An Upgrade Tale... (longish)

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Tony Whalen, Oct 4, 2004.

  1. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Hey all! A story I just need to share, if for no other reason than to A) Express my frustration and B)Admit my silly mistake.

    So, I finally decided to upgrade my home PC. (I've been working with my laptop, and haven't touched the desktop for quite some time. Last email I received on it was dated for February! [​IMG] )

    The poor thing just wasn't cutting it anymore. It WAS a P3-733, ASUS mobo and 256MB RAM. It was okay, but certainly not fast compared to todays machines.

    So, after clearing the expense with my financial VP (aka: wife) off I went to get parts.

    First off, a swanky new motherboard, with a built-in GeForce4 video function, and dual monitor support. A new Athelon chip (first time I've NOT purchased Intel) and 256MB of RAM. (More RAM next payday.) Plus a shiny new copy of WinXP. (I'd been running 98SE at home.) Whole package cost me around 500 (CDN). Good deal.

    This is not the first time I've done an upgrade like this. I like to THINK I know what I'm doing. [​IMG]

    Anywho, I gut my machine after backing up all my files to either CDRWs or a secondary HD that will remain intact.

    Install all the shiny new goodies...after blowing out exactly one metric ton of dust. Must remember to clean now and then.

    I discover, to my surprise, that P4 level boards (this being my first) require an additional (12V) power-plug. One my power supply doesn't have. Damn. ZIP! Off I go, and purchase a new PS.

    Zap! In goes the new supply! Everything is hunky-dory. Run all the wires, install everything, and hook it all back up.

    I tremble as I hit the power button for the first time. This calls for a beer! Press the button. No magic smoke gets released. YAY! The BIOS loads, and I dig around in the settings, making things the way I like 'em.

    Reboot. The machine boots to the CD, and flawlessly begins to install XP. "DAMN!" I think. "This is the easist rebuild I've ever done! No problems!" I knew I shouldn't have thought that. I blame the beer.

    XP formats my 40GB drive to NTFS. Excellent. Copies it's files onboard, and indicates it's reboot time. So, I reboot. The system goes through the start-up procedure, and then says the ominous words "UNABLE TO LOAD OPERATING SYSTEM".

    "Well, that description certainly is helpful", I think.

    Now, my HD had developed some bad sectors recently, so I thought that might be the problem. I dump out to the XP "repair console" aka command prompt. Run chkdsk and a couple other goodies, and repair a problem that DOES indeed appear. While I'm there, I reformat again, just for my own satisfaction.

    Install again. "UNABLE TO LOAD OPERATING SYSTEM" again. Grrr. Boot with a 98 start disk. Reformat to FAT32. Start all over again. "UNABLE TO LOAD OPERATING SYSTEM". GAH!

    So, I think that it's either the HD or the WinXP disk itself. All the hardware checks out.

    It's 7:15 on Sunday night. All the tech shops are closed. EXCEPT for the newly-opened London Drugs nearby. ZIP! I run out, explain the problem to the techs. They look at me, confusion reigning on their faces. Crap. So, I whip out my poor bruised wallet, and buy a new 80GB drive. (At this point, I could have just bought an entire new system. Sigh.) The guys assure me they have a 15-day return policy if it doesn't solve the problem.

    Take the new drive home, install it, format it, and run the XP install. Guess what? "UNABLE TO LOAD..." ARGH!!! [​IMG] WTF?!

    I get beer.

    Okay. Better now.

    I get out my laptop, and hop onto the 'net. (Wireless just rocks.) Start searching for some niggling thing that I may have missed. ARGH.

    After hunting a few places, I come up with a possibility. Somewhere in the BIOS, a virus-protection option might be preventing anything writing to the boot-sector. AhHA!

    So, I go into the BIOS. Everything looks in order to me, but being suspicious, and on my last nerve, I have the BIOS load the "FAIL-SAFE" factory settings.

    Reboot. More beer. Reformat. Start the install. More beer. The install gets to the first reboot. I hold my breath.

    BINGBINGBING! We have a winner! XP continues to load, and the install goes flawlessly.

    I celebrate with more beer. [​IMG]

    Of course, I had to do a bit more work. XP successfully detected almost all my hardware. I need new drivers for my printer (and the Epson site won't let me download them...some survey-mode is screwing their downloads.) and the on-board NIC was deactiviated in the BIOS. Too much beer for me to notice that one right away. [​IMG] I installed SP2 (gah!) and headed to bed.

    Anyway...long story, but just a cautionary tale to all. If you get that infamous "UNABLE TO LOAD OPERATING SYSTEM" warning, make sure your boot-sector-protection is turned OFF.

    (PS - I'm keeping the 80 GB drive. I deserve it, dammit.) [​IMG]
     
  2. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Thanks for the daily laugh Tony. I still haven't lost sight of my pc build plans (new daughter's eating up the budget) but I will certainly remember this thread.
     
  3. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    If you get that infamous "UNABLE TO LOAD OPERATING SYSTEM" warning...drink at least 2 more beers.
     
  4. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    The last time that warning appeared, Bob, I was getting ready to head to the liquor store for another six-pack. [​IMG]
     
  5. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

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    i laughed at this too. but it helped me out as well. i have a machine that has been constantly crashing when i try to encode to mpeg-2. after reading this i had two glasses of H2O, went into my bios and turned down my overclock. and, VIOLA!!!! i could encode again.

    thanks, tony!
     
  6. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    ...and it even worked without beer Diallo! [​IMG]
     
  7. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Beer and violas...that would be a sight to see!

    Good work Tony! But, you should return that 80 gb drive and get a 120 gb drive at Memory Express for the same price! hehe
     
  8. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Oh THANKS Max. [​IMG]

    Nah, I'm not worried about it. I never filled up my 40GB drive totally, even with every game I've purchased in the last couple of years, plus quite a few apps like Photoshop, Office, CorelDraw and others. Pretty sure 80 will do me fine for QUITE a while. [​IMG]

    Besides, I ain't going through all the re-installing again. [​IMG]
     
  9. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    I hope you partitioned out your drive to make future maintenance easier.

    I have never had this problem where you received that error so it might be motherboard or bios dependent, btw the way what did you have so you may prevent this frustration on other future builders?
     

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