How to Repair Your Computer

If your computer has been crashing and you have exhausted your options via virus removal programs, you may need to reinstall your operating system. You can use your system restore disks or use a Windows Installation Disk.

I do this a few times per week for people I work for. Here is the easiest process to go about it:

BACKUP (could take anywhere from 5min - 2hours typically)

Backup your current files to a flash drive or external hard drive:

If you have Vista or Windows 7:

c:\users\(your name)\documents

c:\users\(your name)\desktop

c:\users\(your name)\favorites

If you use (Windows Mail program) on your computer:

c:\users\(your name)\appdata\local\microsoft\windows mail

XP is very similar, substitute "documents and settings" for "users"

FIND OR ACQUIRE A RESTORE DISK OR WINDOWS INSTALLATION CD (Download could take 2-3 hours depending on your connection if downloading)

If you do not have a Windows XP / Vista / 7 install cd, you can borrow one from a friend, contact your manufacturer for a disk (typically $25) or download one via a torrent program (Try to get one that is not "pre-activated" as there is no need to pirate software when you already have a licensed copy and sticker on the side or bottom of your computer, it will ask for this during the install. The only torrent downloading program I recommend using is VUZE. Burn the ISO to a CD)

RUN THE INSTALL (Typically 1 hour)

Once you have it backed up, I recommend booting using your Vista / 7 / XP install cd. Just place it in your cd drive and restart your computer. If should say "press any key to boot from cd or something similar" If not, you may have to press F12 and choose CD and boot device or something similar immediately when you turn your computer on.

When the install gets to the point of selecting drive partitions, delete all existing partitions and create a new one. Do a full format on the drive (with a 320gb hard drive could take 2 hours). (If you have a Vista or 7 it may not give you that option but should work regardless)


If the drive fails to format, replace your drive as it has hardware issues and run the install again.

I recommend getting a 120gb hard drive from ebay for $30.99 including shipping, which includes a 5 year warranty. This is far cheaper and has a longer warranty than anything you could purchase locally. Just do a search for "Dell D520 D620 D630 D820 D830 Laptop Hard Drive 120GB"

If you place a brand new drive in the computer there is no need to do a full format, (the option when using xp) as you can just do a "quick format" or leave the drive as it is and run the install.


Once the install is completed, you may have to go to your manufacturer's website from a different computer and download drivers to a flash drive or external hard drive that were not installed automatically. You can find out which drivers need to be installed by right-clicking MY COMPUTER and choosing PROPERTIES, then HARDWARE, and DEVICE MANAGER. The ones with a yellow exclamation will need to be downloaded and installed.

REINSTALL PROGRAMS (Typically 30 - 45 minutes)

After that, reinstall any additional programs. I typically install Microsoft Security Essentials as free antivirus protection, OpenOffice as a free Microsoft Office alternative, Foxit Reader as an Adobe Acrobat Reader alternative, and Google Chrome as an Internet Explorer alternative.


For future laptop care, be sure to never use it on your lap or move it while it is turned on. Hard drives have very fast moving parts in them that can be easily damaged if bumped while running.