SSD A Taiwanese company claimed to have solved the stuttering issue with a drive which utilized 2 drive controllers running in a RAID configuration with two 128GB SSD drives. Combining them together gave 256GB. I did some digging and came up with a drive for well under $500, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Amazing small form factor and light as a feather

Amazing small form factor and light as a feather

The drive arrived very well packaged and looking tiny and discrete. It’s a 2.5″ drive and weighs so little that you wonder if there’s anything in it. Installation on my DELL laptop was a snap. It was literally 3 screws. Two screws to unfasten the the drive from the laptop. Then another screw to fasten the holder onto the drive so that I could slide it into the laptop. DELL get high marks for easy accessibility with their E6400 series. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. I had to prepare the drive before putting it into the laptop. Again, that was remarkable easy. I bought an external USB enclosure for the drive. Then using a free program called XXClone I made a bootable image of my notebook drive. Commercial break here, XXClone is wonderful. I’ve paid for Norton Ghost and and Acronis, etc. and none of them workes as well as this FREE program. Highly recommended.

So it basically took me three hours to backup my laptop drive, clone it onto the SSD, and then install the SSD into the laptop and reboot. The longest part was backing up my entire drive to another USB drive.  It was actually a pretty painless process. It was as easy as upgrading my MacBook Pro to a faster and larger drive, but that’s a story for another day. OK, Part 2 of this series will be all about optimizing your system for an SSD. There are quite a few steps here. Check back in a few days.

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