Now and then I used to come in touch with a PC (a laptop) of a friend of mine. This PC used to display a rather strange behavior. This PC, running Windows 7, would not correctly mount any usb hard disk or pendrive, except for a few new USB 3.0 drives. This Asus laptop had a really convoluted installation history, as even specifying the precise model it is not very easy to uniquely determine the specific driver to install for a given device. It turns out that every re-installation is made is a sort of trial-and-error procedure and the final outcome is, as one can see, not very nice.
I recently got some new hardware, and as you can immagine, some issues.
Disclaimer: I describe some procedures and link to an external website. I will be not responsible for damages caused by the operations described. I will be not responsible for the external site content or damages caused by the operations described in the external website. I you don’t feel confident, seek expert advice. These operations may cause unrecoverable data loss. Please always do a backup.
For once, I got a larger hardisk and for 30E a cheap passsive cooled ASUS Nvidia EN8400S Silent. Not such a good idea, with my crowded case.
After a lot of random hard freezes (usually after 5 or 10 of minutes) , drivers attempts, and when thinking about OS reinstallation, I thought about a little run on Linux. The thing freezed at the boot. Now you know, Linux is especially forgiving with failed hardware, so I started to think about a broken video card. At least I didn’t reinstall the thing.
Then I realized the problem was the passive cooling, and another card too close to the video card passive cooler. Took out the card, switched on the PCI fan (I used to have one), and now it runs flawlessy.
I cannot use my card anymore, no farther spare PCI slots, but who cares. I used it sparingly anyway. I would not say to buy a passive cooled vga card. I had to put a pci fan anyway, so why bother?
The disk swapping was easier, and I avoided reinstalling. First of all I made a good backup (who knows).
First, I used backtrack3 to boot the PC by USB Pen. It’s easy, just extract the .iso to the pen and click on the .bat in the boot/ directory. It will install an MBR on the USB stick, and if your mobo support it, it will boot from there. Or you can burn and use a cdrom, if you prefer. Any linux distro that provides the following tools will do fine, AFAIK.
I copied the partition table from the original disk (hda) to the new disk (sda) which is much larger (5 times larger).
sfdisk -d /dev/hda|sfdisk /dev/sda
I just needed the system partition, so actually used cfdisk /dev/sda to delete the other partitions. You probably don’t need this step, and moreover, you can always do it later.
For good measure, I rebooted, and back to Backtrack3, I used dd to copy JUST the mbr (not the partition table!) to the new disk.
I copied the MBR to the new disk:
dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/sda bs=446 count=1
and then the system partition content:
dd if=/dev/hda1 of=/dev/sda1
I can be a very slow operation, go and get a beer.
After this, I took out the old hard disk and it worked flawlessy on the first try.
Then I used XP to create the data partition and to move non-system data on the new disk.
Here you will find an interesting guide to hard disk swapping and MBR management.