So, over the Christmas holidays I bought myself a refurbished Dell XPS 13 9370 to replace my three-year-old XPS 13 9350 and … wait for it … a 1TB Samsung EVO 960 SSD to go in it. The laptop just came with 512GB, which these days is JUST NOT ENOUGH!
(I had another motive too: that 512GB SSD was going into my wife’s XPS 13 9370, which only came with 256GB.)
I had a choice: go through the whole install/registration for Windows 10 on the SSD that came with the machine and then do the whole update process to get it onto the new 1TB SSD (barf!), or, use this nifty Dell USB drive with a recovery install of Windows 10 that I got with my previous XPS 13. No contest. And pretty quickly I was using my new laptop, fully updating Windows, and finally installing all the myriad apps I can no longer do without.
But then I started to get random BSODs (Blue Screens of Death), sometimes when I was working, sometimes when I’d left my desk and the laptop was sleeping. Mostly
IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL, but sometimes
BAD_POOL_HEADER too. In general, coming back to the laptop in the morning I’d have a login screen because of an overnight BSOD. This was, to put it mildly, not good, and not just because I have a scheduled backup task that kicks off at 1am. I do webinars regularly: can you imagine the problems if I got a BSOD in the middle of one of those?
Time to investigate. First up: I made sure Windows was up to date, ditto my drivers. As I thought, everything was fine, so I started the usual Google detective work. “Download WinDbg and analyze the memory dump file generated by the BSOD” was one suggestion, so I did that only to reveal that the culprit was
iaStorAVC.sys. Back to Google, and now the results were whittled down drastically: only two results. The one on Reddit was the winner: I had to go to Intel’s site and download/install something called the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver. Which I did, and since then no more BSODs.
I’m now really happy: this laptop with the upmarket Samsung SSD really sings compared to my three-year-old one. It’s positively snappy. But bloody hell, having a laptop with just USB-C/Thunderbolt sockets is a complete gamechanger: I’ve had to buy new hubs, docks, chargers, and what have you. Be warned.
So, why did this all happen? Well, it’s because I took that shortcut by installing Windows from that 2-year-old (or more) USB recovery stick. Back then the RST driver didn’t exist, but new XPS machines require it (I can verify that: my wife’s new XPS 13 has it). I saved some time at the beginning, but in the end I wasted more time getting through the BSODs and working out why and fixing the issue.
The moral of this story is, I suppose, don’t cut corners. Do it properly. Applies big time to programming and development too, as I can appreciate as I wend my way through a whole bunch of issues with my recent migration to Azure for this blog. Ah well.