In my last post I wrote that my desktop computer was failing to boot into Windows. Since Friday was a work from home day, I was forced to use my laptop to use remote desktop. I am so lucky that I have my laptop. I remember before buying it, I actually hesitated because I thought it was superfluous purchase. I already had a desktop and a cell phone and my thinking was that laptop was just going to be an indulgence that I wouldn’t use. It turns out my laptop has come in handy in so many situations that it was more than worth the money I paid for it. On Friday, it basically saved me from not having any way to work. It wasn’t ideal since one of my screen was the laptop’s 13″ but it was better than having no computer.

On Friday night, I tried to diagnose my desktop and I managed to get it to boot into Windows about three times before it stopped again. Each time, I had about anywhere from two to five minutes before my computer would stop responding and freeze. During one of these times, I discovered that my Windows drive, which is on an older SSD, was at a constant 100% utilization. Windows would not respond after that, which I guess had to do with the drive being accessed or written to the entire time. There are a few things you can do to try to fix a Windows drive that exhibits that behaviour but it was impossible for me to get Windows to stay stable long enough for me to try those fixes.

On Saturday, I had an idea to attempt to move my Windows drive onto a spare mechanical drive I had lying around. The idea was that these 100% utilization problems mostly occurred on SSDs and if I could get Windows back onto a mechanical drive, it would at least boot and allow me to change some settings. Once again, my laptop saved me, as I used it to clone my Windows SSD to my spare mechanical drive. It took about 30 minutes to clone.

Once that was done, I installed the mechanical drive into my desktop. I was pretty sure it was going to boot but I wasn’t sure if Windows would use the drive 100% of the time. With fingers slightly crossed, I turned on my desktop, and lo and behold, it did boot into Windows, but it took almost five minutes to do so. I forgot how slow mechanical drives are and this spare one was a slow 5400 RPM one. Drive usage was normal and more in line with what I expected. At least, my computer was working again. I turned off one setting that I think might have caused the 100% drive utilization but I have no clue if this was the actual problem.

At this point I think I have three options: go back to using a mechanical drive for Windows (either stay with this one or get a slightly faster mechanical drive), attempt to re-install my old SSD and hope that the setting I changed fixes things, or buy a newer, higher performance SSD. I’m leaning towards the last option. SSDs have gotten somewhat cheaper since I bought my old SSD and the newer ones are faster and are more reliable (at least the Samsung model I have my eye on is). I don’t think I can go back to a mechanical drive for Windows again.

I’ll write an update when time allows.

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