Chicken and egg problem

I spent today trying to rebuild a friend’s PC after it became full of viruses, and by full I mean there were so many infected files the anti-virus software said it didn’t have room to quarantine any more files!

I reinstall the various flavours of Windows often enough that I didn’t expect too many problems, although I know I’ll always hit a bump or two along the way. Well, today’s was a real stumper: the drivers for the network card (NIC) wouldn’t work with the version of Windows I’d installed (Windows 2000) unless it also had SP3 (Service Pack = collection of Windows patches) installed, but I couldn’t download & apply SP3 without a network connection. Stalemate.

Fortunately I’d thought to take along my Asus Eee netbook, so I could download older versions of the driver and transfer them over to the PC via a USB thumb drive, but none of them worked.

At one point I had the brainwave of checking Dell’s support site and downloading the drivers that came with the PC initially, but it had been sold with XP. (We couldn’t find the XP disc, otherwise I’d have installed it.)

Without a CD for XP, and with no network connectivity under Win2k, my next idea was to download Windows 7 Beta – it comes with a limited life license, which would tide my friend over until either he bought a new PC or … no, I’m sure he’s going to buy a new machine soon 🙂 Anyway, the download was taking forever so I abandoned that idea too.

Having spent the morning backing up his data to a new external hard drive and then installing Win2k, he’s left without a working PC and I feel terrible. I was determined to find a solution so I unplugged the PC and set off home with it … and was halfway here when his wife called to say she’d found the original XP CD! Excellent – so now I can get it back to the same state as when they bought it, then restore their data from the external backup drive and set them up with a regular backup regimen.

So that’s my plan for Sunday morning, but I’m still annoyed at whoever wrote the Win2k network drivers for that card – that consumed well over an hour, chasing my tail because they won’t work with the original Win2k (i.e. no service packs). If the XP discs hadn’t appeared, I think the only option I had was Windows 7 Beta … or did I miss something?

p.s. I discounted using a license crack for Vista (for example) because I’m trying to get his PC working again after a major virus infection; I considered Win2k, however, because I believe you can use a key for one version (e.g. XP) to license an older version (Win2k in this case).