RIP Backup Laptop?

So, about 15 years ago, My Lovely Bride™ decided she was sick of my playing MMORPGs in the office during all of my free time, and suggested that we both get gaming laptops, so we could play together in the living room. Being that our office is really too small for us both to have desks set up therein, and I really wanted to play video games with her, I agreed to this plan.

… and thus began the Era of the Gaming Laptops in our household.

As you might expect, we’ve gone through a few rigs over the last decade and a half or so, mostly sticking with Asus laptops (because they have lasted longer, and done the job better than most other brands), but we’ve also tried HP (because I was stupid) and MSI (because I wanted something different on my last rig). This story today though is one of a mighty ASUS GL551-DW, a rig bought originally for Tenknife, but she set aside as a ‘spare laptop’ to upgrade to the customized ASUS I was using when I upgraded to my current MSI rig.

That was three years ago. This spare laptop was four years old, when she chose to upgrade, so it is a bit on the older side, you might say. It was showing its age at that time, as the wifi only worked when it felt like it (I was able to fix that, though), and one of the hinges was cracked, but still usable. Its gaming time was long over, but for web browsing, it was just fine, and we were also able to use it for recording the “Knights of the Tabletop” podcast, while we were still doing that.

But, I am sad to say, those days have ended. This old rig has reached the end of the line, lasting longer than all but one of the other computers we have ever owned (another Asus laptop I had, that worked well for me for years, and continues to run for a coworker’s kid after 12 years of service). What happened? Well, I don’t know, actually. Usually when laptops fail, there is a hardware failure like the screen stops working, or it just won’t turn on anymore, but not in this case.

It only boots to the BIOS now. It won’t recognize that there are bootable drives attached, and you can’t add them back into the boot list. Furthermore, I tried to flash the BIOS to return it to factory settings (assuming that might be the issue), but it won’t recognize the thumbdrive the flash file is on… although it does show the two hard drives that are in the laptop, so they aren’t the problem.

Now then, there is every possibility that this machine can still be fixed, I just may not be smart enough to do it right now. But here’s the thing: I don’t need it to be fixed. I am writing this post from the new Chromebook I bought for use while on my breaks at work, as it is small and easy to carry around for travel.

In short: Why keep patching up a seven year old laptop, when I have a brand-new Chromebook that does everything the old rig does, only better?

Now I did consider picking up another Chromebook, one to keep here at home, leaving this one for work/travel, but why? If I can’t get up and pull the Chromebook out of my duty bag to use at home, what exactly is the point of having such a light and versatile computer?

Anyway, I guess I have a “project laptop” again, in that old rig. I have some ideas on what I can do to get it running again. I assume something happened to corrupt the boot sector, which should be fixable by trying to do a repair installation of Windows (I assume), but not knowing what happened, I can’t assume it can be fixed. Regardless, it should be interesting to find out.

If anyone has any thoughts on the matter, feel free to leave them in the Comments, below.

UPDATE: I have it running again. Slapped a copy of Pop OS Linux on the rig, and it is working great! Now, will I keep it like that? Who knows, but it is a step closer to being what I want the machine to be (a podcasting rig again) than it was before.

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