If your PC is infected with a virus or malware, you have dozens of good antivirus applications available to help. Two good (and free) examples are Microsoft Security Essentials and my personal favorite Avira AntiVir Personal. Sometimes these infections become so entrenched within the operating system that its practically impossible to remove them while Windows is running.
For those occasions, Avira offers the Avira AntiVir Rescue System. Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD, and use it to boot your computer. The built-in scanner will then examine and remove any infections. Also, if your PC has a live Internet connection, you can download the latest definitions before your scan, for the best possible results.
One of the great reasons to upgrade to Windows 7 is that you have access to the Windows System Recovery Disc. A System Recovery Disc is a bootable CD/DVD that contains tools capable of repairing Windows should a serious error occur.
The first of these tools is System Repair, which automatically attempts to fix problems that are preventing Windows from starting. The next is the System Restore utility. So if you cant get into Windows, you could still attempt to restore it to an earlier time when everything was working. A Memory Diagnostic tool and the capability to launch a command prompt window are also included.
The last utility on the disc, Windows Complete PC Restore, lets you create a System Image. Unlike a traditional file backup, which copies just your data, a system image is a backup of your entire hard drive, including a snapshot of the operating and all of its applications and settings. So when you restore it to your PC, the system is fully functional; no drivers to download, no software to activate, no missing CDs to locate and no printers to configure.
Once you create the system image, you can use Windows Complete PC Restore option to return your PC to a fully functional state. Vista users could do this, too, but it was limited to just Business, Ultimate and Enterprise versions. With Windows 7, everyone can do it.
However, if youre using Vista Home Premium you can still perform image backups; you just need to do it using a third party utility like Acronis TrueImage or Norton Ghost. I did a column on this a few months back.
While you cant create a System Recovery disc with Vista, if you have an actual Vista installation DVD, it doubles as a System Recovery Disc. Just use it to boot your system, but instead of clicking Install, press Repair your computer.No matter what your computer problem, the odds are someone else has experienced it first. Remember, Google is your friend. Do a search on your symptoms, and you should find some leads. Maybe even a solution. Research is a big part of troubleshooting, so dont be afraid to ask questions.
Ronald Pacchiano is a contributing writer for SmallBusinessComputing.com.
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