SQL Clone
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HP Netbook Mini 1030NR

It was not what I expected. When I was leaving for a run this morning, I decided to apply an update to Vista and let it reboot, thinking I'd defragment the drive when I returned. It was acting funny and running slow, so this seemed like a good idea to me.

I got back from the run, went to sync my Nike + run and noticed the machine was off, so I pressed power and then sat down to stretch with water thinking this would take some time. After I was done, I went to check email and noticed that the laptop was still stuck on the POST screen, with the progress bar about 2/3 of the way across.

Uh oh.

This had happened last week, just before we left, and it had me worried. I thought the hard drive had failed, but when I powered down, left it for 10 minutes, and powered up, it seemed to work fine. I thought I'd do that here. After 10 tries, I was seriously worried.

My first thought was Holy Sh*t! Here I am, on vacation, 1700 miles from home, I got that from a sign nearby :), and I have a presentation to do tomorrow. I don't even have the presentation on a USB key, because well, I'm an idiot. I do have it up on Live Mesh, so I could get it, but I needed to work on it. I also had some stuff on a USB drive, but I am by no means sure I have most of my stuff from the drive.

So I sat for a few minutes and thought about it. My best bet was probably to go get a netbook. I've been thinking about it, and it would be a good solution for a few days. I should have a service contract with Toshiba (this machine is a Qosmio F45), but they won't likely get anything done before I get home, and I have all the 411 at home, and I'm leaving for Richmond tomorrow, then back here Fri night and flying home Sat.

Luckily I have the amazing T-Mobile G1 phone with 3G and I could look up the local Best Buy. I found one on the S side of Baltimore, about 10 mi away, so I showered and packed up. Just before leaving I tried the laptop again, and success! It booted, so I hooked up my USB drive and copied over all documents, pictures, downloads, and videos to the external drive. At least I have a copy of everything. Then it was off to Best Buy.

My purchases were:

  • HP Mini Netbook 1030NR with a 10.2" screen and a 16GB SSD. 1GB shared RAM. ($329)
  • A Geeksquad 8GB flash drive. ($25)
  • Thermaltake Black Widow eSATA+USB docking station ($54)
  • WD 320GB SATA Notebook HDD, $89
  • Acronis True Image 2009 $40

I'd asked the Geek Squad person in the store, since I knew there were ways to clone a disk drive, and he pointed me in this direction. I can use the Black Widow dock with any SATA drive, 3.5" or 2.5" and that will let me hook both drives to my laptop. From there I can boot the Acronis software and then clone my 160GB drive onto the 320GB one. Hopefully with one partition, but in any case, I'll have a working (fingers crossed) laptop.

Since I wasn't confident, and I could use a traveling machine that can be low power for presentations, the HP will come in handy. Once I have the laptop squared away, I think I'll move to Windows 7 and see how that does.

I'm afraid to clone the drive right now since I need to get a few things done, but I'll try it later and see where I come out.

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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by wnylibrarian on 2 July 2009

That's an interesting story. It was about a year ago that I applied a Vista update to my laptop. I let it reboot, but it hung in the shutdown mode for an abnormal amount of time. Then when it finally came back up I received nothing but hard drive failures. Of course I panicked because I started going through that mental checklist. I have an Access database that I use to manage my golf league, and to have a hard drive failure the night before (of course) one of our bigger tournaments of the year would be a disaster! I wouldn't accept the hard drive failure as an explanation, however, as it just didn't seem right to me. Everything had been just fine. The only change wast he Vista update. However, there is was, unable to find the hard drive. I ended up having to boot from DVD and repairing Windows and then re-applying the update later. I'm wondering if you experienced something similar with your update. Seems very familiar to me. Take care...

Posted by Steve Jones on 2 July 2009

Possible, but it seems to be an issue in the boot process, the POST, prior to booting. I cloned the disk last night. As soon as I get a screwdriver I'll swap disks and see what happens.

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