I am running the Windows 7 beta on my 4 year old Laptop, It’s not recommended but it does run well, using the Windows XP display and ethernet drivers it is a well functioning machine that doesn’t act much different from when it had Windows XP installed, however there is an odd issue with the sound card driver from Windows update that I will explain.
There aren’t that many people who feel comfortable replacing a part, or giving basic maintenance to a desktop PC, over the years PC parts have been made easier to be replaced, with only a few disassemble steps necessary to replace even the hardest component. Laptop computers have however been a no-go zone for many people who commonly replace PC parts, due to the complex disassemble instructions, higher risk of damage and general fiddliness due to the small parts. This guide is mainly for people who are familiar with PC part replacement/maintenance but haven’t had experience with a laptop.
We all make stupid mistakes once in a while
Late last month I backed up all my important data to a laptop hard drive that I had put in my external usb case so that I could format and install Windows again, this was to do with upgrading to a new core i7 based system, replacing the Motherboard/CPU/RAM, unfortunately I was running a RAID 0 array with my 2 new hard drives and the i7 motherboard’s raid chips were both different from the one I was using before, this requires a recreating the RAID and destroying the data.
Everything went smoothly and I was up and running quite quickly, however I noticed a symptom that I had experienced with my previous system, a pausing when browsing the hard drives and sometimes windows not booting (not passing past the BIOS screens), I noticed it was getting stuck on the external hard drive I was using so I removed it and all was well, I realised straight away however that there was something wrong with the hard drive.
I was able to copy over some of my files when I realised it was simply getting stuck on some, causing explorer to lock up etc and making the task very tedious, I was worried about taking the data off as if the drive has suffered a head crash I may be in trouble as hard drives can destroy what’s left of the data in the area when you attempt to read it, however that was not the case this time luckily.
I was able to run chkdsk once, it took forever but it was able to recover some files which made things better for me until I had the most important stuff such as precious photos etc off the hard drive and safe. I was skeptical that my problem was the hard drive, after all it didn’t make any odd noises or anything that would normally indicate a drive failure, so I took it out of the enclosure and put it in my laptop, immediately I got my answer, the BIOS POST halted on first boot up explaining that S.M.A.R.T is reporting a generic error (the most generic error possible I might add) that basically means the drive is failing and I should get the data off it.
It has taken me a few weeks and through using programs such as TeraCopy and an OSX program that I can’t quite remember now (it was no help anyway) I was able to get most off, about 20 files of no importance were corrupted beyond repair.
I now have all my backups on my main drive and also on another external drive that has proven itself to be quite reliable, if one goes I still have the other, lesson learned.
PS. Another lesson learned is that through much searching that hardly anybody experiences the issue that I did and most software is tailored to people making mistakes and formatting a perfectly good hard drive.
For now I do not have access to Windows 7 so I can only go on other peoples’ experiences and of course the live stream of the Microsoft PDC, but so far it looks amazing, take a look at some screenshots here at my favorite tech site, Neowin.
From a UI standpoint I am very excited about the possibilities that will be available.
From a web developer standpoint I’m eager to learn how it fits in with Windows Azure and the cloud computing vision.
I hope to do a review once it is available and look forward to other peoples’ reviews, expectations and experiences.
In other news I put Xubuntu on my laptop, I’m actually using it at the moment, It’s a great OS to run when you have an older PC, in this case 4 years old, my laptop maintenance guide will be up soon, I’ve been meaning to finish it but it’s one of those articles you can take forever to write if you wanted to.
I have decided to put up interesting facts, the first fact is that my review on D-Link SharePort on the DIR-655 has had the most views of any posts, you guys seem to like it so I will hopefully bring more of the same in future reviews.