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Working, Fixing Computers...

As a few people may know, I spend some of my time at Columbia as a kind of low-level computer repairman: when someone's computer breaks, I'll do my best to get the data off and fix it. [1] For some reason, there's been a lot of it going around the last three days. I've come across three computers with faults in either the boot sector, the registry or a corrupt file in the C:\Windows directory. It's a fairly easy fix: load up a Windows XP CDROM, use Recovery Console to get to a command prompt, use the magic words "CHKDSK /p" and "CHKDSK /r"[2], and then wait two hours while the hard drive puts itself back together.

But I'm a bit mystified to see three of these at once: it's not a very common fault, at least in my experience. I'd expect to do this once a term, not thrice in three days. Anyone know of a virus going around that causes this kind of damage?

Anyway, that's why you've not heard much from me. My blogging time has been spent on other computers, doing some reading while gradually banishing the Blue Screen of Death.

[1]: Yes, I fix computers for Democrats, too. And I've never yet succumbed to the temptation to put a really big picture of Karl Rove on the desktop, then use the Profile Manager to disable their ability to customize the desktop...

[2]: Please note that this is no advice of any kind, only what I've done to fix things. Whatever you do, PLEASE don't base any attempted fix on what I've written above. Do your own research and find solutions from websites that claim to be competent to handle these things. This is a law student website, and that should tell you something about the quality of the computer advice you're going to get here.


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Are these all university machines, purchased at the same time? Back when I used to do support of this nature, I had a run of similar errors, due to bad sectors on the disk... it was an indication that the disks were failing. We'd correct the problem, then a few weeks later, BAM! total drive failure. They were all the same make/model of drive, all purchased in the same lot, and they all failed within days of each other... spooky. Not as spooky as someone with a picture of Karl Rove on their desktop, but still... :)
Nope. One was a dell, another a Toshiba, and a third a Compaq. They're all home-owned. I don't fix university computers. At the very least, they're not my problem. ;) I'm a bit worried about the hard-drive failure possibility, though. I mean, I got the things back to "stable" and then told people to back up, but if they didn't... And hey, what's wrong with Karl Rove? I mean, I want to make a new skin for this site that can be called "Three Years of Hell to Become Karl Rove"...
What's wrong with Karl Rove? Well.... 1) A kid who's writing refutations of dialectical materialism in grade school just ain't fscking normal (not in the United States, and not around the time Rove was growing up).... and, 2) When your friends' term of endearment for you is "turd blossom", that's gotta tell you something about either your personality or your "ethics" (I'm not going to speculate on which). :-)
Almost certainly a hard drive failure. Some PC makers ship a diagnostic disk or include diags in their BIOS, or just use chkdsk to do a surface scan. It'll take a while but at least you'll know for sure.
Yep, it seems very, very likely to have been hardware failure.

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