How to explain those useless system files to users

Flashback to early in this pilot fish's career, when she's doing IT support at a local library. "Most of the librarians were tech savvy, but knew enough that when things got really dicey they'd stop and call me," fish says. "Except one, who knew enough to be dangerous.

"One day she was working at the reference desk and called in a panic. Her computer wouldn't turn on, and she said it worked perfectly the night before. I asked her if anything strange occurred. She said no, it was working fine, and she shut it down like usual, but today it just wouldn't work."

Fish stops by the reference desk. Sure enough, the PC can't find Windows, and stops at the C: prompt. Fish's first thought is that it's a virus, so she goes to work repairing Windows 98 and trying to save what files she can.

Then fish runs a virus scan, but nothing turns up. Everything now seems to be perfect, so fish returns the PC to the reference desk.

What happened? librarian asks. I had to re-load Windows, fish explains. For some reason, the Windows files had disappeared.

"Well, let me see," librarian says. "Last night I was deleting files to restore some space to make this thing go faster, and I found some files--"

Uh-oh.

"These files! Right here!" she exclaims angrily while browsing the C: drive. "I deleted these last night -- I didn't put them there! What are these?"

Sighs fish, "I calmly explained, 'Those are Windows system files. They make your computer go.'"

Your story makes the Shark Tank go. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Get your daily dose of out-takes from the IT Theater of the Absurd delivered directly to your Inbox. Subscribe now to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

FREE Computerworld Insider Guide: IT Certification Study Tips
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies