I recently downloaded and installed a Beta version of a popular
application. It slowed everything on my computer down so I uninstalled
it and reloaded the prior version. I then tried to do a disk cleanup
and it wiped out everything on my laptop including the drive partitions
and all programs including the operating system. Since I did not have
the disk to reinstall Windows XP I had to take it to a computer shop to
get it fixed. What happened?
(The original question was about a specific product, but I get this
so often about many different applications, I’m going to address the
You’re not going to like my answer.
The good news, if there is such a thing in this scenario, is that
you’re not alone. Many people simply can’t resist doing exactly the
same as you.
I’ll look at what happened, and what you could have done instead to
avoid the mess you experienced.
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What happened is actually very simple: you installed pre-release
software without taking appropriate precautions.
I’ll put it as bluntly as I can: whenever you install Beta
or pre-release software you should plan on losing everything on your
That sounds extreme, and it is. I’m not saying that every time you
install pre-release software you will lose everything, I’m simply
saying that you might, and that you should act as if you will.
software you should always expect the worst.”
The problem, of course, is that it doesn’t always happen. In fact,
it happens infrequently enough that many people think it never
happens, or that it won’t happen to them.
Until, as in your case, it does.
I’ll say it again: when you install Beta or pre-release software you
should always expect the worst.
As I’ve discussed before, the very nature of pre-release software is
that it’s not done – it’s known to have bugs, and is being released
only for testing purposes. You, in using pre-release software, have
placed yourself in the role of software tester. The software will fail.
The failure could be minor, or as you’ve apparently experienced, it
could be disastrous. The idea is that when you use pre-release software
you’re being a tester and you’ll report that failure to the software
manufacturer so that it can be evaluated and possibly fixed.
You don’t want to be a software tester? No problem.
Don’t install pre-release software.
But what if you really, really, REALLY want to?
There are scenarios where it makes sense. You actually do want to be
a tester, or you want to evaluate the software before it’s
No problem, if you take appropriate precautions.
Actually, it’s “precaution”, singular, because there’s really just
one thing you need to do prior to installing pre-release software.
Make a full system or image backup.
Once you have that, even if the pre-release software causes your
system to implode, as it apparently did in your case, you can always
revert to the backup snapshot that you took prior to installing the
software. That way it’s as if the disaster never happened.
Too much work? Don’t want to take the time?
Then don’t install pre-release software.
Let’s face it – released software often has enough problems as it
is. Installing something that is pre-release and is known to have
problems is just asking for trouble.
Trouble that is easily avoided, with the appropriate precaution.