Windows failed to start. Startup cannot be repaired.
Or words to that effect. It’s Friday evening, 9:10pm. The perfect end to an already fraught day. My computer gives up the ghost.
I stare at the grey screen in dismay. I’ve never seen anything like it. This is the second screen, you see. I previously negotiated the “Windows failed to start, click here to repair” screen. Anxious, but full of hope. Yet 2o minutes later, the result was this. Startup cannot be repaired.
My options? None. There’s just one clickable button, and that’s Finish and shutdown.
I cannot tell you how frightened I felt at that precise moment in time. My precious laptop, my link to the world, my network, my books… everything. Yes, of course I have everything backed up, that wasn’t the source of the anxiety. The source of my blind panic was this: it’s a Friday night. Friday is followed invetibaly by the weekend. Who is going to repair my computer over the weekend? And what am I going to do if this fault is fatal? Or, slightly better scenario, if it isn’t fatal but takes three weeks to repair? I haven’t got three weeks to go spare without a computer. I’ve got a book launch in three weeks, and stacks to do. Without a computer… I feel incapacitated, bereft, robbed, at sea, helpless, powerless. Desperate. (Side question; should one really be that dependent on technology? Should the demise of a humble object cause this level of distress? File that for future reference, I can’t deal with the moral and philosphical implications right now.)
Well, as you can see, all’s well that ends well. I got off lightly in the end. Disregarding the little advice gained from the not-very-helpful computer manufacturer who took my call but couldn’t process my problem as the model was purchased in a different country and therefore not on the system (what? In this day and age? You’ve got to be kidding, right?), OH and I decided to switch the computer back on again and have another go. We watched the startup sequence anxiously, flinching at the appearance of a blue screen (not the blue screen of death… please!), breathing a small sigh of relief at the appearance at a grey DOS screen, and scratching our heads when the familiar Windows failed to start up screen appeared.
This time, we elected to click Repair and restore to a previous configuration. We’d previously been too scared to choose this option as it cannot be undone and there’s knowing just exactly what configuration you go back to (factory settings??). But at that moment in time, it seemed better than nothing at all.
A further twenty minutes later, my desktop gradually appeared with no files missing and only a few settings altered. Emit a cautious ‘hooray’!
HOWEVER. We found the source of the corruption. Windows asked us quite brusquely to disconnect any external devices, specifically a printer, as it had corrupted the startup software and was likely to do so again. (Or words to that effect. I would have taken screenshots for you but that wasn’t possible at the time…)
Lightbulb moment. Sad, old, ancient printer. Which has been ‘hanging’ itself for weeks. Has failed to print, or recognise print cartridges, or chewed the paper, or spewed out sideways print (?). In fact, just before the whole startup-not fiasco happened, the printer was having one of its tantrums. Apparently, it was the tantrum of all tantrums–one that even harmed the laptop. So printer is now destined for the scrapheap.
Meanwhile, the laptop appears to be functioning. I say ‘appears’ because I am still wary. I haven’t been using it over the weekend and I am not yet sure if there’s any damage or corruption that I haven’t seen. I also live in fear of it dying completely. So… back to blind panic, in moderation.
If, my friends, I suddenly and quite abruptly, completely without warning, disappear from the scene, you’ll know now what happened. You’ll assume that the laptop has given up the ghost and that I’ll be busy finding a solution.
In the meantime, I shall keep writing and working and tweeting and blogging and backing up, backing up, backing up, backing up, backing up…
If you have any insights into this kind of eventuality, or if you’ve ever lost your laptop or computer mid-project, I’d love to hear about it (if you can bear the memory). XX