This list is not comprehensive or detailed which is why we provided links to additional information. Before making system changes, please back up important data. The steps mentioned are for a Windows XP computer and may differ with Windows Vista.
How to boot into Safe Mode
Safe Mode is mainly used for three reasons.
1. For Windows XP Home users, this is how you log into the Administrator Account.
2. To troubleshoot a problem using a minimum configuration.
3. Removal of viruses and spyware programs
This is a diagnostic mode and not meant for aesthetics since your icons and desktop in 640x480 mode with the words “Safe Mode” in each corner. Windows doesn’t load many drivers or services you need for sounds, external drives, network and so on. Many programs or services that normally load during startup will not execute. This is why it often recommended as the starting point to remove viruses and malware.
If your computer works in Safe Mode, you can guess something outside the basics is causing the computer problem. You might start thinking of items that were recently added to the computer.
To boot into Safe Mode,
1. Power on or restart your computer.
2. Press F8 several times after you see the first screen. This screen appears before the Windows logo and states how much memory your machine has installed.
3. Once the menu appears, you can choose which safe mode option to use.
Although one press of F8 is needed, we suggest you press several times until you get your timing down.
More Info: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315222
How to do a System Restore
Think of System Restore as an easy to use historical recovery tool. System Restore allows you to revert to a previous set of system files and registry keys. It doesn’t include personal files such as items you’ve created in My Documents. In other words, the program can’t help you if you deleted your Excel checkbook register, business plan, email and so on.
To use System Restore,
1. From the Start menu, select All Programs
2. From the submenu, select Accessories.
3. From the submenu, select System Tool
4. From the submenu, select System Restore
5. On the System Restore panel, select Restore my computer to an earlier time.
6. Click Next.
7. Select a restore point (bold date) from the calendar.
8. Close any open programs and follow the prompts.
Using the Last Known Good Configuration
I don’t want to say that Windows keeps a scorecard, but it does record successes. Each time your computer shuts down successfully (except when using Safe Mode), the system logs all the installed driver settings and a subset of the Windows Registry. That information becomes the “Last Known Good Configuration”.
This “advanced start up” option can be used if you can’t start Windows normally. As example, you just installed new hardware and your PC started fine the time before. In contrast, if you’ve already booted into Windows and your machine is acting strange, try using System Restore.
To use this configuration, boot your system as if you were using Safe Mode. On the display menu, there is an option toward the bottom for “Last Known Good Configuration”.
More Info: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307852
How to use CHKDSK
People that used DOS probably remember this command. Although the program still checks your drives for problems, there are three items to note:
1. There is a now a graphical interface for this program.
2. To fix files, you’ll probably have to reboot your computer.
3. Hard Drives are now much larger.
The program has several options. The easiest and fastest option is to have the program scan for errors. If it finds problems, a dialog appears and you can take the next step, which is to fix the problems.
To use CHKDSK to scan files,
1. Click My Computer.
2. Right-click the drive you wish to check
3. From the submenu, select Properties
4. On the Disk Properties dialog, select the Tools tab.
5. Under Error-checking, click Check Now.
6. Click Start.
If you want the program to fix files as opposed to just scanning your drive, you should plan for this activity. Make sure you have backed up your important files. Depending on the size of the drive, it could take many hours for this utility to finish. On very large drives, it can take more than a day to complete. During this time, you can’t use the computer.
More Info: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315265
How to Use Device Manager to Spot Problem Devices
If you want attention, one way is to use punctuation and color. Microsoft does the same by identifying devices in problem states. In Device Manager, problems are identified by a yellow circle with a black exclamation point or a Red X.
The exclamation point to the left of an item means a device or device driver isn’t installed correctly. The Red X indicates that a device has been disabled or it can’t be found. In the screen snap below, you can see that my combo drive is disabled.
To open Device Manager,
1. Press your Windows key + Pause key
2. On the System Properties dialog, click the Hardware tab.
3. Click the Device Manager button.
If you spot a device in a problem state, you can right-click it and select Properties. This opens the Properties dialog that provides more information about the device. In the example below, you can see that Windows believes my mouse is working properly. I also have an option to click the Troubleshoot… button that starts an interactive guide from my PC manufacturer. Some of these guides are very good.
More Info: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310126
How to rollback or update a driver
Device drivers are programs which allow your hardware (e.g. printer, network card) to communicate with Windows or another program. These drivers are a critical component, but they can be a pain when they become unstable. Sometimes updating or rolling back to a different driver version can remedy your problem.
To change a device driver,
1. Make sure you’re logged in with an administrator account
2. Press your Windows key + Pause key
3. On the System Properties dialog, click the Hardware tab
4. Click the Device Manager button.
5. From Device Manager, right-click the driver you wish to change.
6. From the submenu, select Properties.
7. Click the Driver tab.
8. Click either the Update Driver… or Roll Back Driver… buttons
How to navigate w/o a mouse
Perhaps, the most frustrating computer problems for me have been when my mouse stopped. The causes have ranged from dead batteries to dead brain cells where I removed an incorrect registry key in haste. You never realize your dependence on this piece of hardware until it doesn’t work. The links below have a list of keyboard equivalents for Windows and browsers.
These 7 items won’t resolve all computer woes. However, the steps can help you fix or better identify problems. They also come in handy when you don’t have a computer technician nearby and all eyes are looking to you to fix the problems.
Last Updated (Saturday, 19 June 2010 10:07)