In yesterday’s article I alluded to a PC hard drive installation nightmare and I’ll expound on that further today. Hopefully I can spare someone hours of aggravation in the process.
Thanks mainly to my love of online First Person Shooter (FPS) gaming and music composition, my 250 gigabyte SATA 1 Maxtor drive recently filled up, making the PC very unstable (I was down to 2 gigabytes free space at one point!). I tried cleaning the disk off, uninstalling and deleting unnecessary stuff, but could only free up another gig. Reluctantly but needfully, I purchased another hard drive.
My choice was a Seagate SATA 2 drive with twice the data access speed, twice the storage capacity and twice the buffer memory (32 megabytes vs 16 on the Maxtor). The new drive came with a handy disk cloning tool so I thought I would be spared the usual disk setup ordeal.
The cloning went fine, or seemed to, but the new drive would not boot (“error loading operating system”). With a heavy sigh, I began going through the usual litany of troubleshooting: check BIOS settings, remove other drives, test cables and connections, etc. Nothing helped. I even tried reinstalling the operating system (Windows XP 64) to the new drive fresh from a CD– no joy.
Of course, as I noted yesterday, all of this occurred while my internet was down. I knew that a few minutes of searching and I would encounter some Einstein of the PC upgrade universe who had solved this for the rest of us. I was half-tempted to run down to the local library and hunt from there but I really wanted to be closer to the troubled PC so I opted to wait for restoration of our internet service the next day.
Sure enough, once we were back online I found the solution quickly. It turns out that some Asus motherboards have trouble automatically detecting drives over 250 gigabytes in size. On mine (K8N-DL), there are two drive recognition settings in the BIOS: Auto and Large. In order for setup to work properly on the Seagate, the setting had to be on Large before I even started (it had been on the default, Auto).
So, with faint optimism burning in my brain, I performed the proper configuration, rebooted and re-ran the disk cloning process. This time the new drive booted as hoped, operating as if it were the old drive just with additional capacity.
So now I’m back up and ready to use up some of that beautiful new free room. However, I need to keep in mind that hard drives need some of that unused space in order to function effectively, especially when defragmenting to improve performance. Something I’ve known for a long time but disregarded as I worked. Mea culpa. Do as I say, not as I do!