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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PC Repair Using The Tools Supplied With Windows

When your pc goes wrong it is usually time to pay someone to fix it, or call in a big favour from your favourite computer geek of a friend. Sometimes though it's not always necessary to fall back on these two alternatives to repair your pc. There are an abundance of tools supplied with Windows, or for free download which you may be able to use to fix your own pc.
The first thing to realise before you start looking into fixing your own pc, is that most of the time it's a software fault, and not very often hardware related, so don't break out the hammer and chisel to open up the case just yet. It's time to stop, and consider when the fault first manifested itself. Had you just installed some new software or updates to your existing software? Have you downloaded a new Internet Explorer plugin or did anything request permission to install itself while you were surfing? Have you updated a device driver or installed some new hardware?
If the answer to these questions is "Why Yes, what harm could that possibly do?" then it could be that the culprit is a conflict with the new program or update. If so, then you could try using the software's uninstall link, or the "Add/Remove Programs" section in the Control Panel (Control Panel is linked from your start menu usually). If this doesn't work, you can always bring out the big gun, and use the "System Restore" utility. This can be found in the Start > Accessories > System Tools folder. This can be extremely scary the first time you use it with all kinds of warnings and texts to read, but basically it will roll back your computer to one of the previous dates it has stored. It doesn't delete documents or emails, just removes any software installed after the date you're going to reset to.

Sometimes your pc won't even get as far as Windows, but you can always try the "Safe Mode" (if it is setup). As your pc is starting up, keep tapping the "F8" key and you should get to a screen where you can select a variety of startup methods. Ignore all but the "Start In Safe Mode" option, and select the appropriate number for it and press "Enter". This stops a lot of unimportant stuff from loading up and may just allow you to get into Windows to use one of the options above (uninstall or System Restore). In this mode however you will not have access to many of your usual services, such as networks, or internet connections, and you may also find your soundcard drivers won't be loaded so you get no sound. Don't panic, this is normal, and after you reboot from Safe Mode to normal mode your peripherals should all return to normal.
A majority of the pc repairs I have carried out in my capacity as geeky friend have been as simple as using the tools and techniques above. There are also plenty of other tools hiding inside Windows menus, which can be used to help you repair your own PC. Like the ones above they can seem intimidating the first time, but they are quite safe to use, and rarely cause a problem. Just don't tell my friends about these tools, I like the feeling of superiority when I can fix their pc's with just a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse.

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