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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Three Words

Don't. Buy. Dell.

As you can imagine, my absence is partly due to my computer's Hard Drive being fried.

I was completely happy with the fact that I had installed that PSU myself a while ago, but I confess, though I have tried every hint in the book: trying to boot it up with a disk, and trying Safe Mode. It just does not want to work. Chkdsk stops midway in stage 2.

I am therefore in your blogging debt.

That desktop computer was my last one working, seeing as how my laptop is fried too.

I refuse to take it back to the sillies who charged me a fortune to install a new Hard Drive only last year (conveniently now OVER the warranty), so I have to hunt around to see who can fix it, and cheaply.

This may take a while, guys, so please make yourselves at home on the blog. At least, I have the Kindle's web browser, so I can read Sundries that way, even if I can't email.

Grumble. Grumble. Harumph.

Ah well, such is life, right?



P.S.: I'll schedule a few posts, to keep you tied until I get back. I really do miss blogging...

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16 Comments:

  • Vic, if I can help...let me know.

    By Blogger Ron, at Sun Mar 01, 08:26:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Me too...but I do not like Dell...*grin*

    Peggy :)

    By Blogger Peggy Gero DaValt, at Sun Mar 01, 09:44:00 pm GMT-5  

  • How old is the Dell?

    How many watts is the power supply?

    By Anonymous Starless, at Sun Mar 01, 10:18:00 pm GMT-5  

  • My daughter's current three words -- "I Hate HP".

    The laptop I bought her for Christmas 2007 started acting up a few days ago. She's off at college, there's not much I can do to help.

    Turns out that the hard drive is failing -- HP charged her $49 for a phone call to get her to run their BIOS-level diagnostic that reports the drive is failing, that it would cost $250-300 to replace the drive *and* that the drive for her model is currently not in stock. She's been frantically backing up files to skydrive.live.com while the machine is still running.

    Luckily the folks at 'Tech Zone' on campus say think they should be able to replace her drive and get Vista reinstalled for her.

    Now I need to find the MS Office CDs and license key to overnight to her.

    By Blogger Michael S, at Sun Mar 01, 10:49:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Don't look at me, I'm useless when the microchips are down. I can only do household electrical, plumbing, carpentry, landscaping and mechanical.

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Sun Mar 01, 11:28:00 pm GMT-5  

  • It's not particularly Dell's fault. Computers -- particularly hard drives -- are limited lifetime devices. (Laptops particularly...)

    Installing a hard drive is a remarkably simple task, and now that you've already managed the PSU, I suggest you take a stab at this too.

    I assume your machine is sufficiently new that it uses SATA drives (instead of the older PATA). Buy this (or the more-expensive enterprise-class version if you're paranoid), open your case, detach the power and data connectors from your old drive, unscrew it, screw this in, attach the power and data connectors... and that's all for the hardware portion.

    Then run any diagnostics you'd like (I suggest getting Ultimate Boot CD and using WD's own Data Lifeguard Diagnostic), and use your Windows disc to format the drive and install Windows on it.

    And, of course, keep making backups...

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Mar 02, 01:42:00 am GMT-5  

  • I wouldn't be too quick to blame the HD. If its only a year or so old and you can get it as far as running Chkdsk, it probably isn't bad. The usual hardware failure on a HD is a head crash. If that happened you would really hear the drive grinding (and clicking); a head crash is possible, but unlikely on such a new drive unless you really abuse it (lots and lots and lots of hard restarts).

    More likely culprits are: your O/S is messed up in some way (lots of viruses or lots of hard restarts leading to lots of corrupt system files). Or, the PS you installed was too small (say somewhere in the 200-250W range) which can lead to all sorts of systemic problems which can, in turn, send you on all kinds of wild goose chases. What would be most noticeable with a lack of power, though, would be your hard drive acting up. Drives eat the most power and Chkdsk is exercising your drive the most out of probably anything else you do with it, and that could possibly lead to it crapping out mid-check.

    Obviously, I don't know all of the details of your system, but the possibilities I outlined above seem most likely from what you described. Don't jump to the conclusion that the hardware has failed (I know--you've tried all kinds of things and they haven't worked but you may have gone down the wrong trouble-shooting path based on false assumptions).

    If I were you, and if it's even possible, I'd try to do a virus check first. If that doesn't work and if you can get your hands on a different power supply (350W+) (beg, borrow, steal) I'd swap it for your current power supply and try that. If that doesn't work, you may have to go for an O/S re-install. I know, an O/S reinstall is very unattractive but if your HD is truly "fried", you've lost your data anyway (unless you're willing to pay for data recovery).

    Don't limit your options. Start with the basics (do you have power? Is everything plugged in? Is the case crammed full of dust?) and work from there. Nine times out of ten, what appears to be a catastrophic failure, isn't.

    By Anonymous Starless, at Mon Mar 02, 07:29:00 am GMT-5  

  • Very much doubt it's the PSU. She reinstalled the OEM supply -- the only thing that will fit in her compact case -- and isn't even running a GPU. Besides, if power were an issue I suspect the thing would have problems posting, and it doesn't.

    If it fails a disk check booted from a separate OS, it's not a virus. If it's drive data corruption, I wouldn't want to run off that hard drive again even after a low-level format/reinstall. Bad clusters never really heal and tend to multiply.

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Mar 02, 11:48:00 am GMT-5  

  • Very much doubt it's the PSU. She reinstalled the OEM supply -- the only thing that will fit in

    OIC

    Besides, if power were an issue I suspect the thing would have problems posting, and it doesn't.

    Maybe. I've had machines POST okay and then when the drives start chugging they'll act funny because the power supply is crapping out and can't supply enough juice for the drives.

    f it fails a disk check booted from a separate OS, it's not a virus. If it's drive data corruption, I

    Assuming she tried Chkdsk from a separate O/S.

    wouldn't want to run off that hard drive again even after a low-level format/reinstall. Bad clusters never really heal and tend to multiply.

    I look at it as a question of severity. If it's a relatively new drive and it's already head crashing or got enough bad sectors to ruin the whole drive, then either it was bad from the factory (which would have been immediately apparent) or its been abused really, really badly. Two conclusions I try not to jump to too quickly.

    I'm speculating from very little information, of course, so all I'm getting at is that she shouldn't go right for throwing the baby out with the bath water. Hardware this new shouldn't be failing and I'd be reluctant to throw more money at the problem before eliminating all possible software or user-related issues.

    By Anonymous Starless, at Mon Mar 02, 01:05:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Guys! My computer suddenly works.

    I was about to go to a more reputable computer shop than the Geeks, undoing the cables and wires etc, when I decided to boot it up ONE LAST TIME.

    This is what I have been doing. When it's on the Dell splash screen, I F8. Then through a labourious trial and error (because just going to Safe Mode directly wouldn't go) I was trying one of the options, which takes you first to a Chkdsk, and then to Safe Mode debugging.

    (Unfortunately, I received this Dell without any original WindowsXP disk, which was extra. I'm regretting not having chosen that option)

    ALL this weekend, Chkdsk was stuck in Stage 2/3 at either 6%, 17%, and lastly where it just wouldn't budge no matter what, 20%.

    I would hard reboot it, which isn't a good idea I know, and sometimes at 17% it would say clearing up a file, error in file, and what-not.

    As I say, after leaving it alone most of Sunday, I reboot it a few moments ago, and voila, it goes soaring past 20%; I noticed that it was cleaning up a lot of files which were missing or misfiled.

    Then it booted up as normally.

    I have installed HDD Health, and I had had Speedfan already, which has SMART diagnostics.

    The HD health is at 100%, with no errors -- same on Speedfan.

    Whatever it was, it was obviously a file startup thing, although obviously I will have to monitor this carefully. Should I go missing without word, you'll know it crapped out again.

    And of course, I will start saving for another laptop (remember, mine died recently).

    It sucks not having a backup.

    Well, enough for now. I will not post again today, but I will be monitoring this thread.

    Be back as chipper as I can, tomorrow! :)

    THANKS GUYS!!

    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Mar 02, 01:59:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I would hard reboot it, which isn't a good idea I

    Naughty, naughty.

    [Hehe--oh, who am I kidding? I can't tell you how many times I've said, "You [bleep] [bleep] [bleeping] machine!" and then smacked the reset button.]

    Whatever it was, it was obviously a file startup thing, although obviously I will have to monitor this carefully.

    That's probably a good idea. If you haven't done it, run disk defrag (if you have something other than Windows defrag that would be good) before you go to bed or if you're going to be away from your machine for a few hours. If you're lucky, your O/S just got raggedy. Windows can really go to shit after a while (that's why I run Linux for all non-gaming applications).

    By Anonymous Starless, at Mon Mar 02, 06:43:00 pm GMT-5  

  • What's the pitch on some local yokel radio progam?

    www.carbonite.com?

    By Blogger JAL, at Tue Mar 03, 03:13:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Are you still TKO'd?

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Tue Mar 03, 11:10:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Where oh where did Victoria go?
    To the land of ice and snow?

    Me thinks that she's in PC hell...

    Guess that's what she gets for buying a Dell.....

    We miss ya!!

    Peggy :)

    By Blogger Peggy Gero DaValt, at Sat Mar 07, 12:41:00 am GMT-5  

  • She really needs to stop pouring Coke down the back of the case. Not helpful. Not helpful at all.

    By Anonymous Starless, at Sat Mar 07, 08:27:00 am GMT-5  

  • I was playing games online however for reading this post more interesting thanks for the share please do keep it going great job....Loveing this.

    Cheers,

    ___________________
    victor
    Increase your brand popularity overnight

    By Blogger victor, at Thu Aug 13, 05:09:00 am GMT-4  

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