You know what the worst about being a advice giver? It’s about not practicing what you preach. And I paid in spades on Thursday last. From the previous Monday, my office computer had been indicating imminent system meltdown. With frequent lockups. Often accompanied by the hard disk LED staying lit that indicated an storage media problem.
The SpeedFan utility I use to monitor fan speeds as well as CPU, motherboard and HDD temperatures. Indicated that system temperatures were at, or above, recommended limits. And yet I did nothing. Beyond ripping off one of the side panels. And rearranging the PC with a couple of jury-rigged fans blowing over the HDDs and the GE Force AGP video card.
SpeedFan is a free utility that mines the hardware monitors included with modern mother boards. It also supports the hard disk monitoring protocol S.M.A.R.T. to display both hard disk temperatures and other drive information including performance and fitness. New in SpeedFan 4.28 is the In-Depth Online Hard Disk Analysis Tool that open a web page to check and report on drive status with graphs and annotations. To access the feature, open SpeedFan, and go to the S.M.A.R.T. tab. SpeedFan supports IDE/E-IDE, PATA/SATA and SCSI disks. And can even change the FSB (front side bus) for some hardware. But use this feature and any other that modifies the clock or processor speeds with care. As an aside I tried to resolve a display problem with my kid’s computer. And all daddy managed was to delete the display. To get to the BISO setup I had to short the BIOS by removing the battery! Two scraped knuckles as its a very tight layout with lots of sharp edges and one cut finger later, the system was back in action. Don’t tarry; download a copy yourself and start keeping track of system and installed peripheral temperatures.
Getting back to the tale of the melting computer. On Tuesday I discovered that one brand new 120 GB PATA drive was toast. Somewhat literally as it had been operating beyond its maximum rated temperature. And all through Wednesday I had problem with various applications that reported not being installed. Towards the end of the work day I shut down the system normally. But then needed to restart to transfer a file to a client. Except now my primary HDD, a SATA drive, had lost the NT Boot Loader file!
Had I followed my own advice I would have created an emergency restore disk (Windows XP Boot Disk on Flash Drive). But I didn’t. I could have at least backed up the essential startup files to a bootable CD-ROM. But I didn’t do that either. So I spent the entire Easter Holiday weekend rebuilding the hardware, installing the OS and of course the many different programs I need. And searching for and applying the many tweaks required to make Windows work just right. Oh! And before I forget, I had to slowly connect one HDD at a time and copy my settings (those I could recover) and my files.
And before I go do check out the Web of Knowledge Torrent Sites list is an excellent resource for Torrent and Tracker web sites both legal and pirate. But that’s it for me this week. I think. Stay safe. And I may post an update later.