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Fix the six biggest Windows 7 nightmares

How to cure some of the biggest problems

Windows 7 is remarkably secure and dependable. It's far from perfect, though. Here are six common Windows 7 disasters, and how to fix them.

2. You can't access the hard drive

If Windows can't boot because the PC can't read the hard drive, none of the solutions above will work. But that's not the worst of it: Unless you have a very up-to-date backup (and shame on you if you don't), all of your files are locked away on a possibly dead hard drive. Secondary drives you don't boot off of, both internal and external, also can die with important data locked away on them.

If the drive is making noises that you've never heard before, shut off the PC immediately. In that case you have only one possible solution, and it's expensive: Send the drive to a data-retrieval service, such as On Track or Rapid Data Recovery. Expect to pay hundreds or possibly even thousands of pounds. If your drive sounds okay, however, you may be able to recover the files for only $70 (£43) with GetData's Recover My Files.

If the sick drive is the one you use to boot Windows, you'll have to remove it from the PC and access it on another computer. You can do so by making it a secondary drive in a desktop PC, or by using a SATA to USB adapter such as the Bytecc USB 2.0 to IDE/SATA Adapter Kit.
The free, demo version of Recover My Files will show you which files can be recovered (almost all of them, when I tested it) and even display their contents. Once you've paid the license fee, the program can copy the files to another drive. If that doesn't work, you'll need to use a retrieval service.

3. Blue Screens of Death attack your PC regularly

One second you're working productively, the next you're staring at a blue screen filled with meaningless white text. If it happens occasionally, you curse, reboot, and get on with your work. If it happens regularly, you have a problem that needs fixing.

Windows 7 keeps logs of these 'Stop Errors'. (That's Microsoft's term; everyone else calls them Blue Screens of Death or BSoDs.) To view the logs and make sense of them, download and run BlueScreenView, a free, portable program by NirSoft (portable means you don't have to install it). The program shows you what drivers were running at the time of the crash, and highlights the likeliest suspects. If the same drivers come up from multiple crashes, you should definitely update them.

Speaking of updating drivers, you should make sure that all of them are current. SlimWare Utilities' free SlimDrivers makes this chore remarkably easy, as it scans Windows and lists which drivers need to be updated. If you register (that's free, too), it will find the drivers and run the update for you. It even offers to create a restore point before each update. Don't update all of your drivers at once, however; if you do, and one of them makes things worse, you'll have a tough time figuring out which one.
Frequent BSoDs can also be a sign of hardware problems, especially bad RAM. Although Windows 7 has its own memory-diagnostics program, I prefer the free Memtest86+, which you have to boot separately. You can download the program either as an .iso file - from which you can create a bootable CD - or as an .exe file that will install the program and its bootable operating system onto a flash drive.

NEXT PAGE: PC Administrator password is missing

  1. How-to cure some of the biggest problems
  2. You can't access the hard drive
  3. PC Administrator password is missing
  4. An important file disappears

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