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Installing Windows To An External Hard Drive.


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#1 Hooky1742

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 08:33 AM

Hi all,

I am trying to reformat my brothers acer laptop and it is proving difficult. I have reformatted many computers so I know what I am doing but this thing is being real stubborn. Trying to boot off the windows CD on his computer was impossible, I pushed a key to boot off CD (like usual) it said setup is inspecting your hardware configuration (as usual) but then after a while the system just restarted and did the exact same thing again, and it just keeps doing this loop.

So, I took the hard drive out of my brothers laptop, slotted it into a 2.5" case and plugged it into my laptop via USB. Using partition magic 8 i found a strange sort of extra partition called PQSERVICE or something, and I thought maybe this was causing the problem, so I deleted it. I then merged the space it left with the rest of the partition and i now have one healthy, reformatted NTFS partition on it.

Next i put the drive back in my brothers laptop and tried again to install windows, same problem, Im thinking its something more to do with the hardware or the BIOS in this laptop now. So i took it back out, put the HD back in the 2.5" case, and tried to install windows to it whilst connected to my laptop via USB. However, it still would not boot off the CD, even on my laptop, so i think the booting thing must be to do with the hard drive. So i started setup whilst windows was loaded, chose "new installation" ticked a box to say i wanted to choose which drive to install windows to and it restarted. Everything was going well, setup started, it asked me if i wanted to repair the existing windows on my laptop (no) so it continued to the point where you can choose where to install. It could see the disk and the fresh partition i had made on it. Then when i pressed enter to install windows to that partition i got a message saying something about it being inaccessible so it cant install XP to that partition, and i need some special software in order to install windows to this drive. The partition is a primary partition not a logical extension so it should be possible to install an OS to it.

Does anyone out there know where i can get this special software?

Alternatively, does anyone know of some way, any way, of getting an operating system back onto this hard drive? (i cant plug my brothers HD directly into my laptop as the connectors are different, his are pins mine are these sort of solid bar type things).

Many thanks in advance!

Hooky

Edited by Hooky1742, 18 November 2006 - 09:02 AM.


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#2 Hooky1742

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 11:17 AM

Sorry all, not to worry, i found out the problem with not booting off the CD was due to a dodgy CD (scratched). D'uh! Thankfully i had ripped an ISO image of the CD a while ago so i just burned a new one and I am away now.

#3 usasma

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 12:52 PM

This may not be solvable with just a Windows installation CD. You may need some special drivers (and advice) from the computer manufacturer. The PQService partition may be an Acer recovery partition - and as such it may contain proprietary drivers necessary for installing XP (more on this below).

Here's a couple of suggestions:

1) Chack to see if the partition is set as "Active"
2) Get a bootable disk analysis tool from the hard drive manufacturer (usually free) and check the disk with that tool.
3) Ensure that your XP cd has all the latest patches and serivice packs included - if not, slipstream a copy with at least SP2 on it.

Once the drive is "certified" fit - then you can proceed with troubleshooting the rest of the laptop for problems.

As an aside, it's not practical to install Windows on this drive while it's plugged into another computer. First, the boot sector will remain on your main boot drive and won't be transferred when you move the drive over. Also, the installation will have all the wrong hardware installed and will probably give Windows fits when it tries to boot. Finally, if there is another hardware problem and it starts to boot into Windows it will complicate things immensely - it's better and easier (IMO) to troubleshoot the hardware issues first, then install the OS on a system with known good hardware.

Finally, I think that the PQService partition is the restore partition for an Acer laptop. As such it may have included some necessary drivers for the laptop to function during the installation (such as proprietary hardware drivers) that aren't present in a normal Windows installation ( link here: http://66.218.69.11/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&...=1&.intl=us )
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#4 Enthusiast

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 02:05 PM

The PQ Service partition was Acer's recovery system! It was an image of the original factory install and the software to use it.

It could have reinstalled your brother's op system without causing the problems you are now probably going to experience.

In addition to the proprietary drivers which will all be missing, you usually cannot install XP on one system and then just move the HD to another. Unless the two computers are identical, almost everything in the computer that the installation sets up are different.

You may also have a problem activating Windows, especially if the cd you used was an oem version that has been used before on a different computer.

Good luck!

#5 Hooky1742

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 04:02 PM

its all fixed. It was a dodgy cd nothing more complex than that! When i burned a new cd with the ISO image i ripped from the original disk (which i did right at the start incase i sat on the disk or anything!) and used the new disk it was all ok. I did hav a bit of trouble acivating, had to ring up microsoft and said i had just reformatted and needed a new product key to activate, they were a bit funny initally but i just said look it was a virus caused by windows vulnerabilities that made me need to reformat and they sort of gave in. So, its all fixed now, thanks anyway guys.

Edited by Hooky1742, 18 November 2006 - 04:03 PM.


#6 Hooky1742

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Posted 19 November 2006 - 10:20 AM

actually, i say everything is fixed, there is one relic of this nasty ordeal that i have just noticed after restarting my laptop. If gives me an option to boot up either the normal windows or some sort of pending windows install. It says "Microsoft Windows XP Setup". How do i get rid of this pending install, as i do not need it, and i would rather not hav to go and reinstall windows again, at least not for a while!

#7 Hooky1742

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 02:22 PM

anyone know how i can get rid of this problem?

#8 usasma

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 09:22 PM

The easiest fix would be to edit your boot.ini file. I don't have the method easily accessible - so I'll leave it for someone else to cover the details.
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#9 Hooky1742

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 02:25 PM

does anyone know how i can edit the boot.ini file? I have no idea what this file is, where it is located, or waht i have to edit in it.

#10 usasma

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 09:24 PM

Sorry, last night it was late and I couldn't focus enough to give any suggestions.

To edit the boot.ini file, you'll have to locate it on the root of your boot drive (most often C:\). It is definitely write protected, and may also be hidden. You can edit in any text editor (like Notepad), just be sure to save it as an .ini file. Also, be sure to backup the current file before messing with it.

Here's how to edit it: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/289022

One of the listings below [operating systems] will contain the text "Microsoft Windows XP Setup" - that's the line that you'll need to edit out.

Then save it and reboot - it should take effect (?affect?) immediately.
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#11 Hooky1742

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 10:36 AM

ok, i have edited the boot.ini file. The pending install no longer apears, but i get 2 options, my normal OS and "windows default". If i try and boot windows default i get a message saying "the file hall.dll (or something like that) cannot be found, please reinstall". How do i get rid of the windows default to leave just my normal OS?

#12 usasma

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 10:44 AM

I'd suggest booting with your Windows XP installation CD, going into the Recovery Console, and typing "fixboot" (without the quotes) and then press Enter.

Not sure if this'll work (haven't tried it myself). I have the same problem due to installing Windows Vista and removing it manually (and have been too lazy to try it myself).

Another option is to set the XP installation as the default and decrease the timeout to 0. Admittedly this is a "kludge" and not an elegant solution.

Edited by usasma, 25 November 2006 - 10:45 AM.

My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.

#13 Hooky1742

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 04:18 PM

hi again, i tried booting into recovery console and typing fixboot. It said something about writing a new boot sector and success, but i still have 2 options, the actual install and the mysterious "windows default" which appeared after modifying the boot.ini, so that has not fixed the problem.

I dont want to do the kludge thing because if i get it wrong and set the windows default to be the actual default and a 0 second timeout i will effectively be locked out of the computer!

Anyone got any other ideas how to get rid of this nuisance?

#14 Hooky1742

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 12:18 PM

My boot.ini file looks like this:

[Boot Loader]
Timeout=5
Default=C:\$WIN_NT$.~BT\BOOTSECT.DAT
[Operating Systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="MS WINDOWS XP SP2/SP3 UWin Installer Edition" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn


What should i remove/change to get the "MS WINDOWS XP SP2/SP3 UWin Installer edition" to load up automatically?

Edited by Hooky1742, 29 November 2006 - 12:37 PM.


#15 usasma

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 09:52 AM

A part of the problem is here:

Default=C:\$WIN_NT$.~BT\BOOTSECT.DAT

This is a path for the Vista bootloader, not the XP one.

Look for other boot. files in the root of the C:\ drive - are there any? On mine, I have a boot.BAK file that contains a backup of my boot.ini.

Here's what it says:

;
;Warning: Boot.ini is used on Windows XP and earlier operating systems.
;Warning: Use BCDEDIT.exe to modify Windows Vista boot options.
;
[boot loader]
timeout=5
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /FASTDETECT /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN


If you hose the boot.ini and just can't get in - load the XP install CD, boot from it and select the Recovery Console option. Then run:
fixboot
fixmbr
bootcfg (you'll have to check the syntax on this by using the /? parameter - I'm not familiar with it).
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

- John  (my website: http://www.carrona.org/ )**If you need a more detailed explanation, please ask for it. I have the Knack. **  If I haven't replied in 48 hours, please send me a message. My eye problems have recently increased and I'm having difficult reading posts. (23 Nov 2017)FYI - I am completely blind in the right eye and ~30% blind in the left eye.<p>If the eye problems get worse suddenly, I may not be able to respond.If that's the case and help is needed, please PM a staff member for assistance.




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