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Sep 24, 2009

Toss a grenade in the network

Over the course of years, errors have accumulated in the Windows registries of our working computers. So we were informed by RegistryBooster, a tool from Uniblue, which I tested as part of a WinZip promotion. I have a natural suspicion regarding utility software, which comes from nearly over three decades of seeing the damage it can do if there are differences in one's system compared to the systems for which the tool was developed or on which it was tested. Today's nifty partitioning tool might be tomorrow's data killer. And given the value of my data archives, this inspires a lot of caution.

However, sometimes caution gives way to frustration. Although little software has been added to our systems since they were initially configured, enormous amounts of disk space has mysteriously been gobbled up by some process, and system responses have gone from snappy to very, very sluggish. Registry problems seemed a plausible explanation for at least some of this. So we bought a license for Uniblue's tool and tested it on one of the production systems, unfortunately at a time when a lot of work was scheduled. (Yes, I know this isn't a good idea. I found out about the action while it was in progress.) The initial results looked good - performance did in fact improve a bit. However, suddenly the shared folders on the "repaired" system were no longer accessible.

Since I no longer deal with niggly system software issues on a daily basis, it took a while before I figured out that the helpful system utilities from Uniblue had trashed the name of the workgroup on our network and activated the computer's firewall - without asking I am told. Not nice, really. For the average user without a lot of network expertise - and I'm not far from that category these days - this is a bit like tossing a grenade into the network. Certainly it bombed my productivity for a long afternoon.

The real moral of the story, though, is never, never, never make major interventions in your computer system software when deadlines are looming!

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