Given my relatively low level of expertise, it's frightening -- but I'm apparently the ''computer guy'' in my wife's family.
Either of my brothers-in-law here would likely claim that title, in my absence. One is slowly working on a Bachelor's in Comp. Sci. -- but he has no outside interest in computers beyond the required coursework. (He has a full-time job as a database programmer: the degree is just to make him eligible for promotion.)
And the other BIL was a Physics major -- but he gave up his "computer phase" about fifteen years ago.
So, that leaves me: possibly might have gone into programming if my parents had a personal computer at home when I was a kid (the 1980s, so Apple IIe's, Commodore 64s and Amigas, and IBM PC clones). And until about a year ago, I subscribed to a Linux magazine -- so, there's some GeekPoints(TM) right there...
Anyhow, my father-in-law asked me to take a look at his PC, which wasn't working. Turns out that it wouldn't boot; more specifically, the error message implied that it wasn't detecting the hard drive. So, took it home to have a look.
First, I tried to boot from the DVD drive, with an Ubuntu (Linux) CD-ROM. Got most of the way through the process, but then had "reading the CD" errors. (I think that's the photo at the start of this blog entry; click to enlarge.)
Thought it might be a bad CD, so tried another one. Same problem. Tried an Ubuntu DVD, but it wouldn't even start the process. So, the optical drive was dicey as well.
So, I popped the top of the case. With towers (PCs in a vertical orientation), the hard drive is pretty easy to get to. However, with **this** one, the hard drive is ALL the WAY at the BOTTOM. Ugh.
In this photo, it's at the back left of the photo -- under the floppy drive, which is on top.
Luckily, the innards were cleverly designed. by removing two finger screws, the floppy drive and optical drive can be moved out of the way. Here they are, removed.
Two more screws, and the portion that supported the floppy drive and optical drive lifts out. The HD is now accessible.
Two more screws, and the frame that holds the hard drive in position can be removed: here's a closer look, prior to removal.
Once I removed the hard drive from the frame (four more screws!), I put it in my IDE-format hard drive cradle: basically, it's a "Build Your Own External Hard Drive" kit: it has a power cord and a USB cable; you supply the hard drive.
Upon reflection, I **am** probably the only in my family that owns a hard drive cradle -- "just in case". Or, for that matter, that knows that IDE is the older format, and they're now SATA.
I've been messing with this project for probably an hour, at this point. But, at least I've had a chance to use the hard drive cradle! (Had it about a year, I think; never used it.)
Plugged the USB cable into my laptop. The hard drive was successfully recognized. Looked around, and copied all of the "My Document" files to my computer: rescuing his files was my FIL's main concern; fixing the computer was secondary (although desirable).
Since the hard drive worked, I thought maybe it was a bad IDE cable. Swapped it out with one of my spares. Re-assembled the PC, and tried running it again. Nope: still doesn't recognize the HD.
Brought it back to my FIL's place. Given that the hard drive itself was fine, and the cable doesn't seem to have been the problem (although mahaps **both** cables were bad?), then maybe it's a bad connection on the motherboard. In which case, to fix it we'd need to get a new motherboard, and swap all the pieces over.
(Weak analogy: Your car engine is fine; the electrical is fine; the brakes are fine; etc. But the chassis is rusted apart. So, to "fix" your car, you'd need to buy a car frame, and then bring all the other stuff across...)
Trying to swap out the motherboard is more than I'd want to try. And between parts and labor, my FIL's (I'm guessing) looking at AU$200, minimum. Given that this PC is from 2003 (still has PS/2 ports on the back!), even if it was "fixed", it's old enough that something else might go wrong with it. So, he'll probably just buy an inexpensive desktop or laptop machine.(Jan. 5 addendums: (1) Hey! There's an extra jack on the optical drive's ribbon. Maybe they can both use that. (2) I didn't check out the power cable; I'll have to "loan" it the power cable that supplies the optical drive.
I checked, and he hasn't bought his replacement computer yet.)
Labels: computers, Linux