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compact flash vs microdrive

what are the pros and cons of using compact flash vs microdrive in a computer?

does the compact flash have limited writes?

the microdrives that i bought before are crap, i need to replace them.

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 07:18:04 +0000

They are crap? What's wrong with them? Are they already destroyed?

When when you ask whether CompactFlash have limited write . . . what are you really asking? I'm sure you are already aware that all flash memory has limited writes and limited reads. Is that what you are talking about?

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 05 Jan 2009 07:22:20 +0000

i think they were faulty. they were making clicking noises and spinwrite found a lot of bad sectors. i returned them about a week after i got them. this was a few months back.

i thought microdrives were more like hard drives, in that they don't have limited write cycles like the compact flash (the non-microdrive ones).

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 07:46:49 +0000

The clicking noises is fine. It is just the head parking it self after every read and write. The Microdrive spins down right after an I/O, assuming there is no other command in queue. It's like the hard drive clicking sound in the MSi Wind U100.

The Microdrive has much longer latency and time-outs than regular hard drives. So software written for hard drives (like spinrite), may not work with Microdrives. I don't know if that's the source of bad sectors, but it could be.

I believe Microdrives are more like hard drives where it doesn't have limited write cycles. But it does have MTBF like a hard drive. Perhaps a much shorter MTBF than regular hard drive (this is just a guess as I could be way wrong with the shorten MTBF).

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 05 Jan 2009 07:50:43 +0000

these were not the normal clicking noises. they were loud and caused the computer froze up. i am pretty sure they were bad. i only used spinrite to verify after the fact. has 4gb microdrives for $14 each. generic compact flash cards of the same size are $9 each on

i am thinking of setting up a linux box w/ one of my thin clients to run asterisk (pbx software). i am leaning towards the microdrives.

where did you buy your microdrives? were they reliable?

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 08:20:23 +0000

I got my IBM 1GB Microdrive bundled with my Canon EOS D30, circa year 2000. It is extremely reliable. I shot my friend's wedding with it last month.

I have two Hitachi 4 GB Microdrives in a Creative MuVo^2 and a iPod mini. It's been three years. So far, they are still working.

I bought five Seagate 5 GB ST1 off e-bay. They were working when I bought them. But through my experiments to make them work like regular "mass storage device", two to three of them has failed. I believe one failed after inserting it into an HP/Compaq iPAQ.

After all my experiments, I believe that the Hitachi 4GB and 5GB MIcrodrives being locked into True IDE mode is not a real factor. I believe that the firmware has changed so that plug-and-play ID doesn't represent a "mass storage device". That's why nothing would recognize them, other than the devices that uses them. There are two ways around the problem: 1) change the firmware; 2) write mass storage device drivers that recognizes these drives.

Originally, I went down this path to find inexpensive hard drive replacements for old $20-$50 laptops, with IDE bays, to use as remote terminal and servers. As you know IDE drives are now obsolete and quite expensive.

At this point the desire to use these drives for any purpose is gone. The market has change. After you convinced me to buy the MSi Wind U100, I've found that they are excellent for server and remote terminal purpose. Their power usage is on par with older and much slower notebook computers. Since then, the netbook pricing has reduced drastically. For example, here is a brand new netbook for $150, which would work well as a remote terminal: . . .

A $250 to $300 netbook runs excellent as a server. Can perform multiple tasks or even virtualize. They use standard SATA drives, so maintenance is no longer a problem. Based on current market condition, sourcing a $20-$50 laptop, get all the required adapters, getting a microdrive to work in it, and configuring the operating system to be kind to it seems to cost way more, in labor, than getting the cheapest brand new netbook to perform the task.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 05 Jan 2009 19:07:01 +0000

Forgot to mention that I also have an Seagate ST1 in my Rio Carbon and it is still working after three years.

What's a pbx software? Does that have something to do with the phones?

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 05 Jan 2009 19:20:15 +0000

yeah, it's just like the ones used to run the phone system at offices.

i am planning on using it to route outgoing calls to different VOIP providers based on the destinations of the calls, as rates vary differently between providers. One would have the best rate for landlines in China, while another one would have the best rate for mobiles in China, while the third would have the best rate for Hong Kong, etc. etc.

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 22:03:28 +0000

That's a really good idea. Are you going to make it productional so that you can sell it or OpenSource it?

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 05 Jan 2009 22:14:57 +0000

it's already open source, it's just standard asterisk... the frustrating part is learning how to do the setup...

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 22:23:24 +0000

I see. Maybe you can write about it after you figure it out then.
It'll relieve a lot of frustration for others who wants to do the

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 05 Jan 2009 22:27:46 +0000

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Title: My Adventure with the Seagate 5 GB ST1 Drive (FW: 3.08)
Weblog: GearHack
Excerpt: Four Seagate 5 GB ST1 Microdrives arrived at my door a few days ago. I had ordered them off eBay, hoping to use them for several potential purposes: 1) primary notebook drives; 2) digital camera storage; and 3) portable storage. I had several run-ins with Microdrives before. The first one was a I . . .
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