The hardware and software problems dealt with on this website are in the order of their popularity. When applicable, the order will change to match the popularity recorded by this website's web logs in the previous month.
Click a link below that describes the type of computer problem to go to that information
Visit the Build Your Own PC pages of this website for information on how to build a desktop PC and solve self-build problems and visit the other sections, such as the Processors pages - which provides information on the brand-leading Intel Core Family processor - and the Video/Graphics, Sound, Motherboards and Monitors pages for more problem-solving information, all of which can be accessed via the menu items and jump menu on the orange navigation bar, or via the site search engine at the top of each of the main pages.
Visit the Upgrade Checklists pages on this site for checklists and useful information that cover upgrading the main components of computers of various ages.
Click here! to go to the page on this site that deals with Windows Vista, Microsoft's replacement for Windows XP.
Click here! to go to the page on this site that deals with Windows 7, Microsoft's replacement for Windows Vista.
Windows Product Activation (WPA) is part of Microsoft Product Activation (MPA) that is a feature of several Microsoft products, including MS Office. It is the feature in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 that has to be activated within 30 days if the computers with those versions of Windows installed on them are going to be able to continue using them. It is intended to prevent software piracy. Click here! to go to the page devoted to it on this site.
Windows XP Help and Support: "The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard helps you move your data files and personal settings from your old computer to your new one, without having to go through much of the same configuration you did with your old computer. For example, you can take your personal display properties, folder and taskbar options, and Internet browser and e-mail settings from your old computer and place them on the new one. The wizard will also move specific files or entire folders, such as My Documents, My Pictures, and Favorites."
There is not much more information than that in Windows XP's Help and Support. Windows Easy Transfer is used in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Click here! to go to the page devoted to those tools on this web site.
It is now possible to build your own Media Center PC that is specifically designed to provide home entertainment, because the version of Windows that runs such a computer - Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 - can now be purchased on its own instead of only as part of a Media Center PC. Moreover, Windows Vista Home and Windows Vista Ultimate editions come with Media Center built into them. The Windows Media Center has been improved in Windows 7. The following page contains a video of the new features. -
Windows 7 features - Windows Media Center -
By improving how Windows Vista and Windows 7 interacts with Media Center and improving the video and sound quality by the addition of third party software you can enhance the experience of using Media Center considerably and make it play video formats other than videos in the WMV format.
Click here! to read an article on this website called How to improve the Windows Media Center in Windows Vista and Windows 7.
Visit the Media Center PCs page on this site for information on them.
Here are the pages that provide information on those peripheral devices on this website:
Once you have an understanding of all of the aspects of personal computers, there should be no reason why you could not build your own computer.
A step-by-step guide on how you can build your own PC can be found by clicking Build a PC.
Click here! if you are looking for information on dial-up modems.
In my opinion, my guide is better than most of the other guides I have come across, because it leaves no stone unturned, whereas most of the other guides tend to leave out many of the finer details, obviously out of an erroneous assumption that the reader already possesses that knowledge. An all-too-easy thing to do if you have been involved in building computers for many years, as most of these writers have.
For system security information on this site visit the main Security page, or make use of the site search engine at the top of each of the main pages to search for references to specific information on, say, viruses, firewalls, etc.
Some of the numerous distributions of the open-source Linux operating system have become very user-friendly. Visit the Linux pages on this site for more information on Linux itself and the free software that can be used with it. Ubuntu Linux from ubuntu.com (version 12.04 in July 2012) is currently the most popular distribution, which is getting slicker with every update. When burned to a recordable disc the downloaded ISP file (700MB) can be used as a troubleshooting boot disc that provides access to Windows files should an irrecoverable failure of Windows (not any of the computer's hardware) make doing that necessary. It can also be used to go online to access banking websites, thereby providing the most secure connection in which viruses and Trojans cannot function. Ubuntu connects automatically to a wired or wireless Internet connection.
Desktop Icon Save and Restore is a tool that does just that. When it is installed, right-click My Computer (Windows XP), Computer (Vista and Windows 7), or any system icon, and click on the Save Desktop Icon Layout option on the menu the is presented. The icon layout of your desktop is saved so that it can be restored if it is changed by going into Safe Mode, etc. Just follow the same click path above but choose the Restore Desktop Icon Layout to do that. Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista and Windows 7 are supported. If you access its entry from All Programs, a Word document loads that tells you that a system reboot is required before the tool works and how to use it.
Download the tool from http://www.midiox.com/.
"EASEUS Todo Backup is a completely free solution for your operating system and data backup to protect them away from unexpected damage or loss. It provides backup, restore, disk-clone functions based on Windows operating systems with ease and reliability." - Supports Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows Server 2000/2003/2008. - http://www.todo-backup.com/
EASEUS Partition Master - Free and paid-for versions - "Top Benefits: * ALL-IN-ONE partition solution. * Resize/Move partitions without data loss. * Extend system partition to maximize your PC. * Recover deleted or lost partitions. * Disk & Partition Copy Wizard." - http://www.partition-tool.com/easeus-partition-manager/comparison.html
Data Recovery Wizard - "Free and powerful data recovery software to recover 1 GB data free of charge. It solves all data loss problems - recover files emptied from Recycle Bin, or lost due to software crash, formatted or damaged hard drive, virus attack, lost partition and other unknown reasons under Windows 2000 / XP / 2003 / Vista / 2008 / 7. It recovers data from formatted partitions with original file names and storage paths. Moreover, the free data recovery software works well with dynamic disk, RAID and EXT2/EXT3 file system." -
You can use the QTParted partitioning utility from Knoppix Linux, which runs from a bootable CD/DVD. Download the ISO image free of charge from http://www.knoppix.org/ and use CD/DVD burning software to burn it to a recordable CD/DVD, such as the excellent free CDBurnerXP from http://www.cdburnerxp.se/. Your PC's BIOS setup program should be set to boot from a CD/DVD drive in order to boot into Linux at startup without interfering with an installation of Windows XP/Vista. You would place the Knoppix Linux CD/DVD in its drive and reboot the PC. The PC will boot into Knoppix Linux, which looks like Windows. From the Start menu go to System and choose the program QTParted, which looks and works very much like Partition Magic, which costs around £40. It can be used with Windows XP/Vista on NTFS partitions
The free Foxit PDF file reader is much smaller than the intrusive and annoying Free Acrobat Reader. You can view and print PDF documents with it. All you have to do is extract its .exe file from a downloaded zip file to a folder, run it, open the Help menu, and enable Set to Default PDF reader. Download it from this page: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/.
Note that most free programs of this size usually install a search bar of one of the major search engines unless you elect not to install it.
BartPE is a free utility that allows you to create a bootable Windows XP CD that operates from the CD completely independently of an installed version of Windows, allowing you to troubleshoot and repair an ailing installation of Windows. For more information on the utility and how to use it to create the bootable CD visit Bart's Preinstalled Environment (BartPE) bootable live windows CD/DVD. -
Click here! to read additional information on the BartPE CD, including plugins and add-on programs.
If you're using Windows Media dump it and install a decent program. Before you spend money, try the excellent free CDBurnerXP from http://www.cdburnerxp.se/. - The critics are raving about it.
"CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multi-language interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. It does not include adware or similar malicious components."
"The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder is a freeware utility that retrieves your Product Key (CD key) used to install windows from your registry. It has the options to copy the key to clipboard, save it to a text file, or print it for safekeeping. It works on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Office 97, and Office XP. This version is a quick update to make it work with Windows Server 2003." -
"The Sysinternals [freeware] web site provides you with advanced utilities, technical information, and source code related to Windows NT/2000/XP/2K3 and Windows 9x, Windows Me internals that you won't find anywhere else. Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell alone write and update everything here. We welcome all suggestions and comments."
Sysinternals was an independent organisation but it is now owned by Microsoft. Visit http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/sysinternals/default.aspx for the great free utilities.
The hidden treasures of Sysinternals -
"Every few months I make a pilgrimage to the Sysinternals website to look at its superb collection of tools. It's now hosted inside the Microsoft Technet monster since its authors joined Microsoft as employees some while ago, but the value of their site is still as strong as ever and the tools are now guaranteed not to be ignored or left to rust." -
Do Not Track Plus (DNT+) from http://abine.com/dntdetail.php. Fred Langa, the renowned PC guru, uses and recommends it. The ad companies, such as Google and the social networks, such as Facebook and G+, track a user's every move on the web. They know who the users are, the websites a particular user visits and the times and frequencies of the visits. DNT+ has to be installed on every web browser that you use - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, etc. To do that use the browser that you want it installed on to download and install. For Internet Explorer, it would not install for me, saying that I had to close IE completely, which was the case, so I downloaded the file using IE, logged off and then installed it using the file. DNT+ blocks the tracking so you can browse in private. Only your Internet Service Provider knows what your browsing habits are, because, like your phone company, it has to keep track of your online activity, but it is not allowed to give anyone else that information unless compelled to do so by a court order. Google, Facebook, etc., track you to make use of the web-browsing and other information that they collect.
The Belarc Advisor from http://www.belarc.com/ (under Free Download).
It is imperative that you keep any kind of computer running Windows (or any other operating system) fully updated with the latest security updates. When run, the Belarc Advisor tells you if your computer has all of the available updates installed. It also provides a System Security Status report that gives your computer a security rating out of 10, created by the benchmark tests of the Center for Internet Security (CIS), which is at cisecurity.org (available for Windows XP Professional, not Windows XP Home).
Free programs from Comodo - http://www.comodo.com/products/free-products.php