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Journal JWSmythe's Journal: How not to transfer an OS 6

I got a fun pre-xmas present, a new Phenom II X4 955. It's a 3.4Ghz CPU that runs very happily at 4Ghz. The previous occupant in that socket was an Athlon II X4 2.8Ghz, that ran happily for a year at 3Ghz.

    I spent an hour fiddling with overclock settings, and settled at 4.2Ghz (more or less). While sitting with just the browser open, Asus Probe (temp, fan, and voltage monitor) started screaming that the core voltage was above threshold. At about 6pm, there was a thunk, and everything went dark. I'm not sure if it was the power supply or motherboard died. I had ongoing problems with the motherboard since I got it, where bios settings would mysteriously change themselves after weeks of working normally. The power supply wasn't anything spectacular, but it seemed to work. I headed down to CompUSA, and picked up a new power supply, motherboard, and I decided that the drives weren't fast enough, so I picked up a pair of 1.5Tb SATA drives to run as a RAID0. Mmm. More speed.. :)

    I got home at about 8pm. I dismantled the whole thing, and had it reassembled in about 10 minutes. Now I have two blank drives in position (ports 1 & 2), the old drive (port 4), and the DVD player (port 6). I poke around in the BIOS a bit, getting everything set right, and setting the drives as a RAID0. I boot up to a trusty Linux CD to start the transfer. Blah, the RAID controller is really a software raid. I see both disks. There are fixes, I'm just not that far yet. I decide to just copy everything to the first SATA drive, and I'll RAID other parts later. My girlfriend would like to watch a movie with me, as I set up all my theater equipment in our new "theater room" (DLP projector, 8' wide screen, 7 speakers all properly placed and tuned +- 1dB). All I have to do is get the transfer started, and go watch the movie.

    dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdc bs=1024k

    Seems simple enough, right? I switch to another console, and kill -USR1 $pid , to see where it's at. 2GB transfered. Great. The partition table should already be written. fdisk -l /dev/sda shows nothing. hmmm. fdisk -l /dev/sdc shows nothing.

    Aw fuck.

    It dawns on me, I'm not cloning the old drive to the new ones, I'm cloning the empty drive over my data! ABORT ABORT ABORT!

    Well, the partition table is gone, and presumably the beginning of the drive is overwritten, so none of that will be recovered. I think I have enough crap on there to fluff it a bit. My first and second partitions were Linux, which is easily replaced. The third and fourth partition hold Windows 7 and all my current work. The fifth partition holds all my virtual machines, which are my testbed for all kinds of fun things. Employment essential aren't a big deal, they're replicated at work, and on backups there. It's things like the 5,000 pictures that I took over the years, that I reacquired from various sources, which are now almost organized to store and back up, but I haven't finished. And a few videos including a 1hr 15min video of a live band that I'm including 400 stills into to make a good video of their performance.

    With tools on the TRK, I've been able to see the partitions to recover, but since I'm not totally familiar with the particular tool, it's been a slow process. Reading across a 1Tb drive, it takes hours. Even still, I'm not totally sure I could convince Windows to clone to the array, rather than using just one drive.

    So now, I'm starting off with a fresh Windows install. The Windows installer sees the array. I'm using 1Tb for Windows (2 1.5Tb drives RAID0 = 3Tb). Once I have a working machine again, and can play WOW with my girlfriend (she likes playing it), I'll be happier, and then can repair the messed up drive overnight on a few nights.

    The only real problems I had on the old machine were that it couldn't play Stargate: Revolution (crashes after a few minutes), and I wasn't totally satisfied with the drive speed. According to the "Windows Experience Index", my scores were:

Processor 7.3
Memory (RAM) 7.3
Graphics 6.6
Gaming graphics 6.6
Primary hard disk 5.9

(current "max" score is 7.9)

    When I've looked at machines in the stores, this is way above any retail box. I just wanted to get the drive speed in line with the other parts. Dammit. So it'll take a few days to get it up and working properly. Until then, I'll be limping along on the laptop. :) No video editing on the laptop though, it just isn't fast enough, even though it's only a few months old.

Processor 3.2
Memory 4.9
Graphics 3.0
Gaming graphics 4.5
Primary hard disk 5.4

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How not to transfer an OS

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  • I feel your pain, but I'd probably re-title this "why you should buy another 1.5TB drive for $50 and use it as a backup".

    I use OSX, so I make sure time machine does my full backup daily, then I use CrashPlan and DropBox to keep my vital work backed up redundantly (DropBox to my laptop and their servers, CrashPlan to a family member's off-site system).

    Certainly you don't need a reminder of the value of backup at this point, I just felt the need to say it again... and maybe introduce you to crashplan ;)

    • Well, I normally keep backups. I don't have a real backup solution here. I have one where my server is, that does incrementals nightly. I usually don't depend on my desktop computer. They get wiped on a regular basis, so the good stuff sits up on servers. This unfortunately was mid-process, so it wasn't backed up. I may end up taking an old machine, sticking a few 2Tb external drives on it as a RAID5, and calling it the "home backup" machine. The backup machine at the datacenter has sav

  • I just wanted to get the drive speed in line with the other parts. Dammit.

    Windows Experience Index will cap the Primary Hard Disk score at 5.9 unless it is an SSD drive.

    • Ya, I found that after posting that. That was a stupid thing for them to do. What kind of benchmark is it, if they've defined a blanket "This type of hardware doesn't go any faster"? It's not like spinning platter hard drives have stopped advancing. Either way, I wanted better performance from the drives. They were quick, but I wanted quicker. :) Video editing, yada, yada...

      I know. Use a real benchmark program. But this one is preinstalled, and I can ask anyone to look

  • I have a $15 tester that lets me test a power supply in seconds, without having to rip it out of the case, plus now instead of a bunch of power supplies laying around with a big "Flakey?" or "Bad?" written on them, I now know for sure :-D

    •     Ya, that's one of those investments I need to make soon.

          There was a burnt smell from this power supply, so it's suspect. :) But the erratic voltage change on the CPU would hint more towards the motherboard. Either way, the CPU survived which was good. It's a Phenom II x4 955. I wanted an x6, but can't afford it yet.

God made machine language; all the rest is the work of man.