Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 20, 2008
I like to think I’m a pretty smart guy. Things will be going along pretty well, and every once in awhile I start believing my own hype. Then something happens that brings me back to reality. Not that I’m not still smart, but that I just fall into some stupid patterns that are pretty stupid.
For those who have been regular readers, you know I had computer problems, and even wrote a couple of posts about the Computer Guy who did his piece, but unfortunately couldn’t get it to stop crashing on me. I’ve had these problems for years, but over the last couple of weeks it just started crashing more often, and earlier today, after it crashed the 4th time, I decided it was time for a reinstall of Windows XP. My thought was that it just might be a driver issue, and by reloading Windows I could start from scratch, loading only a few things at a time rather than everything at once, which I did before, to test things. Luckily, I have the laptop, which I’m writing this on, that I can use as my main computer while I do my testing.
I decided that I didn’t want to format my drive, which would have meant that I’d have had to back up my entire hard drive again. I did that before, and that’s a mess, so I knew I was going to just reinstall it over the present operating system. If you’ve never done this, you don’t lose your files, or at least most of your files. Anything in your Program Files, or any folders you created, including folders where you’ve loaded software, will be just fine.
So, as I started the process, I thought everything was going to be fine. Then I remembered that there were some sound files that I’d moved into the Windows media folder that I wanted to keep, so I stopped the process, went back into the computer, and moved those files. Then I started the process again. You get a warning that tells you it’s going to wipe all system files, and of course you have the choice to just do that or format the entire drive. I selected the first option, then went through the entire 39 minute process of reinstalling Windows.
When it was completed and started back up, I wasn’t troubled by what I saw, which was the original Windows XP screen, that cheesy clouds and grass thing, and only the recycle bin. It wasn’t until I opened Firefox that I realized there was a problem. It seems that the one area I totally forgot about was the Documents and Settings folders; uh oh. In XP, many of your data files are run through folders in that area, and that includes Firefox and IE. All were wiped out; I felt like a moron.
The lucky thing, I discovered, was that I had accidentally recopied all my original Firefox files into a file I’d named Mozilla, and I was able to recover all of them within a few minutes; whew, first tragedy averted. Then I opened Thunderbird for my email and realized I’d messed that up also. Unfortunately, I hadn’t backed those up again, so now I was stuck. I can move over some files that I have on the laptop, but I’m missing a month’s worth of email, including some financial files and passwords that I need; that’s started to freak me out.
But I wasn’t done being freaked out. I then realized that the My Documents folder is actually a part of Documents and Settings, even though it’s out on its own. So, that means I inadvertently deleted every single one of my data files, going back over 10 years. Now that was a real moron move. Yet, I figured I had taken care of that, because I had used the Windows utility to back up my files, and they’re sitting on my F drive, which is my external hard drive. That sounds good, right? Well, for some reason, the backup restore utility can’t find those files, which means I have no way of accessing any of them; what the hey?
Anyway, luckily this story isn’t over yet. We’ve been talking about Twitter a lot lately, actually in my last post, so I went to Twitter and just happened to mention in general what I’d done. One of the people following wrote me and mentioned a program that might still be able to recover files that were deleted from my hard drive. He even gave me the name of a program, though right now I’m running a different one than he mentioned because I happened to click on this link that had the name he gave me before he’d sent me the actual link to the program he was talking about. I’m going to save my talking about that one for another post, but I can tell you that, so far, it’s been running 3 hours, and is only about half way through my hard drive, but has found almost 145,000 files thus far. You get to run the program for free to see what it finds, but when it’s time for recovery I’ll have to pay for it. Hey, if it gets back my data files and email files, it’ll be worth it to pay for them.
And then, another act of serendipity occurred when, on a whim, I decided to look for one file in particular, and I found all my data files. Seems Windows must know that some people are morons, and it created a new folder in D&S called Computer, and in Computer are all my data files; yay! That’s a major lifesaver, because that will be the bulk of the files I was probably trying to recover, and therefore if the program allows me so many free files to retrieve I can now forget all about that data files and only concentrate on the email files.
So, as I said, I should know better. I’ve had everything backed up before, and I should have just gone ahead and done it this time. Frustration will make you do some stupid things at times. But also, it shows that you can get some great help by reaching out, even innocently. Let’s hope this all turns out just fine; I’ll know in the morning.