More megabytes for running Windows 3.0

REVIEWS

March 02, 1992|By Harold Glicken | Harold Glicken,Knight-Ridder News Service

How much is a bigger hard disk worth?

For about $300 you can get yourself about 100 megabytes, install and configure it in about half an hour and designate it as your D drive. Nothing fancy. It may be a bit inconvenient to switch between drives, but you'll get what you want. Trust me.

For big-shot power users like me, however, there is a program that promises to double your hard drive's capacity. At $149 (less than $100 on the street), you can get all the benefits of a bigger hard drive without having to switch between C and D prompts.

Like a lot of you, I own a 386-class computer with lots of bells and whistles, including Microsoft Windows. Like most of you, I'm finding that Windows software tends to eat up space on hard drives.

I went for the deluxe $249 version of Stacker 2.0, complete with processor card, which meant unbuttoning the case, slipping in a card, buttoning up again, then loading the software.

Stacker sets up a phantom drive, fooling DOS into thinking there is more space on the hard drive than there is. It then compresses files on the hard disk, decompressing them on the fly as you call them up.

Sounds scary, but it doesn't have to be. First thing you absolutely must do is to make a full backup of your hard drive.

If your hard disk is fairly full, be prepared to spend the next hour or so installing and configuring Stacker. An empty drive takes much less time, since each file is compressed individually. A version of Norton Speed Disk de-fragments the drive, which, if your disk is full, will take another chunk of time.

My only problem came, the first time around, when I couldn't run Windows in enhanced mode. At 2 a.m., tech support isn't available, and I foolishly consulted both the Stacker trouble-shooting guide and the 386MAX manual, which seem to have been written for power users. (I run 386MAX to help free up RAM.)

Desperate, I reformatted my hard drive, restored my files and re-installed Stacker. Second time was a charm.

Why didn't it take the first time? I have no idea. The techs at Stac offered some advice about disabling ANSI.SYS in my CONFIG.SYS file and not loading the second Stacker device driver high.

The important thing is that now, instead of a 125-megabyte hard drive, I have a 250-meg drive. And performance hasn't been hurt a bit.

Test No. 2 was to install Stacker on another computer, this time without the processor card. What happened during Test No. 2 is the stuff legends are made of. To make a long story short, though, I reached a patient, knowledgeable technician at Stac Electronics.

My installation difficulties could have been caused by my hardware. Or there could have been conflicts with my memory management software. Or it could have been the phase of the moon. But the fact remains that while I had installation problems compounded by my own acts of desperation, Stacker does exactly what it's supposed to do: It gave me twice the hard disk capacity I had before I installed it.

And yes, it does Windows. For more information, call (619) 431-7474.

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