As posted below, my wife’s hard drive abruptly shuffled off this mortal coil late in the morning. Fortunately, I had a spare drive handy–a 100 GB Maxtor IDE workhorse that used to be the boot drive in my old Athlon. I figured I could just install Vista x64 on that, copy some software down, drop my World of Warcraft folder on her drive, and get her back up and going.
Except we couldn’t find the Vista DVDs. Either of them.
Now, that Maxtor has a perfectly useful and functional installation of Windows XP SP2 on it. But one thing I always heard was that you simply do not swap a boot hard drive from one machine to another with completely different hardware. It won’t work. Well, I had nothing to lose by trying, so…
Booting her machine with the Maxtor in it produced a 15-minute stream of “found new hardware,” but it did boot, and after one restart, came up with no errors. Next problem: drivers for the motherboard’s Ethernet. Problem was, I can’t find the jump drive I bought along with the new computer parts three months ago.
Enter improvisation #2. I’d been messing with our digital camera earlier in the day, trying to clean up some pictures my wife took. It’s got a 128 MB memory card in it. Those memory cards, as it turns out, are nothing more than a Windows filesystem. 20 minutes later, in addition to 30 pictures of bead jewelry, the card had Realtek LAN and audio and nVidia video drivers on it, and was being read by a portable all-in-1 flash reader that my stepfather-in-law gave us months ago, and my wife just found last week.
It worked. Then the next step was to clean all the garbage off the drive so I could defrag it. 65 GB of deleted stuff later (mostly my Flight Simulator 2004 installation) followed by a defrag, it had a nice clean 80 GB of space available. Then it was a trip back across the room to my machine to get my WoW folder copied over, and final installation in the wife’s.
And now, five hours after she first saw SYSTEM BOOT ERROR pop up, she’s got functional World of Warcraft and Internet again. It’s not as fast as the old setup, but it’ll do for now until we can get the Seagate repaired and find our Vista DVDs. It should still be fast enough to raid.
I’d rather be lucky than good…but it’s better to be both.