AAARGH. My computer has basically been hors de combat for nearly a week, because I had to get the hard drive replaced. I have a service that automatically creates incremental mirror images to an external hard drive…so I *should* have been able to just boot into the recovery utility, restore my image, and roll. Only the hard drive wouldn’t boot (invalid partition table!). And the recovery disk to boot into the recovery utility and get into the mirror drive wouldn’t boot either (endless nouveau errors that mean, as far as I can tell, that the linux boot utility doesn’t play well with my NVIDIA card). Had a chat with the Carbonite folk to see if they could tell me how to get into my image, but no joy: they booted it up the chain twice, eventually landing me with someone who I will talk to on the phone tomorrow (and by golly, I will).
In the meantime, I have work piling up, and bills to pay, and while the vanilla Win7 install would get me internet access, I was missing a pile of software and files. It’s all backed up into Carbonite’s cloud, and because I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of person after I lost my first dissertation, it’s backed up onto a different external HD too. No worries about that, but the software and tweaking are a major PITA. I know this because I just fucking did it in September, when I was happily installing things on to a drive that was failing from the factory. Dammit.
Jeff is gone today, which means I have some uninterrupted time. I also – thanks to the Dell tech – STILL have my old hard drive. It needs to go back to Dell at some point, but I told him I was profoundly uncomfortable with sending it off given that it’s got my accounting software loaded on it, and that software allows the computer to speak directly to my banks. I want that sucker WIPED before it goes back to Dell.
But…in the mean time…I had a hard drive loaded with the very stuff I needed to have loaded on the new one. Only question is, how to get it over there. It sounds like it should be easy, oh, just copy it! But it doesn’t work that way. Can’t just copy in registered software, and other operating system files, while the operating system is running. No. Has to be done through a back door. Back Door Number One, the software I’d intended for this exact purpose, was jammed shut.
So I wait for two days while Amazon ships me a cable that I can’t buy at a store around here, not even Radio Shack: Home To Connectors For Anything God Never Intended To Talk To Each Other. This cable lets me plug my old hard drive into my computer, where it looks like an external drive. Back Door Number Two: plug my old hard drive in, use the native Windows utilities to make an image of that drive and put it on another external hard drive, make a system recovery disk to boot into it, and roll. Only, I don’t want to use my Real Mirror Drive in case all this goes wahoonie-shaped and I still need to get the Carbonite Guru to pull my huevos out of the fire. And I can’t use my Other Drive, the one that has all the files and stuff backed up on it, because I need those backups, and besides, it’s too small.
This means a trip to the Staples for External Drive Number Three, and I find that we’re now operating in Terabyte Land. That was enlightening. The 500 G drive is too small because of some funky stuff with partitions and all that means I’m likely to run into trouble using a 500G drive to hold an image of another 500G drive. Or this is the case according to the Web. So I size up: one terabyte. I’m kind of thrilled to be buying a terabyte of anything, because my first six or seven computers didn’t even have a hard drive, I’m that old. I remember the Glory Days when you could get a hard drive that held a whole meg. We were thrilled and dancing in the streets when that happened, let me tell you. So, a terabyte. That feels like Science Fiction to me. I feel like the Star Trek transporter beam is only around the corner, buying terabytes.
Only problem is, Windows 7 seems to get funky with terabyte storage. Or maybe it’s some kind of funky stuff with Western Digital. Because as I’m shuttling my Terabyte between computers, trying to make sure everything is in line – and then spending three hours troubleshooting when it doesn’t work, which it rather predictably doesn’t, my computer and the Emergency Backup Box borrowed from Roy are continually failing to recognize the external drive. It’s in Device Manager, which says everything is groovy and good to go, but it only sporadically shows up in Windows Explorer.
Good god almighty, I surely do miss the days when I didn’t have to share a bunch of exotic Microsoft Office documents and statistics files, and I could use a civilized operating system, like Linux. You just don’t get these kinds of problems. Life is easier with Linux. Other than the dependency thing, but that doesn’t usually keep you from booting.
So Plan B flops like a four-day-dead fish: I can boot from the recovery disk, but it either does not recognize that I have a drive attached to the system that contains a recovery image, or it sees the drive but not the image.
Totally random, by the way. My BFF Google tells me that loads of people have this exact problem…and there are loads of virtually random ways to fix it. Judging by the different approaches to fixing it, and the different success rates experienced by different parties, what I have to say is this: Make A Saving Throw versus Loki. ’nuff said. I had to go for Plan C.
This involved a different piece of commercial software, a trial version, eight or ten websites offering different degrees of detail about implementing the solution, and about 90 minutes of dedicated incense-burning, psalm-reciting, and the ritual slaughtering of a few small animals and a half-dozen virgins.
In the end, it worked. Or it seems to have done. Sprinkle salt, spit between two fingers, make a hex sign against the evil eye, and paint the doorposts with the blood of a rolled leg of lamb. The only thing that made me happier, this week, than the correct log-on screen for Windows, and my real wallpaper, and bookmarks and files and all that crap showing up when my system rebooted after those 90 minutes was the sight of a tiny sliver of Huey’s eyeball as the swelling starts to recede.
Looks like he got cellulitis from his beastly little face-biting fight with the other horse. You can’t cure Stupid, but you can cure staph. And we’re in the middle of working on that one too.