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computer on the fritz

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  #21  
Old 08-14-2006, 11:17 PM
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lkroll lkroll is offline
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Can try to rebuild HAL

I've been a Langalist subscriber for some time (several years now). Fred recently had an article from information week concerning rebuilding the HAL (since you have an eMACHINE, you may not be able to do so since you don't have or don't have access to an XP install disk; for those who do, check the attached link). I've actually saved a few customers using this technique (much faster and better then Repair if it works).

http://www.informationweek.com/story...leID=185301251
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  #22  
Old 08-15-2006, 12:35 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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boy, not my day. just wrote a whole long message and then wiped it out.

ok, looks like you're right, racc. the more i add and fool with this, the worse it gets. so, what are my options? i have 3 gigs of free space on c: that i could convert to a new partition and install my retail version of windows on that.

the windows cd tells me that it wont troubleshoot my current version because it's a later version than what's on the cd. current version has service pack 1 and updates and so on. it also tells me that it's willing to wipe out the current version and install the one from the cd but that i'll lose all settings like for i.e., email, modem settings and so on.

i do have the current c: drive backed up on an external harddrive using norton ghost. so, not sure, but cant i get back some of those old settings from that without just trying to run the whole back up? can you pull individual stuff from those backups without running the restoring the whole backup?

and, even though i'm quite a bit over budget on all this, i could get a new harddrive and install the new windows on that and set up the old one as a slave drive and pull stuff from that back to the fresh install.

and where the heck is fdisk these days? is it even used any more? if i do the wipe windows with the new windows option, is that going to do a full re-format of c:? i really dont want that if that's the case. or will it just wipe old windows and install new windows?

and trust me, i've thought about taking the whole thing back to the store and just buying a dell. they do sell them there. but i also dont like oem versions for the hassle if windows breaks somewhere down the road.

since i only do this about every 3 to 5 years and since the technology always outpaces me and since i'm just getting tired of fooling with this and not being able to do my retouching and so on, i'm quite open to best suggestions here.

so, i want to avoid a full re-format of c:. i do want a clean install of windows. ok, i'm sorta talking myself into going out for a new harddrive here. a nice, new, 200 gig drive actually sounds kinda nice at this point. lol. the budget is going to hell.

oh, and what about sata drives? this machine has, i think, 4 sata ports. would i be smarter buying a sata drive as the new c: drive or shld i stick to ide ports for now? i've never had a sata so i know next to nothing about them. and no, i'm not really interested in RAID.

lol. this needs to all go away now so i can get back to what i enjoy doing

craig
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  #23  
Old 08-15-2006, 03:38 AM
Xaran Xaran is offline
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Been there...

A lot of the settings for email etc are in the documents and setting folder you can copy this and reinstate it after you reinstall the OS.

I installed to a different directory name and kept the old one for a while until I had everything working again. The default is c:\Windows but if you have 2 drives there is no reason you can't install on a different one.

Christine
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  #24  
Old 08-15-2006, 09:24 AM
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Racc Iria Racc Iria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin
i do have the current c: drive backed up on an external harddrive using norton ghost. so, not sure, but cant i get back some of those old settings from that without just trying to run the whole back up? can you pull individual stuff from those backups without running the restoring the whole backup?
Depends on your backup software. But, usually there is a way to do that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin
and, even though i'm quite a bit over budget on all this, i could get a new harddrive and install the new windows on that and set up the old one as a slave drive and pull stuff from that back to the fresh install.
This is what I've always done. It makes retrieving any old files pretty painless. Then once you've gotten everything off of it, you can remove the old drive if you find it's slowing your system down. If you do get a new HD and are going to connect the old one as a second drive, make sure to connect them to different IDE or SATA chains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin
and where the heck is fdisk these days? is it even used any more? if i do the wipe windows with the new windows option, is that going to do a full re-format of c:? i really dont want that if that's the case. or will it just wipe old windows and install new windows?.
Fdisk is still in there... somewhere. If you do a fresh install and don't override or repair a previous installation you will be presented with the chance to create and format partitions if the drive is blank or repartition the drive if it's not. Once you select a partition to install Windows on, that partition will be formatted. Any other partitions should be left alone. Even if you install to a completely blank drive that's never been used and create multiple partitions on it, the Windows installation will only format the partition where you're putting Windows. You'll then have to go into the disk management tool and format the other partitions.

In my systems I like to have at least three physical drives and at least three logical drives. How they are divided depends on how much storage there is. But, generallly the first drive/partition (C is for the OS only and I usually make it around 10-20 Gb. If I have plenty of HD space left on that physical drive then a partition completely devoted to page files, swap files,the documents and settings folders, and things like Photoshop's temp files is a very good idea. The second physical drive is where ALL applications are installed. The third drive is purely for storage of data and created files.

This provides a very modular way to recover from disaster. All you need to back up is the storage drive and the Documents and settings folders. If the OS or its drive dies, you know it's okay to blow out that partition or replace the drive and start fresh. Sure, you'll have to reinstall the applications and rebuild the registry, but you can usually install the applications over top of themselves. That way, any customizations (like photoshop styles, plugins, etc.) are not lost. If the applications drive dies, you still have the OS and your data. If your storage drive dies, you should have your backup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin
oh, and what about sata drives? this machine has, i think, 4 sata ports. would i be smarter buying a sata drive as the new c: drive or shld i stick to ide ports for now?
If you're buying a new drive(s) go with SATA. They are the future. IDE is a fading technology. Kind of like PCI, AGP, and anyone remember ISA? Besides... smaller cables, better air flow for cooling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin
and no, i'm not really interested in RAID.
Why not (other than cost)? I've been using RAID 5 setups for almost a decade now and have never lost any data to drive failure.

--Racc
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  #25  
Old 08-15-2006, 09:53 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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racc,

thank you for all that!

i've pretty much decided it's going to be a new harddrive. i'm taking the day off from work to get this thing going. so, another trip to the store and more $$. oh well, i never liked budgets anyways.

i like how you set things up on your system and have recently been contemplating something similar. seems the best format is o/s, applications, and data, all on separate partitions. i hadnt thought about the swap file option, though. a whole partition for that? seems overly large to me, but ok. and you can put the docs and settings folder separate from the rest of a windows install? i didnt know that and that would be helpful, since some software manufacturers seem to like to store things there. and what's the difference between a page file and a swap file? (i can look that up later).

ok, i've never used SATA but my limited understanding is that it's a bit more like scsi; more versatile and less restricting and a bit faster. but does it work like ide in that you can put two devices on the same port or does it work like scsi in that you can chain the drives or what? and all my current devices are ide, so if i go sata as the new drive, do i just set up the old ones under ide and the system is going to recognize that i've got two different types? dont worry too much about this part. i'm going to the store shortly and will ask the guys there about all this. and as for RAID, i guess my biggest objection is, i dont know a thing about it except back when i was trying to keep up with things, RAID meant dual drives in a parallel hookup for faster data transfers and it seemed dicey to me. if one drive went down, then it would be like both did. so, i put it in the back of my mind, 'not interested in RAID'. but, that was back where there was only one RAID and about all i know now is that there are quite a few. i'll ask the guys at the store about this too, but throw anything at me here on this, particularly since you've got experience with it.

i do appreciate all the responses and help. i always go a bit crazy on this stuff and i'm pretty adamant about trying to keep my old files and data so i appreciate all the advices here. hopefully, by the end of the day, i'll be back on the new system, at least in bare bones mode

craig
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  #26  
Old 08-15-2006, 11:44 AM
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Racc Iria Racc Iria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin
racc, thank you for all that!
No problem. My pleasure.

Quote:
i like how you set things up on your system and have recently been contemplating something similar. seems the best format is o/s, applications, and data, all on separate partitions. i hadnt thought about the swap file option, though. a whole partition for that? seems overly large to me, but ok.
and you can put the docs and settings folder separate from the rest of a windows install? i didnt know that and that would be helpful, since some software manufacturers seem to like to store things there. and what's the difference between a page file and a swap file? (i can look that up later).
Well, the OS drive is usually smaller to begin with. Don't need a 200 gig drive for it... not until Vista gets here, anyway. So, the partition for the page file, etc. doesn't have to be more than a few gigs really, but I like even numbers and usually allow around 10 for it. A swap file and a page file are the same thing. The page file is the OS's swap file, so I guess they like to have a special name for it. Also on that partition I tend to store things like installers and current drivers that have been downloaded, etc.

Quote:
ok, i've never used SATA but my limited understanding is that it's a bit more like scsi; more versatile and less restricting and a bit faster. but does it work like ide in that you can put two devices on the same port or does it work like scsi in that you can chain the drives or what? and all my current devices are ide, so if i go sata as the new drive, do i just set up the old ones under ide and the system is going to recognize that i've got two different types? dont worry too much about this part. i'm going to the store shortly and will ask the guys there about all this.
You mentioned that your motherboard had 4 SATA ports on it. I've only recently started buying SATA drives myself. But, my understanding is that each SATA drive plugs into one port. You can get port multipliers that allow each port to control up to 15 drives, but that's usually overkill for home machines.

If your motherboard has both SATA and IDE ports then you can connect both types of drives. If your board doesn't have one type of port or the other, you can get inexpensive add-on cards to give you those ports.

Quote:
back when i was trying to keep up with things, RAID meant dual drives in a parallel hookup for faster data transfers and it seemed dicey to me. if one drive went down, then it would be like both did. so, i put it in the back of my mind, 'not interested in RAID'. but, that was back where there was only one RAID and about all i know now is that there are quite a few. i'll ask the guys at the store about this too, but throw anything at me here on this, particularly since you've got experience with it.
Sure. RAID 0 mean striping two drives together to make it act as a single drive. This makes reading faster, but writing a little slower. RAID 1 is two drives, but the second drive is a mirror of the first. RAID 3 is striping multiple disks together. RAID 4 stipes together multiple drives but has a dedicated parity drive. If the parity drive fails, you're in trouble. RAID 5 is the way to go. In RAID 5 multiple disks are striped together, but the parity is spread out over all the drives. For example... In a system with 4 drives in a RAID 5 configuration you get the storage space of three drives, the storage space of the fourth drive is used for the parity information. That's the matematical algorithm that keeps all your data intact. However, since all this information is spread across all the drives, any one of the drives can fail without loss of data or parity. Just replace the failed drive and let the computer rebuild the array. The more extra drives you add, the more simultaneaous drive failures you can have without any data loss. So, if you used 5 drives... 3 storage and 2 parity... any two of the drives can fail at the same time while you can still keep working without losing any data.

We use this where I work. I create animation and motion graphics for TV, so I have quite large video type files to deal with. Constantly backing up a terrabyte or two is not practical. RAID 5 lets us not worry about it.

It's a little overkill for home systems, though. But if you work from home or something, it's probably worth the investment.


--Racc
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  #27  
Old 08-15-2006, 06:00 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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well, the nightmare continues. i bought a new 250 gig sata II drive. i get it home, put it on the machine and the machine doesnt see it, except it does sort of. it doesnt see it well enough that bios can see it but it does see it well enough that the install disk of windows does. but at first i dont notice this. all i see is that windows setup seems to be loading ok. i get to the part where it wants an old version of windows to verify that i have a legitimate system (yes, seems all i have is an xp UPGRADE disk, not the full version). anyways, i put an old windows disk in there and it verfifies it ok.

next, it wants to format and install. but, i dont notice that it's already formatted and partitioned, one big 238 gig c: partition. seems this is what is called an 'open box' drive, meaning, someone had already formatted and partitioned the drive and brought it back to the store and they just restock it and sell it at a discount. i had wondered why i got it so cheaply. anyways, you cant full format over an already formatted drive, at least not in windows setup. so that sits there for a half an hour trying to format and not getting past 0%. cute. i call the store service guy and we finally figure out it's already formatted as one big partition. so, he says just hit the 'D' key and delete that one and you can then put on more partitions and format each of those. and that's what i wanted, smaller partitions. so, i hit D and it wipes the old partition.

now, somewhere in all this mess the store guy also has me disable RAID in bios and that's how the system finally could see the new drive.

so, now i tell it to create new partitions. it does this nicely. i set up one as 10 gigs, the c: drive, one at 50 and split the remaining space into 2 more. so, 4 partitions.

ok, windows setup is fine with that. so, i then go to format the new raw c: drive. same thing happens again; it wont go past 0% complete. what the freak?

call the store guy again and while i'm talking to him i hit 'quick format' and it starts to format and then starts to install the new windows. cool. ok, hang up. windows continues to load stuff up and gets down to 'installing new start menu programs' or something like that and the progress bar moves slowly to the right and the 'time left' is counting down nicely i'm thinking, 'finally!'. hah!

it wont move the countdown past 19 minutes remaining. this goes on for well over 30 minutes so i start playing with the mouse for some stupid reason and suddenly everything locks up. cant move the mouse and some other things like the advertisement window quits refreshing and i know the thing has locked up.

yeah, call the store guy again! while talking to him i get that i need to reboot the system and maybe it'll just start up again where it left off, at least, that's what he thinks. bah! i hit the reset button and this time i cant see the sata drive in the drive detection lines but it keeps going anyways and up comes windows setup from the windows cd, only, it's starting all over again! good lord.

the store guy doesnt understand this and i'm already way past not understanding. so, i F3 out of setup and the machine restarts again, only this time i can see the sata drive again but as soon as it comes to the boot from cd i get a blue screen of death saying something about an 'unmountable drive'.

now, understand here, i'm a pretty easy going guy, but at this point i'm looking for dynamite or a shotgun...either will do.

so, i call the store guy again. i'm sure he hates the sound of my voice by now and frankly, i didnt much care at this point, though i do know it's not his fault. so, he says 'well, i cant tell over the phone. bring it in and we'll run a diagnostic on it.'. ok, so i once again make the 60 mile trek to the store but it's getting near quitting time for the service guy.

i'm now talking to one of the salesman out front and he says sure, we can look at it, just sign this paper for a diagnostic....$35. remember now, they sold me the motherboard, the case, the power supply, the keyboard, the cpu and the sata drive. the ONLY thing that is on this machine at this point is my mouse and one stick of ram and they want ME to pay for a diagnostic! i'm now very near full-blown pissed! but, i as calmly as possible explain to him 'it YOUR parts! you want ME to PAY to diagnose the parts you just sold me over the last 4 days?!?! he finally says, 'ok, if it turns out in the diagnostic that it's any of our parts i'll waive the fee'. gee, how nice. i'm now threatening to return the entire system for a refund and he threatens 'restocking fee of 15%'.

after a bit more 'discussion' i finally let him take the machine, even though this is going to be another overnight thing and there's no chance to get the system checked today. and that's where we left it.

now, why do i feel like i was just raped, run over the coals and had a big tattoo placed on me somewhere that says 'mark' ?

ok, in all fairness to them, it could still turn out to be user error. i know this. i know i dont do this enough to really, truly know everything i probably need to know to build a new system. these things are getting more and more complex and i'm getting less and less complex as i get older.

meanwhile, i'm without a decent system for yet another day, feel like i'm hungover and if i had a 6 pack in the house it would probably be gone by now.

if i wasnt so upset and frustrated this would make a great 'windows' story to circulate around the net and poke fun at microsoft about. as it is.... I HATE WINDOWS!

i just cant wait to hear what they're going to tell me tomorrow.

craig
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  #28  
Old 08-16-2006, 08:35 AM
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Cameraken Cameraken is offline
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Craig.

It’s nice to see you have not lost your sense of humor (yet)

This appears to be quite a common problem. Did the drive come with a floppy install disk? If so then this may help

http://richandstephsipe.com/2005/05/...n-sata-ii.html

Ken.
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  #29  
Old 08-16-2006, 09:17 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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ken, that definitely looks like the culprit. i believe the motherboard on that page is the one i have. and i know it was a samsung sata II drive. and all that looks very, very familiar. i'll pass that on to the tech guys at the store. i did finally figure out the part about disabling all the raid stuff, but never figured out the drivers part.

thank you!

craig
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  #30  
Old 08-16-2006, 09:29 AM
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Racc Iria Racc Iria is offline
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It also seems to me if the drive had been opened, formatted, and then returned that there may have been something wrong with it in the first place.

I agree with you, Craig. You should not have to pay for the diagnostic. They sold it to you. They should make sure it works.

Hang in there.

--Racc

Last edited by Racc Iria; 08-16-2006 at 09:36 AM.
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