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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Wednesday (6/25/14) 4:33pm - ... wherein Peter replaces a hard drive.

On Monday I replaced an old hard drive. I feel the need to briefly document this madness.

So, back in 2010 or so, I had a PC with a 1TB hard drive that ran Windows 7. In late 2012, I upgraded it to an SSD drive. So I installed Windows 7 on the SSD, and kept the 1TB drive as a secondary drive. I didn't bother uninstalling Windows from it, and used its considerable extra space for media.

In the past few months, I noticed that this drive was slowing down. Frequently, it would lock up for a second before letting me access a folder, and generally drive-access speeds were low. It finally occurred to me in the last week or so that this was a sign of imminent drive failure. So I figured it was time to switch that out for a new drive. Simple, right?

I bought a shiny new 3TB hard drive. I put it in an enclosure and copied all the media from the 1TB drive over to it. Then I removed the 1TB and plugged in the 3TB drive.

And then my computer wouldn't boot.

I plugged the 1TB drive back in, and ta-da! The computer booted.


I slowly pieced together that while, yes, the computer was running Windows off of the SSD, for the last two years it had been *booting* off of the 1TB drive. The 1TB drive was bootable. The SSD was not.

After several dead-ends, I eventually sorted out that you can make an existing drive bootable -- in this case, by going to the 1TB drive's windows directory in the CLI and typing "

Bcdboot . /s C:
". This moved the relevant "this is a boot drive" files over to the SSD. Now Disk Management was telling me that the SSD was bootable and the 1TB drive was not.


I rebooted. The Windows startup screen appeared -- yay! Windows started up. And... no, it looked wrong.

I quickly realized that, while I'd booted off of the SSD, I was now running the 1TB drive's copy of Windows. The "bcdboot" command had stowed away instructions that said "use the 1TB drive's Windows directory as your OS".

If I'd been thinking at this point, I would have just gone to the SSD's Windows directory and re-typed that Bcdboot command from there.

Instead, I learned how to use bcdedit, a clumsy Windows command-line tool for editing the boot menu by hand. I found the boot menu options -- it had two items, one for each copy of Windows, and was using the 1TB drive by default -- and carefully entered the instructions to reduce it down to just one item that used the SSD's copy of Windows.

By the way, all of this was nerve-wracking. The tricky thing about fixing a computer is that typically you're *using* the computer to fix the computer. That means if you screw things up and render the computer unbootable -- i.e., it won't start -- then you have no way to fix it.

But this time, I rebooted the computer (yet again), and it finally booted off of my SSD and ran Windows off of my SSD. Huzzah!

So that was several hours of my Monday.

Mood: [mood icon] productive · Music: none
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