Storage Card

Wizcode Giveaway! Win a free storage tool!!

 I was so impressed with how the Wizcode team rallied around their product during my recent review tests (and tweaked it), I asked them to offer some free copies of the 3 great new utilities. You can check out my review/tests here. If you want to get these storage media repair tools, this might be your chance.


Storage card speed optimization – long-time & real-world tests. A MUST!

After having downloaded the latest Shadow of Legend beta, I’ve realized it has 9422 files and 424 directories. If you’ve followed my articles for more than a year, you may already know that this means really slow transfer rates to even the fastest cards. (For example, to a (cheap) 1 GByte Kingston SD card, formatted with the most storage-saving FAT32/512 format (and not using a backup FAT table to speed up operation), it took exactly 2:28 (h:mm) to transfer all these files.


WM 6.1 upgrade & SDHC-compliance report: x51v, hx4700, Universal, Wizard

As promised in my previous article, I’ve taken a deep look at the latest Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrades for the Dell Axim x51v, HP iPAQ hx4700, HTC Universal and HTC Wizard. All the reviewed ROM versions are based on Windows Mobile 5.2.19209 (Build 19209.1.0.2). I run some VERY thorough SDHC conformance tests because, unfortunately, most (as far as the reviewed models are concerned, all – note that, in this regard, I haven’t tested the Universal) plain WM5 / WM6 devices can NOT be easily made SDHC-compliant. This means you MUST upgrade these devices to some of the newer ROMs (including the ones I’ve reviewed) in order to gain SDHC support. Note that I’ve devoted a separate section (at the end) to my test results showing the results of my trying to “hack†the non-WM6.1 ROM-based devices to accept SDHC cards with the latest hacks available.


What happened to the famous "ignore_my_docs" in WM5?

(Note that if you’ve never heard of ignore_my_docs, you can safely skip this article. It’s only meant for users of previous Windows Mobile operating systems that would like to know whether ignore_my_docs is still in effect.)

There is still a lot of confusion caused by ignore_my_docs explained for example in THIS (this is the most important article!), THIS and THIS threads / articles.


AximSite Announces Win a Copy of Vista Ultimate or Office Ultimate 2007 Contest

The great folks at the great Windows Mobile site AximSite have posted an announcement to help pick up the winners of the "Win a Copy of Vista Ultimate or Office Ultimate 2007" Contest. You may well be interested in the new FAQ's / tutorials one can vote for in these contests.


Everything you need to know about driver memory-intensive programs

UPDATE (04/04/2007): some bad news for WM5 / WM6 users: while the driver memory shortage is indeed much less prevalent in WM5+ operating systems, it certainly exists.
(End of update.)

You may have already heard about the difference between driver memory (don’t confuse it with the ‘static’ storage memory!) and dynamic memory. The two have nothing to do with each other. That is, you can have even 100 Mbytes of free dynamic (program) memory while having no driver memory at all.

The shortage of the driver memory is very well known for many WM2003SE device users; for example, those of the Pocket Loox 720. On the Loox, upon (re)enabling Bluetooth, you often run into this error message complaining about the lack of the driver memory. Other, mostly WM2003SE (and, to a much lesser degree, WM2003) users have also run into this problem.

Some programs use more and some less driver memory. For example, the Widcomm Bluetooth stack in the Pocket Loox 720 and in the WM2003SE HP iPAQ hx2xxx series uses quite a lot of driver memory. Other applications that consume a lot of driver memory are, for example, Qmail, the great alternative E-mail application, the beta (past) versions of Opera Mobile, the best Web browser for the Pocket PC (the final, trial/commercial version released late May has much less driver memory usage), the also nice Web browser NetFront 3.2/3.3, Adobe Acrobat Reader 2.0, TextMaker and PlanMaker by Softmaker.


Regularly defragment your built-in File Store!

If you happen to have a Pocket PC with built-in storage (it's called iPAQ File Store, LOOXstore, Built-in Storage depending on your particular Pocket PC brand; in this article, I only use File Store - FS for short - when referring to it) on your (pre-Windows Mobile 5) Pocket PC, you may want to regularly defragment it, particularly if you often write to it.

Why is this needed, you may ask. It's pretty easy to explain: if you often write/copy files to your FS or install applications there that do this automatically, the file system easily becomes fragmented, which results in tremedous slowdowns, particularly as far as writing operations are concerned.

As has already been pointed out, there can be many cases when you don't even know that writing to FS is taking place. For example, the great alternative Web browser NetFront (see this blog entry for information on the latest version) has a local cache. Being local means the following: if you install NetFront in the FS, then, it'll also keep its cache in the FS, resulting in even hundreds of new, written (and old, deleted) files in a Web browsing session. The list continues – for example, a lot of mobile phone handler applications (see this article on them) do the same, as with alternative mailer clients like WebIS Mail.

An example of what problems this can cause: I haven't ever defragmented my LOOXstore (the name for the built-in FS in Fujitsu-Siemens Pocket Loox devices) since I've bought my Pocket Loox 720 (some 14-15 months ago) and, when I started making some explicit tests to see how fast it is, I was really frightened to see it was about 30 (thirty) times slower to write to than after a defragmentation. Indeed it's worth defragmenting the FS in order to gain back the lost speed!


How do I defragment my Pocket PC memory cards? Do I need this at all?

Despite the popular belief ("memory cards don't contain moving, mechanical parts; therefore, there's no point in defragmenting them"), it is worth defragmenting them now and then. I've made some benchmarks (please see this article for some quantitive results) and it has indeed turned out to be worth defragmenting heavily and often written-to memory cards from time to time (say, once every 2-3 months). Note that you won't ever need to bother defragmenting memory cards that you never write to (and your programs don't do either - for example because you explicitly make them write-protected by, for example, switching the write protection switch on Secure Digital memory cards). I would not recommend any Pocket PC-based tool for defragmenting your card - they're unreliable (please read this thread on this question - I also recommend this thread for everyone that would use Pocket Mechanic or StorageTools, the two commercial tools also capable of defragmenting, for other tasks like fixing problems), commercial (you must pay for them) and very slow. The way of defragmenting memory cards I describe in this tutorial only use free, already-available desktop Windows tools, not resulting in any need for purchasing additional programs, as long as you use a desktop card reader.


File Dialog Changer 1.60 for WM5 is Released

Ever wondered how you could make installing applications more configurable, particularly if you install CAB files right on your Pocket PC and not a desktop installer? In addition, ever wanted to access (for opening/writing) a file anywhere in the file system, not just under \My Documents (or from the entire storage cards) from already-installed programs? Have you ever been presented hundreds of files when you tried to access only one, resulting in wasting a lot of time in hunting for a particular file? The free File Dialog Changer for the rescue!


Do I need to format my memory card previously used in my Palm PDA before putting it in my Pocket PC?

Q: Do I need to format my memory card previously used in my Palm before putting it in my Pocket PC? A: Palm OS uses the FAT file system, which is compatible with PPC's. However, you may still want (but you don't have) to reformat your card to, for example, optimize its speed/capacity usage with small files. Please read this article on this question.


Maximizing the dynamic (program) RAM memory by dragging the memory slider

UPDATE (06/17/2006): in the meantime, a new registry hack has been revealed to do this stuff - much easier than before. Just create an empty key (NOT value! Key!) named NeverDorkMemory under HKCU\ Software\ Microsoft\ Shell\ and soft reset your device. Note that, unlike what some people state, it's usable on pre-WM2003 Pocket PC's too. Therefore, the following tutorial is deprecated. I, however, keep it for historical purposes. Q: Help! I can't maximize the dynamic (program) RAM memory (so that my memory-hungry applications are given the largest possible RAM to run) by just dragging the memory slider to the far left. It's always re-centered – what do I wrong? A: Do this the following way: leave at least one-sixth (16.666%) of the current RAM for the static (storage) RAM area. This is true of all the pre-WM5 Pocket PC operating systems – I checked it on all of my pre-WM5 devices (the PPC2k E-125, the PPC2k2 iPAQ 3660, the WM2003 iPAQ 2210 and the WM2003SE Pocket Loox 720). To do this, just add the two "free" values and divide it by 6 (that is, multiply it with 0.166666). After this, try to set a value on the slider that is a bit bigger than this. The resolution of the slider isn't infinitively high – it moves at about 0.3Mbyte blocks on 64+ RAM devices if you drag the slider with the stylus; therefore, after you've dragged the slider to a close position, you may want to bring up the on-screen keyboard and use the left and right arrows (in the bottom right) to be able to do the fine-tuning.


After I've re-inserted my storage card into my PDA, its name got a suffix '2'

Q: After I've re-inserted my storage card into my PDA, its name got a suffix '2' (for example, it became "SD Card2"). Therefore, no previous links work (because they all point to the original name of the card) and, therefore, accessing anything on the card becomes really awkward. What's now? A: The phenomenon you've described is very common on the Pocket PC and caused by a process that tries to force writing to a currently non-existing (for example, removed) memory card. The most common cases of this are:


My icons load very-very slow when I go to Start/Programs

Q: My icons load very-very slow when I go to Start/Programs to start my favourite apps. There're a lot of them, almost everything installed to a storage card, and it sometimes takes a minute to be able to see some of them after I've soft reset my PPC. A: This problem can indeed be pretty annoying. It is caused by the time needed for resource fetching, which can be pretty large especially in the case of (comparatively) slow memory cards and large EXE/DLL files to traverse. The problem is even made larger by the fact that Windows Mobile needs to re-fetch these icons after a soft reset (when you go to Start menu - incidentally, this is why even displaying Start menu can take so long after a reset if you've run several memory card-based programs before. The Start Menu isn't shown before all the icons are fetched from the card).


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