Posted on November 28, 2011 Posted by John Scalzi 33 Comments
Experiencing a truly unique catastrophic system crash on my desktop computer, and I say that with the equanimity that only someone who is securely backed up (and has several other computers in the house) can have. Nevertheless, this will probably keep me busy for some time. Be back in a bit.
Update, 12:20pm: Major problem fixed and a new round of backups instigated. This is the second major sign of computer instability I’ve had over the last few days, which suggests to me that the desktop, after two and a half years of service, is about to off itself. Have to seriously consider, data aside, whether it will be worth it to replace.
Also, and unrelated, dog came in from the outside smelling of a manure pile. So while this was all going on, I had to instigate an emergency dog bath protocol as well. My day has been just packed, it has.
Having alternative access options does stake a lot of the OH F*CK out of the situation, and realtime backups are the informational fallout shelter of the digital age.
I’d bet I’m not the only computer tech who frequents Whatever, and one of us has probably run into something similar to whatever your you’re facing. I work for a school district, so I run into unique problems constantly since we have teachers, students and old hardware to contend with. It keeps the job interesting.
I suspect you won’t be back until after you have this cleared up, but I’d like to hear about the catastrophe, whether you need help or just get an interesting story out of it.
In my help desk experience, “truly unique” means “oops.” like the lady who missed her glass and poured champagne into her VPU. Or the guy who put the laptop on his car, forgot about it, and accidentally crushed it when it fell off at an intersection.
allow me to say it first: OH FUCK! Run for the hills the zombie apocolypse has started… or maybe Skynet has taken over your PC as its first move toward world domination.
Best of luck and I really do hope you get the situation fixed soon. Had a few of those crisis moments myself over the years. Nothing makes your doodads draw up tight than hoping your latest backup actually contains the latest info. ;-)
First Lopsided Cat takes a “scientific” nap in front of your PC, then you have an epic system fail the very next day? Hmmmm.
Now I’m not saying the two are connected . . . but CAT-astrophic indeed!
Your desktop has a hairball.
It was lopsided cat. he was at the scene of the issue.
Hm…CATastrophic crash, eh?
I think hilary may be on to something. Best of luck in resolving your issue(s)!
Two and a half years of service? Murphy’s Law would suggest that you likely bought the 2 year warranty, right? ;-)
It’s been a bad day for me as well. My shoelace broke this morning. I’m just sayin…
seems like there is quite a bit more *instagating* going on at your house than the average american household.
I’ve noted some other comments where people are blaming the cat, and I’d like to agree. The cooling fans and heatsinks in a modern computer function as a highly effective vacuum and animal-hair filter, helpfully trapping and storing up any loose animal hair in the house. The bluescreen is the vacuum’s indicator that the bag is full.
Unrelated? Sounds like some member of your household needed a distraction so they could destroy any incriminating evidence. I suspect Lopsided Cat; he looks shifty, and we know he was near the scene of the crime recently.
Could try booting it with a Linux livecd to at least narrow down whether it’s a problem with your installed operating system or if it’s simply hardware. Memtest86+, HD Tune, Prime95, and Furmark are good ways to test various pieces of hardware (memory, hard drive, processor, and video card, respectively).
Checked inside the case for fans or heatsinks (or the power supply, even) choked with cat hair?
Emergency dog bath protocol? Does a chime sound throughout the house followed by Majel Barrett’s voice; “Emergency dog bath protocol initiated”?
2 1/2 years seems an awfully short lifespan. Goodness. Best of luck.
What brand desktop fails after 2.5 years. would like to know so I can stay away from that brand.
Sounds like hard drive needs replacing. I was once read on the internet (so it must be true look forward to someone confirming/denying) that hard drives only last 3 years. so 2.5 years close enough.
You’re going to run out of brands instantly if your criterion is “this one computer I heard about died after a relatively short time”.
That’s…. eerie. I just went through about a month of travails on my 2-year-old computer, with a hard drive that was slowly clawing its own guts out. I ended up just swapping the old hard drive out for two separate drives; a solid-state drive for Windows and the heftier games, and a slower-but-bulletproof hard drive for the rest.
Pricey, but it cost less than buying a comparable whole new system… and it ended up being a big performance boost in the end. (Windows Experience number went from a 5.9 to a 7.4, for those for whom these numbers have meaning. For the rest, it’s almost like a brand-new top-tier system.)
I just wish that my disc image from before hadn’t also been corrupted, dammit… rebuilding the hard way takes a lot of time.
Fixing a PC problem and initiating the emergency dog bath protocol. Ah, the exciting, romantic life of the writer.
Difficult for you. But for the dog, marvelous. Absolutely marvelous.
After a statistically improbable number of hardware failures over the years (probably caused by having too many darned computers), I now have a Windows Home Server. Automatic image backups of all home computers every night, plus a server to share files, videos, etc. throughout the house.
The first subsequent hard drive failure paid for the server – 65 minutes later (plus new hard drive) and I was up and running. I’ve had more failures on machines too, but at least now they aren’t ever catastrophic.
If a pet camps in proximity to a desktop, chances are good that the fans are going to get clogged with fur. A periodic blasting out with a can of compressed air works well if that’s the case.
I believe I screwed up a power supply fan by blasting it with compressed air once. After the dusting the fan would make a very loud & unpleasant sound until I jiggled the fan blade. I ended up replacing the power supply. The next time I tried it, I used a pencil to keep the fan from spinning freely and held the can further away.
Anton P. Nym @ 3:47 – I regret to inform you there is no such thing as a bulletproof hard drive, only the wrong bullets. What are you using for your backup system?
As other people said: 2.5 years is absurdly short. My current setup has been running strong for 5 years and wasn’t fancy out of the box(es). My prior computer went about 6 years. Both were things I put together myself, perhaps that has something to do with it? Also, pity me, for I cannot play awesome recent video games with my old system.
But whatever your problem, it’s likely one part among many, and can be replaced for cheap. Though looking back, maybe it’s some kind of problem with your fancy-schmancy liquid cooling blah blah blah? At any rate, if it’s the hard drive treat yourself to an SSD.
Also, in re dogs rolling in stuff: Here’s a Slate piece that doesn’t offer up much of an answer at all: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2011/07/leau_pour_chien.html
I knew your life was full of glamour and sparkles.
My wife’s laptop picked Saturday to rather thoroughly misplace its boot volume, after 6 years of loyal service.
She’s convinced that “Simon” offed himself just in time for Cyber Monday because he loved us very much.
you should get a mac, they never have any problems.
^sarcasm or serious? I can’t tell. Macs, like any other PC’s, have their fair share of problems.
Unfortunate that this happened, but being in the computer service/retail industry as well I would like to hear what caused the downtime.
“I regret to inform you there is no such thing as a bulletproof hard drive, only the wrong bullets.”
This is also true for “bulletproof” vests. I use the term in the same sense.
My backup solution right now is a portable hard drive using USB. I also have a backup server, but alas I lost power during setup and keborked Windows Home Server on it… still pondering if I can fix it myself or if I have to send it back to the manufacturer.