May. 4th, 2014

jbwoodford: (space)
As alluded to in the previous post, I have been upgrading a desktop computer because it looked as though all of the USB ports were going. Well, it was seven years old, and even though I cleaned it more than once this is still a two-cat household. The dust loading was thus rather impressive. (Seriously, this was a seven-year-old computer, and apart from the USB port issues it was still ticking along. I'd built it, it had an AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor, 2 Gb memory, a 500 Gb hard drive (also original), and a decent graphics card and soundboard.)

Anyway, the USB ports were limping along; what brought matters to a head was when a reshuffling of furniture in our bedroom led to the exile of the computer to the basement. I had a USB wireless adapter, but it wouldn't work in any of the USB ports on the machine--tried to load the operating software, but even though the little LED indicator on the adapter lit up just fine the operating software couldn't find it. Rezzer fezzer. OTOH, I'd been kind of itching to upgrade the system, so I took the opportunity to sink a few bucks into a better processor and a new motherboard. (Besides, MicroCenter was having a sale.) Thinking, of course, that I could keep the existing hard drive and optical drives, case, power supply, etc. (I mean, the old processor used about 90 W; the new one, a much faster quad-core Intel, used about 130 W. Processor efficiency, as [ profile] autopope pointed out, has definitely come a long way.)

The new mobo fit just fine in the old case, but the first indications that all may not be well came when I tried to connect it to the power supply. Who knew that the 12V bus connection had gone from 4 pins to 8? Not I. So, new power supply needed. Then one of the optical drives used an IDE connection...of which there were none on the new mobo. Ah, well...the other optical drive was a SATA drive, and the new mobo had six SATA connections. But I still had to get a new power supply. At least MicroCenter had a sale on those, too. And it was a nice one as well--modular connectors, so there isn't quite the cable tangle inside the case that the old power supply engendered.

So I got everything put together, fired it up, and it started...but didn't seem to be talking to the monitor. Turns out that the DVI socket on the new mobo is close enough to the side of the opening in the back panel that the big fat DVI connector won't seat right. (I've sanded off a bunch of it and it's still not seating right. Still some plastic left on that side, though.) However, I had an old VGA cable around, and was able to use that to get the communication issue resolved. Success! I can get to the BIOS! However, the old Win7 installation on the hard drive isn't on speaking terms with the new mobo, and I can't get it to boot off of my Win7 repair disk. This is a problem. I decide that it's time to think about the fact that this is a seven-year-old hard drive, and maybe I should just suck it up and buy a new HD--I have a system image of the old HD, so should be able to salvage everything off of that.

Fortunately, Tiger Direct is having a sale on hard drives. I get a nice 240 Gb solid-state drive and mounting hardware, which installs easily. Then, of course, I still can't install Win7 on the empty hard drive--the idiot optical drive still isn't working as a boot device. That's when I borrowed the USB optical drive from work, and was able to run the installation just fine. So, success! Win7 installed! Now all I have to do is move stuff over from the disk image.

It is somewhere around this point that I discover that the disk image only includes the main partition on the old HD. WTF? This makes salvaging the data off of the HD rather more important. First, though, I need to get the wireless adapter working.

However, now I need to go eat. More to come later.
jbwoodford: (space)
In order to do the Win7 installation, I'd had to take the machine back upstairs, where I could plug it into the router. Just in case there was something weird about the wireless adapter, though, I decided to leave the computer upstairs so I could plug it into the internet if need be. Back to install the adapter software, which goes fine. Time to plug in the adapter! I do so, and the computer can't find it. Same flippin' error as last time. WTF? This is a new mobo! It has brand-new USB ports! What have I done wrong? Was the adapter borked? While I am contemplating this, the computer pops up with a little message that essentially says "Hey, you've got a new piece of hardware there, but I can't find a driver for it." Hm. So I check the Device Manager. Look at that! There's a network adapter that's marked as not working, because it doesn't have a driver, and by the way would I like it to check for a driver? Since the machine is still connected to the internet, I tell it to seek out a driver forthwith. Which it does. And now the adapter works! Glory!

(It is at this point that it occurs to me that perhaps if I had not already been convinced that the problem with the adapter was the malfunctioning USB ports on the old mobo, I might have tried this a couple of weeks ago and saved myself a lot of time and money. OTOH, it was a seven-year-old computer, and now I have a much faster machine [1].)

So now it's time to connect the old hard drive and see if I can read it. Which I do, and I can. I think. There might be a missing partition there, but I can definitely read my old files. I still have to reinstall Office, but I've got antivirus software and all the Windows patches taken care of. Though now the monitor is being a bit flaky, and I still have the nonbooting optical drive to deal with...maybe next month. I've kind of blown the discretionary budget for a while.

[1]How much faster? Before removing the old mobo, I backed up FireFox and Thunderbird email using MozBackup to extract the profiles. It took a while to do Thunderbird, as I have a lot of saved emails--a few Gb worth. I had reinstalled FireFox and Thunderbird, reloaded the default profile (including user history, bookmarks, plugins, etc.) for FireFox (it took a few seconds), and then when I reloaded the email profile it also took a few seconds. I was not expecting that, after how long it took to save the profile, so I checked to make sure that it had, indeed, put in all the emails. It had. In about a tenth or less of the time it took to save them. Whee!


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