Never had a problem for more than 3 years using a PC with Windows and then… one fine day last week it happened. I got the ugly message it wouldn’t boot. Tried repairing the Windows system installation, didn’t work. Tried reinstalling, not enough space. Tried chkdsk, didn’t fix anything. Tried going into the manual console and exiting to DOS, to the C: drive, the system won’t let me delete files so that I can have more free space to try to reinstall. In the midst of all of this, five thousand attempts at rebooting. Nothing. Sigh.

So it was time to play with disaster, since I only had a bit of the stuff on the computer backed up. I had actually been in the process of backing up files when disaster struck. Isn’t it wonderful to try to fix your boot sector when you know practically nothing about such things?

First, 3 thousand searches on the web for a free utility for the task. Some of them sounded so gobbledygook nerdy, that it was frightening to think how much you could wreck your system trying to use it without having much of a clue what you are doing. I skipped those, although they looked powerful.

Then I came upon a 30-day free trial copy of BootIt NG (download here). Made the bootable diskette, start running it in the shot computer. First distressing problem: the program says it’s better to install itself in its own partition, but it will need to create it (i.e. wipe something else to do it, as I understood) or it can try to install it in a shared partition – what do I want? Jeez, as long as you don’t explode my disk (Mission Impossible smoking self-destruct cassette tape appears in my mind), I don’t care… I try the shared one first, hoping that it won’t destroy anything, the program says “No, it has to be the new made for itself only partition.” Why did you ask me in the first place then? Coy, are we?

It says BootIt installation was successful – now remove the diskette and restart the computer. For a second, a glimmer of hope, could it have been that simple? Have I just succeeded in getting around the hours of booting headaches above?

Computer restarts, looks for boot in diskette, then CD-ROM, and then the screen goes black and cursor sits on top left corner, blinking… blinking… blinking…

How it likes to blink. Downheartedness sets in. So I restart and enter into BootIt again. I get all these new icons on screen. Well, that’s an improvement. I have no clue what they are for and am disheartened with the thought of having to go read 50 manual pages of nerdy confusing instructions to find out what the little icons are for. (Not that the manual is badly written, it’s just such an unfamiliar subject). Check manual, manual doesn’t help much. I shall explore, go back to BootIt. Start clicking on all options, boot from this, restart, wait and stare, get blank screen with blinking cursor, boot from that, restart, stare while it tries to boot, get blank screen, click here, change this, restart, stare, click, restart, stare, you get the lovely idea…

I start checking every menu in BootIt, every option, every button, until, at one point, I hit the property buttons for a partition entry and for the first time, the program asks me: I found a problem with X (didn’t write it down), do you want me to fix it?

Do I want children to be happy? Do I want spring to come around again? For the life of me, please… Actually I didn’t think that, because by this time I was already conformed with failure. It appeared that this tool was not going to solve it, I was patting myself on the back, good try, onto the next one, let’s just finish clicking on the few remaining not yet seen menu buttons, and then go onto to searching for another tool and start the process all over again, wasting another 5 hours with booting games, before it was clear the latter wouldn’t work either, etc., etc.

So for the umpteenth time, I reboot… and… and… then it happened! I see blue appear! My heart smiles, but cautiously. I wait, then it’s the stupid Windows logo, and yes, it’s booting! I hold my breath waiting for something to go wrong at any moment, but the computer finally hums as if nothing had ever happened. Obviously BootIt fixed whatever was corrupted. I check the disk and all the files appear to be there without any losses.

I’m even scared to reboot it again right now, just to make sure it was really fixed. But it looks goooooooooooooooooooooood!

Such a genius… 😉