The week has been "fun" — yes, that’s fun in quotes. All’s well that ends well, they say, but sometimes getting there isn’t much fun…
Last year, my Father’s Day present was a homemade gift card authorizing me to upgrade my PC. I thought about it and, ultimately, decided to upgrade the graphics card only, and do the motherboard and CPU at a later time.
That time came. My wife decided that her PC was ready to be upgraded. That was OK, since it was four years old. We talked and decided that she just wanted faster, but not necessarily new. Worked for me…
I ordered a new Gigabyte motherboard with the Intel® Z87 chipset; one of the new Haswell chips from Intel, the Core i7-4770; a new heatsink (even though the Intel retail chips come with a fan/heatsink combination, I don’t use them); and 16 GB of memory.
I’ve used Gigabyte motherboards for a few years, and like them. In addition, by sticking to the Gigabyte motherboards, I hoped to avoid having to reinstall Windows 7 or "Repair" it.
I learned some things that I thought I should share.
First tip: A backup of the hidden Windows boot partition and the C: partition are important to have. I used Acronis True Image 2013 to make an image backup of both, which are on the same SSD. Acronis will let you restore individual files and folders from the backup image.
Second tip: If you connect the plug for the computer’s on/off switch to the wrong pins on the motherboard, it doesn’t turn the computer on. You have to connect the on/off switch to the right pins on the motherboard.
The motherboard I was using actually has a power button, reset button and CMOS-clear button on the motherboard, in addition to the Power and Reset connections for the buttons on the case. When I opened the case and hooked it up to try it out, I found it would start using the on-board power button. That told me the connector wasn’t on the right pins.
The motherboard also has a status code display on the board, so you can see what’s happening as it boots. Or, more importantly, where it stops when it stops booting. I could see that the boot process was stopping when the display read "A6." According the manual, this meant that it was finding and starting the SCSI devices.
That’s great, but nothing was showing on the monitor. I couldn’t figure out what it thought the SCSI devices were. I know that add-on SATA cards set up as SCSI devices, but there weren’t any.
I went to another PC (always good to have) and searched Google for Gigabyte A6 code. I found several links to "solutions" but the important one was in a forum where the person with the problem wrote a follow-up message that their A6 was really Ab. The Ab code meant that the BIOS was waiting for input from the user. But, I couldn’t see anything on the screen!
Third tip: If you have an HDMI switch between the HDMI cable to the monitor and the HDMI cable from the computer, you can connect another notebook and use the big monitor. If you pull out the switch and leave it where you were working in the other room, the monitor won’t display anything. Duh! Use one cable or put the switch back into place.
Then, the keyboard and mouse didn’t work in the UEFI BIOS. Not at all.
Fourth tip: If you leave the micro adapters for the wireless keyboard and wireless mouse on the motherboard you take out (when replacing the motherboard), your new computer/motherboard won’t recognize the wireless mouse and keyboard. But, when you realize that, pull them from the old motherboard and stick them into the new motherboard, they work!
Now, I can see the UEFI BIOS, set it to the optimized defaults (I’ll change some things later), and save.
Fifth tip: Since I stayed with the Gigabyte motherboards, I didn’t have to reinstall Windows or Repair it (which you can do if you have a real Windows DVD and not just a Recovery DVD). I buy retail copies of Windows, which are transferable to other computers, as opposed to the OEM version that’s licensed for one particular computer. It took several reboots, where Windows would halt at later and later places, until all was well.
Almost. During the shutdown or reboot process, AppleCharger.sys would crash "green-screen." The shutdown process would keep going and then reboot (whether I picked Shutdown or Restart). Unfortunately, I had to do this several times to be able to read the filename of the program that was crashing.
After turning off the Apple Charger Service (which didn’t solve the problem), I uninstalled a couple Apple items in the Remove Programs list. Unfortunately, this is where I discovered that Apple doesn’t build a fail-safe into its uninstall routines. One of the programs it let me uninstall was required for any repair, uninstall or install of iTunes! Fortunately, my Acronis True Image backup image let me find and restore the missing file. Did uninstalling iTunes solve the problem? No.
It turns out that one of the utilities from the previous motherboard allowed charging of Apple devices by USB even when the PC was turned off. The program ON/OFF used the file AppleCharger.sys, which was actually the problem, not anything from Apple. It took some searching in the computer to figure out that being installed with that name in real-time during the boot process, but that the actual file had a different extension (not .sys).
When I uninstalled ON/OFF, the crash went away. Google-searching for the error showed that others have seen this problem, and the same solution.
Finally, I used the motherboard’s CDROM to install the sound, network adapter, and other drivers.
That just about wrapped it up for my computer. Now I needed to install my old motherboard into my wife’s computer.
Just as with my computer, hers took several false starts/crashes before Windows finally settled itself down and found and reinstalled the drivers (automatically). Even the scanner set up without any manual effort. Wow.
Sixth tip: Before you close up the computer after working on it, make sure that both ends of every data cable are connected and that everything that needs power has power.
Power wasn’t the problem — her DVD drive would open and close just fine. But the computer couldn’t find the drive. That told me that either the SATA socket on the motherboard was bad, the data cable wasn’t connected to the motherboard, or the data cable wasn’t connected to the DVD drive.
Sure enough, the data cable wasn’t connected to the DVD drive. Once I connected it, reconnected the computer, and powered it on, Windows started coming up.
Now, I could use the old motherboard’s driver CDROM to install the network and other drivers.
All finished. It was a pain, but no real brain strain other than solving the green-screen/reboot issue on my computer.
Now, we’re both happy and didn’t have to reinstall anything.