A cautionary tale

Boy, Tuesday was a rough day. Walked into my office in the morning expecting to get some testing done, only to discover that my long-tenured file server was producing lots of fan noise. I pulled it open and found what I thought was the culprit: loads of dust and cobwebs accumulated over time. I shut down the system and spent the next 15-20 minutes cleaning it up, creating an awful mess as my compressed air can propelled dust into the atmosphere around me. Man, it was nasty.

Once I was finished, I reapplied thermal paste to the CPU and went to boot up the system, but it wasn’t meant to be: the box came on, but wouldn’t POST.

It was so unresponsive, even holding in the power button wouldn’t cause it to turn off.

In fact, I think the mobo had been on the way out all along, which is why the fan speed control had gone haywire in the first place. Quick CPU and PSU swaps confirmed that the mobo was the likely culprit.

So my day of testing became something else entirely: a day of IT support work, swapping in a new motherboard and recovering all of the data and config files on this system. I tried installing a new mobo with a similar, newer AMD south bridge, hoping the WinXP installation on the system would still boot properly. (The storage picture was complicated by the fact that this box had dual 250GB RAID 1 mirrors in it.) I took extreme care to get all of the individual pins of the front panel and USB headers connected properly from this older case to the new motherboard, so the installation involved quite a bit of time and tedium.

At the end of it, though, WinXP wouldn’t boot off of the new south bridge. I had to reinstall the OS on a fresh RAID mirror and then recover the data from the original boot array. Then came the work of restoring as much of the original software config as possible, including the FTP server that accepts nightly backups from TR’s web servers.

At about 3:30PM, I had finished most of the hard parts and wanted to make one final tweak to the hardware build: the installation of a fan speed controller on the CPU cooler, which was a little louder than I liked.

Now, I work on PC hardware constantly, mostly on an open test bench, and doing so has caused me to develop some bad habits over time. I didn’t even think twice about leaving the system running while installing the fan controller between the mobo and the CPU cooler. I just popped the three-pin connector off of the header while the thing was powered on. But then I realized I’d removed the system fan connector and went to reinstall it.

It was at this point that my bad habit caught up with me, as I missed the alignment by a pin and pushed the connector down over two of the three pins improperly.

Immediately, the mobo buzzed, there was a quick "pop," and an acrid smell filled the air. I had released the magic smoke. On subsequent boots, the mobo would POST, but not a single fan on any header would spin. I’d fried it.

Right about then, I had to leave the office for a prior commitment, and my work day was supposed to be done. Instead, I canceled my plans for later in the evening and came back to the task after dinner, swapping in another new mobo—whatever I could hunt down in the back room, though it was less ideal than the prior one—and reinstalling the OS yet again. At about 10PM, I realized I’d reached the same point in the process that I’d reached at 3:30PM with my first attempt.

My reward at the end of it all: a new system that pretty much plays the same role in the same way as the old system had for years before that, although this one may be a little louder, since the mobo’s power draw is higher. I really like building my own PCs, but sometimes, the support of systems on which one relies for business is just, well, overhead. That overhead is increased if you decide to plug in fan headers while the box is running, folks.

Comments closed
    • ZGradt
    • 9 years ago

    Windows XP? Really? Would’ve likely been a kernel update (unless it’s kept current) on Linux. Windows 7 would’ve just shrugged and continued from what I understand.

    I feel your pain though. I recently had to reinstall Windows 7 because of some software bug causing random crashes (I got my eye on you, Adobe…) It’s the first time I’ve had to reinstall Windows in years, and my first time for 7, so I lost a lot of settings I probably could’ve saved if I’d done it right and used whatever tools MS has bundled these days. At least it’s not crashing now. I’m tempted to restore the system image and try it again though…

    • thermistor
    • 9 years ago

    #72…I’ve jumped Intel onboard ICH8R to 9R on different brand boards. I’ve moved a couple RAID arrays around with no problems, but they were always Intel chipsets, never an nForce or ATI in the mix. The only issue was once that I had to get the drives in the exact port # as the old box – lots of guesswork.

    • warhead
    • 9 years ago

    awesome… This brought a knowing smile. I’ve done the same thing, old habits, too complacent with experience, USB header plug-in .. and…. *pop*

    As far as everybody thinking there’s a perfect, magical, restore everything into a new system option – it ain’t happening. Luck of the draw if your drives just plug in and go. Linux or Windows. I learned the lesson since the old NT4 days. OS on one partition, files and programs on another. If anything goes, just be sure to carve out a half-day to restore the files to a stand-in server, whether it be Windows, Linux, or whatever.

    • gerryg
    • 9 years ago

    My biggest (rhetorical) question is why does Microsoft make it so hard to backup and restore software and their configurations? OS and it’s configuration? Many can argue about INI files (remember those?) vs. the registry, but I do remember a time in my life where I could make a backup and be able to restore it to a new system, even with different hardware, and everything just worked. My work machine is “in the shop” right now because of a corrupt registry preventing it from booting windows. I’m “not allowed” to work on my own PC, unfortunately, so a tech is doing his best to figure it out. Do folks running Linux have the same issues as Windows users? Can you do a backup then restore on different hardware and have the apps and/or OS still remember their settings, “instantly” be restored, and just working? How about iPad/iPhone/Android people? I have an iPod Touch, and I know that apps would be pretty easy to restore, probably settings, too, if I got a new Touch of the same class, but the newer “Retina” versions might not take the old apps/settings? Other than cloud computing, because some apps are still best run on the client side, how can this situation be fixed? Or is it already fixed? Sheesh, I ask a lot of questions.

      • jwb
      • 9 years ago

      In general you can take the disk out of a Linux system and put it in practically any other computer and it will still work fine, as long as the CPU runs the same architecture (ie you can’t take one out of a X86-64 machine and put it in a Pentium Pro). The fact that this doesn’t work for Windows has always been a bit of a mystery to Linux users.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Windows has had native backup of the registry since NT4/Windows 95. Ideally you perform it with a full system backup/repair disk creation.

      I’ve never understood the desire to return back to an .ini/.config style setup, the registry is much better organized, central, and well documentedg{<.<}g The hive you really want to be careful with is the System hive, it's Windows Achilles Heel, and can prevent an otherwise good system from booting. The other hives can be quickly rigged to still boot the system even after corruption/damageg{<.<}g

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    if the box turned on, then it might be leaking cappies. did you take a look at the cpu to make sure none of the pins were bent? did you mess with the ram? i would have tried with only 1 stick first.

    • bentbent
    • 9 years ago

    I never makes mistakes.

    • HighTech4US
    • 9 years ago

    Scott you violated an age old rule. Where was your “EXACT” replacement motherboard? It should have been in inventory so that when your primary one failed you could do a quick replacement and be back running in less than an hour.

    When you have a system that uses RAID, especially on the motherboard, only the exact same one will be guaranteed to work.

    Any system that you can’t afford to have down needs to have all special hardware as spares.

    • bards1888
    • 9 years ago

    You are joking aren’t you…. I can’t believe that you *need* this box to run windows ! (complete with all its baggage). One if the many things I love about linux is the ability to put a working installation hard drive and put it in practically *any* motherboard/cpu and it generally still works. No ‘re-activation’ B.S. or BSOD for that matter. Add to this the fact the linux software RAID is practically bullet-proof and works on most hardware regardless of BIOS fakeraid.

    Of course, you could have a special piece of software that you need to run and for that I forgive you.

    😉

      • abos
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, a typical linux installation includes all the available drivers and everything is autoconfigured. At worst you’ll need to reconfigure the network. Ok, you need to deal with i686 vs. x86_64, but that’s about it.

    • miken
    • 9 years ago

    I recently built an all-new X58-based system, swapping in a 1.5TB drive from the predecessor, an ancient Dell P4. I had made multiple partitions to support multiple OS’s at the time I bought the drive, and put XP on one of the partitions for the old machine. I expected to put one or more new OS’s on it for the new box. To my utter shock, the old WinXP image came up on the new system without complaint. After going through a quick and painless install for all the new stuff on the motherboard from the included CD and a handful of reboots, this install has been running smoothly for months.

    At least 6 years separate the two motherboards; I didn’t think XP was supposed to be able to handle such a big transition without reinstalling.

      • Mentawl
      • 9 years ago

      It’s one of the nice things about the Intel chipsets that I’ve found – they’re so alike at the base level that XP can often handle running on boards seperated by many years.

    • Stefan
    • 9 years ago

    Worst job I ever did on a running system: Back in the days auf the Pentium 133 I had, I though flashing a newer revision of the BIOS would be a good idea. (The system was running perfectly stable an the newer revision promised no real improvement whatsoever, but anyway…) I had this rather crappy Shuttle board which I got for free from a fried. OK, I downloaded the new BIOS (thook quite some time via 14,4kbps dial up), booted from floppy and flashed the thing. Restart. No POST, no nothing. Bummer. Turns out that Shuttle had versions of the board 128KB and 256KB flash. I had the 128KB version, but had flashed a 256KB BIOS. Double bummer. My systm was dead. OK, my father had a P166MMX (a speed demon at the time) in his office at University. So I told him a not-that-white lie why I needed to use his computer, borrowed the key to his office ripped the (socketed!) BIOS out of my board, went to his office and foud to my great relief that he also had a 128KB Award BIOS. So I downloaded the 128KB BIOS for my board, booted his system from floppy such as to be able to flash the BIOS and swapped the BIOS chips in the running system (!!! boy, was I naive and careless…). This didn’t work quite as good as I had hoped, since his BIOS came out of the socket with a pop and almost all pins were grotesquely bent. Very, very carefully, I bent them back – fortunately, no pin broke. Boy was I glad not having to explain to him that I wrecked his system without having asked him for permission… Anyway, I flashed my BIOS, re-inserted his one, my own system was working again and everything was hunky dory again. But rarely have I sh** my pants as much as when I saw his crippled BIOS chip falling to the bottom of the case…

      • ZGradt
      • 9 years ago

      Reminds me of the time I had a dud BIOS chip due to a bug in the latest release. I ordered a new chip from AOpen with the old BIOS. It fixed the problem, so I try to swap the chip out with the old one and reflash it, but it didn’t work for whatever reason. Later on they released a new BIOS that supposedly fixed the original problem, and I still wanted to enable whatever feature I had originally reflashed for. I’m much wiser now… I ended up kicking that thing to the curb and upgrading to a P166. I was about to write that I haven’t done a reflash since, but then I remembered my Duron. Can’t recall why I flashed that one, but it must’ve been important.

    • Anonymous Hamster
    • 9 years ago

    You didn’t *need* to reinstall the OS clean.

    You could have saved yourself tons of time by doing a repair install of Windows.

    Click “Install” (not repair) on the first screen after booting the install media, and then click “Repair” on the screen after the installer locates the existing installation.

    This does a reinstall of all the OS stuff, but leaves your apps as they are. This repair install can fix a lot of major crash issues, but doesn’t always work, since sometimes cruft remaining in the registry can prevent the reinstalled OS from working correctly. It’s the ideal thing to do with motherboard changes, though, since it redetects all the hardware.

    After the repair install, you’ll need to reload all the Windows updates.

    (And don’t throw that “fried” motherboard in the garbage; send it to me instead 🙂

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      I have had the repair option not be there at least once, when the installer didn’t find the old OS for some reason. Never looked into it further tho.

      • satchmobob
      • 9 years ago

      +1 for Repair existing installation! Works wonders when replacing old mobos. May need to hit F6 and load your new storage driver first though.

    • MarkD
    • 9 years ago

    Do not let the cat check out your video card while you work on the computer.

    This lesson is a hundred dollar value, and yours totally free of charge. No animals were harmed, but a Matrox video card died to give us this knowledge.

    • barich
    • 9 years ago

    I use a leaf blower to clean the dust out of my PCs (taking them outside first, of course). It eliminates dust pretty much instantly, and I have yet to damage anything over years of doing it.

    • Spotpuff
    • 9 years ago

    The idea of plugging in a fan while the system is running is not foreign to me either but I never missed; I will never do it again after reading this. Haven’t done it for years but still, releasing magic smoke is a bad idea.

    • Roffey123
    • 9 years ago

    Ah yes, brings me back when I rather stupidly decided to place a temperature sensor between the processor’s spreader and the heat-sink. There was a very audible “crunch”, which had me whip off the heat-sink to discover that I had transformed the sensor into dust on top of the CPU, I was s****ing bricks that I had damaged the CPU (which was a E6600 at the time).

    Luckily all it really ended up with was some burn marks on the top of the heat-spreader when I replaced the CPU, some 3/4 years later.

    • fyo
    • 9 years ago

    I prefer to start out with a vacuum cleaner instead of compressed air. Once the majority of dust, cobwebs, dead spiders etc. are gone, THEN I whip out the air.

      • GTVic
      • 9 years ago

      Yes, what you don’t want is the compressed air blowing tons of dust into sensitive areas or compressing the dust in between closely spaced contacts.

      Also, hold the vacuum cleaner nozzle in the other hand nearby while using the compressed air.

        • GTVic
        • 9 years ago

        You can also save money on compressed air by operating your vacuum in reverse as step 1B.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    Any chance that the dust maintenance on the first system was what killed it? Maybe the system wasn’t grounded properly, maybe there was excessive static charge, maybe the compressed air left droplets of propellant or moisture that shorted connections etc.?

    When I think back about it, I’m pretty cavalier about system maintenance and upgrading myself. I remember one time I was doing a fan swap on a 450W PSU. Naturally, I had been prudent enough to unplug it, but I forgot that those huge capacitors can hold a decent charge for a while. One nasty shock later, I decided to buy quiet PSUs from the outset so I won’t have to do anything like that in the future. My arm was sore for days.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      After you unplug a PC, push the power button – it ‘sucks’ most of the electricity out trying to start…

        • Anomymous Gerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Obvious in hindsight, but nice tip!

    • not@home
    • 9 years ago

    I used to work for a place where my job was to build HTPCs out of off the shelf PC parts that were then modified. I pulled too hard while de-soldering a few times and pulled out the traces. I would destroy about 1 out of every 10 or 20. On my own machines, I have forgotten to reconnect the CPU fan (fried the CPU) and overloaded a PSU (went up in a brilliant flash and took the mobo with it). Otherwise, most of the machines I have worked on die of old age. I think They just get solder bump issues eventually, like the way Nvidia had problems with a while ago. They just suddenly get quirky and die.

    • PenGun
    • 9 years ago

    You can use widose for a file server? Never would have occurred to me. You learn something everyday.

      • mnecaise
      • 9 years ago

      My WinXP machine is a file server, print server, AND a SQL server. Go figure.

    • Squeazle
    • 9 years ago

    Been there. I was building a computer for a friends family (bad plan, I know) which they needed because their old computer which was sold to them as a fantastic thing of wonder, but actually was out of date when it was built, was slowly melting two years after they bought it.

    So I shut down, pull the DDR2s and slap them into the new computer. Everything works. Great. Oh hang on, forgot to grab the files off the-

    Yeah. The motherboard melted another capacitor and never booted again, taking with it my hopes of getting the files off those hard drives within the next couple of days.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Something as simple as trying to plug an old molex power cable into an IDE drive when the machine was powered on caused me to blow the fuse in the PSU.

    Huge flash and a loud bang provoked the usual recoil reflex.

    The force with which I smacked my head into the underside of the desk was all the lesson I needed.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      A buddy of mine did this with an AGP card. I wish I still had the picture of the burnmarks on his hand and MB. (he turned out fineg{<<}g)

    • PopcornMachine
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve been through days like that. Seems like problems keep spawning new problems. Then you get groggy and start making more mistakes.

    I feel for ya. But time heals all computer wounds.

    • Prototyped
    • 9 years ago

    HPaq. Dell. Lenovo.

    This is why they make money.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    Patience is a virtue…

    I am no expert but I always shutdown and unplug my computer before messing with its innards.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      Do you have any bad habits?

        • ShadowTiger
        • 9 years ago

        I do have bad habits, but lack of patience isn’t one. I find that if I am patient enough, I can eventually train myself out of bad habits… one by one.

      • Voldenuit
      • 9 years ago

      PS: I like the UK and Australian electrical outlet which lets you switch off power at the outlet but keep the machine plugged in, and more importantly, earthed. Helps prevent the buildup of static charge.

        • ShadowTiger
        • 9 years ago

        I wish that technological advances like this spread more quickly throughout the world.

        • Trymor
        • 9 years ago

        It’s about potential when it comes to static, not necessarily about being grounded (earthed).

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          Yeah, which is why I didn’t say it eliminated static shocks. It won’t stop you arcing to the case (or electronics) if you have a charge on yourself. But if you’re doing something like vacuuming (which can move a lot of dry air over the PC and charge it that way), it ought to drain away any charge that builds up on the case/components.

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            I have just been touching the back of the case to eliminate potential differential for years, and haven’t ‘zapped’ anything. I work on the carpet, chairmat, etc. in the winter with 22% humidity in the house. I work unplugged, and push the power switch after unplugging to drain the capacitors. I just touch the case before touching anything else, and if I get up or shuffle, I touch it again.

            But thats me…

        • demani
        • 9 years ago

        I believe they aren’t legal yet under building code (I had an architect recommend that I build with standard outlets first, then after the inspection was passed, swap out the standard ones for the switching ones).

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        Can be achieved with any $5 powerstrip.

          • miken
          • 9 years ago

          Indeed, can be achieved with any PSU with an ‘off’ switch (Antec or any quality PSU). I never buy any other kind.

    • Convert
    • 9 years ago

    Thankfully I’ve only ever killed a HDD that didn’t have any data on it in my lifetime. I unplugged it from the PATA connection while the PC was still on. I told it to shut down, left the room and came back and yanked the HDD thinking it was already shutdown. There was no back fan and the processor was a slot so I didn’t have many visual cues to the contrary.

    I once miss aligned the power cable to a SB Audigy 2 live drive (floppy power connector). It actually disintegrated one of the power pins on the live drive, it literally exploded. I had to drill the remaining pieces out of the PCB and custom bend a long jumper pin off a 386 motherboard and solder it back in. Thankfully everything functioned normally.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    During the early days of learning what a PC really was and what each part was I tried to delete config.32…I’d gone through several layers of the “are you sure you want to show this” warning that XP gave when you were getting into it’s guts…I should have heeded them.

    • shaq_mobile
    • 9 years ago

    When I was in high school I pulled my heatsink off my AMD64 3200 and unwittingly pulled the CPU out of the socket along with that heatsink. I was in somewhat of a hurry when my friends dog ran into the living room, where we were lanning and tilted my case upwards. *THUD*. I look in my case and my large heatsink is sitting a bit crooked on the bottom of my case. Curiously, I lift up the heatsink to check what was underneath. About 1/3 of those dainty gold pins were bent. I spent the next hour with tweezers and a cautious hand, bending them all back into place. After much squinting and cursing, I was playing the CSS beta, squinting and cursing even more.

    You guys ever have old thermal paste yank CPU’s out of the socket with their hefty heatsinks?

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      l[

        • Chrispy_
        • 9 years ago

        Old, dry silicon grease turns to a greasy chalk, like cake icing.

        Arctic silver, on the other hand, seems to dry into some kind of indestructable cement.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      Twist lightly back and forth first…

      • astrotech66
      • 9 years ago

      I was at work a few years ago when one of our Gateway computers wouldn’t POST. After swapping memory, checking the PSU, etc., my bright idea was to swap the CPU with another computer that was working to see if the CPU was the problem. I unhooked the heatsink and tried to pull it off and ripped the CPU right out of the socket. It’s not just that the thermal compound had gotten sticky – they had actually bonded the heatsink to the CPU. And the heatsink was so large that it covered up the lever on the ZIF socket, so that you couldn’t release it while the heatsink was on. So I ended up having to shove the CPU, with heatsink still glued to it, back into the socket with the lever in the ‘closed’ position. My boss didn’t know what happened, luckily. It was still under warranty so we just got a replacement motherboard and CPU.

    • yokem55
    • 9 years ago

    I can’t remember the last time I’ve had to reinstall my server’s OS when I’ve changed motherboards. Then again my server has been following Debian stable for the past 8 years, and I’ve never had to reinstall following 3 motherboard swaps. Once I had to boot with a livecd so I could make changes to the kernel driver config, but that took all of 3 minutes to do.

    Window’s tying it’s install to specific disk controllers without recourse for changes has got to be one of the most infuriating mis-features I have ever dealt with in running home-built system.

    • alex666
    • 9 years ago

    Ahh, boneheaded moves we usually never talk about. Good for you, Scott, we all do it at some point. Newbies need to hear this. I challenge others to add their stories. Here’s mine, well, my most blatant:

    Back in 2003, I upgraded the cpu on my very first build, a Soltek KT-333 mobo, upgrading from a Palomino to a t-bred b, rev. 2 and using an after-market Vantec HSF. I had to do lots of tweaks to get the mobo to runn at 166/333. Anyway, upon first power-up after the upgrade, my mobo shook like a milk-shake machine (and this was out of the case)! Powered up again, same thing. Now the sweat was poring off my brown. I looked closely and realized that there was a very very thin plastic covering on the Vantec HSF. I had actually put the Artic Silver right on top of this plastic covering! I figured the mobo was toast, but after removing the plastic covering and re-apply the AS3 (I think it was AS3 back then), it and all the parts ran perfectly and survived for a number of years. It was a great system, running at 2.20GHz, with the 333 memory now in sync with the mobo. Pretty fast back then.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    “compressed air can propelled dust into the atmosphere around me. Man, it was nasty.”

    lolz

    I take mine to the garage hitch up the inline filter and regulator to the air compressor and let 90 psig do the work for me 😀

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      Must be damp there. I have been doing that in Wisconsin for years without incident. Of course, put a screwdriver through the fans B4 blowing…you don’t want any back-EMF burning out the fan controllers…

    • glynor
    • 9 years ago

    Been there, Scott. Been there.

    At least it was a work-related box, and not a home-related box. I had a similar experience last year with my HTPC. A “quick” hardware swap didn’t go well at all and ended up turning into an on-the-spot video card replacement (after an errant finger broke off a capacitor from the existing video card).

    This alone wouldn’t have been a big deal (I always have 1-2 extra GPUs lying around) except that the whole time my wife was breathing fire at me for making her wait to watch the latest episode of something-or-other, and of course, I didn’t have another video card lying around of the same GPU vendor (which meant lots of software uninstallation/reinstallation/setup).

    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    l[

    • WaltC
    • 9 years ago

    Yes, sounds like the fun I had a few days ago with my wife’s machine. I think that building these machines is so easy and for the most part they run so well, so reliably, and so predictably, that when we have a problem–we’re just initially a bit flummoxed by it, as we’re really sort of spoiled otherwise. It’s easy to forget a critical detail here and there when this sort of trouble hits us infrequently–thankfully…;) I’ve long been leery of on-board fan power connectors, which means I get zilch for fan control, but I just prefer powering them straight from the PSU.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      You realize of course that you can match fan current to the fan header output limit I assume? Can usually be found with a little digging.

        • WaltC
        • 9 years ago

        I just don’t overly concern myself with fans–and that’s maybe a bad habit, I don’t know. I read lots of horror stories years ago about motherboard fan headers for one reason or another taking down motherboards, so I’ve stayed away from them. If I do anything to regulate fan speed its usually with an external circuit and an external fan control device.

          • Trymor
          • 9 years ago

          Fair enough. I like the control you get over fans correlating to heat in ‘software’ (including bios controls). Nowadays you get a lot of speed granularity for free, and ‘I assume’ MB makers are realizing the shift to bigger fans and giving us more current headroom for the fan headers.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    The only time I’ve killed a box is when I was down in Southern Cali for a weekend trip to hang with my dad and stepmom. I noticed her machine needed a BIOS update, (and I’m fairly obsessive about BIOS updates, even when machines don’t need them.) I put the update on a floppy, loaded it, it loaded the update fine, powered off, and the MB was bricked, showed nonsense characters on the screen, no amount of clearing CMOS would help. I about sh*t one, as I had to fly back north the next day. I figured going into a Gateway retail store would be easy, just buy a base system, swap out the drives, reinstall the OS if needed, and be good to go. The gateway stores didn’t carry anything onhand, so the day was wasted going to various big-box stores and finding anything decent, and then of course making sure the install media worked. That single obsession of mine turned out to be a 10+ hour project, (ruining about 1/3 my vacation) and even then the machine never worked to her satisfaction again. A few weeks later she ended up having to ship it UPS to me and I had to fix some software things, and then do remote support for her.

    So I made a rule never to be obsessive about BIOS updates on anyone else’s machines again, as long as they were 1000 miles or moreg{<.<}g

      • videobits
      • 9 years ago

      Lesson learned: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

        • Trymor
        • 9 years ago

        That doesn’t always apply – you best be running all OS updates, not to mention Adobe stuff…

          • cygnus1
          • 9 years ago

          Sure it does. You just gotta consider those updates fixing broken bits

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            There’s a lot of difference between “broken” and “unsatisfactory”, and you shouldn’t restrict “fixing” to the first scenario. That’s why the above mantra is garbage.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    q[<"including the FTP server that accepts nightly backups from TR's web servers."<]q Hopefully at least sftpg{

      • 5150
      • 9 years ago

      Put on your white hat indeego.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      Is there enough sensitive data to warrant sftp?

        • eitje
        • 9 years ago

        if you can do something right and it takes no more time than doing it wrong… why would you choose to do it wrong?

          • xii
          • 9 years ago

          Because you’re a bad boy?

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            Hell yeah!

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    Ah, yes – the stunningly large difference between building a PC for the fun of it because you have the time and parts available, and building a PC because you have to and there’s a ton of work that can’t be done until you’re finished, except that you didn’t leave any time in the schedule for building a new PC, so now you’re /[

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      I hear you!

      • crose
      • 9 years ago

      LOL. head on nail…

    • StuG
    • 9 years ago

    I did this to my older motherboard but for the system fan. I got lucky and it just fried that fan input, but dang was it scary at the time. Sorry to hear the issues you went through 🙁

    • cygnus1
    • 9 years ago

    Scott,

    All I can say is Windows 7, get it. Just this passed weekend, I did a motherboard swap between an nvidia based board and an AMD based board. no OS reinstall, it just detected everything and went about it’s business. including the non-boot mirror. in fact, it only took 1 reboot to have all the devices detected and working fine.

    (and i feel your pain about destroying hardware by being careless. the reason for the swap was cracking the cpu socket on the original by being careless with a giant heatsink while swapping out the dual core for a quad.)

      • TaBoVilla
      • 9 years ago

      Scott is not careless with hardware, HARDWARE is careless with Scott. He is the chuck norris of computers.

        • TaBoVilla
        • 9 years ago

        He can make Win95 run on NTFS

          • khands
          • 9 years ago

          The PC version of FFVII asks him if it’s ok to work flawlessly on Windows 7

            • drsauced
            • 9 years ago

            There is no such thing as planned obsolescence, only motherboards Scott lets live.

    • Steel
    • 9 years ago

    I now feel better about having done the same thing to one of my computers years ago 😉

    • TarinderS
    • 9 years ago

    Scott,

    Ouch. Sounds like an onerous chore. Well done for perservering with it. I’d have taken a hammer to the server by 6pm.

    I’ve gone though my fair share of motherboards by plugging too-powerful fans and then regretting it a moment later. You live and learn (and then pull your hair out).

    • liquidsquid
    • 9 years ago

    Hmm, I hear ya. The machine I have to actually get work done on had been nothing but a money pit trying to track down instability issues. It seems to be a $1.50 SATA cable at the root of it. Took about a year to find it.

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