The mess of moving to a new hard drive

While shopping around I found a Western Digital 320 GB SATA drive on Amazon for 80 bucks. Now, that is cheap. Of course, this is OEM, meaning there will be no software installed. That also meant I needed to install Windows XP on it myself, not a particularly inviting task for a weekend going from research on the net. I however liked the challenge, so I started my ordeal at 5 PM Friday (yesterday). Little did I know I would loose sleep much more than I thought.

I had recently used the Disaster Recovery feature in Retrospect Express backup utility that came along with my Western Digital external hard drive that I had purchased 2 years ago. It creates a bootable Windows XP disk from your installation. One word, computer manufacturers skimp to the maximum now-a-days with margins being far less than probably the Retail grocery industry. You don’t get the OS installation CD that you used to in the past. There is an additional charge for it. When I bought my Dell Inspiron 9400 about 4 years back, I thought I didn’t need it as somewhere on my hard drive there was a copy of the OS stored safely. So even if the hard disk went bad, I could reinstall the OS from this cache of OS. And it would cause me $10 or $25 more. Stupid mistake I made. That will work if you want to re-install on the same hard drive. 4 years back 100GB hard drive was a big deal! Now with High definition video, you will fill up that much space in less than 2 months, depending on how much you shoot.

Well it was exciting to take out the hard drive from its enclosure – agreed, it is the first time I was doing it. The baby with the shiny circuitry came out and I put in my new 320 GB hard disk, screwed it up and put the recovery CD in the DVD drive and powered up the system. Don’t forget to remove the battery before replacing your hard disk and free yourself of static. This is important as it can screw up your data in no time for as little as a brief static.

The Disaster Recovery disk did it job well I thought starting with formatting the new hard disk. I chose the Quick format NTFS option thinking this was a brand new hard disk. Mistake. Don’t do it! It is worth spending the 1/2 hr more to go through a full format, as a good hard drive is like the foundation of your entire system. One bad sector and it can cause misery as I would find out.

After installing the OS, Retrospect asked for where it could find the catalog. Now, my catalog was on a external USB hard drive which the nascent OS wouldn’t recognize. So I couldn’t do much. I quit out of disaster recovery as Retrospect told me that the Windows installation would continue by itself. Yes it did, but then the install went into a loop, it would show the GUI and then restart. Researching this took me hours – there were all sorts of reasons. Bad drivers, bad SIMM modules, bad hard disk itself, none of which made sense to me as my old hard disk was working absolutely fine.

So I gave up on my Retrospect disaster recovery feature and went to sleep..

(to continue..)

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