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Your Canadian Information Technology SuperSource


  • Category Archives Tech
  • I Can’t Boot My Computer !

    It has to be one of the scariest things, you turn on your computer and it simply won’t boot. You get a cryptic error or the infamous ‘Blue Screen of Death’ (Usually a 07x error), either way your computer will not start and you have all those files sitting on that hard drive (that you were getting around to backing up right?)

    While it is true in some cases the hard drive could well have given up on you, after all those grinding noises coming from within the computer were not a good sign. However the  majority of these booting problems are related to virus and trojan problems.

    Assuming that you have not changed any hardware or settings, and that the hard drive is in good working order what you may need to do is at least get your system booted so you can at least scan for infections.

    You are going to need that bootable Windows 7 DVD you have. If you are don’t have this, check with your computer’s documentation if there is a way to boot to a recoverable partition. If you don’t have any of these then you might have to go here (http://goo.gl/zsf37) and download Microsoft’s 90 day trial DVD of Windows 7 Enterprise. If you do download this image you will have to find a way to burn it to a DVD with third party software.

    Ok, you now have your bootable DVD, now you have to boot from it. You might have to alter your computer’s settings (the BIOS) to accomplish this, again you may have to consult your computers documentation (however, many computers use the ‘esc’ key).

    Once you boot your computer you will be presented with a screen similar to this one.

    You want to select next to go onto the next screen. Here you want to select ‘Repair your computer’

    Now Windows will search your computer to find all the Windows installations. Once it has done this, it is time to jump off the rail so to speak, this is where we go it alone.

    What you need to do now is to hit {shift+f10} to bring up a command prompt window to work with.

     

    OK now what we want to do is back up the Windows Boot Store, just in case we do have to go back to our original configuration. This is done by

    BcdEdit /Export C:\BcdBackUp.Bcd

    If you ever need to restore the boot record then use the command

    BcdEdit /Import c:\BcdBackUp.Bcd

    Now we have to rebuild the Windows Boot Store and put any and all Windows Installations back into the boot menu and this would be done by

    C:

    CD \Boot

    Attrib Bcd –S –H –R

    Rename Bcd Bcd.Old

    BootRec /RebuildBcd  

    After this, you should see that a Windows installation has been found and asks if you want to add this to your boot list. You definitely want to do this so select Y to continue

    If no Windows installation has been found then you can try this command as well

    BootRec /ScanOS

     

    Next we are going to rebuild the master boot record (MBR) and the boot sector and this is done by

    BootRec /FixMBR  and

    BootRec /FixBoot

     

    You should final step is to see if the computer will now boot, type exit and then close the system recovery options (DO NOT RUN THE RECOVERY!) and abort the Windows 7 Installation to reboot the computer.

    If everything has gone right, you should now see your fimilar Windows 7 screen to show up.

     

    Dont forget to can for any infections and DON’T forget to back up those files!


  • Defragging

    One of the biggest client complaints I get is that their computer is running way to slow. One of the most overlooked solutions is defragmentation.

    So what exactly is fragmentation anyways ? Imagine this simplistic view for a moment.

    Suppose you have two files each broken down into three parts and stored on the hard drive below

    File-1 File-1 File-1 File-2 File-2 File-2 Empty Empty Empty Empty

     

    Now Suppose you delete File-1 and free up the first 3 parts

    Empty Empty Empty File-2 File-2 File-2 Empty Empty Empty Empty


    Now you have File-3 which takes up 5 parts.

    File-3 File-3 File-3 File-2 File-2 File-2 File-3 File-3 Empty Empty

     

    Now you can see where the fragmentation comes into play . The computer has to start reading File-3 at the beginning , which is fine , but then has to skip past File-2 and then continue on reading File-3. Now imagine this on a scale of tens of thousands of files (My system has 236,120 files with 48,373 folders) and you can see what sort of impact this can have ! To make matters even worse , when the Windows 7 paging file becomes too fragmented , all system restore points can be deleted , making for a possible disaster .

    Now here is the final result of defragmentation

    File-2 File-2 File-2 File-3 File-3 File-3 File-3 File-3 Empty Empty

     

    Point to remember , defragmentation performance loss  is only an issue with mechanical hard drives , you should NEVER defragment a Solid State Drive ( SSD ) as this will decrease the life span of your drive ! (not to mention that it is pointless as well)

    Help is out there

    Well , sort of . There are actually quite a few programs out there , some free and some not. Right now I am going to outline a few of the best in their fields , Defraggler , Ashampoo Magical Defrag 3 and Diskeeper .

    First off I really do not recommend Microsoft’s defragmenter as it has some limitations with it . Although Microsoft’s defragmenter does have a scheduler in it since Vista it cannot defrag the pagefile , hibernate file or NTFS metadata ( if you dont know what these are dont worry about it , the names are not too important  , just that it does not do the full job) . The Windows 7 defragmenter’s interface also leaves a lot to be be desired with the lack of a key map makes  it is sometimes hard to understand what it is doing at times . This defragmenter is SSD aware however.

    For the free sector , Defraggler is one of the best defragmenters out there . Again this defragmenter does not do any of the systems files (pagefile , hibernate or NTFS Metadata) but it does come with a good clean interactive  interface and key map. Defraggler also has the ability to schedule  defragmentation with the options of defragmenting individual files/folders , quick defrag and defragmenting free space (to help prevent defragmentation).Defraggler is also SSD aware

    Just a  quick note about this other defragmenter , UltraDefrag , it is not nearly as polished as Defraggler but it is one of the few that will defragment the system files .It does have a better user interface then Windows 7 , but it is not interactive as Defraggler is and as such does not have the ability to defragment individual  files/folders.UltraDefrag does not have a scheduler included in it either. One drawback is that UltraDefrag is not SSD aware , so use with caution if you have a SSD

    In the commercial sector , there are two great choices Diskeeper and Ashampoo Magical Defrag 3 , both are  similar as they both work in the background and prevent defragmentation from even occurring,  just set it and forget it. Also another key benefit is the near zero resource overhead for these products.  Diskeeper is more geared for the business/enterprise market but do have products for the home user. Ashampoo is exclusively geared towards the home market for the beginner-intermediate .

    Diskeeper starts at $39.95 for the home version , but realistically you should look at the Professional version which is $59.95 or the Pro Premier version for $99.95 as the home version is made for ‘basic light computing’ and is missing key features that are included for free in Defraggler. The Pro Premier version is also designed for drives over one terabyte. All versions of Diskeeper are SSD aware and will defragment the  system files

    If you are looking for the business/enterprise server market Diskeeper really has you covered starting at $349.99 with far too many features to be covered here , suffice to say they have every conceivable option covered for the savvy (and lucky) administrator .

    Ashampoo Magical Defrag 3 costs $14.99 and is SSD aware but does not defragment the system files .




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