A few weeks ago, my laptop started making a horrendous sound when the fan would run -- the result, we thought, of <koff> <koff> getting rice in there while trying desperately to ameliorate the effects of liquid on the PC. That's what they say to do when you have that problem, but they never mention make sure the rice doesn't get inside the device you're trying to dry.
About two weeks ago, the noise was constant, and I shipped the laptop off to HP to repair it. They had a cheery note that said they wouldn't touch the software unless it was necessary. Well, heck, all they're doing is pulling the laptop apart and slapping in a new fan, why would messing with the software be necessary?
After they installed what is apparently a backlevel version of Windows 7 (Now installing 1 of 178 updates...), I got to spend about ten hours reinstalling software. Even if they had backed up the program files as they did the Documents folder, there would be no guarantee that it would work, because software likes to install all over the place; for example, the APPDATA directory. Sure, I think of that immediately when I'm wondering if I've backed up all the pieces of a software program. Whatever happened to putting it all in one library?
I am telling myself that this enforced activity is a good thing, makes me organize my files a little more clearly, makes me ensure that the backups are backing up what I think they are (Usually, yes. Totally, no.). But along the way I thought, again, of how basically unstable a software-based record-keeping system is. Something totally unrelated to, say, the financial records on your PC dies, and next thing you know, you're busily transferring files, trying to download new versions of your software, because the version you have won't work on the new PC, or trying to understand how to even use the software they've improved since the last time you touched it. All because something decided to break. Or some idiot got rice in the fan. Which is related to the operating system how? . It's like the old joke: if Microsoft sold cars, you'd have to buy a new one each time the ashtray was full.
I'd like to be able to install something and know that it's going to be safe when the next catastrophe hits. We laugh at paper files, but when was the last time someone had to buy new paper because something happened to their typewriter?
I say, bring back paper files.