I’ve had some on again off again computer problems for a little over a week now. Other than family and health issues there is nothing that frustrates me more than computer problems. And I know a decent amount about troubleshooting and fixing so I can’t even imagine how frustrating computer issues are for people who are less technically inclined. (I suppose it’s similar to car trouble – I don’t know how to fix a car but I can frequently pinpoint the cause of the problem. This is an odd quirk of mine as I despise cars and don’t even own one.) Anyway …
But as I’m addicted to my computer – the internet and playing games – and NEED the computer to earn money I don’t really have the patience to deal with the issues. Plus, this computer is only 8 months old. And, no, I can’t call Dell for support as I have my computers custom built.
So … I am running the 64 bit windows 7 on this computer. It took me forever to let go of Windows 98 and it will probably take me a long time to let go of XP. I will not use Vista and am keeping half an eye on Windows 7. But at this point, I would install Linux, which I usually run on a partition and dual boot with Windows, before letting go of XP.
And I’m sure a smarty-pants out there will tell me all my problems will be solved by running a MAC. Well, there are three issues with that. I like to play games, I think Apple products are very overpriced, and they are too proprietary. How do I open up the machine and swap out parts and do things the way I like? A pc is like driving a stick-shift (does anyone know how to drive a stick anymore) and a MAC is like an automatic. At least that’s the way I see it.
When I would boot my computer it would hang between the Windows XP screen and the login screen. It would just hang and hang and hang. After restarting like 5 times I finally booted into safe mode, did nothing, and when I restarted, the machine came up. I decided to run virus and spyware scans, defrag and run error checking. I found a virus (don’t get me started on how THAT happened as I am vigilant about spyware and viruses) did all the maintenance and the computer started booting fine. Well, for a couple of days.
Then it happened again. I could restart the computer but if the computer was off for any length of time, and I usually turn it off when I’m at work, it would hang at the login screen. I assumed that it was a Windows problem because I wasn’t getting any beeps or indications of faulty hardware.
I decided to run a repair with the Windows CD. This will reinstall Windows files but won’t mess with your personal files or settings. But, if you can access your computer, do a backup first. As I have mentioned before I backup certain directories with all of my important files and my program settings – basically My Documents and Application Data. A downside of repair is that you still need to do a Windows Update to get Windows back to the way it was.
The repair seemed to work. The computer was fine for about three days – I did realize after the fact that the computer was on the entire three days so I wasn’t quite correct in my logic of it being fixed.
After being off all day the computer again hung before the login screen. I decided to reformat. I didn’t want to because it takes a long time and I have to reinstall everything. I convinced myself that it would be a good thing because after the reformat the computer would be clean and speedy. I also decided I would start with a clean Firefox profile and only import my bookmarks. I’ve been copying over the same profile for years and it was just bogging Firefox down.
After reformatting, everything seemed fine when suddenly my second hard drive disappeared from the file manager and I couldn’t get Windows to recognize it. It then occurred to me that maybe the second hard drive was the problem. It isn’t bootable but maybe Windows was hanging when trying to read it. (Now I don’t know this for sure but have found forum threads describing similar problems – if anyone out there wants to tell me my logic is wrong, please do so and tell me why.)
I removed the second hard drive but Windows still wasn’t happy. It was slow and Explorer kept crashing – definitely not something that should happen on a fresh install.
Fortunately, I hadn’t reinstalled everything yet so I decided to reformat again without the possible bad secondary hard drive installed. So far, everything seems to be better but I’ve only had the computer off for 2.5 hours since doing this – not all day. Since I’ve been sick and am really behind in my work because of the computer I’m going to leave it on for now. Great solution, huh?
Since I hadn’t already had enough fun I also decided to get my previous computer running – that way I would have a backup if this one crapped out again. Of course, I had pillaged the parts and and had to go through my various geek boxes to find all the missing pieces. I only had one hard drive, however, that was suitable to run in that machine – the one that I thought was the cause of all the problems.
I got the machine up and running but guess what, it kept hanging at the Windows XP screen during the install. This helps me believe that my theory about the hard drive being bad is correct. It still works but it is corrupt or dying. Kind of surprising because I believe that hard drive is only a little over a year old. (I’ve not had good luck with Western Digital). So, I’ve ordered an affordable hard drive and will install it in the 2nd machine. If Windows loads fine than I will feel confident that the hard drive was the problem. I will also dare to turn this machine off since I will have a spare. And remember, I backup every day so transferring files to it won’t be a huge deal.
But I’ve kind of had it. It seems the more advanced computers get the faster parts die or problems occur. I know with faster processors that heating can be an issue but memory goes, fans break, and hard drives die faster. I still have an 11 year old Pentium 266 with Windows 98 that runs fine. The only part that’s been replaced is the cd-rom. I’m tempted to pull that out, put Linux on it and be done with all this foolishness. (And, yes, I have old computers and parts in this house. They are well organized and are in a closet. And, no, I don’t have every one that I’ve owned.)
I’ve also been thinking about buying a laptop. Well, I think about it a lot but finally seriously. I really need the mobility. I just have kept a desktop because I like to play games and gaming laptops can be pricey. But the thing is, I can’t pull out and change the parts on a laptop like I did on these machines. While it gives me freedom of movement it takes away my freedom of self-repair.
If you’re still with me here, thanks. I know it’s a long article. This is just what I’ve been doing while being sick instead of actually earning money. Yesterday someone mentioned that they hadn’t seen me around the blog or Twitter much lately. Well, now you know why. Do I know how to have fun or what?
I guess the bright side is that my computer doesn’t look like the one in the photo at the top of the article.
photo credit: pyroclastichawk