Sunday, September 13, 2009

Year 5 Day 13 - Files, PCs, OSes, and other crap

My new main PC has decided to act up today - the random reboots turned in to the inability to open the C drive in Explorer (even though the OS was up and running from that volume). I tried a bunch of stuff, which just made things worse.

read on or more...

Since I built this new PC every now and then the thing would reboot after a while of using Lightroom or Photoshop, etc. I didn't think about it much, I was praying it would not do any real damage and that when I got my copy of Windows 7 it would go away.

Today the PC decided to really mess up on me, after a crash. I think the crashes were OS related and not due to the hardware itself. The repeated crashes probably corrupted some files. Unfortunately Windows File Protection was off (I tried to run c:\sfc.exe /scannow and figured that part out.) So, I did a system restore to September 3rd. I hadn't taken the time to think things through and that didn't help and undid so much other junk I've been doing this month. I wish I had just had the SystemRestore feature turned on for C: where the OS was. but it was tracking my photo directories too, and my now 5 or 6, Lightroom catalogs! Ahh. SO it undid all the reorganization I had done, and - that sort of sucks - because the system restore didn't actually fix my problem with the OS.

So, I then planned to do a parallel install of XP to access my files and backup the last bits of my photos that were not backed up to my external HDD (I did have 2 copied of them all on 2 different internal HDDs - but with OS problems I like to have copies outside the PC on HDDs that are OFF just in case things go drastically wrong.

The parallel install was going ok, but actually I think it was overwriting my main install of XP, but whatever. then the PC rebooted and said "press Ctrl-Alt-Del" hard drive corrupt or some such disasterous error message! Ahh! I rebooted and got the same thing.

I took a few deep breaths. Happy thoughts.


I haven't fully moved my data to this PC from my old PC (like email, office install, etc) but I have moved all my photos. During the above hour or two of mucking around my main goal was making that backup of photos to the external hdd.

Then I realized that my music and other stuff was on my C drive and I might not have backups of that.

However after all those problems I think I am on the right track now and have things under control again.

I disconnected all the internal HDDs and connected just one 250GB one that I knew had no valuable data - just swap space for LR, PS, XP, some downloaded install files, etc. I then installed Vista 64 without activating it. I don't plan on this being my permanent install - I just wanted something to repair my files from. the install took a long time, but it worked. Then I rebooted after reconnecting all my old HDDs.

The old C drive was toast - sigh. My other drives were ok. I began to copy about a months worth of images to the external HDD. The old C drive wasn't "initialized" - crud. BUT THEN after a while, I could browse data on it.


I think I have fended off the destroyers of data!

Sweet Nothings....  Red Foxes @ Bombay Hook NWR, DE (10 of 9)

Stuff is copying right now. When that finishes I will need to think things through more. I don't want to run Vista off that drive. And I do want to run Windows 7 off my old C which is a 1TB drive. Maybe I will reinstall Vista on the old C drive and see how it runs for the next month, and if it is stable (ie the drive isn't bad the cause of all this crap) then I can install Windows 7 there next month.

Ok so, this is like twice in a couple months that my PC has blown up, and I have managed to not lose my data. Knock on wood.

If you don't back up your data to something, read my story and be warned. I actually AM a PC expert, so if you're not, you are even more at risk than I would be without backups because you might not know what to do, and you might bring your PC to a bad repair shop or something and they might go "oops, fixed, lost all your data though, sorry. But at least it is working." Online backups like Mozy are fairly cheap, but are not for me. Once you go with them you have a monthly or yearly fee for ever, and restores are not the speed I would need - and I think you may have to pay for them beyond a small amount of data (at least with some services I've heard of, maybe not mozy specifically....)

updated after a few hours - Looks good so far, no crashes, lock ups or anything else bad. That install of XP must have been hosed.

Does anyone know if Windows 7 can be used as an upgrade to Vista or do I need to make it a fresh/clean install? If I can upgrade it would be a lot easier I think.