Caps are definitely, definitely needed for this subject. Let me explain.

Today, I go to work, get through my routine and go about my business. I noticed that my desktop had been a bit… slow. So, after I finished the routine, I restarted and then launched all of my programs that I use and it was… really slow. So, I cut power to it and booted and… I get a message saying that Windows was unable to boot (“We apologize for the inconvenience, but Windows did not start successfully.”) Uh… great. I’m fairly comfortable at this point because I have a good backup system and everything inside of My Documents (99% of the important stuff) is backed up every night. So, it’s not catastrophic or anything. I restart a few times, try a few different things… nothing changes.

I send a note to my man Jared, who tells me about various options and helps me get through them. After trying all the normal booting stuff, safe mode, etc. etc. and getting no where (it would start to load Windows – the Windows XP screen would come up – but it would always loop back to that first black page saying it couldn’t load). I try running system recovery – no go. I try using a Windows XP disc to boot from – nothing. I try to mount the drive onto another computer – the drive appears, in two partitions (as it normally is – one for the OS, one for my files). But, I can’t access the partition with my files.

So, I got to thinking about what I would lose. I’d lose the files on my desktop (I didn’t realize how much this would have hurt until later… the phpBBHacks.com Awards Top 10 Hack Authors and Top 5 Template/Style Authors results were on my desktop, I’ve put a ton of research into them), which included some things I’d rather not have lost. But, I figured I could live with it. I would lose my e-mails that came after midnight last night, which again, I hate losing e-mails, but I’d live. I would have to e-mail people to get them to send me some in again. My FTP logins in CuteFTP would be lost, but I could just enter them again – no biggie. And then I realized – MY WINAMP PLAYLIST! AAARRGGHHH NOOOOOOOOO! The playlist that I’ve been working on since March. I’m finally about 80% done (I think) and I’m getting sick of listening to music I don’t like in order to get it done – listening to music is like a job when I have to do that. But, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel! But, it wasn’t part of my backup system (it will be when I get the new PC… trust me), so… that was a shot to the gut.

So, in consideration of all of this, Jared suggests SpinRite. I paid the $80 (money well spent) and downloaded it, placed the ISO on a CD and put my hard drive back in my PC and gave it a go. It had to run for about 6 hours or so – spending like 4 hours on one section before deeming it unrecoverable. It finished and I rebooted and – oh my gosh – the computer booted! I was able to get everything. Every single thing. It took the entire day pretty much – this whole day is a wash – but, it ended very, very well. Plus, I was able to make a note of all of the programs I have installed that I want to reinstall when my new PC gets here, which is awesome.

Jared literally talked to me for hours (we talked on and off for like 8 hours), walking me through various things patiently. I can’t say how much I appreciated his help. It was such a relief at about 10:00 PM when it booted and then I just finished backing up everything a few minutes ago. And SpinRite – awesome piece of software. It’s also a relief that my backup system worked exactly as it was designed to work. I had all of my files (well, virtually all) and now, with this experience in mind, I will craft the backup system on the new PC to run a little differently, in a more improved fashion (especially with the power that computer will have). Every time that this sort of thing happens, I learn more and I make it better when it happens again – because it will happen again.

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.


Tanner Smith

about 14 years ago

All hail Jared! :P I hope something never happens to me, but I back up stuff regularly to the familiy's 4TB networked drive.



about 14 years ago

Jared is great like that. I pester him when I have coding questions and he never appears annoyed.


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