Welcome to A Tech's Life. The purpose of this blog is to provide insight to some of the simple and more complicated chores that I encounter during my day as a Computer Technician.

My website is InfoTechNow

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Transfering Data to a New Hard Drive

When an old computer is sent to recycle heaven or a new computers hard drive dies, the data on the old hard drive may be retrievable. Most of the data is quite easy to transfer with right tools. There are a few different ways to achieve this.

The best way if you are going to do it yourself is to purchase an external hard drive encloser, essentially turning your old hard drive into an external hard drive. It is important to find out what kind of hard drive it is, that is whether it is a IDE hard drive or a SATA hard drive.

Once the hard drive is in the encloser, plug the hard drive into the computer via the USB port if you have autoplay enabled, it will give you several options. Choose to view files on device.

Once in you can begin to do you data transfer. What I do is stretch the window to take up half of my screen, then I click on the start menu and My Computer and double click the C drive. I then stretch that window and move it to take up the other half of the screen.

The most common data files will all be in the same places unless you have other wise indicated.

On the Old hard drive double click Documents and Settings (XP) or Users (Vista) and select the the appropriate user (Johnny, Owner, Administrator, IBM OS, etc) and on your computer which is the C drive do the same.

Now if it XP to XP or Vista to Vista you will have a mirror effect and both will be similar in looks. If it is XP to Vista it will be similar, but different.

Drag from the old computer, Favorites, Desktop, My Documents (Johnnys Documents) and any other items that you want. Realize that in the My Documents folder are you Pictures, Music, Video, and such.

If you use a Kodak camera or Opiflex, realize that they do not save your pictures in My Pictures so you may have to do some investigating to find them. For Kodak pictures, they are in the Shared Documents folder.

Now for the more difficult one. Email and Address Book. For this you need to do several things.

Outlook Express

XP - Email
  • On the window that your documents are in click on the Tools, then Folder Options, then click the view tab and select Show hidden files and folders.
  • Open up Outlook Express.
  • Now click File, Import, Messages, Microsoft Outlook Express 6, Import Mail from OE6 Store Directory.
  • Click Browse and navigate to your old hard drive, Documents and Settings, your user, Local Settings, Application Data, Identities, Big Long Alpha Numeric string, Microsoft, and Outlook.
  • Click open and now your email should be being imported.
XP - Address Book
  • Click File, Import, Address Book.
  • Navigate to your old hard drive, Documents and Settings, your user, Application Data, Microsoft and Address book.
  • Click open and bingo, there is your address book.
Vista - Windows Mail
  • On the window that your documents are in click on the Organize tab, then the Folders and Search option, then click the view tab and select Show hidden files and folders.
  • Open Windows Mail.
  • Now click File, Import, Messages, if your are importing from XP, follow the XP instructions from above at this point, if your are importing Windows Mail, select Windows Mail 7 and then Browse.
  • Click Computer, your old hard drive, Users, your user, AppData, Local, Microsoft, Windows Mail and then click Select Folder, and OK and there is you Windows Mail.
Vista - Address Book
  • Unlike Windows XP, your contacts are in on the old hard drive in your user folder, and your users name then contacts. Just copy that into the same folder on your computers hard drive and they will all be there.
Now there may be other files that you have saved in different locations, make sure to double check. But if you have purchased an external hard drive encloser, you can always look later.

Hope this has helped and made a stressful time a little easier.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why is my wireless not working??

Today I had a call from a customer that could not connect to the internet from her newly purchased D-Link router. She had been in yesterday and had purchased the router, which we had setup and secured at our store with her laptop. She had been on the phone with her internet provider and they said it had to be the router as they could communicate with her modem.

After asking her if she had reset her modem she had said yes, but she would do it again. When she did the phone cut out. I found that bizzare, even though she is on Shaw Phone. I decided I had better go on site to see what was the matter.

The first thing I did was check to see if she was reciving an IP from the router. In the run box, I typed cmd to access the command prompt, and from thier I called up an IP utility by typing ipconfig. Sure enough her computers IP was So the router was working fine.

I then accessed D-Links administrator console by typing it's IP address in the Internet Explorers address bar. ( The default user name is admin and it has no password. I navigated to the status tab to see if it was getting an IP from the modem. it had an address of, which meant it was not communicating with the modem. I went looking for the modem and could not find it. I asked here where the router was and she pointed to her T.V. She had plugged her router into her shawbox. Easy enough to do when it is all new to you. I told her it was no big deal, but it would never work as the router needs to be connected to the modem so it can access the Internet.

I hauled the router upstairs, connected it to her modem, unplugged the modem and plugged it back in (power cycled) and BINGO she had Internet.

Simple problem, simple solution, easy mistake.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Windows Vista Black Screen with Mouse Pointer

Today I travelled to a costumer's house to find Vista loading to a black screen with only the mouse pointer. It was rather dumbfounding as I could ctrl-alt-esc to get the task manager, but could do nothing from there. There was obviously a service that was hanging.

I booted into safe mode and ran msconfig. (Hit windows button and r at the same time and type msconfig in the text area.) From there I navigated to the services tab and selected disable all, and then enabled all of the services currently working in safe mode. I hit accept and reset.

Though reading, in some cases you may not be able to enter safe mode, but whilst at the (blac)KSOD you can hit the shift key 5 times the sticky keys window. From there click the Go to the Ease of Access .... Link and type msconfig in the address bar. You may want to try that before even going into safe mode as it will save you a step.

Upon reboot like magic it worked. Now I had the unevious task of discovering which of the 100 services I had disabled to see which one it was. I chose to enable 15 at a time until I found the cuplrit. Having Application Experince and Apple Phone disabled in the end seem to solve the problem. I am sure in different situations it will be different services. As long as they are not essential services then it seems like an easy work around for this lovely Vista bug.