My XP upgrade was working fairly smoothly, as it had been, since first backing up my hard drive then upgrading from Windows 98. Interestingly though, every so often, for example, when exiting from Outlook Express an error message came up but freeze it didn't, and sessions lasted the whole day instead of being broken up by exasperated cursing and pushing the restart button on the case.

The last day everything worked but I remember seeing a message about cleaning up something or other and uninstalling stuff. I dutifully found "Uninstaller" but I got a message saying it would not run under XP. Next I started Fixit2000, which ran without a murmur and painstakingly "cleaned up" the Registry. I admit I was a tiny bit concerned, as nearly all the "safe to delete" things didn't mean anything to me, but I'm very trusting so proceeded to follow instructions. No problems so far and the computer worked properly.. that is until the following morning when I booted it up.

I say "booted up" but that's not strictly true. It wouldn't boot up despite all my gyrations, key pressing and running from the set-up CD. The only sense I got out of the thing was that it wanted to install XP. Not upgrade.. but a clean install. I went off to find my Windows 98 boot up disk and soon discovered that the hard drive was without partitions. Clearly without a partition there could be no formatted hard drive and of course no files, including the required Windows folder needed for any sort of recovery to work.
There were two ways to proceed. One is to use a special tool for reading all the data from the hard drive and place it on a backup drive. This is very long-winded and of course requires a hard drive of around the same capacity as the one in use. I had a spare 40G but not a spare 60G so that path was fraught with practical difficulties.
Wait though. I still had the backup squeezed onto that 40G drive that I'd made before venturing forth on the XP upgrade. Was it still intact? I'd had a couple of computers in last week and one had needed a new 40G drive. As luck would have it, that particular drive must have been too new for the old motherboard… at least it wasn't recognised in the BIOS, so I'd put it back in its box. Could it still carry my backup? I plugged it in and switched on… to be rewarded with a Windows 98 desktop. Just like stepping back in time a week. Everything was present.

This then was the way forward. What was missing? Anything that had arrived during the week would have been lost. Thankfully this represented only a bunch of e-mails and a few bits and pieces.

I fitted the partition-less 60G drive and made two new partitions because this is the way it had been set up before. Several hours later I'd copied the two backup 40G drive partitions to the old 60G.
It took ages. Oddly, it behaved the same way as a week previously when going the other way. After an age it got down to less than 10 seconds to go... 8, 6, 5, then suddenly up flashed "1,561,793 minutes remaining". That's nearly 3 years!!!! However, the best part of half an hour later and down it came to 5 seconds… oops 1,762,877 minutes…why?? This time, like the last time, I just didn't believe it.

Eventually after a crash and a restart all was copied and the number of files and folders on the two drives corresponded exactly…apart from the swap file of course.

Another 82 minutes….. and the same Windows 98 build had been upgraded… for the second time…

What now?. Well I certainly can't wipe the 40G drive until I'm really sure everything's OK. Was it Fixit2000 or was it something else? The first thing I did, just before the upgrade was to uninstall Fixit! If it was that then everything will be OK… if not who knows? What about the message that pops up during the upgrade about, "Windows XP being the most reliable operating system yet"? The jury's out on that.

Another note on my own computer... I decided to re-install Windows XP to a brand new hard drive, then copy all the old information to a folder on the new drive so I could retrieve camera pictures e-mails etc.etc.

Unfortunately I encountered a bug in the installation software. I have a reader for a camera card plugged into a USB slot. This is much more convenient and much much faster than having to connect the camera but inadvertently I'd left a card inserted during the installation procedure and XP thought, fleetingly, that this was the hard drive. After I'd carried out all the necessary work I logged onto the newly installed operating system and discovered to my dismay that my hard drive had been allocated the letter "F". I should have uttered an oath and repeated the exercise with the camera card removed but I couldn't be bothered. Most things work OK except for some installations which assume that "C" is the hard drive. If a camera card happens to be inserted and I don't notice, I end up with a duff installation and rubbish coipied to my card.


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