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17 August 2004 @ 06:38 am
Computer woes and woahs  
OK, so I've been doing a lot less computer-related stuff lately.

I was getting tired of the whole crashing-about-once-an-hour or more-often-if-I-actually-tried-to-DO-stuff thing, so I asked Jen to ask her father (who frequently builds or upgrades computers) to look into prices for reliable parts for me. She did, and he did, and two Wednesdays ago, when she went up to his neck of the woods for other reasons, she took my computer so he could see what might or might not fit. When she returned that Sunday, she had parts. Yay!

So I put together the new system. New case (with power supply), new Motherboard, new CPU (MAN, the P4 chips are small!) with heatsink/fan (MAN, the P4 heatsinks are HUGE!), new RAM. Apparently Fry's gets considerably better sales in Northern California (specifically, in San Jose) than down here. (jerks) She picked up a DVD Burner that was on sale, but it was a low end one, so I return it to the local Fry's and pick up a better one. Setting this all up should be pretty straightforward - my first job outside the family was putting these things together. Of course, that was in 1993 or so...

I put together the system on Monday night, and turn it on.......with no results. The fans turn on and the hard drives click, but there's no video. Takes me until Tuesday night to open up Jen's computer (also a P4) to compare, and see that the motherboard has a second power cord attached to it. Check on mine - sure enough, it's on there. Nowhere near the main power cord, but there. That's new, but not a big deal. Plug it in, get power with video. Yay!

Windows doesn't load. I'm not terribly surprised. In fact, I prepared - I cleared off enough space on one of the hard drives that I could wipe a partition and start over. I even found the Windows XP disc so I could do that. I start the process. No problem, right?

The computer crashes during Windows installation.

For those of you who aren't computer geeks, that's a bad thing.

I try several things over several attempts, and the one significant thing that happens is that CHKDSK decides that a bunch of files on one of my non-system partitions (on a completely separate drive) are orphaned, and must be deleted. I have no say in this matter - they simply go away. I'm not 100% sure of everything that disappeared, but I do know that my MP3 directory, which had around 90GB of stuff in it (all legal backups of my own collection, for any copyright police out there reading this) prior to CHKDSK doing this, now had about 25GB. Again, not so good.

At this point, I'm frustrated with not having a computer at all, so I put the non-system drive (including the partition that just lost 65GB of MP3s) into Jen's computer and start doing little things in there. Things like Windows Update, which had never been run on this iteration of the system, and using the fairly new DVD Burner to back up what I could salvage from the other MP3s.

We needed support for my computer - I'd run out of ideas. Jen e-mailed her father, and I called Kevin. Kevin arranged to come over this past Sunday, and worst comes to worst, Jen's going up to her father's neck o' the woods again this coming Friday, and could bring the computer with her.

The strange thing that happened with Jen's computer is that this past Saturday, CHKDSK decided to scan that drive again. This time, it found a bunch of orphaned files that didn't seem to exist in the directory structure (because my computer had removed them) and put them back. Suddenly my 25GB directory is back up to 60GB. Still a bunch missing, but I'm not going to complain about it considering how much inexplicably came back. Instead, I'm going to back them the heck up onto DVD-ROM.

When Kevin came over, what he decided is that the culprit looks like one of two things. At this point, it looks like it's either the power supply (which came with the case, for $35 minus $20 mail-in rebate. Yeah, cheap stuff - and it looks like you get what you pay for) providing inconsistent power across the board, and the CPU being very sensitive to that, or the CPU being too hot (it was at 61 degrees Celcius just idling), which could be helped with a case with some better airflow and some fans to help that along.

So I'm still not on my own computer, which means there are things I can't do until this gets resolved (like send out the DVD list - if you're supposed to get that, this is why you haven't). Jen's father is looking at costs of new power supplies, new cases, and fans for me, and she may come down with those at the end of this upcoming weekend. Then I get the joy of making sure the computer actually installs Windows, setting it up the way I like, AND getting all my other hardware/software up and running.

some guy: why me?self on August 17th, 2004 02:48 pm (UTC)
we can save you the next problem, I guess
XP Service Pack 2 ate my computer. Couldn't get into Safe Mode, couldn't get through Scandisk. Took me all weekend to get back into Windows. You might want to avoid that.

Or, you might want to assemble a Slipstream CD, so your fresh start comes with that pre-installed.

That's what I'm planning to do as soon as I find my XP CD. (I do own a legit copy. Somewhere...)

How to do that
Note that the syntax has changed since they wrote that. "update /s:[path]" is now "update /integrate:[path]"
Idtechnomonkey on August 18th, 2004 04:52 am (UTC)
Is it SP2 that's eating the computer, or the process of trying to upgrade to it?

If it's the latter, I can see the value of this link. If it's the former, then it sounds like I want to avoid this for a while at all costs....

Sorry to hear about your computer problems, BTW...
some guy: south park (losing fight)self on August 18th, 2004 04:45 pm (UTC)
Hard to say.
I'm told that everyone having problems has run the upgrade, and that people doing the slipstream thing are not having problems. If that's true, it's the process itself and not the service pack changes.

It should be noted that Microsoft has not yet launched this on Windows Update. You can download a "network install" (266 megs, deployable across your whole enterprise), but the process to detect which files are needed for your specific hardware setup and download only those is not yet released.

This again would suggest it's the upgrade process causing problems. Microsoft saw fit to release the Service Pack itself, but is still tweaking the process (presumably to avoid these problems)...

That's not to say I'd trust the process even when that's released, mind you. You're always better off with an integrated install...