Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Pulled out one more…

Thanks in no small part to a product called “TrueImage”

As I told you in the last post, the ‘boot drive’ on my primary PC died on Wednesday. This was a minor disaster in that I didn’t have anything backed up. I hate to even admit it in public, me the ‘back it up’ king when it comes to the client sites, but I didn’t have my own stuff backed up.

Fortunately, today’s hardware is much more intelligent than just 5 years ago, and the drive reported problems and I got a ‘notice’ during start up before it had totally died. I wrestled with buying a new PC, and like Kevin suggested, I almost did. But, buying a new PC would have left me with a long evening of software reinstalls, and, none of my data.

So, like to true techno-dweeb that I am, I decided I would clone the old drive, seemed simple enough, and I had the tools to do it. Or so I thought.

I had a product called ‘Drive Copy’ that I’ve cloned hundreds of drives with, but it couldn’t read something or other of the failing drive (I was thinking “no kidding, if it was perfect I wouldn’t need to be copying it!!”) and aborted.

I also had a copy of a shareware product “HDCopy” or something similar that had also worked on other machines with similar problems in the past, but, this time, for me…. No dice… same answer, it was failing to read something or another of the old drive.

So after, four or five hours of watching these programs post little progress bars, like an expectant father, to no ultimate avail, I called it a night.

Today, I did a little more research and came across this product “TrueImage 8.0”.

I ordered it on line, downloaded it and during the install (which I did on the good PC) it prompts (and suggests strongly) that you build a bootable ‘rescue’ CD, which it did flawlessly. I slipped that new Rescue CD into the dead machine (I still had the new and old drives hooked up from last night) and pressed the ‘On’ button.

It booted a bit slowly, but came up, fully ‘mouse capable’, windows-like screen, each icon you clicked on had an explanation synopsis of the left side of the screen. All extremely easy and straight forward… and I’m sitting there thinking this is too easy, no way is it going to work. But I clicked ‘drive image’ or something similar and got ready.

There were several screens, each very well documented and clear as to what was going on (a very nice change from the norm) and with several clicks of the mouse, we were on our way (with me still thinking this is far too easy to really work).

Or so I thought… after sitting there for about fifteen minutes it started reporting errors, I tried ‘retry’ and ‘ignore’, and then finally I just clicked ‘Ignore All’ and let it rip. By the way, the other programs died when they’d hit, what I assume were, these same errors.
After about 30-40 minutes of analyzing, I got one last prompt asking me if I was sure I wanted to copy the drive image the way I had it configured… I of course clicked ‘Yes’…

Back off into cyberspace went this little program… it sat for the longest time…. Maybe 20 minutes or so... and reported it could not read from “sector 1”. The kiss of death, the whole enchilada, this is about the worst Hard Drive error a techie can see…

“Sector 1” is the beginning of what’s known as the ‘boot sector’, that place that breathes life into any operating system, Dos, Windows, Unix… they all utilize that place to ‘get started’… if it’s dead, the OS is dead… I’m hosed.

So I click retry a half dozen times, ignore a few more… and finally give up and click “ignore all” once again. I remember thinking, “what other choice do I have”, and then let’s just see what this little program can do.

It sat there for the longest time again, maybe 15 minutes more, before it began showing any progress at all, then moving along, then stopping and ‘thinking’ before moving on again. This is all pretty nerve wracking stuff for me, as with each stop in the progress bar I’m expecting it to post some type of ‘failure’ message, leaving me dead in the water yet again.

But that never happened, it kept chugging along and after about an hour and a half it pronounced the drive had been ‘successfully copied’.

I’m still a wreck though, figuring with all the error messages and the other two programs flat out giving up, no way is this going to work. Regardless, I connect the new ‘C’ drive up and hit the go switch….

Miracles do happen… it booted up, complained about some missing links (even Windows is looking for the missing link.), some complaints that the rest of the drives weren’t connected, but overall, it spun right up, I logged in and then Windows told me that to complete the installation of my new hardware, a reboot was required, did I want to do that now?

I thought for a couple of seconds… not exactly sure if I should try to drag some data off first, or not…. But then I just went ahead and clicked “Yes”, and waited for the restart.

The machine ran a complete CHKDSK during the reboot, all three stages, corrected and deleted some bad index entries, all with no help (except moral support) from me, and booted 100% clean into Windows.

So here I sit, totally amazed at this little $49 piece of software that just pulled my butt out of the fire “BIG time”. Everything’s here (on the “C” drive) all that remains is to put everything back together, button it up and I should be good-to-go!

I’m totally sold on this package, I might just go out and get that new ‘bare-bones’ PC and slap this drive in it and see what happens! But for now, I’ll get to eat dinner, finish up some client work (make some backups!) and get a good nights sleep.

Spirit of Owl’s tag reply tomorrow!

Thanks again for all the notes of support and empathy, it really helped knowing all of you were pulling for me!

I’m thinking seriously of resurrecting some old 40GB drives and make clones of this one. It’s got all the software I used everyday, tuned and tweaked just the way I need it. I’ll let you what I decide.

Once again, thanks for reading, I promise some less ‘techie’ stuff for the rest of the week!


Firehawk said...


Glad your computer could be brought back from the brink of death. Sounds like TrueImage is a good program. We use a program called DriveImage at my work. It's pretty handy for big hardware roll-outs or software updates. You build the drive image for a particular computer setup, and they you can just push the image onto a whole bunch of computers, rather than building up from scratch. Sounds like you could replicate your drive onto a slaved HDD and have a ready-made solution if "the worst" happened.

Anyway, I know how nerve-wracking it is to have your computer try to die on you. My first one, way back in '87, had a "fatal stack error" that totally obliterated the HDD. Back then, it was hundreds of 5 1/4 disks and night after night of software installation to bring it back.

Sorry I didn't comment on a few of your posts. You got a little ahead of me there.

Spirit Of Owl said...

LOL! It's one of the funniest things to geeky types... well me anyway. I mean, how long do we spend sitting watching a damn progress bar - I was going to say "inch" but that would be Formula 1 speed! - trickle... crawl... edge along the screen. LMAO! Sometimes you can feel ok to maybe get busy with something else while it does its thing, but man! So many times you sit, sweating, watching with your nerves on fire... LOL That's why office staff think we just sit around all day! They've no idea what that sitting around involves!!!


But I'm sooo glad you managed to get it all sorted out. This post does make for a pretty good advert for TrueImage - maybe you could get them to come and have a look at your post and they'll send you updates for free forever!

I generally don't go down software based drive imaging routes myself, though. I do what I think Firehawk's suggested. On a computer with a good OS on IDE 1, drive C, I put the new hard drive and the old hard drive on IDE2 slave/master (just pulling the plug on the CD/DVD ROM(s) while I do this). Then, I fire up the computer, and do a straight drive to drive copy. Take out the new disk, put it into the machine the original disk failed in, and boot.

This generally works well even on a badly damaged disk, as long as it's still spinning. A scandisk, a few driver checks, and the operating system and software are saved! Yay!

It does require a second computer, of course, and the sometimes risky but always faffy switching about of the hard drives.

Right, enough geek speak...! Blimey, I could talk to myself all day about this stuff! Oh dear...

Glad you're back! ;)

Kim said...

Once again, being a tech moron has come in handy for me....

Bill said...

Firehawk: I'm behind on your site too... you got out in front of me again as well!!

Is DriveImage from Symantec/Norton? That's who bought the old "DriveCopy" I used to use.

I used it mainly, exactly as you described. Build one 'perfect' setup, clone an image of that drive and then flash the image onto any new (or failed) PC.

Also served well to 'rebaseline' a PC where a user had installed many unsupported apps, or had a very bad 'spy/adware invasion!

Spirit: Thanks again for the chuckles... I do see the humor in all of this... I mean *me* having to deal with this!! :LOL:

I wish I had a dollar (that I could have kept) for every minute I've spent waiting on a PC!!

I'm soooo glad the nights of feeding 50 Floppies into a box to reload Unix are long gone!!

Kim: It's days like these I wish I scooped ice cream for a living!

Loved your camping trip!!

Beth said...


I'm so glad your pc issues are being resolved! I had a major pc issue last year, which resulted from my inability to protect myself. For years, I was using the pc like a crack whore uses johns ... just carelessly. =)

Trevor Record said...

Most people would just go take their computer to the repair shop, but you're the knid of guy they would be taking it in to!

Braleigh said...

The solutions to my computer problems all seem to be more manual-labour type remedies rather than the 'techie' type. I usually have to physically brawl with my piece of crap computer. I always fall behind on blogs/posting because, even with my 356 kbps connection, it literally takes 5 minutes for a page to load. I am in constant anguish, Bill. (Yes, I know I am whining. :) )

I'm glad yours was resurrected!

Bill said...

Knitter: None of us are immune to attack, despite all sorts of protection. It's a constant struggle. Sometimes we win, sometimes they do..

Trevor: Hard head that I am, I'd rather buy a new one thatn take it to another 'tech'... It took me a decade, after I stopped working on cars professionally, to take my car to someone else. I suppose eventually I'll find it's far more effective to let someone else do it. But for now... to be honest... I sort of enjoy the battle.

Braleigh: Somethings definitely not right, blogspot is notorious for being slow, but not that slow!

You need to find a techie locally and have them give your PC a 'tune up'... there are all sorts of 'tweaks' that can be done to improve on what you're experiencing.

No_Newz said...

Man! Sorry for all the frustrations but I'm glad it worked out. That practice what you preach stuff must be true huh? Back that thang up. ;)
Have a groovy weekend!
Lois Lane

Karyn Lyndon said...

Another happy ending for Bill!