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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Disk is not formatted

I'm doing pretty well for myself right now. I have not sworn as much as usual, let out any cries of anguish, or in fact thrown my monitor through the window. It's a bit surprising, actually, how calm I manage to be in these situations. Each time something happens I think that the next time will be the straw that finally breaks the camel's backyou know, the time where I finally release that tightly bound ball of rage insidebut so far I've greeted each with mostly silent, despairing acceptance.

If you haven't caught on yet, I'm talking about computer trouble. Yes, more computer trouble, as if I hadn't had enough yet. Yesterday I was making an avi recording of the Super Metroid walkthrough I talked about a couple posts back and everything was going smoothly until about half way through when the computer froze for a few seconds and then Windows crashed. And then it gave me a disk read error upon trying to reboot.

To make a long story short, I mucked around in the recovery console, looked up information on the blue screen error message I got, and eventually found that my WINNT folder was no longer there. In fact, about the only thing that was still visible on my C drive was the Documents and Settings folder, oddly enough. Presumably something in the file system had gotten screwed upagainmaking the system unable to find Windows when trying to boot up.

I went to bed at that point, the knowledge that I'd have to reinstall Windows when I got up putting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Ironically, I slept incredibly well and was even cheerful when I awoke, right up to the point where I remembered the state that my computer was in. That kind of killed all feelings of happiness on the spot.

I resigned myself to the task of reinstalling Windows, as I've done far too many times before, and began doing so. Everything was going smoothly (does this line sound familiar? it should) until I tried to install service pack 4. "d:\ntldr is being used by another program," it said in an error, telling me to close any programs using it. Only after logging out of Windows and back in again, and trying once more to install SP4, did I notice the real significance of that error: Windows was installed on C drive, not D drive; it should've read, "c:\ntldr". There should not have ever been an ntldr file on D drive, but I looked and there it was. Apparently SP4 was trying to install onto D drive or something, despite both Windows and its install file being located on C drive. I have no idea why, but obviously that wasn't going to work.

I rebooted the PC, thinking I would reformat C drive and re-install Windows once more (just that in itself doesn't take very long) if need be. Just to make sure, I let it try to boot up Windows and it unsurprisingly failed. Installing a service pack replaces critical operating system files, and if the new ones are being put on the wrong partition it's not going to work. Not to mention the installation failed part way through.

This was still simply an inconvenience and nothing too horrendous, though. As I've said before, I've had to re-install Windows plenty of times and I've gotten pretty good at getting things back up to speed within a day. But of course it wouldn't be that easy.

Popping the Windows 2000 install CD back into my disc drive, I started going through the process again. But this time it didn't even try to fool me by going smoothly for a while, it just screwed me right from the start. It turned out that whatever SP4 did to my D drive partition, it damaged the file system in the process and the setup program wouldn't let me install Windows, not even on a newly created C drive partition, without reformatting D drive. And that would mean losing all of my files yet again.

I kind of figured it was pointless, as it usually is, but I couldn't let that happen without a fight. The thought of losing all of my files for the second time in only a few months, not long after I'd finally gotten everything back again, was almost enough to cause that little ball of pent up rage to explode. Almost, but I held onto a glimmer of hope.

A plan hatched in my mind. A plan to transplant both my hard drive and DVD burner into my mom's PC and see if I could salvage files and burn them onto DVDs before reformatting. However, my mom's desktop PC is out in an unheated room partitioned off from the garage, it was half past midnight, and I did not feel like sitting in the cold of night while hooking up my drives and possibly burning DVDs. The plan would wait until morning and in the mean time I spent about five hours reading a Discworld book I had borrowed from my brother.

Reading was a good choice, I have to say. Amidst everything else, the book (Going Postal) managed to cheer me up and make me laugh. I'm pretty good at pushing aside unwanted thoughts and instead focusing on the activity at hand but the book made it a lot easier.

Finally the moment of truth arrived, after much swearing at the idiotic case design of my mom's PC (that was the most trouble I've ever had in hooking up a CD or DVD drive and a hard drive), where I'd get to see if any files were salvageable. Now, I had even thought to myself as I was hooking up the drives that all this effort was most likely futile. Still, the hope! The hope that maybe they would be drove me on. But of course they weren't and Windows simply told me that neither C nor D drive were formatted and asked, in what I imagined for some reason to be an overly cheery voice even though it was text, if I wanted to format them.

Funnily enough (no, not ironicallyeven though many people misuse it this way, it would not be the proper word in this situation), that very subject of hope driving people to do things they know are most likely futile was featured quite prominently in Going Postal. I'm going to say the fact that I didn't notice the parallel to my own situation until just now is a testament to how well the book distracted me rather than me being unobservant.

So now I'm sitting here, in silent, despairing acceptance that I will have to reinstall and redownload everything yet again, having nearly finished another rant about my ongoing computer troubles. I don't write these expecting to be cheered up or to be pitied, though. I just didn't want to take my DVD drive and hard drive back out of my mom's PC right away without a break first, so I guess I'm writing this out of laziness.

At least I can be thankful that I made sure to finish my Final Fantasy IV Advance videos before starting work on the Super Metroid walkthrough. If I had lost my save files right before the end there's no way I would've played through FFIVA again to finish the videos, yet leaving the project unfinished would've annoyed me to no end.

I do plan on replaying Super Metroid for another walkthrough once I order parts and put together a new PC though. That I can do in a scant three hours. And if the same thing happens to my new PC (I plan on buying a new hard drive now as well) while recording an avi of the walkthrough, I might actually throw my monitor through the window this time.

The window still needs replacing, by the way. Every time a big storm comes through, as they've been doing the past few days, I'm afraid it's going to finally shatter.

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