Reloading my machine: A Windows XP Drama

I had to reload my machine this past weekend. I was very proud of the fact that it was going on 2.5 years and Windows XP SP2 was still as solid as a rock. You can imagine my disappointment Sunday morning when I discovered my machine hopelessly infected with some kind of combination popupware/virus. Being the IT dork that I am I spent a good hour trying to clean it up, but the damage was done & all I could do was admit it would be safer just to reload.

Sick ComputerThe first step was to backup what I need & do a quick list of what I had installed. While I do keep all of my very important data on a separate RAID drive, I did have several gigs worth of stuff on my desktop (including some Jazz selections Christa and I spent hours selecting with our friend Ryan for the wedding) that while I could get away with losing, would just just be a pain to recompile. Things started to get really complicated at this point and required another cup of coffee to mull over… The virus piece started producing automatic shutdowns every 1 minute, and if I aborted that would render the machine hopelessly useless by killing off all kinds of services requires to make anything happen in windows. Safe mode should offer me a method to get in and move the gigs of files I need to a backup external firewire drive, right? BZZZT!! Safe mode by definition only loads up the minimal subset of drivers needed for Windows to operate. So how the crap was I supposed to back my stuff up? Luckily being an IT dork pays off here as I knew I could run a windows repair without having my desktop deleted, and hopefully fix stuff enough to get in & throw everything on my firewire drive.

By now I’ve managed to fight with Windows for almost 2 hours and have only gotten to the point that I could finally reload the machine. Fast forward another uneventful 2 hours of watching Windows XP install configure and prepare to run, having to track down drivers, update to SP2, and then install the remaining 62 critical security updates. So for 4 hours into this little project and all I’ve got to show for it is a fresh reload of Windows. Super! Add another few hours to reinstall the rest of the required set of apps, all my assorted XP tweaks, and other miscellaneous tricks, and you’ve got a full day of doing not much else but waiting for things to happen on my computer.

So it’s now Wednesday morning, and after tinkering around a bit more last night, I’m pretty confidant that I have everything set the way I want it, and the machine is running spectacular. I just hate that I had to forfeit a few days of use to get it that way…

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