by February 10, 2005 0 comments

Everytime you boot, you get the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Or, though your PC does boot, you never get to see the desktop or use your applications and files. Everyone gives you the same verdict-re-install everything. Try these five steps before doing that to save both time and your data.

For some of these to work, you should take preventive measures earlier. Each of these can be implemented without using any software or tool other than that on your Win XP CD-ROM.

System Restore
Where to find it: Start>Programs>Accessories>System 

Direct Hit!
Applies to: Win XP Pro and Home users
Five invaluable alternatives to getting an unusable system
working again

Tools his is the fastest recovery route, since Win XP already does most of the groundwork for you. All you have to do is to make sure that System Restore is turned on. To do this, open Control Panel>System. Click on the System Restore tab and check off the ‘Turn off System Restore’ box. If you have more than one hard drive, you will get a box with each drive and its setting listed. Click on each one, then click on Settings and set up the amount of space it should use. Now, each time your system reaches specific checkpoints-such as software installation, un-installation and hardware change-Win XP will automatically save important system files and settings. You can also create a specific restore point by launching System Restore and choosing ‘Create a restore point’.

Now, if the system becomes unusable, launch System Restore. Choose ‘Restore my computer to an earlier time’ and click on Next. Select the date when you last used your PC without problems and XP will automatically restore the files and settings from that date. Note that you can only select dates shown in bold. You would need to reboot your PC after this is done to finish recovering your PC.

Backup and Restore
Where to find it: Start> Programs>Accessories>System Tools

Create different hardware profiles for different environments

This is a manual method. After launching it, click on Backup and check on the specific drives or folders to back up. To back up the system-state (same as System Restore), check on the ‘System State’ option under ‘My Computer’ in the left-side tree. At the bottom of the box, select a path and provide a file name for your backup (.bkf) file. Click on ‘Start Backup’ to begin. 

To restore, simply return to this utility in Safe Mode. Select the ‘Restore and Manage Media’ tab. Select your backup file from the pane on the right and click on ‘Start Restore’. It’s a good idea to reboot your PC when this finishes.

ASR (Automated System Recovery) 
Where to find it: Backup Utility, Win XP installer

To use ASR, you need to create an ASR floppy disk. To use this ASR floppy, you need to boot the Win XP installer in the Recovery mode. For more details on
this process, refer to Automated System Recovery, January 2005, page 46.

Hardware profiles
Where to find it: Control Panel>System>Hardware

Hardware profiles help you start your PC using a different hardware configuration. For example, if you have a notebook that connects to your office network and a home LAN, then you can use the hardware profile system to store different profiles for each of these environments. This can also be used to recover your PC to a previous profile. What happens is that for more than one hardware profile created on your PC, when XP boots up, you will be prompted to select a profile to use.
To create a profile, access the utility and create a copy of the default profile (‘Profile 1’). If you’re using a notebook, select each profile, click on Properties and check on the ‘This is a portable computer’ box. If you are using a docking port with this notebook, check on the ‘The computer is docked’. To make Win XP display this profile when booting, check the ‘Always include this profile as an option when Windows starts’ option on. Click on OK throughout.

To set up the hardware for each profile, you need to reboot the PC after the above step, in one of the other hardware profiles. Now, go to Device Manager (Control Panel> Administrative Tools> Computer Management). Select the hardware, right click on it and select Properties from the menu. If you want to use this hardware in this profile, select ‘Use this Device (enable)’ in the ‘Device Usage’ drop down at the bottom. If you don’t want to use it in the current profile, select ‘Do not use this device in the current hardware profile (disable)’. Selecting the last option will disable the device in all profiles, making it unusable. Click on OK when done.

Now when booting, XP will display the created profiles for 30 seconds (by default). If you don’t make a selection, it will boot the one already selected on screen.

Windows File Protection
Where to find it: Start> Run>SFC

Create your own Restore CD

This is not possible without using any third-party software. You will need a CD burner (such as Nero) to pull it off. Note that this will not work with the OEM edition of Nero. Once you have Nero installed, open Start>Programs>Nero>Nero 6>Nero BackItUp. BackItUp is a program that allows you to directly back up your system to a CD-ROM or DVD media. It will also attempt to span your back-up image across multiple media if the image is big. Note that such a CD-ROM or DVD set would not be bootable. After you launch this tool, select the ‘Backup Wizard’ option and follow the steps. The steps are almost the same as for the Win XP’s Backup Utility. When prompted for the target drive, specify your
CD-ROM/DVD writer.

Win XP includes a background process called ‘Windows File Protection’ to restore corrupt system files automatically. This software has a front end named SFC (System File Checker). To manually launch SFC, in the Start>Run box, enter:


Click on OK. A small progress bar will be displayed depicting scanning and restoring your system files. You should have your Win XP CD-ROM handy. To enable proper working of this tool, start your PC in Safe Mode (without networking).

Sujay V. Sarma

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