Some PC Maintenance Tips and Tricks
1. How to Clone a Hard Drive
Did know that you could clone your current Hard Drive without having to by extra software? Maybe you didn't know that all that you needed, was already set up on your current system? Well, it is... and if you follow
this tut, you shouldn't have much of a problem. Make sure that you have a Master and a Slave setup on your system. The Slave drive, in this case, is where all the data on the Master is going
to go to.
First: Perform a Scandisk your Master drive and follow that with a thorough Defrag. If you have an Antivirus program, do a thorough sweep with the AV first, then do the Scandisk, followed by the Defrag.
Second: Do the same thing to the target drive, as you did the Master: Scandisk then a thorough Defrag.
Third: Right-click on the Target drive and click on Format. When the box comes up, click your mouse onto the "Full" button.
Fourth: After Formatting the Target drive, run a Scandisk again and click on the button that says "Autofix Errors".
Fifth: In this final part, you might want to cut-and-paste to code in,unless you are sure that you can do it without making any mistakes:
Click on the "Start" button, then click on the "Run..." button, then place the following into the Runbox:
"XCOPY C:\*.*D:\ /c/h/e/k/r" (minus the quotes, of course) then press the "Enter" button.If you receive an error message, then remove the space from between XCOPY and C:\
Anything that should happen to come up in the DOS box, just click "Y" for "Yes". When its all finished, pull the original Master from the system, designate the Slave as the Master (change your jumpers), then check your new Master out.
This tut has worked and has been tested on all systems except for Windows 2000, so you really shouldn't have any problems. If, by any chance, you should come across a snag, message me and I'll walk you through it.
2. Recover a Corrupted System File
If an essential Windows file gets whacked by a virus or otherwise corrupted, restore it from the Windows CD. Search the CD for the filename, replacing the last character with an underscore; for example, Notepad.ex_. If it's found, open a command prompt and enter the command EXPAND, followed by the full pathname of the file and of the desired destination: EXPAND D:\SETUP\NOTEPAD.EX_ C:\Windows\NOTEPAD.EXE. If either pathname contains any spaces, surround it with double quotes.
If the file isn't found, search on the unmodified filename. It will probably be inside a CAB file, which Win XP treats as a folder. Simply right-drag and copy the file to the desired location. In other Windows platforms, search for a file matching *.cab that contains the filename. When the search is done, open a command prompt and enter EXTRACT /L followed by the desired location, the full pathname of the CAB file, and the desired filename; for example: EXTRACT /L C:\Windows D:\I386\Driver.cab Notepad.exe. Again, if the destination or CAB file pathname contains spaces, surround it with double quotes.
3.Hard drive gone bad
The most common problems originate from corruption of the master boot record, FAT, or directory. Those are soft problems which can usually be taken care of with a combination of tools like Fdisk /mbr to refresh
the master boot record followed by a reboot and Norton disk doctor or Spinneret.
The most common hardware problems are a bad controller, a bad drive motor, or a bad head mechanism.
1. Can the BIOS see and identify the hard drive correctly? If it can't, then the hard drives onboard controller is bad.
2. Does the drive spin and maintain a constant velocity? If it does, that's good news. The motor is functioning.
3. If the drive surges and dies, the most likely cause is a bad controller (assuming the drive is cool). A gate allowing the current to drive the motor may not be staying open. The drive needs a new controller.
4. Do you hear a lot of head clatter when the machine is turned on and initialized (but before the system attempts to access the hard drive). Head clatter would indicate that the spindle bearings are sloppy or
worn badly. Maybe even lose and flopping around inside.
5. There is always the possibility that the controller you are using in the machine has gone south.
1. If the drive spins, try booting to the A> prompt, run Fdisk and check to see if Fdisk can see a partition on the hard drive. If Fdisk can see the partition, that means that it can access the drive and that the controller electronics are functioning correctly. If there is no head clatter, it may be just a matter of disk corruption which commonly occurs when a surge hits you machine and overwhelms the power supply voltage regulator. It commonly over whelms the system electronics allowing an EM pulse to wipe out the master boot record, file allocations table, and primary directory. Fdisk can fix the master boot record and Norton Disk Doctor can restore the FAT and Directory from the secondaries.
2. The drive spins but Fdisk can't see it. Try the drive in another system and repeat the test to confirm that Fdisk can't read through the drives onboard controller. If it sees it in another system, then your machines hard drive interface is bad. You can try an upgraded or replacemen controller card like a Promise or CMD Technologies (there are others) in you machine after disabling the integrated controller in the BIOS, but if the integrated controller went south, it may just be symptomatic of further failures and you'd be wise to replace the motherboard. Trying th drive in another machine also eliminates the variable that your machines 12 volt power output being bad.
3. If you get head clatter but a constant velocity on the drive motor (no surging), you might try sticking the hard drive in the freezer for about 12 hours. This is an old trick from back in the days of the MFM/ESDI driver era. This can cause the drive components to shrinkenough to make the track marker align with the tracks. We don't see
that kind of platter spindle wear much anymore, but back in the old days, the balancing and bearings weren't as good. Still, under the right circumstances, it might help. It would depend on how old the drive is and how many hours of wear have occurred. You have to be quick to get your info off the drive when it works. Back then, the drives were much smaller, so there wasn't so much to copy. So, go after the important data first.
4. The drive doesn't spin. Either the onboard controller is bad or the motor is bad (assuming you did try the drive in another machine). It's time to hit the net and local independent shops to see if you can locate another drive of the same make and model that's good. Since the drive is probably an older drive and no longer in distribution, your best bet is to find an identical used drive. If you know someone with the same make and model, you might be wise to try and persuade them to sell you their drive with an offer of providing them with a free upgraded drive. If you can locate an identical drive, start with the controller replacement ... this is the simplest and least invasive. If swapping the controller doesn't produce the desire result, you can tear into the drive and swap the motors. While you have both drive opened up to accomplish this, scrutinize the platters, heads and armatures. You might even hook the drive up and power it from a system with both
drives attached. This way, you could see anything that deviates between the actions of both drives when they are initialized. Swapping patters is unlikely to produce any positive result. They are a balanced system
like the tires on your car and I suspect that the balance will be different for each drive as will other variables.
5. There's always Ontrack Corp. who will attempt to recoup your info starting at $500 and going up from there. They don't fix and return the drive either.
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New postSubject: Re: PC Maintenance Tips and Tricks Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:36 pm Reply with quote
If the info is all that important to you, I would seek some professional and experience technician in your locality who makes his living from servicing and building computer systems ... not just selling them. If you have had much experience salvaging information from bad hard drives, your likelihood of success is low. In the case of soft corruption, all utilities have their eccentricities. Often times, Norton Disk Doctor will go too far (if you let it). It's wise to just let those utilities small steps and then have a look at the drive and see if you can copy it off. Norton will go so far as to rename directories and files, and even delete them or break them up into fragments which are useless.
4. Caught A Virus?
If you've let your guard down--or even if you haven't--it can be hard to tell if your PC is infected. Here's what to do if you suspect the worst.
Heard this one before? You must run antivirus software and keep it up to date or else your PC will get infected, you'll lose all your data,and you'll incur the wrath of every e-mail buddy you unknowingly infect
because of your carelessness.
You know they're right. Yet for one reason or another, you're not running antivirus software, or you are but it's not up to date. Maybe you turned off your virus scanner because it conflicted with another program. Maybe you got tired of upgrading after you bought Norton Antivirus 2001, 2002, and 2003. Or maybe your annual subscription of virus definitions recently expired, and you've put off renewing.
It happens. It's nothing to be ashamed of. But chances are, either you're infected right now, as we speak, or you will be very soon.
For a few days in late January, the Netsky.p worm was infecting about 2,500 PCs a day. Meanwhile the MySQL bot infected approximately 100 systems a minute (albeit not necessarily desktop PCs). As David Perry, global director of education for security software provider Trend Micro, puts it, "an unprotected [Windows] computer will become owned by a bot within 14 minutes."
Today's viruses, worms, and so-called bots--which turn your PC into a zombie that does the hacker's bidding (such as mass-mailing spam)--aren't going to announce their presence. Real viruses aren't like the ones in Hollywood movies that melt down whole networks in seconds and destroy alien spacecraft. They operate in the background, quietly altering data, stealing private operations, or using your PC for their own illegal ends. This makes them hard to spot if you're not well protected.
Is Your PC "Owned?"
I should start by saying that not every system oddity is due to a virus, worm, or bot. Is your system slowing down? Is your hard drive filling up rapidly? Are programs crashing without warning? These symptoms are more likely caused by Windows, or badly written legitimate programs, rather than malware. After all, people who write malware want to hide their program's presence. People who write commercial software put icons all over your desktop. Who's going to work harder to go unnoticed?
Other indicators that may, in fact, indicate that there's nothing that you need to worry about, include:
* An automated e-mail telling you that you're sending out infected mail. E-mail viruses and worms typically come from faked addresses.
* A frantic note from a friend saying they've been infected, and therefore so have you. This is likely a hoax. It's especially suspicious if the note tells you the virus can't be detected but you can get rid of it by deleting one simple file. Don't be fooled--and don't delete that file.
I'm not saying that you should ignore such warnings. Copy the subject line or a snippet from the body of the e-mail and plug it into your favorite search engine to see if other people have received the same note. A security site may have already pegged it as a hoax.
Sniffing Out an Infection
There are signs that indicate that your PC is actually infected. A lot of network activity coming from your system (when you're not actually using Internet) can be a good indicator that something is amiss. A good
software firewall, such as ZoneAlarm, will ask your permission before letting anything leave your PC, and will give you enough information to help you judge if the outgoing data is legitimate. By the way, the firewall that comes with Windows, even the improved version in XP Service Pack 2, lacks this capability.
To put a network status light in your system tray, follow these steps:In Windows XP, choose Start, Control Panel, Network Connections,right-click the network connection you want to monitor, choose Properties, check "Show icon in notification area when connected," and click OK.
If you're interested in being a PC detective, you can sniff around further for malware. By hitting Ctrl-Alt-Delete in Windows, you'll bring up the Task Manager, which will show you the various processes your system is running. Most, if not all, are legit, but if you see a file name that looks suspicious, type it into a search engine and find out what it is.
Want another place to look? In Windows XP, click Start, Run, type "services.msc" in the box, and press Enter. You'll see detailed descriptions of the services Windows is running. Something look weird? Check with your search engine.
Finally, you can do more detective work by selecting Start, Run, and typing "msconfig" in the box. With this tool you not only see the services running, but also the programs that your system is launching at startup. Again, check for anything weird.
If any of these tools won't run--or if your security software won't run--that in itself is a good sign your computer is infected. Some viruses intentionally disable such programs as a way to protect themselves.
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Once you're fairly sure your system is infected, don't panic. There are steps you can take to assess the damage, depending on your current level of protection.
* If you don't have any antivirus software on your system (shame on you), or if the software has stopped working, stay online and go for a free scan at one of several Web sites. There's McAfee FreeScan, Symantec Security Check, and Trend Micro's HouseCall. If one doesn't find anything, try two. In fact, running a free online virus scan is a good way to double-check the work of your own local antivirus program. When you're done, buy or download a real antivirus program.
* If you have antivirus software, but it isn't active, get offline, unplug wires-- whatever it takes to stop your computer from communicating via the Internet. Then, promptly perform a scan with the installed software.
* If nothing seems to be working, do more research on the Web. There are several online virus libraries where you can find out about known viruses. These sites often provide instructions for removing viruses--if manual removal is possible--or a free removal tool if it isn't. Check out GriSOFT's Virus Encyclopedia, Eset's Virus
Descriptions, McAffee's Virus Glossary, Symantec's Virus Encyclopedia,or Trend Micro's Virus Encyclopedia.
A Microgram of Prevention
Assuming your system is now clean, you need to make sure it stays that way. Preventing a breach of your computer's security is far more effective than cleaning up the mess afterwards. Start with a good security program, such Trend Micro's PC-Cillin, which you can buy for $50.
Don't want to shell out any money? You can cobble together security through free downloads, such as AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, ZoneAlarm (a personal firewall), and Ad-Aware SE (an antispyware tool).
Just make sure you keep all security software up to date. The bad guys constantly try out new ways to fool security programs. Any security tool without regular, easy (if not automatic) updates isn't worth your
money or your time.
Speaking of updating, the same goes for Windows. Use Windows Update (it's right there on your Start Menu) to make sure you're getting all of the high priority updates. If you run Windows XP, make sure to get
the Service Pack 2 update. To find out if you already have it,right-click My Computer, and select Properties. Under the General tab,under System, it should say "Service Pack 2."
Here are a few more pointers for a virus-free life:
* Be careful with e-mail. Set your e-mail software security settings to high. Don't open messages with generic-sounding subjects that don't apply specifically to you from people you don't know. Don't open an
attachment unless you're expecting it.
* If you have broadband Internet access, such as DSL or cable, get a router, even if you only have one PC. A router adds an extra layer of protection because your PC is not connecting directly with the Internet.
* Check your Internet ports. These doorways between your computer and the Internet can be open, in which case your PC is very vulnerable; closed, but still somewhat vulnerable; or stealthed (or hidden), which
is safest. Visit Gibson Research's Web site and run the free ShieldsUP test to see your ports' status. If some ports show up as closed--or worse yet, open--check your router's documentation to find out how to hide them.
Partitioning Your Harddisk With Fdisk
Partitioning your Hard Disk:
Partitioning involves creating logical units on your hard drive that are then addressed as different drive letters. Not only does it help to organize your data (program files on one drive, games on another,
documents on another) but also to speed up your PC. This is so because the drive head has to move a lesser distance for accessing data within one partition. You can also have different filesystems and OS's on the
same hard drive.
Partitioning can be done using in Windows 2000/ NT/XP. We will describe the procedure for fdisk, since disk management is GUI driven and the basics otherwise remain the same. While several other commercial packages like Partition Magic are available, these utilities (fdisk, computer management) are bundled with their respective OSs. You need a bootable floppy with fdisk.exe, format.com, and sys. com utilities. Before starting, decide how many partitions you want to create and their sizes. You can create one primary and one extended partition using the DOS fdisk. The extended partition can then have multiple logical partitions. Boot your machine using the bootable disk, and do the following.
Run fdisk. The utility will show you a numbered menu from where you can create, view, or delete partitions. The utility first asks you whether you want to enable large disk support. Type Y (for yes) and press enter
if your hard-drive capacity is more than 4 GB. Large disk support creates a FAT32 partition, which can be greater than 2 GB
Select the first option from fdisk menu to create a primary partition. Specify the partition size in megabytes or percentage size when prompted for it.
Similarly, create an extended partition. Extended partitions by themselves do not appear as drive letters. Instead, logical partitions must be created in them, which are then assigned drive letters.
Exit fdisk and reboot the computer. Fdisk automatically assigns drive letters to all the partitions. You'll need to format each partition in order to use it. Use format.com for the same
Your hard drive is now ready for taking an OS.