I spent the day yesterday unloading content from my ailing laptop (it goes through phases where it shuts off for no good reason and I have to perform a system restore on it) so that I could do something drastic.
When we got the laptop we got no software with it since it was all pre-loaded. We didn't think to make a backup disc for it of course, so I didn't have one to fix any problems when Vista went sideways (the darn thing shuts off by itself, then it has to be started in safe mode and restored to the last known good point; when it's on the fritz if you start it up in regular mode you won't have time to do the restore before it shuts off again. Microsoft has been less than helpful, telling me "it shouldn't do that..." Yeah, I got that, thanks). I ordered one from Ebay and it arrived yesterday, so I set out to use it.
I had no idea that I had so much stuff stored on the laptop, and it won't all transfer (the computer stubbornly insist there isn't enough room on a 32MB flash drive for 17MB worth of video files), but I did get everything else (including lots of stuff I'll never use, but its on the external hard drive now with all the rest).
I then did a fresh install of Windoze Vista, ordering a format of the C drive to do so. I still have my D and E drive partitions, I haven't figured out how to combine them yet, but for the first time in a long time there is plenty of room on the laptop. I finished off my day by reloading all the software that got nuked with the format, including the Acer drivers for the camera.
The camera works when it wants to, but today I did take the lid apart to look at the wiring. I didn't see anything obvious, but it's working now so I'll leave it alone. I'll take Yes for an answer. I was also able to install the Adobe PDF reader that wouldn't install before, so I can read PDFs on the laptop again.
So far so good, I'm happy with the decision. The desktop looks a bit different than it did before so I wonder if I got another version of Vista, but it seems to work, the old product key activated it with no problems and I have been able to find everything I need. It might have something to do with the fact that the Acer management software got nuked at the same time and I didn't have a way to reload it, not that I used it anyway so I don't miss it.
That reminds me though, one of the things I'll have to put on my list of things for my friends to do for me should something tragic happen is to nuke the external hard drive...