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Fixing Windows

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When restoring a Windows PC to reliable operation, the key is to do so in the least amount of wasted time. Pete Moulton helps you determine the source of the trouble and take appropriate action to fix Windows in the shortest possible time.
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We get lots of e-mail from hapless Windows users complaining that the Windows that they once loved has now forsaken them and is behaving very poorly. This is especially true of Windows 9.x (Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, and Windows Me) PCs. A typical e-mail goes like this:

I have a Windows Me computer. It has been behaving weirdly for the past month.

  1. When I try to disconnect from the Internet, it always self-reconnects.

  2. When I need to close a program and restart Windows, Explorer is almost always missing in the list of items to close out, resulting in an improper shutdown.

  3. I have had several error messages that show the blue Windows background and white text with the word  Windows in gray.

  4. I have tried the following: Scandisk, Defrag, Remove and Reinstall MSN, Repair Internet Explorer under Add/Remove programs, disk cleanup, and the maintenance wizard on a regular basis. None of these is helping.

What should I do to fix these problems?

When resolving such problems, the key is to restore the Windows PC to reliable operation in the least amount of wasted time. So how do you fix Windows? This is not the fixing that the Justice Department, State's Attorney's General, or Linux software developers would like to see—that is, rendering Microsoft unable to reproduce Windows further. Instead, it's finding the silver bullet solution to a myriad of Windows malfunction symptoms. Generally, there is no silver bullet solution to any Windows problems.

Step 1: Virus Scanning

The solution requires a logical attack of the problems using fixes that consume the least amount of time. The attack begins by checking for viruses. I have received several copies of the W32.Magistr.39921@mm virus from AOL e-mails over the last few weeks. This just illustrates how insidious virus distribution by e-mail is today. Either McAfee or Symantec virus-scanning software performs virus detection, isolation, and removal equally well.

If you can get a copy of virus-scanning software that boots from a CD and set up your PC to boot from the CD, that ensures that viruses cannot transfer themselves to a floppy and continue to reinfect your Windows PC. Setting the PC to boot from a CD is done using the BIOS setup program of the PC. When the PC first boots, striking the Del, F1, F2, F10, or other keys enters this program. The key to strike varies from PC to PC and is often flashed on the PCs monitor during the powerup sequence. The BIOS setup is menu-driven with a bootup selection permitting you to select Boot from CD as one option. Read the menus carefully and slowly several times to find the right menu selection.

Finding and removing viruses can take up to an hour once you have the correct tools.

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