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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.

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.

Detecting and repairing disk errors in Windows XP

You can use the Error-checking tool to check for errors and bad sectors on your hard disk.

  • Open My Computer, and then select the local disk you want to check.
  • On the File menu, click Properties.
  • On the Tools tab, under Error-checking, click Check Now.
  • Under Check disk options, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors checkbox.

Notes

  • To open My Computer, double-click the My Computer icon on the desktop.
  • All files must be closed for this process to run. If the volume is currently in use, a message box will appear, prompting you to indicate whether or not you want to reschedule the disk checking for the next time you restart your system. Then, the next time you restart your system, disk checking will run. Your volume will not be available to perform other tasks while this process is running.
  • If your volume is formatted as NTFS, Windows automatically logs all file transactions, replaces bad clusters, and stores copies of crucial information for all NTFS volume files.

Upgrading your computer cheaply (part 3)

I started by taking the side panels and top off. It was at this point I decided to go excessive. Since most computer peripherals come with black finishes, I decided to change the case's color to black (this is where Home Depot comes into the picture). So I took off the face of the case and gently removed all of the buttons and lights.

A completely empty case.

I then proceeded to install the motherboard, processor/fan assembly, and memory. Next came the expansion card (wi-fi) and onboard connections. Note: Since I have some spare parts, I did install back panel connections for one serial port, one printer port, and four USB ports (for a total of eight on the back). These did not come with the motherboard. Then came the power supply and the drives.

The brand new system.

Here is a photo of the finished system, less the face and sides. I did add two more items into this $164.98 machine. Anybody who knows me knows I'm not particularly eager run onboard video cards. It uses a part of your system memory, which can be detrimental to a system's performance with a small amount of RAM. Say you have a system with 512 MB of RAM, and you have to have 128 MB for your video card. You have now cut your available system memory by 25%. Also, the memory on internal (opposed to onboard) video cards is faster. So I added a Microstar NX-8400GS with 512 MB for $43 and an Antec 80mm Tri-Cool case fan for $5.

So here's what I ended up with:

Intel Celeron 430 1.8 GHz with 4 GB's of DDR2 memory running with an FSB speed of 800 MHz, Microstar video card with an NVidia GeForce 8000 Series GPU with 512 of GDDR2 with a Western Digital 320 GB SATA Hard Drive.

Total for the whole system, $213.97, excluding labor. I will post a picture of the finished case when it's done.

Side note: My younger daughter decided she wanted to change her case too. This one is cool! Faux stone and chalkboard! Stop back by and see how this turns out.

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Repairing a PC can sometimes be expensive, and that is why we offer free basic in-shop diagnostics. Give one of our professional and experienced technicians a call at (602) 795-1111, and let's see what we can do for you.

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