Saturday, July 11, 2015

When even Linux could not diagnose Windows Mail

Mika: Happy Ending

Unlike the moving song above I am pleased to report another happy ending.

Earlier Marcus moaned about the fact that 

"You'll never get rich working with PC's"

It would seem that the clone and transformation of a friends ancient HP Compaq 6710b laptop was not 100% successful.

Remind me what did you do?

- We cleaned the old laptop removing dust and grime from fan areas to improve cooling

- We replaced the 140 GB spinning disk with a 250GB SSD

- We cloned (badly it seems) Windows 32 bit vista onto the SSD

- We installed Windows 10 Preview build 10162

- We installed Office 2016 Beta and numerous utilities on the Windows 10 partition

- We tested the Windows 10 side and that Vista 32 boots and seems to work

What was the observed problem?
Somewhat incredibly windows mail  (not Outlook) would not start.

We noticed that on starting it actually deleted files from the Windows mail directory into the recycle bin  (presumably it thought they were invalid?) and then complained that Windows Mail files could not be found !!!

No amount of putting them back, copying them from the original hard disk, or other mechanism seemed to rectify the problem

Desperate Times

As previously noted nights with 3 hours of sleep Marcus and Agata would now like to reserve for activities other than rebuilding somebody else's PC!

But this marks the 3rd such night (of 3 hour sleeping) as a multiplicity of alternatives were talked through between each other.

The Conundrum

What seemed perplexing is that all the programs Marcus had tried on the cloned computer with new SSD seemed to work.  If EzGig had cloned disk disk on a sector by sector basis then surely it could not have 'missed' the odd file?

The answer is that we now conclude that EzGig is actually copying file by file not, sector by sector.

It is time to head back to Linux,

We tried Clonezilla and GParted

Since EzGig seemed not to make an accurate copy we also tried some Linux tools

I'll just show Clonezilla below

BUT: neither tool actually worked with respect to Windows Mail.  To be clear:  EzGig, Clonezilla and gParted were all able to seemingly copy Microsoft Windows Vista 32 from the original spinning disk to the new SSD.

However on all 3 copies Windows Mail refused to start!

The Workaround

It seems therefore that Windows Mail can simply just not be read after a clone so instead

- Copy the directories under the windows mail folder of the user

- Install Kernel EML Viewer

- Install Office 2016

Now Kernel EML can be used to view the tree of emails that the user has made and when an individual email is clicked upon it is displayed using office 2016.

So what did we learn?

Well, my initial advice was to (regrettably) junk the PC and buy a new HP Stream device or other ultra low cost Windows PC.

Indeed I calculated that the cost of Marcus and Agata's time performing the fixing came to (conservatively) 1000 CHF  (1060 USD)

We found that no Windows or Linux copying tool was able to duplicate a Microsoft Windows Vista.  However installing Kernel EML viewer and Microsoft Office 2016 beta provided a working alternative solution

Kernel EML Viewer
Microsoft Office 2016 beta 64bit