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My PC Repair Toolkit

June 15th, 2007

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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  1. June 17th, 2007 at 02:11 | #1

    Sean – A BIG thanks from a small team at CrossLoop.
    We are excited to be a part of your regular utility! This is a great post by the way on other tools as well.
    Stay close to our blog and with me, anytime!

  2. Eric
    September 27th, 2007 at 16:40 | #2

    Not sure how old your entries are…
    I’ve heard Registry Mechanic is a useful utility. A lot of bad installs or windows problems end up leaving broken links in your registry that can just slow things up. RM will find the issues and fix or delete the broken links. I think Mcafee as a utility that does something similar.

  3. Sean
    September 27th, 2007 at 20:07 | #3

    Thanks for the comment Eric. I just posted this list a few months back so it is more or less what I use now whenever someone calls me to fix their PC.

  4. Karen Erridge
    March 21st, 2008 at 18:42 | #4

    How do I run a repair installation on my Free AVG Anti Virus

  5. David Chu
    November 6th, 2008 at 19:13 | #5

    I think an image tool is essential and rescue tool for any Windows users. It is really pain to reinstall Windows and Apps. I have been using Norton’s Ghohst for long time. Not sure any other similar ones available.

  6. El Loco Diablo Muerto
    July 13th, 2009 at 19:50 | #6

    Revo Uninstaller is also a great freeware tool.

    http://www.revouninstaller.com/

    Helps remove any trace of pesky programs that will not fully uninstall. It lets you manually choose what registry entries to remove, so the program doesn’t muck up your Windows install by mistake.

  7. Dipak Dash
    October 25th, 2009 at 09:23 | #7

    Hi Sean, these are very useful tools. I am also adding few more handy tools they are helpful on day to day basis.

    Dameon Tool Lite (Provides a virtual CD/DVD ROM, useful when you need to install an ISO image. You can mount the ISO image and go installing)

    CCleaner (To cleanup unused files and registry. Also useful in managing startup programs)

    Mozy (www.Mozy.com, To backup important data)

    Xobni (www.xobni.com, An outlook plugin to search and organize your inbox)

    Xmarks (www.xmarks.com, browser bookmark synchronization)

    WinDirStat (Shows where all your disk space has gone, and helps you clean it up)

    Unlocker or LockHunter(To get rid of error deleting file or folder)

  8. Pavan
    December 22nd, 2009 at 01:21 | #8

    Hi Sean, You said … “Also I have found the Linux distros more tolerant of faulty hard disks”. did you mean Ubuntu and Knoppix or are there ones you are talking about in addition to those 2?

  9. December 22nd, 2009 at 10:26 | #9

    Knoppix I have found to be the best at fixing faulty hard disks

  10. ChUy
    March 29th, 2010 at 17:34 | #10

    Hello Sean, I was wondering about Hiren’s BootCD and how i could download it? Or do I have to find each of the software separately? I would really appreciate if you responded, and thank you for this awesome list.

  11. Gizmo
    April 22nd, 2010 at 06:30 | #11

    Hey, just wanted to say thanks as a CompTIA student as well as another tekie. These apps are awesome, not to mention that the best part is that most of these are “Free” 🙂 Keep up the good work!!

    Here’s a little tidbit for those who are getting into the repair business and aren’t sure where to start http://www.technibble.com/computer-repair-utility-kit-v1/

    PS: Chuy, check out http://www.isohunt.com. I was able to get a copy of “Hiren’s BootCD” from there and then some.

  12. john
    June 8th, 2010 at 09:20 | #12

    Hello Sean , Crossloop is indeed great ,but if you have to get to the users pc on a more regular basis the free offering at logmein.com in great as they dont need to be there to click anything and you can do remote restarts ( So far I have only tested the latter bit on a remote pcs with wired connections to the web i.e I know they will reconnect automatically and i can get back on )

    I find Fedora 11 distro to be great at recognising hardware ( better than ubuntu at last attempt )

  13. June 12th, 2010 at 12:30 | #13

    I love it!

  14. August 29th, 2010 at 18:59 | #14

    helpful stuff, thank you. myself I have just found this cool CD for booting Windows, testing it right now.

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