Am Largely Offline Today Due to Little Known Windows Flaw


If any of you have been awaiting business correspondence from me yesterday and today, I apologize if it’s overdue. I’ve suffered an usual spate of computer problems during the past during the past three weeks, and I’m now sidelined by a little-known Windows 2000 flaw.

I’d undertaken a consulting project in which a technical facet involves having my desktop PC repeatedly write and delete a large number of broadcast content files. These files can range in size from a few megabytes to 2 gigabytes. My desktop PC has two 200-gigabyte hard drives, and I’d been using the non-bootable drive for this project.

My entire desktop PC froze yesterday amid this project. When I rebooted, the PC could no longer see hard drive I’d been using for this project. Suspecting a hardware failure, I shutdown the machine, made sure its drive cables and other hardware was connected properly, and again rebooted it. This time, the desktop PC immediately warned that a CHKDSK was necessary before logging on. I let it run that function.

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That was 30 hours ago, and the PC is still actively running CHKDSK. At least, I think it is. Its hard disk drive light periodical blinks, even when I remove the machine’s network connection. the PC meanwhile has locked itself from outside access while it self-repairs. I can’t access either disk drive on the machine, including the drive on which my e-mail and business files reside. I’m afraid to reboot or interrupt the CHKDSK procedure, lest I break the self-repair.

I’ve since learned that the PC’s freeze and near crash apparently was caused by a NTFS Directory Corruption error — a known flaw in Windows 2000, but one that I’ve never before heard:

    ‘A directory in which files are repeatedly created and deleted eventually becomes corrupt. Subsequent attempts to access files in the directory or to create or delete files in the directory yield pop-up window indicating that the directory is corrupt and instructing the user to run CHKDSK.’

Microsoft’s Knowledge Base further states:

    ‘Microsoft has confirmed this to be a problem in Windows NT version 3.51. A supported fix is now available, but has not been fully regression tested and should be applied only to systems experiencing this specific problem. Unless you are severely impacted by this specific problem, Microsoft recommends that you wait for the next Service Pack that contains this fix.’

Gee. Thanks. Microsoft! Another reason why I hate Windows.

I’d generally have a backup of my e-mail and business files. A nightly backup automatically runs through my office Ethernet/WiFi network and into my laptop PC each night. But last week my foot accidentally snagged the laptop’s power cord, pulling the venerable five year-old machine off my desk, smashing its LCD screen. I’ve ordered a replacement laptop PC, but that won’t arrive until later this week. So, I’ve had no backup of my e-mail and business files for more than a week.

Someone today mentioned to me that I should get an external backup drive. I already have one. In fact, I used it last on December 1st, after my desktop’s other drive, the 200-gigabyte boot drive, failed. I used an external USB drive to restore almost all the data on that drive. But on that drive I nonetheless later had to reload many applications (PhotoShop CS, etc.) that require online authentication to reinstall. I’ve been steadily reloaded those, but hadn’t wanted to do a full external backup until I’d finished reloading everything. Hence, no recent external drive backup either.

No working desktop. No laptop. How am I posting this? By using my WiFi/GPRS-equipped PDA, which I’m also using to respond to some e-mail.

Oh, did I also mention that I had the flu and strep throat simultaneously last week amid all these technical problems? No computer viruses, but just the human kind. I’m now back on my feet and the road.

I hope your December is going better than mine? I’m now watching my desktop PC display ‘Deleting orphan file record segment 101084.’ I wonder how many tens of thousands more segments to go?

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