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SilentBob Is Was Dead
Tuesday 3rd April, 2007 16:42 Comments: 3
Long Live SilentBob. Or at least I hope that's the case tomorrow morning when I bring in a spare hard disk (IDE), graphics card (ripped from my P4 server that's currently idle) and RAM (also from the P4) and - importantly - an XP SP2 CD I can boot off. I'm not entirely sure what's at fault with my quiet little server in the office. I doubt it's the RAM as it's running at stock and has worked perfectly (and the BSOD on bootup occurs no matter which stick is installed), I doubt it's the graphics card as it appears to be working with the monitor right up until it briefly displays the Windows logo and then a flashing BSOD (Safe Mode gets as far as mup.sys and then it reboots, Google suggests it's a hardware fault too, or perhaps a corrupt registry), I've even ripped out the second network card I was using (as the onboard Gigabit LAN doesn't particularly like working with the 10MB hub), so my money is on the 200GB SATA hard disk, which has been used constantly for nearly 3 years. I think there's a couple months left of the warranty. It's still a pain. I suspect I can grab the data off the SATA disk. It might even be some random corruption that I can fix and then switch the disks back over. The server desn't do much, so it shouldn't take too long to install Windows, all the updates, and some applications (and hopefully copy some tools and scripts off the SATA drive). It also gives me a good excuse to permanently switch the graphics card and use the 7600GS in the P4 machine, leaving the 2MB ATI card, as I never have the server hooked up to a monitor (unless, like today, it doesn't come back up after a restart). That trusty 2MB card has been very useful over the years. I believe it's my first ever graphics card, taken from a Gateway 2000 P5-75.
Avatar Robert - Wednesday 4th April, 2007 09:39
It's not looking good so far, my first attempt at installing XP (after switching the graphics card and hard disks) resulted in a BSOD as Windows Setup tries to load Windows (STOP: 0x0000007b), the bit where you skip... I mean read the license agreement and then choose the disk you're installing it to. I'm wiping the IDE hard disk now, as it contains my old Vista x64 installation, in the hope that it'll be less confused. In better news, after switching the 7600GS for the ATI Mach64, I think I can ditch the 120mm fan at the side of the case. And I don't have to worry about carrying around my DVI-VGA adaptor.

EDIT: It might be some sort of conflict between the SATA DVD-ReWriter and the IDE HDD, I read on a forum that - depending on how the drives are configured in the BIOS - Windows can confuse optical drives for hard drives. I might have to have another fiddle with the settings.

EDIT2: After fiddling with the BIOS I've changed a few settings that probably won't make a difference, but I changed the SATA setting from Enhanced to Compatible and with the blank hard drive I was able to get all the way into Windows Setup (currently copying files, so it's looking good so far). I'm tempted to hook the SATA drive back up and see what happens, but I don't particularly trust the disk anymore. I lose faith in hard disks fairly easily, and I usually have enough spare to be able to sacrifice them. It's a shame, as it's a nice 200GB SATA hard disk.
Avatar Robert - Wednesday 4th April, 2007 11:18
Okay, so I decided to boot off the SATA drive with the new BIOS settings and all appears to be well. I went in using Safe Mode, as I'd installed a PCI graphics card to replace the much better PCI Express card, it picked up the new hardware, I installed a few things from Microsoft Update, and a reboot later and everything's back to normal. So I'm quite happy. I'm keeping the spare disk, IDE cable and copy of WinXP+SP2 to hand, just in case.
Avatar Robert - Thursday 12th April, 2007 11:05
My dad had a related problem with another machine after he moved the old hard disks into the new case, I talked him through changing the BIOS setting from "Enhanced" to "Compatible" and after that he was able to activate Windows (it was originally claiming the legitimate key was invalid, when it clearly wasn't). I'm not sure why we both had problems with SATA drives, maybe it's just a nasty coincidence. I still don't like the idea of running them as "Compatible", especially if it stops me using 2 of the 4 SATA connectors on the motherboard.
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