Blind panic

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


22 responses to “Blind panic

  1. Oh, Nicky!!!! Yikes. So glad you were able to restore, and get reconnected.

    My old laptop had been sending smoke signals about its expected demise, and I experienced many of the same feelings as you when it started throwing its toys out of the pram (startup failures, and a fan trying to take off!) Apart from anything else, I need email etc to be in contact with my co-author! I caved and bought a new laptop, just to be safe. The old one was missing 2 keys, including the comma, so I’d been using a plug-in keyboard – I didn’t feel quite so bad about upgrading, then! I expect yours has taken quite a hammering over the last xx months/years since you bought it??

    I think all you can do is to prepare, to be as ready as you can be for if/when it turns up its toes. (Maybe this little tantrum will be its last now that the printer has been ejected!) The timing sucks, doesn’t it?! I say do whatever you have to do to remain calm and confident in your tech so that you can enjoy your launch of Sophie’s Turn. 🙂

    • I am ready. I really am. I think! I live in fear that the backed up files won’t work on a new computer but I have everything I need. I’m with you on the fan, I think. My good, it’s making terrible noises right now–I fear there was more going on than just the printer. Right now, it sounds like a hairdryer on full swing (and emits hot air like one too). Not good. I’ll keep working and backing up and making contingency plans. This is when moving to a small village becomes a big problem…. Sob. x Thanks for your thoughts, Jo, and send this d”d thing some positive vibes!! xx

      • Positive vibes on the way! It sounds like my old one did, which does still work when I occasionally switch it on . . .
        Very best of luck with contingency plans xxx

      • The very nice lady who sold me a new printer today (one that prints on A3… and allegedly manages more than twenty pages at a time!!) also listened to my woes and she reckons there should be plenty of life in the computer (please, IT god, are you listening) but she recommended having it health-checked. You know, cleaned up hardware and software vice, like an MOT for computers. From where I’m sitting, that sounds like a brilliant idea so dear laptop, hang in there until I can book you in for your checkup. Glad to hear yours is still working, of sorts. That’s good news….

  2. What a nightmare! You’ve just given me one more thing to worry about at night… although I do try to back up regularly. But you just know something is still going to slip through the net. And someone told me that memory sticks can fail too, so you have to end up backing up just everywhere, several times over.
    Anyway, glad it was resolved – hopefully permanently!

    • Thanks for your thoughts and sorry to make your paranoid. I’m not sure about the permanently, the thing isn’t sounding too good at the mo. It’s still in warranty except now that we’ve moved, it’s much harder to get to the shop… SIGH! Take care and speak soon. xx

  3. Glad it’s sorted, but I’d still get it checked out to be on the safe side. I back my computer up to an external hard disk every Sunday. at least that way I wouldn’t lose too much if the worst happened.

    • Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by. Oh, I am backing up every file I create at the moment, every day before I shut down. I don’t have much faith in this machine. It’s added an ominous clunking noise to its repertoire so I’m not sure it was JUST the printer. sigh. x

  4. I know exactly how it feels! I had left the printer plugged in to the tower during a storm, and even though the computer was shut off, there was apparently power going to it through the printer when the power surged and went out, which gave me the dreaded blue screen problems afterwards. So glad you got your problem resolved, Nicky.

    • OMG, Anneli, that’s terrifying! I rarely have the printer connected anyway, this being a laptop, but that’s awful that that can happen. Right, where’s that surge protector extension lead I had before the move… My goodness, technology is a fraught thing sometimes. Thanks for visiting and for your positive thoughts. Hope all is well on the IT front with you at the moment. xx

  5. Nicky, that filled me with horror! I’m so glad you were able to get it running again. I’ve had a few experiences like this, and I know exactly what you mean. *Shudder*

    • Horror and shudder are two totally appropriate words. We’re thinking a long-term workaround strategy here because to have a computer fixed can take anything from a day to three weeks, or so I’ve been told today!! Thanks for visiting, Carrie!

  6. My laptop sounded like that too Nicky – OH took it apart and the fluff/dust that had collected round the fan was amazing. Once removed it’s running smoothly again. Strangely enough I posted on my FB status about my mishap last night – spilt beer on the keyboard. Again OH came to rescue but still having problems with space bar and shift key. Am off to buy a USB keyboard tomorrow. I must backup too! Thanks for the timely reminder and I hope you don’t lose any data/info/photos x

    • Ah, I was told today that dust and debris around the fan was the likely culprit for the noise. Apparently laptop needs a sort of MOT from time to time. Can you send your OH over to open it up and take the dust out?? xxx Loveya! And good luck with the keyboard and backups. 🙂

  7. Eeek! That is scary! I guess spitting out your final proof did you little printer in. Glad it’s all working so far. Just keep backing it up. Anyway…I’m off to back up mine now. :o/

    • Happy backing up! Latest verdict from the support desk that the harddisk is in fact on the way out. I can keep using it until it blows up to try and get through the launch period, but even if it survives the next four weeks or so, I’ll have to give it in to have it fixed. Gulp. xx

  8. Well fingers crossed and don’t go spilling beer on the keyboard (Shaz! what WERE you thinking?). I back up using six memory sticks and a portable hard-drive. Having lost data in the past I’m now very wary indeed! Good luck Nicky!!!

    • SIX! Wow! That’s… an amazing amount of backups. I’m currently running at three separate DVDs. So far, so good… and I never drink beer next to the laptop, only tea. So’s that I can melt the keyboard as well as drown it, I guess, haw haw haw!

  9. Must go out today and get external hard drive for proper backups and a new screen, my screen keeps going brighter every so often. Draft novels have been emailed to 2 mates as ultimate back-up but need to back up everything today! I have an administrator who’s a life saver and understands computers but’s not done a check up in a while, thanks for the reminder. Sending positive vibes to your lovely computer and what will be a fab book launch. xx

    • Thanks, Lynne, and good luck with your upgrades/fixes and backups. Isn’t it amazing how a timely reminder gets us all going? Thanks for your positive thoughts and vibes! xx

  10. It felt seven shades of wrong, hitting ‘like’ on your post of trauma! Glad it was okay ( touches wood, no I really did just touch wood! Have a dresser next to my bed)

    I had a horrible time off it with technology back in April, I lost weeks of edits of Gunshot Glitter, back when not only did my laptop die but my back up got corrupted. My PC master copy back up was out of date, and yes I did briefly consider flinging myself of the balcony, but it could have been much, much worse!!
    3 laptops later, we’re okay again, but after reading your post, I just backed up my copy of GG, again. You can never have too many back ups.. x x

    • D’you know, I remember you having some IT nightmares earlier in the year. Was thinking of you when I got that dreaded screen. So far, so good–we’re hanging in and we’ve got a contingency plan. Opinion now widely diverging on whether it’s the software (and therefore OK for time being as evidently fixed and recovered) or the hard disk going (and therefore a demise waiting to happen). Am backing up every which way and hoping for the best. Thanks for visiting! Can’t wait to host you here tomorrow… Go go Gunshot Glitter (4G!!) xx

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