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Battlefield

Drive D: which is the boot disk on my big Desktop PC crashed and died on me in the middle of the morning on New Year’s Day. It was an, “OH NOOO… OMG!” moment. Computer basically just stopped working in its tracks.

A reboot didn’t fix anything. Then I checked the boot setup and discovered the drive now fails the S.M.A.R.T test when it first starts up. You may need to google that if you don’t know what it is. Turning the S.M.A.R.T. off in the motherboard boot ROM for D: did no good. I am D.I.W. (Dead In Water) on my main computer. The black screen of death I was seeing was the S.M.A.R.T. warning of impending disaster. It said a start-up file code was not recognized, but gave no indication it was a S.M.A.R.T. message and a drive failure was imminent. The drive was over 10 years old, so probably wasn’t the smartest version of the S.M.A.R.T. system.

Apparently, the 250 GB drive D: was originally my drive C: and contained the boot-up software. I mention that in my previous blog entry. Somewhere in time I made (named) a bigger (500 GB) drive as C: That is why I was struggling with how my computer was booting. I never realized that trick was possible. That is, Boot from D: but all visible system files are on another drive labeled as C:  Ahhh… sweet mysteries of computers.

Microsoft (of course) is very cryptic with its what’s-behind-the-OS system software. The majority of Microsoft support forums are not real support forums at all. They are blab forums with a bunch of clueless other users suggesting fixes. No solid admission of anything from official MS personnel. In 10 pages of BS BLAB there may lie a clue of what to do.

Anyway, I found a way to create an actual win10 recovery DVD rather than a recovery USB stick. My computer can not boot from a USB stick. The boot ROM is too old. I did an update of the boot ROM to see if the most current would have a USB boot, but it did not. Strange the USB boot needed 8 gigs, the DVD boot needed less than 4 gigs. Go figure why.

I was able to run WIN 10 from the non-system C: drive by booting from the recovery DVD. I had to install WIN10 from scratch to make a bootable drive. Since there never was a boot sector on my drive C:, the recovery software couldn’t repair it. It also wasn’t able to create just a new boot sector. The recovery disk started out saying everything would be replaced by WIN7 but after it started, it only listed all the versions of WIN10 I could install. This very strange covert disguise of recovery.

The D: drive is dead and taken out of my computer. I was able to rescue install a totally new (free) bootable WIN 10 PRO on the C: drive. However, I have lost all my purchased programs.  It did save some of my old files in a “windows.old” folder. Some of the most important programs are subscriptions, so I can just download. (MS Office, Adobe Photo). The rest will require some struggle. Ugg!

Next I wanted to clone the now bootable 500 GB C: onto a brand new 1TB drive. That is my new C: drive. The cloning software that exists in WIN 10 is buried in the Control Panel > System Security > Backup and Restore (Windows 7). Yep, labeled Windows 7. Another covert MS trick to hide this utility.

This sneaky labeling tricked me a few days ago, as I didn’t want to reload WIN7. It doesn’t do that. It’s a WIN10 recovery in disguise. But it has an evil trick. It does a clone of all the files on the drive, but I discovered it does not copy the boot sectors, making it a true bootable clone. It is a “recovery drive” only with no boot sectors.  Grr…

I searched the forums and discovered a Linux freeware programs called (are you ready…) Clonezilla. It is installed on a bootable CD and installs Linux on the host (my Windows machine) and runs a real honest-to-goodness drive cloning program. I was successfully able to clone the contents of my now bootable 500 GB drive C: with the new WIN 10 installation, to my brand new 1 TB drive. Clonezilla was smart and nice enough to ask before it started, if I wanted to include the boot sectors. Of course, I pressed the “Y” key.

Ture to its purpose after this second clone attempt, I now have a new bootable 1 TB drive. A victory, but the war was not over. I still had only a 500 GB useable space. There is a 450 MB “recovery” partition at the end of the 500 GB space. The space behind this recovery partition is another 500GB unallocated space.

My plan was to expand this cloned drive to use the full Terabyte space of the hard drive. Guess what? Microsoft does not provide or produce software to permit the ability to relocate this “recovery” partition. It cannot be deleted using Microsoft disk management software. It’s their way of protecting their OS from neophyte hackers from losing their system recovery files. What it does, is make it impossible to expand the drive C: onto a larger drive using Microsoft provided software. The first partition containing the contents of C: can only be expanded to unused contiguous space next to it. The “recovery” partition is a blocker to the open space.

The support forums are full of a lot of BOGUS solutions and mostly vendors offering (for a price) magic solutions. The problem is not unknow. It an opportunity to sell.

I found the solution in a free program that does exactly what I wanted. MiniTool Partition Wizard. I was easily able to move the “recovery” partition to the far end of the Terabyte space. I could have deleted it, but at only 450 MB, I opted to keep it. Then this software was able to expand C: into the full space of the 1 TB drive.

Another success, but…

The war was won but now it’s the recovery phase. I must reinstall ALL my program software packages from scratch. The files these programs created are all safe in backups. But because I had to totally re-install a new WIN10 to create a bootable drive, the system has no registration record they were installed.

It may take me months to get every detail and personal setup back.

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