On the verge of tears

Jul 13, 2004

The good news first: my 4-year-old computer (first put together by the now-defunct Pony Computers in suburban Cleveland) is running faster than ever.

The bad news: Windows XP got corrupted yesterday—perhaps by an email virus, but most likely by a registry editing program I was trying—and I had to reinstall Windows 98se and then XP Home. Luckily, I have 95 percent of my documents and information, but I did lose numerous programs and all of my settings. I’ve been good about backing up some things, such as photos and Word documents, but I neglected the system restore settings that could have put me right. Come to think of it, I might have a backup or two of those, but then I’d be back to my overloaded, slow system.

So, the tradeoff for a fast computer is a week of aw-shucks frustration as I try to rebuild the most important tools of my online life.

One challenge will be finding the list of user accounts and passwords I printed just before the big move last month. Where in all these boxes that sheet is, I cannot tell. I’ve followed the security experts perhaps too well – I must have a hundred different passwords in use, for my dozen e-mail accounts, all my web server accounts, dozens of online usernames. Most I’ll be able to reset, but some will be lost to the depths of my memory.

Moral of the story: backup your computer system now. And be thorough. And store the backup where you can find it.

Anton Zuiker

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