Friday, 23 July 2010


I recently had a slight problem with my main PC. One program was not responding and throwing up error messages, which was not a major problem since I did not use that program often. What prompted me to look deeper was when my Internet Security program started to report regularly that the Antivirus database was corrupted. Suspecting an infection I tried a reinstallation only to find I could not remove the old files. I then remembered my days as a Network administrator and decided to look at the Event Viewer and check out any error reports and found it chock-a-block with red error messages dating back some weeks. Investigating these showed to my horror that the hard drive was suffering from damaged data blocks. This was preventing my Internet Security software from writing to the allocated space on the disk where it kept the Antivirus updates. Nothing unusual about a failing disk but bad blocks on a hard drive means that a part of the magnetic surface of the disk is starting to break up and will soon spread to the whole drive. A bit like discovering inoperable cancer in a human, the early symptoms may be trivial but they are harbingers of something much worse.
What did amaze me was that I would have expected Windows XP to tell me there was a disk problem in large flashing letters long before this, instead of simply making a note of it and tucking it away whilst misleading me by reporting faulty software.

Having discovered this, I hastily backed up my more important data and went out to buy another hard disk. I had already decided that I would upgrade to Windows 7 about January, but had never implemented it, even though I had bought the software, and installed it on a disk already on the computer and tested it, I had never bothered to set it as my start disk, because that meant that I would have to reinstall every application to make the change and up to then XP had been working fine.

Now I had to, I started using this as the start disk and consigned my new one to a data store role. Having installed and activated happily back in January, W7 immediately informed me that it was an illegal copy and I must re-activate it. I had bought it from a main dealer in a certified pack and as far as I could ascertain was entirely bona fide having all the proper holographic labels and so on, on it and it had not complained when installed in January. I can only assume that it did not recognise my computer after a long rest and seeing a different set of disks assumed I was trying to use it on another computer. I ignored this and carried on and it has never complained since.

Everything went well as I installed the most needed of my old software and then I started to install my hardware, printer, scanners etc. Of course, these all needed new drivers, so scouring the Internet for manufacturer’s upgrades I was successful in all but my A3 scanner. This does not seem to have a W7 driver so will only work on XP, but no real big deal since I run two computers and do not intend to change from XP on the other one now that I have tried Windows 7.
Eventually I was ready to start using my computer with my ‘exciting’ new Windows 7, which Microsoft assured me it was going to make my computing experience that much better.
I am curious to know how not being able to edit any of my existing files created under XP is a better experience because once up and running, every time I tried to open a file for editing, I was informed they were ‘Read Only’ and I could not edit or rename them, although I could save them as something else, I did not want that.
After a few frustrating hours, I realised that this is true of every single one of my old backed up and copied files and documents.
I have lots of documents, because firstly I am part squirrel and compulsively store things and secondly I have experienced data loss whilst using Windows software before and so I have made a kind of holographic * backup across two PCs now.
(* Holographic sounds better than disorganised.)

So, more time spent looking for answers on Microsoft’s un-help pages and meanwhile I am still not able to actually use the computer to edit stuff.
Two days of this and I am still at a loss to understand what has gone wrong.
Eventually a trawl across the wider World Wide Web unearths a chat page where two people have been discussing the very same problem. Bingo! It is caused by file ownership.

Obviously if you spend a lot of money to buy a newer operating system from Microsoft, it will change the ownership and permissions of all your old files so that you cannot use them. Why on earth did I not think of that?
(Note; for Microsoft employees who may run across this post; this is sarcasm!)

The cure is really simple…. if you have a lot of patience. What you have to do is right click and select the properties box on any file or folder you foolishly think you may already own, select ‘Security’ – then ‘Advanced’ – then ‘Owner’.
You can now see that your file or folder is owned by a user with a very long name consisting of letters and numbers in a string about half a mile long but is not anything resembling your old user name you were using when it was created.

At this point I realised that I actually have about one hundred thousand files on my computer so I really did not want to correct them one at a time but the cure can be made a little faster if I simply go up a level and select the folders containing my files and do a whole batch at a time.
Having stepped back and started again, selecting my main folder, I went through the menus to the point in this process where I had got back to the ‘Owner’ tab, and then by Clicking on the Edit box, I was able to select my user name from a list and take ownership of my files.
ONLY THAT DID NOT WORK… apparently now I own my files, I still cannot do anything with them until I have re-set the Read, Write and Delete ‘Permissions’. Only then can I actually edit them.
To do that I have to go most of the way through this process again but this time stop at ‘Security’ and edit the ‘Permissions’.
Once done I then find THAT DID NOT WORK EITHER!!!
I calmed down and stopped to think, and looking over what I had done again I discovered a little check box in one corner that says, ‘Include all the files and folders too.’
It did not work because I had not checked this box.
After several revivals of this tedious procedure on my different folders, I now have a computer that will work under W7 and I can now edit and save and do all those things I own the computer for but which Microsoft seem to consider an extra feature.
Well nearly.
For editing pictures I have long been using Corel Draw version 7 which includes PhotoPaint and I am very familiar with this package so I reinstalled this under W7, but although it ran, ok, as soon as I started to do any actual work, a huge window popped up telling me that I cannot use the Help Pages in this version of Windows. Fine, I know this version inside out, so I don’t need help pages, but the window pops up each time I try to do anything and this makes the package completely unusable. The irony of this is that in the box is a little message from Microsoft saying ‘Was this helpful?’ No it certainly wasn’t! I sent off several slightly sarcastic replies which someone may have read but not to worry I have cured that one too!
I went into the Program Files folder and simply re-named every single Help file in the Corel package. I can do that because I own them… tee hee……all of them… hee hee
hee ha ha ha


  1. And exactly HOW are computers a great boon to our modern world?!
    I wondeer what I could have done with all the hours I have spent trying to fix something that should work but doesn't.

    The big hint that computers are NOT friendly and their creators are NOT smart, comes when you first turn it on and then having completed your work and you want to turn off your computer. WHERE do you have to go to turn it off? Why START of course!

  2. My goodness, Snafu; my blood pressure went sky-high just reading about your frustrations!

    It's good that you are knowledgeable to do all that, but what about us tech-ignoramuses (ignoramii?)who are virtually incapable of figuring out anything technical?

    I did land up in the emergency department not so long ago, with a bp of 200 over 100, after being on the phone for 4 hours (yes, 4 hours!) with our service provider trying to understand his asian accent as he walked me through the process of trying to get rid of a virus. Despite his many attempts (and my many attempts to understand him) I ended up with a new computer and a bill of $1000.

    You love 'em and you hate 'em (computers, I mean).

  3. I have not got quite that far, but I find automated telephone services wind me up almost immediately and then finding someone who's first language is not the same as mine on the other end ratchets me up another notch.
    BT have managed to get me to the point of almost breaking something just to relieve my feelings. I have found that punching a cushion is a good way to get the blood pressure down.

  4. Hmm...not sure if I want to try that :)

  5. Oh yes Canada I forgot... I mean the English kind of cushion, not the similar sounding French word.