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Forum Thread

Laptop boots to blinking cursor after hard drive clone

carmen617 774 462 September 17, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Maybe someone out there can figure this out, at this point I am so frustrated I am ready to toss the whole shooting match.

Short version of story - Gateway (ugh) laptop with Vista Home Premium, 160gb sata Hitachi drive is full, so I purchased a 500gb sata Hitachi drive to upgrade. Attached new drive via USB caddy and cloned using Easus Disk Copy, which I have used successfully many times before. Plunked in new drive and system won't boot - just gives me flashing cursor.

Pulled new drive, replaced old drive, examined clone which looks good except that on the original drive the restore partition is the second logical drive, on the clone the restore partition is on the first logical drive. I try recloning, nothing changes. I look up reviews on the new Hitachi drive I purchased and see some stuff I have no clue about regarding alignments - Hitachi has a free Align tool - turns out Vista and this drive are incompatible unless the data is aligned. I download the Align tool, create a bootable "rescue" disk, and run it on the new drive. Success, drive is now all aligned. Try to boot, still get flashing cursor.

I think that perhaps the swapped partitions is the problem and I will try to make the OS partition bootable. I try to boot with a Vista boot disk and it tells me it sees no operating system and I need drivers for the hard drive. Hitachi has no drivers. The drive is visible in the BIOS but this is the most stripped down BIOS imaginable so no changes available. I go to Gateway to see if there is a new BIOS and voila - there is one that is listed as 2 years newer than the installed BIOS. However, funny, after I extract the file I see it's got a lower number and an earlier date than the one actually installed on the system. The read me for the BIOS says to install it if you are upgrading to Vista, and the model number of the system I have in hand isn't on the applicable list. Thanks Gateway!

Any suggestions?

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Joined Jul 2008
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#2
Try other cloning software.

Macrium Reflect Free [macrium.com] is one that I've used.
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#3
Sounds like Gateway put the wrong bios file online. No laptop model number provided so no way to double check.

1. double check the OS partition is tagged bootable
2. change the bootable drive value in bcd editor:
http://www.pronetworks.org/forums...79102.html

Can you do a disk-to-disk cloning from the old drive to the new drive and enlarge the OS partition afterwards? That way you preserve the hidden recovery partition (if the 1st logical partition in the old drive has it) and you don't have to worry about the bootloader configuration change.
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#4
Quote from carmen617 View Post :
Maybe someone out there can figure this out, at this point I am so frustrated I am ready to toss the whole shooting match.

Short version of story - Gateway (ugh) laptop with Vista Home Premium, 160gb sata Hitachi drive is full, so I purchased a 500gb sata Hitachi drive to upgrade. Attached new drive via USB caddy and cloned using Easus Disk Copy, which I have used successfully many times before. Plunked in new drive and system won't boot - just gives me flashing cursor.

Pulled new drive, replaced old drive, examined clone which looks good except that on the original drive the restore partition is the second logical drive, on the clone the restore partition is on the first logical drive. I try recloning, nothing changes. I look up reviews on the new Hitachi drive I purchased and see some stuff I have no clue about regarding alignments - Hitachi has a free Align tool - turns out Vista and this drive are incompatible unless the data is aligned. I download the Align tool, create a bootable "rescue" disk, and run it on the new drive. Success, drive is now all aligned. Try to boot, still get flashing cursor.

I think that perhaps the swapped partitions is the problem and I will try to make the OS partition bootable. I try to boot with a Vista boot disk and it tells me it sees no operating system and I need drivers for the hard drive. Hitachi has no drivers. The drive is visible in the BIOS but this is the most stripped down BIOS imaginable so no changes available. I go to Gateway to see if there is a new BIOS and voila - there is one that is listed as 2 years newer than the installed BIOS. However, funny, after I extract the file I see it's got a lower number and an earlier date than the one actually installed on the system. The read me for the BIOS says to install it if you are upgrading to Vista, and the model number of the system I have in hand isn't on the applicable list. Thanks Gateway!

Any suggestions?
First thing that comes to mind is whether the new HDD has a master boot record or not. I will not assume the cloning software did a good job of that.
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Joined Apr 2010
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#5
Quote from teetee1 View Post :
Sounds like Gateway put the wrong bios file online. No laptop model number provided so no way to double check.

1. double check the OS partition is tagged bootable
2. change the bootable drive value in bcd editor:
http://www.pronetworks.org/forums...79102.html

Can you do a disk-to-disk cloning from the old drive to the new drive and enlarge the OS partition afterwards? That way you preserve the hidden recovery partition (if the 1st logical partition in the old drive has it) and you don't have to worry about the bootloader configuration change.
The Easus cloning software does a disk to disk clone - partition sizes remain the same and I have to go in afterwards to enlarge the OS partition from the free space remaining.

Your steps 1 and 2 are daunting - are these things I can do from an external drive caddy? I can't put the drive in and access the recovery console as the operating system disk doesn't recognize any OS at all on the drive.

The system is a Gateway m-6843, current BIOS version is 95.10 dated 4/8/2008 and the BIOS offered on that model's download page is 89.91.24 dated 5/22/2008 (I was wrong when I said it had an older date but the numbers sure don't line up).

Thanks for the suggestions so far

I've basically given up and ordered a 320GB WD disk (as I can then use the free WD Acronis to clone) and will most likely return the Hitachi. If I'm feeling ambitious I might try a re-clone with Macrium Reflect and see what happens.
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#6
Yeah. I have a suggestion.
How about doing it the easy and infallible way...
Put the original hard drive into the laptop and use the Windows System Image in the control panel to make an image onto an external hard drive, which I presume you have, then remove the hard drive, install the new one, and boot up from the DVD you just burnt when Windows finished making the image (a window pops up offering to make the repair/restore DVD, at which point you insert a DVD and accept) then direct it to restore from an image you made (real easy directions) and Windows will find the image by itself, you accept a few pages of yes yes ok, ok, and off you go.
The next thing you'll know is the computer will boot up just like it was before, only on the new drive, and just as you mentioned in your post, you'll need to extend the hard drive to its full size.
If you're not familiar with that part, just say so and I'll post the exact instructions.
K.I.S.S.
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#7
Quote from carmen617 View Post :
The Easus cloning software does a disk to disk clone - partition sizes remain the same and I have to go in afterwards to enlarge the OS partition from the free space remaining.

Your steps 1 and 2 are daunting - are these things I can do from an external drive caddy? I can't put the drive in and access the recovery console as the operating system disk doesn't recognize any OS at all on the drive.

The system is a Gateway m-6843, current BIOS version is 95.10 dated 4/8/2008 and the BIOS offered on that model's download page is 89.91.24 dated 5/22/2008 (I was wrong when I said it had an older date but the numbers sure don't line up).

Thanks for the suggestions so far

I've basically given up and ordered a 320GB WD disk (as I can then use the free WD Acronis to clone) and will most likely return the Hitachi. If I'm feeling ambitious I might try a re-clone with Macrium Reflect and see what happens.
ah right there are so many freeware or free-of-charge tools out there that I forgot to recommend at least one. HBCD and BootICE both allow you to edit BCD file and pretty much any fdisk/partitioning tools (ex. Gparted) let you check for boot tag. Google Hiren's Boot CD and you'll find the tools you need and play around a little.

99% of the case it has nothing to do with the hard drive (Ok maybe you get a bad drive in the box which just so happen to have bad track 0). It often has something to do with the advanced format alignment, MBR boot tag for OS partition, and OS boot loader configuration. Of course the cloning tool you used may need some adjustment or simply has problem with adv. format readout but as long as it's released after 2010 it should be fine.

Rocky's suggestion also works though I found MS's system backup takes a long time doing system analyzing before the actual cloning but I've only tried it a year ago so things is probably different now.
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Last edited by teetee1 September 17, 2012 at 03:27 PM
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#8
Quote from teetee1 View Post :
ah right there are so many freeware or free-of-charge tools out there that I forgot to recommend at least one. HBCD and BootICE both allow you to edit BCD file and pretty much any fdisk/partitioning tools (ex. Gparted) let you check for boot tag. Google Hiren's Boot CD and you'll find the tools you need and play around a little.

99% of the case it has nothing to do with the hard drive (Ok maybe you get a bad drive in the box which just so happen to have bad track 0). It often has something to do with the advanced format alignment, MBR boot tag for OS partition, and OS boot loader configuration. Of course the cloning tool you used may need some adjustment or simply has problem with adv. format readout but as long as it's released after 2010 it should be fine.

Rocky's suggestion also works though I found MS's system backup takes a long time doing system analyzing before the actual cloning but I've only tried it a year ago so things is probably different now.
I don't think it's a bad hard drive at all. I think it's an incompatibility with a "too new" hard drive and an older bios/operating system. I'm basing this on the Amazon.com reviews of the drive, which discuss problems people have had with this drive. http://www.amazon.com/HGST-Travel...00+gb+7200

In the interests of just getting the job done, I'm replacing the 500gb 7200 bleeding edge drive with a 320gb 5400 rpm older technology drive that I've never had any problems with. I'll probably hang on to the Hitachi and try to put it into a better laptop next time one comes my way with a failed hard drive.
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#9
Quote from carmen617 View Post :
I don't think it's a bad hard drive at all. I think it's an incompatibility with a "too new" hard drive and an older bios/operating system. I'm basing this on the Amazon.com reviews of the drive, which discuss problems people have had with this drive. http://www.amazon.com/HGST-Travel...00+gb+7200

In the interests of just getting the job done, I'm replacing the 500gb 7200 bleeding edge drive with a 320gb 5400 rpm older technology drive that I've never had any problems with. I'll probably hang on to the Hitachi and try to put it into a better laptop next time one comes my way with a failed hard drive.
If you do the job with the Windows System image, you'll have no problems whatsoever, and certainly not from a bleeding edge hard drive.
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Quote from RockySosua View Post :
If you do the job with the Windows System image, you'll have no problems whatsoever, and certainly not from a bleeding edge hard drive.
You're talking about Macrium Reflect? I can give it a try and see.

Oh sorry i missed your other post. The system is Vista not Windows 7, as far as I recall there is no system image backup option in Vista.
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#11
Quote from carmen617 View Post :
You're talking about Macrium Reflect? I can give it a try and see.
No. I am talking about Windows' own, but it just hit me that you have Vista Home Premium, and it doesn't come with that version.
My bad. Vista Ultimate and Business have it, as well as all the Win 7 versions.
I hadn't noticed your OS... Sorry.
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Quote from RockySosua View Post :
No. I am talking about Windows' own, but it just hit me that you have Vista Home Premium, and it doesn't come with that version.
My bad. Vista Ultimate and Business have it, as well as all the Win 7 versions.
I hadn't noticed your OS... Sorry.
Yeah I know how to use it in Win 7 and it's a good solution there. Truthfully I just think the BIOS on the Gateway is too crippled to run the drive, even tho the system is not that old, and the fine technical support at Gateway doesn't include a viable upgrade path for their crappy systems. Did you follow my link to Amazon? Here's what I think is causing the problem:

UPDATE: Sometime during the summer of 2011 Hitachi began shipping 500GB advanced format 7K750 drives in the same packaging as drives noted above and labeled with the same part number: 0S02858. Good news is that a 750GB, 7200RPM model is now available. Bad news is that older OS's and some cloning software may not "align" sectors properly for good performance. Hitachi offers an Align Tool on their web site to address this issue
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#13
The alignment problem wouldn't stop your computer from booting.
All hard drives will work in your laptop, as long as they are SATA.
BTW: Do you happen to have a USB memory stick plugged in, or any other USB device, for that matter?

PS: You won't regret sticking it out with that 500 gig 7200 RPM drive, as opposed to the 320 gig 5400 model.
The performance differences are remarkable.
You WILL feel the difference, not to mention the additional storage space.

PPS: I sent you a PM, and also want to remind you to tell me if anything is plugged in by USB right now.
It's not at all uncommon for some old laptops to default to an external USB drive, as the boot up drive, and it can manifest itself with a black page with a blinking dash at the top left hand side.
The first time it happened to me, was after fixing up a guy's laptop and I almost blew a gasket. I knew I had done nothing wrong, but the darn thing wouldn't boot up.
It turned out to be my USB memory stick.
As soon as I removed it, it booted up no problem.
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Last edited by RockySosua September 17, 2012 at 04:28 PM
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#14
Just in case anybody comes across this thread looking for a solution, in my case I was finally able to boot the cloned drive by following these steps found at this link http://superuser.com/questions/24...or-corrupt

I solved the problem using diskpart to fix the apparently 'corrupted' filesystem ("... does not contain a recognized filesystem") and then recreating the BCD using bootrec.

C:\> diskpart
DISKPART> select disk 1
DISKPART> select partition 1
DISKPART> active
DISKPART> extend filesystem
DISKPART> exit
C:\> bootrec /rebuildbcd

Be sure to run chkdsk /f after booting to Windows.
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#15
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
Yeah. I have a suggestion.
How about doing it the easy and infallible way...
Put the original hard drive into the laptop and use the Windows System Image in the control panel to make an image onto an external hard drive, which I presume you have, then remove the hard drive, install the new one, and boot up from the DVD you just burnt when Windows finished making the image (a window pops up offering to make the repair/restore DVD, at which point you insert a DVD and accept) then direct it to restore from an image you made (real easy directions) and Windows will find the image by itself, you accept a few pages of yes yes ok, ok, and off you go.
The next thing you'll know is the computer will boot up just like it was before, only on the new drive, and just as you mentioned in your post, you'll need to extend the hard drive to its full size.
If you're not familiar with that part, just say so and I'll post the exact instructions.
K.I.S.S.
Maybe easy but I wouldn't say this is the quickest way. You're making an image to an external device then restoring an image. It actually takes more than twice as long and you need 3 drives to do this. I'm personally amazed at the speed in which I can clone a drive to an external drive using Acronis.

OP: My guess would be that the cloning software you are using is not fully compatible with the drive. Perhaps the drive is so new that the software is having issues.

I always use Acronis True Image and I boot to usb or cd to run it.It's never failed me and it features the ability to match the same partition size or expand to match the new drives larger size.

A clone is a clone, you should not be having to change the drive settings and/or partitions. It should just be identical.

Try the acronis trial. I believe the trial works 100% for 30 days (if I am not mistaken) and you can actually create the bootable cd or usb you need to do this.
http://www.acronis.com/homecomput...trueimage/

Also check your bios options and make sure that the correct drive is set as the first boot device (although this is probably already correct because your old drive boots fine).

PS: If the file system was corrupted you may have had a dying drive and/or not shutdown the drive properly before cloning. Could have been the software as well.
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Last edited by Aitrus September 20, 2012 at 03:50 PM
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