A computer story!

Sorry, I’ve got nothing new to post this morning, so for those of you who enjoy hearing why in lots of geeky details, here’s a quick story about Windows 10.  If you’re not into that kind of thing, TLDR; worked on Observer Flashback on Sunday, computer broke and I lost it. 

So for those still here, my daily driver laptop has been an HP Elitebook 8460 for a few years now, which is basically a model that was leased to corporations and is very easy to pop open and switch parts as needed, and is generally a workhorse.  When I bought it, the first thing I did was switch out the included tiny hard drive for an SSD and also took out the optical drive and replaced it with another hard drive for storage and swap space and such.  That’s still the configuration I use today.  Now in fact, the problems dated back to 2017, although I didn’t realize how badly it had become until yesterday.  Specifically, the problem is that I wanted to do the Randy Savage Unreleased DVD, but no longer had a DVD drive in the computer.  So no problem, I just popped out the extra hard drive and put the DVD drive back in, and at that point all hell broke loose on the computer.  Windows freaked out about missing system files, it would barely start up, generally computer Armageddon.  So instead I ended up buying an external drive and ripping the DVD into digital format instead, and put everything back the way it was and thought it was fine.  However, what had happened is that one or two of the major system links in the computer (OneDrive and the Microsoft Store were the worst) were now broken and I didn’t realize it. 

The computer seemed fine, but in fact what was happening was that the apps and system files in the Microsoft Store weren’t updating and I was building up a backlog of missing updates, and in fact the main Windows Updates started piling up as well and getting affected.  So the end result was that I was about 3 paragraphs into the Eddie Gilbert death issue of the Observer last night, and Word started crashing because it saves to OneDrive and suddenly couldn’t find it anymore.  So as I tend to do, I started going down the Google rabbit hole and tried running Windows Update to resolve the issue.  And that’s where I discovered that I was missing a bunch of vital updates, and then checked the Microsoft Store and found a backlog of dozens of apps that hadn’t been updated since 2017.  And holy crap did I try some stuff to make them update.  I ran the Update Troubleshooters that Microsoft provides, both of which said “Hey, you have updates that need to be applied!” and I’m like “No shit.”  I went through the excruciating process of logging in and out of my Microsoft account, and stopping and restarting the services that control the update servers on the computer, nothing.  Went step by step through Microsoft’s own troubleshooting including running the “wsreset” program that manually purges the Microsoft Store’s saved files and resets it, nothing, still won’t download anything.  Even tried the “nuclear option” of renaming one of the system folders and forcing Update to re-download everything, and that didn’t do anything either.  So finally, at 1am on a Sunday night, I went super-nuclear and did a complete wipe of the computer and reinstalled Windows from scratch, and at THAT point, the Store immediately downloaded all of the pending updates, and so did Windows Update.  And now everything is fixed and resolved again, just like that.  Not the way I wanted to go, but really Windows needs to be purged and redone every couple of years anyway.  Also, now the WWE Network app works again and I like using it better than the web version. 

Thankfully I didn’t lose anything because I store everything in the cloud and it was a 5 minute process to restore my personal settings and apps, but I would have went to bed obsessing about it and probably kept working on it into the wee hours.  Anyway, if you’re a computer guy like me, you can probably feel my pain, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed this look at why I didn’t get the damn Flashback done last night.  The lesson:  Keep everything backed up, and sometimes you just gotta purge Windows.