Diagnosing dead SSD laptop.
September 26, 2011 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Help me think right about diagnosing my dead SSD laptop.

So I installed a Crucial C300 SSD and 64-bit Win 7 HP in a elderly but quite functional Dell D830. All went well and I was loving la vida solid-state (albeit with the occassional BSD) when the 830 refuses to boot, but hangs at the Windows logo. Worse, it won't boot in Safe Mode. Still worse, I cannot get it to boot off the Win 7 retail install CD, no matter how I configure the bios (even deleting everything but the CD drive as a boot device!)

However, when I put a hard drive from another laptop in the 830, it boots XP just fine - and if I install the SSD in the other laptop, it hangs as the 830 did, so the guilty party seems pretty clear.

My questions:

1) Do you agree the SSD is buggered and needs replacing (with a rotating drive, thank you very much) or is there something I haven't thought to try?

2) There's stuff on the SSD it'd be nice to retrieve. What's the most likely way to do that?

3) It's not important now, but I'm curious: why couldn't I get the 830 to boot from the install disk, as it did when I installed Win 7?
posted by mojohand to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Since you can get into the F8 boot options menu and try Safe Mode, have you tried entering Recovery Mode?

It should dump you into an installer-like screen, and with Startup Repair/System Restore Windows 7 can try to repair any startup problems or roll back updates. It actually works surprisingly well.

From the Recovery screen you can also get a command prompt. If your SSD is alright (and it sounds like only the Windows install got borked if it recognizes the OS and tries to start up), you can plug in an external drive and copy your important files.

This actually happened to me a few weeks ago...one of the updates hard-crashed my computer which screwed the registry. Startup repair worked nicely.
posted by t_dubs at 10:58 AM on September 26, 2011

>> have you tried entering Recovery Mode?

After some file loading activity, it just goes to a blank screen and hangs there. Good point about how the fact that it begins to load Windows suggests the drive isn't completely bricked. It it were a HD I'd have Newegg ship me a SATA-to-USB enclosure to recover my data. But do those work on SSDs?
posted by mojohand at 11:44 AM on September 26, 2011

If the SSD were bad, presumably you wouldn't be able to boot from it, at all. Perhaps your Windows installation is corrupt (malware, spyware, etc. corrupting the registry and startup files).

Have you tried booting from a Linux boot disc to retrieve your data? Maybe you could reformat after that and try reinstalling Windows.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:07 PM on September 26, 2011

This probably won't be a lot of help, I'm sorry. I ahve a Crucial Agility 3 SSD and I've been REALLY happy with it except for, as you said, the occasional BSOD that only comes when I'm moving massive amounts of data across OTHER drives. (Think ~3+Gb files coming down from usenet to a storage drive.)

Recently, my drive buggered badly too, wouldn't run for but a couple minutes without a BSOD. I delved into the forums at Crucial and discovered threads specific to my mobo Chipset and OS and the drive. Unfortunately for me I couldn't update the firmware via the utility because there were other drives attached to the MoBo (and I really didn't feel like removing them). Some nice person within the crucial forums has created instructions for a bootable live disc that will install the firmware update automagically because the live disc runs from RAM. That fixed MOST of my issues. The persistent issue for me is that after a crash my system doesn't see the drive AT ALL until it's been completely powered down for 10+ minutes. Epic suck.

Anyway, TL;DR check the Crucial forums for the device. If you don't see anything that looks likely, post there to ask.
posted by TomMelee at 12:28 PM on September 26, 2011

Yes, an SSD with an SATA connector will work in an external enclosure. It's the same interface. So definitely try an external enclosure to recover your data.

It's possible that a bad bit on the RAM is slowly corrupting your OS. From a working computer, burn a copy of memtest onto CD and test the RAM. You may just need to re-seat the ram by pulling it out and re-inserting it into the slots. It's a good idea to rule out the RAM first, then move onto the drive issues.
posted by rwheindl at 12:28 PM on September 26, 2011

I second TomMelee's suggestion to check for a firmware update, but some people have posted online that a firmware update can cause data loss in some SSDs. Back up any files first via external enclosure (if that works), then run any firmware update on the drive.
posted by rwheindl at 12:34 PM on September 26, 2011

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