Reflections post HDD replacement and OS restore

Restoring OS on a computer is a once in a blue moon task and, so it is easy to forget some of the key steps. For me, restoring the OS (Win7 – partition 1 and XP – partition2, dual boot) on a Neo B3510 laptop involved:

1. Replacing the HDD.
2. Making sure I had the right image to restore. Fortunately I found it. I had the 2 OS partitions backed up.
3. Restoring the OS via clonezilla – since there are 2 OS partitions to restore, it seems clonezilla performs the restore one partition at a time. So, I had to run the restore twice.
4. The first restore was for win7. Clonezilla applied the sda1 image file to the entire C:\ drive that the HDD had. On startup, Win7 performed a chkdsk. I just had to resize the partition to the right initial size within Win7 Disk Manager.
5. It seems the BCD entry for XP had lost the drive letter assigned to it. Even after restoring the XP partition to a properly positioned/sized sda2, it did not boot. Windows returns the error:

“Windows failed to start. A recent software or hardware change might be the cause.”

6. Editing the BCD entry to update the drive letter fixed the issue (via VistaBoot Pro).
7. F11 key to select device to boot.
8. Beginner options in clonezilla sufficed. It doesn’t seem like there are any options for multi partition restore even with expert mode.

Perhaps a faster route to get everything done would have been to:

– Pre-create with correct position and size, the sda1 first partition. Don’t setup sda2 yet.
– Run the clonezilla restore into the sda1
– Do not start win7. Instead, create correct position and size for sda2 – the second partition. If you have to do the partitioning via win7 disk manager then starting it is unavoidable.
– Run the clonezilla restore into the sda2. Interestingly, clonezilla will not ask what sda partition to restore in a multi-partition image backup. Perhaps it just restores what is the latest that it can. It certainly did not seem to overwrite sda1 when I performed the sda2 partition restore.

So, I think the two HDD partitions have to be prepared separately, and restored in order. sda1 first, then sda2.

Avoiding starting the OS on sda1 restore should prevent the BCD entries getting corrupted.

Anyway, it was mostly a smooth restore experience nonetheless. I was only stuck for a little while with the Windows XP startup error. It felt like a simple config issue. Kudos to clonezilla.

Before this, the backup run on the previous HDD was going on for 3 days producing many errors. I had to just abandon the backup of the old HDD.


Opening the Neo B3510 Laptop

I just opened today a Neo B3510 laptop to replace its HDD. The steps I had to do were:

1. Remove all the screws at the bottom, including one in the middle (normally covered by a warranty sticker), and two screws that are near the hinges for the laptop lid.

2. Crack open gently the plastic bottom that covers the underside. It opens a bit similar to the Asus EEEPC 1025c except all the electronics are not attached to the bottom underside. They are all attached to the top bit that has the keyboard.

It can be a bit challenging getting the bottom underside to detach completely, particularly because the VGA port on the right side is blocking the plastic. On the left side, the spaker/mic jacks are similarly blocking the plastic edge on the left side from coming off. I used a metal piece from one arm of a binder clip to help with getting the plastic off these tricky areas.

After removing the plastic underside cover, it was easy to access the HDD. The RAM is also similarly easy to access on this laptop.

Problems with Windows 7 – its the bloat and the bugs

– lots of bugs.

– superfetch

– Setting up windows firewall to allow a port is difficult, and the option seems to be difficult to find. What I have gotten is just the allowed apps list.

– I have encountered a case where Windows 7 still goes ahead with installing updates even if I have specifically setup automatic updates to notify first.

– why does netsvcs svchost.exe take up 1GB of memory.

– Installing Epson XP-100 drivers does not work

– Performing simple file copy-paste within Windows Explorer – does not work

– Other copy-paste operations from non-MS apps also often show inexplicable errors

– Windows File search has lost the ability to search through hidden folders or system folders

– Windows Task Manager does not behave properly when Always On Top is turned off. It like to stay on top even when it should not.

– The black shutdown screen that appears when shutting down and some programs are still remaining to close is a very bad user interface change. How are you supposed to interact with an app such as word that might be prompting “Save your file before exiting?”

– In general Windows 7 updates are very slow. The updates also cause a very add-on bloating to RAM and disk.

Microsoft agrees: Windows is a “really large bloated operating system”

This trend cannot be sustainable. And there are simple solutions for MS–for instance they can continue to release the usual roster of OS editions but they can add a trim and slim line. That seems to be something quite easily doable.

BDO makes enrolling a new 3rd party account very hard

I’ve known this for a while, so it is just a statement of something well known. Enrolling a third party account into BDO is very hard. It is not enough that you can login to online web banking to enroll. They make you validate the enrollment via ATM. And then even when you have done the ATM validation, you can still get the following email:

We wish to inform you that your enrollment with Transaction Reference No. OO-20140410-206597 to BDO Electronic Channel/s:

Online Banking

was rejected due to some reasons.

To be fair, many other PH banks are similarly difficult. BDO deserves special mention though because their systems make you hope that your enrollment validation will work over ATM when it is futile, and their email error message is so very helpful. For 3rd party funds transfers there are some PH banks that have been able to do it correctly:

Metrobank – it is easy to enroll third party accounts online (for intra-bank transfers).

Citibank – has the best service for fund transfers and third party accounts. Its quick to enroll online and free to transfer to any third party inter-bank.

In many other countries, 3rd party funds transfers are easy to perform online. In Australia, one can transfer to any other person via online banking using BSB and account number. I think it should not continue to be such a difficult service to access. And, emails from banks should not be so dumb.