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If you're looking for some computer help, then I highly recommend by starting with my first part in my series:
Computer Advice Part 1 of 9 - Hardware Terms

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Computer Help Part 5 of 10 - Recovery Discs

If you didn't start reading from Computer Help Part 1 of 10 - Hardware Terms, then I highly recommend starting there first before continuing on...

Computer Help Part 5 of 10 - Recovery Discs

Recovery Disc(s) And Partitions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recovery_partition

CDs (Compact Discs)Many people confuse the difference of a full (sometimes also called "Destructive") Operating System Recovery and using a System Restore point. Doing a full Operating System Recovery erases EVERYTHING on your hard drive, including all of your files, such as documents, pictures, music, financial software, etc., and reinstalls Windows and all of the other software that originally came with your computer back onto the freshly formatted (erased) hard drive. However, using a Microsoft utility that comes with Windows XP and Vista called System Restore only takes the computer back to a certain date (or point) before something was installed or changed. Sometimes, going back to a System Restore point may fix a MINOR software issue, but doing a full System Recovery will fix ANY software issues! Sometimes, I've seen going back to a System Restore point cause worse problems than before, so I'm not a big fan of System Restore. When in doubt, backup your data discussed in Computer Help Part 4 of 10 - Data BackUp, and then do a full System Recovery.

Just a quick tidbit on another way to improve your computer's performance, if you never use Microsoft's System Restore like I don't, then you can probably turn it off, and free-up some system resources and help your computer's performance a little.
Remember that once you turn off System Restore, all of the previous System Restore points (dates) will be erased, so do this AT YOUR OWN RISK! Here's the steps to do so:

  1. Left-click on the Start Menu in the bottom-left corner of your screen
  2. Go to "Settings" (you may skip this step, depending upon the version of Windows you have)
  3. Go to "Control Panel".
  4. Left-click on "System".
  5. Left-click on the "System Restore" tab located towards the top of the System Properties window.
  6. Left-click on the box next to "Turn off System Restore on all drives", where there's a check-mark in the box now.
  7. Left-click on the "Apply" button.
  8. Left-click on the "OK" button.
DVD+RW (Re-Writable)If you bought a popular computer brand from a nationwide retailer, more than likely you will eventually need to have what's commonly called "Recovery Discs". If your hard drive ever crashes to the point that you need a new hard drive, you will need to install Windows and the other software that originally came on your computer onto the new hard drive, along with your backed-up data (discussed in Computer Help Part 4 of 10 - Data BackUp). ALL new hard drives are BLANK and EMPTY, meaning they have absolutely nothing on them because of Microsoft's and everyone else's copyright laws. Think of buying a new hard drive just like buying any other blank media, like blank cassettes tapes, blank discs, etc. So, in order to load and run Windows again, you must first install Windows on that brand new hard drive.

Most popular computer brands either provide all of these discs, some of them, or a software program to make your own. However it is, be sure to put these discs in a SAFE PLACE! If you lose them or don't make them, they aren't covered under ANY warranties, and if you have to order them from the computer manufacturer, the manufacturer WILL CHARGE YOU FOR THEM! If you bought a "custom-made" computer from a local computer store, then make sure that they provide you with at least a legitimate, LEGAL copy of a Windows disc! These are a list of popular computer brands and what they provide (at the time of this writing):

  • Acer/Compaq/E-Machines/Gateway/HP/Sony/Toshiba: comes with a program to make your own Operating System Recovery Discs (they don't come with any!), and you'll also need some blank discs to make them, preferably a few blank DVDs or DVD+DLs (Dual-Layered DVDs).
  • Asus/Dell/Toshiba (older models): comes with all of the discs needed already, so no need to make any.
  • Gateway (older models)/E-Machines (older models): comes with a Windows "Operating System Disc", but you have to make your "Applications & Drivers Disc" (it contains extra needed drivers and software that's only made and needed for these brands and their models). You'll need one blank DVD disc for this.

I personally prefer Asus and Dell computers because not only do they generally make good computers (of course, ANY computer can and may break at ANY TIME), but at least they do provide you with all of the Operating System Recovery Discs.

If you have to make your own Operating System Recovery Discs, set aside a few hours and a few blank discs. Yup, depending upon your computer manufacturer, it can take up to a few hours to make these discs! And remember not to touch your computer while making these discs! I suggest making and eating dinner, watching a movie, etc., while you wait between each disc being made. ;-)

DVD+R DL (Double or Dual-Layered)Sometimes, it's not a bad idea to do a full Operating System Recovery, at least once a year, just to clean-up your computer when it seems that nothing you do can get it to run better and faster. Sometimes when you uninstall (remove) programs from your computer, it leaves junk behind, and there's a lot of temporary files that Windows won't let you remove, either. Also, doing a full Operating System Recovery is a 100% guarantee to remove any computer infections you may have, also, but I'll discuss that later in Computer Help Part 6 of 10 - Protection Software. I couldn't count how many times I've re-installed Windows on my home computer just in the last year! If my computer starts running a bit "sluggish", I erase the hard drive and start all over from scratch! But, since I have an automated weekly backup routine, it's really quick and easy for me to do, which was discussed previously in Computer Help Part 4 of 10 - Data BackUp.

DVD-RW (Re-Writable)If you need help making or using your Operating System Recovery Discs, or using the System Recovery Partition (many manufacturers allow you to do a full System Recovery from your hard drive, given that the hard drive is fine), I suggest that you immediately backup your data first (whether it be yourself or someone else does it for you), and then contacting your computer manufacturer on how to start doing the System Recovery. We do offer many services at the Geek Squad, but most of them aren't covered by any warranties unless the primary issue is due to computer hardware failure, such as a bad hard drive.

Usually, the only thing involved to start your computer from your Recovery Discs is inserting your Recovery Disc 1 into your optical drive, turn-off your computer, and then turning your computer back on. After that, the process is different between different manufacturers, and can even vary between their different models! Unfortunately, there's no same instructions for every computer make and model for doing a full System Recovery, so if you need help, I would recommend contacting your computer manufacturer.

BD-RE (Blue-ray Disc)After you've backed-up your data, and started the System Recovery, always be sure to do choose the option where the Recovery formats (erases) your hard drive before it starts copying the files to the hard drive, if you have the option! Some Recovery Discs and Partitions will allow you to do a "Data Backup System Recovery", or something along those lines. If your computer is having ANY issues, DON'T CHOOSE THIS OPTION!!! All this will do is copy the Windows files on-top of the Windows files already there, keeping everything else already there, and thus transferring your current issues to the newly installed Windows. What would be the point of that?! So, if your System Recovery gives you the choice of doing a "Destructive Recovery", or worded so that it formats (erases) your hard drive, then that's the choice you'll want to make, and that's why you want to do a data backup before starting the System Recovery.

Once the full System Recovery is complete, your computer should look and run just like the day you brought it home for the first time! Now, you'll need to re-install any programs you installed on it before, such as your protection software, Office Suite, etc., and copy your data backup back onto the hard drive.

Now, onto
Computer Help Part 6 of 10 - Protection Software...

  1. Computer Help Part 1 of 10 - Hardware Terms (Start)
  2. Computer Help Part 2 of 10 - Software Terms
  3. Computer Help Part 3 of 10 - Upgrading & Maintenance
  4. Computer Help Part 4 of 10 - Data BackUp (Previous)
  5. Computer Help Part 5 of 10 - Recovery Discs (Current)
  6. Computer Help Part 6 of 10 - Protection Software (Next)
  7. Computer Help Part 7 of 10 - Free Software
  8. Computer Help Part 8 of 10 - Not-So-Free Software
  9. Computer Help Part 9 of 10 - Scheduled Tasks
  10. Computer Help Part 10 of 10 - Quick Fixes (End)

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