Subscriber John Kerbaugh wrote to ask for help:
Terry, For the last several months I’ve been unable to install any new or updated software on my computer. I\’m running XP. Is there software that will examine my computer and make repairs? This is really frustrating! John Kerbaugh
I wrote back to John to tell him that there were too many variables to give him a definitive answer by mail — it could be an easily solved registry problem, or it could be more complicated — or more sinister. I didn’t have any diagnostic software to recommend that could address the breadth of possible problems.
At this point, my solution (if it was my system) would be to try Optimize 3.0 or PC Matic (but he can’t, since he can’t install software). If that didn’t work, I’d reinstall Windows or restore from one of my Acronis True Image backups.
I suggested that, if he didn’t have an image backup and wants to try to save his files, he should connect an external USB hard drive and use Karen’s Replicator to copy his files to it (Replicator won’t stop on an error, unlike Windows’ own copy functions). The goal would be to save his data files.
Then, he could reinstall Windows XP from his OS CDROM or Recovery DVD.
A final option he might want to consider is to take it to his local computer shop (not one of the big retail superstores) and pay them to try to solve it.
I had one final suggestion for John — that he check his C:\windows directory, in order to look for a large number of randomly named files with names about 20 characters long.
I saw a similar problem a few years ago, but the user’s main issue was system slowness. The problem had occurred with Office 2000. The program was creating temporary files in C:\windows, but it wasn’t ever deleting them. The directory finally got so full that the user couldn’t do anything that required writing anywhere in the C:\windows heirarchy. He had over 40,000 temporary files that had built up over months — the fix was to delete them.