Have you ever had your Windows XP system go wonky? This has happened on two separate ocassions to my father-in-law. I don’t remember what happened the first time, but the result was we had to reinstall Windows XP from scratch. This by itself is not a tragedy, but having to deal with the damned software activation is a royal pain in the ass. Now it seems the computer has been infected by something, making it completely unusable. I tried the “repair” option from the Windows XP install disk, which at least got Windows to display the desktop and be slightly interactive. But, an error dialog constantly appeared and nothing can be run. So, back to square one again — a fresh install of Windows.

Which raises a question that I’ve had in mind for some time. How do you service Windows? I mean, when it goes wonky, what do you do? Just re-install the OS? Take Linux, for instance. If it misbehaves, which is very rare, I simply pop in the install disc and invoke the “rescue” mode. I’m then able to mount the file systems, examine the logs, remove and re-install packages, etc. Generally in about 30 minutes the problem is solved. The same certainly cannot be said for Windows. The recovery console in Windows is pathetic, I can’t do anything with it. And when the system is infected with a virus, there’s really nothing to do but install from scratch.

In other one case, an old lady who I’ve been friends with for 10 years had her system infected. Fortunately it was just adware, and it was easy to remove. Just search the Internet for the URL that the adware was trying to show, found a page with instructions for removing the infected files, then installed Windows Defender to find the other worms and malware that had gotten onto her system. Granted, I spent eight hours on this, but I learned a bit about Windows and ended up installing Windows Defender on my own system.

But alas, I have found the ultimate solution to recovering Windows — don’t. As I alluded to before, I succombed to the temptation and bought a MacBook Pro 17” laptop. Next I’ll decommission the Windows machine. It will be wiped and given to my father-in-law. With any luck we should be able to set up enough security on it to prevent further infestations, although that could be futile. My wife jokes that we should give him a Linux box. Oh how I would love to do that.