It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

Windows 8 install party: my place, right now.

I’ve got a desktop and a laptop to upgrade.  Should be a piece of cake.  Mostly since I’m just going to install fresh hard drives in each and do clean installs.  Hours later, I wonder where that simplicity went.

It wasn’t the laptop.  That was the first to be installed and it went smooth, although I have an extra screw after reassembling it.  Win8 went on quickly and smoothly.  I even got all the basic applications back on in the time I was reviewing what need to be backed up on the desktop. 

I splurged on the upgrade, buying an SSD hard drive for the desktop.  With Win8 and an SSD drive, this is going to be great.  I didn’t even mind the massive back-to-school crush at Staples.

But that was then.  The desktop is now ready to go.  Just shut it down and swap out the hard drive. As I clicked the Shut Down button, I saw – too late- the Windows Update icon.  next thing I know, installing 1 of 55 updates.  This took a very long time and gave me plenty of time to gather install files from the laptop for eventual install on the desktop.

About 45 minutes later, the computer is shut down.  I pull out the old hard drive and start to install the SSD drive.  But, because of the SSD’s form factor, it doesn’t fit in the Dell’s specially-designed drive trays. What now?  The only option is to leave it unsecured on a drive shelf.  Lovely.  Since there’s no moving parts in an SSD, I guess that’s ok.

Install time.  Watching the install screen progress nicely, trying to gauge how much speed I’m getting from the new SSD drive, and suddenly, things stop.  No more progress.  I had read some negative reviews of the SSD drive I bought and that a firmware update fixed them.  I thought I could at least get the OS installed before I had to flash the firmware.  Guess not.

So as it turns out, it’s a good thing I didn’t get Win8 installed, because a firmware update wipes the drive.  Yay.  But the firmware updater has to be burned to a CD drive, then booted to flash the drive.  The only CD writer I have is in the desktop, which is semi-disassembled.  So, pull the SSD drive out, put the old drive back in and boot.  This is where I’m glad I didn’t do an install on the same drive.  As I starts up, I see “Configuring Windows Updates…”  Oh god, another 15 minutes.  Then another reboot, then finally log in and realize the DVD drive got unplugged while I was swapping drives.  Shut down, fix cables, start up again.  We’re into about 6 hours of this process.

Now erase a DVD and burn the image for booting.  First attempt, burner application locks up at 99% while erasing DVD-RW disc, or at least it took over 20 mins, which seems unrealistic.  Next attempt, a CD-RW disc, which is successful.  Shut down and swap drives again.  Boot to CD, firmware update started… SSD drive is already up to date.  What have I done to deserve this?

Next up is the classic troubleshooting method: isolation.  Thinking maybe a driver install is hanging the Windows 8 install, I unplug a couple of cards from the system – a USB board and a video capture card.  Restart the install and before leaving for dinner, I see the progress bar has made it further than previously.  Excellent.  Come back from dinner and the progress is stopped again.  Further, but still stopped.  I give up for the night.

With the new day, I decide to give up on the SSD and use my old drive.  No big surprise, it works flawlessly.  So I have to give up on having an SSD drive this time.  But I did swap some cards around and things should be better.  Now it’s time to start the big install process.

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