My Dell Latitude D830 came with Microsoft Vista which, for the most part, has seemed like a prettied up XP without a lot of added useful functionality nor a substantial increase in stability. At the time I upgraded, I wrote that I was like so close to buying a Macbook Pro. I am sorry to say that I regret that decision even more today.
What got me to that stage? Well, it's a long painful path and to be honest, I'm not at the stage (yet) that I'm ready to just give in and replace my fairly new laptop.
The problems all started about 2 months after receiving the laptop. On July 14th, the day before I left for a trip to Shanghai, my email program (Thunderbird) locked up. When I restarted it, it still had problems and wouldn't pull mail from nfthe server, so I shutdown and restarted the computer.
During the reboot, the OS decided a chkdsk of the NTFS filesystem was necessary and it found and fixed many problems. When I got back to the running OS, all of the files that were actively open at the time I cleanly shutdown the system were gone. Totally gone. Not in the found.* directories (the NTFS equivalent of the UNIX lost+found directory).
Luckily I had the data backed up earlier that day as well as an offline backup on an external drive from a week before that. Since I was taking off for Shanghai, I copied both backups onto my system so I could pick the files (as I wasn't sure if the backup earlier that day wasn't corrupt as well).
I was able to get up and running again on my way to Shanghai without a problem and things were working fine. I assumed it was just some freak accident.
About a month later (mid-August) the same thing happened. This time I dug into it further and found that there had been a series of events in my event log (both then and back in July). It seems the problem starts with an NTFS event (which is flagged as an "Error" rather than a "Critical" event) with the event code of 137. The message from the event was extremely helpful... NOT!:
The default transaction resource manager on volume D: encountered a non-retryable error and could not start. The data contains the error code.
Microsoft's online help for the event was no help:
Results for: Microsoft product: Windows Operating System; Version: 6.0.6000.16386; ID: 137; Event Source: Ntfs;
No results were found for your query. Please see Search Help for suggestions.
Googling on "Default transaction resouce manager" found little results as well, but there was at least a possible link to another's problem. Apparently some had discovered that Acronis True Image had led to similar problems. I had installed Acronis Disk Director to reorganize my disk partitions, so I uninstalled it to see if that would alleviate the problem. And, of course, I did the same restoration process to get back all the lost files.
I did find one interesting discussion on resource managers in Vista, but that didn't provide any information that would help solve my problem.
Given that the error message just showed up in the event log (and in both cases, was close to 24 hours before the system crashed -- allowing me to open/use many files that disappeared), I added an event alert task which would send a message to the console should this error occur again. This is really important so that you can catch the problem as it starts, minimizing the potential damages.
Things went well for about another month and then it happened again in Mid-September, so it clearly wasn't the Acronis product. I was busy getting some heavy work done, so i didn't have the time to explore the problem other than to restore the files again.
About a week later, it happened again. This time it started going into an almost daily problem, sometimes happening again just after I had fixed things and ran chkdsk to fix the problems.
The pain had passed the threshold and I decided to do a total reinstall of the system. Prior to doing that, I did a complete backup. I copied my data files to a portable drive. I ran the extensive system diagnostics including the full suite of hard disk diagnostics to see if there was some form of a hardware problem. All diagnostics passed.
So, this past weekend, I reinstalled vista. I've been installing each of my former tools (there are many of them) and so far, so good. Given that this didn't turn up until I had had the computer for about 60 days the first time, I guess I won't know for sure if I've gotten around the problem till early Dec.
And, of course, I went and added the event task to generate a message should this occur again.
Wish me luck!