My laptop has had a growing tendency to lock up every now and then (read 2 - 5 times in a evening), it's mainly down to over-heating, so it's not a good idea to have a million and one services running in the background using up resources (like Apache, MySQL, DB2, anti virus software, and various other bits and pieces).
So I decided to wipe the disk and install a fairly minimal setup from scratch. I'm expecting a delivery of Windows XP and various other goodies real soon now anyway as part of my new subscription to the Microsoft Partners Action Pack, so this wasn't a big deal, just a measure to keep me sane for the next week or so.
This went fine, laptop is up and running, with only one lock up since. However, my new lean machine now couldn't connect to my mobile phone over IrDA, it used to be able, pre-reinstall, so why not now?
Two days later, I find out why, Windows 2000 doesn't support "Virtual Ports" such as those needed by mobile phones when connecting to your laptop via IrDA. Hmm, I need to apply a patch. Downloaded patch, floppied it across to laptop (can't use my laptop on network at site I'm working at), and run it. I need to be on at least Service Pack 1. Bugger, that's a big download and a lot of floppies.
"Hang on a minute" I say, "You've been keeping your laptop and desktop upto date with Service Packs and other fixes regularly using Microsoft Critical Updates, and have definitely downloaded SP1 and 2 before. So your nice and regular backups of software downloads will hold a copy of those files, problem solved!". Not so, I had only downloaded the "express" packs, these then analyse your installation and then go fetch what bits they need, so I couldn't apply the packs without having a internet connection. Which is of course the one bit of functionality I was trying to fix with the Service Packs!
Luckily a colleague took pity on me, and allowed me to burn a CD with the full Service Packs on, which I could then copy onto my laptop and run, my colleague figured that this CD may come in handy for other laptop users in the company, so had no qualms in letting me download a hundred or so megabytes of patches.
So, the lesson to be learnt? Use Critical Updates by all means, but just as an indicator of what files are available to be downloaded, then go download the files from the download section of Microsoft's web site, save to network drive which is regularly backed up, and install from there. Always download the full "Admin" files if you can, so that a CD full of Service Packs doesn't require anymore downloads.