Back, with a laptop

Just back from London. I went to see my uncle, and to replace the hard drive in his laptop. The task was:

Replace a hard drive, using only the surrounding laptop, a USB hard drive enclosure and a replacement drive, preferably without reinstalling Windows.

Not to be smug, but this is the kind of thing I can normally do with without much effort. It’s easy, especially when the drive is dying extremely slowly (chkdsk fixes it for a few days), and the whole process only takes a couple of hours. This time, however, my tech conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello, computer, I’d like to change your hard drive.
Computer: Dunno what you mean, I’m a plant.
Me: No, I think you’ll find you’re a computer. Look, see, you’ve a keyboard.
Computer: No I haven’t.
Me: Yes. Yes you do.
Computer: Don’t believe you NAA NAA NAAAAA NA.
Me: That’s as maybe, but, happily, I’m the one in control here, and I shall force you to my will.
Computer: Well, if you’re going to be like that, I’ll just break in mysterious and infuriating ways, until you either die of exhaustion or hurl me through the wall.
Me: I’ve faced stronger than you, my friend. Prepare for battle!

[three days later]

Me: See my white flag? I mean it. Give me a chance. Please. I’m begging you.

After three days, I had to give up and bring it back with me. I shall break its spirit. It will be vanquished. I feel like the various problems I had should be mentioned, although I’ll hide them from the front page…

  • My normal imaging program demands to format and partition any drives during the imaging process. Unfortunately, there seem to be inherent problems doing this over a USB connection (on this computer, anyway), and it only told me that there was a problem after taking 13 hours (it’s USB 1.1) to run through the motions.
  • A newly purchased USB 2.0 PCMCIA card caused crashes with the default Windows drivers. Installing the official ones from the CD solved this, but then I could only access it via USB 1.1 through BartPE.
  • I caused smoke to rise from my USB enclosure when two pin single-pin connectors fell out, and I had no way to tell which way round to replace them. I guessed wrongly. I bought another enclosure, but the first is (amazingly) still working.
  • A direct copy of all files using BartPE’s file manager resulted in Windows nearly booting. But not quite, not even in safe mode. A repair install then decided that the local drive should be renamed ‘E:’, and fireballs fell from the sky.