So I woke up today as I would any other day. Tired, but willful. Jumped out of the bed with visions in my head. Turned on the computer and went to the bathroom as it booted. Came back, and it was still booting. Odd, but alright, maybe it was a bit more tired than usual today. I have my ups and downs too.
The login screen appeared; I entered my info and went downstairs to fetch a cup of tea as it loaded further. Came back up and... it was back at the login screen again. What happen, someone set up us the bomb?
I tried logging in again, and sat by the computer as it loaded this time. The HDD chugged away as the desktop came into view - a bit fiercer than usual, I imagined, and then BAM: BSoD, with a highly vague (and apparently very rare) error code reading 0x000000F4. Or... maybe that was 7 zeros?
Anyway, the part of the message that didn't deal with unintelligible digits told me to try rebooting the computer if I hadn't had this kind of error before, so I did. Five times. Even after I had had it before. Didn't work.
I reached the desktop each time, and then it rebooted. If I waited at the login screen long enough it rebooted there. I tried opening some program first, and it worked, but then it rebooted. What the hell.
I came to the conclusion that the RAM I upgraded a few months ago might be faulty (other weird issues have been occurring since I did), so I switched back to the old. Didn't work. Tried just a couple of the new sticks too. Didn't work. Went into BIOS and skimmed through settings, adjusting whatever might have an effect. Didn't work. I tried starting in safe mode (I did this way before everything in this paragraph, btw) but that didn't work either.
I did get a new error message in safe-mode, but the blue screen appeared before I had time to fully read it. It was something about dwm.exe, but I assumed it was just an error message generated from whatever error caused the blue screen to appear soon after, so instead of going back I tested other possible solutions, like booting with the last working configuration, and running memory diagnostics, and start-up diagnostics, and eventually venturing into the 'system restore' area where... holy shit, the most recent restore point was from mid-2014! So... maybe not.
I came back to this later though, and realized those restore points had been saved externally somewhere, probably to DVDs, and I had no idea where those could be anyway. If they remained.
And just in case you were wondering about all those other potential fixes: they didn't work.
I opened up the computer again and tested taking the RAM back out, and putting it back in again, and checking all cables and sockets that might be lose - though unlikely they were. Finally I tried removing the hard drive and booting without it... and that worked, though I didn't get anywhere further because there was no bootable media. So BIOS worked. Of course. I'd already been in BIOS. Don't know what I was expecting.
I put the HDD I'd taken out in a docking station and plugged that into the secondary computer I'm currently typing this on (and have been using to troubleshoot the issue all morning, without much success). I even started looking for computer support online, but somehow that seemed like more work than fixing the issue myself. At this point however it doesn't seem like an issue I'll be able to solve... without drastic countermeasures.
Or... just plain measures? What am I countering? It just doesn't sound right without the counter. Like speakers placed on a floor. Life is music you know, but moving back to the issue at hand...
I'm currently moving over all important files from the HDD to an external one, and starting to feel a bit optimistic about the prospects of actually going back to that latest restore point of 2014, or even further, to factory defaults. There's so much clutter on the drive. So many empty folders and unused files I'm not sure I should delete, or can't delete, and as the latest restore point attests it's been a while since my latest fresh start.
I'll try a few other things first, of course. Different RAM, and RAM in different slots, and just one stick at a time. Maybe some bootable troubleshooting program. Maybe... something else will come to mind. But for now backing up my files seems like the first and most important step. Then: time to fix my computer!
Though all my working files (for work, I mean) and configurations reside on the currently non-working computer, it feels good to at least have a backup nearby.