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Thread: Efficient Troubleshooting - Fatal OS Error on bootup.

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003

    Post Efficient Troubleshooting - Fatal OS Error on bootup.

    Troubleshooting for fun and profit (Mostly profit) - Inoperable OS

    This little problem has come up several times in the last week, and I found myself applying a strategy I unconciously developed some time ago, and realized it was pretty universal so here goes:

    WARNING:A lot of this looks like common sense, yes, but you'd be surprised how many people dive into wasteful and unorganized strategies when it comes to computer troubleshooting. This is unacceptable in any proffesional environment, which is where the following would be best executed.

    Situation: Inoperable OS Error. (OS will not start at all with no error or virtually meaningless error)

    Problem is untracable in a reasonable amount of time (thus amount of money if time=money)

    Ideal Resources (already essential for any repair shop):
    HDD with working copy of same OS - You should have a loaded HDD of any OS you service.
    New HDD to test with/sell as solution.
    Norton ghost or similar util capable of properly handling boot sectors and such.

    posible solutions:

    figure 1.1 (looked better with tabs)
    Solution - New Hdd ------------- New OS

    figure 1.2
    Theoretical Logic

    Horizontal progression denotes Success, Vertical Denotes Failure.
    (stupid tabs not being displayed! now it looks dumb )

    Try Prepared 1------->---------Try 2------->Implement 2
    Problem is not HDD_______|Try 3------------->Implement 3
    ---------------------------------Implement 1


    The possible Solutions are roughly ordered by cost from larges to smallest. The Variables for cost of each soution are as follows:

    figure 1.3
    HDD Cost - $HD
    hourly rate (duh) $HR
    Time to Ghost - TGH
    Time to Install TOS -

    These can be combined into the following, which should be recorded to provide accurate customer quotes

    $HD <- Cost of the HDD
    $GH <- Cost (by hour) to Ghost the specified HDD size on your shop Computer
    $OS <- Cost (by hour) to install specific OS

    The costs of the each solution in figure 1.1, using the logic path described in figure 1.2:

    figure 1.4
    Solution --Formula
    1-----------$HD + 2$GH + $OS or $HD + $GH + 2$OS (recommended of the two)
    2-----------$HD + $GH
    3-----------$GH + $OS

    At the shop where I work, $HD is approximately equal to $GH + $OS and $OS is approximately equal to 2$GH in the vast majority of cases. So the order of the solutions holds to the inverse desirablitiy in cost. This may vary with things such as cheap hard drives, small hard drives, and preconfigured manufacture recovery disks.

    The logic in a few more words is as follows.

    Remove the suspect hard drive, replace it with a known good hard drive with the same operating system. This is a must in any proffesional repair shop. This simple step will determine if the problem has to do with the hard drive or some other part of the system. This is meant to head off any doubts that may surffice later regarding the state of the system prior to your servicing it. If the hard drive is at fault, you will be free to focus as such, saving you time and your client money.
    If the Hard drive is not the problem, ie. the same or a similar error occured, the problem is most likely some other part of the system. Further discussion may be posted regarding this event, likely under the title - Hardware troubleshooting a hard drive, or something similar.
    Once the original hard drive has been identified as the problem source, solution 2 should be attempted. This solution Involves placing the old OS on a new hard drive. This is accomplished by using a utility such as norton ghost capable of making an exact copy of a drive on another one of a different size. Few hard drives are excatly the same size, and some programms will not allow for this. Ghosts easy to use GUI interface straight off a boot floppy also makes it ideal for this application. This step will identify a hardware problem with the old hard drive, if one exists.
    A recurrence of the error on the new hard drive suggests an operating system problem, thus moving us to solution 3. If the previous step was successful, however, then the problem is in the hardware and the new hard drive as configured, should be sold as the solution. To implement solution 3, keep the data ghosted to the new hard drive as a backup then format and reinstall the operating system to the old hard drive. This will flush out any problems that arose from misconfiguration or corruption of the operating system. I have not had mutch success with 'overinstalling' the OS, especially windows. Since not all of the system files are replaced, I don't recommend it as a solution. If you were given a restore disk for the customers specific system it can be a godsend. This will save time, and thus money since the installation should be mostly automated allowing you to attend to other projects while the clock is still running on this one (a perfectly acceptable practice, especially in shop).
    If solution 3 fails, you must fall back to solution 1 which must have worked if you have gotten this far. Depending on whether $GH is less than or greater than $OS, you may want to attempt ghosting the OS you have already set up from the old HDD to the new hard drive. There is a risk in this however, as the operating system that failed on the old hard drive may have been corrupted by the hard drive itself and is not fit to use. You'll need to decide that based on the particular situation.

    This concludes my first simple tutorial. I hope this guide will give you some confidence when dealing with such a situation, since it has, time and again, proven to be the most cost effective solution. Trust me... Don't go hunting down little OS problems, it's a HUGE waste of time unless you know EXACTLY what your doing. I am not giving credit to anyone because I wrote this off the top of my head today, and I have read virtually no literature on troubleshooting computers, since it has always come quite naturally to me. As far as peoples right to copy this stuff, it's not that cool anyways, but I still say F**K it all, you can do as you wish with any of this info, I hearby give control of this text to each and every person who reads it... so I guess I'm not passing on mutch, but I think you get the point (I don't care, I do this stuff for the fun of the challenge) hope to write more. Support/feedback is always nice, but like I said, I do this for me, so don't bother if you don't feel like it.


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    At the shop where I work, $HD is approximately equal to $GH + $OS and $OS is approximately equal to 2$GH
    now i find this statement a little comfusing, because if i run the numbers, your saying that $GH is three times as %HD. so lets run the numbers and see if i am correct:

    $HD = $GH + $OS
    $OS = $HD - $GH

    so therefore, $HD - $GH = 2$GH ----> $HD = 2$GH + $GH ----> $HD = 3$GH

    okay, now that that has been sorted, i would just like to say that either, your HDD's are really cheap, which i doubt, or that customers are paying through the nose just to have their HDD's ghosted....

    anyways, thats just my opinion.


    Thats a nice tut on how to avoid time wasting and spending too much. if the numbers you ran are standard it would also help people know (approxiamtly) how much its going to cost.
    - Trying is the first step towards failure. the moral is never try.
    - It\'s like something out of that twilighty show about that zone.
    ----Homer J Simpson----

  3. #3
    Senior Member Zonewalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Trust... bit of a round about way of calculating that isn't it..... as indicated

    At the shop where I work, $HD is approximately equal to $GH + $OS and $OS is approximately equal to 2$GH
    so whilst
    $HD = $GH + $OS

    is true you may as well have just said that

    as $OS equivalent to 2x$GH then you can substitute $OS in the above thus

    $HD = $GH + (2x $GH)
    $HD =3$GH
    but otherwise..... yeah i agree

    I know I'm being picky..... I'm in one of those moods no offense

    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    yes, your both right, if you charge for the time spent ghosting (I don't, but it is perfectly reasonable to) then what you've said is correct. I'm assuming you don't want to 'give' them time.

    No offense taken, I just didn't put in any specifics. Here's how it goes for the shop I work at:

    $GH = about 30 minutes @ $65\hr (inshop rate) that's $37.50 (only if you charge for it, I don't)
    $OS = about 1 hour for most @ $65\hr that's $65 duh...
    $HD = somewhere around $100 dollars as low as 85 up to around 120 for 40 gigs. which is our basic drive.

    so... yeah, it's real loose, but that's where my logic comes from, a little difference in price would throw it off quite a bit, so it's not universal, but the relationships usually stay the same. Also, If you don't charge for ghosting, then the desirability relationships in figure 1.1 remain unchanged since ghosting is the cheapest solution anyways. As you know, approximations are all I can give, but I've pondered the relationships enough so I think they'll hold in the majority of cases. More importantly, they do. hehe.

    Thanks for the feedback

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Not helpful for my case

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