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A Windows Vista PC would regularly produce blue screens of death. A memory test proved that the memory was the cause.

The PC had a motherboard several years old, and memory to fit that mother board was no longer available.

I replaced the motherboard and memory (current version), but the OS would not talk to the new motherboard, so I reinstalled Windows on a new HDD.

Are there any alternatives to the actions I took?

Update: This is what a professional PC support company said of my actions:

It is questionable if the memory or memory controller or both were faulty. If this was the case, both companies advised that correction of the issue should have occurred rather than needing to purchase new memory. The computer already had sufficient memory. It was deemed to be a straight forward issue of correction of a faulty memory that should not have led to the next series of events ie loss of software, new motherboard purchase etc.

If the memory was at fault, how could it be fixed or replaced when there was none of the type available? If the memory controller was at fault, how could it be replaced if it was hard-wired to the motherboard?

Any IT expert would be aware of Windows Vista. A new hard drive was then purchased to install a fresh copy of Windows onto.   Windows Vista did have a license key which came with the computer.

Where was the license key? It was not on the CD, in the CD case, or in the booklet in the CD case. If the operating system was lost, which includes the license key, how could it be reinstalled?

The computer already had software installed by Delta when purchased – which was subsequently all lost as a result of this intervention.

It would take about 20-30 minutes to reinstall any software lost.

The wrong product of Microsoft Office was purchased (Student) – this should have been known at the time – this had to be returned and reimbursed.

There was no warning that Microsoft Home & Student did not include Outlook. Presumably people at home use Microsoft Outlook.

The computer arrived at Delta with its hardware open, in multiple pieces with hardware still not fitted. This was of concern to Delta Computers in terms of the state it arrived in.

The pieces of hardware still to be fitted were not critical, and were scheduled to be fitted. The fact that the PC case was open was not causing any problems.

Based on the initial problem, Delta would have taken 2 hours total in labour to fix the memory issue without all the additional steps that occurred and out of pocket expenses in purchase of new software. Instead, they had to install drivers again for all hardware, install Windows service packs and updates, Reconnect the card reader and secure all internal components, install windows photo gallery, adobe reader, micro soft office, import emails into micro soft office, install printers and do final checks of computer.

No mention of how the memory error was to be fixed was made. If it could have been replaced, that was my first step, but there was none of that memory type available.

Could a PCI card memory controller of been used?

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I find it hard to believe memory was not available for the motherboard. Reinstall is the best way to go, there are other methods but are complicated and not worth the time it takes. –  Moab Jun 5 '11 at 2:06
    
@Moab. The memory type was about 3-4 years old. If it wasn't available, were the steps I took appropriate? –  Steve Jun 5 '11 at 2:38
    
@Moab: can you give me a summary of the other methods please? –  Steve Jun 5 '11 at 2:47
    
With XP, you could do what is called a repair install of the OS when you swapped motherboards, In vista it is a similar process, but requires a Vista Install disc that has the Upgrade feature, and the disc must be the same Service Pack level as the OS you are repairing, which can be no small task finding the proper disc, or making one.....vistasupport.mvps.org/… –  Moab Jun 5 '11 at 3:55
    
@Moab. The install disc was a disc issued with the PC by the PC retailer. Would that contain the upgrade feature? It did not include the serial number. I remember trying the repair install, but it didn't change anything. –  Steve Jun 5 '11 at 4:28
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I also find it nearly impossible that you would not have been able to find the memory. I would have run "System Information for Windows" to find out what type of memory it could take: http://www.gtopala.com/ and then seen if I could have found it on eBay.

If you really could not, you probably could have started a new install with the original HDD installed. The install would have found the old installation location, and you could have "upgraded it", which would overwrite any hardware information, but leave all the other aspects, like installed programs and settings, intact.

The only caveat is that you would need to be at least at the revision of Vista that was currently installed. So if you started out with Vista, no service pack, and had only that disk, but now you were on Vista SP2, you would need a Vista install disk with SP2 incorporated. That is called slipstreaming: http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/230249-sliptream-vista-sp2.html

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I tried the new install with the original HDD, but after it had completed, it kept restarting during the "Windows is loading" screen. That is the same thing that happened before the slipstreaming. –  Steve Jun 5 '11 at 5:45
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Outlook comes with two varieties: Outlook and Outlook Express. The first costs you extra money and comes with MS Office suite among others.

Vista is already quite outdated, so I'd either buy new memory for the old hardware, or buy retail Windows 7 and install that. Windows not starting properly can also be a driver issue; lacking license key should give you notification about the issue, not black screen.

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Are there any alternatives to the actions I took?

Yeah, get some older RAM off of eBay. If the computer was even capable of running Vista, I highly doubt you could not have found RAM for it. Regardless, the upgrade to new RAM would be a better idea in my opinion, but since you switched motherboards, it's worth doing an operating system re-install. Also, changing a major hardware component has a tenancy to cause Windows to not load (as with most operating systems) without extensive changes.

If the memory was at fault, how could it be fixed or replaced when there was none of the type available? If the memory controller was at fault, how could it be replaced if it was hard-wired to the motherboard?

If the memory controller was faulty, then you would have had to get a new motherboard. Since you couldn't just go out to the store and buy some of this RAM, then I agree that replacing the entire motherboard may have saved you time, but you'll never know now.

Where was the license key? It was not on the CD, in the CD case, or in the booklet in the CD case. If the operating system was lost, which includes the license key, how could it be reinstalled?

If it was an OEM system, it should have (legally) been placed on the computer chassis itself. If it was a legal retail copy of WIndows, it should have been in the CD/DVD case.

There was no warning that Microsoft Home & Student did not include Outlook. Presumably people at home use Microsoft Outlook.

No warning? It is your responsibility to determine if a product fits your needs before purchasing it, not the people trying to sell it to you (after all, they are just in the business of making money). Plus, is it really that hard to Google what applications come with what edition of Office?

No mention of how the memory error was to be fixed was made. If it could have been replaced, that was my first step, but there was none of that memory type available.

Could a PCI card memory controller of been used?

Again, you replace the motherboard, you usually have to reformat, since nearly every major system component has changed (memory controller, PCI bus components, NIC, audio card, USB controller, and so on and so fourth). PCI is only for external peripherals, and would not be suitable for a memory controller due to the significantly lower bandwidth then the memory bus itself.

For the computer architecture savvy, PCI components are interfaced through the southbridge, while memory is interfaced through the northbridge.


Lastly, remember one thing. Any "professional" PC support company is a business at the end of the day, with one goal - make money. While I'm not saying that everything they told you is false, and I'm not saying that they purposely did anything wrong, there are certainly much cheaper alternatives that could have been taken in this case.

Again, I don't know anything about this company, and they may be an exception to this rule - but more often then not, they care about money over their customers (especially since their customers are usually less educated in the matter, and simply don't know any better).

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