Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the week of DECEMBER 14, 2014

WEEKLY MEETINGS
EACH Wednesday 

Program or Lesson 9:30 - 10:30 AM
One on One Help 10:30-?
In the Library


SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS:

If you would like to meet in a small group to discuss special computer related subjects or form a Special Interest Group lets discuss it.

Our bulletin is also available on line by visiting tecc.apcug.org and clicking on bulletin.


Our weekly program or lesson is intended
to be of interest to all computer users.
Following the program an allotment of time will
be available for one on one help to those
who want a better understanding of something done
 during the presentation.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday DECEMBER 17, 2014 Meeting
 9:15 AM Set up your computer
 9:30 AM Presentation
10:30 AM One on One help

How to Recover a "Crashed" System, Windows 7 and 8

Iraby Ira Wilsker

 

WEBSITES: 

https://support.microsoft.com/kb/929833

http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-security-list-part4.htm?page=0,2

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com

http://www.technibble.com/large-list-of-useful-computer-repair-cds/

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/1538-sfc-scannow-command-system-file-checker.html

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/139810-sfc-scannow-run-command-prompt-boot.html

http://www.eightforums.com/tutorials/3047-sfc-scannow-command-run-windows-8-a.html

http://www.techsupportalert.com/create-bootable-rescue-cd.htm

http://falconfour.wordpress.com/tag/f4ubcd/

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/how-create-recovery-discs-or-usb-keys-windows-8.htm

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/keep-bootable-cd-handy-troubleshooting.htm

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/two-new-ways-boot-safe-mode-windows-8.htm

 

            Yesterday I received a frantic phone call from a distraught individual.  He had a fairly new Windows 7-64 desktop PC not covered by warranty, and it would not properly boot up.  It would briefly show that manufacturer's splash screen, and then nothing else; the screen was black.  After a period of time, the power saving feature appeared on the otherwise black screen and stated that the computer was going into hibernate mode.  Nothing typical could bring the computer back to life; a full repeat of the "power on" cycle only produced a repetitive black screen and shutdown.  The computer would not even boot into safe mode using the F8 key, and it took several boot attempts to get to the BIOS setup using the F10 key (this varies by computer model); the BIOS appeared to be properly configured.  There was no practical way to get to the "System Restore" function, and rollback the PC to an earlier date and time.

            Immediately prior to this boot failure, the individual had installed a new paid (renewal)version of a popular system maintenance utility which he allowed to perform a full diagnostic.  Intentionally selecting the "Power down if no problems are found" function, the diagnostic utility went through a lengthy series of tests, found no errors, and dutifully shut down his computer.  That was the last time it ran satisfactorily.

            Fortunately, he had another Windows 7-64 desktop in his home, so he had the ability to research his predicament, and create some bootable rescue CD discs.  If we can remember Recovery Diskthe joy and excitement of setting up a new PC, one of the procedures presented during the setup, but still available later, is the creation of a set of bootable recovery discs or with newer computers, a recovery bootable USB flash drive.  While this bootable rescue disc set is often vital in recovering and restoring what many call a "crashed" computer, very few PC users ever create the set, even when prompted during setup, and at other times by the integral "PC Action Center".

            If you are one of the majority who has never created a Windows bootable recovery disc utilizing the function built into Windows 7 and 8, the process is relatively fast and easy.  In Windows 7, the bootable recovery disc can be created by going to Control Panel - System and Security - Backup and Restore - Create a System Repair Disc.  A window will open instructing the user to insert a blank CD, which the system will use to create a bootable recovery CD.  In some cases it may take several CD discs to create a complete recovery set, so be sure to have several blank CDs available.  Windows will proceed to create the bootable set.  When completed, label the discs with a permanent marker (I use a "Sharpie"), put them in a case, and store them somewhere safe where you can quickly find them if needed.  Most modern factory built Windows computers do not come from the factory with recovery or system CDs (or DVDs), but instead have a second partition on the hard drive with all of the critical operating system files; it is many of these files that will be used to create the recovery set.  In some cases, where this second partition was never created, or it was deleted (some users do this to get more space on the hard drive), it may be necessary to insert an original Windows 7 installation disc.  To use the system repair or recovery disc, insert the bootable CD in the drive, and then reboot the computer, following the on screen prompts to run the restore and recovery.

            The process of creating a set of restore bootable discs in Windows 8 is similar to that of Windows 7, except some of the instructions are worded differently.  Using the keyboard shortcut "Winkey+W" to open the Start screen Settings search, and type "recovery".  One of the choices will be “Create a recovery drive”.  Windows 8 supports creating recovery media on a USB flash drive (minimum of 256MB free space required, much more if a backup partition is created), or blank CD or DVD discs can be used.  Follow the onscreen prompts, and the rescue media will be created.  Label the media, and store it in a safe place where it can be readily found when needed.  If needed, simply insert the USB or DISC, and reboot the computer, then follow the on screen prompts.

            While the "official" system recovery discs may be very useful in recovering and restoring a system that will not boot, or boots with significant errors, there are also several third party bootable discs (mostly free) that can be created to detect and repair most common errors, or to scan and delete most malware that may have taken over the computer.  Detailed instructions and recommendations on resolving most of these crashes are available from Gizmo's TechSupportAlert.com at techsupportalert.com/best-free-security-list-part4.htm?page=0,2.    Another very large list of recovery and repair utilities that can create bootable CDs or USB flash drives is at technibble.com/large-list-of-useful-computer-repair-cds.  One of my personal favorites is the "Ultimate Boot CD" available for free download from ultimatebootcd.com.  This "Ultimate Boot CD" when burned to a bootable CD using an ISO burner (another readily available free utility) or to a USB flash drive (instructions are included in the download), contains dozens of utilities to diagnose and repair hard drives, memory tests, BIOS diagnosis and repair, CPU diagnosis, hardware diagnosis, video and keyboard diagnostics, malware scan and removal, and many diagnostic and repair utilities.  For those who like a variety of competitive utilities, another free comprehensive bootable CD or USB flash drive containing several dozen diagnostic and repair utilities is the Falcon Four Ultimate Boot CD, available for direct download at falconfour.wordpress.com/tag/f4ubcd.  It should be noted that the latest build of Falcon Four Ultimate Boot CD works fine on Windows 7 and Vista, but does not currently work on Windows 8 systems.

            Gizmo's TechSupportAlert.com recently had an updated feature containing detailed but easy to follow instructions for creating a bootable recovery CD or USB flash drive.  These instructions can be viewed at techsupportalert.com/create-bootable-rescue-cd.htm.  Included with these directions are links to six of the most popular (free) bootable recovery discs.

            While apparent "crashes" do occasionally happen, it is more common that an error may appear on the Windows screen while running indicating that one or more critical system files may have been corrupted or cannot be found.  To remedy this situation, all recent versions of Windows have a built in "System File Checker" that can check for missing or corrupted system files, and quickly and easily replace most of them.

            Probably the most efficient way to detect and repair almost any necessary system files is to do it from a command prompt in safe mode.  Getting to safe mode in Windows is simple; starting with the computer off (turned off, not hibernating or sleeping), turn on the computer with its power button then immediately start tapping the F8 key in the top row of the keyboard.  Keep tapping the F8 key every second or two until the computer opens a black screen with white fonts; one of the choices will be to boot into "command prompt" which can be reached with the up and down keys on the keyboard.  The computer will rapidly complete its very limited boot process, and when done, will only show a single command prompt on the screen, such as "C:\".  At this prompt type, " SFC /SCANNOW" (no quotes).  It can be in upper case or lower case, and will check the system files.  While the SFC /SCANNOW function can normally detect and repair most missing or corrupted system files with the first pass, there are cases where the command must be run several times in order to repair or replace a badly damaged system.    Alternatively, the SFC /SCANNOW command can be run from within Windows, while Windows is running.  Click in the menu on "RUN" and then enter SFC /SCANNOW in the box; be sure that it is being run with  "administrative privileges".  The process of running SFC /SCANNOW in Windows 8 is very similar to that of Windows 7, with both Windows 7 & 8 specific instructions available from Microsoft at support.microsoft.com/kb/929833.

            For most of us, it is not the proverbial question of if we will suffer a computer "crash", but more likely "when" we will have that problem.  Computer crashes are often different, and mostly unrelated to hard drive crashes, as computer crashes are mostly software based, but can also include the failure of hardware components.  At a minimum, we should all have a set of bootable recovery discs (or USB drives) created by our operating systems.  It would also be a wise idea to periodically create one or more (I have several) of the free third party repair and recovery discs.  By personal choice, being cognizant that utilities are often frequently updated, I periodically download newer, updated versions of the third party products, and burn them to CD, discarding the older versions.  Blank CDs (and new USB flash drives) have become very inexpensive, so cost is not an issue.  While it may take several minutes to download or create a set of bootable recovery media, the investment in time and money is but a shadow of the fiscal and emotional cost we pay if our computer crashes, and we do not have appropriate recovery media.  Along with good contemporary backups, both of our data and "shadow" or "image" (complete) backups of our hard drives, it is better to have them than not.


Back to Basics        Many Ways to Get Help

Jim Cerny, 2nd Vice President, Sarasota Technology User Group, FL

May 2014 issue, PC Monitor     www.spcug.org      Jimcerny123 (at) gmail.com

As with any tool with so many options, computers offer us so many applications that it is easy to become confused and need help. Fortunately, many of these “options” that computers have available are those that are supposed to help us. Here are some ideas for getting help when you are stuck.

Google it – yes, believe it or not, Google is one of the best places to get help. Go to the Google web page at google.com and enter in the search box your SPECIFIC problem for which you need help. You may phrase it as a question if you like, such as: “How do I change the default font size in Word 2010?” Notice that you should be as specific as you can with the product or program name and the edition of that program that you are using. Google will provide you a list of things to click on to get the answer you need.

YouTube – another amazing way to get help. On the Google web page look for a “YouTube” option or look for a very small array of little black squares. Clicking on that array will bring up many Google options, one of which is YouTube. Or you can just go to the YouTube web page at youtube.com. Again enter in the search bar your specific question or problem and you may be able to actually watch a tutorial on how to solve your problem. YouTube is a great resource for many things.

Classes – The big plus for classes is that you will go through a learning program instead of trying to learn “just one thing.” If you are having more than one or two isolated problems with a specific program, you probably need a good class to bring you up to speed with that whole application. In a class you will become much more aware of what you do not know and get the bigger picture. And if you are stuck in class you can always ask the instructor or cheat by looking at what your classmate is doing.

Books – There is no lack of computer publications to help you. I like the books that have lots of pictures in them to show you what the computer screens look like as you learn. Although most people enjoy books, not many people can read a book and learn from it as they read. You need to actually do the exercises to learn.

Tutoring – This is really the best learning option because it should target your specific needs. If you do decide to have a paid tutor help you, why not negotiate and invite one or two friends to be there with you and share the cost?

Friends and Relatives – especially teens. They already know more than we ever will and would really have the knowledge to help you. But would they be able to teach well and be patient with you? That could be a problem. Or maybe you wouldn’t understand the tech-talk they might use. The blue circle with the white question mark in it – this symbol represents, in most Windows applications, the way to get help. Otherwise, look for anything on the screen that says “help.” Click on it and search for what you want for that particular application.

Calling in a professional or taking your computer in to a repair shop – there is nothing wrong with doing this, especially if you are having a hardware problem. But they may not take the time to teach you anything.

I know I have not covered all the possibilities there are many more ways to learn; you have to decide which way is best for you. Learning one new thing is day is good for you and your brain. If all else fails, put your computer under your pillow at night and maybe some of the knowledge will be absorbed by your brain while you sleep. (This may only work with a laptop.)


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