Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony can cause the installation of Windows XP Service Pack 3 to fail.

Ah, the good old days! I used to be able to solve so many problems because I would run into them more than once! These days nothing happens the same way twice.

It’s true about Beethoven. A sample of the Fourth Movement named BEETHOV9.WMA is copied into a “Sample Music” folder during installation of Windows XP Service Pack 3. On some computers, an error message comes up that the file can’t be copied, and the whole installation of the service pack fails, leaving the computer in an unsteady state.

As always, when I ran into this, I found in a Google search that other people have run into this, with lots of the usual handwringing and namecalling and workarounds. As near as I can tell, the service pack attempts to copy the file into one of Windows XP’s default folders, C:Documents and SettingsAll usersDocumentsMy MusicSample Music. On some computers, that file path is missing or permissions aren’t set correctly. It’s hard to know if this will always work but this solution seems likely to succeed:

  • When the “beethov9.wma error” comes up, open My Computer.
  • Click on the C: drive and go to C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersDocuments.
  • Right-click on Documents and click on Properties.
  • Click on the Sharing tab.
  • Check the box “Allow Network Users to Change My Files”.
  • Retry the copy.

But you won’t run into that problem. The next time you have a problem, it will be something neither of us have ever run into – your monitor will rotate 90 degrees while your back is turned, or you won’t be able to send an email without typing the word “chipmunk” into a box or Word will start typing text from right to left or good god, who knows what the next one will be? Not me.

Beethoven. Sigh.