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bjd223 bjd223 is offline
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Default Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-08-2009, 04:28 AM

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I have released a new version at theVOD(dot)ORG

-Brian
07/15/09

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Hello to all,

This is my first post, and hopefully it will help someone, somewhere. Also, I am sorry if this is the wrong forum, I could not find a software section (I may have not looked hard enough). Anyway I have not even gotten my Dell Mini 9 (its ordered, should be here the 25th of this month), but in anticipation I have created an application to help me manage the EWF system. EWF is a great way to speed up your mini, however BSOD's from the cache filling up sucks. This application will allow you to monitor EWF so this doesn't happen.

This application requires that you install EWF (Enhanced Write Filter), and that it is functioning properly. It also requires the .NET framework. I recommend the latest version (3.5).


The main application window.


The tray notification. I set the limit low (at 10mb) to force the notification. I recommend you use a value of 400 - 450.


The tray icon, when EWF is disabled (both enabled and disabled icons are user definable).

This application will:

Allow the user to graphically commit any EWF state that could be commited through the command prompt.
Allow the user to be notified when the EWF cache overlay has hit a user defined limit (from tray icon).
Allow the user to take an action based on the overlay hitting its limit.
Show in the taskbar whether EWF is enabled or disabled. (note I use very subtle icons to differentiate, you can change these icons by changing EWF_Enabled.ico and EWF_Disabled.ico)
Start the application minimized to the tray.

The automation options built in are as follows.

When the overlay is full, show a tray icon notification.
When the overlay is full, automatically commit it, and then restart the computer.
When the overlay is full, automatically commit it, and then disable EWF.
I am also working on creating multiple overlays, which may or may not be a good idea. Therefore this feature is currently disabled.

This application was written in a virtual machine with EWF installed (because I don't have my mini yet!) Therefore I can not guarentee it will work as desired. Also, please note that this application was written for myself, so I am not planning on taking any requests, I just thought it could help others using EWF. If you find a bug, or really really want to make a suggestion please PM me on this board.

Plans for next version

Allow user to disable the tray notification. Right now you can not disable it (just change when it triggers). It will show up every ten seconds if you go over the limit, and you keep closing it. This is not an intentional feature, and could be considered annoying, especially if you are barely over the limit and want to keep working.
Allow the user to change the application refresh interval (which is currently set to 10 seconds).
Allow the user to see the total cache size in the application and in the tray icon.
Add a right click menu to the tray icon, which will allow you to change settings.
Create a more robust application by catching and handling all method exceptions.

There are a few known issues.

This application uses a sweet skull icon, but this may not be your taste. The tray icons are also skulls, but they can easily be changed to anything you want.
The Help > About box is empty (not really an issue I guess, but I am aware of it).
Since the application only updates every 10 seconds, you are still able to crash the system. If you are very close to the limit like 499 MB and your limit is set to 500, and then copy a huge file, the app may not catch the overage quick enough to let you know.

I may not always read this thread or post in it, but more than likely the latest version of this application will be placed on my website theVOD(dot)ORG (which is not done yet).
Attached Files
File Type: zip EWF Admin 1.0.0.zip (36.5 KB, 260 views)
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holmes4 holmes4 is offline
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Default Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-08-2009, 02:59 PM

I had not heard of EWF before so I had to go look for info on it. Here's what Microsoft says:

Quote:
The Enhanced Write Filter (EWF) protects a volume from write access. EWF provides the following benefits:

* Write-protects one or more partitions on your system
* Enables read-only media, such as CD-ROM or flash, to boot and run

EWF can be deployed on a variety of media types and configurations. The two major components for EWF are the EWF Overlay and the EWF Volume:

* EWF Overlay: EWF protects the contents of a volume by redirecting all write operations to another storage location. This location is called an overlay. An EWF overlay can be in RAM, or on another disk partition. An overlay is conceptually similar to a transparency overlay on an overhead projector. Any change that is made to the overlay affects the picture as it is seen in the aggregate, but if the overlay is removed, the underlying picture remains unchanged.
What benefit do you think this will have for Mini owners? It's not obvious to me. Furthermore, the idea that one needs to reboot after the overlay is "full" seems off-putting. (And if it isn't clear by now, this is a Windows thing.)


Steve
Mini 9|2GB RAM|64GB RunCore|Intel 5300|Windows 10
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bjd223 bjd223 is offline
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Default Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-08-2009, 03:52 PM

EWF is great for mini owners because it caches all writes to a ram level overlay (a cache file) instead of writing it to the disk. This greatly increases performance, especially on drives like SSD's that have very poor random writes. This will almost always fix the shuttering problem. Most people that use EWF say "the computer is so much more responsive now, it is a noticiable improvement."

There are several threads about EWF over at mp3car.com, and its pros and cons. Here is a short list of the pros and cons as I know them.

Pros:

Greatly increased performance. Windows will no longer shutter.
Good for battery, as long as you do not commit the changes, infact the SSD is never written.
Will stop your SSD from wearing out, because it is never written too, unless you commit the changes.
Stop people from messing with your settings, if you let a friend borrow it to do something for example. If you do not commit the changes, it will be like he never used it.

Cons:

Overlay can only be about 500 MB or else the computer will BSOD (this is a limitation of the EWF.sys driver)
The built in application (ewfmgr.exe) will not allow you to use the gauge command (the one that tells you the overlay is getting full) with RAM based overlays (which is what we are using).

Therefore many people setup EWF, a ram drive (for temp internet files, and temp window folders, etc.), and then save all files to a second (non ewf protected partition) or an SD card. Many EEE pc users, and user's of custom Carpc's use this exact setup to greatly increase performance.
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WolfKeeper WolfKeeper is offline
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Default Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-08-2009, 03:57 PM

I'm assuming it filters the writes back to the SSD at a later point in time, when the system isn't so busy?


Getting an iPad
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holmes4 holmes4 is offline
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Default Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-08-2009, 05:58 PM

It doesn't seem that it ever writes back to the SSD. The write speeds of even the stock SSD on the Mini are good enough to prevent stuttering (I assume that's what you mean), with the RunCore SSDs even better. Preventing all writes to the SSD seems a recipe for losing work. I can see the benefit in the embedded space, where this comes from, but on a netbook it's sort of like sawing with all the guards removed.


Steve
Mini 9|2GB RAM|64GB RunCore|Intel 5300|Windows 10
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bjd223 bjd223 is offline
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Default Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-08-2009, 07:09 PM

It is cached in RAM until you decide to write it back. Any data in the overlay is also read back from RAM instead of reading the SSD if possible (this also help perfomance). So if the computer crashes you could lose work (how often does that really happen). To rectify this problem, most people install all thier applications and configure the computer exactly the way they want it, and then enable ewf. Then they save files off the protected volume, when they want to save thier work (these writes are not cached). This protects the SSD from wear and tear, viruses, and friends messing with your settings and still allows you to not loose your work in case of a BSOD.

Most people write the cache at shutdown (with a shutdown script) or discard it. I prefer to discard it. SSD's in general do not have a fast enough random write to stop shuttering 100% under all circumstances. This is a well documented problem with almost every SSD (except maybe a few Intel models). Anyway we have several Minis and Aspire Ones at my work and they will shutter every once in awhile, under the right circumstances.

If you want the best possible performace out of your mini I would read some of the articles about EWF at mp3car.com or on the EEE forums. Ewf is well documented and proven to help Minis as well as other SSD based netbooks. As long as you can accept the few drawbacks. In my opinion there are far greater gains than loses.
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HandHeld HandHeld is offline
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Default Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-08-2009, 07:21 PM

Thanks for sharing this information and the application. I will definitely want to use it once you have made sure it is working properly. So please drop back with an update after you have had a chance to use it yourself. I hope you get your mini soon.
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bjd223 bjd223 is offline
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Default Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-08-2009, 09:41 PM

It should be safe to run especially because it is a managed application (It was written in C#). It is very hard to BSOD a computer with a managed application that doesn't load any drivers. I have ran it on a mini before at work, but never for more than an 8 hour work day. I am also going to write a similar application for FBWF.

FBWF (File Based Write Filter) is similar to EWF in many ways. The major difference is that it interacts with the system at the file system level. EWF interacts with the system at a sector level. This means that with FBWF you can reclaim overlay cache when files are discarded. The major downsides are, that you cannot use it with NTFS, you cannot commit the entire cache at once, you have to commit files individually, and the OS can not lock files that are in use.

Anyway, it should be stable, but if you want something super rock solid then wait for the 1.0.1 release.
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usernameone usernameone is offline
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Exclamation Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-14-2009, 08:51 PM

I've write two a small inf scripts for the gui and ewf to setup.
At moment you need below listed files to use it.
If you want, you can collect your files in a file named data.cab.

Please install first ewfADMIN.inf, then ewfdrv.inf and restart the system.
If you want to enable ewf for other drives, you must edit the the strings
ARCName and VolumeId in ewfdrv.inf.

Warning:
There is no warranty on the files, please Backup your disk
before you install EWF or the scripts.

Files needed for the scripts.
ewf.sys
ewfapi.dll
EWFMGR.EXE
HORM.DAT
XPePM.dll
XPePM.exe
(you can download XP Embedded Trial after register from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded)

config.ini
EWF GUI Administrator.exe
EWF_Disabled.ico
EWF_Enabled.ico
(bjd223 EWF GUI Adminstartor v1)
Attached Files
File Type: zip EWF Inf Scripts Version 1.2.zip (3.1 KB, 96 views)
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usernameone usernameone is offline
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Default Re: Custom app created for EWF, sharing with all. - 03-21-2009, 08:52 PM

Hi bjd223,

is it possible to add options to change "desktop background-color/-picture" if EWF is enabled or disabled.

best regards UNO
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