90 days (and counting) of computer hell - Jemsite
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-12-2009, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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90 days (and counting) of computer hell

Some of you may or may not have been wondering where is heck I have been for the last couple of months, and I would just like to share my little horror story (that is still not quite finished).

For the last several years I have been running a P4 system backed up with an even older PIII server. This set up was running just fine, but getting a little “long in the tooth”. I started to get concerned about the life expectancy of the drives, and the server needed a massive upgrade to handle media duties anyway.

I used all of this as the perfect “excuse” to upgrade everything, and I started searching out what I wanted to order.

For my main box I went with a Core i7 based machine, and a Core 2 Quad system for the server. I thought I had chosen all premium parts, and everything would work as advertised, baring expected upgrade “issues”.

I started on the main box, and everything went together as expected, and the computer post the first time (yeah). I loaded up Vista Ultimate, and did a nice 24 hour test run before adding in more drives and copying over data.

Now this is when it all started to go down hill. I managed to get everything off my main drive with no issues, but when I went to copy of my server drive (the most important drive), somehow, someway I managed to fubar the MFT (master file table), thus making the drive unreadable by Windows.

So after a couple of days of trying to mount the drive in Linux (among various other methods), I gave up and started a data recovery program. Just in case anyone is wondering, it takes about 48 hours to recover 400+ gigs of data, and another 24 hours to copy it over a USB connection.

About this time, my modem decided to crap out on me, and I wasted another week trying to resolve that before just buying another modem. My old DSL modem was about 10 years old, so the fact that it lasted that long was a minor miracle. I can only say that was some kind of bizarre coincidence, and not related to the new build.

Now that I have all my data secured, and a working internet connection, I decide to start loading all my software and resolving any issues that Vista may create. Surprisingly, there were little issues other than some patches and upgrades.

About this time is when I found out that I my trusty Plextor 760A DVD drive (EIDE) was not able to read a disc in the drive. The actual drive of course worked fine in the XP box, and even worked to load Vista, bit simply would not recognize any disc through the OS.

Enter several frustrating days of reading forums, trying different fixes and calls to ASUS tech support, only to have ASUS tell me to swap the board. So I tear down the entire computer and pick up another motherboard, only to have the same problem.

I am now abut a month into this little “project”, and I haven’t even started on the server. I give up on motherboard number 2 and at the suggestion of ASUS, upgrade to the “deluxe” version in order to solve my DVD problem. I spend another day rebuilding my computer only to have board number 3 go DOA on me.

I tear everything down and pick up board number 4…

Another day spent on the phone with ASUS, and I have a working DVD drive. I have to disable some things in the BIOS in order to have it, but at least the damn thing works.

Almost two months just to build a computer, and it is still not perfect. (Moving on to the server)

I decide next that I will start to get my new server together, so I lay out all the parts and start mocking it up to see where I want to put my fans and such. This is when I figure out that my new PSU is bent and will have to be sent back for replacement.

Shipping back to the vendor, and waiting for the RMA replacement is at least a couple of weeks, so I use this time to put together the kids computer using my old Dell P4.

I don’t want to throw good money after bad on the P4, so I figure a new video card and PSU to power it will extend the life of this computer another couple of years. I spend a day modifying the Dell case to accept the new PSU, and put everything back together.

Now anyone that has ever tried to upgrade an older Dell knows that Dell cases are a bitch to work with, and mine was no exception. No matter what I tried, the case would not close with all the new PSU wires. Of course using another case is out of the question because Dell used their own board design at that time, and a new case means a new motherboard. ($$$)

I give up on the Dell case and start looking for a used (cheap) 478 motherboard. I find a deal on a board, and order up all the bits and pieces I need. I promise myself that including everything, the budget cannot exceed $200, or I might as well just buy a complete new computer.

Well I manage to get everything in and get it all together, but not without some drama of course. (Burn another week)

I have now managed to burn through almost three months of time, 6 motherboards, 2 hard drives, a modem replacement, data recovery, and countless reformats. Not to mention, the time spent researching, calling, ordering, returning, modding, and setting everything up, only to have to tear it all back down (several times).


So here I am typing this out at work, and my server is still sitting in pieces on my office floor. I haven’t touched a guitar in weeks; much less had time to check out the forums.

I will be heading home this evening to start putting together the server, and God only knows what drama that will hold. I still have some issues with the main box, but at least the kid’s computer seems ready to go.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my rant. Perhaps you all can find some humor in my little computer hell.

Be back full time soon! (I hope)
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

Don't you just love computers?
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 01:36 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

I don't understand why you just didn't buy a new SATA DVD burner to replace your old IDE one. They cost about $20 nowadays, better to ditch IDE altogether IMO.

I'm guessing it's the only IDE component in the whole computer too. Would've saved time and effort with the 4 motherboards.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 01:48 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

Ayrton is this post also available in English?

Me no speak geek.

If I get your drift correctly, your system has done what is absolutely normal for any computer: evolved into an intelligent organism and taken revenge on its owner for all those times said owner has been less than kind to it?

Good luck with the fixes, the whole thing sounds pretty infuriating.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 03:28 AM
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

ive had pc problems since day 1.i have to ask a neighbour to sort pc when something goes wrong.i had to go without a pc for 3-4 days few weeks ago.try going this long without a pc,its like some form of torture.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 05:33 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

What's that? Mac? Nah, Mac is just for those who want to be productive. Tinkering is fun!

Good luck!
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 07:32 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

I would have just bought a new Dell and been done with it...

You must have the patience of a saint!
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 08:45 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

Sorry 'bout the computer woes. This is why I've always used RAID 1 for storage, even an onboard RAID controller is good enough for RAID 1.

Not sure why you need a separate server these days but you could consider a NAS device with dual hard drives in RAID 1. Cost effective, lower power consumption, redundancy, no OS issues and once you hook it up to a router you can access your data from any PC at home or work. Oh, and some NAS boxes can act as a media server for streaming audio/video.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 09:23 AM
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

this is why PCs get a bad rep 'cause you are geeking out to the point of silly-ness, plus mixing/matching 7 year old IDE drives on almost completely untested MOBOs.

You could have went to Dell outlet and bought the CHEAPEST unit with the CPU slot you want then upgrade the processor at any time later. Hassle-free & same or better speed (with warranty & full return).

+1 for NAS. A server is a probably total waste of time, $$$ & energy for what you're doing. I use this gigabit connected SATA-2 2 space drive & it comes highly recommended as far as speed. Dlink DNS-323. The cheaper DNS-321 is good too (very few missing ingredients)
http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=509

For $250 USD you could have two 1.5GB drives offering 3TB data that is FTP accessible. 1.5GB if you feel the need for RAID (i'd skip raid myself and do mirror backups to a windows drive with synctoy however as imho RAID is too prone to catastrophic failure for what it's worth plus offers no backup protection (deleted file, etc.).
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 10:09 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

sounds like my life once a year or so...but not that bad. i just upgraded to i7 for HD video editing, and went with non-dell to go cheaper. it's a great fast box but i won't do it again due to i love the dell design...so much more available in them as far as upgradability and design. my biggest issue when swapping drives to the new machine was they couldn't be read by vista. they had to be formatted to basic disc volumes. so i had to put them back in the old xp machine, transfer to external hard disc, then put in new machine and wipe. after awhile, between 8 drives, i forgot what was on what. i had my important stuff and just said screw it...it is what it is...and formatted! i haven't lost anything. i have a little more house cleaning to do, like you, then it's all good.

at least you'll have fast new systems now. sounds like you're like me....i won't eat or sleep or stop till i fix / conquer it! ...... but in the end, as Glen said..... could have had something new and already built to go. if you knew that at the time i'm sure you would have done it but more often than not you find out piece by piece, how bad it is, just like with cars.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilch View Post
I don't understand why you just didn't buy a new SATA DVD burner to replace your old IDE one. They cost about $20 nowadays, better to ditch IDE altogether IMO.

I'm guessing it's the only IDE component in the whole computer too. Would've saved time and effort with the 4 motherboards.
Because there is no SATA DVD drive available that has the same accuracy as my "7 year old" Plextor.

However, why should I have to buy something to correct a problem the motherboard manufacture says I should not have?

No NAS or RAID for Windows Home Server. I have several TBs of movies and music, not to mention backups. If It was just backs up and misc storage, then a NAS would have been easier.

Still, I built a monster server that should last me several years for less than $500 (including the OS drive). I can add larger drives as I go.

Glen, you are correct when you say "untested" MOBO. I can't believe how many silly problems I have on what is considered a "flagship" product.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2009, 05:51 PM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrton View Post
Because there is no SATA DVD drive available that has the same accuracy as my "7 year old" Plextor.

However, why should I have to buy something to correct a problem the motherboard manufacture says I should not have?
...7 years old and more accurate than a new one that's on a better bus. I fail to believe that.

Components wear....and your drive would have to be on its last legs. Unless you've had it repaired/renewed for maybe 5 times the cost of a new burner, if they even offer that service.

Why should you have to? Because it saves you time and money, and no current generation motherboard has been designed with IDE in mind. If it's on there, it's an afterthought.

FYI, Asus's flagship i7 motherboard, the "P6T7" doesn't have onboard IDE.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-14-2009, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

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...7 years old and more accurate than a new one that's on a better bus. I fail to believe that.
Believe what you want, but no current SATA DVD drive offers better rip accuracy than a Plextor 760A. The Plextor drives (EIDE & SATA) that came after the 760 were re badged BenQ drives and are generaly regarded as poor.

Samsung did offer a SATA drive under the TSST division, but it was an OEM drive and is no longer available.



Quote:
Originally Posted by wilch View Post
Components wear....and your drive would have to be on its last legs. Unless you've had it repaired/renewed for maybe 5 times the cost of a new burner, if they even offer that service.
Plextor 760s were professional series drives that are rated for commercial use, and mine has thousands of burns left in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilch View Post
Why should you have to? Because it saves you time and money, and no current generation motherboard has been designed with IDE in mind. If it's on there, it's an afterthought.

FYI, Asus's flagship i7 motherboard, the "P6T7" doesn't have onboard IDE.
The P6T7 is is not even available, nor is it aimed at "home" users. However, my P6T Deluxe is and has an EIDE channel for optical drives.

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-14-2009, 03:19 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrton View Post
Believe what you want, but no current SATA DVD drive offers better rip accuracy than a Plextor 760A. The Plextor drives (EIDE & SATA) that came after the 760 were re badged BenQ drives and are generaly regarded as poor.

Samsung did offer a SATA drive under the TSST division, but it was an OEM drive and is no longer available.
Honest question, why does your burning/rip accuracy need to be so high?

Any burnt CD has an estimated lifespan of 7 years, and ripping to FLAC loss-less files, well in order to hear any perceivable difference you would have to have some pretty high end audio, and even then one would have to ask why you were using a PC and sound files (inherently noisy) instead of an LP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrton View Post
The P6T7 is is not even available, nor is it aimed at "home" users. However, my P6T Deluxe is and has an EIDE channel for optical drives.
For those unwilling to upgrade. IDE is slow.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-14-2009, 04:38 AM
 
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Re: 90 days (and counting) of computer hell

I GIVE UP on trying to understand this thread!
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