From 8:30 AM until 7:30 PM on Saturday, I listened to about 200 songs on my iPod and played about 50 games of spider solitaire. You see, I had the pleasure of reformatting my hard drive and reinstalling all of my favorite applications. I like to reformat my hard drive every couple of years. It’s been over three years since I’ve done it and it’s been on my to do list for at least six months. I fully intended to put if off for yet another weekend, but it was not to be.
It all started when I wanted to install my favorite zip program, JustZipIt. I’ve been unable to install it on my laptop for some time, but Friday night I was determined to figure it out. When I click the installer, nothing happens. Oh maybe there’s a little screen flicker, or maybe that’s just my imagination. I decided that something was interfering and that safe mode would be the answer.
I opened msconfig and clicked the option button for Diagnostic Startup. I don’t know what Diagnostic Startup is even now, but I assumed it was almost-but-not-quite safe mode. I assumed it wouldn’t load many of the services on start up and that would be a good place to start. JustZipIt still would not install even in Diagnostic Startup mode. Oh well, back to Selective Startup and I’ll give up yet again. But wait.
On reboot, I was still in Diagnostic Mode. Reboot after reboot, I couldn’t get back to Selective Startup or even Normal Startup. Msconfig didn’t say I was still in Diagnostic, but there was some tell-tale signs of a problem. Instead of a green, rounded-corner Start menu icon, I get a grey squared-corner one. All but a few of my services did not start and I wasn’t able to start them manually. No Internet, printers, USB devices, external monitor, or anything else you might associate with modern computing. Google reported that some other people have had this problem and I finally found a “solution”: repair windows. Except that windows complained that it couldn’t find a whole bunch of files that ended in .dl_. Back to Google.
Someone suggested that if the file on your hard drive is newer, it says it can’t find it, so go ahead and skip all those warnings. I did and finally got back to what looked like a Windows XP screen. My most current backup was six days old. That’s not bad, until I think about recreating six days, then I didn’t like it so much. All my email was out on gmail, but how was I going to re-download it all to Outlook? I don’t know and I didn’t want to find out. So I was back to a place where my external hard drives were being recognized and I could backup.
My six day old backup contained MyDocuments and my pst file. There are a few more conveniences that I thought I’d need. I have some folders set up in such a way that it mimics my clients’ setups and I didn’t want to recreate those, so I backed them up too. I also backed up some installation files so I wouldn’t have to download everything again – like SnagIt. There’s some value to going and getting the newest version, but not always. That last backup before I reformat a hard drive creates a lot of anxiety. I just know there’s something I’m going to forget.
Reformat. Load Windows. Reload drivers. Update Windows. Seven words that take a long time.
Then I started installing applications. Before the format, I ran Belarc Advisor to get a nice list of programs on my computer. I knew I wouldn’t be reinstalling all of them. That’s the benefit of the reformat – getting rid of the crap. Here’s what I did install.
Office 2007 Ultimate
JustZipIt (yes, it worked)
Office prior to 2003 is dead to me now. I used to have everything from 97 to 2007, but no more. On my list to install (just not in a hurry):
Copernic Desktop Search (unless I can find a better one)
Visual Studio 6.0
Visual Studio (whatever the latest is – I want to learn C# someday)
Then I had to install Firefox plugins
And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for: The stuff I forgot to back up and is lost forever:
Passwords stored in Firefox
MZTools Code Templates (in an ini file, I now know)
Well, it’s good to cross that task off the list. The computer is running great and it only cost me a day. New to my to do list: Find an Amazon S3 client and do daily backups.