My computer crashed last Sunday. I was trying to install the new Windows 7. But it got caught in an endless loop of rebooting. I couldn't even get a desktop. I spent the entire day Monday trying to get the issue settled with the help of someone from Microsoft spending four hours on the phone with me. The problem was that she didn't speak any known language. And the closest she came to English was repeating back to me the things I told her I tried, telling me that those were the things I needed to do. Finally she said she would have to put me on hold for ten minutes, would that be okay? I was tired of yelling at her that what she was asking me to do I had done already multiple times, both on my own and when she told me to do them, so I said yes put me on hold. She said she had to look for something . I hoped it was a translator. After five minutes, the phone disconnected. I supposed she had found what she was looking for and had no more reason to talk with me. Anyway, I didn't call back. I just spent the rest of the day doing those same things over again.
Then on Tuesday I got on my laptop and sent out emails to all my clients who had sent me stuff that I was supposed to be working on but which was locked as email attachments inside my failed office computer. Sometime close to noon a Microsoft guy supposedly in Cincinnati called me, said he knew about my problem (scary, no?), and he could help me solve it. After going back over what the problem was, he said the installation had failed and the computer was being tugged at by two operating systems, neither one of which could get control of it. "Oh," I said, "you speak English."
The man then asked if there were any important files on my computer. I asked him to repeat the question, and after I told him yes, he told me I needed to start Windows from the installation disk and do a "custom install."
I told him when I tried that before I got a warning saying it would wipe out everything on my computer -- all my writing, all my contracts, all my client lists, all my billing records and tax files. "Is that my only option?"
"Yes it is," he said. "But it won't wipe out your files. You'll just have to reinstall all your programs."
"All of them? It will take all of them?"
"Yes. But you just have to put the disks back in and reinstall them."
I didn't see any point in telling them that at least half of all the thousands of programs on my computer were downloaded, I had no disks for them, and I had no idea where the product keys for most of them were. Probably in a series of email archives. What would be the point? This was my only option.
So he talked me through the steps of getting the installation going. Once it was running, he said it would take a while and would it be all right for him to call me back in 45 minutes?
What the hell. "Sure," I said. "That will be fine."
The installation program crashed once. But I restarted it, and just as the second run was finishing up, the man in Cincinnati called me back and asked about the status.
When the computer was running and I had a desktop, he asked if he could take control of my computer and show me where my files were. "Okay," I said. But when he tried to locate them, they weren't in the folder where they were supposed to be. He did a search on a file extension and couldn't find anything. Then he asked for the name of a file. I gave him one and he searched for it. Then he found it, found the location of the folder it was in and added it to my "library." He then released control of my computer and said, "So now you see where they are?"
It's too late to make a long story short. But I can make it less long than it would be. I didn't see where they were, but I said yes, thanked him, and spent the rest of Tuesday reinstalling some programs and searching for my files. I got Outlook working, but couldn't find my email files to pull into it. I did find a folder that had program files in it. Some of them worked and some of them didn't. I went to bed that night thinking I was never going to work again.
Wednesday I kept looking for files. I started to figure out where they were. Still didn't have my email. Couldn't make my FileMaker database work. But I did feel I was making some progress.
Thursday I kept stabbing at the computer but also managed to get some of the work done that was scheduled for this past week. And by the end of the day Friday, I had managed to restore my database program, complete this past week's assignments, and even find my email files.
Now it's Halloween, but I'm not scared.