This morning, I decided to clean my main workstation, as it’s been noisier than usual these last couple of days. Sure enough, it had plenty of dust and cat hair in it, but I also noted that a little motherboard fan was not working. I had spares, so I decided to replace it. Removing it is not easy, as it is in an awkward location, and I also had to resolder its connector onto the new fan.
That having been done, I rebooted my machine. Or, I tried to anyhow, but it failed to boot. It failed to do anything after the BIOS initialization. After a while, I realized that for some weird reason, it was trying to boot from an attached USB device. I disconnected the device, but still nothing… worse than nothing, actually, as it told me that my system disk is unbootable.
Actually, I should say disks, as I am using a dual drive mirror configuration in this computer. After poking around in it some more, I realized that I have inadvertently knocked out a cable from one of the drives. Unfortunately, reconnecting this cable didn’t help… the system was still unbootable.
And I’ve seen this before! A while back, a similar thing happened… one drive was disconnected, and when I reconnected it, the stupid RAID controller somehow managed to wipe the boot sector from both. What on Earth it did that for, I have no idea. But this is why I have a spare computer with identical drives and RAID controller… once I understood what was happening, the solution was to simply remove both drives, put them into USB cases, connect them to the other computer, and then copy over the boot sector using a raw disk editor. Easier said than done, of course, especially as I couldn’t find a raw disk editor on that spare machine (I swear I used to have one installed!) but eventually downloaded HxD, a very fine free disk editor that I have used before.
Two hours after I began, I had a working computer again. Still, it’s not a fun way to start a morning when you need both a soldering iron and a raw disk editor to get your computer working again…