The Saga of the Dying Hard Drive

I’m hosting this blog on my home computer. It’s a five year old Dell Optiplex GX270. It originally came with an 80GB hard drive. Of course, at the time, I thought 80GB would be all I would ever need, but it wasn’t long before I added a 120GB SATA drive ( The first was an ATA drive. ) Since then, I’ve added a 320GB and a 500GB Western Digital MyBook external drive.

On Saturday, the 120GB SATA drive began to fail so Wichada and I went to Best Buy where I picked up a new 500GB SATA drive. It cost $117, which I’m sure is less than I paid for the 120GB drive it replaces.

Saturday night I went back to my office and fetched a gizmo that allows you to attach an old drive, externally, by plugging it into a USB drive, so that I could copy the important contents of the old drive to the new drive. But first I had to install Windows XP, and actually, my first order of business was to install RowPro, software that I use for my Concept2 Rowing machine. I’m training to row my own personal marathon, 42,196 simulated meters on my rowing machine.  Normally, I would install all of the latest Windows updates, which in this case, included SP3.  But because of my rush to get RowPro installed and get going with my long Sunday row, I omitted this step until later.  This was to prove to be a big mistake!

By 10am this morning, I finally had XP installed, RowPro installed, last night’s dish’s washed and was ready to do a gruelling 30K training row which I completed in 2 and a half hours.  After that, I created and formated a second partition on the new drive to hold my data then hooked up the old drive using the external drive adapter gizmo and began to transfer the data from the old data partition to the new one.  To facilitate this task I downloaded the Windows 2003 Resource Tool Kit which contains a command line utility called robocopy which is a full featured and excellent copy and syncing tool.  I use this because, if you try to copy by clicking and dragging in windows explorer, you inevitably meet up with copy failures that abort the whole copy process, a feature of explorer which I totally don’t get!

In searching for robocopy on the web, I discovered a gui shell to make it easier to use roboform which has a huge number of switches to choose from.  I downloaded and installed that after installing the resource tool kit.  The gui proved to be pretty fair and saved me from having to–once again–reading through all of roboform’s switches, to locate the ones best suited to the task at hand.

There was a considerable amount of data to copy so once I started, I could forget about it and go do something else.

It wasn’t until evening that I was finally ready to re-install this blog.  I had already copied my old xampp directory to my new c:\ partition so I renamed it to xampp.bak and installed xampp.  Once I had xampp installed, I installed another one of my favorite utilities called BeyondCompare.  This is a file comparison tool that comes close to being a syncing tool.  With this, I copied all the files and directories in my xampp tree that were different from, or additional to, those in the new tree.

After that, I only had to copy my old wordpress directory and then, my old hosts file to c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\ so that, when I access xampp or wordpress locally, the IP will resolve to the local IP instead of the external IP that I get from my ISP.

I tried xampp before making the last change and I could access it.  But, after the change, I could no longer do so.  I finally realized that the cause of this was that I hadn’t hard coded my local IP so that, instead of having the one that I had put in my hosts file, I had a different one assigned by DHCP.  After I fixed that, everything seemed to work just fine!  I was worried that it might not be enough to just sync my new xampp directory with the old one, and that I should have exported the MySQL wordpress data before I rebuilt my system on the new drive.  In fact, I actually re-installed the old drive and was able to boot and export that data, but it proved unneccessary.

But after having success with all of this, because of my haste, as I mentioned before, I had not installed the latest windows updates (including SP3) first thing after I was through with the Windows XP installation.  Well, yesterday evening (Sunday) I set out to install the updates, but much to my surprise, all updates failed to install.  I haven’t had time to troubleshoot this problem.  If I can’t figure it out, I’ll have re-install Windows XP!

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