The best of Windows Secrets on Windows 7

Tracey Capen

How did you spend your Labor Day weekend? I spent part of mine resurrecting my significant other’s personal computer. It started when Katharine’s PC suddenly refused to boot. The system rapidly declined to a point where even Windows 7’s rescue tools couldn’t recover the system. Of course, she didn’t have backups. (Though I’ve covered PCs since their start, built numerous systems, and keep my data backed up, I’m not, to paraphrase, my SO’s PC-keeper.)

That is, I wasn’t until last weekend. After hours of recovering most of the data (including hundreds of family photos) off the dying hard drive; attempting to repair the drive; installing a new drive; reinstalling Windows, applications, and data; you can bet that I made multiple image backups on different media.

You can also bet that I went to the Windows Secrets site to refresh my memory on data-recovery techniques, partitioning tools, and doing a fresh Windows 7 install with a Windows Upgrade DVD.

That research was made a bit more difficult for a reason known to many Windows Secrets subscribers: we don’t have the most efficient search engine. (Yes, it’s on our to-do list.) But here’s a tip. Google, with a somewhat larger budget to spend on these things, has one of the most sophisticated search engines in the business. You can apply that advanced search technology to Windows Secrets by going to Google and formatting your searches this way: {search string}

For example, I wanted to find Fred Langa’s story on a nondestructive reinstall of Windows 7. I entered nondestructive into the Google search box, and a link to the story (“Win7’s no-reformat, nondestructive reinstall”) immediately popped up at the top of the search results.

Helpful info in Windows Secrets e-books

Searching is one way to find helpful tips in Windows Secrets’ deep well of Windows information. Another is our popular series of e-books, which gather many of our best stories into concise and focused reference guides. Available on our e-book site, our current offerings include guides to general PC maintenance, hardware, security, and keeping Windows XP alive.

Windows 7 Guide, Volume 3

Today, we’re adding a third volume to our series on Windows 7. The Windows 7 Guide, Volume 3: Advanced maintenance and troubleshooting provides advanced tips and how-tos for keeping Windows 7 running smoothly. It discusses Win7’s most useful administrative tools for non-IT PC users, specialized diagnostics apps, and what to do when Win7 needs emergency treatment. The e-book also includes a bonus chapter on advanced tweaks to the Win7 Start menu.

Although all these stories can be found at, Volume 3 puts them into an easy-to-find, quick-to-read, one-stop resource. You’ll find the e-book’s table of contents on our e-book page.

To purchase “The Windows 7 Guide, Volume 3: Advanced maintenance and troubleshooting” for U.S. $9.95, click over to your Windows Secrets shopping cart.

If you’d like to buy the three-volume set of Windows 7 Guides, you can also do so through your shopping cart for $29.85. Volume 1 gets you started setting up, optimizing, and efficiently using Windows 7. Volume 2 tells you how to tune Windows 7 for better performance, make it work in a mixed-Windows network, and make a bullet-proof data-protection system. (A topic someone should have read before her hard drive crashed.)

The Windows Secrets newsletter has one purpose: to give you timely and interesting information on Windows and related topics. To keep it successful, we need your input on topics you’d like to see covered. Send them to

Thanks for your support — especially to our paid subscribers. Subscriptions keep Windows Secrets publishing.

Tracey Capen, editor in chief

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The Windows 7, Vol 3 (Excerpt)

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2012-09-06:

Tracey Capen

About Tracey Capen

Editor in chief Tracey Capen was the executive editor of reviews at PC World magazine for 10 years, from 1995 to 2005. He was InfoWorld's managing editor of reviews from 1993 to 1995 and worked in the magazine's test center and as networking editor from 1989 to 1992. Between his stints at InfoWorld, he was senior labs editor at Corporate Computing magazine.