I don't like the offered configuration options for laptops

phenriot

Member
prices for laptops have gone bonkers in the last years.

I need a new laptop that I'll be using for work and pleasure, I travel quite a bit, so I have external 2.5k monitors that I hook up, so I'm not really keen on an expensive display.

also, I need a RAID-1 config, which has completely disappeared.

Clevo used to offer good cost-saving options, so I was looking to get something like this:

some standard i7 CPU
a standard 1080p display (100 or 120 Hz completely sufficient)
RTX 3070 with display port
16 GB RAM
2x 1TB EVO 970 plus as RAID-1
+maybe a 1TB SATA3 SSD storage

that's now impossible.

the RAID-1 config is really important for me.

I checked other configurations, also on other sites, and I get quickly to prices over 3000 USD ... has the world gone completely nuts ?

Can anyone recommend any solution (any manufacturer) for my RAID-1 requirement ?
 

steaky360

Moderator
Moderator
No one will be offering any solutions from other suppliers other than PCS here unfortunately we can't help with non-PCS offerings. If you've a spec in mind from PCS then its something we can consider/look at to help with if feasible but if not sadly we can't help.

Tomshardware or similar might be a good shout as they're a more open forum.
 

Rakk

The Awesome
Moderator
I checked other configurations, also on other sites, and I get quickly to prices over 3000 USD ... has the world gone completely nuts ?
Yes, yes, prices have gone completely nuts :(

Can anyone recommend any solution (any manufacturer) for my RAID-1 requirement ?
As Steaky says we cant provide any suggestions except for PCSpecialist builds here but you could always give PCSpecialist a call and ask if they can do anything for you with your RAID-1 requirements in a laptop.
 

phenriot

Member
thanks for all your replies, yes I'm normally based in Switzerland

I asked PCS in chat about options for the 3rd and 4th SDD as well as RAID, but they said they don't offer that.

But I know the Clevo machines have the bays available :-/

I think it kind of defeats the purpose to offer "custom laptops" only in standard configurations, the PCS laptops I looked at even offered only one CPU to "choose from".

I bought a laptop for my dad from PCS 3 years ago, and even though they botched the RAID configuration (laptop came with 2 separate devices instead), the offered configuration options were much better.
 

phenriot

Member
Why do you want/need raid 1 by the way?

I travel.
It's a work laptop.
Often its the only computer I have with me.
Using RAID-1 for my system disk has become a second nature, as I've had too many disks fail on me for comfort (in 20 years, I've had 8 or 9 disks fail, including 4 SSD in the past 5 years).
So using RAID-1 I can continue working even if one disk fails, and I just swap it for a new one the next opportunity I get.
 

barlew

MOST VALUED CONTRIBUTOR
I travel.
It's a work laptop.
Often its the only computer I have with me.
Using RAID-1 for my system disk has become a second nature, as I've had too many disks fail on me for comfort (in 20 years, I've had 8 or 9 disks fail, including 4 SSD in the past 5 years).
So using RAID-1 I can continue working even if one disk fails, and I just swap it for a new one the next opportunity I get.
You must be the most unlucky bloke in NATO. I don't think I have ever had a disk fail.
Why don't you just back your important stuff up externally and then just do a fresh install of Windows if your disk fails? It only takes about 30 minutes it would probably be done quicker than the RAID would take to rebuild
 

phenriot

Member
You must be the most unlucky bloke in NATO. I don't think I have ever had a disk fail.
Why don't you just back your important stuff up externally and then just do a fresh install of Windows if your disk fails? It only takes about 30 minutes it would probably be done quicker than the RAID would take to rebuild

SSD disks fail.
The latest failure was in my external data storage unit, a Crucial MX 500. I found out too late that these tend to overheat.

I already have a daily backup of the data disks running.
They data disks are RAID-1 too and the backup is a real PITA.

The system disk must be restored from an image, a fresh windows install won't cut it because the applications take a long time to install and configure.

Then the question about how to rebuild the system disk from an image?
I have only that computer available.

RAID rebuild is not an issue because the drive remains accessible during rebuild.
 
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Scott

Behold The Ford Mondeo
Moderator
Must admit I don't know anyone who works in this sort of fashion either. It seems like a very much older mindset of working.

I've only ever had a mechanical drive fail on me and I've only known of one SSD failure that I've owned (Passed to my Dad, the notoriously bad Kingston V300 IIRC).

Modern day SSDs, when considerately chosen, should never fail on you..... even hammering them. For it to happen is ridiculously unlucky so for it to happen multiple times to the same user suggests a common denominator to me. It's either the quality of the disk or some sort of wrongful manipulation of their usage (you aren't defragging or something are you?).

For a very important mobile system I would likely consider the following appropriately excessive:

Primary drive - 500Gb M2, Intel 670 or Firecuda 530
Secondary Drive - Preferably M2 but SSD if not available. 1TB Intel 670 or Firecuda 530 (Or Samsung 860/870 if opting for an SSD)
Backup Drive - Depends on slots/space but a conventional drive is never a bad choice. In a laptop this would be failure point no.1 so I would tend to only store local files that I had a plentiful backup of.
External Drive - SSD, preferably M2 but something like the Samsung 870 would be a fine alternative. I wouldn't have a portable external drive that wasn't an SSD now. Mechanical drives are too fragile IMO.
Cloud Backup - A subscription service to real-time cloud access that automatically kept a backup of everything important to me. This is my "Raid" setup.
USB Image Pen - A pen drive with a windows installation in case the worst happens. I would keep images of my setup on both the "Backup Drive" internally and the "External drive". If space allowed I would happily have it on the Secondary drive also, so that the actual re-imaging process would take less time.

The above is an extreme solution to a problem that has never really existed for me. But when the utilisation of the system is paramount on the move it covers everything you could need and would ensure that you only ever lost, at most, a days worth of data/work.
 

phenriot

Member
Thanks Scott

The one and only thing to think about is how to keep the system running when the primary system drive fails, you have only one computer, and it's Saturday evening in Switzerland (i.e. all shops are closed until Monday).

I'd need to at least software-mirror my system disk (including recovery partition, EFI partition and OS), so I'd require a laptop with at least 3 internal drives.
I can't find a laptop with 3 internal drives and RTX 3070 in the current PCSpecialist offering.

Cloud backup is not possible since my internet connections are often not fast enough.

Modern day SSDs, when considerately chosen, should never fail on you..... even hammering them. For it to happen is ridiculously unlucky so for it to happen multiple times to the same user suggests a common denominator to me. It's either the quality of the disk or some sort of wrongful manipulation of their usage (you aren't defragging or something are you?).

no, I haven't been doing anything special with the disks. They remained in the same system until they failed. No, I don't defrag SSD.
Yes, as I use RAID-1, I have a tendency to buy cheap disks.
I think 2 cheap disks in RAID-1 are safer than one expensive disk, for the above mentioned reasons.

I also still have an old OYEN Digital Datatale PAIR 2-Bay FireWire RAID System next to me which contains 2 Toshiba 5200rpm drives boasting 3420d 3h power-on hours and 359’278 Load/Unload Cycle Count. One of these drives failed at some moment, all I had to do was to replace it.

I do not understand why RAID seems to disappear from the landscape, as a failed disk is a nightmare of growing proportions, as disks and data keep growing exponentially in size.
 

phenriot

Member
also, regarding backup - what solution do you use ?

I would like to backup my whole system disk automatically before system shutdown (including recovery, EFI and OS), i.e. when I tell the system to shutdown, it asks me if it should perform a backup and then does the backup before shutting itself down.
Also, I would like the system to have an automated housekeeping function that will automatically delete old backups.
Is there any software you would recommend?
 

Scott

Behold The Ford Mondeo
Moderator
I do understand but I wouldn't go to the ends of the earth to prepare for something that's only made more possible by a poor choice of hardware. Planning for unlikely scenarios and compounding it with poor hardware choices is effectively planning for failure.

Choose good hardware with unlikely chances of failure. Cover any potential hardware losses with backup & recovery options. Spend £50 on a spare drive to keep boxed and with you at all times, follow the above and you're done.

Having poor internet nowadays is very rare and I'm surprised that you aren't already using some sort of cloud based storage. It would depend on the file size but they don't typically need or warrant a lot of bandwidth. I only really use onedrive for typical documents and I've never struggled.

I think you have highlighted the issue though. Buy cheap... buy twice. Like I said, other than mechanical drives and poor choice of SSD, I've never had a problem even under the heaviest of use.

RAID systems are outdated, they tend to only be employed in server racks now and even that's being phased out by large scale cloud based services. They may, again, still utilise RAID but with network/internet speeds as they are, along with the storage options nowadays, they aren't the only solution.
 

Scott

Behold The Ford Mondeo
Moderator
also, regarding backup - what solution do you use ?

I would like to backup my whole system disk automatically before system shutdown (including recovery, EFI and OS), i.e. when I tell the system to shutdown, it asks me if it should perform a backup and then does the backup before shutting itself down.
Also, I would like the system to have an automated housekeeping function that will automatically delete old backups.
Is there any software you would recommend?

You can do that with the backup & recovery options within Windows. This is something I no longer do as the daily time taken to complete the action just costs more time collectively than I could ever justify.

I don't know if it could be automated via the task scheduler but it could certainly be repeated easily enough prior to shutting down. I just wouldn't see the necessity.

Backing up the files in use would be my main aim and I would do that via an automated process (again more than likely cloud for me). Other than the files themselves, the installation wouldn't bother me as I can re-install windows in 10 minutes. I would have the programs I use backed up on the secondary and external drives so that I could re-install quickly. I would then have a spare drive for any failures.

That would be extreme though and I would never get to such a level. If the worst happened for me I would be confident that all that I would lose would be a days work.
 

phenriot

Member
I do understand but I wouldn't go to the ends of the earth to prepare for something that's only made more possible by a poor choice of hardware.

I do not share your point of view on that matter, as I've had plenty of disks and other devices supposedly of good quality fail.

Cloud backup is not realistic, I spend 90% of my time in Asia, I get 50 Mbps on good days.

I can re-install windows in 10 minutes. I would have the programs I use backed up on the secondary and external drives so that I could re-install quickly.

Windows is not the problem, but my other programs (local servers, local database servers, etc.) require me to change environment variables, registry entries, etc. and what with file associations, taskbar links, firefox profiles, browser plugins for development, remote access tools, etc. .. ?
It takes a lot of time to configure everything back as it was.

Some posters on other forums seem to agree with you that RAID is outdated, yet offer no replacement.

Would disk mirroring (under windows) solve the problem?
What's the process in case one of the mirrored drives fails?
How am I made aware of a problem with the mirror drive?
And what to do when the primary drive is shot, how to get the PC up and running? is a physical swap of the drives necessary?
 

Scott

Behold The Ford Mondeo
Moderator
You need to factor in the likelihood of these failures and scenarios happening.

Have you factored in if there is a fire in the building and you lose the system entirely including your external drive?

There are so many permutations and scenarios in play that you can theorise absolutely any eventuality, need to factor in lightening too.... not to mention theft..... the list goes on.

A lost drive, no matter what the scenario, will cause hassle. How much hassle is directly in relation to how much work it will take to rectify the situation. How much work it will take to rectify the situation depends on what backup solutions you have in place.

RAID is not an option on PCS, so there's no point in going around the doors with this particular avenue. It's not a viable solution nowadays and there isn't enough requests nowadays to warrant it as an option. It's like putting a floppy drive in a PC, how many people would use it?

If you purchase a PCS system, I would recommend utilising the solutions I proposed and work around them to come about a solution. There are ways and means to do anything in this world. Nit picking problems when having solutions presented to you won't get you anywhere.

I don't have all the answers for you, I can only suggest avenues of thought for you to consider and explore. However, attempting to throw in some responses:

Would disk mirroring (under windows) solve the problem? - I have no idea, I wouldn't be going down this route personally.
What's the process in case one of the mirrored drives fails? - As above
How am I made aware of a problem with the mirror drive? - It stops being accessible typically.
And what to do when the primary drive is shot, how to get the PC up and running? is a physical swap of the drives necessary? - See below

Scenario:
Ok so you're working on your system and your primary drive completely gives up the ghost. You have a cloud backup, for which 50Mb is more than enough, you have 2 further drives in the laptop itself and you have an external drive. The second fast drive has your databases on it, there is also a daily backup of the databases onto both the internal "slow" drive and the external USB drive, as well as a cloud option (routinely based on network speed). You also have a USB pen & have a Windows image of the fully configured OS.

You take out the spare drive that you have and replace the faulty primary drive (neither of the other drives require redundancy due to backup).
You plug in the USB with the Windows installation on it.
You restore windows from a "system image"
You direct it to your latest image, I would maybe do one weekly/monthly.

Once complete, the install will be as it was at the last backup including any registry information pointing to the database files stored on the secondary drive (And backed up).

The rest:

but my other programs (local servers, local database servers, etc.) require me to change environment variables, registry entries, etc. and what with file associations, taskbar links, firefox profiles, browser plugins for development, remote access tools, etc. .. ?

Will also all be taken care of.

I think you may be falling foul of the age old "all the eggs in one basket". Having your OS and primary work content on the same drive is a huge no-no for me.
 

SpyderTracks

We love you Ukraine
Moderator
I do not share your point of view on that matter, as I've had plenty of disks and other devices supposedly of good quality fail.

Cloud backup is not realistic, I spend 90% of my time in Asia, I get 50 Mbps on good days.



Windows is not the problem, but my other programs (local servers, local database servers, etc.) require me to change environment variables, registry entries, etc. and what with file associations, taskbar links, firefox profiles, browser plugins for development, remote access tools, etc. .. ?
It takes a lot of time to configure everything back as it was.

Some posters on other forums seem to agree with you that RAID is outdated, yet offer no replacement.

Would disk mirroring (under windows) solve the problem?
What's the process in case one of the mirrored drives fails?
How am I made aware of a problem with the mirror drive?
And what to do when the primary drive is shot, how to get the PC up and running? is a physical swap of the drives necessary?
I think the question is why does it take so much config, I'm guessing because you're using legacy programs?

What are you using for remote desktop config?

Any browser, plugins are associated with the account your logged in with so as soon as you login they're automatically installed so long as you have sync enabled.

Ethan you say local database servers what do you mean? I take it the database is on a data drive rather than the OS drive?

None of those systems should be affected by a Windows reinstall unless I'm missing something.

Similarly with VM's, if you're having to do that much config in the host app, then something isn't right, you should be able to have the disk and machines on your data drive and sply point to that folder?

Bit even 50mb download is what I have at home and have no issues whatsoever with live cloud storage.
 

phenriot

Member
I'm using remote desktop (Teamviewer, Anydesk) but also remote tools, SSH, FTP, VPN accounts...
There is also LINE, Telegram, Whatsapp, etc.

50 mbps ... my system drive currently holds 130 GB, I can't imagine the time it would need for a backup, not to mention a mandatory subscription to a cloud service as well as a tool for encryption, and then the password management headache... passwords currently sit in an encrypted file on my RAID-1 external drive.

I do not login to browser accounts (google or similar), except when these accounts are exclusive to one of my customers. I have separate browser instances for every customer.

Regarding cloud and cloud accounts, no, very bad, there is no data confidentiality.
Also, they all ask for phone numbers, I don't have so many phone numbers, and I won't give Google a list of customers I work for.

Yes, local servers, my apps need to be installed under windows, I don't have much choice where, and most programs also fill up the users/username or the apps/roaming etc. folder with garbage, also data from games, etc.
I do put data on my external RAID-1 drive, but still a lot of stuff goes on C: because all programs are designed to put it there.
And thanks for pointing me to that issue, I have been looking for ages for solutions on how to forbid windows to put any appdata on C:
No solution found so far, it keeps dumping all kinds of garbage there.

I had to look up what exactly is meant with "legacy apps" and then I found it means "non-cloud apps" ... I had to laugh loud, yes all my apps are of course legacy apps.

VM are way too slow, I gave up on them, but don't get me started with that crap because Windows Hyper-V silently reserves random ports without telling anyone, and then your SIP phone app will cut calls after 25 to 35 seconds, and your MySQL daemon won't accept connections.

I'm not an expert in setting such things up, I just need my setup to be secure, private and safe from failure. and also to not depend on an internet connection or any online accounts.

I don't want to waste huge amounts of time with backups.
Buying two 1TB disks and mirrorring the system (and doing back up the truly important stuff) is cheaper than doing all the setup and backup work and headaches.

P.S. where did the 17"3 recoil go ?
 
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barlew

MOST VALUED CONTRIBUTOR
I'm using remote desktop (Teamviewer, Anydesk) but also remote tools, SSH, FTP, VPN accounts...
There is also LINE, Telegram, Whatsapp, etc.

50 mbps ... my system drive currently holds 130 GB, I can't imagine the time it would need for a backup, not to mention a mandatory subscription to a cloud service as well as a tool for encryption, and then the password management headache... passwords currently sit in an encrypted file on my RAID-1 external drive.

I do not login to browser accounts (google or similar), except when these accounts are exclusive to one of my customers. I have separate browser instances for every customer.

Regarding cloud and cloud accounts, no, very bad, there is no data confidentiality.
Also, they all ask for phone numbers, I don't have so many phone numbers, and I won't give Google a list of customers I work for.

Yes, local servers, my apps need to be installed under windows, I don't have much choice where, and most programs also fill up the users/username or the apps/roaming etc. folder with garbage, also data from games, etc.
I do put data on my external RAID-1 drive, but still a lot of stuff goes on C: because all programs are designed to put it there.
And thanks for pointing me to that issue, I have been looking for ages for solutions on how to forbid windows to put any appdata on C:
No solution found so far, it keeps dumping all kinds of garbage there.

I had to look up what exactly is meant with "legacy apps" and then I found it means "non-cloud apps" ... I had to laugh loud, yes all my apps are of course legacy apps.

VM are way too slow, I gave up on them, but don't get me started with that crap because Windows Hyper-V silently reserves random ports without telling anyone, and then your SIP phone app will cut calls after 25 to 35 seconds, and your MySQL daemon won't accept connections.

I'm not an expert in setting such things up, I just need my setup to be secure, private and safe from failure. and also to not depend on an internet connection or any online accounts.

I don't want to waste huge amounts of time with backups.
Buying two 1TB disks and mirrorring the system (and doing back up the truly important stuff) is cheaper than the work and headaches.

P.S. where did the 17"3 recoil go ?
Honestly after reading this, I think you need to go and contract a company to design you an enterprise solution with a support wrap.

What you are looking for is frankly far too niche for a standard commercial purchase.

It may be worth contacting PCS as a business customer and discussing your options.
 

SpyderTracks

We love you Ukraine
Moderator
I'm using remote desktop (Teamviewer, Anydesk) but also remote tools, SSH, FTP, VPN accounts...
There is also LINE, Telegram, Whatsapp, etc.

50 mbps ... my system drive currently holds 130 GB, I can't imagine the time it would need for a backup, not to mention a mandatory subscription to a cloud service as well as a tool for encryption, and then the password management headache... passwords currently sit in an encrypted file on my RAID-1 external drive.

I do not login to browser accounts (google or similar), except when these accounts are exclusive to one of my customers. I have separate browser instances for every customer.

Regarding cloud and cloud accounts, no, very bad, there is no data confidentiality.
Also, they all ask for phone numbers, I don't have so many phone numbers, and I won't give Google a list of customers I work for.

Yes, local servers, my apps need to be installed under windows, I don't have much choice where, and most programs also fill up the users/username or the apps/roaming etc. folder with garbage, also data from games, etc.
I do put data on my external RAID-1 drive, but still a lot of stuff goes on C: because all programs are designed to put it there.
And thanks for pointing me to that issue, I have been looking for ages for solutions on how to forbid windows to put any appdata on C:
No solution found so far, it keeps dumping all kinds of garbage there.

I had to look up what exactly is meant with "legacy apps" and then I found it means "non-cloud apps" ... I had to laugh loud, yes all my apps are of course legacy apps.

VM are way too slow, I gave up on them, but don't get me started with that crap because Windows Hyper-V silently reserves random ports without telling anyone, and then your SIP phone app will cut calls after 25 to 35 seconds, and your MySQL daemon won't accept connections.

I'm not an expert in setting such things up, I just need my setup to be secure, private and safe from failure. and also to not depend on an internet connection or any online accounts.

I don't want to waste huge amounts of time with backups.
Buying two 1TB disks and mirrorring the system (and doing back up the truly important stuff) is cheaper than doing all the setup and backup work and headaches.

P.S. where did the 17"3 recoil go ?
Legacy apps has no relation to cloud at all, it's weather they're supported or "Legacy" ie out of support.

I would suggest you're making this far too complicated unnecessarily by not embracing modern technologies.

Passwords, there are many private local password solutions out there which all work very well and encrypt the config database.

If you're concerned about privacy in cloud storage, host your own NAS server at home, very simple, all ecrypted and as fast as you can configure the NAS drive and VPN tunnel over the web for encryption.

You could extremely simply have a virtual machine setup for the application hosting, if you're not comfortable with HyperV, there are a plethora of alternatives both paid and open source. VM's are not slow, they're exactly the same speed as your OS drive assuming you're using the same speed drive. There's no bottleneck these days on NVME drives. The only thing that would slow it is if you didn't allocate enough cores and RAM to the VM, but these days with 16 and 20 core CPU's and 64Gb RAM configs that's not an issue.

There are so many solutions out there to the problems you're listing, it's literally a case of pick anything as it would be a better experience.

Something like Devolutions Free as an RDC manager solves your remote connectivity tools, RDC, remote support, web links/plugins in one solution, and there's zero config required, you have one configuration file stored on your data / secure backup. Install app, point to config file, done as with any modern application. And you can import configs from a Microsoft RDCMan for example and other older gen managers.

Most apps these days, the application layer is split from the configuration, so installation is simply a case of point to config and go with the data source hosted on a data drive, there's zero setup requirement other than installation.

Backing up windows in this day and age is totally redundant IMHO, it's a waste of resources and effort, installation and config takes about 30 minutes. And if you're buying decent hardware, a failure would never happen within the lifetime of the machine anyway.

All you need to back up are you vhd's and incremental data from config files and databases. So already it massively minimises the scope of what you're having to upload.

To be blunt, the approach you're taking at the moment was relevant 20 years ago, but not with todays technologies, there's a reason why RAID is no longer used in end user configs, there's just no requirement for it anymore.

And the above may sound like plucked out of the air solutions, but none of them are particularly complicated to setup, the original configuration would take a little time, but once it's configured, it's done. The amount of headache and time it saves you in the long term is exponential.

But if you're losing any data or config over the C drive crashing, the pc isn't configured correctly.
 
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