PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

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col lamb
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PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by col lamb »

In the old days when PC's were far less stable than they are today we had a number of rules that we needed to follow in keeping our editing PC as stable as we could. The first rule was..................If it ain't broke don't fix it.

What this meant in practice was.........do not change anything......... no software updates, no Windows updates, no adding extra software or updates unless a back up image of the whole of your PC's boot disc has been made.

Today as our PC's have to handle very complex video format files like AVCHD we really should return to our early outings with editing PC's and keep full control of our Boot disc operating system (Windows) and all the drivers and programs installed therin.

If you have a PC that you have specifically for editing then this advice is aimed at you, please read on.

What I do with my editing PC is as follows: -

1) I do not go online with it
2) I turn off all Windows automatic updates and fire walls (they use system resources)
3) I turn off all startup programs and tray items that are not necessary via MSCONFIG
4) I download on my Internet PC all the up to date drivers for my Editing PC's components and software (more on this following)
5) I keep a backup IMAGE of my boot disk on a separate hard drive. This hard drive is specifically for all backups. As well as the boot drive image I also keep a copy of all my AVCHD and image files on this BACKUP hard drive.
6) I have a clone disc of my Boot Disc (this is hard disc which is an exact copy of my regular boot disk) as an emergency just in case the backup image fails.

The software I use for 5) and 6) above is Acronis True Image.

UPDATES AND DRIVERS
Visit the websites of the manufacturers of all the main components in your PC at least every three months to check for updates, if there are any updated drivers etc then download them to a specific location on your PC.

I would advise looking at the websites: -
A) Editing software for updates
B) Motherboard manufacturer for its chipset drivers, audio driver updates, RAID updates, BIOS. In fact all drivers and software related to the motherboard fitted to your PC
C) Graphics card manufacturer for driver updates
D) Optical drives manufacturer for FIRMWARE updates

All downloads that you make via the internet will automatically be saved into your DOWNLOADS folder on your boot disc.

Navigate into this folder in Explorer and create a new folder called EDITINGPC, navigate into this folder and create a new folder called MOBO xxxxxx (for motherboard and where the xxxxxx relates to the make and model number), create folders named for your editing software, graphics card, optical drives.

When you download the updates save them into the appropriate folder that you have created and you will then have all the upto date and previous drivers related to the components in your Editing PC.

Now everytime that a file has been downloaded into the EDITINGPC folder copy the whole of the EDITINGPC folder to a memory stick and copy it to a location on you Editing PC, you will then have all the latest updates and drivers available on the editing PC. You can choose to update them as you wish or not as the case may be, but you will always have them on the Editing PC long after the manufacturer has dropped support for the software version, motherboard, graphics card etc.

****** Remember to create a full backup of you boot disc before you update any software or drivers.

Now if you do not have an editing only PC my advice is to have your PC modified to have the boot disc in a caddy, have a clone disc made of your boot and once the clone disc is operating OK use the clone for editing only. Name the original disc INTERNET and the clone disc EDIT

With the PC operating with the clone disc named EDIT: -
i) turn off internet access by disabling the network socket in Control Panel > Device Manager > Network Adaptors.
ii) Follow guidlines 1) to 6) above.

Now to use the PC for internet and general PC stuff make sure that the original boot disc (disc named INTERNET) is in the caddy, to edit turn off the PC swap the boot disk for the clone disc named EDIT and away you go. This way your editing should be as trouble free as possible, just remember to regularly scan all the discs in your PC for virus, trojans, malware etc.

Bye for now.
Col Lamb
Preston, Lancashire.
FCPX, Edius6.02, and Premiere CS 5.5 user.
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tom hardwick
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by tom hardwick »

I'm sure all you say is based on good solid experience Col, but for most of us the pc is a do-everything piece of home electronics. I'm sure the family car would run better if we treated it with the kid gloves you advocate but this is real life, and we fill the car with unwanted junk, drive it roughly, check the oil and tyres once a year, slam the door and forget all about it until it's needed again.

Surely a pc should operate like this in 2010? Haven't we a right to expect this?

tom.
Pqtrick
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by Pqtrick »

I wish I was so methodical! I know I am not. The idea of having a unique computer for one job and it works would be a 'paradis'. My days began with a pencil and paper and then some bright spark thought he could save the world with AutoCad. 'Quelle horreur' we all jumped like lemmings and hated it. Even with the backing a large company with a team of resident IT experts, there were always problems which they could not easily resolve.

Now while the world has moved on by leaps and bounds and we are still no further forward. True, that we can conceivably do anything we wish, if our technology is running correctly. But getting there is another matter.

You may have read my posts of frustration about my NVIDA graphics card and its continual freezing up. It looked as if there was no apparent solution.

I have trawled the net for more than six months, to no avail. If you get into the real world of so called experts forums you find most of them are just trading insults to each other. (By comparison this forum has the calm of a monastery garden).

However, I believe I have found and implemented a solution. It was not easy and I have gone into the brain of the machine, the registry to enter some new fields and data. I cannot claim any technical merit for this, I have just carried out some instructions carefully, said my prayers, re-booted, and it appears to have worked.

I have put my machine through its paces, in as much that Google Earth spins, Sketchup works well and Youtube and Video opens and runs so far with freezing.

I take my hat off to the guy who posted the solution. He must be as methodical as Col Lamb!

I like the idea that a computer should run like a 'Moggie Minor' and you take the lid off for a tinker if it doesn’t. Then when it works again, you'll find you still have a few bits left over!

We can't change the world, so we must put up with it.

The problem with my computer? It was something to do with its power saving which had to be turned off. I don't quite understand that!

I may have entered some odd code to self destruct the computer as far as I know. Ahh! But will microsads automatic updates over write them and I'll be back to square uno? Pq.
col lamb
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by col lamb »

Tom

You seem to have missed the basic concept, when editing complex video like AVCHD it will tax the PC up to its limits and if it is not kept in top condition then performace will suffer.

Having two boot discs, one for everything and one specific to editing will ensure maximum performance and all this for little cost (c£100)
Col Lamb
Preston, Lancashire.
FCPX, Edius6.02, and Premiere CS 5.5 user.
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tom hardwick
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by tom hardwick »

Sorry to have given that impression Col because I didn't miss the concept at all. I was simply remarking that in 2010 we shouldn't have to be treading on computer egg-shells in this way.
col lamb
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by col lamb »

I agree with you Tom, but there are so many people editing AVCHD video with PC's whose performance is so marginal that by maintaining the boot disc correctly it may be possible to achieve the best possible playback of video on the timeline without having to spend cash updating the PC.

Also there are other tweaks that can be done specifically to increase editing performance but these are likely to result in a drop is usabilty when the PC is running none editing programmes, hence my advice for two boot disc.
Col Lamb
Preston, Lancashire.
FCPX, Edius6.02, and Premiere CS 5.5 user.
Find me on Facebook, Colin Lamb
Roy1
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by Roy1 »

I have to agree that having a PC dedicated only to editing is very benificial. I do just that, I have a powerful ( made to my specs.) PC solely for editing HD video. I have never had any trouble with this PC (touch wood), whereas my other PC which I use for forums and general internet work has suffered trojans and viruses every year although I try to avoid them. I don't download any programmes offered free, nor do I open attachments on Emails from sources I don't know. But still I get many problems. I still edit standard quality videos on it with Adobe 6.5 and my latest problem is that the graphics card is not getting sufficient power.
Ah well it's being so cheerful that keeps me going. Happy new year to everyone
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Dave Watterson
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by Dave Watterson »

Roy - what sort of anti-virus software are you using which lets your non-editing machine get all those nasties?

I do download software - free and paid for - often to test. I get emails from all over the place because of the range of contacts acquired in my association with the IAC and other websites. My only special act of care is not clicking on links in emails telling me that my account with a bank / ebay / blockbuster etc has been frozen until I confirm my details!!!

Col - that is also a question for you. Does the "edit system" boot disc have any anti-virus stuff or do you assume the editing mode is unlikely to be contaminated? Anti-virus systems do make calls on the system time which might, perhaps, impact video editing.

Dave
Roy1
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by Roy1 »

Dave. I have used the latest Norton, I have used Ashampoo and at the present I am using Windows essential securities all of which has allowed trojans in. At least the Windows programme actually removed the most dangerous severe risk trojans but at the same time allowed a company called shields securities take over and overide Windows. This Shield company claimed to have
detected 43 viruses on my PC and wanted me to pay to have them removed. I did not pay but I could not remove their panels that covered the PC screen and stopped me working. I have just paid a Computer expert to remove it. Although he has removed the offending programme he has caused other troubles. The Pc hard drive is partitioned so my partner can used her halve in private. Since the expert's work I can no longer switch from one user to the other. The galling part of all this is that the PC is stuck on her part of the drive and I can't login to my part. Happy new year
col lamb
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by col lamb »

Dave
In response to your question regarding my anit virus software; I have my dedicated editing PC, my laptop and my internet PC all with the same Acronis software installed which is a multi user version of that gives me full anti virus protection it is also a suited version so I get True Image as well, therefore my backups and disc clones are well catered for.

On the dedicated editing PC I use it to go online occasionally to activate software and to get updates, specifically for the Acronis suite. When I have updated all that I want I physically disconnect the Cat 5 network connection and run a full system scan of all discs in the PC, I also scan all the portable hard drives I have so the scanning task takes hours. Once this is finished I disable Acronis in MSCONFIG so that I do not have it running in the background.

For those that do not know MSCONFIG is a programme that Windows accesses during startup and it tells the system what to load, within the programme there is a section called STARTUP and within it there are all the programmes that are loaded, many of them are not necessary, but are nice to have in normal PC use. Disabling unwanted programmes speeds up the PC. Occasionally if there are holes in your anti virus software unwanted virus programmes can install themselves and get started each time you boot, they can be very cunning and difficult to spot that they are not system files.

I do not know what regime you follow in maintaining the PC that you use for the IAC website that you refer to but if I was doing the critical work that you do I would certainly have a system such as: -

1) Automatic updates turned off in Windows, do this manually weekly at a specific time after you have backed up the PC.

2) Have non Windows backup software installed and set it up to run at a specific time (a) daily (b) weekly (c) every X hours (d) incrementally - you takes the choice dependant upon the criticality of your system.

3) have a clone copy of your boot disc

4) before installing any software create a new backup image of your boot disc.

5) after installing software run a system scan

6) uninstall software no longer required and perform a registry clean.

7) e-mails, I do not have much spam getting through as all my e-mail come via my own website's mail system and it is scanned at receipt by my web hosting company. Periodically I view what it has witheld by logging on to the host and viewing the SPAM folder on their server, thus this saves my own PC's software a task. As my host also scans all e-mail before it is placed in my inbox on their servers it gets a double helping of being scanned for virus, malware, trojans etc. as Acronis scans it as it is downloaded onto my system. Having e-mails scanned by your ISP/host prior to you downloading them is recommended by myself.

Hope this helps
Col Lamb
Preston, Lancashire.
FCPX, Edius6.02, and Premiere CS 5.5 user.
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col lamb
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by col lamb »

I am bringing this to the top again because of a problems someone has had and they are unsure of what to do, the advice given is more than likely going to stop the PC from re-booting.

Remember if you have a problem with your PC the chances are it is because you did something (all be it inadvertantly) or have certain automatic settings turned on and the thing has updated itself. This is in direct conflict of the 1st law of NLE systems..........if it aint broke dont fix it

Manage your PC correctly, take regular backups, ensure you have the latest drivers and firmware downloaded (but not installed) for all the kit in your PC. And above all have a clone disc available.
Col Lamb
Preston, Lancashire.
FCPX, Edius6.02, and Premiere CS 5.5 user.
Find me on Facebook, Colin Lamb
col lamb
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by col lamb »

Sould you run into problems remember the text that is on the cover of "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy"
.
.
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Don't Panic
.
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If you have a boot drive fail chances are that it is just a loose connection, open up the PC case and re-seat the cables on the hard drives.

It also may require a quick trip into the BIOS, again Don't Panic, as the PC boots up you get a flash screen it is generally says press DEL to enter BIOS. Once in BIOS you are looking for the Boot Priority and the Hard Drive selection order.

The Boot priority:
Floppy (if you have one)
CDROM
HARD DRiVE

The Hard Drive selection will list them all, select the boot drive as the first one

PC's are not rocket science, if you know your way around your camcorders menu system then you can easily learn how a PC works
Col Lamb
Preston, Lancashire.
FCPX, Edius6.02, and Premiere CS 5.5 user.
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billyfromConsett
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by billyfromConsett »

I use my editing PC for everything. I use automatic updates for Windows 7. I try not to have too much software installed, and certainly not stuff that I really don't need, which helps with making sure the hard disks don't get too full.

I doubt if I'd suggest people open their computer and look inside for loose connections, or delve into the bios if they haven't got half an idea of what they're doing.

The tip I'd suggest is not to install loads of different software that does essentially the same thing.
Chrisbitz
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Re: PC's - keeping it stable and up to date.

Post by Chrisbitz »

billyfromConsett wrote:I use my editing PC for everything. I use automatic updates for Windows 7. I try not to have too much software installed, and certainly not stuff that I really don't need, which helps with making sure the hard disks don't get too full.
I have to agree with billy. I don't do anything special with my editing pc. I have AV running all the time, and my big tip is don't install these utilities that claim to improve anything like driver detective or repair your registry or any other seemingly important maintenance task. They're all snake oil without a benefit.

I think the above cautious approaches were perfectly valid in the late 90's but nowadays computers and operating systems are so much more powerful and stable that all those careful steps are somewhat unnecessary.
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