Our family computer sits in a corner just off our kitchen. It is used by all of us. It’s used by my wife for organizing photos, emailing and doing the odd job for work. It’s used by both my teenage daughters for downloading music (legally, as far as I’m aware), homework, playing the odd game and keeping up with Facebook. I don’t use it that much, as I have my own laptop, but occasionally I’ll use it to search for something. It’s a Window’s Vista box (save your comments for later) and we also used the Windows Media Center functionality as our own personal PVR. Gradually, over time, the computer became a sluggish monster. My wife’s email preferences kept disappearing. Loading a website became an exercise in patience. Media Center packed it in and shut down. Just sitting down at the keyboard was enough to launch a never ending series of cryptic error messages and alerts. This weekend, with our immediate future plans all moving indoors, I decided it was time to wrestle the beast to the ground.
Cleaning up a computer is an incremental exercise in frustration. You start by doing a few scans: spyware, viruses, clean up the registry. Nothing obvious came up and the computer was as dysfunctional as when I started. Perhaps Windows 7 would magically clean up the mess, but the official release date was still a few days away, not to mention the fact that I was somewhat reluctant to give Microsoft more money to free myself from the misery of their last operating system. I also believed, deep in my heart, that it was naive to expect all my problems to magically disappear. I decided to systematically clean up the box.
After doing the routine maintenance, I dug out my original OS disc and did a clean install, figuring I’d rebuild the box from the ground up. That way, if I decide to upgrade to Windows 7 (I’ve heard good things, by the way) I’d be starting from a reasonably healthy foundation. Of course, a clean install removes all drivers and programs. I started on Saturday. Last night (Tuesday) I finally reinstalled the basics we need and transferred all the back up files back to their rightful places. Our PC was running like a dream..streamlined, crisp and quieter (I also popped the cover and blew out 3 years of accumulated dust). Last night, I rose from the seat I had been glued to for the better part of 20 hours over the past 4 days and admired my handiwork. My wife walked by and paused to see what I was looking at. From this point, I’ll just let the conversation play out:
What are you looking at?
The computer. Look at how it’s running…
What do you mean?
Look..it’s a lot faster…
I reinstalled the system.
Is that what you were doing for the last 4 days?
Yes..well..that and reloading all the drivers and software.
Are my photos still there?
Yup, I backed them all up and restored them. They’re all sorted out.
That’s what she said, but I know what she was actually thinking.
20 hours and 4 days…I wonder what difference that would have made in the garage that is so packed with junk that there’s no room left for our cars?