Windows’ System Configuration Utility startup-management tool — AKA Msconfig — depends on Registry data that may be wrong.
One way to clear the clutter from Msconfig is by running a Registry cleaner.
When the bits hit the fan, nothing gets your PC back in shape like having a complete known-good image of your hard drive to use for recovery.
Disk imaging — the gold standard of backups — is built into all versions of Windows 7 and some versions of Vista, but it’s also available for XP.
When system files go bad, Windows’ System File Checker can set things right.
Whether due to malware, botched updates, or some other glitch, mangled system files are rooted out and replaced with good copies.
Wiping the data off old drives is a smart thing to do, but secure erasing also must be easy to do.
Powerful software is worthless if it’s too hard to use, but I’ve found a free drive-wiping tool that’s powerful enough for pros yet simple enough for newbies.
When you do a clean install of Windows — whether the new version 7 or one of its predecessors — make sure you reload your software in the correct order.
Here’s my tried-and-true method for building a stable, secure installation of any version of Windows.
Automatic software-update tools are great — when they work.
However, the more complex and nonstandard your system configuration, the greater the likelihood that an automatic-update tool will go wrong … go wrong … go wrong ….
Clever malware can block your access to Windows’ Task Manager and Registry Editor, making it difficult to disable and delete the infection.
Several free tools, however, can help you root out these pesky Trojans and viruses — and prevent them from returning.
Why let data thieves mine your personal files and backups when you can encrypt them quickly and simply — without spending a dime?
Free, high-quality, disk-encryption tools make all your files and backups totally unreadable by anyone — except you!
A hard drive without a boot sector means big trouble — but the situation is not necessarily fatal.
Without your hard drive’s boot sector, your PC can’t boot or access any software on the hard drive; but thankfully, Windows’ built-in repair tools can put things right.
Out of the blue, your operating system pops up a reactivation warning.
Windows Product Activation (WPA) isn’t the Big Brother app some people claim it is, but the warnings sure can be annoying — especially when a system you’ve already activated demands reactivation.