Laplink PCMover is a Lifesaver

Wifey needed a new PC, and like all people who have had the same one for 6 years, she wanted everything to transfer perfectly.  The new one had to operate just like the old one, only better. 

Aloha Bob used to be the gold standard of PC migration tools, but Microsoft bought it and incorporated it into Vista, taking it off the market.  Fortunately, our pals at Laplink have enhanced Laplink PCMover to move applications from one computer to another.  I owned Laplink sync software many moons ago, when they gave you bright yellow parallel to parallel and bright blue serial to serial cables.  I still have the cables, and might have the 3.5″ floppy the software came on.  This was back in the days when laptops were bigger than what we call mini-towers are today.

Configuration of PCMover was easy, it takes about 5 minutes after you install the software on each PC, and then you just start the transfer and walk away.  It took about 4 hours to move 17GB worth of data and programs, but the old PC has USB 1.1 (low speed) ports.  I imagine it’s much faster with USB 2 ports on both ends.  The included USB cable is a high-speed USB interface (you can also transfer via network, but even low speed USB is faster than 100MB).  I mowed the lawn and moved some mulch during the transfer.

After the transfer, a reboot was recommended, and then it was time to see what worked and what didn’t.  The desktop looked exactly like the old PC, and all programs seemed to make the journey, even some weirdos specific to Wifey’s business.  I was a little dubious it all went well, but after opening every program and checking it out, it really did work as well as I had hoped.

What did transfer:

  • All data files and folder structure.  The old PC has  D drive, which the new one doesn’t have, so any folder on d:\ was placed in a new folder at c:\drive_d\ on the new PC.
  • Quickbooks 2003 program, settings and data file
  • Microsoft Office Small Business 2000, including “Recent Files” lists and registration keys
  • FTP Surfer and configured login settings
  • Internet Explorer favorites, cookies and home page
  • Olympus Cameida Master Pro
  • TightVNC and settings (it was even registered as a service and automatically started when I rebooted)
  • Shutterfly Smart Upload and settings
  • Desktop settings, including background photo and icons

What didn’t transfer:

  • AVG 7.5 (registered version, and the docs say A/V software won’t be migrated)
  • Passwords for Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail accounts
  • .NET Framework 2.0 (an error occurred at startup)
  • Startup folder entries
  • Printers
  • Some Outlook rules needed to be tweaked for some reason (all folders were present, but I had to respecify the “specified folder”)
  • a few folder settings (such as showing the full address in title and address bar, and opening folders in new windows)

The old OS was Windows XP Home SP1, and the new OS is Windows XP Professional SP2, and this may account for a few of the settings which needed to be retweaked.  By design, the Windows itself does not transfer–only settings, programs and data.

Long story short here, I’d say PCMover was practically perfect.  The few small settings I had to change were no big deal, especially when compared to having to reinstall all that software and reconfigure all the settings.  PCMover will be an enthusiastic high recommendation to anyone I know migrating to a new PC.

I bought PCMover off the shelf at Staples, but you can download it from Laplink’s website if you don’t need the cable but do need immediate gratification.  You can also order Laplink PCMover from Amazon or Laplink’s website.

Virtualized Ubuntu: Virtual PC or Parallels?

I’m a Windows guy.  That’s my job, that’s what the family runs, so that’s what I do.  But I’m fascinated by Linux, and I appreciate a lot of the rethinking the Linux crowd has done.  One of the more popular distributions of Linux is Ubuntu, and it’s supported by several virtualization programs.  Two that I have in my hands are Virtual PC and Parallels.  Since I’m pretty deep into Windows work, I’d rather virtualize Ubuntu, as opposed to a dual boot, and dedicating hardware is out of the question right now.

So, after installing and using Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) under both Virtual PC and Parallels, my winner is Parallels.  Here are a few reasons why:


Installation under Parallels was much smoother than Virtual PC.  In both cases, I simply reassigned the CD Drive to the ISO, changed the default HDD space and booted into the Live CD.  From there, I ran the installer program to install Ubuntu.  Parallels needed no additional configuration, but for Virtual PC, I had to enable a boot script to make the mouse work.  There were times where installation under Parallels had hung up, but waiting a minute or two and it picked back up again.


Operation under Parallels is also much smoother.

As with installation, I had to make some boot script changes in order for the mouse to work under Virtual PC.  Thankfully someone had gone through this already and blogged about it, because I’m not at the level where I can figure these things out yet.  Also, there seems to be a somewhat random local echo when I press a key under Virtual PC.  When I hit a key, it may show up as if I pressed it 2 or 3 times.  This doesn’t happen under Parallels.

The mouse issue seems to be more a fault of Linux than Virtual PC, since the mouse was being reported as a PS/2 mouse.  My mouse is really a USB mouse, which is picked up differently by Parallels and Ubuntu.  But the echo thing is driving me crazy.

Finally, performance.  Performance of Ubuntu under Parallels is much snappier than Virtual PC.  I can’t load up all the snazzy desktop effects under either, but that’s OK, all I want to do is learn more about Linux.

One major difference, and this may be a deal breaker for many, is that Virtual PC 2007 is free, while Parallels isn’t.  I have Parallels because Lunarpages hooked their webmasters up with a free copy.

Overall, I’m looking forward to working with Linux more now that I have an environment which makes it easy to work with.

Parallels Workstation and more – FREE from LunarPages

I’ve had hosts offer all sorts of free components on their servers you can use, or install, but Lunarpages takes the cake this month.  They negotiated with some fine software vendors for free tools or free advertising credits.  All told, you can claim $775 worth of goodies just for hosting with them!

All the free goodies are detailed in the June 2008 Newsletter, but here are some highlights:

Parallels Workstation – I’m stoked about this one.  Similar to Virtual PC or VM Ware, but much lighter.  Free for Windows and Linux users, only a discount for the Mac crowd.  Honestly, I didn’t know they had a Windows version, so their promotion worked on me.

WinSettings – There’s a lot of crap built up in my startup.config I need to clean out, and I’m always looking to boost performance or speed the boot process.

The Logo Creator – I’m a sucker for pretty logos.

Also, they offer bunches of components with their hosting plan, and some additional free tools for managing your site.  Lunarpages has been a very stable and affordable host for me, so if you’re looking for a host and wnat some free stuff, too, chek out Lunarpages.

Dell Dimension 4400 and Windows XP SP2/SP3

We have an old Dell Dimension 4400 with Windows XP Home Edition, SP1.  When we tried to upgrade to Windows XP SP2, the system slowed to a crawl.  It was terrible.  When I removed SP2, it worked great again.  I found one webpage which suggested replacing the standard hard drive would fix the problem.  I tried that, and no dice.  I replaced the Seagate with a Maxtor and Western Digital (I have these things laying around, since I’m kind of a pack rat when it comes to PC parts).

I had hopes that SP3 would not have the same issue, but it did as well.  Once I removed the SP, it worked great again.  My resolution in this case, since the computer is several years old and is wifey’s main PC, is to get a new one and redeploy this one as something else.

A deadlock was detected while trying to lock variables

The following error is a new thorn in my side.  It’s showing up in SSIS 2005 packages which are scheduled, but does not happen when I run the packages manually.  I changed the message slightly to remove identifying characteristics.

Executed as user: <MachineName>\SYSTEM. …n 9.00.3042.00 for 32-bit  Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1984-2005. All rights reserved.    Started:  4:00:00 AM  Error: 2008-06-17 04:01:28.67     Code: 0xC001405D     Source: Script Task      Description: A deadlock was detected while trying to lock variables "<comma delimited list>" for read access and variables "<comma delimited list>" for read/write access. A lock cannot be acquired after 16 attempts. The locks timed out.  End Error  Error: 2008-06-17 04:01:28.67     Code: 0x00000005     Source: Script Task      Description: The script files failed to load.  End Error

The SQL DTS Wiki has some talk of the issue:

This error happens when two processes are trying to get a lock on the same variable. It is not a deadlock in the same way as a SQL Server, to use that terminology it is just a blocking scenario. When blocked, the process will have 16 attempts and then fail with this error. Certain problems exacerbate this issue, the obvious being time the locks are held, and write locks over read locks. Several issues have been addressed with the post-SP1 update, KB918222 Cumulative hotfix package (build 2153) for SQL Server 2005. System variables are now only read locked, which makes sense as they are always read-only anyway. If you encounter this problem, try SP1 + KB918222 to start with, then try and look at your package design and minimise locks taken, and minimise parallel processes that use the same variables

(full entry at

The recommendation to install SP1 + hotfix rollup is an issue, since I’ve patched the machine to SP2 already, and am seeing the error.  A contributor to the page offered the following suggestion on her blog:

I eventually realised that the only other place I had added the variable was to to the ReadWriteVariables list in the properties of the Script Component:


As soon as I removed this variable name from that field, I was able to get my script component to successfully run.

Full post at

There is a script task with ReadWriteVariables, but removing them threw a different error, since the script needs access to the variable.

After picking through the post-SP1 hotfixes, KB918091 seems likely to be the one which resolves this issue.  The error messages are different, but the symptoms are similar:

If you try to run a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Integration Services (SSIS) package, you may receive an error message that resembles one of the following error messages:

Error message 1

The variable "User::MyVariable" is already on the read list. A variable may only be added once to either the read lock list or the write lock list.

Error message 2

Reading the variable "User::MyVariable" failed with error code 0xC0010009. The expression "@[User::MyVariable]+"\\"+ @[User::MyType]" on property "ServerName" cannot be evaluated. Modify the expression to be valid.

The error messages may be reported in several locations:

• When you try to run an SSIS package by using the dtexec command-prompt utility, the error message may be reported in the console window of the command line.

• When you try to run an SSIS package by using SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio, the error message may be reported in the Business Intelligence Development Studio output window.

• When you try to run an SSIS package and you use a log provider to redirect the execution output, the error message is reported in the redirected output.

The list of bugs fixed in SQL Server 2005 SP2 does not include this hotfix, so it’s the next step. 


Microsoft has a new process for delivering hotfixes.  After completing the process and downloading the file, the following error was thrown when I executed the downloaded file:

“This self-extracting zip file is part of a multidisk zip file.  Pleas insert the last disk of the set.”


I replied to the e-mail with the download link, but the reply bounced back.


After spending 90 minutes on the phone with Microsoft tech support (thanks Anu for the help!), we determined the original download was corrupted.  They sent me a new link, and I redownloaded the hotfix.  The install started correctly, but the hotfix threw a new error:

06/19/2008 11:58:30.235 ================================================================================
06/19/2008 11:58:30.235 Hotfix package launched
06/19/2008 11:58:32.985 Version level check successful for product instance MSSQLSERVER
06/19/2008 11:58:33.001 This update requires service pack 0. The service pack for product instance MSSQLSERVER is 2. Download the update for service pack 2.

Some more research led us to KB 918222, which does list this bug as being fixed (note that the SP2 list uses KB article, while this list uses bug report numbers).  Take home message from my 90 minutes of MS help is:

Take it for granted if your hotfix is in a previous compilation, it’s in the SP, even if it’s not specifically listed in the Kb article for that SP.  When an SP is rolled out, it includes all hotfixes in the previous SPs and cumulative rollouts.  The KB article for an SP lists only the hotfixes not included in any of the previous compilations. 

The next step is to submit another bug report for my error and do some more debugging with MS.

Continuing story, watch this post for edits.