Every computer sold with Windows pre-installed must come with a tool for reinstalling the operating system. The most common approach puts the restoration tool on a special partition on the hard drive. Some PCs, especially from small manufacturers, come instead with an OEM Windows DVD.
But what do you do if the partition has been lost–either through a hard drive crash or user error? Or what if that DVD has been misplaced?
If you purchased the PC from a major vendor, contact them and ask if they can provide a replacement. These usually come on a DVD or a flash drive. I know for a fact that Lenovo, Dell, and HP offer this service for a small fee.
Another option that might work: See if you can borrow a Windows DVD from someone. It must be the exact version of Windows your PC had–for instance, Windows 7 Home Premium. It also must be a complete version, not an upgrade disc.
After the installation, when it comes time to activate Windows, use the activation number on your PC. It will be on a plate, probably on the back of your desktop PC or the bottom of your laptop. Do not use the activation number on the package the disc came in. If you do, it will either fail or severely inconvenience the friend who lent you the disc.
When you delete a file, it doesn’t actually go away–even after you’ve emptied the Recycle Bin. The actual bits remain written on the drive until some other disk activity writes over them. Even when you format a drive, the files are still there for those who want and know how to read them.
If you want to truly and securely delete a file, or the contents of an entire drive, you need software that will overwrite the space where the file(s) once sat. Fortunately, several free programs can do this.
First, we recommend Eraser, which integrates with Windows Explorer. Once it’s installed, you can just right-click a file or folder and select Eraser. There’s even an option to erase the file the next time you boot–handy if Windows won’t let you erase it now.
Another option: Delete the files the conventional way, empty the recycle bin, then use CCleaner to overwrite your drive’s free space. This extremely useful tool can do all sorts of Windows scrubbing chores. You’ll find CCleaner’s Drive Wiper tool in the Tools tab.
Both of these programs offer various wiping techniques that overwrite the drive space multiple times. The implication, of course, is that overwriting a file 35 times is more secure than overwriting it only once.
Something else to think about: If you have sensitive files that you’ll eventually want to securely delete, you should encrypt them now.
- Top 20 Free Disk Tools for SysAdmins (gfi.com)
- 15 System Tools You Don’t Have To Install on Windows Anymore (howtogeek.com)
- Data Security – Erasing it Part Two (securityspread.com)
Looking to slash your Windows PC‘s boot time? You can boot your Windows PC 30 percent faster–without any hardware upgrades. Really!!
After several hours of tweaking and testing, we have managed to reduce the boot time of a PC from 69 seconds to 47 seconds. Here’s how we did it.
When you fire up your PC, the processor performs some initial startup steps and then looks for a specific memory address in the boot loader ROM. Next, the processor starts to run code that it finds at this location, which is the system boot loader. The boot ROM enumerates all of the hardware in the system and performs a number of diagnostic tests. Then it looks for a specific location on the first storage device–probably your hard drive, assuming that the system isn’t set up to boot from a network–and runs code found in that location. That’s the start of the operating system load process.
For Windows, the code that your processor loads is the Windows Boot Manager. The boot manager then begins the process of loading Windows. At some point during this process, the core of the Windows operating system–the kernel–loads into memory along with some key drivers and the hardware abstraction layer. The HAL functions as the interface between the operating system and the underlying hardware. After this, the Windows Executive, a collection of essential services such as the virtual memory manager and the I/O manager, fires up and loads the Windows Registry.
The Registry contains information about what services, drivers, and applications load during boot. The Registry is actually a database that stores configuration settings, options, and key locations for both high-level applications and low-level OS services. Over time, as users install and uninstall apps, the size of the Registry can balloon, thereby increasing load times. Boot times are also affected by the loading of key services and startup applications.
In view of the PC boot process, we can explore several areas to reduce boot times:
- The System BIOS or Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI)
- The Windows Boot Manager
- System Services
- Application Services (helpers)
- Startup Programs
- Windows Registry
Let’s consider each of these Windows functions individually.
Before proceeding further, we need to measure system’s weak boot time. One way to do this is to create a text file containing the text “Stop the Stopwatch.” Drop this into the Windows startup applications folder in C:\Users\your username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. This allows you to time the boot process with a stopwatch and know when to stop the watch. The boot process isn’t completely finished at this point, but the system will be in a usable state.
Measured by this method, our system took 69 seconds to boot–far too long.
First, we looked at the startup services that opened when our system booted. You can check the list for your PC by running msconfig, a built-in Windows utility. Click the Start menu, type Run, press Enter, and then type msconfig in the Run box. Click the Services tab. In the accompanying screenshot you can see that, for simplicity’s sake, we ticked the checkbox next to ‘Hide all Microsoft services’; nevertheless, we did plan all along to disable a few Windows services.
In addition to disabling all of the services shown in the above list, we disabled six Microsoft Windows services from starting on boot:
- Windows Media Center receiver
- Windows Media Center Scheduler service
- Microsoft Office Groove Audit Service
- Microsoft Office Diagnostic Service
- Smart Card Removal Policy
- Smart Card
Since we don’t use Windows Media Center on this system, disabling the first item on the list was an easy decision. And these changes only scratch the surface. Another item that you might disable on startup is Remote Login (if you never use it). The right choices depend on your needs.
After disabling the extraneous application services and a handful of Microsoft services, we found that the system now took 68 seconds to boot–not much of an improvement. The next step was to disable a few startup applications.
Msconfig’s Startup tab lists applications that start on bootup. Here is the list on our test system.
Most of the listed startup applets are at least occasionally useful, but none are essential from the get-go. we can manually check for Adobe updates, let QuickTime and Acrobat start a tiny bit slower when we need them, and so on. So we just unchecked all of the applets on the Startup list.
System boot time: 57 seconds.
Disabling startup applications and a few services trimmed 11 seconds off a 69-second boot time–an improvement of nearly 16 percent.
Now motherboard on our test system has two ethernet connectors, but we need only one of them. The motherboard is also set up to check the optical drive to see whether it contains a bootable CD or DVD–and only after that, to try to boot off the hard drive. And finally, since we don’t use an external and secondary SATA controller, we don’t need a BIOS check for the Marvell discrete SATA controller. Armed with this knowledge, we entered PC’s BIOS during startup, and performed three quick operations:
- Disabling the second ethernet port
- Setting up the system to boot from the hard drive first
- Disabling the discrete SATA controller.
Boot time: 52 seconds
So on our system, disabling a few unused BIOS items netted a savings of additional 5 seconds at bootup.
A number of articles suggest that cleaning the Registry of unused or orphan database entries lead to faster boot times, but many of them base that conclusion on rather extreme testing loading up a system with a lot of junk, and then using a Registry cleaner to remove the new additions. We used Piriform’s Ccleaner 3.12, a popular Registry and system cleaner to autoscan my system and identify items that it thought were useless.
first having Ccleaner remove extraneous files, cookies, index files, log files, and other clutter, and then accepting Ccleaner’s recommendations regarding unneeded Registry entries and cleaning those out. The first sweep with Ccleaner improved my test system’s boot time by 1 second (to 51 seconds,) and the second sweep yielded another 1-second advance (to 50 seconds).
now we have one more corrective measure to try: setting the boot timeout delay.
You might expect changing the boot timeout not to have much impact, since all it does is specify how long Windows may display an automatic menu, such as the Startup Repair menu. But it turns out that changing the boot timeout does affect boot performance.
The default boot timeout setting on our test PC was 30 seconds; but 10 seconds should give users sufficient time to respond to any menus that Windows may present. So the boot time after we made this change: 47 seconds. It’s unclear why this alteration has such a relatively large impact, but 3 seconds is 3 seconds.
You can dig deeper into each step of the process we’ve outlined here to reduce boot times further. But with a modest amount of effort, the boot time on our fairly typical system dropped from 69 seconds to 47 seconds, a reduction of more than 30 percent.
The key is to optimize each step of the boot process, one at a time. but sometimes your computer is taking longer to boot because your hard drive is about to crash to always run a hard drive health check first and When in doubt contact Stellar Phoenix Solutions.
- Call us at 1 855 BY STELLAR (297 8355) or click here to complete a service request form.
- You may also visit their website directly to learn more about our capabilities
- How To Maximize Your PC For Back To School (howtolearn.com)
- Shutdown and Fast startup in Windows 8 (letitknow.wordpress.com)
- Speed Tests: Windows 8 Vs. Windows 7 – PC Magazine (pcmag.com)
If you are upgrading from one old computer to other or When you or one of your employees gets a new company computer, you might need to transfer a large amount of data from your old computer to the new computer. The fastest and easiest way to transfer from PC to PC is to use the company’s local area network as the transfer medium. With both computers connected to the network, you can map the hard drive of one computer as a hard drive on the other computer and then drag and drop files between computers using Windows explorer.
Access the old computer and look up the computer’s IP address. Click “Start” and select “Control Panel.” Click “Network and Sharing Center.” Select “Change Adapter Settings” from the menu on the left.
Locate the icon with blue-colored screens that does not have a red “X” next to it. For example, choose “Local Area Connection.” Right-click the icon and choose “Status.” Click “Details…” and record the number on the line labeled “IPV4 Address.” An example would be “192.168.1.100.” Click “Close” on the Details window and “Close” on the Status window.
Determine the drive on the old computer that has files you want to transfer to the new computer.
Access the new computer. Click “Start” and select “Computer.” Choose “Map network drive” from the menu. Choose a drive letter in the Drive box.
Enter the address of the old computer in the box labeled “Folder.” Type two backslashes, the IPV4 address of the old computer, another backslash, the old computer drive letter and a dollar sign. For example, type “\\192.168.1.100\c$” (without the quotes). Click to remove the check mark from the box labeled “Reconnect at logon.” Click “Finish” to initiate the connection to the old PC.
Enter a username and password that has administrative rights to the old computer when the system prompts you to sign in. Click “OK” to complete the drive mapping and open a window with the contents of old computer drive “C:.”
Click “Start” and select “Computer” on the new computer to open a second Windows Explorer window. Position the two windows so you can easily drag files back and forth between them. Locate the files you want to transfer. Drag the files from one window to the other to copy them from one PC to the other.
Make sure you always open ALL THE FILES you just transfer before deleting any from the original destination to avoid any data loss. As per a recent study 40 – 50% of all backups are not fully recoverable and up to 60% of all backups fail in general.
Disasters that threaten a business can happen anywhere at any time. But no matter how it is caused, a loss of data, or access to data for any kind of extended period, inevitably means a loss of revenue, a loss of productivity, a loss of reputation, and increased costs.
When in doubt contact Stellar Phoenix Solutions.