Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

System Restore/ID Theft/Startup programs

“System Restore won’t work”, “I’m worried about ID Theft, how do I know if an email is legit?”, “I can’t get this #$*& program out of my Startup folder” — these are examples of some of the questions I have received since posting my articles on these topics. Today I’m going to review, and provide more solutions and answers.

Tip of the day: Since I’m going to cover the questions above, there is not going to be a single “Tip of the day” today. Instead, there will be “Today’s three questions”…
More on System Restore: What to do when System Restore just refuses to work. As I mentioned in my first System Restore post, SR simply is not a failsafe miracle worker. There are troubles that can occur that it simply does not repair — such as a corrupted SAM database. It is however a good place to start. It does undo a lot of the damage you can accidentally do to your machine. This fact is why you should always make a back up of your system — either a “disk image” made with a 3rd-party utility like Acronis True Image, or Norton Ghost, and/or Windows Backup Utility (Start >Programs >Accessories >System tools >Backup).
I stated in the prior article, and will repeat here, that you may have to repeat the System Restore process several times before one “snapshot” finally takes. When you use SR, you will see a calendar with available snapshots in bold dates. You should see several. Start with the most recent date and time, and work your way backwards. If you have done this with no luck, you probably have one of those troubles System Restore is not designed for. Either look elsewhere for solutions, or call for some Tech Support (we Tech Support folks need to make a living too, you know).

Legit vs. Phishing: “how do I know if an email is legit?” In my post about the rocket scientist, I discussed phishing and recommended an anti-phishing site toolbar, which combats a form of phishing called “pharming“.
I suggest you take no chances with emails. Simply do not click on links in emails. Also, realize that your bank will not send you links. They know about phishing, and they figure you already know their URL (you should have it bookmarked, so use that…or call them directly). Also be aware that just because an email claims to be from a friend or relative, doesn’t mean that it is. If you are not expecting an attachment.exe “executable” (application) or “you gotta see this!” .jpg from Uncle Fred, by all means don’t open it! Email him and ask him, “did you send me a..?” It is an easy thing for an Evil Doer to spoof a Sender address.
And finally, make sure your antivirus definitions are up to date. If it is not already on by default, open your antivirus’ Options and look in “Update Options” for “Download and install new definitions automatically” (or words to that effect) and make sure it’s selected. If available, have it set to scan email and email attachments as well. (If it’s not, consider switching to the free Avast! or AVG antivirus programs..)

Removing stubborn start up programs: If the methods I described in “My Startup folder is a clown car” proved insufficient for getting rid of a really determined program, there are three more methods you can try. The first is to read my Manage your Startup programs; second is msconfig, and the last is editing the Registry.
If these easy methods in the article didn’t do the trick, start by opening the msconfig utility. Click Start >Run and type in “msconfig” (no quotes), and then click on the Startup tab. Here you will see a list of the programs scheduled to start when Windows boots. Uncheck the checkbox next to the program you are having the troubles with. You will need to restart your system for the changes to take effect.

The second method, editing the Registry, is for advanced users who are comfortable treading in such risky waters. Changes made to the Registry are immediate, and there’s no “undo” feature. If you feel you are determined to dive in, please create a Restore Point before starting and back up the Registry to a .txt file first. Please read (or re-familiarize yourself with) Microsoft’s detailed how-to here. They Key you’ll be working with is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Run.
But please: this is not for the inexperienced. Do not try this without reading and understanding what editing the Registry is about, and what damage one mistake can do. First use the aforementioned methods and please consider simply using Add/Remove Programs to “retire” the troublesome program altogether…or try a program like StartUp Cop.

Today’s free link(s): I am satisfied with this freeware Startup manager: Ashampoo StartUp Tuner 2.

If you have been a victim of a phish, have been clicking unsolicited links willy-nilly, or let a window that magically popped open one day “scan your computer to remove infections”.. or just want to know your scores — get a free credit report , and find out if you’re the only “you” accessing your credit.
[Note: I believe it is worth it to have your credit reports monitored.. which is not a free service. For $5/month, I use , which monitors the big three report companies.]

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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June 9, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, security, software, System Restore, tech, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fixing boot errors–“There is no disk in the drive”

It is a very frustrating thing: you go and turn on your PC and instead of hearing the Window’s ‘welcome bells’ and seeing a Login screen or Desktop, you see instead a black (or blue) screen and an Error message. So, you try again…
Suddenly, shockingly, your computer refuses to work. You cannot read your email or play Solitaire. What’s worse, there’s a message for you.. which seems to offer an explanation, and a sense of hope — namely, the option to “Continue”. But “Continue” only brings up the message again. Your computer has become what we geeks call a “brick”.

For many, this is the time to call upon a Tech (such as myself). For others, this is the time to do some troubleshooting. (A good place to start is to read this prior article of mine, “When good computers go bad“.) Computer troubleshooting is an art, but there are a couple of general principals.
1: Safe Mode is your friend.
2: System Restore. (For more on the System Restore tool, click here.)
3: “My computer was working fine until I installed __________.” Well, uninstall it. (If _______ was a device driver, use the “Roll back driver” button; an application, use Add/Remove Programs; and a device or card, unplug it.)

Recently a client had this boot Error message: “No Disk. There is no disk in the drive. Please insert a disk into the drive. Cancel/Try Again/Continue.” [Note: this is a different error than the more serious, though similar-sounding, “Disk not found” error.]
The gentleman had never before been asked to “insert a disk”, and he told me he had not done any new installations of either programs or hardware.

Typically, this error is caused by a program (or Service) being configured to look to a removable drive before continuing, and ‘failing’ when it doesn’t find the right disk there. The most common of these (situations) is an antivirus that has been set to “scan floppy during boot”. (Keyword=”during”.) That was what had happened to my client: he had inadvertently changed the configuration (the “Settings”) of his antivirus, and simply unchecking the “floppy” option resolved the issue. To read more on configuring your antivirus, click here.

If your antivirus is not your issue, it may be some other Startup program (or Service), and the way to troubleshoot this is to use the msconfig tool to perform a “clean boot”. Open the Run dialogue (Start >Run) and type in “msconfig” (no quotes).
Click on “OK” and the configuration utility will open to the General tab.
Change the “Startup Selection” to “Selective Startup” and uncheck all four checkboxes, as shown above, and leave the radio button on “Use Original BOOT.INI”. When yours looks like my illustration, click on “Apply”. Now click on “Restart now” to reboot.

If your PC reboots normally now, you have indeed determined that a Startup program (or Service) is the culprit and you should return to msconfig and do a one-at-a-time process of checking and unchecking Startup item to identify the problematic one — and then delete (uninstall) it. If this applies to you, please read Microsoft’s article on this process by clicking here.

If the “clean boot” did not give you a normal boot (ie: it is NOT your antivirus, or a Startup program), it is quite probable, almost to the point of certainty, that your machine has been infected with malware. The next step is to run full (up-to-date) antivirus and anti-spyware scans, preferably starting these while in Safe Mode. I have written articles on how to do this, and the pertinent ones can be read by clicking here. You can also boot to an antivirus CD, or if “Safe Mode with networking” allows you access to the Web, you can run online anti-malware scans as well.

Boot errors and Blue-Screens-Of-Death (BSOD’s) are no joke, and I hope you never see them (using safe computing practices goes a long way toward avoiding them). I also hope the six-days-a-week advice you find here at Tech–for Everyone is useful and helpful to you. Hopefully you will find your answer here, but if you don’t.. please remember that there are good, red-blooded American Geeks standing by to help you– us lowly Tech Support-types.

Today’s free links: Are you a Sci-fi fanatic? Do you like to customize your PC with wallpaper? Both? Then I have a website for you, Witt’s Wallpaper. From site: “…one of the oldest and largest free windows desktop computer wallpaper sites on the internet. The site includes several thousand computer wallpapers [ Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, SciFi, Star Trek, Star Wars), icons…”

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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December 5, 2007 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, how to, PC, tech, Windows | , , , | 4 Comments