Thursday, February 7, 2013

Time also flies when you are not having fun!

Thursday, 7th February 2013: It is a common expression that “time flies when you are having fun”. Well as I sit here thinking what happened to January I can tell you that time flies when you aren’t having fun as well.  I can't believe how much time I have spent trying to fix my Desktop computer. So my plans for another Got it Thursday will have to wait until next week (another cycling related Christmas present).

The trouble is that whilst it was working I tended to leave it alone – although I maintain back ups. The trouble is you don’t check things like can it still do a system restore and why do I occasionally get BSODs when loading Microsoft updates.

So to cut a long story short, I decided that my next course of action was to do a repair-install of Windows 7. If that failed then the next step was to to a clean install and re-load all my programs and stuff. My general practise has been to try to minimise the programs I run on my computer, in particular the paid ones. The good thing about buying CDs when paying for software is that generally you have all you need to re-install. The trouble comes when you have either paid for and downloaded a program, or even worse downloaded and paid for an upgrade. Some Software vendors allow you to maintain an account on the web and re-load from there, but not all.

I know McAfee does because I have been using it extensively just recently as I have found that a first step in sorting my computer is to remove the Anti-Virus Software.

The first step was to get my computer running stably in normal mode. Which is a requirement for an “upgrade-repair”. Whilst safe mode is useful it is pretty restrictive and you can’t do much of the nitty-gritty system stuff you need to. For me the first steps are to g into Safe Mode and remove the McAfee AVS and then run McAfee’s program to really try and nuke their software of the machine.  Unusually both steps worked without any issues.

I then re-started in Normal mode – so far so good , so I created a System Image on a spare large USB disk. After a relatively short chunk of time – 30m – 60m I got a BSOD. Arghhhh.

I had forgotten to run a  Windows Startup repair from DVD. It takes ages, reports that it can’t fix the problems and will have to report back to base (Microsoft) but does seem to help restore some stability in my particular case.

Then I re-booted into Normal mode, with bated breath. I probably ought to mention that I have removed a lot of the crap valuable startup programs that I used to run – so it starts much quicker than it used to. Beware software creep – you’d be amazed how sludgy it makes your computer.

All was well – obviously I didn’t go hunting around on the depths of the internet without AVS – what I did do was hook up a the spare USB drive and started the System image creation again. After an hour I went away, it was still running. Sometime the next day it had completed…  My disk has about 1Tb of data and program stuff on it and the image took about 800Mb. It was re-assuring that the computer had been able to crawl over the disk and make a copy. At least I would have something to go back to if the Windows 7 “upgrade-repair” failed.

With some trepidation I stuck the Windows 7 OS disk into the drive. one challenge was that the DVD was an upgrade license from Vista, the other was that my computer had been updated to Windows 7 SP1.  Apparently I could either download an image and burn a DVD (legit as I have a license) or run my disk in Vista SP2 compatibility mode.

I took the latter approach and started off without checking for compatibility – mainly because I had been running Windows 7 for some time. It took hours (36-48hours), required me to type in my license code three times, downloaded a mountain of updates and still reported a possible Windows 7 compatibility problem with my BC09 Dock on ports COM3 and COM4 (I think these might be on my monitor).

Things that had me worried were how long it took to get settings and then later how long it took to transfer files. At one point it stuck for hours on 29%, so long I went to bed, dreamed about the computer and was mightily relieved to see that it had completed.

The next step was to activate the install, which failed with a .Net error there was some updating to fix that problem and I had to re-activate it. Then I ran into a problem with Updating – it wouldn’t load any updates, instead it reported problems with error 8024402f.  In my case the problem was caused by the security blocking those dodgy Microsoft websites – I had to make them trusted sites. I assume this problem was caused by me updating an SP1 install from a pre-SP1 disk.

I then ran trough a truckload of Updates (~140) which took ages. A handful didn’t load, I was glad I had speed up the re-starts though. (It also took hours). In the middle my 16-port gigabit switch which holds my network together failed – arghhh again. Fortunately I was able to connect my desktop directly to the Broadband router. (I am waiting for its replacement any hour now!).

Then I was offered the SP1 update – er odd – why couldn’t that have been loaded right way??? The info suggested somewhere between 60Mb and 250Mb for that. Several re-starts later and a foolish Fixit run and it is now up to date and running quite fast (after several days).

There are a couple of caveats, the Microsoft Fixit offer means I can only see the last five or so updates when checking. Now that might also be because of the Sp1 update – but life is too short. The other caveat is that I have yet to restart the AVS, I have run a checkpoint. But for the mo I am just typing to see how things work out. My fingers are still crossed as I am more convinced that the problem I had was a software problem and related to the AVS software and possibly the Raid drivers.

The good news is that I did get out on my bike for a ride with camera – here is a teaser. (I managed to stay away from the Filly jokes this time – they may be Mares?)

Horse riders surveying the wetlands of Wicken Fen

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