|Wikipedia's article on system recovery
Dell's article on restoring a Windows XP computer
HP's article on restoring a Windows XP computer
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situations when you will not be able to get Windows XP or Vista to
start the computer. Important system files may have gotten
destroyed. Sometimes there's a message from Windows or from the
computer manufacturer about a fatal error. If there's a
reinstall/recovery CD set or DVD, you can get the system to start up
from Disc 1 of the set, and reformat the hard disk and reinstall
Windows and recover your computer to its original factory
condition. If however you have no such discs, it may be that the
manufacturer has instead included a separate recovery partition on your
hard drive. It may appear as a D: drive when you click Computer
or My Computer, next to your C: drive under Local Disks. It's
also just as likely that it won't appear at all because it has been
hidden so that you will not be tempted to use it as regular storage,
like you normally do with the C: drive. Visible or not, it's also
possible that this recovery partition has become virus-infected, or
overwritten by you or the system itself, or it may have been erased as
part of a reformat of the hard drive.
It's a good resource to know about before trouble strikes. You
can see for yourself if it's available by accessing the recovery
program on your PC by pressing a specific key combination (AKA the
“hotkey”) during the startup process while the manufacturer's “splash
screen” is visible. For Dells and some other brands, it's the F11
key, or Control-F11. If this doesn't work for you, google your
PC's manufacturer’s name with the words system recovery (e.g., acer
system recovery). Pressing the system recovery hotkey will bring
you to the first screen of the recovery program, if one is
available. At this point, just read the info on the screen and
know that you have this resource, and DO NOT CONTINUE WITH THE RECOVERY
because it wants to erase your hard drive. Instead, look for an
option onscreen to cancel the process or to continue with a normal
startup, or in the absence of any such option, just use the power
button to turn the PC off.
Here in brief outline are the steps for using your system recovery
partition, once you have the correct hotkey for your computer.
1. Shut down the PC if it is currently on.
2. Disconnect everything from your PC except keyboard, mouse and
3. Turn on the computer and immediately press your hotkey repeatedly, a
few times a second, until the recovery program appears. If
Windows starts to load, then let it and just restart and try
again. Repeat a few more times until you get the system recovery
program going or until you are satisfied that there is none available.
4. Select the system recovery program and let it run to
completion. It will reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows
and some other programs to get you going as it did when it was new,
including an antivirus program, like Norton or McAfee.
5. I recommend getting rid of the antivirus that gets installed by the
system recovery program and replacing it with Avast Home Edition (Free)
antivirus, so before you reconnect to the Internet, access your
antivirus program and get it to stop all its functions. After
you've got it stopped completely, restart the computer and click Start,
then Control Panel, then Add/Remove Software. Find the installed
antivirus in the list and select and remove it.
6. Reconnect the Internet and browse to download.com. Enter avast
in the search field at the top of the page and select avast free
antivirus. Download, install and run this program. Make sure it
updates itself as it installs. Do a full system scan. Be
patient. It will probably take an hour or more. In case it
finds any infected files, it will ask you to schedule another scan at
reboot. Select this option and reboot the computer and let it
scan again. Be sure to register Avast. It's free and the
registration lasts a year, after which you register it again for
another year for free.
7. Browse back to download.com and enter malwarebytes in the search
field this time. Download, install, update and run this
excellent, free spyware sweeper, as with Avast. No need to
register it. Restart.
8. Browse back to download.com and repeat the process with ccleaner,
the excellent, free maintenance tool, as with Avast and
Malwarebytes. No need to register Ccleaner, either. Restart.
9. Open Internet Explorer again and click Tools and then click Windows
Update. Follow the onscreen instructions to download and install
the latest Microsoft update software. Select Express and let
Windows install any and all critical, high-priority updates.
Restart and then repeat this step until there are no more critical
updates to get.
That's it. Next month's will be a lesson in obtaining and using a
System Recovery Disc Set or DVD.
July 20, 2011