Really smart software – Microsoft Vista

Yes, I’ve bashed Vista, when I thought it needed bashing.  But today Vista saved me hours and hours of time – and more importantly it saved me face with my clients.

I have four drives in my machine.  Three 250GB SATA drives and one 300GB SATA drive.

I boot my primary Vista install from the 300GB drive.  The others boot XP, Vista 64 bit, and Ubuntu.  The XP drive also is my data drive – it holds ALL of the information on my current projects.

It is a VERY important drive to me – the data is my livelihood (I do have backups of the data, but restoring is a pain – better to not HAVE to restore!)

As I went to save some attachments from GMAIL to my data drive Vista popped up a warning that it had detected an error on my “I:” drive – where all of my data is stored.  After catching my breath I read the dialog box more closely.  It offered me an opportunity to back up my data.  Whooah?  You mean it is STILL THERE?  I know about a drive dying before it is dead?  You HAVE to be kidding me!?!?

And guess what – it was.  And it is.  ALL of my data is now safe on another drive and the “dying drive” is no longer in my system.  I’ll replace it this week.  I was able to move ALL (EVERY BIT – pardon the pun) off with no data loss!

All because my OS talked to my hardware (or more accurately listened to my hardware!).  So is it worth it to upgrade from XP to Vista?  Sure – if you value your data!

Finally, I put the dying drive into a spare PC and downloaded the Western Digital diagnostic suite – it failed every test.  This drive can still read and write data – but it is dying.  And I am REALLY thankful that I knew it was ill before it expired. I had time to get my data and then said my final farewells.  I won’t miss the drive – and thanks to Microsoft Vista, I won’t miss my data either.

Very, very cool.


  1. Hah! You have been extremely lucky is all, Paul. That and the fact you do not have anywhere near the number of drives in your house as I do in mine.

    16 Computers. 9 of them notebooks, so nine drives right there. 4 of the desktops have 3 drives, one has four drives, two have one drive. 27 Drives (so far). Both my XBOX 360s have drives, as do both my TiVo’s. 31 drives. So far 🙂

    An external SATA drive connects to my Hi-Def TV and my external backup device has two SATA drives.

    That’s 34 drives (in use – I have more drives here that aren’t plugged into anything right now 🙂

    I would expect to see more failures than you just based on the shear number of drives I have. And I think you are EXTREMELY lucky if you’ve had so few failures!

  2. You had a half dozen drives die on you?
    WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THEM? Throw them around? Kick them?
    I have worked with a HUGE amount of disk drives in my life, even before you got your TRS80! 😉 … and so far I’ve only lost two. One at home (recently) and one at work, BOTH of which may have been ‘software’ related (virus).

    Sounds like you have a structural problem there, mate! SIX dying disks .. that’s not a fluke anymore.

  3. @Paul – if XP had the same functionality then it wasn’t implemented correctly – I had a half dozen drives die on XP without telling me before hand (and yes, they were all S.M.A.R.T. capable drives)

  4. “smart software”

    Well, actually, MOST of the ‘smart-ness’ isn’t in the software (i.e. Vista), but in the disk drive! The technology is called, ironically, SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology), and it simply tells the OS “hey, this puppy is going bad”. The rest (for the OS) is simple, and btw, XP ‘listened’ to SMART disk drives too, and took similar action.

  5. I wish I could say I was as fortunate as you. I had a drive start to go dead in my wife’s laptop, 2nd one I had to replace, and I had no warning on either drive. (Of course the laptop uses the infamous Nvidia nforce chipset.) It was very strange, Vista kept informing me that my wife’s outlook file was inaccessible due to permissions. I was of course running as protected admin. The thing drove me crazy. I finally ran chkdsk and after several hours rebooted and was able to copy the data. Outlook was still having problems with the old data, and I ran into a nifty tool in the office 12 suite that allows you to repair a damaged .pst file. The utility is called Scanpst and is located in the office 12 folder. It was a life saver. Over all though I will take Vista over xp despite it’s growing pains.