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Check your hard disk for errors in Windows Vista and Windows 7

You can help solve some computer problems and improve your computer's performance by making sure that your hard disk has no errors.

Click on the Start button.

Click on Computer.

Right-click the hard disk drive that you want to check, and then click Properties.

Click the Tools tab, and then, under Error-checking, click Check Now. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

To automatically repair problems with files and folders that the scan detects, select Automatically fix file system errors. Otherwise, the disk check will report problems but not fix them.

To perform a thorough disk check, select Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors. This scan attempts to find and repair physical errors on the hard disk itself, and it can take much longer to complete.

To check for both file errors and physical errors, select both Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.

Click Start.

Depending upon the size of your hard disk, this may take several minutes. For the best results, please don't use your computer for any other tasks while it's checking for errors.

Note:
If you select Automatically fix file system errors for a disk in use (for example, the partition that contains Windows), you'll be prompted to reschedule the disk check for the next time you restart your computer.

Back up your files in Windows Vista and Windows 7

To make sure you don't lose the files you create, modify, and store on your computer, you should regularly back them up. You can manually back up your files at any time or set up automatic backups.

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Click on All Programs
  3. Click on Maintenance
  4. Click on Backup and Restore

Do one of the following:

  • If you have never used Windows Backup before, click Set up backup, and then follow the wizard's steps. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  • If you have created a backup before, you can wait for your regularly scheduled backup to occur, or you can manually create a new backup by clicking Back up now. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Notes:

  • We recommend that you don't back up your files to the same hard disk that Windows is installed on.
  • Always store media used for backups (external hard disks, DVDs, or CDs) in a secure place to prevent unauthorized people from having access to your files; we recommend a fireproof location separate from your computer. You might also consider encrypting the data on your backup.

To create a new, full backup

After you create your first backup, Windows Backup will add new or changed information to your subsequent backups. If you're keeping your backups on a hard drive or network location, Windows Backup will automatically create a new, full backup for you when needed. If you're saving your backups on CDs or DVDs and can't find an existing backup disc, or if you want to create a new backup of all of the files on your computer, you can create a full backup. Here's how to create a full backup:

  1. Open Backup and Restore.
  2. In the left pane, click Create new, full backup.

Note:
You will only see this option if your backup is being saved on CDs or DVDs.

To set up backup after upgrading from a previous version of Windows

After you upgrade Windows, you will need to set up Windows Backup, even if you had a scheduled backup in the previous Windows version. This is because there are several changes to the backup program. Instead of selecting file types to back up, you can have Windows back up data files saved in libraries, on the desktop, and in default Windows folders, or you can choose specific libraries and folders to be backed up. You can also create a system image of your computer.

To set up your backup, follow these steps:

Open Backup and Restore.

Click Set up backup, and then follow the steps in the wizard. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Ways to store backups
You can back up files to any of the following storage types:

  • Hard disks (internal or external)
  • Other removable disks
  • Writeable DVDs and CDs
  • Network locations

The first three options are often known collectively as media. You can also use an Internet-based file storage service. To decide which option to use, compare convenience, price, and ease of use, and consider the amount and size of files you want to back up.

Keep backups in a safe location
Always keep removable storage or media used for backups (such as external hard disks, DVDs, or CDs) in a secure place to prevent unauthorized people from having access to your files.

Storage devices

Internal hard disks
You can install (or have someone else install) a second internal hard disk in your computer and use it to back up files. Hard disks are relatively inexpensive and are not affected if you have a problem with your operating system. You can even install the disk in another computer if you buy a new computer, and you still want to use the disk for backups.

Note:
Never back up files to a location on the same hard disk that Windows is installed on because if your computer gets a virus or has a software failure, you might have to reformat the disk and reinstall Windows to recover from the problem.

External hard disks
If your computer has a USB port, you can attach an external hard disk to it and then back up files to the external disk. Be sure to buy an external hard disk with plenty of space for your backups (2 TB is a good choice). For maximum protection, keep your external hard disk in a fireproof location separate from the computer.

Writeable discs
You can also save your files to DVDs or CDs. Ensure the discs are writeable, which means that you can add, delete, or change the content. If you decide to use this method and have many files to back up, be sure you have enough discs to finish the job. The Back Up Files wizard tells you how much space you need each time you perform a backup and recommends the type of media to use. If you label the discs with the backup date and time, they will be easier to find later. For maximum protection, keep the discs in a fireproof location separate from your computer.

Network locations
If your computer is on a network, you can back up to a network location. Ensure that you have the right permissions for the network and that other users can't access your backup.

How to perform a clean installation of the operating system on a netbook

In my last blog, I reported on the new Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AO571h) I had just purchased. It came pre-loaded with Windows XP Home. Since I need to connect to a domain, I needed Windows XP Professional on the netbook.

Typically, I check the hardware manufacturers web site(s) for the latest drivers and download them. Then I just wipe the hard drive clean and boot to the installation media. Once it finished installation, I immediately installed the specific drivers for the hardware installed, starting with the chipset.

But the netbook's hardware architecture is new, and a standard OEM version of Windows XP does not recognize the hardware correctly. I contacted Acer and was told that they do not support installing any operating system other than what was shipped with the computer. But their web site had the drivers for all 32-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista.

It became apparent that I had to add the chipset drivers to the Windows XP Pro cd. I extracted the chipset drivers and found the instructions for adding the drivers into the installation media. I then created an image file from the installation media and opened it up for editing. I added in the chipset drivers that I had downloaded and saved the file. I then burned it to a cd.

The netbook booted right up on the modified installation media, and the setup went flawlessly. I installed the rest of the drivers I had downloaded, and it's running beautifully on Windows XP Professional.

Acer Aspire One Netbook hard drive issue

I recently worked on an Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AOD150). The netbook was no longer able to boot, as the system could not find an operating system. Booting the netbook up onto a USB drive, I was able to see the problem. The hard drive had two partitions, one hidden recovery partition and one active system (C:\) partition that had become corrupt.

The only solution was to use the recovery media. Only the owner did not have an external CD / DVD writer, so she could not create the recovery media. I contacted Acer, and they sent out new media for free. I got the media and reloaded the netbook, and all was well. I had a chance to work with it a little bit and liked the size, battery life, and cost. So I decided to pick one up.

I purchased an Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AO571h). After allowing the system to restart a couple of times for set up, it was ready to go on first boot. I proceeded to connect a DVD writer and created the recovery media. I then decided to look at the hard drive partitions, so I put a bootable cd in the external optical drive I just used to create the recovery media and reboot.

Booted the netbook up on a PE (preinstall environment) cd, and all looked fine. The netbook had two partitions, one hidden recovery partition at 8 gigabytes and one active system (C:\) partition at 141 gigabytes, for a rough total of 149 gigabytes. That was correct for a 160 gigabyte hard drive once formatted.

I turned off the netbook and external DVD drive, disconnected the DVD, and restarted the netbook. What happened next was deja vu. The screen displayed cannot find operating system error. I turned it off, reconnected the external DVD drive, and proceeded to reload the system with the disks I had just created.

I reloaded the netbook and then checked the hard drive. This time there was only one active system (C:\) partition at 149 gigabytes. The system works fine and has had no problems since.

Remember, if your new laptop, netbook, or personal computer does not come with recovery media (disks), you probably have to make them yourself. This is the first thing that should be done. Luckily for me, that's just what I did.

Beta testing Windows 7 - Part7 (Photoshop Benchmark)

With the Windows 7 test system running, it's time to see what it can do. Keep in mind that the total cost for just the hardware (less the Antec Skeleton case) was around $525. I went over to Adobe and downloaded the 64-bit trial version of Photoshop CS4. The following is an excerpt from Adobe's knowledge base article '64-bit Operating System benefits and limitations in Photoshop CS4 (Windows)'

Opening 32-bit and 64-bit versions

Photoshop installs a 32-bit and a 64-bit shortcut into the Start Menu. If you need to manually run the application, the 32-bit version is the photoshop.exe file, in the Program Files (x86)/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS4 folder, and the 64-bit version is the photoshop.exe file in the Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS4 folder.

Third party plug-ins

Third party plug-ins written for 32-bit versions of Windows will not work when you run the 64-bit version of Photoshop. If you need to use plug-ins that haven't been updated, run the 32-bit version of Photoshop. When you are done using the plug-ins, close the 32-bit version, and run the 64-bit version. Contact the plug-in manufacturer for information about any updates.

Processor speed and Photoshop operations

Although the 64-bit version of Photoshop will speed up some operations, it won't speed all of them, nor will it speed the operation equally. Generally, operations will run approximately 8-12% faster. Overall, processor speed is not the main advantage of using the 64-bit version.

RAM use

The primary advantage of using the 64-bit version is to access amounts of RAM beyond what Photoshop can access when the 32-bit version is run. You can take advantage of more than 4 GB of RAM only when you are on 64-bit Windows, using 64-bit Photoshop. If you use files large enough to need more than 4 GB of RAM, and you have enough RAM, all the processing you perform on your large images can be done in RAM, instead of swapping out to the hard disk.

This table lists the amount of RAM available to Photoshop with the different versions of Windows:


Photoshop Version

Windows Version

Maximum amount of RAM Photoshop can use

32-bit

32-bit

1.7 GB

32-bit

32-bit

3.2 GB

64-bit

64-bit

as much RAM as you can fit into your computer

Now with the two different versions of Adobe Photoshop installed (32-bit & 64-bit) it was time to find a benchmark test. I found DriverHeaven Photoshop Bench V3. I ran the tests as instructed and here's the results:


DriverHeaven Photoshop Bench V3

Intel Core2 Quad 8400

Intel Core2 Quad 8400

64 bit

32 bit

Texturiser

1.5

1.8

CMYK

1.2

1.3

RGB

1.4

1.5

Ink Outlines

20.4

21.0

Dust & Stratches

2.0

2.0

Watercolor

20.3

21.0

Texturiser

1.6

1.6

Stained Glass

13.3

12.6

Lighting

1.8

2.0

Mosiac

9.5

13.0

Extrude

83.4

98.4

Smart Blur

58.9

58.1

Underpainting

21.7

24.1

Palette

17.2

18.4

Sponge

28.3

28.4

Total

282.5

305.2

As you can see, the 64-bit version was, on average, 7% faster than the 32-bit version.

I have now shown you the pros and cons of 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Adobe Photoshop CS4 running on Windows 7. Which version would you choose?

Till then,
Scott


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