Christmas Tech Woes

| Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Thursday, December 25, 2008

ah Christmas.
A time for food, fun, gifts, celebrations and families....
...and all the tech issues people like me (and anyone with interest in this blog, really) are expected to fix for our families.

I'm very happy to say I received Left 4 Dead for PC and am very happy with it so far.

Both my Mother and youngest brother got the new iPod Nano's and, of course, now need a computer to run them off. My family currently uses a Dell Inspiron 4300 Desktop which is way WAY past its prime. Over time it has fallen into disarray since I now have my own computer, and because my father has a stigma regarding I do anything to it.

Since my family now would have need of the computer on a more regular basis I figured now would be a great time to format it from scratch and get it running smoothly.

First item on the agenda was backing up every ones data - which is pretty much nothing by my standards (a few word documents and two pictures on the entire computer). Once that was secure on my flash drive (which took a very long time due to the computer lagging) I went to reformat the disk and install windows XP.

Immediately (before booting to the disk) the bios was laggy and hung on the opening screen for several minutes. This was followed by an error beep and the computer telling me the disk was not detected (link to forum on similar issue). Usually my family hits F1 and the boot continues onto windows. Knowing this would not get me to the CD I booted back into the bios and adjusted the settings accordingly (cd first, disk second) then tried again. Somehow this did not work the first time, but did the second without any other adjusting.

I formatted the hard drive and installation copied the files as normal. Upon reboot, I got the same 'Hard Disk not Found' error, and was unable to do anything but boot into the CD from there. I stayed in this installation loop for awhile and did some research online.

The symptoms pointed to a bad boot.ini file. I tried to repair the boot file using the recovery console and the fixmbr and fixboot commands. Neither worked and I then needed to wipe the drive clean to do a fresh install - which the XP installation disk couldn't do for me. I attempted to boot into Linux Mint via the live CD, but had no luck since the hard drive wouldn't show up (which I found disappointing).

Since I was completely obliterating the disk I didnt necessarily have to do it on that computer so I took the hard drive out and shoved it into my alienware (yes, I have an ATA cable ^^) and formatted it via the 'disk management' utility. While waiting for the format to finish Im downloading all the programs I'll have to install on the new computer (AVG, keyscrambler, firefox, adobe reader, open office, XP Service Pack 2) and I'm looking at all the updates Dell has put out for that specific system.

After reformatting and using disk check I put the drive back into the Dell computer to try again. Of course, it didn't work. Same errors, same installation loops.

At this point Google became God. Browsing around I found that most people resolved their issue by playing with the cable order and resetting the bios (forum posts here, here and here). Lucky for me the computer only has two cables, one for the HD and one for the CD drives. The HD one wont service both CD Drives. I tried though, and it seems the 'no hard drive' error is gone however installation is taking MUCH longer to load. Even if it had worked I cannot leave the cables like that, my parents would never forgive me for 'breaking' the other CD Drive (since it would have worked before....grrrr). Yet again, installation looped and I cannot boot from the hard drive - only the CD.

I have also played with the bios settings and am disappointed there is no master reset option. Leaving me to guess what the defaults are/should be. I do not believe the motherboard battery is going out since it retains any changes I make to it.

At current, I have posted a question in Tech Support Forum and I am going to attempt a bios update.

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