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My computer debacle

Hopefully you’ll learn something from my computer debacle

I consider myself pretty computer savvy. How about you? I can fix
most software problems, install hardware, network, etc. But there’s
always something… (like 2 days
to bring a computer back to 100% after a storm)

This past week while working away like mad the power went out for 30
minutes. Not to worry, I have BATTERY BACKUPS on my computers. So
when the power went out the computers can stay on for about 20
minutes. Plenty of time to go to Start; Turn off computer; turn off.

My computer desk has two monitors side by side, one keyboard and one
mouse. I control two computers with the flip of a switch. But when
the power went out I could turn off my computer but I couldn’t
control the server’s computer for one reason:

I didn’t have the side monitor for the server plugged into the
backup battery. Although the server was on, the monitor was dark and
I couldn’t see what to do. So I “winged” it with the keyboard as best
as possible to shut down the server. If you can’t see the monitor,
you can’t see the start button, can you? I finally unplugged it.

30 minutes later the powers back on but the server doesn’t work
well. I try to go to a previous restore point but it doesn’t do any
better. So I insert the Windows CD and start to “repair” the Windows

Ever seen the “blue screen of death”? The computers boots up, has a
medium blue screen and says “Ha! No can do, call tech support and
give up” (more techno-jargon than that, but you get the idea).

I call Microsoft, get a guy who tries his best but we can’t get past
the “blue screen of death”. He says “Reformat” the hard disk".

That’s not going to happen. If you know computers, the hard disk is
just like the old 45rpm records. The very outer edge, the first
groove has the Windows program on it. Go in about 1/4 inch and the
programs are installed there, go in further and your data is there
closer to the center spindle hole. When Windows doesn’t work, its
just a bad area for the 1st groove or two. Reformatting erases
everything. I was just trying to fix the first “Windows” groove.

So I bought a new hard drive, installed it in the computer and
reinstalled Windows on it. Then re-installed all programs. What
about my data from the old hard disk? My price book, QuickBooks file,
all of My Documents? Well I do backup but everything is in fine shape
on the old hard disk, just the 1st groove is bad. So I put it back
into the computer and told the computer to see it as the “D Drive”, a
second drive.

So when I boot up, I have a new hard disk, new Windows installed and
all programs. To see my data I just click on Open and go to the D
Drive rather than the C Drive. There is everything as it was just
before the power outage.

Don’t let tech support people just reformat your hard drive if
Windows won’t work. Have the bad drive installed as what’s called a
"Slave Drive". Just like hooking up an external hard disk or using
one of those thumb drives.

But there’s more to this story!

Remember my Blue Screen of Death? I was getting that too while
installing a new Windows installation on a new, virgin hard disk,
right out of the box! How could that be?

I have 8 “things” hooked into my server.

3 printers
3 external backup hard disks
and other things

So I unplugged everything but the monitor, keyboard and mouse and
turned the sucker back on. No problem!. Installed everything as it

Started plugging everything back in after installation was complete
and low and behold - Blue Screen of Death!

Turned out it was one of the external hard disks I used for backups.
It was plugged into a battery/surge protector but it obviously got
bitten or zapped when the power turned off and wouldn’t let the
computer boot up. Nothings 100% safe. I tried plugging it into 2
other computers, which had always worked fine. Same blue screen of
death. Trashed it.

So I bought a bigger better external backup hard disk and every
thing’s fine now.

Except for one thing. The Microsoft technician who was helping me
never asked “Got any things plugged into the computer? If yes, unplug
them and lets start over.”

If either of us had thought about it, reinstalling Windows in the
beginning would have worked as I thought it should if it wasn’t for
that bad external hard disk and I could have fixed what ever small
problem there was.

Lesson learned? If you get a really bad computer problem, like its
going to die problem, unplug all non essential things, except for the
monitor, mouse and keyboard. And sometimes they die too.

Don’t forget to backup, backup, backup. (I have 3 copies of my price
book and 3 copies of QuickBooks.)

David Geller