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5 Hrs. 26 Min Is Too Long To Reinstall Windows!

Updated on March 20, 2011

How is it possible to waste this much time just to swap a boot drive?

My boot hard drive was swiftly reaching the end of its service life. It was making a lot more crunching and gnawing noises lately and I didn't think I could keep squeezing any more use out of it. The drive had been a hand me down with a distinguished history. It was the actual hard drive that Isaac Newton had used to complete his calculations of gravitation. It was time for a new one.

As far back as I can remember, I've always had a separate boot and data drive. I like to keep only my Operating System and applications on the C drive and then all my data on the D drive. I feel safer that way, but the jury is still out on whether that matters at all. This time I decided to go with just one drive. It was huge and I'd likely be years filling it up.

I ripped open the box with the glee of a child on Christmas morning. My new drive was finally here. I had long researched the absolutely perfect drive for my needs, scoured the online retailers for weeks so I could save $1.83, and finally the big day was here. It was time to retire the old Newton IDE hard drive to that big magnetic field in the sky and plug in my new Seagate Barracuda 320GB 7200.10 SATA2 3GB/s 7200 RPM 16MB Cache Hard Drive. If that isn't a descriptive enough name for you, I would be glad to elaborate further.

I emailed everyone I knew warning them that I was about to swap out boot drives and if something went wrong they likely wouldn't hear from me for days, maybe weeks. Although I'm not an overly religious person, I crossed myself, remembered a novena from my Grade 2 class where I had nuns as teachers, and hoped that all the Evil Eyes I'd picked up in my long and colourful life weren't going to catch up with me during this installation.

I shut down my PC with extreme trepidation. Who knew when would be the next time I would see those familiar Windows XP Pro icons?

The Newton IDE didn't want to go. I had to get a pair of pliers to pull the Molex power connector out. But finally it realized that it could no longer cling to that precious umbilical cord leading to that warm and familiar Enermax 420W PSUlacenta and it gave up with a mild sigh. It rigidly slipped into its static body bag and the life of yet another hard drive came to an end.

I plugged in the SATA connectors to the new drive, grateful that they were far less clunky than their IDE ancestors and hit the power button.

I checked the time just for the halibut. It was 3:47 pm.

As the PSU spun up I hit the CD drive's button, placed my thoroughly COAd original Windows XP CD into the "coffee cup holder" and prepared for the great adventure.

I had done plenty of previous XP installations so nothing really came as a surprise at first. I asked Setup to divide the huge 320GB into a 50GB C: drive and leave the rest unformatted for now. The installation continued. After a couple of auto restarts, I entered my CD key, everything went on normally, and everything was fine with the world. About 40 minutes later I gazed upon that magnificent view of the rolling green hills outside of Silicon Valley (or somewhere). All my icons were there. Everything was wonderful.

Before doing absolutely anything else, I wanted to bring my XP up to date as Microsoft has enough patches to keep a convention full of quilters happy. It only took me about five minutes to install my ISP's ADSL software and I was on the net at my usual nice 3Mbit/s download clip. I went directly to Windows Update and asked to validate my Windows.

Well, my Windows wouldn't validate. I had to call a toll free number for Microsoft validation. I chose the automatic validation option and carefully spoke the nine groups of six digits each into the phone, with the automatic prompt encouraging me every step of the way. At the end, the pleasant machine voice informed me that my Windows would not validate and I needed to speak to an operator.

The gentleman came on the phone and the first thing he asked me was to recite all 54 digits one more time, leading me to wonder why a megazillion dollar company like Microsoft can't just write a script for the automatic attendant so that the information is passed onto this guy's screen. Never mind... blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah 235921. Done. For the second time.

Now he started to ask me questions. Was this the only installation I had? I replied I had one computer and that was it. Was the Windows installed anywhere else? I replied I had one computer and that was it. I was starting to sound like an automatic machine voice now.

He asked me why I was reinstalling Windows. I told him I just replaced the boot drive. He asked me why. I told him that it was old and time for it to retire. I wonder what would have happened if I had told him that I was moving to Sweden to join Pirate Bay and was going to upload a torrent of a ghost image of the whole damn OS including an Easter Egg animation of Bill Gates with horns and a tail doing unmentionable things with a Zune.

Apparently the lame answers to his dumb questions satisfied the Microsoft Matrix and now he gave me another set of six digit combinations, seven different ones this time around, for me to enter into my Validation window. blah blah blah blah blah blah 864730. Click Next. Windows has validated. Thank my lucky Microstars!

Now back to the updates. 64 of them to download. OK. Restart. OK. Oh my gawd is this finally over? Er... no. I've just updated to XP Pro SP1! So now I have to load up all the patches that are applicable to SP1. OK. Restart. OK. Now I can finally download the update to XP Pro SP2! OK. Restart. OK. Finally I'm in XP Pro SP2! Yippee! But I still have another 71 patches to download. OK. Restart. OK. Am I finally done? No. It's dark out. I still have a huge 250+GB gob of unformatted space on my Barracuda. Click Format. OK.

I've lost track of the restarts so far. At least a dozen! Why does this moronic process require so darn many restarts?

I've been writing this on Notepad. It's 9:13 pm. The disk finished formatting seconds ago. Five hours and twenty six minutes and I finally have a fully updated Windows XP Pro SP2 on a formatted disk.

Nothing went wrong on the installation. There were none of the misfortunes that can really cost you time. The downloads came in at a minimum of a blistering 2Mbit/s. But only now can I start on loading up all my applications, reconfiguring Outlook Express, plugging in all my fonts and resetting the system the way it was. Once I'm done that, I can finally reconnect my previous data drive and ghost over 60+ GB of files.

There is no chance I'll be done by midnight. I might be lucky to finish by 1 am. By that time it will have been more than nine hours of nonstop activity. Just to swap out a blinkin' hard drive.

With the enormous bloated complexity of today's software its understandable that it takes a long time to load and install. We're talking lots of gigabytes here. What is completely and totally unforgivable is that I have to take a full nine hours out of my day to do nothing but wait until the next time when I can click OK.

How is it possible that in the 21st century, in the fourth decade of personal computing, I can't just put in an Install CD, click "Install Everything," go to bed and wake up the next morning with a nicely set up system ready to work?

There is a reason. A very valid one. Vested interests. My Mac Plus vs. AMD Dual Core Hub controversially demonstrated that very little if any real progress has been made since the mid '80s in the overall paradigm of personal computing's relationship to the basic everyday common functions of productivity. If anything we've gone backwards. It would only take a minute or two to install the operating system on that decrepit old Mac Plus.

I usually laugh at conspiracy theorists, but this one really has me frazzled. The powers that be who control computing want us to stay exactly where we are, shelling out our money just to keep up on the treadmill. They are not interested in making our lives easier. They're just interested in selling operating systems, applications and circuits. There is no motivation for them to trigger a groundswell that will remove forever the anachronisms of the keyboard and mouse and OS and apps and all the rest of this outdated obsolete garbage they keep convincing us is forever new and exciting. It's 2007! 30 years after the first Apple! I should be "thinking" and having the words appear on my holographic screen by now!

But no. I have to go to spend several more hours clicking OK. Restart. OK. Restart. OK...


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    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      It's obvious that you don't read past the title. Read the whole Hub and then see if you could have done it in any less, Mr. 45 Minute Installation! Dream on, dude!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      UGH, if your original installation was working fine why didn't you just partition the drive and then ghost over the partitons to the new drive. Would have saved you at least three hours and you wouldn't have had to re-authorize the install. I can understand wanting a clean install though.

      If you use a third party utility like Acronis it speeds things up a bit.

      I've done it like that probably over 100 times.

      I've actually done it in about 45 minutes with drives of comparable size.

      Sound like you don't really know what your doing

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      12 years ago from Toronto

      Very surprisingly, ever since I dumped my old little EIDE for the Barracuda 7200.10 320GB I've had a few BSODs, and that is very rare on my system as I keep everything optimized. I would RMA the sucker but I sure don't want to go through that nightmare again. I'll just wait until I get a new system and use the Barracuda as a backup drive, I guess!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      You did good. When I swapped out my old EIDE for a shiny new SATA drive, it took me over two hours just to get Windows to acknowledge the SATA as a valid boot device. I used to love upgrading my hardware, but now I only do it when something fails.


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