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Recover almost any file, photo or folder

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Resuscitate Windows

You turn on your PC, you see a few snippets of text flash across your display, and then... nothing: no Windows logo, no annoying jingle, just a blank screen. Fortunately, Windows offers users a number of ways to help it return to a healthy state. So before resigning yourself to reinstalling Windows and all of your applications from scratch, try these tips.

In Windows XP and Vista, restart the OS in Safe Mode by pressing before Windows starts. When the Advanced Options Menu appears, select Last Known Good Configuration And press . This loads the hardware configuration and driver settings that were in place during the most recent successful launch of Windows.

If that tactic doesn't get Windows running, reopen the Advanced Options Menu and select Safe Mode. Choosing this option opens a bare-bones version of Windows that runs on a minimal number of drivers and services. If the system starts, you can conclude that one of the disabled drivers or services is causing the problem. With the help of Windows' System Configuration Utility, you may be able to isolate the culprit. Browse to Microsoft's Help and Support page, "How to troubleshoot by using the System Configuration utility in Windows XP" for more information on working with this tool.

If the Advanced Options Menu doesn't appear, boot your system from your Windows installation CD and perform a repair installation, which replaces Windows' system files while preserving your settings and installed programs. When you see the 'Welcome to Setup' screen, press , not the key for repair. Press the key on the license page, and on the next page enter R to perform a repair install--don't press the key, which would start a clean installation and wipe out your settings.

Vista provides one more option, in case these steps don't work. Select the Repair Your Computer option at the top of the Advanced Boot Options menu. This is roughly the equivalent of Windows XP's repair installation, discussed above. After you select this option, run Startup Repair from the System Recovery Options menu. If you don't see the Repair Your Computer option, access the System Recovery Options menu while booting from the Vista DVD. For more on Vista's advanced startup options, see the Windows Help and How-to page "Advanced startup options (including safe mode)"; and visit the Windows XP page, "How to fix a computer that won't start," to read about troubleshooting XP startup woes.

Refresh misbehaving Windows

Something has changed in your system. You don't know what happened exactly, but Windows or some application has gone haywire. Use Windows' System Restore utility to roll back your configuration files and Registry keys to an earlier time when your PC was working fine. Even if you never configured the System Restore utility yourself, Windows probably created some restore points for you automatically.

To check, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore. (In Vista you can get to System Restore by alternative routes: Click the Start button, type system restore, and press ; or access it from the Startup Repair menu mentioned above.) In Windows XP, select Restore my computer to an earlier time, and click Next. Bolded dates in the calendar are saved restore points. If you don't see any restore points in the current month, scroll back to previous months. In Vista, select Choose a different restore point, and click Next to display a list of available restore points. To roll your PC back to a particular restore point in either version, select the restore point from the list, click Next, and follow the prompts.

Recover your sanity

Take a 5-minute break and pretend that you're Spider-Man.

Quick links

How to recover (almost) anything on your PC

Recover images, repair files

Bring Windows back to health

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