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Troubleshooting Adventures in Windows 7

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Posted by okorioth on 13 Mar 13 0 Comments

Stressed man and laptop

Yes, even computer problems plague us IT pros from time to time, nobody is perfect.  Its inconvenient, aggravating and nerve wracking even for a seasoned individual such as myself. My primary machine is of the home brew variety which I have cobbled together over the years with various pieces parts and has been running very well for a long time.  The last update was switching to an SSD drive to improve its speed dramatically.
Occasionally the machine would flake out and get stuck and would require a hard reset, but then the problem would go away. Last weekend I was using it as usual and all of a sudden it froze completely. When I reset it, this time it did not come back. The boot up process is now stuck on the Windows logo and I could see the hard drive light thrashing away but the desktop never appears. Hmmm. A couple more time of resetting did not change anything. #%&^@! Thankfully, I am religious about my backups so even if I lost the drive I could recover any data. I also noticed that my HP Deskjet Pro seemed to be locked up as well. Hmmm maybe there was a short of some kind. So I unplugged the printer power and also the computer power. A lot of times this will resolve odd crashes like this. Lo and behold it worked and I went on my merry way.
Fast forward to the next day..guess what. Same problem. The computer is stuck on the Windows logo again. Arrrg! Lots of swearing later any attempts to boot into Windows have failed. I tried going into safe mode, last known good configuration, even system restore could not find any backup points. Hmmm, I’m suspecting this is a more serious hardware problem. The next logical step is to remove all the peripherals and extras attached to the computer and see if that boots. Nothing. Okay, now its time to open up the case and check hardware. Re-seat all the cards, reseat the memory chips, and make sure all cabling is secure and not loose. Close it back up and try again, and nothing.. I gave up for the day and decided to tackle it later.
So, round two and a little Googling later. I found out my SSD drive from Crucial has a firmware update, and lo and behold there’s a fix in there for not coming back online after a sudden power loss. So, I ran the update CD on the drive which was successful but to my chagrin once again it did not change things. So I thought, hey I still have my original boot drive which is just a regular SATA drive, let’s try booting that! After some fiddling with the internal cables I fire it back up again.   To my surprise..no dice. On a hunch, I decided to unplug the secondary storage drive I have in there,  where I keep the majority of my data. Guess what, after I unplugged it the computer sprang back to life!
So the entire time I was working on the assumption it was the primary drive and not the secondary drive. I put the SSD back in and it too came back as if nothing was wrong. Unfortunately that second drive is toast, I lost that data. Thankfully however, I had all the important stuff backed up to an external and the cloud so I have not lost anything important. But it still sucks as I’m sure at some point I will be hunting for some file that was on there that doesn’t exist anymore. Such is life. And once again stresses the importance of having backups!
Update: Just a quick shoutout to an open source software tool called testdisk from CGsecurity . Running that on my Ubuntu laptop has allowed me to recover the data from that hard drive. Thanks guys! Linux to the rescue!  Not for the feint of heart by the way, you need to know what you are doing.

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