Trashed Hard Drive: Just One Of Those Things…

I bought a new 500GB hard drive for my laptop back in December. It was only $54 from Micro Center in Dallas, and had a 7200rpm rotation speed. Pretty darn amazing. I needed the larger drive because the 80GB I had been using was full, mainly photos, ISOs, and the like. I cloned the 80GB drive over to the 500GB, then used GPartEd to expand the partition to the full disk size. Once done, I installed an upgrade version of Windows 7 over the Windows XP (which trashed the programs and data), then installed all new programs, and transferred most of the data from the 80GB drive to the 500GB drive, and I was in business. None of this took very long.

One thing I had not transferred over was all of my GPS maps stored in Garmin Mapsource. Now, I got Mapsource with my Garmin GPS. I did not like the fact that Garmin sold topo maps for each state, for about $50 – $100 per map. A group at GPS File Depot has open-source Garmin-compatible maps for download that work fine with Mapsource, and I use their maps. I also donated $50 to them to support their effort. But the maps are installed into a database that Mapsource controls, and there isn’t any way for Mapsource to export the maps.

There was also the matter of getting Mapsource on the new machine. I can’t find the CD I originally installed (that was 4+ years ago). You can download Mapsource from garmin.com, but it won’t install without some computer gymnastics, and there is still the matter of getting the stored maps transferred.

I looked around a bit, and eventually found a tool called JaVaWa GMTK (I have no idea where JaVaWa comes from, and I think GMTK is Garmin Mapping Toolkit). This wonderful tool backs up maps stored in Mapsource, and imports them onto another machine. This also eliminates the need for the computer gymnastics mentioned above, as JaVaWa GMTK preps the disk for installation of Mapsource without needing an original CD.

So… I popped my 80GB XP disk back in the laptop, loaded JaVaWa GMTK, and ran the export. Only one issue: JaVaWa GMTK reported that my Oklahoma and Arkansas topos shared a common map numbering for the SE part of Oklahoma, and for some reason, that was BAD. I removed the Arkansas map from the backup and ran it again. So far, so good. I shut the machine down, then remembered I needed something else done. I powered back up again, did what needed to be done, and got ready to shut down. Windows notified me that it had a couple updates to install. Here was my mistake. I let the updates install. The machine ran a couple extra minutes and then shut off.

I put the 500GB W7 drive back in, got powered up, and in the meantime connected the XP drive to an external SATA-to-USB interface, plugged it in, and got… nothing. It usually fires up Explorer to let me look at the disk, but not this time. The drive showed E:, but W7 said I needed to format the disk. WTH?

I swapped the disks, booted up to Windows XP (it’s a dual boot drive, with Fedora Linux 15 on the other partition) using the GRUB bootloader, got the XP splash screen, then a BSOD with Stop 24. Ugh.

Now, I’ve had these kind of BSODs before. They are damned hard to fix. Microsoft puts little information out. I know that Stop 24 has to have a specific cause. Why Microsoft won’t publish those is a mystery. I’ve looked extensively for them. In this case I even read many, many comments from Microsoft Certified people, and people who claimed to work for Microsoft, and they were all basically guessing at the cause. I also saw Stop 7B. The consensus is that these Stops mean that NTFS is corrupt in some way. There was the usual weird set of causes, but most people seemed to think that they are a direct result of powering off the computer during some critical time.

I fired up the Linux part of the disk. Worked fine.

I’m convinced it was the updates that installed. I didn’t have any inadvertent power off.

Most Microsoft people offered the advice to reinstall the OS. Not really what I wanted to do, since I was trying to get the map data off the disk. A secondary consensus opinion was to run chkdsk against the drive. So that’s what I decided to do.

I plugged in the SATA-to-USB, got my drive E: again, and ran chkdsk e: /f against it. As near as I can tell, it ran for about six hours. At the end of process, I still could not read the disk. I restarted everything, and this time, the disk came up as a more-or-less readable E:.

I quickly ran JaVaWa GMTK on the 500GB drive, and pointed the restore function at the directory on E: where I stored the backed up maps. JaVaWa GMTK ran about a half hour, and snagged all the maps. I then installed Mapsource, and I had everything back!

I poked around on the disk, and the chkdsk function hadn’t managed to restore everything. My Microsoft Office was totally blown away (fortunately, the Office documents were in a different directory).

So a near PITA was avoided. I am bugged that a Microsoft update was the likely cause of the issue, but chkdsk to the rescue. Mapquest is working fine on the new disk. I got another copy of Office 2010 through the Microsoft EPP for a decent price, so no pain there.

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