On Monday night, my Dell desktop PC crashed and can no longer boot up with Windows XP. All I got is a strange looking error message:

“Ntfs.sys file missing or corrupted”

The next day, I googled the internet and found many solutions how to fix this problem – even found one You-tube video with step by step instructions!!! (This internet thing is great!)

However, I soon found out it’s not that easy… I spent the whole Tuesday evening sweating profusely. (Air-con full blast still I sweat? I stressed or what!?) And being very frustrated with myself and the 6.5 years old Dell desktop PC.

The solution was easy enough: just boot up from CD-ROM the original Windows re-installation CD, and press R for repair at the Window setup menu. Ha!

Below is what I’ve learnt from this experience:

1)     I discovered what is BIOS. And how to change the boot sequence to first boot from CD-ROM. Took me ages to figure out why I can’t boot from the Windows re-installation CD… If I had hair, I would have pulled out lots of it by now! All this time, I kept screaming: “Why don’t you freaking boot up!?”

2)     Later on, I finally discovered from trial and error how to remove in BIOS my defective DVD-ROM in BIOS so that it will boot up from the remaining working CD-ROM. Finally some light in the tunnel!

3)     Guess what? It finally boot up from my Window re-installation CD. But when it tried to load the Windows setup menu, ¾ into setup installation process, it got stuck with the same bloody “Ntfs.sys file missing or corrupted” message!!!

Hello, I know! But how come even the Windows re-installation CD’s Ntfs.sys file also corrupted? I am supposed to copy this file from this CD to my hard-disk!!!

4)     I gave up! Took a shower and watched some TV. Very angry with myself for wasting my time. Should have either junk this PC (I am planning to buy a notebook when I return to Singapore) or simply have taken this PC to a PC repair shop. I should have known better than to try DIY when I’ve never been much of a DIY person… Feeling very defeated…

5)     Then near mid-night, I couldn’t sleep. I decided to give it one last try. I discovered that when you start the PC, there is this F2 and F12 buttons. Played around with it and found that under F12, there is a utility diagnostic function. Ran the tests and found that it always got stuck at the memory testing stage.

6)     Since this is an old PC, no harm in removing the memory cards and test them one by one. If I mess up, the most is to junk this PC – “treat sick horse like dead horse”.

Ta dah! It’s a hardware problem! 2 of my original memory cards have died on me. Hmm, it’s a Samsung again. My Samsung DVD-ROM died on me after 5 years, now the same for the memory cards after 6.5 years. Lucky I bought extra RAM last year in Singapore so now everything is fixed J

What appears to be a software problem turned out to be a hardware problem!

I slept with a victory smile last night.

If you are still with me, you must be bored stiffed! The reason I used the “technical jargon” is to simulate the financial jargon a newbie will face when first trying their hand in investing or trading.

The advice on intranet sounds all so easy. Do this, do that, and presto! Financial freedom!

We forget the “context”. The advice is not wrong. But my PC gave the “wrong” symptom… so the solution for me is ultimately what I have to figure out for myself. But without the internet advice, I would not have started my journey. So I must still give credit to the advice from the internet for bringing me to the doorstep. The rest is up to me.

Will I attempt to DIY when it’s a new and expensive notebook? I would most probably send it to the IT professionals! I only attempted this DIY exercise since it’s an old PC. The risk of failure is minimal.

I guess it applies to investing/trading. With smaller capital, we tend to take more risks (using leverage) and have greater tendencies to DIY. But if we have 2 million and more and qualify to be a high net worth investor, would we take advantage of private banking services instead? Outsource it to the professionals?

One thing I discovered from last night’s experience. The priceless sense of accomplishment I got is not something that can’t be replaced by money.

The greater the personal effort and sacrifice invested, the sweeter the taste of success. Victories without much effort is something else…


The emotional lows and highs last night were similar to my investing/trading experience. Especially the capitulation stage and the desire to try again one last time ;)

About the Author: “Hi! I’m a Singaporean working in Athens, Greece. I aspire to be like the swan that’s here and gone. And if need be, I’ll rather be the hammer than the nail. Yes, it’s from that song. 123, Away, I rather sail away…. (El Condor Pasa)”

Singapore Man of Leisure (welcome to my blog; just google it!)
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