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mdworld - Reviving a laptop

I was "reviving" a laptop for a friend. Just had to run the restore CD's and everything should be done. Of course, it is never that simple...

The Dell D800 laptop with Pentium M processor, 1GB RAM and 30GB runs a rather neglected Windows XP.

The first step is to make backups. Only the My Documents folder is to be backed up, and it's just a couple of GBs. It does contain a couple of redundant dirs - such as My Music (in multiple languages), Music, My Albums, etc. - which needs to be cleaned up, but I'll take care of that later.

Just copying the entire My Documents fails with a "Cyclic Redundancy Error". Awww, great. I've seen those before. And, indeed, a lot of dirs seem to contain themselves (My Music contains a dir My Music which cannot be opened).

Scandisk doesn't yield any errors. Booting a Ubuntu live cd would not mount the disk because it had too much errors. Oh well, I just copied the files manually (it was not a lot of a data, but annoying enough to do it by hand, in hindsight). Some files were to corrupted to copy and were lost. Thank God for backups! Oh wait, there were none... Couldn't be that important then :)

Although this laptops harddrive may be failing I'll continue to restore the system, reformatting might help. It's not my laptop and I will advise the owner to keep an eye on this.

The laptop came with 2 factory restore CDs (not DVDs, mind you) and I popped the first one in to start the restore process. I immediately got an error (that I forgot to record). But I did remember having seen that before, so I modified the settings to scan for bad sectors and it continued. The first 40% is done within 20 minutes but then it seems to hang. Impatient as I am I restart the restoration a couple of times with different settings to no effect at all. Then, as a last resort, I left it on overnight. And sure enough, the next day it was asking for disk 2, which it finished within half an hour. It did give a couple of errors, but I just discarded those, and the laptop booted a fresh Windows XP SP1.

The next step would be to upgrade to XP SP3. The Windows update site link that was in the Start menu didn't work anymore, but I managed to find the Installation Package for IT Professionals fast enough. Be sure to get it in the right language for your OS, though :) I'm letting that run and go to work...

It was all pretty much straightforward from here. Installed Microsoft Security Essentials, Chrome as default browser, VLC player, 7-zip, Notepad++. Made a restore image with Clonezilla at this point. Then also installed iTunes. I intend to just use Google documents, but if that would prove inadequate, we'll always have LibreOffice.

I created the Clonezilla image right after installing SP3 but with a minimum of tools installed (leaving out e.g. iTunes, as it has a pretty large footprint). Even though, the Clonezilla image already exceeds 4.7GB, which sucks, because Clonezilla does not support creating a bootable restore DVD with the restore image spanning multiple disks. So I just made a 7-zip archive split into 4GB volumes and burnt that to DVDs.

by Martin @ 10:30 22 August 2011