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My PC Repair Toolkit

June 15th, 2007 14 comments

Being the computer guy among family and friends I often get asked to fix their PCs. Over the years I have built up a wide range of tools that I use when fixing the computers.  The issues have involved cleaning spyware/viruses, fixing network issues, setting up email, rescuing personal data etc.

Here is my current PC repair toolkit:
Microsoft Windows XP CD – required for refreshing Windows files for repair or worst case scenario a full rebuild.

Microsoft Windows XP SP1, SP2 and SP3 – I am surprised at the number of people who do not have these already installed.

Hiren’s Boot CD – this is the Swiss army knife of Boot CDs – it includes virus scanners, many disk tools, anti spyware, file managers literally everything you could possibly need.

Ultimate Boot CD – another boot cd, not quite as comprehensive as Hiren’s boot cd but still comes in handy every now and then.

Ultimate Boot CD for Windows – this is one of the most important tools in my pc repair kit – it works like a Windows Live CD and allows you to boot up a machine into a seperate instance of Windows in order to repair/rescue a machine where Windows fails to load properly or is unusable due to malware.

Knoppix and Ubuntu Linux Live CDs – these Linux live CDs are a must if the PC is so bad that you can’t even boot into Windows to safeguard any data. Also I have found the Linux distros more tolerant of faulty hard disks and I could rescue data when Windows didn’t even recognize the faulty disk.

Malware Bytes – excellent malware removal tool, this has saved me a number of times when over products didn’t clean a machine fully.

Spybot Search and Destroy – removes spyware from a Windows PC – the best I have ever used.

Driver Collector – useful for creating a copy of all your hardware in Windows. Note that you need to make the copy before you run into any trouble so that you have them in one place when you need to rebuild a PC.

ZoneAlarm Firewall – my Windows Firewall of choice.

InstallPad – an excellent utility which allows you to add software to a new PC very easily.  You just tick the box for each software app that you want to install and it handles everything for you.  Well worth a try if you haven’t used it.

SystemInfo – a very handy tool to read any system info from your PC.

AutoRuns  – from Sysinternals (now part of Microsoft) allows you to control any startup programs, services etc. on you machine.  Brilliant for preventing nasty spyware from loading up giving you a chance to remove it.

Process Explorer – gives you way more info than the standard task manager in Windows – an absolute must.

Laptop Repair Videos are a great resource for helping you to fix laptops especially with so many different brands out there. Taking apart a laptop can be a daunting task but these videos walk you through the process step by step.

Podnutz Podcasts – you need to keep on learning in order to keep up to speed with all the new tools and hardware. The podcasts at PodNutz cover a wide range of topics that will help you stay on top of all the latest tools available out there. You also get to hear how other PC repair technicians approach pc repairs and so can continue to learn and develop your skills.

CrossLoop – I try more and more now (where possible) to fix PC problems remotely using CrossLoop (allows simple secure remote control of a Windows PC).  This is one of the most user friendly remote access apps I have used and a less experienced user on the other end will have no difficulties in setting up their end of the connection. This is handy for most tasks but for the major jobs which require reboots, when not running in Windows and internet connection issues this obviously won’t help you.

Well, that’s my list – do you use any other tools that I haven’t mentioned here ?

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Take Windows vista enterprise for a test drive

June 9th, 2007 Comments off

Microsoft have made Windows Vista Enterprise available as a Virtual PC image for a 30 day evaluation.  This is great for those of us that would like to try it out but don’t want to upgrade our systems yet.  Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 is available as a free download so you have everything you need to get going.

I downloaded it onto my Windows XP Pro machine and I had it up and running with no issues.  One thing to watch is the virtual network card is not connected and you will need to modify this in Virtual PC before starting the image.

Download details: Windows Vista Enterprise 30 day Evaluation

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