Frustration Fandango: When the Technology Breaks Down

I spent much of yesterday in the frustrating "business" of computer repair and recovery. I suppose that's just part and parcel of using as much technology as we do in our lives... and truthfully, the only thing I can really think of to say at the end of it all is "That's 7 1/2 hours of my life I will never get back..."


I feel a bit about computers the way I feel about cars. Individuals with a bit of knowledge and experience used to be able to repair cars back when they were mostly mechanical and fixing them didn't require you to have an expensive diagnostic computer to read error codes off microchips that may help the car run but also prevent you from executing simple fixes. Computers seem a bit like that, too.

But I digress.

Yesterday morning I sat down to start my day and Windoze 10 no longer recognized me as a user at the log-in screen... and, in fact, didn't seem to think there were any users. "Windows is unable to load user profile."


After various iterations of "have to you turned it off and turned it back on again?" fix attempts, nothing changed.

A bit of poking around some "Windows Nerd" forums pointed to the most likely issue being an incomplete or failed installation of some automatic Windows security update.

So, back to ye good ole backup solution of "start-up from the last known good version of Windows," aka a Restore Point. I figured I might lose a little work, but oh well...

Time passed, but at least it seemed there was progress.

... and, at the end of all the resetting, I was able to log in again. Woo-hoo!



Not so fast...

I was able to log into what seemed to be a brand new install of Windows 10. I mean, it was like virgin snow on my computer...

Blank desktop, all my apps gone, all my data gone, all my files gone, all my shortcuts gone... it was like having a new computer with a factory install and nothing on it.


Enter that sinking feeling of dread at having to go through the laborious process of starting over and rebuilding seven years of work and tweaks from backups.


But then... maybe, just maybe I could have another go from a different restore point.

Nope. The current install offered no restore points going back to 2015! Two options: 8/20/2020 or sometime in March 2015. Everything appeared to have been overwritten.

There's a very useful little utility called "Recuva" that lets you look for files on your hard drive, even if they don't "exist" or have been partially written over, or even formatted over. I used it to find my stuff... which led to more conversations with Microsoft Windoze "installer type" people.

"Have you turned it off and back on again?"

Yes, many times.


"Well, try rebooting it 5-6 times WITHOUT trying to log in. Then shut it down completely. Wait a few minutes, then turn it back on. Then let it SIT for five minutes or more, or till it seems there's no longer any disc activity. THEN try to log in."

Well, wouldn't ya know it? It worked!

Suddenly everything was miraculously back to being the original version of my computer. The "empty spaces" version was... gone(?)

Other than 7 1/2 hours of my day and a few gray hairs, nothing was lost!

And no, I don't know why.

But it could be something similar to very old phone answering machines, where you could call your own number and turn your answering machine on/off by letting the phone ring enough times. Long before digital, kids...

So yeah, that was my Thursday...

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Created at 20200821 12:17 PDT



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