Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Windows 7 KABOOM.....

As you may have noticed, the Mr. Completely blog activity for the last week has been nil. A couple of months ago I built a new computer and moved everything from my old system to the new one, a process that took almost a week to get everything, including all the older versions of software, fully functional, with a few small exceptions. Once finished, though, it worked really well, and I was getting to enjoy some of the newer features of Windows 7. Last Tuesday I used it all day, and it worked fine. Wednesday morning it wouldn't even boot to Windows. It wouldn't boot in safe mode. I tried booting from the Install CD and using Startup Repair. No luck. I tried command line system repair. No Luck. I hooked the primary drive to another computer and checked it for errors and infections. None found. The drive was fully readable, but it just wouldn't boot. In the DOS days you could boot from a floppy and enter one command, "SYS C:" and hit enter and it would fix this problem. With Windows 98 you could reinstall the O/S from the CD and it would leave your files alone, but fix a non-booting Windows. When this happens on anything from XP onward, the fix is either a lot more difficult, or totally impossible. I checked all of Microsoft's solutions, and searched the Net for possible solutions. The bottom line turned out to be that if you didn't have a full backup or a disk image there wasn't much you could do except start over. Since I didn't have everything  fully fully functional and configured as I wanted it, I hadn't done a backup or made a disk image yet. At least the old drive was readable, just not bootable, so I hadn't lost anything, just the ability to boot the computer. I installed a brand new hard drive and clean installation of WIN7, and hooked the old drive up and started moving all of the files and programs to the new drive. Of course, that meant re-installing and configuring every program one at a time, but at least it was something that could be done that would eventually get me back up and running.  As I was copying a fairly large folder filled with blog pictures, WIN 7 froze up completely and stopped responding. I had to re-set the computer to get it running. Once it was re-booted it was clearly damaged, and would take up to a minute or so to respond to a mouse click. Nothing seemed to work. I worked on it for quite a while, and finally decided that there must have been something strange about something in that folder that had corrupted WIN 7. I wiped the primary drive and tried it again, avoiding that particular folder. It crashed again copying a different folder. I took the old drive to a Windows XP computer and copied the entire drive to a different drive and it copied without problem. I reinstalled WIN 7 for the who knows how many time, and hooked up the drive with the copied files. When I tried to copy the larger folders to the WIN 7 boot drive, again it crashed. At least by now I did have a drive image of the boot drive, so re-installing didn't take so long, but it was still a pain in the neck to have WIN 7 keep crashing and have to keep reinstalling everything, just to have it crash again. To see if it made any difference, I tried using a IDE interface hard drive instead of the SATA interface drive for the Windows 7 primary drive. Of course, WIN 7 wouldn't let me use the disk image to restore to the IDE drive, so I had to re-install WIN 7 again from scratch. Once I had everything running OK, I hooked up the original drive that had initially crashed and wouldn't boot. I was able to copy all of the folders and files, regardless of size, to the IDE boot drive. No problem, no crash, no idea why, but it worked. In the midst of all of this fun I had also re-flashed the BIOS, just in case that might have an effect. It didn't.

That's what I did for the majority of the last week, and why the blog has been quiet. So for now I am up and running, but I have no idea what caused the original crash, and I have no idea why I can copy large folders  to the boot drive only if it's an IDE drive, although the souce drive can be either IDE or SATA. Unfortunately the IDE drive is noticeably slower than the SATA drive was, but at least it's running. Will it continue to work? Will it boot tomorrow?

Who knows..................


At Tuesday, June 29, 2010 10:35:00 AM, Blogger Sigivald said...

Sounds like an obscure driver issue or very odd flaky hardware.

Or, perhaps, a flaky SATA cable on the main drive connector?

At Tuesday, June 29, 2010 10:47:00 AM, Blogger haskovec said...

Usually in the case of windows boot being messed up assuming it is the boot record I think you can just do an fdisk /mbr to restore the master boot record that usually fixes things from XP forward. As for your SATA config did you have your Bios running your SATA in AHCI mode or emulated IDE? I have been using AHCI lately but it isn't the default on the gigabyte boards. It is faster than emulating IDE over SATA however under Vista if you had installed the OS in IDE Emulation mode and then change your controller to SATA Windows will crash on bootup for lack of drivers. Not sure if 7 installs both types of drivers by default or not. It is another area you could look into.

At Tuesday, June 29, 2010 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Kristophr said...

I've found that loose SATA cables can cause all sorts of grief.

Try replacing the cable with a different manufacturer's, one that engages the socket more securely.

If that doesn't fix it, it is possible you have a bad SATA controller on the main board.


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