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28 December 2006 @ 09:42 am
It's never as easy as you think  
You may recall the steps I laid out to fixing my computer.  Jen's father added one or two, so here's the plan I've been working off of:

Step 1:  Make sure I have backups of everything vital.  Put all installation directories onto an external medium - like a DVD-R.
Step 2:  Disconnect all my hard drives but C.
Step 3:  Reformat C, reinstall Windows.
Step 4:  Install vital software, like Systemworks, McAffee, Spybot, etc
Step 5:  Install one hard drive
Step 6:  Run all the protective software
Step 7:  Disconnect the newly added hard drive
Step 8:  If more hard drives are yet-to-be-scanned, goto Step 5.
Step 9:  Once all hard drives are determined clean, connect them all and make sure the system still works.
Step 10:  Once I have a system with all hard drives attached, start the process of reinstalling other important software, like MS Office, Photoshop and uTorrent.  =)

Ten steps.  Fairly simple, yes?

Step 1, the one I thought was going to be most difficult, proved to be fairly easy.  Fred suggested some software that helped me get ready for step 3 that needed to be done here, which I made use of.  Got all the software off C that I needed to - which was fairly easy because most of my vital directories are on D.  Step 2 was similarly a snap.

Then I ran into problems.

Step 3 involves a very simple assumption.  The assumption is this: the system will recognize its ability to run certain software off certain hardware.  In this case, you'd like to assume that the Windows XP Installation Disc that has worked so many times before would run off one of the CD drives at startup.  No such luck.  I tried THREE separate CD drives, I went in and created a second install disc and tried them on all three drives, and then I disconnected the downstairs computer (heretofore referred to as DC to save me typing) and tried it in there.  Didn't work anywhere.

To ward off the question before it arrives, yes, I made all the appropriate BIOS adjustments every time.

Aaron came up with the solution to this one.  Since I had a working computer, how about plugging the new C into DC, formatting it as a bootable drive, putting the installation directory onto it, and installing from itself?  Seemed viable, turned out to almost be.  I couldn't make it boot to the disc, but I could make it install to it while it was slaved onto DC.  I know from past experience that this will make it a D drive forever, but I don't mind having my system boot to D -- as I say, my vital directories are on a different drive anyway, and for all I care that drive can be C.

So I install Windows, and things are working so well up to now, I get cocky.  Once it becomes clear that the next steps of Windows installation require booting to the new drive, I turn off DC and reconnect the drive to my system.  Crash crash crash.  In fact, it crashes to the point where I have to start the installation over.

Reconnect the drive to DC.  Delete the Windows directory, start the installation again.  Let it run all the way through.  Boot to that drive.  Everything seems to be working nicely.  I copy some of the system files from C: to D:, knowing that the drive won't boot on its own.  I boot to it again.  I disconnect DC's original C drive and boot to it.  Complete success all the way across.  I move the drive back to my system.  At this point, I'm expecting it to take some time to boot, since it has to find all new hardware, and be just fine.

Not so much.  Crash crash crash.  I plug the hard drive back into DC.  Boots just fine.

For the sake of being thorough, I plug DC's hard drive into my computer.  It also boots just fine, taking time to discover all the new hardware it wasn't expecting to see.

So now I'm faced with yet another problem.  The drive I had in my computer before (40GB) will boot on DC but not on my system.  The DC hard drive (40GB) will boot on either.  I don't want to strip DC of all its memory (before formatting, my 40GB hard drive had about 32GB of stuff on it just for the system and programs), but I need a working drive that I can designate as having no purpose other than being there for the system.  I'd prefer to not have to buy a new drive to make all this work, but I'm not sure I'm seeing another way.

Any suggestions?
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated