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How to repair Windows 10 by doing an in-place upgrade

Are you getting lots of errors when you log into Windows 10? Are you not able to get the Start menu or File Explorer to open? If so, it may be time to repair Windows 10 by doing an in-place upgrade.

Sometimes repairing Windows 10 can be a challenging endeavor. One time I had a Windows 10 system that the right-click mouse function would only work in certain situations.

Another time, I had a Windows 10 system that File Explorer and the Start menu would not work. This was one of those times when you think that you are going to just have to wipe the drive and do a clean installation of Windows 10.

But in both cases, I was able to repair Windows 10 while keeping all of the user's documents, settings and installed programs. I just performed an in-place upgrade of Windows 10.

Remember that if you start the in-place upgrade by booting your computer up on the Windows 10 installation media, you will only get the option of saving your documents. To also preserve the installed programs, you need to start the in-place upgrade from inside of Windows 10.

Now performing an in-place upgrade is not hard. The only thing you need to do it is make the Windows 10 installation media. If you can access the Internet and download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, great. If not, you will need to use another computer to make the Windows 10 installation media.

You do not have to be upgrading to a newer version of Windows 10 (1709 to 1803, 1803 to 1809) for this to work. You can perform an upgrade to the same version (1809 to 1809).

Now you never want to use an older version of the Windows 10 media, like one you created a couple years ago, to do an in-place upgrade. You will always want to download the latest version directly from Microsoft using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.

To make the media you will need either a blank DVD or a USB flash drive that is at least 8GB in size. Remember that if you use a USB flash drive it will be reformatted and everything on it will be erased. So, if you have used the USB drive for anything else, you may want to copy the data off of it before using it for the Windows 10 installation media.

Once you download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, just double-click on it. It is a stand-alone program that does not need any installation. Just double-click and run.

The first screen that comes up is the legal stuff, just click on Accept. On the next screen you will have to choose what you want to do.
Windows 10 installer what do you want to do screen
Select Create installation media for another PC and click on Next.

On the next screen you will select the language, architecture and edition.
Windows 10 installer select language and edition screen
Since you are creating the media for another computer, make sure Use the recommended options for this PC check box is deselected. The majority of users in the US will select the following settings:

  • Language: English (If you use a different language, select it from the pull-down menu)
  • Edition: Windows 10
  • Architecture: 64-bit (x64)

When you are finished selecting the language, architecture and edition click on Next. The next screen will ask you what media do you want to use.
Windows 10 installer choose which media to use screen
If you select USB flash drive, make sure you have the USB flash drive inserted into a USB port on the computer.

If you want to make a DVD, you will need to choose ISO file and then burn it onto a blank DVD. Here is how to go about burning the ISO file to a DVD.

Once you have the media created, either a DVD or USB flash drive, you will need to inserted it in the computer that you want to repair.
Windows 10 setup program in File Explorer
Then just open File Explorer, navigate to the DVD or USB flash drive and right-click on the setup.exe program and select Run as administrator.
Windows 10 installation start up screen
The Windows 10 installer will then start up.

You will be prompted to download Windows 10 updates, drivers and optional features. Since you are doing an in-place upgrade, I recommend waiting until the installation is finished before doing any updates.

The next screen you will get is the license agreement. Just click Accept in the lower right-hand corner and continue with the in-place upgrade. Finally, you will get to the screen that asks what you want to keep. Make sure that Keep personal files and apps are selected and then select Install in the lower right-hand corner.

The in-place upgrade will take some time and your computer could restart a few times before it is complete. When it is done, your version of Windows 10 should be completely repaired and good as new.

Now in the examples I talked about earlier, I could not get either the right-click function to work or could not get the Start menu or File Explorer to open at all. But there is another way of starting the in-place upgrade using Task Manager.

How to start a program using Task Manager

Sometimes the only way to run a program is to use Task Manager. It is a simple, down and dirty way of running a program with administrative privileges. And we want to use admin privileges to run the setup.exe program.

  1. Press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys all at the same time (the 3-finger salute).
    The Windows 10 Ctrl Alt Delete screen
    You will get a screen that has several selections on it. Click on Task Manger.
  2. The Task Manager program will appear next.
    The basic Windows 10 Task Manager screen
    If it shows says There are no running apps, click on the More details arrow in the bottom left-hand corner. This will bring up all of the running processes.
  3. Click on the File drop-down menu in the upper left-hand corner of Task Manager
    The advanced Windows 10 Task Manager screen with Run new task
    and select Run new task.
  4. The Create a new task dialog box will appear.
    The Windows 10 Create new task dialog box
    Click on the Browse .. button in the lower right-hand corner.
  5. Using the Browse dialog box, navigate to the drive with the Windows 10 installation files (either DVD or USB flash drive),
    The Windows 10 Task Manager Browse screen
    select setup.exe and then click Open.
  6. This will bring you back to the Create new task dialog box and the path to the setup.exe program will be in the Open field.
    The Windows 10 Create new task dialog box with file path
    Make sure that the Create this task with administrative privileges check box is selected. Then click on OK.
  7. The Windows 10 installer will now start. Just follow the steps outlined previously in this article for the rest of the in-place upgrade.

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading computer components

When doing computer repair for a living, there is one thing I do quite often, and that is replacing and upgrading computer components. Whether it be replacing a hard drive or installing a new graphics card, there is always something you need to take into consideration. So here are a few things you should ask yourself when selecting computer components.

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading computer components

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading your motherboard

    Form factor
  • What form factor size does your existing case support?
    If the motherboard you are looking at getting is ATX and your existing case only has space and stand-offs for a mini-ATX motherboard, you are not going to be able to install the new motherboard.
  • Do you have any of the extra parts that came with the case, including stand-offs for the motherboard?
    If you are replacing a mini-ATX motherboard with an ATX motherboard and your case is large enough for it, do you have the stand-offs and screws for the extra mounting points that the new ATX motherboard will require?
  • Do you have the installation media for the operating system and all of your programs?
    When you change out a motherboard, unless it is from the same manufacturer and same model line, odds are you will need to perform a clean installation of the operating system and your apps. If you try and use the existing operating system currently installed with a new motherboard, you more than likely to get all sorts of errors. Be prepared to reinstall the OS and apps.
    CPU socket
  • What is the socket type of your existing CPU?
    You cannot use an LGA1150 processor in an LGA1151 socket.
  • Will the new motherboard your thinking about getting support your existing processor?
    You will need to do your research on the motherboard you are thinking about getting. If you cannot find the information online, give the manufacturer a call. There is nothing worse than getting a motherboard that you cannot use.
    Memory slot(s)
  • Does the motherboard your thinking about getting support your existing memory modules?
    Again, do your research. You have to make sure that everything is going to go smoothly when you do the upgrade.
  • Or are you going to need to get new memory modules?
    If you find out that you will need new memory modules, buy them in pairs (twin-pack, quad-pack). Try to avoid mixing different memory modules if you can. You will also find it cheaper to buy them in twin-packs or quad-packs than as single modules.
    Expansion slots (PCI-e)
  • What do you currently have for expansion cards?
    These include graphic card(s), RAID controller card(s), M.2 adapter card(s), Wi-Fi / ethernet card(s), etc..
  • And what type of expansion slot(s) do they use (PCI-e x16, PCI-e x4, PCI-e x1)?
    Make a note about all of the different PCI-e slots that are used on your existing motherboard and reference it when you are looking at new motherboard.
    M.2 Slot(s)
  • If your existing mother has M.2 slot(s) and you use them, what form factor, key notches and interface do they utilize?
    M.2 2242, M.2 2260, M.2 2280? B key, M key or both? SATA 3, PCI-e 3 or NVMe?
    Internal USB connections
  • What type of USB headers does your current motherboard have?
    USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 or USB 3.1 Gen 2.
    Internal drive connectors
  • What type of internal drive connectors does your current motherboard have?
    SATA, SATA Express or U.2?
    Power connector
  • What type of power connectors does the motherboard your thinking about getting have (4-pin or 8-pin ATX 12V)?
    Does your existing power supply have the correct connector?

Related article(s)
Things to keep in mind when building a custom-built computer

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading your processor / CPU

    Socket type
  • What socket type does your current motherboard have (LGA 1151, LGA 2011, AMD AM3+, etc.)?
    Remember that you cannot use an LGA1150 processor in an LGA1151 socket.
    Motherboard compatibility
  • What processors does your current motherboard support?
    You will need to do your research on your current motherboard. If you cannot find the information online, give the manufacturer a call. You may need to update the BIOS on your current motherboard to run the new processor your thinking about getting.

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading your CPU cooler

    Space inside of case
  • Does your existing case have the room for an upgraded CPU cooler?
    If you are thinking air cooled, do you have enough space on top of the CPU for it. If your thinking about liquid cooled, do you have the correct mounting holes for it. And are you going to need to replace any of the existing case fan(s) to accommodate a new CPU cooler.
  • Does your motherboard have all of the connectors for running a liquid CPU cooler?
    Some liquid-coolers require power from an on-board USB header. Also, does your motherboard have any special liquid-cooler fan headers.

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading your graphics card / GPU

    Slot version
  • What version PCI-e slot (2.0, 3.0, 4.0) does your current motherboard have?
    To answer this question, you will need to reference the motherboard manual or specifications online. If you have a problem finding this information, just contact the motherboard manufacturer.
  • What PCI-e version is the graphics card you are looking at getting?
    Again, to answer this question, reference the graphic card manual or specifications online. If you have a problem finding this information, just contact the motherboard manufacturer.
    If the PCI-e slot on your motherboard is version 3 and the graphics card you are looking at getting is version 4, you are going to have a problem.

Related article(s)
How to add an expansion card to your desktop computer

    Power connection(s)
  • Does the graphics card you are looking at getting require a separate PCI-e power connector(s)? If so, are they 6-pin or 8-pin PCI-e connector(s) and how many does it require?
    You should be able to find this information on the vendors or manufactures website. Even the box should have the information on the outside.
  • Does your current power supply have all of the proper PCI-e connector(s) for it?
    Some lower wattage power supplies have only 6-pin PCI-e connectors. Visually check your existing power supply for the type and quantity of PCI-e power connectors.

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading your memory

    Slot type and speed
  • What slot type and memory speed does your existing motherboard support (DDR3 2400, DDR4 4200, etc.)?
    To answer this question, you will need to reference the motherboard manual or specifications online. If you have a problem finding this information, just contact the motherboard manufacturer.
    Existing memory compatibly
  • Are you going to added more memory to your existing memory?
    The one thing you want to try and avoid when adding memory is incompatibility with existing memory. If you plan on adding a couple of more memory modules, try to use the exact make and model of your existing memory. Even though memory form different manufacturer may be the same slot and speed type, their clock timings can be different. So, it is always recommended to use the same make and model of memory in all of the slots.

Related article(s)
How to upgrade or add more memory to your computer

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading your drive

    Form factor and size
  • What size and form factor drive(s) are you looking at getting?
    If you are replacing an existing drive, you should go with one that is the same form factor (3.5", 2.5", M.2 or U.2) and the same size (GB's, TB's) or larger than your existing drive. If you are upgrading your drive to a different form factor (SSD, HDD or U.2), you need to make sure your existing case has a place to mount the different type of drive (3.5" or 2.5"). If you are upgrading your drive to a different form factor (M.2, mSATA), you need to make sure your existing motherboard has the correct form factor (M.2 2242, M.2 2260, M.2 2280), key notches (B key, M key or both) and interface (SATA 3, PCI-e 3 or NVMe) as the drive you are looking at getting. If you are looking at getting an M.2 or mSATA and your motherboard does not have the appropriate slot, you will need to use an expansion card.

Related article(s)
How to upgrade the hard drive in your computer

Things to consider when replacing or upgrading your case

    Motherboard Form Factor (micro-ATX, ATX, ITX, etc.)
  • What is the form factor of your existing case?
    If the case you are looking at getting is designed for a mini-ATX motherboard, you are not going to a get a standard ATX motherboard to fit in it. Check the case manufactures website to verify the motherboard form factors that will fit in it.
    CPU fan
  • Does the case you are looking at getting have enough space for your existing CPU fan?
    There is nothing worse than getting the motherboard, CPU and cooler installed in a new case only to find out that you cannot get the side of the case on. Double check all dimensions.
    Peripheral / expansion
  • Does it have enough front panel connectors for the on-board headers of the motherboard?
    It sucks having USB 3.0 header(s) on the motherboard and not having any or enough connectors on the front of the case.
  • If you have a DVD or BD drive, does it have a 5.25" drive bay in front for it?
    A lot of cases nowadays do not have 5.25" drive bays. If you have a 5.25" drive or drives (CD, DVD, BD), you will need to double check the case you are looking at getting.

How to power reset your laptop computer

Did you turn off your laptop and now it will not start up again? Maybe you closed the lid and now it will not come out of sleep mode? If so, you may need to power reset your laptop computer.

How to power reset your laptop computer

This has to be one of the most frustrating problems with laptops, you press the start button and nothing happens. No lights, no sounds, no display. It seems like it is completely dead. And in a way, it is. Now if your laptop computer shut off while you were using it, a power reset will not help. That would be a completely different problem.

The problem is that the system has built-up residual electrical charge in the capacitors. And the only way to get it to run again is to discharge the electrical charge. The majority of the time it is a quick fix. But there are times when it is not a quick fix. Let me explain. This procedure requires that you completely disconnect all power sources, ac adapter and battery.

If your laptop has a battery that can be removed from the bottom, then it will be pretty quick. If the battery is inside the laptop case, then it can be tricky, as you will have to disassemble the laptop to get to the internal battery. If you feel uncomfortable about taking your laptop apart, please contact a local computer repair specialist like Geeks in Phoenix.

  1. Disconnect all devices from your laptop. This includes docking stations, USB devices, external displays, etc..
  2. Disconnect the ac adapter.
  3. Remove / disconnect the battery. The following steps requires access to the battery.
    A laptop computer with a battery that is accessible from the bottom
    If the battery for your laptop is accessible from the bottom, remove it and proceed to the next step.
    A laptop computer with a battery that is accessible by removing the base
    If the battery is not accessible from the bottom, you would need to disassemble your laptop to gain access to it. Before you or a technician takes the laptop apart, try step #4 first. If after trying step #4 your laptop still does not start up, then you may need to disassemble it to get to the battery.
    A typical internal battery connection inside of a laptop computer
    Remember that you do not need to completely remove the battery, just disconnect it from the motherboard.
  4. Hold down the Power button for 15 - 30 seconds. By holding down the Power button, you release all of the residual power that is left in the laptop. If you had to remove the base to get to the battery connection, just place the base back on the laptop and put it back in the standard operating position. Do not worry about screwing the base back on yet. Once you have discharged the laptop, you will reassemble it.
  5. Connect the ac adapter and plug it into an ac jack. Most instructions for releasing the residual electrical charge will have you reinstall / reconnect the battery first, then connect the ac adapter. I've found that if you leave the battery removed / disconnected, you avoid any issue that the battery might have, like low output.
  6. Press the power button. If the problem was a built-up residual electrical charge, your laptop should start up. The only error you might encounter is a warning about the battery missing.
  7. Shut down the laptop. If all went well, your laptop started up and booted up the operating system. Just turn it off as you normally would.
  8. Disconnect the ac adapter.
  9. Reinstall / reconnect the battery. If you had to remove the base to get to the battery connection, you can go ahead and reconnect it and screw the base back on to the laptop.
  10. Reconnect the ac adapter and start the laptop up again.

How to build a computer

Thinking about building your own computer? Have you already got the parts and just don't know where to start? If so, I am going to show you how to build a computer.

How to build a computer

In a recent article I discussed things to keep in mind when you're going to build a custom computer. There are plenty of websites like PC Part Picker that will generate a parts list. But once you have purchased all of the parts, you'll have to put them all together.

In his article, I am going to show you how to assemble all of the parts into a working computer. If you don't have all of the tools or are kind of scared of possibly make a mistake, please contact a local computer shop and have them assemble it for you. If you live in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, feel free to give us a call.

Tools required to build a computer

Tools required to build a computer

  • Anti-static wrist strap
  • Wire ties
  • Snipers (for trimming wire ties)
  • Needle nose pliers (optional)
  • 3/16" nut driver (for stand-offs)
  • #1 Phillips screw driver
  • Thermal compound (may or may not be required)

Building a computer step by step

Cable management is one thing you will need to keep in mind as you are building your computer. Take the time to secure all wires, even if it is temporary.

Don't be surprised if during your assembly that you have you cut and replaced some wire ties. This is normal when you perform wire management.

And remember to put on the anti-static wrist strap and attach the clip of it to a metal portion of the computer case before you start building your computer.

  1. Unpack the computer case.
    Unpack the computer case
    Make sure to do an inventory of all the parts (screws, drive caddies, etc.) that come with it.
  2. Install the I/O panel in the rear of case.
    Install I/O panel in rear of case
    Be careful installing the I/O panel as the metal edges can easily cut your hand.
  3. Install the stand-offs for motherboard.
    Install the stand-offs for motherboard
    Some cases have stand-offs built-in, others do not. If your case does not have them built in, check the hole pattern on the motherboard or the motherboard manual to ensure you have the stand-offs in the correct locations. Hand tighten them using a 3/16" nut driver.
  4. Install the motherboard.
    Install the motherboard
    You may have to work it a little bit to get it under any tabs on the I/O panel. Then attach it to the stand-offs using the supplied screws.
  5. Install the CPU.
    Install the CPU
    Make sure you have the notches in the CPU aligned correctly to the socket on the motherboard. Refer to the motherboard manual for the correct way to secure the CPU in the socket.
  6. Install the CPU cooler.
    Install the CPU cooler
    If you are using a new cooler, it will have thermal compound already applied. If you are rebuilding an existing computer, you will need to clean any existing thermal compound from the CPU and cooler. Then you will need to apply a new layer of thermal compound. Just spread a thin coat of thermal compound across the complete surface of the CPU. A business card works great.
  7. Install the memory modules.
    Install the memory modules
    The modules will have a notch in them, so they will only go into the slot one way. Check the memory modules against the memory slots on the motherboard for the correct orientation. Also refer to the motherboard manual for the correct installation order.
  8. Install the case fan(s).
    Install the case fan(s)
    Some cases come with fans already installed, some don't. If you have to install the can fans, just make sure you have the air flow correct. The air flow should go from the front of the case to the rear of the case. The fans have directional arrows printed on one side of them. Once installed, connect them to the appropriate fan header(s) on the motherboard. Refer to the motherboard manual for the locations.
  9. Connect the front panel connectors to the motherboard.
    Connect the front panel connectors to the motherboard
    Refer to the motherboard manual for the locations of all the pins (power button, power LED, hard drive LED, audio jacks and USB jacks) for the connectors.
  10. Install the drive(s).
    Install the drive(s)
    Depending on your case, you may have separate carriages or combination carriages for Solid State Drives (SSD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD). If you are installing an M2 SSD, refer to the motherboard manual for the correct location for it. If you are also installing CD / DVD drive(s) you may have to remove knock-out metal panel(s) from a 5 1/2" bay in the front of the case. Be careful twisting it back and forth to break it free, as the metal can be sharp and cut your hand.
  11. Install the cables for the drive(s).
    Install the cables for the drive(s)
    Refer to the motherboard manual for the correct port to attach the drives to. You will want the primary (boot) drive to be attached to port 1.
  12. Install any expansion cards (graphics, Wi-Fi, etc.).
    Install any expansion cards
    Refer to the motherboard manual for the locations of the PCI-e slots. Here is an article we wrote on installing expansion cards.
  13. Install the power supply.
    Install the power supply
    Depending on the power supply, it may or may not have the power cables already attached. Route the cables thought the case making sure not to cut them on any sharp metal edges.

Now just make sure all of the wire ties are trimmed back and all of the protective film that protects the case is removed. Attach the keyboard, mouse and monitor and go into the BIOS (Basic Input / Output System) to verify and / or change any of the settings. Refer to the motherboard manual on how to do this. Once you are done in the BIOS, you should be ready to install the operating system.

My digital toolbox 3

When it comes to repairing computers, every technician has what I call a digital toolbox. It is software that they use for specific tasks, like finding information on hardware or cloning drives. So here is another installment of my digital toolbox.

My digital toolbox 3

CPU-Z

Screenshot of CPU-Z

When it comes to finding the specifications of your motherboard, processor, etc., you could open your computers case and disassemble the components to get that information. Or you could just download and run CPU-Z.

CPU-Z will display the all of the information on your CPU (Central Processing Unit), motherboard, memory and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). It can even benchmark your existing processor against preloaded reference CPU's.

I recently needed to find out what specific memory a laptop was running. Instead of tearing it down to look at the memory modules, I just ran CPU-Z. If you need to know the specifications of your computer's hardware, CPU-Z is a great way to do it.

Click here for more information on CPU-Z

Samsung Data Migration

Screenshot of Samsung Data Migration

Now upgrading your HDD (Hard Disk Drive) to an SSD (Solid State Drive) can be tricky. But if you purchase certain Samsung SSD's, you can utilize their free cloning software, Samsung SSD Data Migration.

I have used this software before and it does work pretty flawlessly. All you have to do is download and install the Samsung Data Migration software on your computer. The only thing you will need is a drive adapter or docking station to attach the Samsung SSD to your computer.

Once you have the Samsung Data Migration software installed, you attach your new Samsung SSD via an adapter or docking station and then start up the Samsung Data Migration software.

Now you have to keep in mind that you want to have a Samsung SSD that is relatively the same size (in gigabytes) or larger than you existing HDD. That way you don't have any issues with shrinking any of the partitions. Expanding them is easy, shrinking them can cause problems.

Another thing to keep in mind is if your cloning a 3.5" desktop HDD to a 2.5" Samsung SSD and your computer case does not have a 2.5" mounting bracket you will need to have a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter bracket.

As I mentioned before, Samsung Data Migration software works with specific Samsung SSD's, so check the user manual first for the list of supported Samsung drives.

Click here for more information on Samsung Data Migration

Acronis True Image WD Edition Software

Screenshot of Acronis True Image WD Edition Software

Now when it comes to free drive cloning software, nobody can beat Western Digital. They offer a stripped-down version of Acronis True Image for use with any Western Digital HDD or Sandisk SSD.

The nice thing about this software is that besides drive cloning it will also backup the entire system, individual partitions or just folder / files. You just have to have a qualifying drive (Western Digital or Sandisk).

Now this software will clone to either a physically installed drive or one that is attached via a drive adapter or docking station. It actually has its own boot loader in which it boots to when cloning a drive.

Just remember that when using any drive cloning software, you will need to turn the computer off after the cloning process is done and change the new cloned drive out for the old existing drive.

Click here for more information on Acronis True Image WD Edition

Customer service is #1

Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. From computer repair, virus removal and data recovery, we aim to give the highest quality of service.

Bring your computer to us and save

Our in-shop computer repair service  is based on the time we work on your computer, not the time it takes your computer to work!

Contact us

Geeks in Phoenix
4722 East Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
(602) 795-1111

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in all aspects of Computer Repair / PC Repair / Laptop Repair. Since 2008, our expert computer repair technicians have been providing outstanding Computer Repair, Virus Removal, Data Recovery, Photo Manipulation and Website Support.

Geeks in Phoenix have the best computer repair technicians providing computer repair and service in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe Arizona. We offer In-Shop, On-Site and Remote (with stable Internet connection) computer repair service.

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