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Upgrading Windows 98 Workstations To Windows 2000

Articles and Tips: tip

Dave Doering
Guest Columnist
TechVoice, Inc.
dave@techvoice.com

01 Aug 2000


When upgrading Windows 98 workstations to Windows 2000, there are some important items to know.

While upgrading my Windows 98 workstations to Windows 2000, I ran across a number of interesting questions and answers that are worth passing on to our readers. They are presented here in Q&A format.

Question #1. I understand that upgrading my existing Windows 98 workstations to Windows 2000 isn't difficult on the client side. What I wonder is what my RAM requirements will be. Most of my machines have 32MB to 64MB of RAM. Can I still use them effectively with Windows 2000?

Answer. I hate to disillusion you, but they won't. I thought the same thing too for the last three generations of the product. I thought a 4MB DOS machine could run Windows 3.11 just fine, and that a 16MB Windows 3.11 machine could run Windows 95 just fine. (You'd think I'd have learned by now...) When I had 32MB in Windows 95, I still needed to go to 64MB with Windows 98.

So with Windows 2000 I've checked. Once again, if I listen to Microsoft, the "recommended" RAM is 64MB. (Gee, you mean I could run in 32MB?) But thanks to the Council On Computing Power http://www.rammatters.com/lifestyle/windows/index.html, I've learned that we need at least 128MB of RAM to start. If you want to use the full multimedia capabilities of Windows 2000 look at 256MB to do any real work.

Of course, Microsoft has a better solution. If you need more memory, just buy a new PC (go to http://www.microsoft.com/WINDOWS2000/upgrade/upgradereqs/default.asp if you don't believe me).

One reason Windows 2000 needs more RAM is to help it overcome a recurrent problem with Windows--disk fragmentation. Unlike NetWare, which doesn't suffer from fragmentation, Windows performance quickly suffers over time from fragmentation of files on the hard disk. To help reduce the number of times you must perform this defrag chore, it's better to have your workstations store more and more data in RAM. By upping the RAM in Windows 2000, you kept its hard drive cleaner longer.

Question #2. I am keen on upgrading my workstations to either Windows 2000 or Windows Millennium Edition. I've heard though that I should upgrade my BIOSes first before doing those upgrades.

Answer. Yes, this is true. The reason isn't that Windows 2000 or Windows ME require the BIOS upgrades, it is that neither supports the creation of a boot floppy.

Yes, you heard right. Neither Windows 2000 or Windows ME allows you to create a boot floppy. (Windows ME does support an Emergency Boot Disk, but it takes up a full 1.44MB floppy, so there's no room left for the BIOS upgrade software.) Since almost all BIOS upgrade programs require you to boot the system from a floppy, you cannot do the upgrade after installing either Windows 2000 or Windows ME.

Question #3. I want my users to perform local backups using CD-RW discs on their systems. Will Windows 2000 allow me to do this?

Answer. According to Microsoft, Windows 2000 "does" support the UDF 1.5 specification, which covers CD-RW and DVD-RAM discs. BUT, and it's a big BUT, it is Read-Only support, not Read-Write.

So Windows 2000 continues the same level of UDF support the product had in Windows 98 three years ago: UDF v1.02 with a partial improvement to v1.5. Granted, this lets Win2K read CD-RW and UDF-formatted CD-R discs, which Win98 could not.

You will need to obtain one of the various third-party packages out there that is capable of supporting full Read-Write on CD-RW. Try NTI's Backup NOW which you can find at http://www.ntius.com/ or try Nero Burning ROM at the http://www.nero.com (great title, huh?).

Question #4. I followed your suggestion and started doing backups to CD-RW. However, even though I have a 12x recorder, I am not getting 1.8MB/sec recording. Why?

Answer. The industry ought to require hardware vendors to include the same asterisk as auto manufacturers: Your Mileage May Vary.

The simple truth is, while CD-RW could record at full 12x speed (1.8MB/sec), it could only do this for a single file, much like recording a CD-R disc. That's because of the dual nature of recording on rewritable media (the same is true of DVD-RAM as well.) Your drive has to do one write at the start of the disc to update the FAT table to describe where you are putting the data. Then your drive does a second write operation for the data at an appropriate location on the disc.

This is just like any hard disk, except that in the case of the CD-RW drive, you aren't using a tiny read/write head. Rather, you are using (by hard disk standards) an enormous optical head. This makes seek times about a magnitude slower than hard drives (about a factor of 10 slower.) Since each write operation involves a separate seek, you can see why the drive will be slower.

This is compounded for each small file recording onto CD-RW or DVD-RAM (as most of us aren't creating 500MB files every day.) In our lab, we found that we could do at best 1/3 the rated speed of the drive, or about 450-500KB/sec. This would represent a fairly common experience with CD-RW drives out there.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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