Nerdy post upcoming – you’ve been warned. But, it just might be worth the read for you anyway…
A good friend of mine had the power supply go on her ancient PC so it wouldn’t boot. She needed some files from her hard drive and asked for my assistance. No problem, I says, bring your CPU over. That was actually step 1. Step 2 as described below happens a day later.
Now, a little background here at dougpete labs. I have a Sony VPCF1 with an i7 processor that came loaded with Windows 7 and that was my main operating system for about a week. At the end of the week, I partitioned the hard drive and installed an instance of Ubuntu and the computer boots there by default and remains there for the most part. Every now and again I’ll have the urge to program using Visual Basic or Visual F# and I’ll reboot into Windows for that. I have an on again / off again relationship with Wine.
Back to the problem at hand. I actually had a similar problem with an old PC of my own and had ordered a Sabrent USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adapter from Tiger Connect. With a wide variety of connectors, it’s just a matter of finding the one that works to connect the PC’s hard drive to the adapter that feeds into a USB 2.0 connection which attaches to the computer. In my previous case, it had mounted the drive under Windows and I was able to get what I needed.
So, in this case, I figured that I would just replicate the procedure.
I rebooted the laptop to run Windows 7 and immediately was reminded of one of the reasons why it doesn’t stay running Windows for the most part. The fan roars and you can feel the heat being ejected from the left of the computer. Sigh. I’ve tried upgrading the BIOS and I think I’ve read every FAQ about CPU heating / fan combinations on the web. The best answer was a flippant “you’ve got an i7 processor. It’s a workhorse and designed to run hot.” I don’t know if that’s the ultimate answer but it was rationale enough for me. I mount the hard drive and go to Computer and there the drive is sitting there as Drive Q: Double click to open and I get the message that I don’t have enough permissions to do that. Of course; it must be password protected.
I’m sitting here heating the room, listening to the fan, and staring at the error message. I’m resigned to waiting for her to show up.
Then, I thought, what if I went back to Ubuntu? I needed to check my email anyway and the fan is really annoying.
Within a minute, I’m looking at my friendly Gnome desktop. Quietly too. Hand over the heat vent reveals a little warm and the fan gently sending the heat out. And, on the desktop is the now connected Windows hard drive. A double click reveals the contents. Hmmm. Conscience kicks in so I leave the setup until she comes over and then we copy the desired files to a memory key and she’s a happy camper. I’m a happy Ubuntu camper. The computer is quietly doing its thing and saved the day.
There’s a lesson to be learned here though. Getting to the hard drive was just a little bit too easy. Lifehacker has a really good article for reading dealing with all of this. It’s called “How to Break Into a Windows PC (and Prevent It from Happening to You)“. It’s definitely a good read and offers some good suggestions. If you’re concerned, make a point to read the article this morning.