I’ve been very unlucky with the development machine that I built in 2006 to test ClipMate on Vista. It ran fine until last September, then I had a motherboard failure which turned out to be caused by a (suspected) faulty power supply (it killed another motherboard too!)
So I went to CompUSA, looking for another board/CPU combo. Since the old board was Pentium-D, I wanted something more efficient (and quieter/cooler), so I picked up a brand-name MoBo, an AMD X2 CPU, and some nice Corsair DDR2 RAM. I made the mistake of not looking for the Vista certification on the MoBo. More on that later…
I had expected to swap components, and hopefully let Vista find the new drivers when it booted. After all, we’ve had the “hardware abstraction layer” (HAL) since NT 3.5, right? So I threw my faith in HAL, Plug-n-Play, Plug-n-PRAY, etc.. Sure enough, immediate blue-screen, followed by endless reboot/BSOD/reboot cycle.
If you’ve found this in google, you know what that’s all about. I’ll make the long story short – I was unsuccessful in booting from my Vista HD. Vista was unsuccessful in “repairing” the old installation. I ended up re-installing Vista (twice, because MSFT sends me “upgrade” disks because I’m in the “Action Pack” program). Grrrrr. I needed a better way. Next time, I vowed to do better.
Well, that MoBo turned out to be a sweet Linux or XP board, but it wasn’t Vista certified, and I was experiencing daily lockups. No BSOD, just a freeze, requiring a power-off. I tried BIOS updates, new drivers, etc.. No good. My retailer (CompUSA) is going out of business (should have used NewEgg!!) and wasn’t interested in getting it back. I wasn’t interested in spending hours on hold with the MFG to RMA it and get an identical (non-working-on-Vista) board. So for $79, I found a nice Gigabyte board on NewEgg.
This time, I found a write-up that talked about removing drivers on the old board, prior to shutting down. This makes the board “driver agnostic”. Long story short, it didn’t work. I think my PnP loaded the old drivers anyway, before I could shut down the machine.
Looking for another solution, I found a comment on Lockergnome that talked about a “lifeboat” disk adaptor card. Hmmmm… Basically, you install a cheap IDE/SATA card into the machine before the MoBo swap. Let Vista (should work on XP too) load the drivers. At this point, Vista has drivers to run that card, no matter what chipset the MoBo has. Then swap the MoBo, and plug your HD (Temporarily) into the new card. Load Windows, let PnP detect the new hardware, load drivers, etc.. Now you can reboot and switch back to the MoBo IDE/SATA ports, and remove the “lifeboat” card. It sounded great, so I thought I’d give it a try!
I purchased a cheap IDE/SATA card (PCI interface) from NewEgg. For $20, I got this:
|HDC ROSEWILL|RC-212 4XSATA+1XIDE R|
It’s got both IDE and SATA ports, and runs on Vista. Great.
Next, I installed it into my PC, running the old Motherboard. Vista asked for drivers, I gave it the CD that came with the board.
Then I shut down and swapped the motherboard, and transplanted the Rosewill board from the old motherboard onto the new one. This time, I connected the SATA drive to the Rosewill card. I probably should have connected the IDE cable for the DVD drive, as that would have saved a reboot later on. But I left it disconnected.
Now I powered on and Vista loaded! No BSOD. It came up with generic drivers, and did its PnP thing and loaded drivers that worked with the Motherboard. Here is where it may have been good to have the DVD plugged into the Rosewill card, to get a better set of drivers from the Gigabyte CD. No harm though, the Windows drivers worked.
Now I shut down, removed the rosewill card, and connected the IDE and SATA to the MoBo. Upon power-up, Vista loaded again, and I was able to update drivers from the Gigabyte CD.
It worked great! The Rosewill card now sits on the shelf, for future emergencies. I will use it to “innoculate” all other (non-laptop) PCs in the house, so that I can upgrade failed motherboards in the future. In case of failure, they’ll already have the Rosewill drivers, and can be simply upgraded with new motherboards/CPU. You don’t always get to do any “prep”, especially when the hardware just dies. So I’m going to prepare all of my systems so that they’re ready, in case they need a swap.