After a good solid week of headaches related to Win 7, system restore, and corrupted USB port drivers, after completing a repair install yesterday all seems to be back to normal.

This morning when I turned on the machine I found four restore points – the test one I made late last night and three others that were created during the repair install. So… it seems like the problems are gone… Fingers still crossed, but for now, okay.

My Windows 7 saga may be coming to a close.

During last night’s tech support call with Microsoft, I was instructed to do a repair install, an in-place upgrade of Windows 7 using the Win7 DVD. I didn’t even know I could do this.

I tried this four times. The first two times, it got halfway through (that’s about an hour) and never rebooted as it was supposed to. I rebooted it manually; that did not work and it took a while to get back into Win7.

The third time, I thought to turn off the firewall because it was giving me permissions messages when the install started. The tech support person neglected to mention this to me). This time, when it got to the point where it was hanging, it actually did reboot – but not all the way. It took me into the boot menu among other places and again failed to restart where it left off.

Then I found this excellent Windows 7 repair install tutorial on the Windows 7 forums.  I tried it the process once more with both the firewall and antivirus turned off. Same thing – it rebooted, but not all the way.  Frustrated (to say the least) I gave up and turned off the machine.

So this morning, when I turned it on, right after the ‘Starting Windows’ screen I see an ‘Upgrading Windows’ screen. 10 seconds later I’m back where it left off last night. I have no idea why it worked, but I’m certainly not complaining.

Once it finished up, I went back to the tutorial and followed the steps listed. Everything appeared to be fine, I just had to redo my settings for monitors, type, etc., nothing major.

And then the first big test – did the external hard drive, which Win7 has failed to recognize since last Sunday, actually work?

It DID! So something good is definitely happening.

I’m imaging the main internal drive right now before I do step 18 in the tutorial – disk cleanup. Hopefully that will go fine, and then perhaps I will peek at System Restore (the cause of all this trouble) to see if it’s working. I’m not quite mentally ready to do that yet, and I have a lot of work to do this weekend after missing a few days due to the Windows issues. But I’m cautiously optimistic about the prospect.

Last Friday I discovered that Windows 7 was deleting all my system restore points on every reboot.

Since then I’ll bet I’ve spent 8 hours researching the problem and trying the most commonly reported fixes (this appears to be a surprisingly common problem in Win 7 – there were 43 posts about it on MS’s system protection and recovery forum at last count), and none of them have worked.

Today at 12:30 I found that I did have access to free support, created a ticket and called the number they gave me.

I was on the phone with two tech support people (one in the research department) for 3 hours and 42 minutes. The battery died in one of my phones and I had to switch in the middle.

My problem wasn’t solved – they’re calling me back at 2:00 tomorrow hoping to have a fix for me so I don’t have to do another install, which I definitely don’t have time for. And I don’t want to do a clean install without knowing what caused this, since it seems to be a Windows 7 bug that’s affected a lot of machines.

However, I was very pleased with MS tech support. They were extremely thorough, extremely polite, and although non-native English speakers were for the most part easy to understand.

I’m praying that I get an effective fix tomorrow and don’t have to reinstall, or sit through another 3-hour call. But if I do wind up reinstalling, I can feel confident that everything possible had been tried.

I’ve been planning to be ‘closed for business’ this week for 2 months to give myself plenty of time to do some major updates to my computer – starting with migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7.

The last time I had a fresh install of my OS was in late 2007, so it’s well past time. So Windows 7 came in a very small and very expensive box from Amazon on Monday, and I began the process of getting ready for the hard disk wipe. That included:

  • Making a full image of the entire XP disk, files, OS, etc.
  • Making sure I had all the installation disks (or a place to download them) and license files for all the programs I’ll need to reinstall.
  • Taking a screenshot of my programs directory so I can keep track of what I’m doing.
  • Taking a screenshot of my desktop so I know how that was laid out last time.

So far, I’m very happy. The Win7 install went easily, I’m in the process now of adding my programs back in. I’ve got Thunderbird and Firefox working fine with my old profiles intact, and TrueImage’s complete disk image has come in very handy for moving files around.

I like Win7 so far, very much – it looks great and I’m so happy I’ll finally be able to add four more GB of RAM to my machine. But I didn’t like not having a Quick Launch bar so I went looking for a solution and found this. Very nice, very simple.