Background

I recently purchased a Seagate 1TB Gaming SSHD SATA 8GB NAND SATA 6Gb/s 2.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (ST1000LM014) (FYI:  this is an Amazon affiliate link) in hopes to provide my wife’s old Gateway NV79 laptop a new lease on life.

Here’s some background:

  1. The existing drive was still functional and served as the root drive (drive C).
  2. It had a capacity of 500GB but was short on space due to the massive amount of photos my wife was saving on her existing desktop.
  3. These photos are priceless.  I can’t imagine losing these pictures as they are irreplaceable.

Here’s what I planned in order to get the new drive to take over without having to redo everything (from re-installing the operating system and re-installing all her existing applications):

  1. Do a backup of her profile, along with all her files, create a recovery image of the system, and create a system repair disk
  2. Remove the old disk drive, then install the new larger disk drive
  3. Boot of the recovery/repair disk and restore the system image
  4. Done

Backing Up User Profile/Create System Image/Create System Repair disk

Using Windows 7’s built-in backup and restore utility, I proceeded to do three things:

  1. Backup my wife’s user files
  2. Create a System Image
  3. Create a System Repair Disk

Backup My Wife’s User Files

Of utmost importance is to first ensure my wife’s priceless photographs are safe.  To do this, I purchased a Seagate Expansion 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEB5000100) (FYI:  This is an Amazon.com affiliate link).  This should serve me well for storing file backups as well as the system image I will be creating in the next section.

To launch Windows 7 Backup and Restore utility, click START, then in the search field enter “backup and restore” and this will show the Backup and Restore utility.  Select it to open.  You should see this simple utility interface pop up:

Backup and Restore Utility

Backup and Restore Utility

Now click Set up backup and follow the prompts.  You should see a screen just like below.  In the image, you see arrows pointing to potential backup destinations.  In this particular example, my 5TB USB drive isn’t connected, but if it was, it would show up as another disk drive with over 4.5 TB of free space.  That was the drive I actually selected for my backup destination.

Target Backup Destination Drive

Target Backup Destination Drive

In general, you will want to select the target drive with sufficient space to take on large backups.  After you select the destination drive, click Next and follow the prompts.  At a certain point, you will have the opportunity to change any default settings, but in general, unless you really know what you are doing, you can leave default settings as they are.  Then invoke the backup now.  Depending how much data you have, it could take anywhere from several minutes to a few hours.  Mine took a few hours (around 3 hours I think).

Create a System Image

During the backup process, you will have the option to select to have a system image made.  Make sure to set that.  I did this to save myself a lot of time doing software and driver re-installs.  Believe me, it is worth it.

Note that I had problems creating a system image.  I figured that this was due to not having enough disk space left on the root drive (drive C) as my wife’s photos used up most of the disk drive space.  Having backed up the photos, I proceeded to delete all her photo folders.  This was a scary thing because at this point, I am putting my trust in Microsoft’s backup utility to save me should something go south with this process.  After doing this, I was able to build a system image.

Create a System Repair Disk

When the system finishes creating both the user file backups and the system image, it will prompt you about creating a system repair disk.  I opted to do this.  I readied my DVD-R disc; it takes one.

Remove Old Disk Drive and Install New One

At this point in time, I turned off the computer and removed the old disk drive and placed the new one.

Use System Repair Disk to Restore the Saved System Image

This is where the actual recovery process begins.  Before I using the system repair disk, I configured the system BIOS to seek the DVD drive first as the boot device, then pressed F10 to save and exit the BIOS setup. I placed my system repair disk in the DVD drive my Gateway NV79, then restarted the computer by simply turning it OFF then turning it ON.

The laptop began to boot from the DVD and determined that I will be doing an image restore.  At this point, I still had my 5TB external USB drive connected to the laptop.  After the utility gets started, you will opt to restore from an image.

It was at this point that I encountered the error that the system could not restore the image because the system repair disk says “No disk that can be used for recovering the system disk can be found.”  After seeing this, I thought perhaps I needed to match the partition configuration of the original drive, so I ran diskpart.exe and tried this.  It didn’t work.  After trying a few things that didn’t work, I finally gave in by doing a search on google.  I found the answer at answers.microsoft.com.  It turns out, all I needed to do on the disk drive was to run diskpart.exe, select the drive, and invoke CLEAR on it.

After I did this, the image restore process worked as it should have in the first place.

Everything that was on the original disk drive was restored, less the photos.

To fix this, I simply invoked the file/folder restore within the backup and restore utility and selected the photo folders to be restored.

Conclusion

What I thought was going to be a routine process turned out to be one heck of an effort.  What really screwed me up was Windows 7 image restore now working the way it should in the first place without having to execute the DISKPART utility’s CLEAR command on the new drive.

 

In the process of updating my grandson’s new computer (an Acer Nitro V15 laptop) from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, I ran into the error C1900101-20017—some error about Windows failing to update.

I tried to update it again, but I ended up with the same result–Windows 10 upgrade failed.

Finally, I realized that there is a UEFI firmware interface option called Secure Boot, an operating system protection mechanism against root kits, which could probably be blocking the update.  To get to this, I needed to get to UEFI by pressing F2 (your computer may have a different means to get to this) while the computer is powering up.

Once in UEFI, I disabled the Secure Boot option in the Boot tab, saved the settings, and restarted.  I again attempted a Windows 10 upgrade, and this time it worked!

If this worked for you, let me know by commenting below.

 

For the last several weeks, I thought that Windows 10 had a problem with detecting mobile devices when connected via a USB cable.  First I thought it had something to do with Windows 10 not having the latest driver for mobile devices.  But when I connected the same mobile devices on my Windows 7 machines, the same error message popped up.

I’ve never seen this problem before, but one thing for sure…the common denominator between the Windows 10 and Windows 7 computers is the USB cable.  Fortunately, I had another USB cable to try out.  Low and behold, all my mobile devices started to connect with all my computer!

As it turns out, the issue wasn’t driver related, but was the USB cable.

I was starting to lose hope until today, trying different things to somehow get the driver working.

The moral of the story…don’t miscount anything, even when it doesn’t look broken.

If you found this article useful and helpful, please share it and make sure to let us know by commenting below.

Thanks!

ViewHD 2 Port 1x2 Powered HDMI Mini Splitter

ViewHD 2 Port 1×2 Powered HDMI Mini Splitter

Recently I encountered a problem with trying to do a video capture of a game I was playing on an Android device.  The device in question happens to  be a RCA tablet, and I was using an Elgato Game Capture HD device.

On the Elgato game capture program I noticed that although the signal was being detected, it wasn’t showing the screen.  It stated something about disabling HDCP in order for it to work.  Upon doing some Internet research, I discovered that HDCP–which stands for high-bandwidth digital content protection–was a content protection scheme implemented on connection like the one I was working on.

I thought that I just wasted about $7 buying this HDMI A type (standard size) to C type (mini size) cable (a BlueRigger high speed mini HDMI to HDMI cable, 6 ft — http://amzn.to/1dDQ4Y8) because the connection is blocked by this HDCP protection scheme.

Upon doing a bit of checking around on the web, I found that purchasing a certain HDMI splitter can get around the issue.  I found the ViewHD 2 Port 1×2 Powered HDMI Mini Splitter (http://amzn.to/1KDlloV) for about $24.  I received and tried it, and low and behold, I can do video screen capture!  Problem solved.

Samsung USB Floppy Disk Drive (FDD)

Samsung USB Floppy Disk Drive (FDD)

I was doing some clean up in my computer room and low and behold I find several 1.44MB 3.5 in floppy disks with various labels indicating they have pictures and document files I may still need.

Unfortunately all my computers do not have a floppy drive.

Luckily I found a Samsung USB Floppy Disk Drive (FDD).  Specifically it has the model number SFD-321U/HP.  I plugged it into a USB port on my Windows 7 computer and it would not recognize the device.  After a few days of searching the web, I found the right driver at usb-drivers.org–SamsungSFD-321UUSB4Floppy.zip [http://goo.gl/1HYH3L].  I unzipped and updated my device driver.

Anyway, to use it, simply unzip it and remember where you unzipped it.

Next, open the device manager in Windows 7 (at Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\System) and find the device entry that has the exclamation mark on it and right click it.  Select “Update Driver Software” from the menu that pops up.  Then click “Browse my computer for driver software.”  When you do, make sure to select the folder where you unzipped the driver you downloaded.  It should have the name “SamsungSFD-321UUSB4Floppy” if you didn’t change the unzip destination folder.  From there, click the Next button and follow the prompts from there until the driver is installed.

Once the driver is installed, Windows 7 will begin to recognize the floppy drive as Floppy drive A:.

I now have a floppy disk drive A.  I feel like I’m back in the late 80’s.

Floppy Disk Drive A

Floppy Disk Drive A

Vongo

Vongo acts just like malware

What’s crapware?  They are junk programs that manufacturers include in your computer as a value add for purchasing their product.  Value add my arse!  These crapware are generally trial ware and are typically products you don’t prefer anyway.

Once such crapware is Vongo.  Vongo has long since closed business since 2008; it was an on-demand video service, and it keeps installing itself on one of our old Compaq Presario V6000 laptop, which is still running Windows XP by the way.

First I did what most users would do, just uninstall it from the Add/Remove programs section of the Windows Control Panel.  That didn’t work because after I reboot and login as one of the users, the Vongo install process begins again.

Next, I checked all places where programs put themselves in at startup:

  1. The Windows startup folder (c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup)
  2. In the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run (or RunOnce, RunOnceEx, Setup)
  3. In the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services

I actually just ran MSCONFIG.exe (System Configuration Utility) from Windows RUN prompt and looked for anything that seemed associated with Vongo.

I could not find anything that looked like they were associated with Vongo (i.e. I looked for any program that had the term Vongo in it).

So I did a search from the root of drive C for anything with the term “Vongo” on it.  I found and deleted all files, shortcuts and folders with Vongo name on it.  After deleting all these files, I restarted the machine and Vongo would continue to install itself.  It was worse than malware.  No wonder the service didn’t last long!

On startup I did notice this file ISUSPM.exe.  This file didn’t look like anything related to Vongo, but as soon as I used task manager to terminate it, the installation of Vongo stopped.

After this, I rebooted the computer and went into Safe Mode (you can do this by pressing the F8 key just before Windows starts.  I then ran MSCONFIG.exe and checked if this file is invoked in MSCONFIG; I found it in the Startup tab, and I disabled it (i.e. I unchecked it).  Next, I searched for all file instances of ISUSPM.exe and anything that remotely looks like it in drive C.  I found and deleted them.

After doing another reboot and logging into one of the accounts, Vongo no longer tries to install itself.  It’s gone!

I finally got rid of Vongo!  Good riddance!!!

 

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Note that the free version even allows for 12,000 emails per month.  It’s free forever!

With the price of USB disk drives at an all time low, it makes more and more sense to convert your library of CDs into ISO images and access them digitally.

Note all this is applicable to Windows based computers.

ImgBurn:  Create ISO Images

ImgBurn: Create ISO Images

Virtual CloneDrive

Virtual CloneDrive (source: www.virtual.cd)

To virtualize your library of CDs, you’ll need a program like ImgBurn  (the official ImgBurn site is at http://www.imgburn.com/ if you wish to learn additional details about it) to convert your CDs into ISO images.

After you convert your library of CDs into ISO images, you’ll need a program to virtually load or mount them.  For this a program like Virtual CloneDrive will do the job.

Cloud Storage (photo credit: Forlanda)

I’ve meant to write about this for some time.  Now is as good a time ever, especially with the recent release of Google Drive.

As of this writing, you can get several Gigabytes of cloud storage for free.  Yes “FREE”.  Everyone likes free, and this article will list several places where you can get anywhere from 2GB to 7GB of free space.

These sites offer free storage in the “cloud”:

There is another cloud storage solution called the Adrive  which provides 50GB free.  This is not a typo, it is 50GB of free storage, web interface only though with ads.  There is an app for it on Android OS, but it’s not free.

Each solution below supports the following platforms:
  • Dropbox:  Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, Apple iOS (e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Apple Mac, Android OS
  • Skydrive:  Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, Apple iOS (e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Apple Mac
  • Google drive:    Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, Android OS
  • Amazon cloud drive:  Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS (e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Apple Mac, Android OS
  • Apple’s iCloud:  Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS (e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Apple Mac
 Sign up for cloud storage now if you don’t have one.

Word of advice…only put files there that aren’t confidential in nature, or information you cannot afford to lose.  Also backup your cloud files to a separate external USB drive.  It will help ensure you aren’t caught unprepared if your cloud storage provider all of a sudden dissolves.

Are you using other cloud storage solution?  If so, please share.