Bricking (and unbricking) a laptop

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This past Monday I bricked my laptop.

Many people have asked me how I did it.  It’s easy.  Plug in your priceless, personal, vintage computer (that you haven’t backed up for months) near the edge of your desk, then knock it down as you walk by.

I recorded the diagnostic process in hopes that it will help someone else (surely I’m not the only klutz who knocks computers to the floor).

  • I rebooted it a dozen times to see if it would fix itself.  It didn’t, but I did conclude the motherboard was probably still alive, since the Windows splash screen always came up before the Blue Screen of Death.
  • I looked up the error codes in the Blue Screens of Death.  Since the codes kept changing, this was not particularly helpful.
  • My friend Paul took out the hard drive and shook it to see if it rattled. It didn’t.
  • I brought up the BIOS startup troubleshooting utility and ran a full diagnosis.  The hard drive passed some tests and flunked other tests, suggesting it got scratched in the fall. Everything else passed.
  • I put in a Windows Installation CD to try to repair the installation. It didn’t see the hard drive at all.
  • I put in a Ubuntu boot / installation CD and it booted perfectly.  I even caught up on the latest non-news on the Verizon iPhone.

From this exercise I convinced myself that:

  1. The hard drive is probably hosed, but the motherboard and peripherals were hopefully fine.
  2. A cheap $25 replacement hard drive from Lenovo outlet might just fix the problem.

So now I am waiting for my $25 solution to arrive so I could unbrick the computer.  Then I get to spend, oh, 80 man hours installing all the software back on this computer (including the dreaded Pro/E installation).  FAIL!

There is one bright note in this.  If it works, my computer will become less cluttered and should run faster.   That, and buying some time before I have to upgrade (and giving solid state drives a chance to come down in price).


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