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Thread: OT - Computer Hardware questions

  1. #1
    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
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    Default OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Got home last night, and my wife's PC greeted me with something that approximately equals: "Cannot read drive c:\, please insert a bootable drive."

    Okay, that computer is seven years old, and I think its time to take it out in the pasture and shoot it. But over the past couple of years, I've max'ed it out and upgraded the hardware (64 bit Soundblaster card, ATI Radeon video card, Firewire card, etc.) And since Christmas, I've replaced the old CD R/W drive and added a DVD-ROM drive.

    My questions:

    (1) Is the hard drive really shot? OR did the d@m# thing just quit talking to the rest of the computer? Its a fairly new Maxtor 20 GByte drive, so I hope the data on it can be salvaged and that I can daisy-chain that drive to a drive on a new computer. But I'm afraid to try to re-partition it because I'm afraid of losing some of the data that's on it.

    (2) If I buy a replacement computer, I think the standard video and sound cards that are included will not be as good as the ones sitting in my (currently) dead computer. I know you gamers will tell me that my video card isn't the latest and greatest anymore, but what I need to know if whether its better than the stardard video card in today's new computers.

    If my stuff is better, does anybody know where I can buy a new computer that doesn't have built-in CD R/W and DVD drives, a built-in sound card, a built-in video card, etc.? I don't mind upgrading the thing myself but I don't want to pay for and immediately replace those components and I really don't want to build the computer from scratch (I'm a finance geek, not a computer geek )

    Any input is appreciated. Jay
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Member Ragnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    I think you mean 20gb not mb. If it were only 20mb you would not even be able to load windows.

    The best thing to do is to buy a new computer and put that drive in the second bay to retrieve what you can. If you dont want to do that buy a new HD man I dont even think they sell 20gb anymore. For very little money you can get a way bigger hd. Install windows on the new one and put your old one in the second position to retrieve your settings and files.

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    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    I think you mean 20gb not mb. If it were only 20mb you would not even be able to load windows.

    The best thing to do is to buy a new computer and put that drive in the second bay to retrieve what you can. If you dont want to do that buy a new HD man I dont even think they sell 20gb anymore. For very little money you can get a way bigger hd. Install windows on the new one and put your old one in the second position to retrieve your settings and files.
    Yeah, I just fixed it to say 20 GB. My very first PC had a 20 MB hard drive, so I always say it wrong. Actually, I daisy-chained the original HD for this computer when I bought the new drive so I could retrieve that stuff.

    Any thoughts on the other hardware?
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  4. #4
    Grumpy Old Man (PD host) able's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Chances are the hard disk is just fine, try booting from a floppy (Norton on it would be nice) or a "rescue disk" which you can make on "any" computer with the same OS, the run scandisk, most likely either a virsu took out the registry or an error ocurred in the boot sector (allocation table).

    As for new machines/components; 5.1 + SPDIF is pretty standard for on board soun nowadays, VGA is usually better then ATI/Radeon to So I would not bother with that, but perhaps revive the machine for a friend, a school or whatever.
    FireWire only usefull if the new mother board allows you to plug it on, unless its PCI then you can use it on every board, most boards above bottom of the ladder in price will have FW on board though, but still handy to have extra, make sure you get USB 2.0

    A 160 Gb HDD will set you back approx $ 90

    If you don't want all the peripherals like DVD/CD/FDD then a "rebuild " of the current one is a good solution, or buy a new case as well and just build it, certainly with most add-ons on board, there is very little work and intellect to it

    Have fun

    So Long And Thanks For All The Fish.

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    Then why not have Breakfast at Milliways!


  5. #5
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Assuming the HD is dead... why not get a new motherboard, cpu, hard drive and probably a case.... Then reuse your old parts in a new machine that you build yourself.

    Depending on the motherboard you might want to get new RAM but that is cheap these days.

    Try someplace like Newegg.com for good deals and track record.

    I just ordered some new parts myself. I recommend skipping the option of paying 2.99 for the 'rush' service. My experience is that it will ship in between 1-2 days either way.

    Normally the stuff I've ordered from them has shipped right away... this time I ordered online on a late Sunday/early Monday morning and thought I'd pay the 2.99 figuring that would guarantee a Monday shipping... Unless their online records are behind, it won't be shipping until today anyway....

    They ship via FedEx Express saver so transit time is 2-3days.

    That is my 'ad' for the day....

    Even if the HD is faulty you may be able to mirror the files to a new drive.

    -Bball
    O'Brien has been fired! Yay! What took so long?

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

    -John Wooden

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    Member BigMac's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    My words of wisdom:

    When in doubt, drop back 6 and punt.
    Two=the number 2
    Too=means "also"
    To=many definitions-also known as the one to use when the other 2 (two, too) do not apply.

    Their=shows ownership-'it is their house'
    They're=they are
    There=many definitions-also known as the one to use when the other 2 (their, they're) do not apply

    Sorry but it bugs me when these are used incorrectly when I read posts on PacersDigest.com.

  7. #7
    Member Doug's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Don't forget to check the cable/connections between the HD and the controller/motherboard.
    You're caught up in the Internet / you think it's such a great asset / but you're wrong, wrong, wrong
    All that fiber optic gear / still cannot take away the fear / like an island song

    - Jimmy Buffett

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    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Thanks for the suggestions so far.

    I did boot from my rescue floppy last night. I'm running Windows ME on that computer (my wife pretty much only uses it for email and reading articles about the Pacers so it does the job) and when I booted from floppy it could "find" the hard drive but indicated that it wasn't bootable.

    So I agree - I think its an error in the boot sector or perhaps a virus, because it was working fine last week.

    If that's the case - is there a way to fix this W/O losing data.

    I suppose I could make the big drive the slave, re-install windows on the old drive, and boot the computer that way?

    Any other suggestions?
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  9. #9
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Thanks for the suggestions so far.

    I did boot from my rescue floppy last night. I'm running Windows ME on that computer (my wife pretty much only uses it for email and reading articles about the Pacers so it does the job) and when I booted from floppy it could "find" the hard drive but indicated that it wasn't bootable.

    So I agree - I think its an error in the boot sector or perhaps a virus, because it was working fine last week.

    If that's the case - is there a way to fix this W/O losing data.

    I suppose I could make the big drive the slave, re-install windows on the old drive, and boot the computer that way?

    Any other suggestions?
    On older versions of Windows if the system files got corrupted you could transfer those from a bootable floppy (at least that was how it worked in the olden days of Windows). Those corrupted or missing system files would render the HD 'not bootable'. (actually, not so much a windows issue as just making the HD 'bootable' to get to windows or DOS...etc...)

    The problem is... I don't know that any of this is relevant to WinME.

    You can't just copy the needed files... they have a specific place they need to reside on the hd.

    Hmmmmm from boot disk with sys command on it I believe this is what needed typed and entered from the command prompt:

    SYS A: C:

    Something like that... I have zilch experience with Win Me tho.... That was the fix to copy system files and make the HD bootable back in the day...

    -Bball
    O'Brien has been fired! Yay! What took so long?

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

    -John Wooden

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    Member Ragnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Assuming the HD is dead... why not get a new motherboard, cpu, hard drive and probably a case.... Then reuse your old parts in a new machine that you build yourself.

    Depending on the motherboard you might want to get new RAM but that is cheap these days.

    Try someplace like Newegg.com for good deals and track record.

    I just ordered some new parts myself. I recommend skipping the option of paying 2.99 for the 'rush' service. My experience is that it will ship in between 1-2 days either way.

    Normally the stuff I've ordered from them has shipped right away... this time I ordered online on a late Sunday/early Monday morning and thought I'd pay the 2.99 figuring that would guarantee a Monday shipping... Unless their online records are behind, it won't be shipping until today anyway....

    They ship via FedEx Express saver so transit time is 2-3days.

    That is my 'ad' for the day....

    -Bball

    hehe I just ordered a new CPU from newegg this morning. They are the best. I never use the 2.99 option either because they are so good at getting it out right away anyway.

  11. #11
    Grumpy Old Man (PD host) able's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Yes Jay, there are several options you can now go.

    Q 1: can you run "scandisk" from the rescue disk ?
    try typing "scandisk.exe c:

    Q 2 if not possible, make me a list of what files the ME rescue disk holds, I do not have any version of ME here, so am workign somewhat in the blind.

    Another option ? "upgrade" your OS to either win2003 or XP, the files and settings are all saved, the bootsector overwritten.

    Another one: boot with an AV disk (Norton and AVG have bootable disks or allow you to make one, but usually you can boot from CDrom) and run the "rescue/restore option.

    another one: Norton tools boot disk, "make disk bootable again" option (restore allocation table)

    advantage with the AV disks is that if there is something (virus) on the disk, it will take care of that.

    Usually you can download those kind of "latest" disks from the net too.

    anymore questions: ask or msg or email me
    So Long And Thanks For All The Fish.

    If you've done 6 impossible things today?
    Then why not have Breakfast at Milliways!


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  13. #13
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions


    I built all my computers for the past 20 years, but no more. Can't even buy the parts for what you can buy a new built puter.
    I just bought a Cel 2.5 with 256 mem, 40 gig hd, CD-RW drive, flip faceplate w/ all the memory stick recepticles, 17" monitor and nice Lexmark printer for $350!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (after rebates of course). Front and rear USB. etc
    Can't even buy a box, mb, cpu, and memory for that money!
    I added 256 ram (for 9.99 after rebate), put a zip drive in it, and Best Buy has a 64 meg pci card (no agp slot) for $49.99. I'll get that, disable the shared video on the mb and free up the whole 512 ram for processing.
    Not at all cutting edge, but pretty damn impressive set for $400 and change!
    Yeah, I built a pretty smashing system for a good friend. We could have been cheaper, but the most expensive piece was the case. Tons of LEDs, glittering fans, and a clear plate on the side.

    Looked pretty cool.

    Anyway, Jay, your problem is (as you've guessed) your boot sector. It may be fixable, it may not. Bball had the syntax (why not, they tax everything else) almost right. It's:

    A:\>sys c:

    If that doesn't work, get yourself a new drive. Best Buy has a good deal pretty much every week (with a mail-in rebate) on a decent hard drive... you'll get the best performance if you get an 8mb cache and a minimum speed of 7200 rpm. I doubt you'd ever use anything over 80 gigs, so don't worry about that end. Try not to spend more than a dollar a gig.
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    Enjoy your time at PD!

  14. #14
    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    Thanks again everyone.

    I did futz around with the thing after I got home last night - I booted with the disk from above but the <sys> command didn't do the trick, and since I'm running on a newer version of Windows at work, I wasn't able to figure out how to create Windows ME rescue disks from Norton - the help file says I can't and, although I don't believe them, I haven't been able to prove them wrong!

    Besides, the wife is really pushing for an entirely new system - the motherboard is seven years old and I don't think it can be upgraded beyond Pentium MMX/ 200 and 128 Megs of memory, which it currently is. When she was only using it for email and balancing the books, it was more than enough computer. But now that Jay's_Daughter@Section222 is using the computer for games and more web surfing, etc., she's probably right. And I usually don't have her permission to spend money like this...

    So if I'm going to buy a new system, anyone's thoughts on Dell/ Gateway/ Best Buy/ someplace I've never heard of that's great?
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  15. #15

    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions

    If you're going to go that route then I'd go with Dell over Gateway or Compaq.

  16. #16
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Computer Hardware questions


    hehe I just ordered a new CPU from newegg this morning. They are the best. I never use the 2.99 option either because they are so good at getting it out right away anyway.
    This is only mildly related to the thread but I will relate some positive news for NewEgg. First, some of my stuff DID ship Monday but some of it didn't ship until Tuesday (I'd paid the 2.99 for rush service). They shipped the Tuesday stuff 2nd Day Fed Ex at their dime without my asking (no charges for me). They also refunded the 2.99 rush fee (again, on their own. I never requested it).

    Lastly, one of the disks that was supposed to be bundled with the DVD Writer was missing. They replied to my email in a few hours and are sending me a new copy.... and gave me an order number to track.

    So, for me, New Egg is a good egg!

    www.NewEgg.com

    I've had some bad dealings with some online computer/electronics places. New Egg has always been good for me. I thought I'd give 'em some pub! We always hear the horror stories about some bad places but don't always hear the positives about the good places.

    -Bball
    O'Brien has been fired! Yay! What took so long?

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, thatís teamwork."

    -John Wooden

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