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Best option when Windows 7 hard drive fails


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#1 Scott1Roberts

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:42 PM

I fix laptops for people in our community in NZ (for a small koha (gift/donation) as it is not the wealthiest place in our country) and one issue that is becoming apparent is the failure of hard drives with OEM windows 7 installed.

This version of windows is installed by the computer manufacturer and once the hard drive goes it cannot be reinstalled like windows 7 retail could be.

Here a new hard drive is about $100, and Windows 7 is about $160, so the cost of replacing the hard drive + OS is already approaching the cost of a new laptop. The hard drives I am learning only have an expected life span of 3-5 years. Also, most laptops only have 2gb of RAM so upgrading to Win10 is a problem unless RAM is upgraded.

So, my question is, are there any practical alternatives to replacing the hard drive and Windows? I am aware of Linux and am considering promoting that as an option, but people may be resistant to learning a new OS.

I'm looking forward to any practical suggestions thank you very much.



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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:57 PM

If the key for Windows 7 on the COA sticker is intact you can download an iso of the Windows 7 version you require using this tool. The iso will be downloaded from Microsoft servers. Some AVs flag it but it is a false postive. Activation using the key on the COA sticker requires phone activation.

 

In the future you may want to suggest using Advanced Tokens Manger before the hard drive fails. Using this you can activate using the ATM without phone activation. It saves the certificate and allows restoration of Activation. Unzip the file to a folder on the desktop. Select Activation Backup. When finished the button changes to Activation Restore. Save the unzipped folder on the desktop to a flash drive. Use the key found by ATM to install Windows then restore the Activation token.

 

http://joshcellsoftwares.com/products/advancedtokensmanager/


Edited by JohnC_21, 13 May 2017 - 08:59 PM.


#3 Scott1Roberts

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 09:06 PM

Hi John,

Thanks for the info, worthwhile knowing about ATM, but my issue is you cannot download an ISO of an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) version of windows.  If you have a retail version, no problem. The OEM version cannot be reinstalled or downloaded like the retail versions, it is valid only for the initial installation.

Maybe it is just something that only happens here in New Zealand. Wouldn't surprise me as we get ripped off for everything.



#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 09:19 PM

Use can use an OEM key on the COA sticker to install the Windows 7 iso  but the tool I linked to allows you to download the OEM version of Windows 7 so the OEM key on the COA sticker will work. The download will be called COEM which is OEM.

 

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-windows_install/can-i-use-windows-7-oem-key-with-a-non-oem-disc/7788dfa2-94a7-4db3-8bcd-b0e109bd7b95

 

This article may be of interest to you.

 

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/you-can-activate-windows-10-creators-update-with-old-windows-license-keys/



#5 Scott1Roberts

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 09:40 PM

Ok, that looks promising. 

I'm confused why the MS site doesn't allow OEM product codes when trying to download a windows ISO but not going to lose sleep over it.

Updating to Windows 10 is interesting. How do you think Win 10 would run on a laptop with only 2 gb RAM. I now see MS recommend only 2 gb but would it be slower than Win 7? In my opinion 2 gb is not really enough for Win 7.

Appreciate your help and patience.



#6 JohnC_21

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 09:56 PM

It would also depend on the CPU but you are right, 2GB is not much. Linux Mint would run well with 2GB but it would depend on if your clients needed mission critical windows programs. If only used for basic internet and email then Mint would be a good option. Because the market share is small, there is no reason to worry about malware infections. If going to Windows 10 make sure any hardware such as printers have drivers. If the printer is old enough it may not work under Windows 10. 

 

https://www.linuxmint.com/

 

I have an old laptop with a T4200 processor and 3GB of RAM. Mint Cinnamon was really snappy. You can always boot Mint as a live DVD and not worry about installing it to get a feel of how it works.



#7 Scott1Roberts

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 10:04 PM

Thanks John, your help has been invaluable.

I have been using Ubuntu live to run some tests, attempt to recover files and restore partitions, seems easy enough to pick up the basics and yes I fully agree Mint would be a good option and I think most people are just using the ne,t facebook, photos and email in any case.

My COEM ISO has almost downloaded so I will go and check it out.

Cheers



#8 Nordlenning

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 10:58 PM

Hi Scott

 

If you are stuck with a HD with badblocks  or R/W errors & still are able to read from it I would try this.

Get one of these >> http://ebay.to/2qezxUl

Download latest Kali & burn iso to CD..  https://www.kali.org/downloads/

Connect your New drive to the USB cable & boot Kali CD.

Start GUYMAGER & clone the Internal Drive to the External Drive (USB)

You now should have 2 identical copies (1 without errors). Swap the drives & reboot.

Hopefully this will help you out some times.. You may have to fix some software parts.

 

You are using DD.. Beware..



#9 Scott1Roberts

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 11:22 PM

Thanks Nordlenning,

I like the sound of that also. I can imagine some cases where it won't work if the disk is too far gone, but the adapter would be useful even just to attach a HD to another laptop and recover files or even test the HD if it is inaccessible in the original laptop.

Cheers



#10 Nordlenning

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 11:30 PM

Well scott, you will be surprised how many times it works, & how bad disks it can handle.. Try it..

 

The adapter is a scoop if you work a lot with disks like me, many people still use 3,5" Disks..

 

DD is an old tool..



#11 Scott1Roberts

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 12:37 AM

Never fear, I love your solution and agree it is a scoop. Thanks heaps. I am ordering it right now!

#12 JohnC_21

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 08:18 AM

Get one of these >> http://ebay.to/2qezxUl  

 

 

I have one of these and it works like a charm to pull data off a drive.



#13 Nordlenning

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 05:05 PM

Protip+ scott

 

Over the years HD creates a lot of heat & circuit boards suffer from this and creates tiny small cracks.

Sometimes you may encounter Drives with periodic errors, power problems that is not related to the HDplates or heads.

 

Then the lasts resort is to put the HD in a plastic bag, seal it & dump it in the freezer for 3-4 hour.

Take out the Drive connect it to the usb adapter & things may happen..

 

If you don't like using CD (not virus) then you might want to install https://www.kali.org/downloads/ on USB.

This forensic distro runs nice on low mem computers & have all the disk tools you need like testdisk, photorec, scalpel etc, lots of them..

My 64GB USB 30 use 8 sec from start to desktop.



#14 Scott1Roberts

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 08:06 PM

Thanks John and Nordlenning.

 

This is what I plan to do if I get a laptop with a busted hard drive.

 

Connect new HDD to laptop using http://ebay.to/2qezxUl and try to copy image from existing HDD to new using Kali GUYMAGER. If successful insert new disk in laptop.

I have also looked at the following two adapters and would appreciate your thoughts. They don't have their own power source which is attractive to me as I don't have to worry about power adapters but does USB provide enough power for HD?

Adapter1

Adapter2

 

Failing recovery of data and windows I will install Windows 7 OEM and activate product key. I have checked and evidently this can be activated within windows and does not need separate phone activation, but this has not been tested yet.

 

Thanks for all your help most appreciated.



#15 Nordlenning

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 08:19 PM

Hi scott !

 

You will need external power source to use Sata & 3,5" Disks. You can use 2.5" without external power (only USB).

Adapter2 only takes 2,5" Disks, thats very very limited. Dont do that..






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