Awhile ago events occurred to make me realize the immediate need for much more storage. I run a recording studio out of the Iced Tea office, and I was running a bit short on gigabytes.

My main computer had roughly 200GB split between two EIDE hard drives (at that time), but that was just enough to get me by for that machine. I needed a bunch of digital real estate where I could park some serious data. The motherboard on my primary work station has the capability to add a few more SATA hard drives, but that’s a little over budget right now.

Enter my buddy Hans and his Used Computer Parts Repository! (Motto: We Ship Fast, but Not Next Day.) He agreed to unload a couple of EIDE 160GB hard drives on me for a nominal fee. What a great solution! This allows me to make use of my old computer for very little additional money and leaves me considerable space in my new one for upgrading further in the future.

The plan was to stuff the twin 160GB’s into my old computer tower and throw it on the network. Then I could just dump stuff I want to backup and archive onto the old machine sitting out of the way in the back room.

The two drives were formatted as NTFS, and I needed to use Win98 on this machine. I researched on the internet and figured out how I could convert NTFS to FAT32. Oh boy. Looked like I needed to completely wipe the drives and reformat. Ok, no problem, I did that and tried installing Win98.

Working at the workbench.

I didn’t get far. While running the Scan Disk at the beginning of the installation, it would hang at the “Media Descriptor” part of the scan for one of the partitions. I eventually went back and used FDISK to delete the offending partition.

One of the limits of FAT32 is that it can handle partitions no larger than 32GB. You can only have 4 Primary partitions, and 4 x 32 is only 128GB out of the 160GB drive. Trying to circumvent this, I created 3 primary partitions and then made an extended partition out of the remaining space. In order to convert it to FAT32, I had to further divide the extended partition into 2 logical partitions. It was one of these logical partitions that was causing all the Scan Disk problems.

What a confusing mess. That’s what I get with using such an archaic beast as Win98. But, in the end I got it all worked out.

Working with a snack.

Since my new motherboard has wireless onboard, I left the wireless card in the old machine. I threw it in a corner in the storage room and plugged it in. No mouse, no monitor, no keyboard, nothing but the tower and power cord.

Once booted up, I use TightVNC to control it from my main desktop. I back up all my files to it over the wireless network, it’s slicker than slick. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Since we’ve relocated the ITF office, I now have it set up in the back room with a monitor and user input devices. I still primarily access it through the network, but if I need to do any troubleshooting it’s nice to be able to have immediate access to it.