- Step 1: Virus Scanning
- Step 2: Fixing Errant Software or Hardware
- Step 3: Nuke the PC and Upgrade to Windows 2000 or Windows XP
Step 2: Fixing Errant Software or Hardware
After you have ensured that a virus does not cause the problems, more steps are in order. Either bad hardware driver programs or a bad blend of software causes some Windows problems. When a PC comes from a factory, the mix of programs is exactly correct. However, as time passes, we install new applications (or games that are used to test the graphics capabilities of the PC) that change the mix of Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) on a Windows PC. The DLLs are parts of Windows and application programs that are used as needed by the programs. For example, MS Word has a spelling-check capability that is implemented in DLLs. Windows loads these DLLs into RAM when MS Word performs spelling checking. Otherwise, they reside on the PC's fixed disk. A bad mix of DLLs can occur as more applications and other programs are installed in the Windows PC.
Some application programs use extra hardware features especially display features. The original hardware driver programs might not support these features. When they do not, "bad things" can happen that make no sense to PC users. Because every Windows program uses a display, the "bad things" happen in all programs.
To ensure that you do not waste lots of time chasing demons here, determine whether your problems always come from one program (MS Word) or one specific hardware component. If they do, then remove the program and either reinstall it or upgrade it to a newer version, or go to the hardware component's manufacturer's Web site to download the most recent Windows-certified drivers for your hardware. Some hardware requires updates to the BIOS installed on it. Such components are video cards, disk controller cards, and the main logic board (MLB). Such BIOS updates and update software are available from the hardware manufacturer and can be readily downloaded off the Internet. Both the drivers and the BIOS updates are easy to install. My A+ Certification and PC Repair Guide Video (available soon!) illustrates both driver installation and BIOS upgrade procedures step by step. Anyone can perform them by working deliberately and slowly.
Uninstalling software is performed using the Windows Control Panel and the Add/Remove Programs icon. Using Norton's System Works software to uninstall software is an alternative to using the Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs approach.
Removing software, upgrading driver programs and upgrading the hardware component's BIOS requires about an hour when you have all the necessary information, including the exact manufacturer, product, and model identification at your disposal.
Next is the critical step. At this point, it is time to decide whether to save your key data files, wipe the fixed disk, and reinstall Windows and all applications from scratch or to continue pursuing individual problem symptoms. In my humble experience (and, believe me, the experience is most humbling), it is best to nuke Windows at this point. Wiping the fixed disk and reinstalling Windows requires an hour. Reinstalling key applications can take another hour or two. This is generally less than the 10 to 16 hours that I have spent attempting to fix Windows problems.