Whew! Two Days Gone but Forever Remembered

Well, I have almost gotten everything back up and running. It was not as easy as I had hoped, but I guess any good learning experience is time well spent.

I started this process because of the failed hard drive that contained Windows Vista. I had been running just with Linux, but there was some things I wanted to do and I could not get it to work in Linux.

My starting environment was a dual boot system with Windows Vista and openSUSE 11.2 KDE and a backup system with Windows XP and openSUSE 11.2. The first system is the powerhouse with a quad processor and the backup is no slouch with a dual AMD Athlon processor.

When the Vista system disk failed, I had moved all work to Linux. One problem with that environment was that with the failed HD, the system took a long time to come up because the bios was trying to activate the drive. While that annoyed me, it wasn’t the show stopper. I was perfectly happy with Linux and in fact still prefer it for my blogging environment.

However, I got to talking with my son and he was telling me about using Netflix in the states and for $5 a month downloading all his movies. That sounded interesting, but I was sure I would have to have a US IP address to use the service. Other sites I like like HULU, and Pandora have blocking software and if a foreign IP comes in they give you a message that those sites may only be watched in the US.

I installed Hotspot Shield on my Mac Mini and tested it with HULU and Pandora. Both worked.  However, Hotspot Shield is only for Windows and Mac type PCs. It isn’t supported in Linux.

looked around and found two VPN services (WiTopia and Ace VPN) that both use OpenVPN, which is becoming a standard.

Both services are reasonably priced at around $5/month. When I tried to bring up VPN under Linux, I found a daunting task. I am sure it can be done, but all of the descriptions I found related to installing under UBUNTU and Gnome. Since I use KDE, it was not easy and I finally decided it required more patience that I was capable of.

This convinced me that maybe it was time for me to replace the failed hard drive and reinstall Windows Vista. I know a lot of people hate it, but I had no problems with it on my Gateway PC with the two years worth of fixes applied. Since I had an extra 1 Terabyte hard drive, I would not have to buy a drive. In fact I had one I couldn’t use because one drive slot in the Gateway, had not worked (another research problem, I had not worked on).

On the 18th, I set off to replace the failed hard drive and reinstall Windows Vista. First I backed all of my files that I was using on Linux up to an external drive. While I didn’t expect to have to do anything with Linux system, one never knows how things can get screwed up and I didn’t want to be without my current files.

With the file backup done, I disconnected the cables and took the PC’s case apart. The first thing I noticed was that the 1 Terabyte HD, that hadn’t worked, did not have power. Gateway, had left out a connector for that drive. When I get time, I will buy the connector and that problem will be solved.

In the meantime, that was the drive I was going to use for Vista. Since my Gateway PC had been a refurbished PC, I had no DVD to reinstall the Vista system. All Windows users should have made restore DVDs after having a running system. I had done that and had three DVDs with the system and all drivers. I was good to go. If you are running Windows and do nor have recovery disks, I suggest you make them now. Your life will be much easier for it.

I pulled out the bad drive and installed the new drive, reconnected all cables, inserted the first recovery DVD in the reader and hit power. Windows appeared to install, taking an hour or so. However, when I thought I was home free with Vista running, Vista would not update with fixes off the Internet.

After several failed attempts, some of which seemed to be made more complicated because of the dual boot with Linux, I decided to make the PC a straight Windows PC and removed the Linux hard Drive. My plan was to move it to the secondary system.

I pretty well used my first day in moving my 1 Terabyte Linux system to my backup PC and replacing the 500 GB Linux system. With that accomplished, day two would be to get the Vista system finished.

I started the process again and Windows Vista installed from the recovery disks fine. However, for some reason, Windows would not allow the system to update itself. Obviously contacting Microsoft would be costly as well as contacting Gateway. I thought about it and wondered if the problem could have anything to do with me trying to update a US sold PC over the Internet from Panama. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but I still wondered. With that thought I purchased a 1 month trial to Ace VPN and activated the system with a US IP address. Guess what. The updates were now allowed.

About 4 or 5 hours later, I had all of the Vista fixes reapplied. While this was going on, I used the external drive to restore all of my files.

So here I am on day three with both PCs back up and running. I consider it a successful time. I solved the hardware problem that was preventing my fourth hard drive from running. I have both the primary and secondary PCs up and running. I have two types of IP masking software running.

If I had been able to configure VPN on the openSUSE I would never have reinstalled Windows. I still plan on playing more with Linux now that I can do it in a slower manner and see if I can get it to run openVPN.

What should you take away with you that might have made reading this post worthwhile? First, make sure you have recovery disks of your operating systems or original installation disks. Make sure you have a current backup of all files that you consider important. One of the first things I did, on the reinstalled Vista system, was to configure an automatic file backup process so that files are backed up on a daily basis.

Life is good. Now on to the tasks I postponed for two days.

8 thoughts on “Whew! Two Days Gone but Forever Remembered

  1. Hi Joyce. I am using two back-up. Once a week, I use the Backup that is in VIsta to an internal drive.

    The second is http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm and backs up to an external drive. The program is free.
    I have gfi set up with two backup schemes. One backs up on MWFS and the second backs up on TTS. WIth different files used, I can never loose more than one day of information even if one of the backup files gets clobbered.

  2. Contacting microsoft is free, and I don’t think there is some kind of rule to prevent the use of the automatic updates outside of the place the computer was sold (that could prevent people with laptops going overseas to download security updates, making the idea of the updates meaningless). Now, there could be a issue with the system been refurbished, I’m thinking that the license for windows can’t be transfered with the computer, not sure about that.
    to verify the status of the license, this is the free number in Panama:
    (01) (800) 507 1885

  3. The problem was solved as I stated when I used a VPN connection to connect to the US, before the first upgrade. Now whether that was coincidence or not, I do not know. I do now that for an entire day it would not update and the next day when I used the VPN connection, it did.

    I consider the problem solved as it is updating fine now. I never had very good luck contacting Microsoft in the US and I can’t imagine it being better in Panama.

    Thanks for the number of Microsoft in panama. I hope I never have to use it.

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