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Using VMware to speed up my computer repair

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I work on a lot of different computers for people and sometimes I work on decent systems other times not so much...

So I came up with this idea that will allow me to work on anyones PC and not be limited by CPU, RAM and so on and only be limited by the customer's hard drive.

The idea is to install the drivers required for the system to boot into VMware with the system fully intact. Then take out the customer's hdd and plug it in with this usb 3.0 to hdd cable and then boot up their system in VMware working on it like you would as if the whole thing was together. This would cut work time and make it more efficient.

The problem is that no matter what I do every time the system refuses to start up and will BSOD halfway through startup with error code 0x7b which points to loss of connection to boot drive or improper driver.

What can I do to fix this?

I have tried using driver pack solution to backup drivers from a windows 7 virtual machine then install them on my test pc then I tried to boot it up in VMware with the error code 0x7b happening halfway through boot.

I am not using a customer's pc until I know for certain this will work
     
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post #2 of 5
    Unfortunately, I believe this won't work.  The hardware configuration in your virtual machine will (in most cases) will be very different from the machine that the HDD came from.  Windows will think that the HDD has been moved to a different computer and will halt the boot with a BSOD (think "OS licensing" and "incompatible ACPI structure").  The proper way to "move" a HDD from one computer to another is to run sysprep first (read more here).  But then the HDD will work in your VM, but not in the original computer!  Please don't use sysprep, that would not be a good idea; you'll just have to live with the computer that you're working on.
    What is it about other's computers that you find objectionable?  Are many of them too sluggish?  If so, my recommendation is to fix this problem, for yourself; then the original user will benefit too—they don't like a sluggish computer anymore than you do.  First, make sure that the computer has at least this much RAM (computers with a very trim startup list and no anti-virus softare can usually get by with half these amounts):

0.5 GB for Windows 9x
1 GB for Windows 2000
1 GB for Windows XP
4 GB for Windows Vista
2 GB for Windows 7
2 GB for Windows 8

    Those amounts are the minimums for each of those OSes to operate smoothly for most desktop use (web surfing, light gaming, word processing, photo viewing, etc.).  Assuming that you've got compatible RAM laying around, upgrade it if necessary, then do your OS work, show the user the speed improvement (especially if you noticed the difference), and tell them how much it will cost for you to leave that memory in the computer.
    That said, the top causes of computer sluggishness in older computers are the HDD and anti-virus software.  If there is one part you could upgrade in most older systems and experience a huge speed increase, it would be the HDD.  Watch the HDD LED (some computers stupidly don't have one); any time that LED spends "on" is wasted, non-responsive computer time.
    In some systems, the HDD sluggishness can be abated by removing tons of "crapware" (that's what I call the loads software that some people shovel onto their computer, use once and then forget about).  Many of these programs add a startup entry or a service to the computer's startup sequence.  If the computer has more than 15 items in its startup list (msconfig), I would recommend carefully going over it and removing useless entries ("updaters" are frequent offenders, hogging resources and Internet bandwidth for nothing; if the software authors had a brain, they would have made their updater a scheduled task).
    After removing any "crapware" and trimming down the startup list, most used computers are in very desperate need of real defragmentation on drive C:\.  The "defragmenter" included with Windows is trash; don't even think of using it (if it's scheduled to run, I would disable it).  Also, many commercial defragmenters (including some of the hyped up ones) aren't very good either.  Currently, I recommend defragmenting these systems with a free program named "MyDefrag" running the "System Disk Monthly" script.  It seems to do what is needed while many other defragmenters just remove fragments and strew the files randomly throughout the disk.  I do recommend checking the disk for errors (chkdsk) before defragmenting.

    I hope that helps!  thumb.gif
Edited by Techie007 - 5/12/13 at 6:17am
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Techie007 View Post

    Unfortunately, I believe this won't work.  The hardware configuration in your virtual machine will (in most cases) will be very different from the machine that the HDD came from.  Windows will think that the HDD has been moved to a different computer and will halt the boot with a BSOD (think "OS licensing" and "incompatible ACPI structure").  The proper way to "move" a HDD from one computer to another is to run sysprep first (read more here).  But then the HDD will work in your VM, but not in the original computer!  Please don't use sysprep, that would not be a good idea; you'll just have to live with the computer that you're working on.
    What is it about other's computers that you find objectionable?  Are many of them too sluggish?  If so, my recommendation is to fix this problem, for yourself; then the original user will benefit too—they don't like a sluggish computer anymore than you do.  First, make sure that the computer has at least this much RAM (computers with a very trim startup list and no anti-virus softare can usually get by with half these amounts):

0.5 GB for Windows 9x
1 GB for Windows 2000
1 GB for Windows XP
4 GB for Windows Vista
2 GB for Windows 7
2 GB for Windows 8

    Those amounts are the minimums for each of those OSes to operate smoothly for most desktop use (web surfing, light gaming, word processing, photo viewing, etc.).  Assuming that you've got compatible RAM laying around, upgrade it if necessary, then do your OS work, show the user the speed improvement (especially if you noticed the difference), and tell them how much it will cost for you to leave that memory in the computer.
    That said, the top causes of computer sluggishness in older computers are the HDD and anti-virus software.  If there is one part you could upgrade in most older systems and experience a huge speed increase, it would be the HDD.  Watch the HDD LED (some computers stupidly don't have one); any time that LED spends "on" is wasted, non-responsive computer time.
    In some systems, the HDD sluggishness can be abated by removing tons of "crapware" (that's what I call the loads software that some people shovel onto their computer, use once and then forget about).  Many of these programs add a startup entry or a service to the computer's startup sequence.  If the computer has more than 15 items in its startup list (msconfig), I would recommend carefully going over it and removing useless entries ("updaters" are frequent offenders, hogging resources and Internet bandwidth for nothing; if the software authors had a brain, they would have made their updater a scheduled task).
    After removing any "crapware" and trimming down the startup list, most used computers are in very desperate need of real defragmentation on drive C:\.  The "defragmenter" included with Windows is trash; don't even think of using it (if it's scheduled to run, I would disable it).  Also, many commercial defragmenters (including some of the hyped up ones) aren't very good either.  Currently, I recommend defragmenting these systems with a free program named "MyDefrag" running the "System Disk Monthly" script.  It seems to do what is needed while many other defragmenters just remove fragments and strew the files randomly throughout the disk.  I do recommend checking the disk for errors (chkdsk) before defragmenting.

    I hope that helps!  thumb.gif

This did help alot. I typically do much of this and keeping a couple nice kits of ram around is a good idea and I think I may do that.


My typical work list is this but sometimes is not in order or does not include some of these things:

Image copy entire hdd - this ensures that the customer's data is safe in case of accidental deletion or unhappy customer you can simply revert all changes

defrag system partition (typically C:) I usually use defraggler or smart defrag

Check antivirus system if installed otherwise install freeware like AVG updating it and scan system

Windows updates

remove crapware

install basic software if needed like flashplayer, adobe reader, chrome, java...

registry and junk files clean - I have found that ccleaner with ccenhancer, windows disk cleanup, removing old restore points, and cleaning out the windows update cache work very well and can cleanup upwards of 10gb+ depending on the system

remove startup items

uninstall ccleaner - this brings the customer back within a year or so for a tune up which usually is very cheap.

Lastly if needed re defrag


somethings I do if needed include:

chkdsk C: /f
sfc /scannow
minor registry tweaks that improve overall snappiness and shutdown times
dust cleaning
remove or reduce pagefile size based off of ram size and customer uses (if they have 4gb of ram and just web browse then the pagefile is mostly useless and therefore increases work load on hdd)


What do you think of this list? I don't charge very much usually around $50. Should I charge people more for this? It's usually friends and family. Typically very close friends and family get a first time discount and then it starts out cheap getting more expensive.


I am working on getting my A+ certification
     
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AMD FX-6100 Asus M5A97 ASUS EAH5450 Series x2 in crossfire Corsair XMS 3 2x2gb1600mhz 
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Corsair XMS 3 2x4gb 1600mhz Patriot Pyro WD 1600BEVT x2 RAID 0 Antec Kuhler H2O 620 Liquid Cooling System 
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Windows 7 Ultimate Emerson 20" wide lcd screen Dell 17" Rosewill RV2-700 700W 
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CPUGraphicsGraphicsRAM
Core i7 2630qm 2.0ghz 2.9 turbo Radeon HD 6770Ms Switchable graphics Intel HD 3000 Centon 16gb 2x8gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveOSOS
OZC Vertex 4 128gb Toshiba 5400rpm 750gb Windows 7 Home Premium Ubuntu 12.10 
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Glossy type 17.3 in. LED Back lit Beats Audio Built in 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD FX-6100 Asus M5A97 ASUS EAH5450 Series x2 in crossfire Corsair XMS 3 2x2gb1600mhz 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Corsair XMS 3 2x4gb 1600mhz Patriot Pyro WD 1600BEVT x2 RAID 0 Antec Kuhler H2O 620 Liquid Cooling System 
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post #4 of 5
   That looks quite good! thumb.gif  I will mention on defragmenting, make sure that "Clear Prefetch folder" is deselected in CCleaner.  If you clear the Windows Prefetch data, even good defragmentation software won't know what files are used frequently, and in what sequence they are most frequently used on the computer.  This is by far the most important step of defragmentation, followed by sorting the files and folders (at least on the system disk). However, many defragmenters are bad because they don't care anyway.  I don't have any past experience with Defraggler or SmartDefrag, however.  I should do a more thorough defragmenter evaluation (perhaps I'll evaluate those soon...).
   Defragmentation should be done after you've uninstalled and tweaked everything to your satisfaction (uninstalling things will make gaps in your previous defragmentation job).  Then, you need to delete the "ReadyBoot" folder and "NTOSBOOT-B00DFAAD.pf" and "Layout.ini" from "C:\Windows\Prefetch".  Don't delete anything else in that folder.
    After that, open Registry Editor, navigate to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters" and make sure that "EnableBootTrace" is set to 1.  Reboot the computer.  Wait a minute after the computer is finished booting.  Then press [Win]+[R], type "rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks" and press [Enter].  Navigate back to "C:\Windows\Prefetch".  You should have a new "ReadyBoot" folder, and a new "Layout.ini" and "NTOSBOOT-B00DFAAD.pf".  If not, go back to the Registry Editor step and try again.  If the files are there, you're ready to defragment C:\.  This will ensure that the defragmenter (if it is smart enough to use the information) will have up-to-date boot sequence and file layout information.
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Kingston SV300S3 WesternDigital WD10EZEX Samsung HD154UI Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 
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post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Very nice!

I will have to look into this and start using this.

I sometimes defrag before and after so that its a little faster while I'm working and faster when I give it back giving it that really snappy effect that wows the customer. You know how it is though that most of your work will be undone in less than a month between all the toolbars that programs install left and right stupid things the customers do and so on.
     
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Core i7 2630qm 2.0ghz 2.9 turbo Radeon HD 6770Ms Switchable graphics Intel HD 3000 Centon 16gb 2x8gb 
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OZC Vertex 4 128gb Toshiba 5400rpm 750gb Windows 7 Home Premium Ubuntu 12.10 
MonitorAudio
Glossy type 17.3 in. LED Back lit Beats Audio Built in 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD FX-6100 Asus M5A97 ASUS EAH5450 Series x2 in crossfire Corsair XMS 3 2x2gb1600mhz 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Corsair XMS 3 2x4gb 1600mhz Patriot Pyro WD 1600BEVT x2 RAID 0 Antec Kuhler H2O 620 Liquid Cooling System 
OSMonitorMonitorPower
Windows 7 Ultimate Emerson 20" wide lcd screen Dell 17" Rosewill RV2-700 700W 
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Xion AXP 100 Gaming Series Steel ATX Basic logitech M305 Basic Mouse Pad 5 fan Touch Screen fan controller 
Other
3.5 in. Card Reader 
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CPUGraphicsGraphicsRAM
Core i7 2630qm 2.0ghz 2.9 turbo Radeon HD 6770Ms Switchable graphics Intel HD 3000 Centon 16gb 2x8gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveOSOS
OZC Vertex 4 128gb Toshiba 5400rpm 750gb Windows 7 Home Premium Ubuntu 12.10 
MonitorAudio
Glossy type 17.3 in. LED Back lit Beats Audio Built in 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD FX-6100 Asus M5A97 ASUS EAH5450 Series x2 in crossfire Corsair XMS 3 2x2gb1600mhz 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Corsair XMS 3 2x4gb 1600mhz Patriot Pyro WD 1600BEVT x2 RAID 0 Antec Kuhler H2O 620 Liquid Cooling System 
OSMonitorMonitorPower
Windows 7 Ultimate Emerson 20" wide lcd screen Dell 17" Rosewill RV2-700 700W 
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Xion AXP 100 Gaming Series Steel ATX Basic logitech M305 Basic Mouse Pad 5 fan Touch Screen fan controller 
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3.5 in. Card Reader 
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