My Windows XP CD ShatteredAfter my post yesterday, I decided it was time to wipe out my hard drive and start fresh. Figuring it would only take a few hours, I thought I could steal a little time while I worked on a Linux server to rebuild my main PC. I put in my Windows XP CD and as usual I heard the drive spin up. I was closing a few applications before I shut down the PC to reboot and install when all of a sudden, I heard a “PUH” and something hit my leg hard. I looked down and saw the faceplate to the CD-ROM drive next to my leg along with several shards of what was my Windows XP Professional CD. The CD had exploded. :O

As I inspected the drive, I realized that the CD had disintegrated in the drive. There were pieces everywhere. Unable to open, or close the drive tray, I had to shut down the computer and remove the entire drive. Once disconnected, I disected the drive and tried to pull out all the pieces. They were everywhere! To make sure that I had them all, I began re-assembling the CD like a jigsaw puzzle. Slowly I began putting all the pieces back together. At one point, getting out the last piece reminded me of trying to get a guitar pick out of a guitar when it drops into the sound hole.

When I was pretty sure I had them all, I put the drive back together and installed it back into my PC. I booted up back into Windows XP and everything appeared normal. I burned a CD of the backup I had created just to be sure the CD-ROM drive was OK and sure it enough, it was. I’m just thankful that it blew up before I began the install. If it had exploded during the install I would have been up a creek big time. I’ve never seen a CD do that and I hope I never see it happen again.

Still Following The Plan
Since my key was still valid, I just needed a new Windows XP CD. Thanks to a nameless friend of mine, I ftp’d into his machine and downloaded his Windows XP CD to my server’s hard drive. An hour and half later I burned a new CD and was ready to go. I tested the new CD to make sure everything would work and then set out to reformat my drive.

After repartitioning the drive and thus wiping out all the data, I went about installing a fresh copy of Windows XP. That’s when I was presented with an error saying something was wrong with the CD and the only option was to stop installing. I tried several times, but clearly something was wrong with the CD. So now I had a newly formatted hard drive with no OS and no Windows XP CD to install one. The CD Burner is on the same machine I was attempting to install on, so until I got a new OS running, there was no way to burn a new CD of XP. Bottom line – I was screwed. 😐

Or was I? I remembered that I still had my Windows 2000 Professional CD, so I opted to install that instead. An hour later and I was booted up into Windows. I then began a fresh install of XP from the server and wrote over the Windows 2000 install. Two hours later and I was back in XP. Whew! What a crazy, crazy experience. A Mac workstation is sounding better by the day. 😉

Some Tips
Now that I’ve gone through this harrowing experience, there’s a few tips that I’d like to share.

1. Make Backup Copies Of Your Vital CDs
I’ve heard of people doing this and it’s always the rallying cry of people who think copy protection is bad, but I never thought it necessary. I do now. If you have an OS CD, or any other CD that you think is vital (such as MS Office), make a backup copy. If you don’t and something happens to your CD then you could be out of luck. I was fortunate that I had a friend I could copy from, but if you don’t, make a backup copy otherwise you may have to purchase another copy just to get the CD. All it takes is a bad scratch.

2. Store Your CD Keys In A Safe Place
I’ve gotten in the habit of writing the CD Key on the CD itself. This is another reason of why I had to rebuild my shattered CD. Now I put all the CD Keys into Splash ID which keeps these precious digits on my PC as well as my Palm OS handheld. Yes it’s on the case, if you still have it, but there’s simply too much room for error. Even if you have the CD, with out it’s key it’s worthless so be sure to keep your vital CD keys in a safe place.