Computer Guide

Don't recover using the Recovery CD
by George Skarbek - 5 September 2006

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Q: There has been some problem on my laptop and now Windows XP fails to start. I can put everything back as it was when it came from the factory with a recovery CD but I was told that this will format the hard disk. I cannot back up my files since I cannot start the computer to access the USB drive and copy my files. Is there a solution?

A: Unfortunately this is a problem that has been experienced by many users when something goes wrong. The correct way to try to recover your hard disk is not to use the ‘recovery’ CD, but to boot from the Windows XP CD and select the Repair option from the advanced settings.

Using the supplied recovery CD will completely destroy all your data even on another partition if you have one, and it will restore the computer to the factory defaults. This means that you not only have lost all your data, mail, etc but you will have to apply all the service patches for Windows, Office and reinstall the anti-virus software, anti spam software. As well as that you will need to download and install other essential programs such as the Acrobat reader, WinZip, IrfanView and any others that you have used.

The best option is to contact your dealer and ask them if they can repair or re-install Windows and how much will they charge. The chances are that the charge may be more than purchasing a copy of Windows XP, and in such case you should consider purchasing that CD. (If you can purchase the academic version of XP Pro Upgrade the approximate cost is $115)

After booting from it do NOT select to Recovery Console by pressing R, but allow Windows to search for the existing installation and only then select Repair. The Recovery Console is for real experts. From my experience it will work the majority of time if there is no physical damage to the hard disk but on some rare cases this may not fix the problem. As a last resort you can re-install Windows but this will not over-write your existing programs or your data. However, with this option some programs would still need to be reinstalled.

My strong advice to readers who are contemplating purchasing a new computer, whether it is a desktop or laptop, is to ask the dealer if a regular Windows CD is included and not just the ‘recovery’ CD. If this is not included you will have to consider the cost of purchasing such a CD, or better still look for another dealer or brand of computer. 

Q: If I send a 2 MB file say, to 6 friends, does BigPond charge me for 12 MB?

A: I would normally have replied that it would be 2 MB as you are sending only one file, to their server however checking with BigPond they advise that their charge would be for 12 MB. As this did not seem to be correct I rang the billing department again the next day and was told that the charges will only be for 2 MB. As Telstra is a large organisation, all that I can suggest is that you try and ask then to send you something in writing, or e-mail, to be on the safe side.

Q: I prefer the "List" view whenever I open a folder.  Can I make this the global default for My Computer?

Yes, this can be done. On one typical folder set your preferences on how you want all your folders to appear and then apply this as the default setting for Explorer. You can add more columns to the detailed view by clicking on View, Choose Details and also select the column width and order.

When you are happy with the layout, apply this to all folders. This important second step is done from Tools, Folder Options, View and click on Apply to All Folders.

Q: I need to stay in touch with my office and I am interested in learning about trouble free ADSL connections whilst travelling overseas. I have a new laptop with WiFi.
A: Staying in touch is possible, but your ADSL is made available to a specific phone number at your home or office. However, with most Internet cafés you can plug in your laptop and access your mail and use your browser. To send mail you must change your mailer’s outgoing address to the Internet café’s SMTP server.

If you can use your browser to be able to read your mail then you do not have to make any changes to the settings on your computer. Most ISP’s and some organisations have means to access your mail via the browser and you should find this out and practice prior to departing.

Similarly with Wireless you will be able to connect to the Internet at many Internet cafés or places such as airports, but in most cases a fee will be charged.


To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here