She's had her Alienware computer since 2001 or 2002. Over 5 years old. She's been running the same instance of Windows XP since that time. She hasn't done a format / reinstall in all the time. I suppose its amazing it has lasted that long. But other than being a little sluggish, it was working just fine.
She decided she wanted to do a reinstall, to start from scratch. We still had the system restore discs. So Janet worked to copy/backup her files over to my computer, and then on Saturday we ran the system restore CD.
The restoration CD was actually just a Windows XP Pro install disc. We ran that with a quick NTFS format. Things looked good. When the system came up, it was missing a lot of drivers. Alienware also provided a "Master CD" and we used that to install some of the missing drivers. The difficult part is that the disc contained an assortment of installer files and zip files. I'm not sure why it didn't just contain the drivers unpacked. Maybe it would have filled the disc - I'm not sure.
I didn't find all the drivers, but decided to install WinXP SP2 so maybe it would have some updated drivers. After the service pack installed, the computer rebooted. But it did not come back up. Windows reported a corrupt or missing file.
We called up Alienware tech support to find out if they had a recommendation for a "proper" system restoration. The only thing the the tech support could suggest is that we try the installation again with a full NTFS format. We started that Saturday afternoon, and it continued running a LONG time. We left it go overnight. In the morning, the system was sitting at a BIOS screen reporting a S.M.A.R.T. error.
We called Alienware again, and they really were not able to help us. Granted the system is long out of warranty. They probably spoke to us a lot longer than they should have. I'm just miffed that the system was working mostly okay, and now it will no longer boot.
On the plus side, the drive lasted how long without failure? And so it was probably time that it would die. It was a 120GB drive from Western Digital, that might cost $47 to replace. Could get an 80GB for $39. Or we could upgrade to a 500GB for $102 (which I suppose isn't a bad deal). But it is sort of an inopportune time with me being unemployed. Even with the gift money we received for Christmas, we're not wanting to replace the hard drive until I have gained employment.
So that stinks...
And is thee a lesson out of this? Maybe; if it ain't broke - don't fix it...