Technology is hard (or, How I spent a week in October)

So, how was your week?  Mine was rather animated.  My latest ordeal began on Wednesday, October 12th, when I decided that I wanted to replace a nearly 10 year old 2TB hard drive with an SSD.  During the process, I innocently pondered increasing the capacity to 4TB since I was swapping things around anyway, so I perused the Amazon “Prime Day” deals and found this little gem, and for a particularly palatable price ($50 off).  I also ordered a 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter for the thing so it would fit in the no-frills mini-tower desktop case it was going into.  Through the magic of Amazon, the items arrived the next day (beating their original estimate of 2 days) and, that evening, I set about the drive-swapping process.

I need to pause here and describe exactly what I was dealing with, since it factors heavily into the shenanigans that were to come.  The object at hand is a circa-2013 PowerSpec mini-tower PC that I purchased at MicroCenter right around the time that the end of support date for Windows XP was approaching.  I can’t remember the details specifically, but my then-hardware, running XP, literally died right before support for the OS ended.  I therefore had to suddenly procure a replacement machine, which came with a pre-installed copy of shiny new Windows 7.

The thing with store-bought “budget” pre-builts is that they are often built to their desired spec with little room for any “improvements”.  Indeed, when I previously considered installing an additional drive into this machine, I found that the power supply had no capacity for an additional drive.  So going in, I knew that when I purchased a replacement drive for this machine, it would need to be a full swap.  What I didn’t know was that the way this machine was assembled, the drive could physically not be removed unless the motherboard (and everything on it) was removed first because the CPU and its associated cooling fan got in the way of pulling out the drive.  I found this out on the evening of October 13th, and reluctantly went about pulling everything out of the case, piece by piece, until I had created enough room to physically remove the drive.

Thinking ahead, I then re-assembled the machine prior to installing the new drive because that way, I could be assured that I wouldn’t have to disassemble it again (at least not for that purpose).  That completed, I then slid the new drive — already nestled inside its 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter — into the case and connected everything back up.

Booted up into a USB-mounted windows ISO and installed the operating system.  Got into the system afterwards and started “customizing”.  I was about 10 minutes into all the bit flipping I seem to have to do whenever I install Windows when I noticed it — the system drive was only 2TB in size.  WHAT?  It’s a 4TB drive!!  Fired up disk management and sure enough, it is a 4TB drive.  Unfortunately, however, Windows won’t boot off a drive over 2TB unless you use the fancy schmancy “EUFI mode” (or whatever they’re calling it).  Sigh.

Booted into the BIOS, Looks like it’s set to use either legacy or EUFI mode, but there are a bunch of options in there, all of which are frightening me.  Start Googling on my other computer and, amongst other things, I found out that there’s a utility installed with Windows10 called “MBR2GPT.EXE”, which is supposed to help in times like these.  Ran it.  Rebooted.  No system drive found.


At this point, it became apparent that using any drive larger than 2TB as my system drive was going to waste space, so I ordered a 2TB SSD and awaited its arrival the next day.

Long story short, the drive showed up, I put it into the machine and installed Windows10 on it.  Customized everything and then set out to copy what I needed off the old drive to the new SSD.

By the way, copying files off of a Windows system drive – specifically the user directories – isn’t nearly as seamless as it should be, but that’s another story altogether…

2 thoughts on “Technology is hard (or, How I spent a week in October)

  1. Phil

    Wow… I have never heard of case that didn’t allow easy drive & memory swaps! I may have junked it at that point, my patience with such things has worn thin in my old age.

    1. Mike Post author

      Let’s just say there are certain times when it’s good that I’m the only one in the house and this was one of them. 😱😱😱

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