Another day, another refusal to boot. Switched on my PC at 7:30 am and it wouldn't go anywhere. Tried safe mode and it kept rebooting after showing the MUP.sys driver. Used Google from the laptop, found a zillion people with the same problem and about as many solutions. (This is the third time this has happened to me in the past 18 months. You think I'd have switched to Linux by now. If it weren't for certain games ...)
Anyway, I set up a second copy of XP on a spare hard drive, booted it, tinkered with the main C partition, no go. Fortunately (or rather, intelligently) my C drive is just Windows and Program Files - my 'My Documents' folder is on its own 5gb partition on a second drive.
So, I ran Paragon Drive Backup, took a snapshot of the broken C partition, then restored my latest snapshot dated October the 11th. Rebooted into my now-working, but outdated install, let AVG and Firefox and Microsoft and Adobe and Java all update themselves, sorted folders in the Program Files folder by date on my C drive AND in the backup snapshot, and reinstalled all apps I'd added to my system after October. Updated to OpenOffice 2.3.1. Restored my Firefox profile in the Documents and Settings folder. Rebooted to confirm it's all working.
Total lost time: around 5 or 6 hours. I have to pick the kids up from school in half an hour, which means basically the whole day is shot, and I've yet to answer a single email. Mind you, I'm lucky I can fix this stuff. For the average punter it would have been wipe and reinstall, perhaps losing all their data in the process.
Now, had this been a Linux installation I'd have booted from a live CD, manually edited the broken config file in a text editor (no registry on linux, thank heavens) and rebooted to a working machine. Net wasted time: around 5 minutes.
And Microsoft want me to upgrade to Vista? The hell I will.
Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)