Author Topic: how to not fix your computer  (Read 3059 times)

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #50 on: September 12, 2017, 08:34:27 AM »
Question: When I put Eraser in, selected "Partition", then hit Enter, the "male symbol" appeared right off the bat. If Eraser had been killing the Partition, would it have done so this quickly, and with only this "notification"? Was the male symbol evidence that Eraser was in fact erasing, and I gave it several minutes to do so before shutting it down? Or did Eraser not function at all and something else glitched to create the male symbol?

Honest truth, I have never seen a 'Male Symbol' in the context of computer repair. I have also never used Eraser. So, maybe those things go hand in hand. I have no idea on that.

As for guessing what happened, I'll tell you that a *full* zero pass of a modern hard drive (which are gigantic by computer standards- regularly 1000 times bigger than earlier models!) should take likely an hour or two, or longer- even a fast interface like SATA2 or better usually can push about 60 MB/s read/write, sometimes faster, but when you have 1024 * 1024 MB to write zeroes to, even at top speed I'd expect it to take a horrendously long time to do fully and properly.

Now, as for how long it can take to royally screw something up? Why, that can happen in seconds, depending on what's getting deleted xD

Basically, flipping one single byte can break a file. Problem is, hard drives aren't perfect- they're mechanical devices that use electromagnets, like a classic VHS tape. But way more tech-y. Those magnetic fields can sometimes be unstable, or just a bit crappy. So we generally build some forms of error correction into files- or at least, some very smart computer scientists somewhere did. So your computer may constantly be having files break/repairing them just enough to keep things running, etc.- but there will come a time (for all files) when the wrong bit/byte gets flipped, and the file becomes screwed up in some way.

You can google for pictures of 'artifacts' in digital photos stored on failing hard drives caused by flipped bits. They can still be a picture, but they have a few wrong pixels or a line of weirdness or something.

Even if you wrote to a hard drive and then stored it in a perfectly climate controlled, shockproof box, I'd fully expect failures in 20-50 years just based on magnetic instability. You can google the relative 'Best before' date on most types of storage. I'm pretty sure even CDs and DVDs have a shelf life of less than 50 years. And that's assuming *someone* will still have a DVD-ROM in 50 years (unlikely. We've already phased out optical drives in most new computers to save space- USB flash drives are now cheaper/easier per GB of storage than a DVD was. WTF?!)

So back to the question of deleting the 'wrong' file and breaking everything, generally enough screwups in the MFT (Master File Table) or the bootable sectors of the hard drive would be enough to ruin your computer day. The worst part is, as the end user, we likely will never know what *actually* went wrong, because so much incredible work is going on behind the scenes *all the time* in your computer that diagnosing the error would be almost impossible.

Generally, it throws an error like 'Error 53' and then you google 'Tried to boot, error 53' and then read a ton of forum posts of people tearing their hair out while they search for the problem.

Comic relevant: https://xkcd.com/979/
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #51 on: September 12, 2017, 08:44:45 AM »
lol, yes, that comic is story of my life this week, for sure!
It's what happened all over the Eraser "support" forum, too.
All these people asking questions -a single question thread with no response.

I Googled Eraser male symbol after it happened, with nothing coming up.
That may remain the eternal point of wonder.

Computer #2 has long been a piece of crap.
It has always functioned very poorly.
Many issues.
It'll just...stop. Just go black, after which it often brings itself back to life where I left off (in the middle of my last 4.5 hour exam hahahahahahaahahaa).
Or just...not start. I can spend up to 30 minutes just pressing the start button every minute, waiting for it to will itself back to life.
So, I would say it was in a state of delicacy already.
Maybe one of its points of delicacy merged with the Eraser file to create male babies.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #52 on: September 12, 2017, 09:01:36 AM »
Computer #1 had Windows 7.
I don't have the license number/key for it.
Is there a free option for the install?
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #53 on: September 12, 2017, 09:05:17 AM »
If you keep hitting 'Skip' every time they ask for a license, they *will* let you install Windows- but if you have any scrapped computers or cases around the house with that famous Windows barcode and activation key, it should work for Windows 10.

By that I mean, carefully examine the entire exterior of each computer- if there's a little sticker that says 'Windows 7' with some rainbowy/'holographic' crap on it, along with a barcode and a 25 digit code, that's your Windows install activation key. Depending on the builder, you may want to also check the panels *inside* the computer, just in case.

If you don't have one, just hit skip a bunch of times and it'll still install- it'll just complain every few days until forcing the purchase. But if you're selling it, you don't really care.

You can use codes from other computers, almost any other version of Windows as well to activate Windows 10, but if more than 1 computer are active at the same time with the same code, Microsoft might have something to say about that.

If you're in school or your kids are, you can ask the school if they have bulk Windows/Word licenses for students. Otherwise, buy a totally scrap laptop of Craigslist for $5 and make damned sure it has the windows code sticker on it before you take it home. Boom, instant Windows license.

As for going 'black' randomly and then coming back, could be a loose cable connection or card connection, or the computer ordered itself to go to sleep, or... (insert huge laundry list of problems.)

Hell, my computer won't have the Graphics Card work properly after waking up from a 'Suspend' state- and I'm not going to tear my hair out over it. Surefire way to getting super pissed off. Especially when I spent $600 on said graphics card (Computers = My vice + main source of entertainment) and spent 3 hours of my life learning how to set up and deploy 'Wake on Lan' functionality in order to try and save power while I'm away, only to find out I can't suspend the damned computer reliably.

What I'm saying is, some things are harder to diagnose than others. Google is your friend, and only you can decide how far down that rabbit hole you go.

Almost any computer could benefit from having the case popped open, (touch a piece of metal before you do anything inside to ground yourself) and then gently double check that any plug that you see is properly and fully plugged in. Cards too. Then blow out the dust bunnies from every cranny and fan with a low-pressure air compressor or compressed air can ($7 from most computer stores). Put it all back together. Congrats, you've done maintenance!
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 09:13:19 AM by BiochemicalDJ »
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #54 on: September 13, 2017, 11:48:58 AM »
Okay, I give up on trying to get an activation key for redownloading Windows to Computer #2.

It looks like I can buy it here for $35:
https://www.pcdestination.com/?gclid=CKDh07bbotYCFQqPfgodcbwDRw

Is it safe for me to buy and download from there, via my good computer, copy onto USB, then attempt to run it on unhappy one?
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #55 on: September 13, 2017, 12:04:40 PM »
I can't comment of the safety of buying Windows for $35; I've never attempted it. So far the best deal I've ever got was directly from Microsoft through their school/student discount program- All you need is an email address that is associated with your school. So if your kid has a .edu email address (even if they don't use it) it might be good enough to get you that discount.

Otherwise, know that the world of overseas activation key re-selling is a shady and sketchy corner of the internet; a hive of scum and villainy. Occasionally, you can come away with great deals, but occasionally you may get screwed. I've bought some PC games from some key re-sellers (kinguin, for example) but I feel a little sullied every time I do it- but haven't had any problems yet. Technically I believe it's against the Terms of Service for my game purchasing website, and I believe I can be banned (and my game collection forfeit) if they catch me. No idea if Microsoft cares.

As for downloading the actual installation image and putting on USB, you shouldn't need a license key for that- Microsoft provides a tool. It might be called 'The Windows 10 Upgrade Tool' or whatever, but I recall it has the capability to download full .ISOs of Windows 10 and put them on a USB drive for you, formatting it bootable all the while- even if you don't have an activation key.

Note- an 'Image' is like having all the data from a DVD or something in a digital file stored on your hard drive. The information is structured such that if you technically burned it to DVD, it would be 100% like you had the real thing. In your case, you'd be making a bootable USB with the 'Image' of Windows 10 installation on it. Just to clarify the language.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #56 on: September 13, 2017, 12:47:54 PM »
Microsoft's site said they no longer provide Windows 7.
It also required a license or activation number to download any version that I found.
I don't have one (with me).
Finally, I'm not sure the old crappy computer can manage Windows 10.

However, I'm going to try the Windows 10 Upgrade Tool and then edu option.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #57 on: September 13, 2017, 01:31:20 PM »
I now have an activation key for Windows 10 (through my own school), but it assumes I'm upgrading. Tells me to replace my Windows 7 activation code with this new one.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #58 on: September 13, 2017, 01:36:09 PM »
Oh, maybe okay...
Went to the Windows 10 Upgrade Tool, downloading to USB.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #59 on: September 13, 2017, 02:22:28 PM »
MUCH OF IT WORKED!

i.e.,
Got free activation key from my school
From MS's site, downloaded Tool to USB
Put USB in Computer #1
Pressed the correct F key
It booted Windows from USB!
Asked for my activation key, all good!

And then it said:
Windows Setup
Windows cannot be installed to this disk.
The selected disk is of the GPT partition style.

Windows cannot be installed to this hard disk space.
The partition is a Microsoft Reserved (MSR) partition.


Variations on the above in all four drives offered.

Drive 0 added the following:

Window must be installed to a partition formatted as NTFS.
This partition is an EFI system partition (ESP).
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #60 on: September 13, 2017, 02:25:34 PM »
Googling the last two phrases, I found some potential solutions. Will read through those, see what I can sort out.
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Gronnie

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #61 on: September 13, 2017, 02:36:38 PM »
You'll want to fix this from the command line using diskpart. Google for instructions, should be easy if you have a guide to follow.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #62 on: September 13, 2017, 03:05:02 PM »
Thanks, Gronnie :)

I Googled around, followed some directions.
On the to-fix computer, I now have the diskpart command thing up.

A website tells me I need to tell it one of these:

select partition use the select partition command to set the focus on a specific partition
select volume use this command to set the focus on a specific volume
detail disk will deliver information about the current disk
detail partition will deliver information about the current partition
detail volume will deliver information about the current volume
list disk use list disk to get summary information about the available disks on your computer
list partition use this command to get information about each partition available on a specific disk
list volume use list volume to get information about each volume available on the computer
active use the active command to set the focus on the current partition to be active
assign use assign to assign a letter or a mount point to the current active partition
create partition primary size=SIZE_IN_MB use this command to create a new primary partition. The SIZE_IN_MB is the size of the partition you want to create, in MB.
create partition extended size=SIZE_IN_MB use this command to create a new extended partition. The SIZE_IN_MB is the size of the partition you want to create, in MB.
create partition logical size=SIZE_IN_MB use this command to create a new logical partition. The SIZE_IN_MB is the size of the partition you want to create, in MB.
delete partition will delete the current active partition
extend will extend the current volume
remove will remove a letter or a mount point from the current active partition
active use this to set the current volume as active
add disk use this command to add a mirror to the current active volume
break disk use this command to break the mirror added
create volume stripe use this to create a stripe set volume on a specified disk
create volume raid use this command to create a Raid-5 volume on a specified disk
delete disk use this command to delete a missing dynamic disk
delete partition use this command to delete the current active partition
extend disk use this command to extend the current volume
import can be used to import disks from a foreigh disk group
online can be used to bring a disk or a volume online that was previously offline
remove can be used to remove a letter or a mount point from the current active volume
retain is used to prepare a volume to be used as a boot or system volume
convert mbr will set the partition style of the current disk to MBR
convert gpt will set the partition style to GPT
convert dynamic will change a basic disk into a dynamic one
convert basic will convert a dynamic disk (empty disk) into a basic disk
exit will exit the utility
clean will remove the partition or volume formatting from the current disk
rescan can rescann the I/O buses and can discover new disks added to the computer
help will display the list of all available commands
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Gronnie

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #63 on: September 13, 2017, 07:19:58 PM »
Here it is step by step, you want the clean command (although I suppose you are selling, so clean all would be fine, it will just take a long time): https://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/52129-disk-clean-clean-all-diskpart-command.html

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #64 on: September 13, 2017, 09:03:16 PM »
Also, before the windows install goes all 'automated' on you, there should be a toggle option for 'Advanced options', or 'Specify install location' or something that pops up- Usually that will take you to a basic interface in which you can delete all partitions on the drive and reformat to NTFS.

Man. This computer of yours. Tough break...
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #65 on: September 13, 2017, 09:25:27 PM »
Thank you both very, very much!
I will get working on those steps.

On the one hand, it feels tricky to have this to learn and move through while also dealing with other big curves in my life.
On the other, it is sort of soothing, being all step by step like that.
A refreshing aspect of my life right now.

And I'm learning so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Really enjoying that.
Not that I'd need to do these frequently, but I really feel I'm getting a much better sense of computers at all!
The specific steps won't happen a lot, but the gist is transferable.

And I'm getting to know some more very kind, patient, helpful, generous forum people through it :)
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #66 on: September 13, 2017, 11:55:03 PM »
Okay...

With some Googling here and there, I completed the above.
A happy partition was created, and Windows seemed to successful install. Almost.
Its final message was something like "...needs to restart for Windows to finish installing."
And then it [perhaps restarts and] returns to the blinking cursor in the top left corner.

?
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #67 on: September 14, 2017, 12:17:46 AM »
I suspect it will be a similar solution to this, but I can't think what (or how to do that):
https://www.sevenforums.com/installation-setup/370640-black-screen-cursor-installing-win7-usb.html#post3071304

My computer is happier than it's been since I broke it...
Under Advanced Options, it gives a new option to:
Continue - Exit and continue to Windows 10 (on volume 2)

But when I choose that, back to the blinking cursor.

Somewhere else it listed two references to Windows 10.
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #68 on: September 14, 2017, 10:22:00 AM »
Ok, so now that Windows has theoretically finished installing, go back to the boot order and change it from USB back to the hard drive- As theoretically, everything is on the partition, it just needs the computer to look for it and run it.

The computer should take it from there- That's always a key step in the install- after a certain point, you need to remove the install USB/CD so that the computer actually tries to boot from the freshly installed copy of Windows.

Ask my dad how many fresh installs he's accidentally overwritten by not removing the bootable disk and not paying attention... :p

If you're trying to boot from hard drive (should show up as HDD1 or somesuch, maybe IDE1 or SATA1, something like that), and it still gives you the flashing cursor, look at the computer itself- Is the 'hard drive activity light' blinking? It should be next to the power light that goes on when the computer turns on.

If that light is blinking like mad, you're computer's doing stuff and you should wait 10-20 minutes to see if it comes out of it- it may be writing/reading from the hard drive at that time. I once had a computer that would just black screen for 1-3 minutes pre-bootup- you just had to wait. Might be worth a look.

Another way to check if your computer is totally locked up is if you can press NumLock on your keyboard and the light turns on and off on your keyboard, that's another sign your computer isn't fully crashed.

As for the solution from that forum post "From the repair console:
c:
bootsect /nt60 c: /force /mbr"

That involves booting to 'Safe Mode' of Windows (if possible), running 'Command Prompt' and then typing the commands as you see them there, exactly as you see them there, and seeing what happens.

That's a level above what we're doing here, definitely- hell, if you can figure out a way to get into Command Prompt in a windows install we're not even sure is fully installed, you may be a better tech than I. The only other way I could think to do it would be to see if HiRen's or any other bootable USB toolkit comes with a windows command line editor tool you could use.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 10:29:45 AM by BiochemicalDJ »
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #69 on: September 14, 2017, 11:37:13 AM »
YOU DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

This is fantastic!
Now it's way BETTER than before!
ha!

Windows 10.
Looks great, functioning great.
Like, so far it's not only upgraded but also absent the issues it came with!
I'm thrilled!

Thanks so much, all of you who stepped in at any point on this path, and especially to BiochemicalDJ for holding my hand through the massive glitch I created.

Now, after all that, I'm not sure if any of my personal stuff is still on it, lol.
In terms of wiping, I:
-popped in a USB with Eraser, hit Drive/Partition, which ended the computer's world
-went through the convoluted process of bringing computer back to life
-installed new OS

Do I run a data eraser now??????????

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!
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Gronnie

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #70 on: September 14, 2017, 01:07:35 PM »
You should have done the clean-all of the drive BEFORE installing Windows, that would have been much easier and gotten the whole drive.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #71 on: September 14, 2017, 01:25:51 PM »
Yeah, I did figure that's what you were saying earlier.
Sometimes the instructions here aren't an exact match to this particular computer, and I have to Google for a similar but different path to the same end, using the ones here as hints. In those cases, I'm not always sure how to mix and match the ones here with the Googled ones my computer demands.

I could still clear everything out and reinstall.
I know how now :)

But I imagine I could probably just apply an eraser (but NOT "Eraser") to it, too?
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #72 on: September 14, 2017, 01:38:27 PM »
Yeah, hate to say it, but Gronnie's right...

The drive is still only half-erased :S

The great news is- you're now an expert at installing windows on fresh/borked drives!

So now what you want to do is make a bootable HiRen's/Eraser USB by following the instructions from the posts above; (keep your Windows 10 'Upgrade' USB as well, you'll need it)

Boot from HiRen's, use an eraser/low level format nuker tool to erase the entire drive and remove all partitions, format to NTFS

Now switch USBs, throw in your Windows 10 USB, boot to install, install over your (now fully clean) drive by following all previous instructions (Should be MUCH more easy/automated this time- simple clicks all around)

Then feel successful :D

The above steps would be the biggest and best, but I suppose you could TECHNICALLY throw your Eraser USB back in, running from windows (with a newfound respect for how scary tech tools can be) and then order it to wipe only your free space and overwrite it 3x. I can't personally guarantee it would be as good as the full low-level zero pass/encryption and throw away the key methods outlined in my long-thread-ago posted lifehacker article, but it would likely be good enough.

Or, you leave it functioning as is and pray the next person who gets it isn't a crazy hacker person who really, really wants to steal your personal data. It's really up to you. Just know that with the steps you've taken, it would be difficult (but definitely not impossible) to rip personal data off your machine, but the data is, unfortunately, likely still there.

Here's some other good news- That process of formatting, reinstalling windows, setting your drives to NTFS, making bootable USBs and running them... That's all huge. And universal. Can be applied to literally any Windows computer. It's kind of considered the nuclear option, but when all else fails, most screwy/slow/borked up computers can definitely benefit from a format/reinstall as you've just done.

Just for funsies, you could look up 'Linux Mint' and make a bootable USB out of that- and discover the world of an operating system that can be booted and run entirely from a USB stick, no installation to hard drive required, that you could take anywhere and run on any computer that will let you boot from USB xD Very useful if you don't trust the computers that you want to work on- Better is TAILS, but now we're getting ahead of ourselves. The world's your oyster XD
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 01:45:10 PM by BiochemicalDJ »
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #73 on: September 14, 2017, 05:25:02 PM »
Yep, may as well practice and cement my shiny new skillz! :)

Would I not use the diskpart clean or clean all to clear the hard drive of everything?
Is that same as a downloader erase tool?
Or is an erase tool needed in any case?

It's enough to erase "unused disk space"?
Why don't we want to erase used disk space? Wouldn't that be where some of our info is?

Is it critical that each item (Windows 10 installation; erase tool on a separate USB stick)? I think the Windows download said yes, as the download will wipe the USB of anything else already on it. Just means a 30-min trip to the store for another stick, and that's okay. But if I can put two things on one USB, I can get going on it today vs Saturday.

I do love the effects of this work. That computer is so much happier!
I've got 2-3 to deal with at any given time, swap them out every 1-7 years, have a kid to teach all this too, etc.
That I can understand so much more -have it not be a weird mystery- is going to go a long way in terms of money and sanity for years to come.
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Gronnie

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #74 on: September 15, 2017, 10:00:08 AM »
"Unused disk space" really just means unmapped disk space (meaning that nothing is pointing to that location as being valid data, but the data is still there until the drive needs to reuse that space).

Using clean all should be sufficient, especially since it means you don't need to get another USB stick then.

This will be an opportunity to test your new skills. Besides the time waiting for things to complete, you should be able to delete all the partitions, clean the disk, and get Windows 10 installed and running very quickly now.

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #75 on: September 18, 2017, 08:12:59 AM »
=
Would I not use the diskpart clean or clean all to clear the hard drive of everything?
I honestly have no idea what diskpart does or what it's capable of; I use third party utilities when I do these
 low level formats(exceptionally rarely). It's super rare for me because I never sell hard drives (I wait until they fail; they leave my house in pieces post smashy-smash xD) and I haven't had a hard drive fail in 10 years. If you're just doing a repair-based format and you aren't worried about the government grabbing your files, a quick format is clean enough. Also, the government already has your files, so there's that xD
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Is that same as a downloader erase tool?
No idea.
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Or is an erase tool needed in any case?
No idea. If diskpart can overwrite space with zeros or junk, or encrypt the whole drive and 'throw away the key', then it's good enough for your purposes. I have no idea what it's capable of.
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It's enough to erase "unused disk space"?
I said it *might* be. Remember, everything you're doing now is miles above what 95% of people do when selling computers on Craigslist- you're likely safe enough regardless. I'm just offering things I thought would be faster/more convenient.
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Why don't we want to erase used disk space? Wouldn't that be where some of our info is?
I was assuming you didn't want to have to re-install windows yet again- You're correct in that we want to be wiping the *entire* hard drive, used, unused, the works- but I was offering you a solution you could do without reinstalling Windows if you felt like it.
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Is it critical that each item (Windows 10 installation; erase tool on a separate USB stick)? I think the Windows download said yes, as the download will wipe the USB of anything else already on it. Just means a 30-min trip to the store for another stick, and that's okay. But if I can put two things on one USB, I can get going on it today vs Saturday.
Yeah, without some *very* particular software tweaks on the bootable USB that would allow you to pick which OS to boot from (I don't even try to pull that stuff), it's easiest to just use multiple boot USBs. In the old days, you'd just burn a DVD for each release you want, and the cost would be like 75 cents a piece- but because you're likely to only want 1 or 2 bootable disks around at any given time, it's assumed you'll just have a few 8 gig USB sticks just kinda lying around. Especially when they're practically pennies on Amazon and Ebay during sales.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #76 on: September 18, 2017, 10:12:51 AM »
Thanks, as always, BiochemicalDJ.

I've been very happily watching the laptop go through the Heidi Eraser on unused disk space. About 36 hours, and almost done.

I've been recording my steps to paste here, so we can see what I did, I can pinpoint any of my errors more easily, and me and any other nontechs here can implement the steps anytime.

I don't even have anything exciting on that laptop, but I love learning this for all computers and external drives. Plus, the computer's never been so happy! It's old and has been passed along amongst many people, and was really struggling. It's so peaceful now!

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I was assuming you didn't want to have to re-install windows yet again- You're correct in that we want to be wiping the *entire* hard drive, used, unused, the works- but I was offering you a solution you could do without reinstalling Windows if you felt like it.

If I wanted to clean everything with Eraser, and wanted to reinstall Windows, which would I ask Eraser to wipe? Surely not Drive/Partition, because that's what simply killed the computer the first time (i.e., no slow wiping process, just male symbols until I eventually powered it off).
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #77 on: September 18, 2017, 11:02:29 AM »
Clearing Computer: Take 2

Note for future self: Should turn off sleep/power down modes before starting.

1. Backed up any data I wanted to keep (somewhere other than computer!).

2. On working, connected computer, downloaded Heidi Eraser. Copied to USB.

3. Moved Eraser USB to Computer #2.

4. Clicked Eraser icon.

5. ["...Not installed NET something with Windows." Clicked Close. Eraser completed setup and opened.]

6. Clicked through Eraser windows. Selected "typical...for most users." Clicked Install. Opened Eraser program.

7. Clicked New Task. Run Immediately.

8. For target, selected UNUSED DISK SPACE. For Settings: OS: (C:).

9. An hour in, changed PC's power modes to never turn off.

10. Eraser continues cleaning "unused disk space" for 38 hours (35 passes) and presumably finishes (progress bar was close to end when I last saw).

11. Computer powers off.

12. I power on computer. Windows opens. I open Eraser.

13. Eraser has "completed with errors." According to its manual, this means it did not completely erase, as some stuff may be retrievable.

14. Right click "task", view task log. Most serious warning is, "This computer has had System Restore or Volume Shadow Copies enabled. This may allow [retrieval]."

15. Google this message. Some say common, one says: http://www.east-tec.com/kb/risk-unerased-volume-shadow-copies/

Will ponder.
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #78 on: September 18, 2017, 11:16:37 AM »
Sounds like everything is on point.

Just a side note, if the US Department of Defense is  was satisfied with 3 passes to keep the country safe from nukes, I think 35 passes might be a little excessive- was that the default setting? If so, the Eraser people are intense.

edit: Apparently the DOD standard isn't permitted to be used any more according to one source; I wonder if they just shred the hard drives instead? (That is a real thing, by the way. The shredders are *very* powerful.)
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 11:22:21 AM by BiochemicalDJ »
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #79 on: September 18, 2017, 11:28:29 AM »
Eraser gives heaps of options re: number of passes. Their favourite is 35, though they too acknowledge it's excessive :)

re: Volume Shadow Copy, multiple sources say files are retrievable if this is enabled, no matter how many passes. So I sought to disable it.

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However, if you still want to disable Volume shadow copy than follow the steps as below:

1. Click on Start, type services and press enter.
2. Locate the service "Volume Shadow Copy" and right click and click "Stop".
3. Close Services windows.

In my current set up, the only active option was to "Start."

Right clicked, chose Properties, chose Startup type: Disabled.

Will run 3 passes now.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #80 on: September 18, 2017, 11:34:33 AM »
Will run 3 passes now.

Or not.

Eraser crashes each time now. Because I disabled VSC? Weird.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #81 on: September 18, 2017, 02:46:04 PM »
Since Heidi Eraser didn't complete per Volume Shadow Copy, and won't work with Volume Shadow Copy disabled, what's my next step?

i.e.,
Heidi Eraser: Crashes if I attempt to run with VSC disabled.
DBAN: The free version is no longer recommended, by many sources.
Hi/ren: I doubt I'll manage to find its cleaning option in amongst all its other offerings.

Disk Wipe? http://www.diskwipe.org/
Diskpart Clean All? (Can I start this with Windows installed? Will it kill Windows, but then clean everything as I wish? And then I just reinstall Windows again?)

Will doing another wipe (1-3 passes) be too hard on the computer now, ending the option to bring it back to life?
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 02:56:48 PM by jooniFLORisploo »
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #82 on: September 18, 2017, 09:36:52 PM »
Awright, it took me some hours again (yay for FIRE!), but I managed to find my way back to diskpart away from Windows.

For my future reference:

1. Just remove and destroy the hard drive, lol!! But damaging short of melting (or its true equivalent) will leave some data potentially recoverable.

But if for some reason I don't want to:

Cleaning Computer Take 3

1. Ensure I have an activation key for the version of Windows I'm installing. If my kid is in school or I'm in uni, there might be a legit freebie available to us.

2. Disable Volume Shadow Copy.

3. Change power settings so computer never goes to sleep. Plug it in.

4. Create Windows 10 recovery USB.

5. Restart computer, hitting probably F2 or F10 or F12 or something to bring up Bios thing.

6. Boot sequence: From USB, UEFI.

7. Restart, hitting the F10 or whatever.

8. It will bring up a Windows Setup page. Accept language.

9. Next window, bottom left, Repair your computer.

10. Go to command prompt, diskpart [enter], list disk [enter], select disk 0 (in this case) [enter], clean all [enter].

11. With the cursor blinking under clean all line, wait approximately one hour per 320gb. When it's done, it will say it has cleaned successfully. Also, your space for the designated disk will show free space equal to available or whatever.

12. Restart. (It's still sequenced to boot from Recovery USB.)

13. Windows setup. Click through the installation.

14. Restart, clicking F10 or whatever into Bios. Change boot sequence to HDD.

15. Remove USB. Restart.
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Gronnie

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #83 on: September 19, 2017, 06:11:22 PM »
Awright, it took me some hours again (yay for FIRE!), but I managed to find my way back to diskpart away from Windows.

For my future reference:

1. Just remove and destroy the hard drive, lol!! But damaging short of melting (or its true equivalent) will leave some data potentially recoverable.

But if for some reason I don't want to:

Cleaning Computer Take 3

1. Ensure I have an activation key for the version of Windows I'm installing. If my kid is in school or I'm in uni, there might be a legit freebie available to us.

2. Disable Volume Shadow Copy.

3. Change power settings so computer never goes to sleep. Plug it in.

4. Create Windows 10 recovery USB.

5. Restart computer, hitting probably F2 or F10 or F12 or something to bring up Bios thing.

6. Boot sequence: From USB, UEFI.

7. Restart, hitting the F10 or whatever.

8. It will bring up a Windows Setup page. Accept language.

9. Next window, bottom left, Repair your computer.

10. Go to command prompt, diskpart [enter], list disk [enter], select disk 0 (in this case) [enter], clean all [enter].

11. With the cursor blinking under clean all line, wait approximately one hour per 320gb. When it's done, it will say it has cleaned successfully. Also, your space for the designated disk will show free space equal to available or whatever.

12. Restart. (It's still sequenced to boot from Recovery USB.)

13. Windows setup. Click through the installation.

14. Restart, clicking F10 or whatever into Bios. Change boot sequence to HDD.

15. Remove USB. Restart.

Looks good! Now that you have learned this stuff isn't all that intimidating, maybe you will move onto adult Legos (ie putting together your own computer).

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #84 on: September 19, 2017, 06:14:19 PM »
I'm pretty thrilled, Gronnie, and super grateful to all of who you participated in helping me learn this. It was really satisfying, and that computer runs like a boss now! I definitely feel very capable of these steps and, yes, of learning more! And now I can pass these steps on to my 13 year old, too.

I can hardly wait to get at the next one. In the meantime, I'm going to be applying the diskpart clean all to some removable stuff.

THANK YOU ALL!!!!!
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #85 on: September 20, 2017, 07:28:59 AM »
Glad it worked out!

For *incredible* performance improvements on almost any computer, look up an SSD- a Solid State Drive. It can read/write about 10x faster than a standard hard drive, and prices have really come down- but the downside is, they're pretty small for the price.

Almost everyone I know runs Windows and their most productive and important apps off of a Solid State Drive, and uses the more classic mechanical hard drive for longer term storage, where speed isn't important.

Look up a youtube video or two to see how easy these things are to install. And now that you understand how to install fresh copies of Windows, you can install to it afterwards and be up and running in an hour or two.

If you get that going, say hello to a sub-10 second boot-to-functional time ;)
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Gronnie

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Re: how to not fix your computer
« Reply #86 on: September 20, 2017, 10:24:01 AM »
Glad it worked out!

For *incredible* performance improvements on almost any computer, look up an SSD- a Solid State Drive. It can read/write about 10x faster than a standard hard drive, and prices have really come down- but the downside is, they're pretty small for the price.

Almost everyone I know runs Windows and their most productive and important apps off of a Solid State Drive, and uses the more classic mechanical hard drive for longer term storage, where speed isn't important.

Look up a youtube video or two to see how easy these things are to install. And now that you understand how to install fresh copies of Windows, you can install to it afterwards and be up and running in an hour or two.

If you get that going, say hello to a sub-10 second boot-to-functional time ;)

I can confirm, my job title is Senior SSD Firmware Engineer.