Windows 10 Recovery Troubleshooting Guide

I pulled this Windows 10 recovery troubleshooting guide, links and all, directly from Microsoft’s website that is very helpful in determining what recovery option to pursue when Windows 10 starts to go belly up or has went belly up (and won’t start) .

If you’re having problems with your PC, the following table can help you decide which recovery option to use. For help with black screen or blue screen errors, see Troubleshoot black screen problems or Troubleshoot blue screen errors.

 Problem  See this section
Your PC isn’t working well and you recently installed an app. Restore from a system restore point
Your PC isn’t working well and you recently installed an update. Remove an installed Windows update
Your PC isn’t working well and it’s been a while since you installed an app, driver, or update. Reset your PC
Your PC won’t start and you’ve created a recovery drive. Use a recovery drive to restore or reset your PC
Your PC won’t start and you haven’t created a recovery drive. Use installation media to restore or reset your PC
Your PC won’t start, you haven’t created a recovery drive, and resetting your PC didn’t work. Use installation media to reinstall Windows 10
You want to reinstall your previous operating system. Go back to your previous version of Windows

Source: Recovery options in Windows 10

(Almost) Everything You Need To Repair Windows Problems In One Small Handy Tool

I am really impressed with this portable tech toolbox called Windows Repair Toolbox (see source link below); and, can see it as a real asset to anyone who assists others that are experiencing computer problems.

The developer has created a dashboard of sorts that will assist you with downloading the necessary tools to fix or troubleshoot a PC. Most of the downloaded tools will land in a downloads folder that is a subfolder of the Windows Repair Toolbox folder (which keeps everything together in one place). There are some downloads that are full downloads (for example, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware).  Another nice feature is that you can add your own custom tools.

(Almost) everything you need to repair Windows problems in one small handy tool.

Source: Windows Repair Toolbox – (Almost) everything you need to repair Windows problems in one small handy tool.

Having problems accessing your shares on your Windows 10 PC using SMB (or ES File Explorer)?

ES File Explorer is my favorite Android based file manager. Months ago I ended up uninstalling it from all of my Android devices due to one of the features I used to access the file shares on my local area network (in my home), using a networking protocol called Samba (or SMB),  stopped working. I ended up installing numerous other Android based file managers and experienced the same issue and came to the conclusion that a Windows 10 update broke the network connection. My Android devices could see my computer on the network, but would not allow me to connect. The only Android based file manager that worked was Xplore. After months of using Xplore I decided to revisit ES File Explorer to see if there was a fix and discovered the problem still existed. This time around my gut was telling me it was a Windows 10 network connectivity issue. I was bound and determined to find a solution…

I ended up landing at a site called WindowsTenFORUMS; and, low and behold, after some extensive digging I found a solution to my problem. I know there are numerous other people out there with this same issue and as a result, I decided to post the solution here, as well.

If you go to this LINK and scroll down the page until you see “waddles” (Junior Member), you will see the solution.

For quick reference, the solution is:

Hi There,

I had this problem (and bro’s posts did not help at all), but I discovered you can login using ES File Explorer without much issue, only that your username is not what you would expect.

Instead of using the full e-mail address of your Microsoft account, just use the first five characters. I’m not sure if that’s how it generates the username, but you can check what it exactly is by typing ‘whoami’ in command prompt, and your username will appear after the slash for the domain.

I almost gave up on ES File Explorer after figuring out that this instantly solved my problem.

What “waddles” is saying here is that if you go to the Windows Command Prompt and type in “whoami” you will see your username after the slash. For example, after typing “whoami” at the command prompt, my computer identified me as “asus-pc\rick”.  Now when I log into my PC, using ES File Explorer, via Samba (SMB), I use “rick” as the username; then, I enter my password as I normally would. This worked perfectly…

Fix Printer Problems – Windows 10 Anniversary Edition

I had installed the Anniversary Edition of Windows 10 when it was released and it appeared the upgrade occurred without a hitch, until today I went to use my printer (Brother DW-2270). The anniversary edition was showing two instances of my printer in the “Devices and Printers” in the control panel; however, it was showing that there was no driver installed. As a result the printer was a dead duck and was being recognized by the computer… At this point I attempted to remove (and uninstall) both instances of my printer from the “Devices and Printers” and the “Device Manager”.  One instance of the printer uninstalled; however, the second instance would not, no matter what I attempted. I am sure some type of registry tweak would have done it, but I was not in the mood to go looking for that sort of fix. I then visited the Brother’s website, downloaded the driver and attempted to make Windows use the driver. Again, no luck. I finally went back to the Brother website, found an uninstall tool for their drivers and then downloaded their full install software package for printers. I ran the uninstall tool and it indicated “success” and then I installed the printer software as if I were installing the printer for the first time. This time, it worked.

I decided to post this here on the blog, due I know of other instances where folks have experienced similar printer issues after installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. The only help I could find on the Microsoft site for this problem was HERE, which tells me this may be a global problem.

Fix Printer Problems

I Use CCleaner, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, And Bitdefender Antivirus Free To Keep My PC Safe (and Clean)

… and, MORE GREAT GEEK SQUEAK STUFF (#2016-014)

I have been involved with computers for nearly 30 years. I have never installed any “paid” antivirus software products and have solely relied on common sense and the FREE products that are available (and suitable for computers in the home). I have never had a virus on any of my home based computers. As you noticed, I mentioned “common sense” as one of the factors, which may be easier said than done. I do believe that you have to develop that sixth sense (or gut feeling) in knowing when you are entering potentially dangerous territory. On the software side I currently use three products to help keep my computers (at home) safe and clean.

CCleaner – Without a doubt, CCleaner is the number one optimization tool that not only cleans your computer, but also aids in keeping your computer safe. There is a FREE version and a paid version. I have always gotten along just fine with the free version.

Laptop showing the CCleaner interface - 1 billion downloads

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware – Detects and removes malware on an infected computer with industry-leading anti-malware, anti-spyware, and anti-rootkit tech. Scans for the newest and most dangerous threats. Safely removes malware. One thing to point out at the start is that the FREE version of Malwarebytes is only a scanning utility and does not provide real-time protection. You can get the real-time protection by purchasing the commercial version of their software. Don’t let this deter you from downloading the FREE version. I use the FREE version and make a habit to manually download the updates and perform routine scans of my computer. If I was going to purchase protection for my computer, I would definitely go with the “paid” version of this software (so that it runs continuously in the background, stopping infections before they happen. Scans automatically and halts attempted attacks).

Malwarebytyes Anti-Malware

Bitdefender Antivirus FREE Edition – What I like about Bitdefender is that it is “smart and silent”. Once you install the FREE version, you will have to register with an email address; then, after that you will not even know it is on your computer. Bitdefender has a great reputation and has been well reviewed. As a reminder, when installing antivirus software; always remove (uninstall) any other antivirus software you have installed on your computer.

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MORE GREAT GEEK SQUEAK STUFF

A NEW Tool For The Tech Toolbox – Saw this on betaNews, “Investigate your PC’s RAM use with ATM“… This tool, called ATM performs an in-depth, low-level look at your PC’s system memory use. If you are a troubleshooter, ATM may be right up your alley. Being an old dumb PC Tech, this one was definitely above my level of comprehension (which isn’t much these days)…

ATM

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Easily Control Automatic and Unwanted Windows 7 & 8.1 Upgrading to Windows 10 – Here is a “How To”  @ Tech-for Everyone on using a utility called Never 10 that will disable the Windows 10 Upgrade (wiith just one click). Many folks are sticking to or reverting back to earlier versions of Windows due to the privacy concerns in Windows 10.

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Geek Squeaks (#2015-38) FEATURING — My Reset Experience With Windows 10 — and MORE GREAT STUFF

My Reset Experience With Windows 10 – I recently performed a reset on my Windows 10 based computer and found the experience to be quite positive. I thought I would share some pointers with you so that if you have to perform a reset, it is not a scary experience.  Even though the reset preserves your personal files, I highly recommend that you always have a backup of any files on your computer that you cannot live without.

To get to the reset option in Windows 10, click on the Windows Start button (bottom left corner), go to Settings > Update & security > Reset this PC > Get started and choose an option. The option I chose was to reinstall Windows 10 and keep my personal files. This option will reinstall Windows 10 and keep your personal files; will remove the apps and drivers that you originally installed; will remove the changes made to any settings (and return them to the default settings); and, will remove any apps that the PC manufacturer installed (Note: If your PC came with Windows 10, the apps from your PC manufacturer will be reinstalled.).  After I launched the reset on my PC, it was pretty much hands free; and, what I really liked was that following the reset, Windows 10 generated a html page on my desktop titled “removed apps” that listed all of the programs I originally had installed on my computer. I had already written down what I wanted to re-install, but this list came in quite handy. In the end, the reset took approximately a half hour to 45 minutes and I can honestly say my computer is cleaner and faster.

Windows 10 Reset

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How To Mark All Your Unread Gmail’s As Being Read  – After performing a reset on my Windows 10 computer, I found myself motivated to do some housecleaning in my Gmail account. One of the issues I ran into was that I had hundreds of email’s that I did not read. As a result, I needed and wanted to mark those emails, as being read. The problem with this is that Gmail will only allow you to bulk select only a certain number of emails. This is where I started thinking, “there has to be a way to mark all the emails in my account as being read”. After performing some online research, I found an article at a site called Chron, titled “How to Mark an Entire Gmail Inbox as Read“. By using the Google Search box in your email as a filter to generate all unread messages, and following the step-by-step instructions, at Chron, you can easily mark hundreds (or thousands) of unread emails and change them to read.

 

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A Simple Program To Troubleshoot Network-Related Problems – If you manage a network, Win Network Tools may be helpful. The program provides a graphical interface (or launcher) of common command line tools that are built into Windows (that are typically run from the command prompt) and some other options (such as Speed Test) that will launch a site to test out your connection speed. What would be nice is if this program had a “portable app” option readily available for the tech toolbox. I did find that if I installed the program, and copied the “WinNetworkTools.exe” to another location (such as a flash drive) I was still able to run the program.  I then uninstalled it from the computer. Nice concept…  May contact the developer to suggest the portable app idea.

Win Network Tools - Interface

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Checker Plus for Gmail – You do not know what you are missing if you do not have Checker Plus for Gmail installed (as a Google Chrome extension). In my opinion, this is probably one of the best (and most useful) extensions available. I currently use this to monitor 4 different Gmail accounts and the best part is that you can set this to run in the background so that you will get notifications when an email arrives. If you have Chrome installed, get this one…

Checker Plus for Gmail

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Shield Your Electronics From Electrical Power Surges – When Christmas rolls around many of you may be installing new electronic equipment. What we have a tendency to forget is to purchase a surge protector to help protect the equipment from power surges. I went on the hunt to find what I think is a good investment and came up with the Tripp Lite 8 Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip 25ft Cord Right Angle Plug 1440 Joules . This Tripp Lite Surge Protector has a 1440 joule surge suppression rating with EMI/RFI line noise filtering to help components perform at their peak while extending their lifespan; 8 outlets with 3 specially designed to accommodate transformer plugs without blocking other outlets; an extra-long 25 foot cord with space-saving right angle plug; diagnostic LEDs that alerts you to the protection and grounding status; convenient built-in outlet safety covers to protect young children from possible harm and prevent dust from eroding internal components; and, a lifetime Warranty and $75,000 Ultimate Lifetime Insurance for connected devices. On top of this, to support my opinion on this, this surge protector is carrying a 5-Star rating.

 Tripp Lite 8 Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip 25ft Cord Right Angle Plug 1440 Joules

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HWiNFO Upgraded To V5.0 (FREE System Info Tool)

HWiNFO, in a nutshell, is a FREE System Info Tool (or system profiler) that will tell you just about everything you would ever want to know about your computer’s configuration. Little to no footprint (if installed) and is available as a portable app. Once the information about your computer is retrieved by HwiNFO you can export (or save) the information in various report formats (such as Text, HTML, or XML). A good tool for the tech toolbox…

HWiNFO

Features

  • comprehensive hardware information of your computer
  • system health monitoring (Thermal, Voltage, Fan, Power)
  • table, Logfile, Graph, Tray, Gadget, LG LCD reporting
  • text, CSV, XML, HTML, MHTML report formats
  • frequent updates
  • available as SDK (custom client)
  • 3rd party add-ons (Rainmeter plug-in, Samurize plug-in, Sidebar Gadget to display any sensor value, LCDHost plug-in, Mini WebServer, RivaTuner/MSI Afterburner/EVGA Precision On-Screen Display, HWiNFOMonitor Sidebar Gadget including graphs, bars, etc.)

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Collection Of Powerful Tools To Help Both The Technician And Home User

Looking for a collection of powerful diagnostic and troubleshooting tools that is geared toward the computer tech and home user? Look no further. Go to Tweaking.com to explore their version of the Technicians Toolbox.

This toolbox is FREE for personal and non-corporate use and is available as a portable app. The goal of the Technicians Toolbox is to have the needed utilities to troubleshoot computer problems in one application. To get a good review (and feel) of what the Technicians Toolbox consists of I encourage you to review their very nicely done online Tweaking.com – Technicians Toolbox Online Help File.

Technicians Toolbox

Below is a sampling of some of the tools that this toolbox consists of:

  • Quick Tools (Windows Built-in Tools)
  • Take A Screen Shot
  • Check Disk (chkdsk) At Next Boot
  • Run As System Account
  • Netstat
  • Network Information
  • Static IPv4
  • TCP & UDP Stats
  • IP Subnet Calculator
  • IP Address Scanner
  • Manage Windows Users
  • Manage Users
  • Create New Windows User
  • User Account Properties
  • Manage Groups
  • Create New Windows Group
  • Group Properties
  • Bulk Manage Users Tool
  • Delete, Move Or Rename Locked Files At Bootup
  • Svchost.exe Lookup
  • Process Information
  • Windows Services
  • Windows Services Safe Mode
  • Windows Shutdown Timer
  • CPU Monitor
  • Drives Monitor
  • Memory Monitor
  • Network Monitor

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Three Must Have Diagnostic Tools by Windows Sysinternals

Windows Sysinternals is host to numerous advanced system utilities and technical information that is available (for FREE) to help you manage, troubleshoot and diagnose your Windows systems and applications. There are three of their utilities that I consider as “must have” utilities; and, the beauty of these three is that you can run them live from Sysinternals.

BgInfo – Displays relevant information about a Windows computer on the desktop’s background, such as the computer name, IP address, service pack version, and more. You can edit any field as well as the font and background colors, and can place it in your startup folder so that it runs every boot, or even configure it to display as the background for the logon screen. By default when you first run BgInfo it will display more than what is actually being shown in the screenshot and is very useful in getting good baseline visual information about any Windows based computer you may be troubleshooting.

BGinfo

Autoruns – Shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and when you start various built-in Windows applications like Internet Explorer, Explorer and media players. These programs and drivers include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. Autoruns reports Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more. Autoruns goes way beyond other autostart utilities.

Autoruns

Process Explorer – Shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded AND isuseful for tracking down DLL-version problems or handle leaks, and provide insight into the way Windows and applications work.

 Process Explorer

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Use CompTIA Troubleshooting Theory To Troubleshoot Computer Problems

What is the CompTIA Troubleshooting Theory? The theory consists of six systematic steps that you follow to effectively identify a computer problem. It is important that you stick to the steps in the order as listed.

By following these steps you eliminate jumping around and wasting hours on a problem. You may find that once you have exhausted all avenues, to the best of your abilities (and knowledge), that it is time to take the problem to another person (or higher technical level) for possible resolution.

It is best practices to always maintain a document trail of your findings so that in the future you are better prepared to effectively deal with future problems.

The six CompTIA Troubleshooting (Theory) Steps are:

  1. Identify the problem – Question the user and identify user changes to computer and perform backups before making changes.
  2. Establish a theory of probable cause – Question the obvious.
  3. Test the theory to determine cause – Once the theory is confirmed, determine the next steps to resolve problem. If the theory is not confirmed, establish a new theory or escalate.
  4. Act – Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution.
  5. Test and prevent – Verify full system functionality and, if applicable, implement preventative measures.
  6. Report – Document findings, actions, and outcomes.

Here is a nice video on the Explanation of Troubleshooting Theory:

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GEEK SQUEAK – Avoid A Long Chain Of Mouse Clicks With These 56 Need To Know Windows Commands (featuring my favorite — msinfo32)

There are numerous Windows command-line commands available to the power user. I came across 56 WINDOWS COMMANDS EVERY USER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT that jumped out at me at the Chemtable Software Blog… While you are at the Chemtable site, you may want to check out their FREE utility called AUTORUN ORGANIZER – ADVANCED AUTORUN MANAGER FOR WINDOWS (to manage the autorun priorities on your PC).

Doing the same tasks over and over encourages finding a quicker way to accomplish them. Windows has such a thing as the command-line that allows executing certain applications with a single command avoiding a long chain of mouse clicks. You simply need to press the Win + R combination and type the corresponding command. Here is a list of 56 commands you may find useful in your everyday work with Windows… READ MORE

My favorite command-line command is msinfo32 as shown in the Run dialog box below… I typically run this command, especially on any system that I am not familiar with (when troubleshooting) to acquire a comprehensive overview of the OS, hardware, system components and software environment.

If you are new to command-lines, this one is an easy one to run that is quite useful. Simply press the Win + R combination on your keyboard (to bring up the Run dialog box), type msinfo32, and click on OK.

Run Dialog - MSInfo32

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I Just Changed The Way I Receive Windows Updates AND Here Is Why…

I cannot stress enough, from a computer security standpoint, the importance of the Windows Updates. Microsoft goes to great lengths to keep our PC’s safe; HOWEVER, this past week I had an experience on a brand new PC that I had customized to my liking where I believe a Windows Update caused me a lot of grief. I experienced similar symptoms, as reported at 404 Tech Support, where they made determination that a specific update on machines with the Avast Anti-Virus installed caused the following symptoms to occur:

  • Restarting or shutting down would never complete
  • Uninstalling a program would hang
  • Certain startup programs would never launch
  • Opening computer properties (Right-click on This PC, select Properties) would never open

In my case, I experienced the exact same symptoms; HOWEVER, was not the same cause(s). I did not (initially) install the update as indicated in the 404 Tech Support article and do not have Avast installed. My problem started out when I booted my Windows 81. box and was greeted with a message indicating that Windows was installing new features and telling me to wait. Of course I am scratching my head going, “What new features???  I didn’t install or ask for any new features”. Needless to say, the computer hung on that screen (and message) and did not move forward. I ended up booting into the Windows reset, refresh and restore options. I attempted a restore and that did not work properly, as well. I performed a reboot again, and the PC did start to the desktop; however, that is when I experienced the symptoms as reflected above. After a second start of the computer, the computer started to run properly (for whatever reason). I immediately ran a scan for malware and checked all areas (startup, processes, services, etc…) to make sure I was not hit with something.

The only thing that I could come up with was when I went to do the Windows restore, the restore point was showing that Windows updates KB2920189 and KB3011780 had been installed. Update KB3011780 was showing in the Windows Updates history that it had been cancelled at one point, but also showed on the same date it did install successfully. It is my thinking that this update may have caused the issues I was experiencing.

After getting things back in order and the computer running properly. I manually downloaded the update as reflected in the article 404 Tech Support had problems with (which showed as an optional update on my PC) and the update installed with no issue on my PC. Note: By the way, that optional update (KB8000850) is a large core Windows update.

Needless to say, after reading the article at 404 Tech Support and my own experience with a potential Windows Update that went wild, I now have my computer configured to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download or install them…”.

Windows Update Configuration

I do not recommend this setting, but from a troubleshooting standpoint, I am going this route for now. There have been too many Windows 8 (8.1) updates that have caused problems and this will put me in control to monitor the updates more closely and to educate myself more about Windows Updates.

If anyone else experienced a Windows Update issue, please feel free to share your experience and comment below…

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A Troubleshooting Tool To Delete Potentially Unwanted Software (such as adware, spyware, trojans, viruses and worms)

Recently during a software install I found myself in a hurry and noticed about halfway through the install I was authorizing third party installs (of other software) that was piggy backing the software that I really wanted to install. Needless to say I do not like the idea of software developers doing this; especially when the third party software is very questionable in nature. I know the developers work very hard and need a source of income, but they are affecting their reputation when the third party software installs are sketchy in nature. So, please; when installing any software make sure you read the initial install instructions and if there is a selection to customize the install, make sure you do that so that you can see specifically what is being installed. Anyhow, I have been testing Windows software for many years and found myself, due to being in a rush, becoming the victim. I knew immediately that I pulled the trigger on something that I did not want…

FreeFixerTo remedy my issue, where a third party start page modifier (browser hijacker) was installed, I performed research on the name of the poison I was seeing and then I ran a utility called FreeFixer to analyze and help me fix the problem.

FreeFixer

FreeFixer scans a large number of locations where unwanted software has a known record of appearing or leaving traces. The scan locations include the programs that run on your computer, the programs that starts when you reboot your computer, your browser’s plug-ins, your home page setting, etc.

Now, the catcher to FreeFixer is that following the scan that it performs (which is very extensive and impressive) it does not know what is unwanted, so it presents the scan results and it is up to you to determine what needs removed and/or set back to their default settings. The good here, following a scan by FreeFixer is that you can get more info on a suspicious file by click on the “more info” selection; AND, if you delete a selection the file selection is quarantined where you can restore from in the event you mess up.

In cases where FreeFixer is unable to delete files in normal Windows mode they are registered for delayed removal with FreeFixer’s Native Deleter, which removes the files upon the next reboot. The actual delete operation is done before the logon screen appear. The majority of malware can be deleted at this point.

In the end, I am finding that you need to have a good understanding of the Windows architecture in order to use this powerful utility. FreeFixer is definitely a tech toolbox keeper. There is a 32bit and 64bit version of FreeFixer available as a full install or portable app.

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Try This Process Of Resetting A TV Remote Control When It Stops Working

How many times have you had your remote control to your television go bad to end up throwing out the remote and buying one of those pesky universal remotes?

Before you throw that remote out there is the possibility that it can be reset and restored back to life. The process I am going to tell you about, I learned from the video below (from the Remote Barn); AND, it actually worked. A neighbor of mine had a TV remote control quit working to the point that when he pushed any button on the remote the television would go to channel “0”. After researching the problem on the internet, I found the following method that you can try to reset the remote. In my neighbors case it worked and I was made out to look like some type of genius.

STEP 1: Remove the batteries from the remote.

STEP 2 (IMPORTANT): Individually, for 3 seconds, push, hold and release each button , and I mean each and every button on the remote.

STEP 3: Replace the batteries in the remote.

Create Your Own Bootable Tech Toolbox With AOMEI PE Builder

I am going to start off this blog post with this statement, “If you are someone who is often called upon to troubleshoot a Windows Based PC, then AOMEI PE Builder FREE is the first step in creating your very own bootable tech toolbox.”.

AOMEI PE Builder FREE will walk you through the process of creating a bootable (and customizable) disk, based on the WindowsPE environment, that will allow you to perform system maintenance, troubleshooting and fast recovery tasks when the computer is corrupted (i.e. by malware) or cannot be used.

 AOMEI PE Builder

What is WindowsPE? Windows Preinstallation Environment (also known as Windows PE and WinPE) is a lightweight version of Windows used for the deployment of PCs, workstations, and servers, or troubleshooting an operating system while it is offline – Wikipedia

AOMEI PE Builder FREE in a nutshell:

  • FREE Must Have Software for computer techs and home based users
  • Creates recovery media on a CD/DVD disc, USB Flash Drive, or ISO Image File (If you are planning to use this on multiple PCs, it is recommended that you use a 32 bit system to create the recovery disk and add-on tools. This way the tool will work on 32 bit systems and 64 bit systems.)
  • Works only on the Windows 8/7 and Server 2008 R2/2012 platforms
  • No Need to Install AIK/WAIK (Typically when creating WindowsPE media, AIK or WAIK need to be installed. Not required with AOMEI PE Builder)
  • Comes integrated with Windows system recovery & repair and Windows Disk Management
  • Comes integrated with AOMEI’s Disk Partition Assistant and AOMEI’s Backup, Imaging and Restoration Software (called AOMEI Backupper Standard) – which I featured HERE on the blog and currently use as my “go to” backup and imaging software
  • Comes integrated with various (commonly known) tech tools and maintenance utilities, such as:

7-Zip
Everything
IrfanView
Notepad++
SumatraPDF
Q-Dir
Recuva
PENetwork
Filezilla
QTWeb
OSFMount
BOOTICE
NTPWEdit

  • Can easily add other portable tools to WindowsPE (I do not know of any other WindowsPE builders out there that offers the ability to selectively add “your own” portable troubleshooting tools during the build process)

In closing: I can remember the days where we could make a DOS boot disk to get a system up and running for troubleshooting and repair purposes. With the complexities of today’s computers and operating systems it is not that simple anymore; however, AOMEI’s PE Builder gives you an EASY option to create a Windows 7/8 boot disk that will definitely help you navigate around those complexities and help get your computer (or someone elses) up and running.

To show my endorsement of AOMEI: As I mentioned earlier, I currently use AOMEI Backupper Standard and have been very pleased with the software. I just recently, without no problem, used this backup software (and imaging software) to image a drive in a computer so that I could seamlessly move the contents of the drive to a new solid state drive that I installed.  I also use it to perform daily backups of my personal files to external drives.

A Geek Squeak – The Windows Club Releases FixWin V2 For Windows 8

The Windows Club (one of my favorite sites) recently released FixWin V2, a very popular Windows fixit utility, for when your back is against the wall. Please make sure you read the “How To Use FixWin V2”; which, in summary instructs you to run the system file checker (sfc), create a restore point; the, run each potential fix one at a time.

FixWin 2 for Windows 8 is a portable tool that offers to repair and fix over 50 common Windows annoyances, issues & problems. They have been  categorized under 6 tabs, viz : File Explorer, Internet & Connectivity, Modern UI, System Tools, Troubleshooters and Additional Fixes. The best part of using the tools, is that it provides direct links to bring up the built-in 16 Windows Troubleshooters. No need to open your control panel and search from them! Simply open the Troubleshooters tab of FixWin and open any one of the troubleshooters. It’s so simple… READ MORE @ The Windows Club

FixWin V2

A Complete Collection Of Over 300 Tech Related Programs

At the top of my blog you will see a tab labelled “GEGeek”, which will redirect you from my blog to the GEGeek web site. It is not typical to see bloggers have a redirect link, from their blog, that takes them off the blog or away from the site. In my case, and if you know me, I am atypical…

The point being here is that I strongly encourage you take advantage of using the GEGeek tab and visit the GEGeek site; especially, if you are an information technology professional. GEGeek is the most awesome tech site out there where everything (and, I mean everything) you could possibly need to learn about computer information technology, to acquire tools for troubleshooting, etc.. can be found neatly wrapped up in one place. I feel greatly honored and appreciative that the site developer, at GEGeek, has given me the OK to have this direct link on my blog.

To further make a point of how unbelievable this site is, the site developer has compiled the GEGeek Tech Toolkit. I know there are numerous tech toolkits out there; but, where this one shines is that it contains over 300 tech related programs (over 600MB Compressed – Expands to 2.8 gig)… Included in the GEGeek Tech Toolkit is a program that will keep the essential tools in the kit, up-to-date. How awesome it that?

GEGeek Tech Toolkit

I know myself, with my passion for computers and information technology, I have spent hours upon hours testing out utilities and programs that could be useful as my tools of the trade (so to speak). When I first discovered GEGeek and the GEGeek Tech Toolkit, I knew within minutes of hitting the site that I had discovered a goldmine.

Please take a moment, especially if you have the same passion as I do, and visit GEGeek. Within a minute of visiting, you will be going WOW and adding the site to your bookmarks; plus, don’t forget the GEGeek Toolkit (which, by the way is FREE).

A FREE Online Website Status Monitoring Service

Several days ago I went to go to a popular site and could not get the page to load. I later found out that there was an outage.

Following that experience, I started thinking it would be nice that a person could go to a centralized location to determine what sites are working and what sites are not. This is when CurrentlyDown dropped into my lap.

CurrentlyDown

CurrentlyDown lets you check the current status of a website and explore its outage history. It can be very helpful when you want to find out whether a website is down for everyone or just for you. In addition you can see availability history for any date, see when a website was down and how long. CurrentlyDown also posts screenshots and the cause(s) of an outage whenever possible.

 

Today’s Geek Squeaks – September 21, 2013

A summary of Today’s Geek Squeaks:

Squeak #1 – (How to get to the Windows 8 event logs): I ran into a situation with my computer where I needed to get to the Windows 8 event logs to perform some troubleshooting. Do you think I could remember how? Guess it is age or I don’t troubleshoot enough. Take a minute to read how to get to this log in Windows 8 and take a look at what the log looks like. You may need it in the future (see below);

Squeak #2 – (A Pill That Turns Your Body Into A Password): A friend of mine put me on this one. You can’t make this stuff up, because this is real. Motorola has revealed a stomach acid-powered pill that will literally will use your body for password authentication. I can see it now in the workplace; “Did you take your password pill this morning? If not, please proceed to HR for a suppository.” (see below);

Squeak #3 – (Remotely Change Your Password On Your Android Device):  Ever lose your android smartphone? Google recently came out with an update to their Android Device Manager that gives you the ability to remotely change the password on your phone or tablet, in the event it is lost or stolen (see below); AND,

Squeak #4 – (128 GB Flash Drive): It amazes me how flash drives are slowly evolving into excellent backup strategy options by the amount of space that is being developed for the drives (see below)…

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Geek Squeaks’, featuring a round-up of tech products, news, software, apps, wallpapers, articles, you name it;  from my favorite tech web sites… I just plain love tech!

See An Endless Stream Of Geek Squeaks’ [ HERE ]


Finding the Windows 8 System Log

@ Computer Performance (CP)

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Launch the Windows 8 Event Viewer – To get started with the Event Viewer press Winkey +w, this launches the Search box with the focus on Settings.  Now type: “ev” you should see ‘View event logs’… READ MORE


Google-owned Motorola reveals stomach acid-powered tablet that turns your body into a password

“The tablets contain a small chip with a switch and something that amounts to an inside-out potato battery,” Wired UK explains. “After swallowing it the acids in your stomach act as electrolytes, which power the battery and turn the switch on and off in a sequence.”… READ MORE

 


Google now lets you change your password remotely on an Android device

 @ TechHive

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Google has begun rolling out an update to its Google Play Services that includes the ability to remotely change your phone unlock password—a major addition since the search giant released the Android Device Manager last month… READ MORE


SanDisk Cruzer Glide 128 GB USB Flash Drive

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Store and protect everything from cherished photos and videos to sensitive work files with the Cruzer Glide USB Flash Drive. This 128 GB drive comes with SanDisk SecureAccess software, which lets you password-protect and encrypt files you want to keep private while permitting access to files you want to share. Additionally, Cruzer Glide’s 2 GB of secure online storage make it easy to safeguard your most valued files. The compact drive features a red slider that glides shut to shield the USB jack… CHECK IT OUT HERE


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Restore This Vital Function In Windows 8 – Now

Tech Paul at Tech – for Everyone (a computer tech by trade) is telling us to make this adjustment to help preserve our sanity with Windows 8. If you need to get to “Safe Mode” in Windows 8, it is not an easy task, as in the past. Tech Paul provides easy steps to make getting into Safe Mode (when needed) the same way we always have.  I can tell you Windows 8 is a great operating system; however, I am still trying to figure Microsoft’s thinking on some of the features added and removed in this version of Windows… Thanks  to Tech Paul for this heads-up! I know my readers (and visitors) will appreciate this.


GEEK BONUS AREA

ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T 14-Inch Touch Ultrabook

ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T 14-Inch Touch Ultrabook

The ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T featuring a 14.1″ LED Backlight HD (1366X768) capacitive touch panel with multi-touch functionality, Windows 8 Home Premium, 3rd Gen Intel® Core i5-3317U processor, the ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T,  puts life at your fingertips.

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Enable Safe Boot Before You Need It (Or It’ll Be Too Late) (And You’ll Be Sorry)

If you have a computer running Microsoft’s ‘new’ Windows 8, I strongly recommend you take the following (quick and easy) action – promptly. Don’t dilly, or dally, do it now! Take it from a computer technician, you want to undo (one of) the incredibly stupid thing(s) Microsoft did to Windows 8 and, restore this advanced recovery and troubleshooting feature.

1) Press the Windows key + the X key to open the Start menu.

2) Click on Command Prompt (Admin), and answer “OK”/”Allow”/”Proceed”.

3) Type into the black command box the following string of text (below, in bold) mindful of the spaces. (Or, Copy>Paste)

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

4) Press Enter. After a moment, you should see the message “The operation completed successfully”.

Now you will be able…

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Wallpaper of the Week (#118) – A Tibet Lake

This week’s wallpaper is in support of one of my fellow bloggers, who manages the site Awesome Wallpapers, who is working his way through school and sports. I decided to pick a recent wallpaper from his collection and came up with this one, a scene at a Tibet Lake that is just awesome.

To Get This Wallpaper – [ CLICK HERE ]

Awesome Wallpapers

Windows 7 (and 8) Users: If you are using Windows 7 (or 8), did you know you can create a desktop background slideshow to show off your pictures and wallpaper images?  To learn how to use this feature [CLICK HERE].

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Visit Bookmarks4Techs.com

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The PC Won’t Turn On: Basic Troubleshooting for Power Loss

Using WordPress As A Website In 9 Steps

DTIDATA Data Recovery

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Try Norton Power Eraser If You Think Your Antivirus May Be Missing Something

I know during all my years of operating a computer there has been those isolated occasions where I suspected something was not right with the performance of the computer, that it suddenly slowed down and that viral activity may be present.  To troubleshoot a problem such as this, I would perform a virus and malware scan of the computer to see if something was amiss.  Oftentimes, the scanners would come up clean; yet, I was still not satisfied and was left wondering, did my antivirus scanner(s) miss something?

In instances, such as I described, it is good to get a second opinion. Recently, I started exploring a FREE standalone rescue tool called Norton Power Eraser (by Symantec) that is specially designed to aggressively target scamware, rootkits and eliminate threats that traditional virus scanning doesn’t always detect.

Screenshot - Norton Power Eraser

This is very important…  Only use Power Eraser as a last resort. As described it is designed to aggressively identify any potential culprits on your computer. For example, when I performed a scan, Power Eraser identified a shortcut on my PC and a process on my PC as being BAD and prompted me to remove them. The two items Power Eraser picked up are third party software applications and are perfectly OK.  It also identified a gamut of unknown files (as potential suspect files).

Screenshot - Norton Power Eraser

This is not to mean that Power Eraser does not do its’ job. It is to the contrary, it is designed to aggressively identify any potential culprits on your PC.  In conclusion, I see Power Eraser as a really good troubleshooting tool in picking up suspect files and processes that your normal scanner may not pick up.  It is up to you (or get professional assistance) to determine if those files and processes are good or bad.  With Power Eraser (by default), a System Restore Point is created before a fix is implemented.

See the tutorial for using Norton Power Eraser [HERE] .

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Technology in Schools: A Brief History

Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

‘Red October’ Virus Revives via Malicious Email

Linksys SE1500 5-Port Fast Ethernet Switch

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Links To All Articles Ever Posted At What’s On My PC

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Understanding File Association Problems

Have you ever attempted to open a file on your computer and the computer tells you that it cannot open the file, or the file does not have a program associated with it, etc…?

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If so, there is a reason for this and it is called file associations. When you click on a file, the file must have a program associated with it in order for the program to open. For example, on my computer, when I click on a PDF file, the program NitroPDF opens the PDF file for me. File associations are based on file extension classes such as txt, doc, jpg, pdf, and the list goes on and on.

What happens or can happen is that file can lose its’ association either through corruption, malware or you simply uninstalled the program that the file was associated with.

So what are some of the fixes? Brian over at Select Real Security has posted an article Can’t Open Programs In Windows that will walk you through various processes of fixing various file association issues using software and registry fix options. Some of the fixes will appear techie in nature to you; however, to fix problems such as this you may have to call upon your tech source for some help. Select Real Security is intended for both novice and advanced computer users who need security information, resources, or advice.

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Video Game Awards 2012 Winners

Four Things Most People Don’t Know Their iPhones Can Do

Android devices in U.S. face more malware attacks than PCs

A 12-Outlet Pivot-Plug Surge Protector provides premium power protection for both home and professional workstations

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Launch Windows Sysinternals Tools Directly from the Web

Most all techs who work on PC’s are quite familiar with the Sysinternals Utilities that are available for download (for FREE) through Microsoft TechNet.

Windows Sysinternals Tools

The tool categories that are available are:

File and Disk Utilities
Networking Utilities
Process Utilities
Security Utilities
System Information Utilities
Miscellaneous Utilities

You can either download a tool individually, from any of the categories above, or you can download an entire suite of troubleshooting tools.

Another, lesser known option, to getting to these tools is through Sysinternals Live. This option will save you a considerable amount of time due that the tools are conveniently listed for quick access and can be launched directly from the web.

Sysinternals Live is a service that enables you to execute Sysinternals tools directly from the Web without hunting for and manually downloading them. Simply enter a tool’s Sysinternals Live path into Windows Explorer or a command prompt as http://live.sysinternals.com/<toolname&gt; or \\live.sysinternals.com\tools\<toolname>.

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Wireless Flash Drive with Media Streaming Capability

Clean All Areas of Your Computer With CCleaner – FREE

A Compact and Versatile Home Theater System

Disable Firefox from removing the http:// in the address bar
@ 404 Tech Support

Gold Box: New Deals. Every Day.

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FREE Portable Software To Help Solve PC Problems

TTC Shelbyville recently served up a post titled Fix your computer with IOBit’s Toolbox Portable that caught my attention and caused me to explore further.

Being a geekster I am always looking for that ultimate tool that I can slap on my flash drive;  that will serve as my personal assistant for solving PC problems or maintaining my own PC. Oftentimes, I end up with so many utilities on my flash drive, that when I do need them it actually becomes a counterproductive situation. I keep telling myself, go back to my roots and use the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Trust me, it works.

If you are looking to reduce the payload of troubleshooting utilities on your flash drive and want to get back to the K.I.S.S. principle, then take a look at the IOBit Toolbox.

IObit Toolbox

Obit Toolbox is FREE portable software that system administrators and computer geeks will take along to solve PC problems anytime and anywhere. With more than 20 dedicated tools,IObit Toolbox allows you to display/diagnose PC information, enhance PC security, optimize PC performance and repair PC problems.

Folks, I was quite impressed with, not only the attractiveness of the interface (especially for a portable app), but was impressed with the actual selection and performance of the tools. There are more than 20 dedicated tools in this package and is a good application to have on any PC (or Flash Drive). The only negative I could come up with is that one of the tool selections is a prompt that takes you the IObit website to look at one of their Security apps called IObit Security 360. If you make that selection you will be directed to a site where you will be informed that IObit no longer is developing that application; otherwise the IOBit Toolbox is a great portable suite of troubleshooting, maintenance and optimization tools.

List of Tools Available in IOBit’s Toolbox:

Disk Cleaner: Analyzes unnecessary files in hard disk and cleans them up to enlarge available disk space.

Registry Cleaner: Registry Cleaner will clean up your registry database and free your system of unneeded ballast.

Privacy Sweeper: Erase your activity history and surfing traces.

Uninstaller: Helps you to uninstall programs in your computer.

File Shredder: File Shredder makes sure that no data thief can get his hands on your sensitive data.

Smart RAM: Monitors and Optimizes memory usage to increase available physical memory.

Registry Defrag: Registry Defrag determines how heavily fragmented the registry is and whether an optimization is necessary.

Internet Booster: Analyzes your internet and optimizes it.

Startup Manager: Optimize startups to accelerate your PC startup and improve your system performance.

WinFix: Analyzes your windows operation system and helps you to fix problems.

Disk Check: Disk Check performs analysis of your disks and their file systems.

Shortcut Fixer: Searches your system for non-effective shortcuts and references and fixes them.

Undelete: Undelete will restore deleted files after you have emptied the Recycle Bin.

IE Helper: Manages Internet Explorer add-ons, system context menu, and restores hijacked settings.

Process Manager: Manages running processes and displays the performance of your system.

Security Holes Scanner: Scans and fixes security holes automatically.

Cloned Files Scanner: Searches for cloned files in your system which may waste your disk space.

Empty Folder Scanner: Helps you to find empty folders in your computer and deletes them.

Disk Explorer: Analyzes your drives to show disk usage of your files and folders.

System Information: Collects and displays detail information of your system.

System Control: Helps you to change operation system settings.

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Gold Box: New Deals. Every Day.

NEW — Computers & Accessories Index

Over 600 Bookmarked Tech Sites

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[GEEK SQUEAKS’] – Laptop for School, FREE Graphics Editor, 4TB External Hard Drive, Blogger Pay, and An Overheating PC

A Laptop for School
ASUS A53U-XE1 15.6-Inch Versatile Entertainment Laptop

ASUS Notebook

Hornil StylePix
Graphics Editing Program That Allows You To Draw Pictures, Edit Photos and More…

Hornil StylePix

Data Recovery Blog
Seagate Announced New 4TB External Hard Drives

Seagate Announced New 4TB External Hard Drives

Dailyblogscoop
How to Get Paid for Your Efforts as a Blogger

Paid for Your Efforts as a Blogger

Computer Too Slow
Detect and Fix an Overheating Computer

Overheating Computer

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Gold Box: New Deals. Every Day.

Computers & Accessories Index

Over 600 Bookmarked Tech Sites

MORE Geek Squeaks

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Advice On Using Computer Forums for Learning and for Help

imageWhen you experience stubborn computer problems, one of the best starting points to research the problem are the computer repair and information technology related forums. Many times, by simply conducting a search of the forum, you will find that someone else may have experienced the same issue you are experiencing that will give you clues to a potential fix.

imageAlso, if you are a student of technology, the forums are excellent resources to read about and experience the computer problems people are facing in the real world. If you are tech savvy enough, join a reputable forum and begin polishing up on your helpdesk skills by assisting others. Remember, as a student of technology, the first attitude adjustment to get under your belt, that should become your motto is, “there are no dumb questions”. Never make the person you are assisting feel like they are beneath you.

imageAs with anything on the internet, “believe nothing and verify everything!”. Just because you see a potential solution, to your problem, in a forum; make sure you validate the solution and the person offering the solution. I often use computer based forums to search for clues to problems then validate potential solutions by using Google to search the solution. Believe me, no one out there knows the answer to every computer problem.

If you would like to check out and experience how forums work, a good launching point is a website called Computer Technician.

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Visit the page titled Top 10 Computer Repair Forums and Message Boards.

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[Tech Toolbox] – Portable App to Manage Sysinternals and NirSoft Utilities

If you are a computer tech or you are working toward becoming a tech, then most likely you are aware of the FREE utilities that are made available by Sysinternals and NirSoft  web sites.

The Sysinternals web site was created in 1996 by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell to host their advanced system utilities and technical information. Whether you’re an IT Pro or a developer, you’ll find Sysinternals utilities to help you manage, troubleshoot and diagnose your Windows systems and application

NirSoft web site provides a unique collection of small and useful freeware utilities, all of them developed by Nir Sofer.

The compilation of these utilities, in my opinion, are utilities that are a must have in the tech toolbox.  The problem is, there are so many of them it is a task to manage and keep them up to date.

A solution to this problem is a really cool utility called, WSCC – Windows System Control Center.  WSCC is a portable application that is specifically engineered to manage and update the utilites that you find on the Sysinternals and NirSoft Sites.  In other words, it does the work for you; plus the interface is presented in such a manner that the utilities are categorized with descriptions provided.  There is even a main category for links to the utilities that are already built into the Windows operating system.

[ SCREENSHOT ]

WSCC

WSCC is a free, portable program that allows you to install, update, executeand organize the utilities from various system utility suites. WSCC can install and update the supported utilities automatically. Alternatively, WSCC can use the http protocol to download and run the programs. WSCC is portable, installation is not required. Extract the content of the downloaded zip archive to any directory on your computer

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FREE – Windows 7 Power Users Guide

The Windows Power Users Guide is a MUST HAVE book to get the most out of Windows 7 that is for people of all technical ability. The book (now FREE as an eBook) was first published in 2009 by Mike Halsey (MVP).  Mike is also author of the famous book Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out from Microsoft Press…

The Windows 7 Power Users Guide

The book contains 16 chapters and is a guide on how to get the very best out of Windows 7 from installation to configuration and advanced operations. It includes step-by-step guides, screenshots and diagrams on every page, quick tips throughout the book and is presented in full colour.

TheWindows 7 Power Users Guide contains helpful how-to’s, full colour pictures and quick tips to guide you through everything from using the Start Menu and Taskbar to backing up your documents and identifying and fixing problems.

You can get your hands on the book [HERE] .

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Typical Sounds A Hard Drive Will Make When Failing

During all my years of working around PC’s I have learned to not only monitor for the visual cues of the onset of problems; but to also monitor for the audio cues, as well.  For example, if I am assisting someone on a PC that may be experiencing problems, I am lost if there is not a hard drive LED light to monitor the activity of the hard drive.

Just this past week, and I plan to elaborate further in another article, I assisted someone with removing data from a hard drive that was diagnosed by a computer tech as being dead. When I got hold of the drive, I performed an old (and very questionable trick), to get the drive to spin up; and, performed a little known desperation move to actually retrieve the data.

Hard Drive Failure

Again, that is another story, but there was a very noticeable sound when I fired this drive up. It was a sound, based on my experience of being around PCs, that definitely was not good. The drive was emitting a periodic clunking noise which indicated a problem with the head mechanism in the drive. Believe me, I am no tech expert, but when I heard that sound I knew the drive was on the verge of death.

It is easy for me to describe the sound, but what are the typical sounds a hard drive will make when failing?

To give you an idea of how a hard drive actually sounds when it is failing, I encourage you to visit the web site Data Cent. They have actually recorded the sounds of failing hard drives, from a variety of manufacturers (such as Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung, Hitachi/IBM, Toshiba, Fujitsu, and Quantum).

If you are someone that is working toward becoming a computer tech, I encourage you to visit the Data Cent site [ HERE ] to hear the excruciating pains being emitted from these hard drives. When you get to the site, turn up your speakers and click on the small arrows to hear the sounds. Once you hear those sounds, you will not forget them…

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Detect Suspicious System Behaviors with HiJack Hunter

HiJack Hunter is very impressive computer technician type tool that is designed to comprehensively scan, gather data and generate a log file about your computer that may be helpful when you experience suspicious system behavior. This tool is for purely for someone that has comprehensive knowledge of the workings of the Windows operating system and the ability to scan a log file for problems (and know what they are looking for).

A powerful part of HiJack Hunter is the ability to restore all system parameters that are commonly hijacked by spyware and trojans.  It is quite possible with this utility to restore (back to norma)l  the task manager, regedit, cmd, userinit registry key, system restore, safe mode, IE settings, and IE urls. You can also manage hosts files, registry startup entries and boot files with HiJack Hunter.

HiJack Hunter

Here is a sampling of what areas HiJack Hunter will scan and other features:

Generic System Information
Running Processes
Loaded Modules
TCP Connections
Registry Startups
Startup Folders
TCPIP Nameservers
Internet Explorer Settings
Programs allowed in Windows Firewall
Ports allowed in Windows Firewall
Windows Hijacks
Winlogon Notify
ShellExecuteHooks
SharedTaskScheduler
Shell Open Commands
Browser Helper Objects (BHOs)
Wallpaper
Executables in Temp folder
Executables in suspicious folders
Files created 7, 15 and 30 days ago
Hidden files in suspicious folders
Executables in Internet Explorer Folder
Drivers -> FSFilter Anti-Virus
Drivers
Services
Custom files listing
Custom Registry Keys and Values Dump
Exclude Microsoft System Files
Multilingual
HOSTS File Manager
Windows Tools
CLSID List
Restorer
Restore Safe Mode
Restore System Hijacks
Restore Startup Hijacks
Restore IE URLs
Restore IE Hijacks
Reduce memory usage
Exclusion List
Startup files manager
Boot Files manager
Work in background
Kernel Mode Info
Ring3 API Hooks

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Four Ways to Get Your PC Running Again

Guest Article By:


Tibor Schiemann,
President and Managing Partner,
TuneUp

Have you ever gotten the ‘Blue Screen of Death’ or a cryptic error message upon starting your Windows PC? These scenarios can baffle not only beginner computer users, but even IT professionals. Luckily, there are some very effective ways to troubleshoot these start-up problems, repair Windows using Microsoft’s own tools and get your PC running again.

If Windows doesn’t start, restore your system using the “Last Known Good Configuration” mode. It restores many of the changes you made during your last Windows session, such as driver updates, system settings and registry changes.

After it has failed to load, Windows should automatically offer the “Windows Advanced Options Menu” to Windows XP users or the “Windows Error Recovery” screen to Windows Vista and Windows 7 users. However, if that screen does not appear, repeatedly press the F8 key right before the Windows boot logo would normally appear. Select “Last Known Good Configuration”, and wait for Windows to boot up. This restoration method should work in the majority of cases.

Windows Advanced Options Menu

If it doesn’t, select the “Safe Mode” option, and try to manually undo all of the changes you made the last time Windows worked. You may need to uninstall a program, a driver or an update to resolve the start-up issue.

Windows XP users can also use the installation CD to try and repair their system. It contains an option to restore all of the operating system’s files, including those that are responsible for Windows XP to start.

To repair the operating system, insert the installation CD, and hit a key when Windows asks you to “Press any key to boot from CD”. Wait a moment, and then hit “Enter” when it says “Welcome to Setup”. Hit “F8″ and then “R” to perform a repair installation. This should get your Windows XP system up and running again.

Windows XP Install CD

If the repair option is unavailable, the CD you’re using isn’t recognizing the Windows XP installation. This could have happened for several reasons; for example, you might be using an older Windows XP installation CD that is compatible with Service Pack 1 or Service Pack 2, but you might have already upgraded your system to Service Pack 3.

However, you still have the option to manually repair the startup files. Again, insert the installation CD, and hit a key when Windows asks you to “Press any key to boot from CD”. Wait a moment, and then hit “Enter” when it says “Welcome to Setup”. Then, press “R” to enter the recovery console, select your Windows installation (usually 1 for drive C:), and log in to the administrator account. Now enter the command: Bootcfg /rebuild. This tool scans your hard disk for your Windows XP installation. It should come back with something like “[1]: C:\Windows”.

To add your installation to the boot list, hit “Y”, and press “Enter”. Next, enter the name of the operating system you want to appear in the boot menu. This is irrelevant on computers with only one operating system, but you could type in “Windows XP Home Edition” or “Windows XP Professional Edition”, for instance. Next, the Bootcfg tool asks you to “Enter OS Load Options”. Type in “/Fastdetect”, and Windows should load as normal.

On the other hand, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users have the ability to perform a “Start-up Repair”. This feature solves the most common start-up issues, like repairing common registry keys, system files and drivers usually associated with a failed system start.

Fully integrated into Windows 7, the feature has proven to be very effective. After an unsuccessful start-up, “Windows Error Recovery” will open and allow you to launch it. “Start-Up Repair” will then automatically detect and repair any problems, but bear in mind that this process might take awhile.

Windows Error Recovery

If you’re using Windows Vista, or if your Windows 7 system was not able to launch the feature, you can manually start it. Turn on your computer, insert the Windows DVD, and hit a key when Windows asks you to. Wait for it to start, hit “Next” and select “Repair your computer”.

Repair Your Computer

Confirm the Windows installation, and hit “Next”. You’ll then be in “Windows Recovery Environment.” From there, just click on “Start-up Repair” to troubleshoot your system.

Windows Recovery Environment

If you’ve performed “Start-Up Repair” and are still having Windows start-up problems, you’ll need to rebuild the start-up files. Boot into “Windows Recovery Environment”, and instead of launching “Start-Up Repair”, select “Command Prompt”. Now, enter the following commands one by one, and confirm each with Enter:

bcdedit /export C:\Boot_Backup

c:

cd boot

attrib bcd -s -h -r

ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old

bootrec /RebuildBcd

This will back up your old start configuration data and create an entirely new startup system. Continue on by entering the following commands:

Bootrec /FixBoot

Bootrec /RebuildBcd

Once done, reboot your system to see if your PC is running again.

These four repair methods should hopefully leave you with a working Windows system again. For additional tips and tricks to restore and maintain PC performance, I invite you to visit the TuneUp Blog about Windows (http://blog.tune-up.com).

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Get The Real Scoop On Printer Ink Cartridges

I do not think I have to tell you that printer ink cartridges are expensive and that you have options out there to “supposedly” save you money; such as, refilling the cartridge (with a kit), buying recycled cartridges or buying generic brand cartridges.  But, are you really saving money by using any of these options?

Ink. Nozzles. Cartridges

If you want the real scoop on printer cartridges and whether the alternatives out there (as I have indicated) are worth your time and money, then you need to read “Ink. Nozzles. Cartridges” .

This article, “Ink. Nozzles. Cartridges” is from a tech that I have great respect for and I totally agree with his analogy and advice on this subject. You do not see many techs write about printer issues, including  myself, due to the fact we despise printers. They can be hard to troubleshoot, hard to work on and just knowing you get the printer at a cheap price and pay big time in the long haul for ink is a big turn off in my book.

I would like to hear your input on printers and whether or not cartridge refill kits, recycled cartridges or generic cartridges are worth it or not???

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Symptoms of a Failing Computer Power Supply

I have been doing IT for many years, working with hundreds of PCs, and I cannot remember having to replace the power supply in any of the computers I managed. Probably was just a stroke of luck on my part.

Power Supply

Recently that stroke of luck changed.  Have you ever heard that things happen in threes?  In this case, three was the magic number.

The following computer power supply failures occurred within a period of 3 days on 3 different computers that were around the 3 year mark in age.

First, my niece… Her PC would not boot.  Power was present to the monitor and other peripherals; however, no power to the computer. Suspected and later confirmed it was the power supply.

Second, my brother… His PC would not boot.  Power was present to the monitor and other peripherals; however, no power to the computer. Suspected and later confirmed it was the power supply.

Third, my PC… The domino affect. First symptom that I noticed began about a month ago. On occasions I would walk away from my computer, returning  an hour or two later to discover that my computer had shutdown and booted on its’ own. Second symptom was more recent. Following a boot of the computer I would go online and suddenly a lockup would occur to the point that nothing worked other than manually powering down the PC. When these two symptoms occurred, I often rebooted and worked with no problems and would not experience these symptoms again for days. Third symptom that occurred was that the computer would suddenly shut down. Then came symptom number four… Power was present to the monitor and other peripherals; however, no power to the computer.

Here are some symptoms you may experience that could indicate that your power supply is failing. Diagnosing power supply problems can be difficult; however, once you start seeing more than one of these symptoms, put the power supply on your troubleshooting checklist.

  • Circuit breakers popping when the PC is turned on
  • System startup failures or lockups
  • Noticeable change in how long it takes for your PC to boot and shutdown
  • Spontaneous rebooting or intermittent lockups during normal operation (small brownouts)
  • Memory Errors
  • HDD and fan simultaneously failing to spin
  • HDD file system corruption
  • USB devices power issues
  • Overheating due to fan failure
  • Electric shocks that are felt when the case is touched
  • Smoke
  • BIOS beeping codes detected

During the course of all that I was experiencing, I was leaning toward the power supply being the culprit and had prepared myself early on. As soon as I started experiencing the first round of hiccups, I made sure I had a backup of all of my data (which I religiously perform on a regular basis anyway). I also went to the computer manufacturer’s website to explore power supply problems and to determine if there were any specs on the power supply in my computer, and if there was any information available on how to remove and install the power supply.

The computer I own is a Hewlett Packard multimedia PC with a 300 watt power supply. What I found on the HP site for my PC was awesome. It showed, step-by-step, the removal process (with pics) and even a video on how to remove the front and side panels of the computer, where the power and drive leads for the power supply were located and what to be cautious of (such as static electricity).

Power Supply

I have been inside of computers many times and knew pretty much the rundown to remove and replace the power supply; however, something as simple as removing the case panels was a major help. When it came time to remove the power supply in my computer, the homework paid off. I had the panels off of the PC, the power leads to the motherboard and drives disconnected, the drives pushed forward to create working room, and the power supply removed within 10 minutes. All together, in my case, removal of (6)-six screws were involved. Note: While I was inside the case of the computer I performed a thorough cleaning, as well.

To replace the power supply, I ended up going from a 300 watt power supply to a 400 watt power supply made by Dynex (through Best Buy). The form factor of the Dynex matched my system perfectly. There are numerous power supply options available on the market (see here for an example)

Dynex Power Supply

Following the replacement of the power supply in my computer I noticed (2)-two remarkable improvements. My computer starts up noticeably faster and shuts down noticeably faster. For example, it took me 1.5 to 3 minutes to boot up prior to the replacement.  Following the replacement of the power supply, my computer now boots to the Windows 7 desktop in less than 1 minute.

In the end, diagnosing a failing power supply can be a challenge, but eventually the symptoms of things to come will rear its’ ugly head. Just be prepared, have your data backed up, and do some research.

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Analyze and Shorten Your Computer Startup Time

Have you ever noticed that the longer you own your PC the longer it takes for it to startup (or boot)?

A common complaint from computer users, especially home-based users, is that their computer is slow to startup and does not boot like it did when they first purchased (and installed) it. During the ownership of our PC we are constantly installing software, and as a result many of these software applications take a place in the startup routine of the computer. The startup place that the apps reside is often for purposes of performing automatic updates or to provide a convenient launching point for the application (such as the system tray) or it is an application (or Windows Service) that simply runs in the background while you are performing other tasks on your PC. I have personally witnessed another scenario where computer users attempted to remove applications from their PC only to find that residual files are left over (after the uninstall) that is still attempting to startup when the computer boots. Over a period of time this accumulation causes the computer to startup slow and often robs the computer of system resources, resulting in increased memory and cpu (processor) usage.

If you are techie enough, you can try to dissect the numerous (yes there are more than one) startup points on your PC to regain some of the power back; however, you will soon find out it can be frustrating experience.

To help us solve this problem, I ran across a wonderful software application, called Soluto – Anti Frustration Software, that measures your startup time as soon as the Windows Logo screen is displayed. Soluto is geared toward the non-techie type, is very appealing in appearance, and is very easy to use. Soluto is currently in beta (software testing stage); however, during my testing on my Windows 7 based PC, it performed without a hitch.

After you install Soluto, you will be prompted to reboot (restart) your computer. This is where Soluto goes to work in analyzing and actually timing how long it takes your PC to startup. Following the analysis you will be provided with a very nice graphical interface where Soluto will help you determine what apps (and/or services) are slowing down your PC, what apps you can pause or remove (called no-brainers), what apps you can delay starting up (will eventually start when the computer is idle), and, what apps are safe to play around with and which ones are not.  If you mess up, you can return or restore an application back into the startup routine. To see a video of Soluto in action, click [ HERE ] .  Typically, most Windows services will identified by Soluto as “cannot be removed” and will even tell what purpose the service provides.

In my testing of Soluto, I went from a 2 minute and 30 second startup time, to a 1 minute and 31 second startup time by simply pausing and delaying a few apps that Soluto told me was safe to do so.

If you choose to Pause an application it means it will be removed from the boot sequence and in order to run it, you must launch it manually. Choosing to Delay an application means it will be removed from the boot sequence, and will run automatically after the boot is over, during an idle moment. Pausing an application provides value beyond the boot, and improves your ongoing PC experience, since Paused applications do not run in the background and do not occupy PC resources. Delaying an application, on the other hand, will only shorten your boot time and not improve your ongoing experience. In general, it is advisable to Pause applications that you don’t use on a daily basis, and Delay those that you do.. If you’re not sure, choose Delay. If you see that you’re barely using an application, you can always choose to Pause it later.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE FULL SCREENSHOT ]

Screenshot - Soluto

I can also see this app being used on my PC to help me visually detect a potential malware concern. Speaking of malware, this app must have potential… The cybercriminals are already posting “fake” Soluto programs out there. Do not fall for this tactic. Only download Soluto from their web site [ HERE ] .

Minimum requirements to run Soluto Beta are:

  • 512MB of Memory (RAM) and above
  • 500MB of free disk space (Soluto Beta takes up approximately 20MBs; the rest is required for the proper operation of the Microsoft .NET Framework. Please see the Microsoft .Net Framework Minimal System Requirements for more information.) Operating System – Windows XP (SP2 and above) / Windows Vista / Windows 7
  • Not Supported: Windows Server 2003 and 2008
  • Administrator User – The application must be installed using an Administrator account.

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Test DNS Server Performance

If you been following the tech blogs, there has been a lot of talk about DNS (Domain Naming System) and which DNS nameserver settings to use that will ultimately optimize and make your internet experience faster and safer. For example, instead of using my internet service provider’s default DNS settings, I have opted to the DNS settings from a provider called OpenDNS. OpenDNS is claimed to be faster than your provider’s DNS and has the ability to filter out the bad content, when properly setup. There are other popular DNS services such as Norton DNS and Google DNS.

Why does DNS matter?

The DNS protocol is an important part of the web’s infrastructure, serving as the Internet’s phone book: every time you visit a website, your computer performs a DNS lookup. Complex pages often require multiple DNS lookups before they start loading, so your computer may be performing hundreds of lookups a day. – Google

Changing your DNS settings is very easy to do and is not complicated at all. Once you decide which DNS provider to go with it is a matter of inserting a set of numbers at the computer level (under your Network Connections) or you can actually do it at the router level. Instead of rewriting those instructions on “how to”; best instructions I have found on how to change your DNS is reflected in Bill Mullin’s recently posted article “Norton DNS – Another Layer of Computer Security“.  Those same instructions (found toward the end of the article) will apply to using any of the DNS providers.

Once you get a general understanding about DNS and what all the fuss is about, you are probably wondering how do you benefit from changing your DNS settings and which DNS provider is best? One tool to help you benchmark the various DNS providers (or servers), AND answer these questions,  is the small (154K) portable tool called DNS Benchmark.

“You can’t optimize it until you can measure it”
Now you CAN measure it!

DNS Benchmark

DNS Benchmark – This little puppy will help you determine your DNS performance by comparing (or benchmarking) your performance with other DNS nameservers.  What you will learn is it is all about location; where you are located relative to the DNS nameserver you are using.

GRC’s DNS Benchmark performs a detailed analysis and comparison of the operational performance and reliability of any set of up to 200 DNS nameservers (sometimes also calledresolvers) at once. When the Benchmark is started in its default configuration, it identifies all DNS nameservers the user’s system is currently configured to use and adds them to its built-in list of publicly available “alternative” nameservers. Each DNS nameserver in the benchmark list is carefully “characterized” to determine its suitability — to you — for your use as a DNS resolver. This characterization includes testing each nameserver for its “redirection” behavior: whether it returns an error for a bad domain request, or redirects a user’s web browser to a commercial marketing-oriented page. While such behavior may be acceptable to some users, others may find this objectionable.

In my testing, using DNS Benchmark, I found that OpenDNS, from my geographical location, was top dog and utimately made a noticeable difference in my browser page loads. Remember DNS is like a phonebook.  Everytime you visit a website in your browser, your computer performs a DNS lookup using the DNS provider that you have selected. It really does make a difference!

Other interesting articles about DNS:

OpenDNS – Something to try…

Google’s Public DNS Resolution Service

Flushing The DNS Cache On Your Computer

Change Your DNS Easily with DNS Jumper

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Geek Squeaksof the Week (#64)

Where does the week go? It is time for another round of Geek Squeaks’; a premier listing of tech links to articles that are crafted by the members of the What’s On My PC blogroll. If you are into information technology and computers, then it is highly recommended that you bookmark and follow these sites. I will guarantee you that you will walk away learning something that you did not know. For example, pictured is the ultimate tech beach chair to kick back and read Geek Squeaks’…

Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts
For Added Internet Protection – Virtualize Your System with Free Wondershare Time Freeze

My Technology Guide
Get a Chance to Win Free License of “Handy Backup Professional” worth $99 [Contest, Giveaway

GadgetsHolic
Genos CYCLOPS universal controller

RGdot.com
Trix: Freeware Efficiency And Productivity Utility For Windows

Mr. Reiner
Why the current computer security paradigm
is analogous to fixing a leaky dam

Free PC Security
Malicious Sites June 15

Laptops Review Central
Toshiba updates Satellite Pro line

TTC Shelbyville
Protect Me!

AKS-Feel The Change
Rotate your PDF document Permanently with RotatePDF.net

AskBillFirst
Adobe reports critical flaw in Flash,
Acrobat | Security – CNET News

411-Spyware.com
How to Remove Defense Center

404 Tech Support
Avoiding IT Career Burnout

Tech-for Everyone
WinPatrol PLUS License Giveaway

Plato On-Line
BP Oil Disaster: It’s Everyone’s Fault?! –edited

Worthy Tips
Turns your laptop into kids friendly gadget with Smash Key

Rarst.net
MWSnap – old but useful screenshot tool

Netbook Freeware
BatteryBar: Free Software to Monitor Battery of Netbook

Lifehacker
DIY Laptop Riser Is a Convenient Surfing-in-Bed Companion

Confessions of a Freeware Junkie
Remote Control: Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Manager

I Love Free Software
PulpTunes – Access your iTunes Library from Any PC

thePC Security
Free Sandbox Software for Best Security – Trustware BufferZone

The Internet Security Blog
Best Free Internet Security for New Malware –
Microsoft Security Essentials

Canadian Tech Blogger
Google Adds A Caffeine Boost To Its Search Index

Paul’s Home Computing Blog
Windows XP Users: End of Support Reminder

TuneUp Blog about Windows
TechEd 2010 – All About Windows Troubleshooting

What’s On My PC
The easy way to print filenames in folders…

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When Windows Updates Go Bad

Windows Updates is a necessary evil that routinely provides (usually 2nd Tuesday of each month) Windows Operating System Updates, as well as, security or critical updates that help protect us from known malware and security exploits. The general rule of thumb, for the home based computer user, is to have your computer set to install the updates automatically.

When your computer is online, Windows can automatically check for important updates and install them using these settings.  When new updates are available, you can also install them before shutting down the computer.

As with anything that has to do with computers, there are those isolated times when Windows Updates do not download/install properly; thus creating a frustrating situation for the end user. This can be anything from an update causing an error message to an update that repeatedly keeps reappearing. The complexity of this entire update process is really an amazing process and finding answers to resolve update problems that occur, as a result of this amazing process, is even more complex. Most end users experiencing these types of issues often accept the problem and avoid finding the fix, thus compromising the stability and security of their computers.

What is the fix and what are you to do when Windows Updates Go Bad?

As I stated, this process is complex and when problems do occur there is not a magical fix that will fix every Windows Update problem you may encounter; HOWEVER, Microsoft has recognized that end users need available resources to investigate, research and ultimately resolve any Windows Update problems that have occurred or may occur.

There are (2)-two online Microsoft resources that I use to not only educate myself about Windows Updates; but, to find the fix for any update problems myself and/or others may experience. Just keep in mind, if you are experiencing an update problem; there is likelihood you are not alone, and someone else has already been down that road. It is important you document (on paper) what issue(s) you are seeing so that you can accurately research the issue (e.g. error message, update ID, update icon repeatedly in system tray, etc…)

1.)  Microsoft Update Solution Center – Here you can research the top update issues experienced by other users, information about error messages you may be experiencing, some “How To’s” about Windows Updates and last, but not least, how to contact a support professional (either by email, online or phone).

2.) Microsoft Answers – Windows Updates – This is a forum based option to look at to determine if someone else may have experienced the same problem you have. The forum(s) are Microsoft operated, and in essence can be used to research any Microsoft Windows problem you may be experiencing. In this case our issue is Windows Updates. To give an example, a Microsoft Engineer responded to the following issue that numerous people were recently experiencing:  Error Code 0x8007F0F4 or Error Code 0XFFFFFFFF when installing Windows Update MS10-015(KB 977165) .  If you notice the error code numbers and Windows Update ID is reflected.  This is why you need to document (on paper) what issue, error code(s) and the Windows Update ID you are seeing.

As I always say, “I hope I have been as clear as mud!”.  In all seriousness, both of these resources can be of great assistance when your Windows Updates go bad!

(Addendum – 12 June 2010)

TechPaul at Tech-for Everyone , in connection with this article, pointed out that live Microsoft support is free for any security-related issue, such as Updates.  Just call 866-PC SAFETY.

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Monitor the Operating Status of Your PC from the Desktop

Here is a no frills (no install) status monitor, called Desktop Info, that is useful if you are into monitoring the operating status of your PC (e.g. cpu usage, low disk space, network connectivity, memory usage, etc…). The status of your PC can be displayed on your desktop with little or no memory or cpu usage. For example, below is a screenshot from the desktop of my PC with Desktop Info running. When running, Desktop Info displays real-time information about the operation of your PC on your desktop with a transparent background. This app could be most useful if you are running numerous PCs (or server farm) to visually identify the operating status of your equipment.

Desktop Info

Once Desktop Info is running on your PC and displayed on the desktop, you can close it by right mouse clicking anywhere on top of the display info and by selecting quit on the menu. There are numerous options available to modify the output of information displayed by modifying the “ini” file that is in the same directory (or folder) as the application. I encourage you to read the read.me file that is included to learn all that you can do with this little app.

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FREE Computer Troubleshooting Checklist

image Here is a What’s On My PC web clip featuring an article from the  New York Computer Help Blog that I feel would be of great value to my readers in the event they experience the inevitable. This clip is worth its’ weight in gold and is worth saving or holding onto…  I applaud the New Your Computer Help Blog for posting this “easy to understand” troubleshooting checklist and encourage the What’s On My PC readers to pay them a visit.

webclip

A “What’s On My PC…” Web Clip!

How-to fix computer hardware; symptoms and troubleshooting help – computer hardware repair tip

January 12, 2010
New York Computer Help Blog

image

Computers are a work of science.  Since all computers require the same basic hardware and connections to be operational, any computer issues are “Elementary, my Dear Watson.”  – New York Computer Help Blog

  1. Symptom: No sound, no lights when turning on -> Check: power supply, motherboard, CPU
  2. Symptom: Continuous beeps when turning on -> Check: keyboard, video card, memory, motherboard
  3. Symptom: Screen is blank upon boot up -> Check: power on monitor, video card connection
  4. Symptom: Operating system doesn’t load -> Check: hard drive, memory, motherboard, CPU
  5. Symptom: Screeching noise -> Check: power supply, CPU, hard drive, floppy drive, speakers
  6. Symptom: Shuts off by itself -> Check: BIOS power features, power supply, fans, dust
  7. Symptom: Operating system freezes -> Check: Windows; probably not a hardware issue

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#40)

If you have an obsession for information technology and computers, then you need to follow these blogs.  Listed is this weeks Geek Squeaks’; a sampling of articles (from the past 7 days) from the bloggers that are on the What’s On My PC blogroll. Talk about a great community of bloggers; none like it around!

image

411-Spyware.com
How to Remove Antivirus Live

Plato On-line
How and Why Twitter is Addictive

Evil Fantasy’s Blog
The Ultimate Geek TaskForce!

Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts
Infected by Scareware? Get Your Wallet Out!

Snakebytez
IEHistoryView : Track websites
recently visited in Internet Explorer

Carputers News and Computer Tips
IBM Lotus Symphony goes portable…

TTC Shelbyville
Duplicate Your Hard Drive

The Abbey Rose
Security Applications

I Love Free Software
Sweet Little Piano: Play Piano on your Computer

Technize
Remotely Control Your Phone from Computer

Worthy Tips
Download 30+ Free MP3 From Amazon in This Christmas

Mrintech
Import Contacts to Yahoo! Mail from Google Account

Freeware Elite
Symbols, Accents, Weird punctuation –
Do you know how to type them?

Canadian Tech Blogger
Google DNS vs OpenDNS

Technogran’s Tittle Tattle
Talking about the new Bing Bar

TuneUp Blog
Disabling Dr. Watson: Does It Really Improve Performance?

Carol’s Vault
5 websites to find your perfect Christmas recipes

Free PC Security
K9 Web Protection Free

AskBillFirst
Is It Disk or Disc?

Tech-for Everyone
How To Remove FinallyFast (PC SpeedScan Pro, Performance Center, Active Speed, etc.)

Sugarloaf Tech
Trouble upgrading to AVG 9.0 Free Edition

Rarst.net
SimpleDesktops.com – minimalistic wallpapers collection

Lifehacker
Chrome Extensions Gallery Officially Opens [Chrome Extensions]

Crazy World of G
Free Rip

Computer Too Slow
How to Diagnose Keyboard Problems

thePC Security
Free MP3 Manager Software Download | Music File Management

What’s On My PC
Trusting the IT Guy

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Windows 7 Functions and Settings In A Box

Have you ever been frustrated with navigating the operating system in an effort to find a specific function or setting?  You know it is there, but just can’t seem to remember where exactly you saw it and how you got there.  With the recent public release of Windows 7 I am sure many of you are finding yourselves in that type of situation.

Today I ran across a program, called Windows 7 In A Box,  that will help you navigate and actually learn many of the most common settings (and functions) that are native to the Windows 7 operating system.

image

The really cool factor to Windows 7 In A Box is that it is a portable app and can be carried with you (in your tech toolbox) on your flash drive.  I can see myself using this app to quickly assist other Windows 7 client users without having to go through the navigation process of locating specific settings and functions.  Windows 7 In A Box is one of those apps that basically will save you a whole lot of mouse clicks to get where you want to go.

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Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#25)

If you are new to What’s On My PC… you will notice on the right side of the blog a category listing for Geek Squeaks’.  The Geek Squeaks’ category is a weekly roundup of articles from the bloggers that are on the What’s On My PC… blogroll.  I encourage you to visit these blogs to learn more about information technology and computers.

Geek Squeaks'

Evilfantasy’s Blog
A rogue security test site?

Plato on-line
H1N1 Vaccine and National Security

Spywarebiz
BitDefender gets real about what you want in online security

Teck~Line
Critical Update for Adobe Flash Player (Reblogged)

411-Spyware.com
How to Remove SaveSoldier

Carol’s Vault
Finding inspiration on Twitter

AKS-Feel The Change
Music Search Engine – Find All Your MP3 Songs

Lifehacker
Tech Support Cheat Sheet
Reveals the Secrets of Troubleshooting

Rarst.net
FilterMyRSS.com – light online filter for feeds

Tech-for Everyone
The Best 10 Minutes

AskBillFirst
Setting up your browser to open multiple home page tabs

Free PC Security
Keepass – Free Password Security

Bill Mullin’s Weblog – Tech Thoughts
Save Your Machine – Keep it Clean

Mrintech
Google Pack: All Essential & Free Softwares!

Piyada’s World
List of fake antivirus and its removal tool

TTC Shelbyville
Change Firefox’s Default Search

Tux in the Midwest
Robot Hands Will Rule the World

Snakebytez
Tiny Program to Automatically Shutdown Computer

Is You GEEKed Up
Windows 7 Post Install Customization Checklist

Scoroncocolo
Windows Notepad

What’s On My PC…
A super easy way to listen to internet radio…

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If you experience Windows Vista Service Pack 2 installation issues…

Most of the time when installing Windows Operating System service packs, the install/upgrade process proceeds without a hitch; however, there are those occasions where the install will simply fail and cause the PC to revert back (or roll back) to its’ previous state. What is frustrating is that the install will proceed through all of the stages, which can be time consuming, before you are made aware of any problems. Usually these problems are the result of the operating system missing a previous update component; or a program on your computer is interfering with the install process; or there is file corruption or inconsistency in a Windows component such as the Windows Servicing Store. With the recent release of Windows Vista Service Pack 2, I am starting to see people reporting install issues, which is not all that uncommon due to the nature of the upgrade. Let’s face it, Service Packs are a complex collection of updates, fixes and/or enhancements, some major, that effect the overall operation of the PC.

This article was drafted, not to give you a specific solution, but to provide options to explore that may lead to resolving the problem.

First point to make is that if you experience this particular issue or any other Windows based issue, always write down exactly what Windows is telling you when the failure occurs and any resulting error codes that you observe.  This information is vital in searching for a solution; whether it be using your favorite search engine (e.g. Google) or searching Microsoft’s Help & Support Site [ HERE ] or Microsoft’s Knowledge base [ HERE ] or Microsoft’s Fix it Solution Center [ HERE ]

Vista_SP2

Secondly, in the event you are using the “standalone install” of the Vista Service Pack, I suggest you visit the Microsoft Update site [HERE] to scan for and download any updates you may be missing prior to installing the Service Pack.

In reference to the Windows Vista Service Pack 2 install issue, the following knowledge base article is a good starting point.

How to troubleshoot Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 service pack installation issues
[ CLICK HERE ]

The article above will provide you with (4)-four progressive options to explore including the use of a “System Update Readiness Tool”.

The System Update Readiness Tool checks your computer and tries to resolve certain conditions that could interfere with the installation of updates or other software.

Another option to explore, if the options above did not work, that I do not see in the article, is the option of running a “System File Check”.  If none of the options reflected in the above article resolved the install problem, I would give this a try:

The System File Checker tool gives an administrator the ability to scan all of the protected files to verify their versions.

To resolve system file issues, use the System File Checker tool (SFC.exe) to determine which file is causing the issue, and then replace the file. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open an elevated command prompt. To do this, click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow.
  2. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:sfc /scannowThe sfc /scannow command scans all protected system files and replaces incorrect versions with correct Microsoft versions.

Following the operation of the “System File Checker”, I would revisit the Microsoft Update site again to scan for and download any updates, then would try (again) installing Vista Service Pack 2.

If all else fails and all options have been exhausted, you can contact “Microsoft Help & Support – Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (all languages” – [ CLICK HERE ].

Free unlimited installation and compatibility support is available for Windows Vista, but only for Service Pack 2 (SP2). This support for Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) is valid until November 26, 2009.

PLEASE NOTE:  This article has been translated to the Serbo-Croatian language by WHGeeks

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What’s starting on your PC?

Managing and/or viewing the programs, processes and services on your PC when the operating system is loaded (boots) can be a real challenge even for the seasoned user or tech. There are many apps out there that allow you to visualize and troubleshoot startup issues. The first app out of my toolbox, for this purpose is called “Starter”.  Starter, can be installed on your PC or installed on your flash drive as a portable app. In my instance, I prefer the portable app version so that I can take it from PC to PC.

The feature I like the most with Starter is that you can right click on any of the startup entries and perform an internet search to identify and determine the credibility of any of the entries (startup, processes & services). This is most useful when tracking down malware issues.

Starter

Starter allows one to view and manage all the programs that are starting automatically whenever the operating system is loaded. It enumerates all the hidden registry entries, startup folders´ items and some of the initialization files, so that the user can choose to temporarily disable selected entries, edit them, create new, or delete them permanently.

Secondary purpose is to list all the running processes with possibility to view extended process’ information (such as used DLLs, memory usage, thread count, priorities etc.), and to terminate selected process (even a Windows NT service, having enough access rights).  Another one is Windows’ services (and drivers) manager with some advanced features.

Other Features worth mentioning is that you can edit, disable, delete, and launch entries; as well as, determine the file properties of those entries.  You can even dig deeper to explore the actual file path and registry location of the entries.  With Starter you can export the entire registry or sections of the registry to analyze issues even further.  The “Help” selection on the file menu even provides external internet resources that you can go to for researching those more troublesome and complex problems.

This is one app that I highly recommend that you place on your flash drive; especially if you are someone that is called upon to help others with issues on their PC.  You can get Starter [ HERE ] .

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