Don’t Be Fooled Into Thinking Your Computer Is Ready For The Dump!
We need to keep this in simple terms because it is. Unless you are like many people who like to throw good money away, don’t be doopted into thinking your recently bought computer (I’m talking maybe 5-6 yrs old) that is running really, really slow, or is really buggy, needs to be tossed into the garage. In most cases, if your computer ran quite well when you bought it, and it’s now running slower than dirt, chances are that your computer’s hard drive is full of malware, spy-ware, viruses or software you installed that you don’t use but takes up your computer resources etc…. To help your computer slow down even further, if you are running Microsoft ®Windows® operating systems (for ex. Windows XP, Windows 7), the operating system often automatically uses your resources on you computer to connect with their computer servers to check to see if you are using a verified licensed version their software, slowing you computer even more.
The actual computer hardware inside the computer can function up to 10 years before it fails in some instances. There are very few mechanical moving parts in a computer because most of the electronics are solid state. Your hard drive in the computer may fail earlier because it is a mechanical component, however this can be replaced for approx. $50 (depending on size and speed of the drive) and about 15-30 minutes of your time to replace them. The other mechanical parts that come to mind are the fans in the computer (a fan in the power supply, and 1 or 2 in the computer) and a CD/DVD player/burner. If the computer starts making noise, 99% of the time it is a fan starting to seize up. They can be replaced for under $5 each and CD/DVD player/burner can be bought for approx $30. The other other item that may need to be replaced in 5 years of operation is the CMOS battery located on the motherboard. It’s another $5 item that takes about 5 minutes to replace on the motherboard inside a desktop computer. If it is a laptop, it is a little bit more involved changing this battery. When it is low, most motherboards will report on the screen that the CMOS battery is low.
90% or more of the time I have found out that computers are running slow because of the malware, spy-ware, viruses, etc….. There are a number of ways of bringing yours back to the way it ran when you first bought it. Don’t count on these online services that claim they can get rid of all your spyware and viruses. Non of these services may get rid of all these problems you are having. The only way to truly be sure your computer and hard drive will be back to its original state is to format the hard drive, which means it wipes the hard drive clean of all data before it installs the clean operating system back onto the hard drive. This is the only way you can be sure your computer is free of spyware, viruses, trojans etc….
Ways To Revive Your Computer
The first thing you will need to do before you do anything is backup your important data, documents, pictures etc…. In Microsoft® Windows®, most of all your data files will be found in your “My Documents” folder. Some of your data files you may have left on your desktop. Make sure you back them up too. If you have other user accounts, make sure you back up those “My Documents” folders and data files left on their desktops. You want to make sure you backup all the data to some other media, like a thumb/flash drive, external hard drive or backup file storage system that is in the clouds. Once you feel comfortable and you are sure that your data files have been backed up correctly you are now ready to bring your computer system back to life. One more things is to make sure you disconnect all your computer peripherals (printer, scanner etc…) before you restore you computer system. You reconnect these peripherals after you have reinstalled the operating system.
Starting Your Dell™ System Revival
On many of the Dell™ computer’s, the first thing you want to do is run the computers diagnostics tool to make sure your computer itself is functioning properly. On other computer brands they may have their own system diagnostic tools. If one is not available, you may find the Ultimate Boot CD (free and open source) a good tool to use to check your hard drives integrity.
The hard drive is the most critical and most often part to fail on a computer. All your system operating files and your data are generally stored on one hard drive in the computer. If it is starting to fail, you may possibly start seeing the “blue screen of death” on you computer while running Windows®. Again, you can purchase a hard drive for about $50.
Starting the Dell Diagnostics From Your Hard Drive
- Turn on (or restart) your computer.
- When the DELL™ logo appears, press <F12> repeatedly, immediately.
NOTE: If you see a message stating that no diagnostics utility partition has been found, run the Dell Diagnostics from your Drivers and Utilities CD (optional).
If you wait too long and the operating system logo appears, continue to wait until you see the Microsoft® Windows® desktop. Then shut down your computer and try again.
- When the boot device list appears, highlight Boot to Utility Partition and press <Enter>.
- When the Dell Diagnostics Main Menu appears, select the test you want to run
Which or Both Operating Systems to Use?
After you backed up your data and have run the diagnostics tool determining your computer and hard drive are in good working order, you are now ready to install an operating system.
Of course you get a sense on how I feel about running a Window® Operating systems these days. I’m fed up with how Windows® is more vulnerable in getting infected with viruses and such compared to Linux, along with how Windows® “phones home” to their servers to see if you are running a legitimate version or not.
The easy choice on a DELL™ is going to be installing Windows® again because of a few pushes of some buttons you have a freshly formatted hard drive and a freshly installed Windows® operating system. With that being said, good luck I hope your Windows® operating system doesn’t get infected soon again. Chances are pretty good you’ll be in the same boat again in the not to distant future, however if you install Linux, I doubt you’ll ever see your computer come to a crawl or get infected again.
Of course there is a third option, which is to set up your computer in a dual-boot mode. This is when your computer is set up in a way that has both Windows® and Linux operating system on your computer. When it is set up this way, when you turn on your computer you will be confronted with a screen giving you the choice to start Windows® or Linux. The dual-boot setup is the best way to start getting familiar with Linux and yet still have access to Windows® when you think you need it.
If you are going to run your system with the dual boot setup, you are always recommended to install the Windows® operating system first.
Re-Installing Your Windows Operating System
On a DELL™ computer it is this simple to re-install your windows operating system and the additional software provided by Dell™. As for another computer brand, they may have a restore type feature similar to DELL™ or they may have separate installation CD/DVD’s to perform the restore of the Windows® operating system.
Restoring your DELL™ Windows® operating system:
- First, make sure you computer is completely powered off.
- Now, turn your computer on and depending on which Windows® computer operating system (XP, Vista, 7) that came originally with your DELL™computer, you press various keys to start the system restore process:
- Hold the CTRL and F11 key simultaneously on the keyboard, then release them both at the same time when the DELL™ screen appears.
- The DELL restore screen should then show.
- Click on the restore button (a message will show stating all data will be lost, if you backed up your data, you have nothing to worry about)
- Click on the confirm key and the restore process will start.
- When completed, click on the Finish button and that will also restart your computer.
Vista and 7
- Click the <F8> repeatedly until the Advanced Boot Options menu appears.
- Press the down arrow to select Repair Your Computer and the press enter.
- Select the language settings and then click next.
- Log in as a user with administrator user rights, and then click on OK
- Click on Dell Factory Image Restore.
- Click on next
- Click on the Yes box (reformat hard drive and restore system software to factory condition)
- Click next to restore your computer to its default factory configuration.
- When the restore is complete, click Finish to restart the computer.
Post System Restore
Now that your system has been restored back to its original factory settings, you should notice that it is back to being fast and responsive like when you first bought it. Here are a few post system restore items you should take care of right a way:
- Go to your Windows® Update screen and make sure you get all the important and critical updates for your operating system.
- If your Windows® operating system is XP or newer you should install and use Microsoft’s® free antivirus software Microsoft Security Essentials which is rated very good. Make sure you uninstall any other antivirus software that may have been installed during the system restore. You do not want two versions of antivirus software running on your computer.
- Before reconnecting your USB peripherals (printer, scanner etc…) make sure you install the software and drivers for those items before plugging those items into the computer.
Again, most of the time on a fairly late-model computer, it’s not the computer itself failing but the software becoming infected with virus, malware and trojans and bloatware just from your day-to-day use of the computer. The best answer I can give you is to switch over to the Linux operating system and software and you will not run into these or many other problems associated running a Windows® operating system. Again, I suggest the Linux Mint distribution to try out on your computer because of ease of use and the closest look and feel of Windows®.