Upgrading a HardDrive – Windows 3 – Me 0

Posted on Tuesday 22 April 2008

My main computer is starting to show it’s age – it’s only got 1.5 GB of memory , a 1.5 GHz CPU and 160GB of Disk Space … thankfully it is still running Windows XP … but I’m beginning to wonder for how much longer…

For many I’m sure that this would be enough for quite a while, but I do a lot of things with my beast and it’s starting to creak pretty badly. One of it’s biggest issues is disk space, I’ve been running out of it for a while now and been dumping some of my minor projects in order to keep enough disk space to keep working on the others… Thankfully, about 3 weeks back I got permission from my finance committee (also known as my wife ) to upgrade the Hard Drive to 500 GB. Which would hopefully keep me going for at least another year before I had to upgrade the computer itself…

My original plan was to partition the new drive into two drives . The first partition (250GB ) would replace my D Drive partition within Windows on my old Drive. I was then planning to expand the C drive partition on the original drive to take advantage of the whole 160GB of space. This would have given me approximately 410GB of space for my Windows XP, more than enough room for a year or so AND I would have had another 200 plus GB of disk space for installing my favorite operating system – UNIX or in this case Linux …. That was the plan anyways – and it would have created a fair bit of writing material I’m sure… but fate has had other plans….

So I installed the new drive and set up the partitions, and then moved my D drive to the new partition on the new drive. For this I used the Windows XCOPY command (specifically XCOPY D:\*.* H:\ /C/H/E/K/O/P ). The first problem arose when I then tried to remove the old D drive partition and expand the old C Drive…

The older drive is a Western Digita l drive and when the system was originally set up and partitioned at the shop, they used the Western Digital DiskManager utility, which unfortunately is a small part of the Kroll OnTrack Disk Manager Suite of Utilities and as such the only thing that can “expand” or manage either of the original partitions, are the tools within Null Softs own software – which of course DID NOT come as part of the original Western Digital disk-manager tool. To purchase the tools necessary from Kroll itself would have run into the $200 rangeStrike One!

This required a rethink – and so my next configuration plan was to move both C and D drives to the new disk drive (giving both drives ample space ) and then reconfiguring the older 160GB drive to run Linux (which was still plenty of room – just not as much as I had originally hoped for…)

The transfer went extremely well, thanks to the Western Digital disk manager tools. It actually had an option to transfer drive contents from one drive to another and everything appeared to go very well. After disconnecting the old drive, I then booted up with the new drive and IT WORKED! Wow was I happy… That is until I discovered that my firewall refused to load. Everything else seemed to work fine but even after working with the companies help desk and beta testing team I could not get the firewall up and running…Strike Two!

As I had mentioned in my previous posting, I have had a lot happening of late and after exhausting all possible “quick” avenues, I had no choice but to roll back everything and run with my original smaller hard drive. I can’t afford to “chance” running with an open machine on the Internet and I still hadn’t had a chance to check to see if anything else was broken… so back to the drawing board.

… So now things have settled down – somewhat. And I am ready for the next attempt. However, before I try to copy things over to the new drive I need to clean it up and get it ready (removing any and all information that was there previously )… It used to be so easy!

I should have been able to just re-partition the new drive and then reformat the new partitions… but unfortunately Windows (or the Universe who knows ) had “other ideas”…

Windows XP in it’s original release, still depended upon many, many DOS based commands and utilities to run and set itself up. One of this was a basic disk management utility called fdisk (Format Disk ) which allowed one to get right down to the basic level with the drive and manage everything about it (setting up partitions etc etc. ) Unfortunately in Microsoft’s wisdom, this tool is no longer needed and they have put Disk-Management tools well hidden inside of the Control Panel

For those who may need to find what I’m talking about, you need to:

  1. Click on the Control Panel
  2. Click on Administrative Tools
  3. Click on Computer Management
  4. Click on Storage
  5. Click on Disk Management
  6. Select the Disk you wish to manage
  7. Right click on the partition you wish to manage… (by the way – documentation on this process was very well hidden…. )

After you get all that way you find that you can create partitions and extended partitions for new drives and then format them, but you CANNOT delete the initial partition, nor format that partition once it is created! So while I was able to clean up the new extended partition on the new drive, the original partition could not be cleaned up that way. So I had to resort to a more traditional method. Just reformatting the sucker… or so I thought!

It would seem that windows considered a couple of Flash files within that partition (a copied image of the C drive ) sacrosanct and refused to format it. I tried using delete and the unix tools found within Cygwin (which I have installed within Windows environment ) to change the properties and/or delete the files – nothing worked.

So, I thought Aha! I’ll just reboot into DOS where Windows has no power and remove the file that way. Guess what – YOU CAN”T DO THAT ANYMORE! With the latest release of patches for XP, it would seem that the “real” DOS reboot was done away, now you can only reboot to a “Safe” Command Line (DOS Like Window ) within windows itself. And guess what – it said that I couldn’t remove the file because it was still “in use” and or “owned” by someone else…Arrggg.

So I did some checking on the net – surely someone else has had this ridiculous problem and found a way around it…. Well I thought I found something. Others of course have had similar types of experiences and one company – Gibinsoft – developed a free tool for just that purpose. It was designed EXACTLY for the issue that I was having…

Most people refer to it as MoveOnBoot and it is actually part of a suite of free products available from Gibin Software House (but you have the option of just installing MoveOnBoot if you wish ). It basically preempts the Windows boot process and moves and/or deletes any targeted files or directories before Windows gets it’s grubby little mitts on it. Suffice to say I installed it and targeted the problem files and rebooted the machine and…

Nothing! – STRIKE THREE! – They are still there – I still can’t format or repartition or get rid of them – and since I don’t want garbage in amongst what I will be working on I’m currently stymied… I haven’t decided yet if I am going to carpet bomb the whole drive with Linux, or just try and find an old 3 1/2 inch floppy boot disk (and find a new floppy drive while I’m at it ) and give that a try…. so stay tuned. This game ain’t over yet!


By the way I apologize for some of the formatting differences that you may or may not see in this posting. WordPress has had two upgrades since my last real posting, the last one seems to have some how corrupted some of my editing plugins …. so yet another item to fix down the road… (I’ll fix this one later – right now I’m on a mission! )

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