Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Raising yet another computer from the dead

I’ve spent the past couple of days engaged in a variety of acts designed to turn my laptop into a reliable computer again.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that it was freezing up in the middle of use. This is pretty frustrating because the only way to get your beloved machine back is to basically pull the plug, which you can do by unplugging the computer and removing the battery or holding down the power switch until the computer shuts down.

On its next bootup, it complains about being shut down wrong, and you have to go for “Start Windows Normally” and wait a few minutes. It’s a pain in the rear end.

Truth to tell, I was ready to just dump the thing and buy a new laptop, but the thought of spending a few hundred dollars and having to plow through the endless “junkware” on new computers gave me pause. I figured there had to be a few things I could do to save my HP Pavilion laptop from the indignity of the electronic landfill.

My salvation came from the fact that the computer has, on its hard drive, a partition containing the means to make it back into “factory-new” condition software-wise. Basically, it reformats the hard drive, reinstalls Windows Vista and the (aggravating) pitch software HP put on the machine. But you get the machine back.

First, I backed up my data on the laptop’s hard drive to a portable hard drive I have.

Then, on Wednesday, my first day off from work, I set in motion the System Restore. An hour later, the system booted and began pitching all sorts of unneeded products and services, but I was finally able to break out of the ad mode and start working on the laptop.

I made my first mistake almost immediately. I allowed Windows Update to tell me what to do, and in the process guaranteed that my system would be screwed up again. See, there are a couple of updates from Microsoft that are bad with a capital B, and have been known to freeze Windows Vista computers. I allowed a large number of updates to be installed, and then suddenly my laptop got “the freezies” again.

I should have known something was wrong because I tried to install the Service Packs after I installed the updates, and the computer froze a couple of times.

I didn’t learn about the bad updates until later on, while online on my main computer. So I decided I’d have to redo the process with the laptop and avoid those updates. In fact, one guy said the best advice is to simply install the Service Packs, and then the updates that came after the second Service Pack, and avoid the ones listed that were bad.

I had even thought about upgrading to Windows 7, but the price is more than $100. If I could get the functionality I needed without spending any money, so much the better.

It all went very smoothly, and now I have the New York Times Reader and Kindle reader functioning, as well as Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 7. Obviously, installing everything else will take some time, but it’s good to have my laptop back.

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October 14, 2011 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , , , ,

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