hardware · software · Windows

Recovering from a crashed computer

Several things to try, depending on what the computer allows and how far it gets you:

Boot the computer with the original Windows installation CD and do a “Repair” or “Reinstall”

  • Do an online search for more detailed instructions.
  • Buy Acronis True Image which will create a hidden backup partition that is easily restored if Windows is bad but the drive itself is OK.
  • Sign up with an online backup/storage service and save your most precious files online.

Boot from a bootable Linux CD

  • Do an online search for more detailed instructions.
  • Try to find one that includes an antivirus program.  You might be able to kill the virus on the Windows hard drive (through Linux) without attaching an external drive or taking the internal hard drive out.
  • Connect an external hard drive with enough capacity to store whatever you’re going to back up.
  • Using your chosen Linux version’s default file manager, copy your user profile (%userprofile%) folder (either “C:\Documents and Settings\[your login\name]” on Windows XP or “C:\Users\[your login\name]” on Windows VISTA – 10) from the “crashed” hard drive to the external hard drive.  Unless you’ve stored/saved files somewhere special on the hard drive, those folders above should include all of your Documents, Pictures, Music and email files.
  • You might even be able to make the external hard drive itself bootable, removing the need for a CD, if your computer’s BIOS supports booting from a USB drive.
  • Buy Acronis True Image which will create a hidden backup partition that is easily restored if Windows is bad but the drive itself is OK.
  • Sign up with an online backup/storage service and save your most precious files online.

Buy a new hard drive

  • Take the old drive out and put it into a “hard drive enclosure” which effectively turns your old hard drive into an external hard drive.
  • If it’s a desktop computer, you can just move the old drive into the secondary/slave position and keep it inside your computer.
  • Install the new drive.
  • Install Windows on it.
  • Copy your old user profile folder (either “[driveletter]:\Documents and Settings\[your login\name]” on Windows XP or “[driveletter]:\Users\[your login\name]” on Windows VISTA – 10) from the “crashed” hard drive to the NEW hard drive.
  • Buy Acronis True Image which will create a hidden backup partition that is easily restored if Windows is bad but the drive itself is OK.
  • Sign up with an online backup/storage service and save your most precious files online.

Buy a Mac

  • Take the old Windows drive and put it into a “hard drive enclosure” which effectively turns your old hard drive into an external hard drive.
  • Connect it to your Mac and copy files as needed.
  • Never use Windows again.  🙂