LVG or Raid0 absolutely controllable

Discussion in 'Windows 8 Help and Support' started by TheCommoner, Jul 27, 2014.

  1. TheCommoner

    TheCommoner New Member

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    Hey everyone,
    I use Windows mainly as gaming machine. Therefore, my deep technical knowledge is mostly hypothetical and most often imaginary. Yet I am looking for something that may turn out as extremly complicated to handle, but maybe it'll work.

    So, what I do want, I want to group my two hard drives to one. The first one is a SSD 128GB, the second one is a standard magnetic drive 1TB. I want to do that, so that the absolute pathes and entries in regedit stay the same and are independent of the drive the files are physically on.

    Then I want it controllable. Some application in which I can select a folder and tell my system on which drive it physically is. Something like defragmentation, just between two hard drives.

    My goal. My goal is it to not have to uninstall my games all few days in order to get a new game on my SSD, I simply want to check a game folder like C:\Games\Batman - Origins and move it to my magnetic drive to make storage to move another game like C:\Games\Assassin's Creed - Black Flag to my SSD, without changing the path and therefore the need to reinstall.

    I just tried to realise it using hard links, but hard links are limited. No folders and also not between different drives. So I guess, it must be some sort of Logic Volume Group. I know, it is theoretically possible, Apple does something very similar with Fusion Drives, but I have no idea how to start.

    Any ideas or hints? (Also manuals and how to's are appreciated :D )

    -TheCommoner
     
    #1 TheCommoner, Jul 27, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  2. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Hi

    If I understand this correctly, you want to move the games off of the solid state drive temporarily to make room for a new one and then move it back again and exchange it for another one depending on what you want to play.

    So you have to physically move the files from one drive to the other to free up the space.

    For what it's worth I've found that most games don't have to be reinstalled if they are moved from drive to drive.

    Right now I have The Elder Scrolls online on both my C:\ and D:\ drives and the one on D:\ is just a copy of the the one on C:\.

    They both run fine.

    The reason that I did this is because I'm experimenting with Stereo 3D Vision in TESO on one drive while not modifying the other.

    But I've been copying games from one drive to the other for years, and I've seldom had any problems doing it.

    I've moved a lot of my games to new computers just by copying the installs to the new one without reinstalling, especially MMOs which don't have save files on your hard drive.

    You can paste Wow in anyplace on any computer and it will run.

    If you are moving the games back and forth between the two drives, I'm pretty sure that if you just copy a game to your hard drive from the solid state drive and then move it back to the same location it will still run, and it will retain all your saves etc. in your users folder for most recent games.

    I guess the best thing to do is to try copying one of the games from you solid start drive to your hard drive and then copy it back and see if it still works.

    I'm pretty sure it will, I'm guessing that if you copy it to the new drive and then delete it not uninstall it, the registry entries from the install will still be there anyway.

    Mike
     
  3. TheCommoner

    TheCommoner New Member

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    Hi Mike,
    thanks for your answer. Sadly it isn't as simple as you propose. Basically, you're right. When I copy it back to the exact location where it was, it would behave exactly as before. But, while these games aren't on my SSD, they aren't dorment. In regards of computer games, I went legit a few years back, what means, I actually have them from those big platforms known as Steam, Origin, Uplay and a few smaller ones. And those are supposed to keep my games up-to-date even when I am not playing. Therefore, when I were to start Steam, it would try to update the game, find it missing and try to redownload it completely. That would defeat it's purpose. Well, I could just simply tell Steam not to update this game while it's not on there, but that's exactly the situation I do have now. I do use Steam Game Backups right now and I was looking for an improvement. Also, not every game platform supports a no-updates option.

    Further, the games you mention should work just fine with copying them. But many copy protected single player games might not.

    And the last reason, for instance Skyrim is heavily moded in my case. Using the Skyrim Mod Manager. Skyrim Mod Manager is using absolute pathes. I could just copy Skyrim to another directory, but I couldn't add or remove any mods without manually altering the pathes the Mod Manager uses.

    Guess I will still have to look into LVG afterall.

    -TheCommoner
     
  4. ussnorway

    ussnorway Windows Forum Team
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    Skyrim can be set that way as can star wars "knights", "sif lords" and the online mutli-player… most of the games on steam can also be purchased (legally) from gog.com without putting up with steams crap but to answer your real question;

    No not really… a raid hdd-ssd would not work however Seagate does make a hybrid sshd in various sizes http://www.seagate.com/internal-hard-drives/desktop-hard-drives/desktop-solid-state-hybrid-drive/?sku=STCL4000400

    Understand that ALL ssd technology has a limited life time far shorter than what a normal disk based drive will last.
     
  5. TheCommoner

    TheCommoner New Member

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    @ussnorway
    I am not at all against Steam, but that's stuff for another discussion. So, I actually want to keep using Steam. And I do know about Hybrid drives, actually a Hybrid Drive is nothing more than a LVG inside a drive. As I said, my knowledge of Windows isn't that profound, what mostly means I haven't used PowerShell at all and cmd just for basic operations, yet on other systems I have worked with LVG. One of the most common Hybrid Drives is Fusion Drive in Apple computer on which Windows can be installed and run. Therefore, I can positively say, it shouldn't be any problem to format a LVG to NTFS. In addition to that, I can also confirm there are actually two hard drives build-in by using 'sudo diskutil coreutils list' command. There might be an underline in coreutils, but anyway, therefore it is possible. On my debian system I have already grouped two HD's together with LVG. That wasn't an issue either. The only problem is, how to do that on Windows.

    Oh, and yes. You're absolutely correct, a SSD has a much shorter life time than any magnetic drive. Basically because the number of times you can delete a block in a SSD is limited. And if one of the two drive fails all data is pretty much lost. Well, the other drive is salvagable, but that's a lot of trouble and a backup on an external HD would be the better alternative.

    So, for the life time of the SSD issue, as long as I avoid using of a journaled file system, life time should be alright. Recent test trials also showed that SSDs manage almost twice as much erasing circles as anticipated and advertised by manufactorers. Guess manufactorers are cautious with the numbers.

    Buying a new drive would also defeat the purpose that is:
    Improving my setup by improvising and having fun doing so. Simply buy a solution sounds like a cheap way out. Okay, maybe not cheap.. But you know what I mean. :)

    -TheCommoner
     
  6. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Hi

    Do you really get that big a boost running the games from your SSD?
    I have never had the opportunity to try it, so I really don't know.

    I'm running everything including Skyrim, with a zillion mods and The Elder Scrolls Online, at Ultimate settings on my 27" 3D monitor, at 144 fps in 3D Vision (70 fps per eye) and I'm not seeing any lag, in any game running from my regular hard drive.

    Granted the loading time when you start the game or change areas must be slower then with the SSD, but I'm not sure how much it actually affects game performance.

    I didn't think about the issues with Steam, I don't have my Steam installed on my C drive, and haven't had issues with it finding the games, but it seems like there would be a way to redirect it to the new location when you move it.

    Mike

    Just out of curiosity I copied my Steam Folder with all my games in it to a different hard drive than it is installed on.

    I moved it from Drive D:\ to Drive F:\ which is a different physical drive, and It runs, connects to my account, and starts all the games no matter which drive I start it from.

    I'm not sure this is helpful but it does show that it's pretty good at establishing it's connection without a lot of hassle.
    It may mean that you can have the Steam folder on both drives and only move the games back and forth, and it still will update both as long as you log into steam from each of them at some point in the process and let it download the data.
     
  7. ussnorway

    ussnorway Windows Forum Team
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    What you get is faster loading on games like mechwarrior that load the entire scenario before starting… also any graphics intense story i.e. like how "red alert" tells the story with animated moves will see a marked improvement.

    Watch this video;


    If you have the system (c drive) on ssd then It's a good idea to move your temp files folder to an older hdd (actual disk) to prevent windows tendency for generating endless io disk errors.
     
  8. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Wow, that really does make a difference in game load times.
    ESO, has some pretty long load time, that would be nice.

    Boot times are about half too.

    When I moved my Steam folder (over 30 gigabytes), to see if it would still connect and work normally after being copied, it took almost 12 minutes to copy it.

    It would be really great to cut those times down.

    Here's a question...

    If I'm copying something from an SSD to a normal hard drive would it be faster or controlled by the speed of the hard drive, or somewhere in between?

    It seems to me that the copy process will only be fast when copied within the SSD or from one SSD to another.

    Maybe by the time I buy my next computer I can get one that's all SSDs for active software with a normal drive only for Data Storage.

    They have really come down in price, I see you can get a 512 Gb drive for only $213.
    2 of them would only be a little over $400 not that bad, add a 2 TB normal drive for storage and you would be all set.

    I still worry about reliability but I suppose that's improving too.

    Mike
     
  9. ussnorway

    ussnorway Windows Forum Team
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    Getting a little off topic but ok… As a rule of thumb with windows internal files, the sending hardware determines the transfer speed, so ssd to hdd is faster than hdd to ssd.

    100g is normally about $100 dollars… that’s not an accident and ssd are starting to rival ram as the most asked for upgrade.

    Impo 100g is all the ssd you need unless it’s a file server and even then only if the average file is above two gigs… otherwise ram is still better bang for your buck. The biggest problem is train people to stop having one huge drive with everything and the kitchen sink on it and realise that drive letters still work when you get above the d drive.
     
  10. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Hi

    The reason that I would think that several large SSDs would help is so that you could have all of your intensive software like games installed on one, without having to jump through hoops in the way that prompted this post to start with.

    It might be easier for the original poster to just buy another SSD large enough to hold all of his games and not transfer then back and forth between drives.

    I always have a number of games installed and most of them are really large today.
    Many close to 30 Gigabytes.

    My Windows install takes 27 not counting any of the software installed on C:\.

    My C:\ drive uses 223 gigabytes and doesn't include any of my games or stored data, it's mostly just my graphic arts software and misc. stuff like Windows tools etc.

    My games drive is a separate hard drive and it has 230 gigabytes used right now, and I have removed a few games that were there a couple of months ago.

    I can't say I'm an expert on SSDs, I've never had one, but it would seem that having only Windows installed on you SSD wouldn't give you the advantages of having the loading times shown in the video.

    Maybe a small SSD, say 100 gigs for Windows and basic software that like to be installed in the defualt location and then a larger one to install games, video editing software, and things that really need high transfer speeds.

    Getting back to the original poster I've been running Steam from both drives the original and the copy and I don't see any difference in how they work, so I don't see why you couldn't have steam in both locations and only move the games back and forth.

    That way they will get updated whether they are on your active drive or not.

    Mike
     
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  11. TheCommoner

    TheCommoner New Member

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    Woah, one day without internet and this thread really had a some discussions.

    Yeah, I know, I do have two steam folders, one on each drive. Steam let you create more than one install location, but it is still an unclean solution. There might be issues with the recognition of the games by third party application. If the regedit keys aren't set properly, it can happen that third application won't work like G15 toolset or Nvidia Experience or an overlay.

    But honestly, that's not my main concern. Like I said, Steam offers the possibility to backup your games. So simply backup and restore from backup in the second game folder works for Steam. A little bulky, but working. Copying works for most games, too. But there is no telling when I will run in some issue with it regarding some copy protection.

    So, I am looking for this solution as a more elegant solution. Simply buying more SSD storage is also working, of course. But I don't think more storage is necessary. Anyway, I'll keep looking and keep this thread updated when I find something.

    By the way, Windows size. Windows has a file for 'Suspend to HD' as big as your RAM. Since we have different RAM sizes, we have different base install sizes for Windows. To deactivate that file, you need to start cmd in admin mode and type in 'powercfg -h off'. That removes the file and the ability to put your system in hibernation. So, for your Windows installation, just take your 27GB minus your RAM.
     
  12. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    That would really save me space since I have 32 Gigabytes of ram.
    I should end up with a negative 5 Gigabytes. LOL
     
  13. TheCommoner

    TheCommoner New Member

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    @Mike
    Apparently I was wrong, it takes 75% off your RAM. At least according to this post: LINK
    Just check it for yourself, the file is called hiberfil.sys and it is located in C:\ as a hidden file.

    Here's a quick guide to it: LINK

    And I know the feel of 32GB RAM and I only know about the hiberfil.sys thanks to that amount of RAM and me wondering where my storage space went ;)

    dxdiag.
     
  14. ussnorway

    ussnorway Windows Forum Team
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    In Windows 8 (& 8.1) the hybrid boot file is used for "fast start"… turning it off will have a negative impact on performance but with 32g ram I would shrink it.

    1. open "Command Prompt (Admin)".
    2. type "powercfg -h -size 75" (no quotes)
     
  15. TheCommoner

    TheCommoner New Member

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    Thanlks for the info norway. What exactly is fast start used for? If it is only used for the boot-up process, I don't really need it, not even when it only uses 50% or 75%. If it is used in the running system to make things quicker accessable, I might try recreating it with the command you've provided.

    Hey, this thread is actually teaching me something, that's exciting!

    Okay, but for an update on my raid idea, a little more research shows it is quite an ordinary task. Lifehacker did an HOW-TO already. So, the only thing that's missing is how to controll which game is on which disk. And I think this can be done with a defrag tool that can prioritise. I am looking for that now.
     
  16. ussnorway

    ussnorway Windows Forum Team
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    Booting faster is the primary function... The only concern with turning it off completely is the same as any default protocol (like with page files) Windows expects it to be there and may become erratic if they are removed.

    That's a good introductive article for file storage… You would indeed need a custom made defrag tool.

    To be clear, standard defrag tools would damage a ssd so they tend to be hard coded not to touch them.
     

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