Thursday, December 15, 2005

Badphairy’s Computer Odyssey 2005

I usually let my computer take care of itself. I defrag it every so often and remove old files once every five years or so. I still image my drive at least once a year, and use anti-spyware goodies.

However, I set up all my scheduled cleaning activities more than three years ago, and
can’t always remember what the settings were. Thus, when Norton’s CleanSweep popped up, helpfully asking to delete unneeded files, I let it. Since I was in the program, I decided to do some basic unscheduled upkeep.

It has a little button that will let you locate all your allegedly “duplicate” (dll.) files. Dll files are the thingummies which actually run the drivers that allow your software to control your hardware. They also allow software to run itself. This is as close to a technical explanation as I can give without sounding like C-Threepio.

Now, according to CleanSweep, sometimes there are more than one copy of a specific dll file that is sitting on your hard drive, taking up space. CleanSweep would like to help you with your problem.


I did, and it was not pretty. Luckily, I did allow Norton to make a backup of all the files I planned on deleting. Then I deleted them. Then the fit hit the shan.

All of a sudden my modem didn’t work. I couldn’t fark, download my e-mail, upload my writing, nothing. This is the sort of happening that makes the end user break out in a cold sweat. Not only have you done something stupid, you have no idea if you’ve done something irrevocably stupid. If it’s not irrevocable, when you go to your geek friends for help, prepare for several minutes of loud laughter once you have explained what you’ve done. *sigh*

I went to use the Windows troubleshooter. Windows Help wouldn’t load. Why? The dll file that runs it had been deleted. Hey, weren’t these supposed to be duplicate files? Nope, CleanSweep deleted the only copy of about half my dll files. Most of my hardware refused to work fully, some of it refused to work at all.

I remanded the souls of all Norton programmers to the least comfortable place I could imagine (Salt Lake City) there to dwell in pain and teetotality in their mother’s basements forever and aye. Polecat barstids.

I managed to Explore my way into Norton’s backup file. Unfortunately, it required a version of itself to decode said file, which I could not access from outside the program shell. Grrrrrrr.

I gave up and tried to see if some of my games still worked. They did, thankfully. I talked to a friend with computer skillz the following day. We decided that the most important part was the modem, since if I could get that running, I could scream for help all over the Net. As she was downloading the software I needed to run my modem, I found the correct path through the Norton shell to restore all the deleted files from the backup I’d made.

Huzzah! Success, and without much ridicule. One cannot ask for more if one is dumb enough to do this in the first place.

So, Lessons learned:

1. Do not delete dll files! The amount of space they take up is minimal, and the amount of trouble caused by their lack is legion and frustrating.

2. If you are going to delete files whose last three letters (after the dot) are unknown to you, either don’t do it or make a backup.

3. Figure out how to use your various backup programs. I have BackWeb, which allegedly has my latest build on file. Unfortunately, said file is located on the Net. Without a modem, it might as well have not existed.

4. Cultivate geek friends! I can NOT stress this enough. I didn’t actually need my friend to solve this problem, but her calm, reassuring logical mind on the other end of the phone line was very important to my ensuing success.

In conclusion, when a file loads itself and asks helpfully if it should do things, tell it no, and go back to what you were doing. You’ll be glad you did.


Blogger Floyd said...

Always rember: The kids who got beat up in high school now run the world. We contintue to exist at their suffrance, and can be deleted on a whim. Omnius is everywhere!

Now I know why you missed yesterday's evolution flamewar. I was worried. Glad to hear it all worked out. Cheers:

~Virtual sweetie.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent. I've always known you were a moron; confirmation is sweet.

10:37 AM  

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