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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Create a system repair disc

Just because your Windows PC started up OK today, yesterday and the day before, it doesn't mean that it will start tomorrow. Occasionally computers do go wrong and the components inside the computer will not last forever. Computer components can easily be replaced, but files, videos, photos, and music cannot. If the disk drive fails for example, it is an easy eough task to buy a new one and even installing it isn't that hard if you have basic DIY skills, but how do you replace all the lost files on the old faulty disk drive?

There are two types of disk fault and the obvious one is a hardware failure where the drive stops working. There isn't anything that you can do about it except to replace the drive. If it's dead, it's dead. This type of fault is rare though and a more common one is with the organisation of files on the disk. Files can be lost, accidentally deleted, overwritten, or corrupted. It usually has nothing to do with the hardware and the good news is that sometimes the fault can be repaired and the disk restored to full health.

If you cannot start Windows, you need to repair the faults that are preventing Windows from running. There are tools on the disk drive that will help you, but they may not work if the contents of the disk is corrupted. What you need is a boot CD or DVD. This is a disc that you can insert into the drive and start the computer with. Once started, you can then set about repairing it.

It is essential that you create a boot disc while the computer is running OK and you can then put it somewhere safe just in case you one day need it. It is like an insurance policy and you may never need it, but you'll be glad you have it if you do.

To create a boot CD or DVD, click Start and enter repair disc into the search box. Click Create a system repair disc in the menu. Insert a blank CD-R or DVD-R in the drive and cancel any AutoPlay windows that pop up. Click Create Disc. It only takes a minute or two and then you can take the disc out of the drive and put it somewhere safe.

Windows Backup

You might find it useful to try it, partly to check that it has been created OK and partly to familiarise yourself with the repair tools. With the disc in the drive, switch the PC on or if it is already on, restart Windows. You'll see a message instructing you to press a key to start from the CD/DVD. Press one quick (if you don't, Windows will start from the hard disk drive.)

Windows 7 repair

You will be asked to select a keyboard input method and this is simply your language/region, such as US English if you live in the US. Next the System Recovery Options are displayed and there is a choice of using recovery tools or restoring your computer using a system image. Just click Next and use the recovery tools because restoring your computer is also in the next menu.

Windows 7 repair

The System Recovery Options window has five items and you should try them in the order they are listed. Click Startup Repair and it will try to fix the disk fault automatically. You don't need to do anything except sit back and watch, and when it has finished the PC can be restarted. If it still won't boot up Windows, return to the System Recovery Options and try the next item on the menu.

Windows 7 repair

System Restore accesses the hard disk drive and lists the automatic backups that Windows makes whenever you make changes or install sofware. Select one of the restore points from when the computer was last working OK and just follow the prompts to restore it.

System Image Recovery enables you to restore a backup that was created using Windows Backup and Restore in the Control Panel. You did make a backup didn't you?

Windows Memory Diagnostic checks the memory in the computer to make sure that it is functioning correctly. Command Prompt opens a window that enables you to type commands to access the disk or repair it. It is really only for expert users, but a three commands you might want to try are chkdsk /f to check the disk drive for errors and fix them, bootrec /fixmbr or bootrec /fixboot to attempt to fix a disk that is not starting correctly.

64-bit vs 32-bit Windows
If you create a system repair disc using 64-bit Windows, it can only be used to repair 64-bit Windows. If you create a system repair disc using 32-bit Windows, it can only be used to repair 32-Bit Windows. It seems that the discs are slightly different and you have to use the right one. This won't affect you because Windows always creates the right one for your PC, but it will affect you if you try to use the disc on someone else's computer. If yours is 64-bit Windows and theirs is 32-bit you can't start their computer with it.

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