Last night when I went to bed, a few minutes before midnight, all was normal on my computer. The background was a lovely beach scene. My email was open and ready to handle all those important communications that come in overnight (mostly ads). All was well with the world.
This morning I got up with plans to accomplish all sorts of things. I only go to work on Tuesdays through Thursdays, so I have four days for reading, writing, shopping, whatever. High on the list for this weekend is judging three long entries for a writing contest and emailing them back to the coordinator (in Australia!) by Monday night. I was halfway through a printed copy of the first one, but the other two were waiting on my computer.
I was not entirely surprised to see a black screen on my computer monitor when I rounded the corner from the kitchen this morning. Happens sometimes, when the monitor goes to sleep. But this time no amount of hitting Enter or jiggling the mouse restored the screen. Nothing there but the cursor.
So I turned the computer off. Had to do it with the on/off button, since I couldn’t see anything on the monitor. When I turned it back on, I saw the Hewlett Packard welcome screen, so I knew my lovely big HD monitor hadn’t died (actually, the cursor proved that). But that’s all I saw, and then it disappeared, leaving me with the black screen again.
So I hit the button again and tried starting the computer in Safe Mode, not entirely sure what to do when I got there. That gave me reassurance that the monitor was working properly, but it didn’t get me into Windows. I tried running the memory check. Took forever, and found no problems.
So the next time I restarted the computer I hit the system recovery key, which took me to a section of the HP help software I’d never visited before. From there I could try System Restore, which also told me that there had been an update from Microsoft during the night. Apparently that update didn’t work, and as far as I can tell, the non-working update was the source of all my problems.
Alas, System Restore didn’t help, either. I tried that twice, using the two latest restore points. Back to the Help Screen. System Recovery was definitely a last resort, since it would wipe out my files and any programs installed since the original set up. The computer is almost five years old. Although I recently ran a USB drive back up of my documents, and I have an external hard drive back up system in place (although I’ve never had cause to restore anything from it), restoring the whole system would be one heck of a job.
Start Up Repair looked promising, so I tried that next. By this time I was looking up computer repair services in my local phone book (see, phone books still have their uses!). By the time Start Up Repair had run twice without success, I had called one of the numbers and gotten a promise of a call back when the phone person found a technician available. I set Start Up Repair running again and retired to the couch with the morning newspaper (which I much prefer to the on line version).
When the phone rang a few minutes later, it was a political call, from a real live person, and I’m afraid she got a rather short-tempered response from me (even though she was with the party I plan to vote for). The Start Up Repair program continued to run, the little green bar going back and forth, restarting the computer once or twice, while I worried about all the things that might not be on my recent back up. How long would it take to reconstruct all the information in my password logger? At least my email, including those unjudged contest entries, was in the cloud. If I had to, I could go into work (thirty miles away) and use the computer there.
By the time an hour and a half had gone by, I was back at the phone books. The Start Up Repair program was still running, and I was seriously considering hitting cancel, thinking it was caught in some sort of circular trap, when suddenly I heard the familiar sound of Windows starting up. My beach scene was back. My calendar program appeared. I called the computer service to cancel.
I still haven’t had breakfast, but I’ve printed out those two contest entries trapped in my computer. I’ve made back ups (both digital and printed) of my password program. I’ve run yet another USB drive back up. The attempts at System Restore said no changes had been made, but I had to reinstall Adobe Reader and the icon for Word has mysteriously changed. But my current work in Scrivener is intact and nothing else seems to have been affected.
I have not rebooted the computer or attempted to reinstall those pesky Microsoft updates. I’m not going to do either one until I’m forced to. I’m just glad to have my digital life back.
And I’m wondering if it’s time to get a wireless router and a back up laptop.