Whew! Back in the Saddle
Yesterday, I killed my computer.
Well, not so much killed it as put it in a big hairy coma.
And all with the best of intentions.
I had purchased the latest version of Acronis True Image (an excellent piece of backup software) because the old version I had didn’t play nice with Microsoft Vista. It turns out that the new version plays nice with Vista, but only so long as you’re using Basic disks and not Dynamic disks. It can’t see Dynamic disks, and refuses to back them up. Understand that for 90+% of the population, that’s simply not an issue. They’re running Basic disks because they wouldn’t know how to convert to Dynamic disks if their lives depended on it. Dynamic disks are the exception rather than the rule. But me…well, let’s just say I like to tinker with things.
I had converted to Dynamic disks in the hopes that Vista would support software mirroring (it didn’t, at least not the version I’m running) and the thing with Dynamic disks is that it’s very easy to go from Basic to Dynamic, and it’s very difficult to go from Dynamic to Basic. So much so that Microsoft’s advice for how to do it is to back up your data, wipe the doggone thing out completely and start over from scratch. Ick.
So, I Googled around and found a document that said you could convert from Dynamic to Basic without all of that hullabaloo by running a little program called TestDisk. Neat program. Not quite the results I was looking for.
After TestDisk rewrote the partition table on my hard drive, I rebooted to let the changes take effect. Only there was no rebooting happening. I got an error complaining that \windows\system32\winload.exe was corrupted.
I knew that wasn’t really true; I could boot with a boot disk and run the TestDisk program, and it would let me wander the directories on the drive. Winload.exe was definitely there, but Vista wasn’t finding it.
The solution boiled down to TWO things:
- I had to have the Vista install disk in order to run the built-in repair utilities, and
- I had to turn off the power on my secondary (PATA) drive. The primary, where Vista is installed, is a SATA drive, and I suspected that the PATA drive was getting in the way, mostly because when I booted from boot disks, they would always see the PATA drive as C: and the SATA drive as D:
Once I disconnected the power to the PATA drive and rebooted with the Vista install disk, it figured out what the problem was, repaired the disk partition table, and Vista booted right up. Then I was able to shut down, reconnect the PATA drive, and reboot and everything is working normally once more.
And that’s the story of how I put my computer into a coma and later revived it with no memory loss at all.
As I said…WHEW!