Advanced problem solving on Windows XP

For professional users

## A USEFUL TROUBLESHOOTING AND REPAIR TIP ##

Create a bootable CD with anti-virus, file recovery and all other kinds of tools. Use it to bypass the PC's own hard disk and repair any funny stuff.

STEP 1 - IF YOUR SYSTEM SOFTWARE HAS JUST CRASHED...

Try these steps:

STEP 2 - BACKUP

STEP 3 - CRITICAL CHECKS

STEP 4 - SPRING-CLEANING YOUR FILES

STEP 5 - DEFRAGING FILES

Deframent your hard disk once every month or so or when your disk is above 3 per cent fragmentation. It will help to prolong the life of your hard disk by reducing the wear-and-tear on the read/write heads moving about inside the hard drive as it gathers information between blocks of data on the disk.

Defragmenting your hard disk can also increase the speed of your system software and applications.

STEP 6 - MEMORY PROBLEMS

On a PC, increasing the Virtual Memory is performed in the System control panel. Use no less than 150MB in virtual memory size for running Windows 95/98. For Windows NT or XP, it should be 2GB. You should also remember, virtual memory can never be turned off for Windows XP.

As an added safety feature for Windows users wanting to make the most of the computer's memory, consider downloading and installing a utility called Cacheman. This utility will optimise your RAM management settings and recover memory set aside for applications that are no longer being used.

If you are not sure whether Windows XP is complaining about limited hard disk space, click the Start button, select Run, type "regedit", go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer, and make sure the DWORD NoLowDiskSpaceChecks has a value of 0.

To free up disk space on a PC running Windows XP, select the System Restore tab in System Properties and adjust how much is being used.

STEP 7 - HARDWARE PROBLEMS

STEP 8 - ZAP THE PRAM

STEP 9 - REINSTALL WINDOWS

We hear you don't want to reinstall the entire Windows OS, but just repair corrupted OS files?

For example, when a Windows system file such as setupx.dll is corrupted, launching Microsoft Explorer usually causes a message to appear saying, "EXPLORER caused an invalid page fault in unknown module". This effectively stops you from running the browser. But if you click the Start button, choose Run, type SFC, and let the System File Checker (SFC) find modified system files, it may report that the setupx.dll (in c:\windows\system\) has been modified or corrupted.

If you see this happen, have the original Windows CD installation disk at hand and when SFC asks you to restore the file, click OK, insert the CD, browse for the Win98 or other similar system folder on the CD when asked to browse for the location of a clean system file copy, and let Windows do the rest.

If Microsoft Internet Explorer should again crash, the message displayed this time should be a little more informative. For instance, it might say something along the lines of VPSHELL2.DLL is creating the problem. Again use SFC, type this system file name (i.e. VPSHELL2.DLL), and click the Start button to extract it from the Windows CD installation disk.

If this doesn't solve the problem, check for viruses and trojans and finally do a full reinstallation of Windows.

STEP 10 - BLAME MICROSOFT

NOTE 1: Want to hide hard drives from view of your PC users? In Windows XP, click the Start button, select Run, type "regedit", locate HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer, and create a DWORD value called NoDrives followed by a value of 67108863.

NOTE 2: For full control of the security of your Windows system to prevent users from going places they shouldn't, go for the Windows XP Professional version, boot as the systems administrator, click the Start button, select Run, type "gpedit.msc" and press the Enter key. Now you will have full control of your system policy.

NOTE 3: To hide Control Panel applets, download Microsoft's free TweakUI PowerToy. This will give you extra settings not normally accessible through the interface.

NOTE 4: On a PC, reboot in VGA-only mode (through the BIOS settings). This will enable the machine to operate in the basic 16-colour 640x480 resolution mode, so that you can see the desktop icons to begin carrying out further investigation/repair work.