My WinXP system hosed by incomplete download of SP2 (long)

This was almost a rant, but I lost my mad-on.

I started downloading SP2 Thursday night. I could have sworn that it actually explicitly said that you could do other things on the computer while it downloaded, so I fired up a game.

Of course, the PC locks up, even though it bever locked up before with this game (but it did crash back to Windows a few times on me before.) When the computer is back up, I go back to the update page, and it tells me the download is complete and ready to be installed. Great, I think, it must have finished before the lockup.

Of course, during installation it craps out because it couldn’t find a file. But, it rolls back what it did, and seems like no harm was done. I go to the update page again, and it still thinks it was downloaded. I clear the internet cache, and even run the “clean up disk” utility, but no dice.

At this point, I should have done a bit of research and figured out where it was downloaded, and manually deleted the files to force another full download. Instead, I decide to download the larger file for updating multiple pcs in an installation, and run that. Surprisingly, it also craps out, perhaps at the same file, but does NOT roll back any changes. Uh oh.

Here’s where I REALLY should have researched where those files were, and deleted them. But, I do a dumbass move. It keeps telling me I need to restart whenever I tried to rerun the file I downloaded, and also when I went to the update page again, so stupidly I restart.

And of course, the system fails to boot.

So, I begin to reinstall Windows without reformatting the drive, so my several gigs of MP3s might be saved. It gets to the point where it asks me what my product ID is, which is on a sticker on the top of my PC. I enter it, and it says it’s invalid. I see I made a typo, correct it, and still it says it’s invalid. I double and triple check it; it’s correct. Dammit.

So then it’s time to go to work (this part was in the morning). I jot down the product ID, go to work, and go the the website of my PC manufaturer to write an email to tech support. It’s form-based, and requires that I enter my PC’s serial number, which of course I do not have at work. I put a fake one in, and mention that it is fake in the body before I describe my problem.

Twelve hours later, I get a reply that my serial number is incorrect (no shit), and they cannot help until I provide it. I would have been pissed if I hadn’t already been home, so I find it and send it off to them. The next day (today) I get the resonse I knew was coming; the only supported recovery method is using their restore disk that came with the PC, that wipes the hard disk and puts the PC back into it’s just-born state when I bought it. Without my MP3s.

Fortunately, I also have a LINUX disk that I could boot from, that reads the Windows disk. I copied some files over to the LINUX disk, and burned the rest to 15 CDs. Then, I execute the long process to restore Windows and reconfigure it back to where I want it. That was all day today.

When I went back to the update page to get SP2, I did not see the “you may do other things” message. I wonder if I hallucinated it or something. And strangely, it seemed to be verifying the download before it installed it, something it obviously didn’t do before.

Fun, fun stuff.

I think you’ll have to call Microsoft to get your new product ID. There’s a number somewhere on their web page. Basically, you need to be sitting at your computer and it will have a 25 digit number and you give it to that dude and he’ll give you a new one that you enter. I think that your PC manufacturer will tell you to call them as they’re not licensed to do that sort of thing.

Sucks about your computer.

I already used the restore process, and re-installed a lot of my programs and stuff.

It was a pain, but it’s not all bad. I was thinking of doing this anyway, because the system was so damn slow lately. It’s performs so much better now, it was almost worth it.