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Thread: Re-install time

  1. #1
    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
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    Default Re-install time

    It seems that my Cortex PC hard disk is suffering from accumulated errors, given that I am getting a lot of random crashes and CHKDSK found a bunch of stuff to clean. Disk surface was good, but I have a new SSD anyway. Went to install and found the DVD drive can't read the disk, got the CD drive cleaner and found the brushes have disintegrated. Went to put install media on USB and found you can't make it bootable from a VM running an a Mac. 'Eck.

    Realised that all my backups are all very well for Cortex data and catastrophic failure of a hard drive, but don't really provide an answer to long-term degradation of Windows itself - you can never really know when it degraded to know what backup to use and in this circumstance might as well re-install clean).

    So I am looking at creating an up to date slipstream install stick to try and reduce the time taken to get up and running.

    1) Am I missing any easier routes (Windows OEM so can't use the Windows repair option)?
    2) Anybody else slipstreamed an install media upto and including the "Convenience rollup" successfully?
    3) Can I simply re-use the install key and lock codes in the Registration backup to get Cortex fully licensed again, or is a key transfer required (it is the same PC)?
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  2. #2
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    maybe go to Windows 10, while you're about it - if compatible ?
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 14th September 2016 at 08:58 AM.

  3. #3
    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
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    Nah, got a legit Win 7 Pro licence, missed the free upgrade Window, not paying 190 - if there is an upgrade (sic) price then Microsoft are doing a good job at hiding it! Will consider Win 10 at the point I refresh the PC that Cortex runs on.
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    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    probably sensible - we're using Win 8.1, and wish we were still with 'XP ... too many panics, 'though it's still going - so, maybe, updates are having a positive effect ...

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    Automated Home Guru Nad's Avatar
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    I considered the upgrade to W10 for the new machine but W7 will continue to get security updates through to 2020 (extended support - January 14, 2020) so didn't see the point especially considering that W10 has a few compatibility issues with the likes of Skype.

    I also use to run a copy of Acronis True Image with the image kept on a separate partition of the hard drive but with current broadband speeds and the availability of ISOs (with service packs) I've moved away from that and just chug through the installation. Things get even easier when you throw a USB 3.0 drive and a SSD into the mix
    Last edited by Nad; 18th September 2016 at 09:35 PM.

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    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    wish the OS people would work more closely with at least the key App providers - Skype, CAD, and other mainstream apps not working following updates is pretty fundamental ... we've been caught out too many times (Windows & OSX & iOS) ... wouldn't be so bad if they were upfront about it, so we could plan, but they behave like apps are not their problem, and customers be dammed !

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    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    I think one question is what is the cause of 'degradation'? Could be physical faults on hard drives, EEprom wear on SSDs, and for OS I imagine a prime candidate will be the effect of installing other apps and services, e.g registry bloating or services that take up cpu time during and after start up. The usual advice is avoid using the PC for anything other than Cortex.

    The second question is about time frame. My personal opinion is that if you find you are having to re-install the OS or even the disk within a few years then there is something fundamentally wrong with the platform/disk or way it is being used. My admittedly limited experience indicates that over a period of several years I haven't noticed any significant difference in boot up times on a few machines that have been treated as a 'closed control box' (XP, W7 and W8.1). But there again its probably because they are so rarely rebooted that it is not something I remember much. I can however also report that one of my own machines, which I use for everything under the sun, gives me enough time to go and have a cup of coffee and that this started suddenly a few years ago after I installed either a new firewall or virus checker or possibly even printer driver. I never quite got round to rooting it out (should have been a bit more methodical in testing effects of changes in hindsight ...).

    As a kind of adjunct - it may also be a good idea these days to acquire a low cost back up platform. I.e something you can swap in temporarily, even just for occasions when you might need more maintenace space. Anecdotaly, I found one of those cheap 8" tablets quite adequate at running my system over a period of such time recently. I lost connectivity to my IVC card cameras but still it was able to handle an IP one. I'm not saying it would work for Chris's system but perhaps something just a little bit more meaty might, and cost/performance continues to improve.

  8. #8
    Automated Home Guru Nad's Avatar
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    I was considering having a dedicated backup machine for Cortex to fallback onto but I couldn't really justify the cost of another machine when I have another machine that only gets used for more productive tasks and the occasional game so the new setup is going to be 1 dedicated machine that runs just Cortex (old setup was on a Revo and has run for several years with no noticeable system degradation, I did throw a SSD in as it was unbearably slow using a mechanical drive) and my gaming rig will have the backup license and be ready to take over when required. Admittedly this is not the slickest fail-over solution but I concluded I can live with it when I considered how often this will need to be done (I'm hoping never!).

  9. #9
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    we find things go wrong so seldom, we always have trouble remembering what to do which it does - especially with our memory being less than it was ...

    most recent problem we had involved the PC fan becoming noisy now & then - thought it was the CPU fan speeding up now & then, but was difficult to see that the CPU was working harder sometimes, could find no rogue software etc ... turned out it was the power supply fan going faster now & then, as if extra cooling was required, but again difficult to see why that was so ... turned out it was a physical problem with the fan itself, having periods when it wasn't rotating properly ... after much this & that, the cure was to press gently up on the lower surface of the Power Supply case (grilled & behind which the fan sits) ... without disassembling, couldn't see the detail, but could feel the fan being pushed back onto its mounting - ie: seemed the fan had come partially off its axel and/or out of its bearing ... well, that's what it felt like, anyway, and doubly odd because intermittent, but has been fine since (three months plus) ...

    our system is quite large ... but, starting again, we would go for more rather than less - more PIR & temperature sensors, more reed switches, more relays (we installed spares in many locations, to accommodate unforeseen items, but have soon used them up, and adding new modules can be a bit messy - dust etc) ...

  10. #10
    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
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    Wrote long reply and then lost it. Doh!

    I was blaming degradation on hard disk failure, but am now reconsidering. I have recently tested about 17 3.5" drives from non-Cortex duties, and found various degrees of damage. Some of these were showing some signs, one was just slow and would spontaneously disconnect, but many others were apparently OK. What was interesting was how a full surface scan revealed developing issues on some drives that then accelerated to large scale failure in just a couple of days. I suspect that if you have regions of a drive that are not being accessed, they can develop latent faults that then become severe once they are more frequently used.

    Interestingly, none of the 3 2.5" laptop drives that have been in my Cortex PC recently showed any issues under the same test regime.

    So I think that while there may be "old" damage from restoring a silently damaged image after a previous drive failure, the major cause is the Windows update process. I had not been running CHKDSK, but when I did, it found quite a number of filesystem errors on a drive that a low level scan considered good. There does see to be an exponential effect to this degradation, which I formerly thought was a degrading disk surface, but now think is instability leading to improper shutdown, leading to file system damage, leading to instability ....

    I am definitely going to run CHKDSK more often, and probably extended SMART self-test periodically as well.
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