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.

 

On July 29, 2015, Microsoft released the long awaited Windows 10.  Anyone who has Windows  7 or higher gets the upgrade for free.  This is a great move for Microsoft in order to quickly get the masses to move over to their supposedly last main Windows version.  From here on, Windows 10 users will get updates much like apps get updates.

Anyway, overall the update from Windows 7 to 10 on my computer went pretty smooth.  The main hiccup during the update was mainly to the process of switching to an online Microsoft account as the computer login.  I followed the steps as prompted, yet the process would just take me around in circles, always coming back to asking me for the my Microsoft account, my password and looking like it was going to work.

I got tired of trying to make it work, so I just cancelled out of it and restarted my computer. Then it happened.  It prompted me to login using my online Microsoft account.  I typed my password and was able to get into my desktop.

S0 far all the programs I use on it are working except for the PC version of Minecraft.  After the upgrade launching Minecraft causes the error “The application was unable to start correctly (0xc0000018).”

At first I thought that I needed to update my version of JAVA.  I did that but the error continued.  Then I did a search on the web for that error message and I found my answer at http://goo.gl/0iUKo2.  I asked that you delete the Windows registry entry APPINIT_DLLS located at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\­Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Windo­­ws

After I deleted that entry and restarted Windows, I was again able to run the PC version of Minecraft on my computer.  Note that I’m not 100% sure if this issue was caused by the update to Windows 10 because I installed the BETA version of Minecraft for Windows 10 before trying to run the PC version.  Regardless, if you happen to run into this issue, the solution requires the deletion of the APPINIT_DLLS parameter located at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\­Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Windo­­ws.

Thanks for reading.  Let me know by commenting below when you started experiencing this issue when launching the PC version of Minecraft.

mailchimp.comIf you only have less than 2000 subscribers, you can get a free email marketing tool through mailchimp.com.  It is easy to set up, and did I say it’s free if you have less than 2000 subscribers?

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

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.

Grovo.com course tracks

Tracks available on grovo.com

In today’s technology rich world, there are many tools available to everyone.  Yes, everyone is using it, but not to their full potential.  Tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube are some of the more well-known Internet tools or applications out there.  You can learn them on your own by buying a book, or simply doing your own experiment by hunting and pecking at the various options there.  Or you can go to a site like grovo.com and get free online computer based training.

I opt for grovo.com.

Here’s why:

  • It’s free (or you can upgrade to a premium plan, but free will serve most people’s needs)
  • It’s always available and it tracks your progress.
  • They have course tracks which are groups of courses designed to help you in a particular area of interest (e.g. blogging, social networking, beginning Internet, and so on)
  • Include quizzes to test what you’ve learned.
  • Best of all, it’s free!  Oh yeah, I already mentioned that.

The courses are accessible from any computer or tablet.  I didn’t notice any apps for the android or iPad, but I’m sure that isn’t very far behind.

I’m not trying to sell Grovo.com, but I like anything free.  Check it out.  Right now I’m in the Twitter track.

Are you using Grovo.com to improve yourself?  If so, which track are you in?

techguy.org

techguy

I found a web site that provides absolutely free tech support.  The site is called techguy.org.  They’ve been around since 1996, and they seem to have a large membership group of around 450,000.

The free part comes from the fact this site is sponsored by ads and is mainly supported by people like you.  Through forums, people with various issues can post their  problem, and another user who may have the answer posts their answer back.

Since they’ve been around since 1996, they have amassed a lot of problems and solutions that may be applicable to your situation.  Be advised though since technology changes at an extremely rapid pace, having been around the Internet that long may not give them the advantage.

Their strength really comes from the large membership.  For example, I did a search on “fake antivirus”.  The search result came back with over 5000 results.  I checked one of the responses and most of them are pretty detailed.

Give their site a try.  I know I will on occasion just to see what I can find.

Best note taking app

Evernote, Best note taking app

I’ve use a lot of note taking tools in my life, including the tried and true notepad and pen.  Nothing have come close to the perfection of Evernote.  Why do I say this?  Well, read on and find out.

What’s wrong with traditional note taking apps and tools?  The very biggest problem with them is that they cause your data to be in one physical location, vulnerable to being lost.  The other problem is that sometimes, you never really have access to that same tool; then, your notes become fragmented and out-of-order.  The next thing is that trying to find an old note can be a big challenge.  Lastly, you are limited to what you can write or type.

Evernote comes close to perfection when it comes to solving your note taking challenge.  Why?  Because it addresses each and everyone of those problems.  And guess what?  It’s free!!!

I’m not going to cover every little thing about Evernote here, but I will highlight its key features:

  • Your notes go to the “cloud”; now it doesn’t matter what happens to your electronic device; it breaks, just get another one and you still have your notes.  If you lose your electronic device, it doesn’t matter, you still have your notes; thus you can never lose your notes (unless Evernote disappears from the face of the earth; which is not very likely considering the success they are having )
  • With Evernote, you can take notes with your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and through simple texting means.  Most of the time, you’ll have your phone, and as such, you can still take notes.
  • The search function within Evernote is great.  You can search using key words, or through tags; nothing can be easier.
  • With Evernote, you aren’t limited to taking notes by typing; you can add other forms of information like:  audio, videos, images, and photos.  You can’t beat that!
  • Last but not least, it is FREE!
Let me know if this information is useful or if you have more information you would like to share.  Comment below.

Free Article Spinner

Free Article Spinner

It seems to be a well know fact, at least to those who do niche sites or serious blogging, that one of  the keys to top standing in Google’s organic search results is getting back links to your site or article.  All you have to do are:

  • Write lots of articles with back links to your site or article
  • Find sites to post the articles, then post them
The latter is easy to do.  As a matter of fact, the back linking page at forlanda.net lists a few of them.  The challenge is writing many articles.  There are at least a couple of ways to approach this.  One of them is to buy an article spinner.  Some of them might cost you a one time cost of around $100.  Other ones will cost you in subscription fees–around $77 per year.
If you aren’t ready to dole out that kind of dough, try a free article spinner at forlanda.net.  This article spinner is free.  As a matter of fact, it is just work in progress; so it is very primitive; however, it does the job.  It is free after all.
If you don’t know the syntax for article spinning, then this short explanation on article spinning syntax should help.

Sometimes files are just getting way too big to email.  When they do, you can always use Ge.tt to temporarily store your large file (2GB max) in the cloud so that others who you wish to provide access can reach it via some unique URL.

Just recently, my mastermind group recorded a meeting which I wasn’t able to attend.  The video file was over 100MB in size.  They uploaded it to Ge.tt.  One of the group members emailed us a very short URL.  That link provided us access to download the large 100MB plus video file.

So if you ever find your self in a bind, Ge.ttspace for it.

ge.tt

source: ge.tt