I hate computers

Seriously.  Don’t like ’em.  That may sound strange coming from an IT professional, but there you have it.  I’ve spent the last day trying to get my wife’s laptop to work correctly.  I’m writing this (1) to vent, (2) to kill time while her data copies back from the backup drive and (3) so that if anyone on these inter webs has a similar problem maybe this will help them out if Google sends them my way.

My wife’s laptop is an HP ze5630us laptop.  I replaced the CD burner recently which wasn’t too bad. However, she has been running out of hard drive space.  She is really getting into digital photography and photos from a 10 megapixel camera really takes some serious real estate.

I purchased the largest IDE/ATA-6 hard drive I could find: a 160GB Hitachi Travelstar.  I borrowed a cable and some cloning software from a guy at work and proceded to get to work a couple of days ago.  I cloned her current 60GB hard drive onto the new drive, popped the new one in the laptop and thought I was good to go. I had tons of stuff going on so I checked to make sure her data was there and called it a night.

The next day, my wife complained that her laptop was VERY slow.  I didn’t think too much of it until she mentioned it again Saturday morning.  When I noticed it took several minutes to boot up and then crawled, I knew something was seriously wrong.  After much hunting around I discovered that the computer was not talking to the hard drive over ATA as it should.  It was using PIO.  Basically, PIO is a lowest-common-denominator sort of thing that Windows defaults to if it runs into errors.  I could not make XP use DMA on this drive.  I tried various “tricks” I found on the web to no avail.

I even reformatted the new drive, re-cloned the old one, and then re-installed the big boy.  No dice.  Same problem.  I began the three-pronged approach of (1) praying, (2) Googling and (3) cursing.  Finally, I came across a gem in the rough.   Someone linked to this site from the comments section of some other website.  Basically this guy had the same problem and it turns out it was related to the IDE controller chipset driver.  I figured there was no way my laptop would happen to have the same one.  Oh yeh.  It did.  I downloaded the recommended driver (gee, thanks HP for providing it–not!!!).  I had to download it from this guy’s personal website as it didn’t appear to be available from the chipset manufacturer’s website any longer.  Anyway, I followed the readme instructions and BANG (a good bang).  It began working fast, just like it should.  As I began copying backed-up photos onto the new, large drive I quite literally got down on my knees and thanked God that somone else took the time to post the info from the problem they had.  That’s why I’m doing this.  It ups the odds just a little bit that some other poor schmuck who just wants to upgrade his wife’s laptop in a couple of hours can get relief from a painfully difficult and confusing problem.

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