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Posted on Apr 16, 2013 in PC Maintenance, Troubleshoot Windows | 6 comments

Help keep your Windows PC running in tip-top condition with our guide to Windows troubleshooting

In this section we will investigate basic Windows troubleshooting and explore some of the ways you can keep your PC in tip-top condition. We’re going to be looking at uninstalling programs, the disk cleanup utility and several other ways you can fix common PC problems. We’ll also be discussing the slightly controversial topic of registry cleaners and finishing up with a peek at Windows services, for the braver readers amongst you!

You can also find lots of useful troubleshooting tips in our guide to making Windows faster.

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The Windows Chkdsk (check disk) utility can find and fix common problems with disks and storage devices.

Using Chkdsk

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Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool (DISM)

The Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool (DISM) can download fresh copies of corrupt Windows system files directly from Microsoft. Before you use this tool, you should run the System File Checker tool first. This tool works with Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 only.

Using DISM

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Disk Cleanup utility

The Disk Cleanup utility is a simple tool in Windows that can remove temporary files from your PC, thus freeing up hard disk space.

Disk Cleanup utility for Windows 7, 8 or 10
Disk Cleanup utility for Windows Vista
Disk Cleanup utility for Windows XP

notepad-iconEditing configuration files

Occasionally you will need to manually edit a configuration file associated with a program on your computer. This video explains how you can do that.

Editing configuration files with Notepad

Repair iconHashTab

HashTab is an easy to use Windows tool that can help you compare files. It’s a great way to check for file corruption, for instance.

HashTab Tutorial 1 – Installation and what are file hashes?
HashTab Tutorail 2 – Using HashTab

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HD Tune

HD Tune is a handy free utility that can detect problems with hard drives and hard drive controllers.

HD Tune Tutorial 1 – Installing HD Tune
HD Tune Tutorial 2 – Performing hard drive diagnostics

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Shell Extensions

Lots of third party software installs shell extensions. Shell extensions add extra functionality to Windows such as new options on the context menu (right click menu), but incorrectly functioning shell extensions can cause problems. ShellExView is a handy Windows troubleshooting tool that allows you to disable and enable shell extensions on your system.

ShellExView Tutorial 1 – Installation
ShellExView Tutorial 2 – Using ShellExView

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Seemingly random crashes, freezes or blue screen errors on your PC? Start by checking your memory using Memtest!

Using Memtest86+
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Networking problems

Many network problems in Windows can be solved by performing a Winsock reset. This returns the network settings to their defaults.

Performing a Winsock Reset in Windows XP
Using the Network troubleshooting wizard and performing a Winsock reset in Windows Vista, 7, 8 or 10

There are also several networking settings you can tweak in Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10, to find out about these options, see the tutorial below.

Tweaking and troubleshooting networking in Windows Vista or Windows 7

microsoft-net-framework-50x50.NET Framework

If you are trying to run a specific program and Windows tells you that it requires the .NET framework, follow this tutorial in order to download and install it.

Downloading and installing the .NET Framework V2, V3 and V3.5

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Reimage is a whole new PC repair tool that uses the power of the cloud to repair Windows systems.

Reimage benchtest and overview
Reimage Tutorial 1 – Installing Reimage
Reimage Tutorial 2 – Using Reimage

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Safe Mode

Safe mode is a special troubleshooting mode that can be useful when fixing more stubborn PC problems.

Accessing Safe Mode

In Windows 8, Microsoft removed the early startup menu that allows you to access safe mode. This questionable step was done to improve boot times. Fortunately, it is easy to restore safe mode on all Windows 8 machines, the tutorial below shows you how. This technique has been tested on Windows 10 and found to work there too.

Restore safe mode and boot options to Windows 8 or Windows 10.

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System File Checker

The System File Checker is a tool provided by Microsoft that can scan the Windows system files on your PC and ensure they have not been corrupted.

Using the System File Checker to find and fix Windows system files

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System Restore Utility

The System Restore utility can reverse or roll back changes to your computer. If your PC only recently developed a problem, using this utility can often solve it.

System Restore utility for Windows XP
System Restore utility for Windows Vista or Windows 7
System Restore utility for Windows 10

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Undeleting files

Accidentally deleted a file on your computer? Recover it with NTFS Undelete.

NTFS Undelete Tutorial 1 – Installation
NTFS Undelete Tutorial 2 – Windows undelete

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Uninstalling programs

Need to free up disc space or remove an unwanted or troublesome program? Learn how to remove programs in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 or 10 with these tutorials:-

Uninstalling programs in Windows XP
Uninstalling programs in Windows Vista, 7, 8 or 10

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Need to delete or move a file on your computer but Windows keeps telling you that it’s still in use? You need Unlocker!

Installing Unlocker
Using Unlocker

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Windows Registry editing

Sometimes when following a specific troubleshooting guide, you will be instructed to edit specific registry keys or entries. You must always take care when doing this, as incorrect edits can damage your PC. Follow the tutorial below to learn how to use the Windows registry editor, Regedit.

Using Regedit

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Windows Registry cleaning

Thinking of trying or buying a Windows Registry cleaner in order to troubleshoot your PC? Read the article shown below before you part with your cash!

The truth about Windows Registry cleaners

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Windows services

If you are trying to completely remove a program, it may be worthwhile checking with the Windows Services tool to make sure that there isn’t a hidden service running. The tutorials below will explain exactly what Windows services are and how they affect you.

Introduction to Windows services
Using the Windows Services tool

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Windows Task Manager

The Windows Task Manager is a useful tool for troubleshooting applications which have stalled or stopped responding.

Windows Task Manager tutorial (Windows 7 and Windows Vista)
Windows Task Manager tutorial (Windows 8 and Windows 10)

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Reinstalling Windows

Exhausted all your options and want to reinstall your operating system? Read this article first before you consider reinstalling your computer! You might also want to consider Reimage before comitting to a full reinstallation.

Read the article above? These tutorials will walk you through the process or reinstalling Windows:-

Reinstall Windows XP (Repair installation)
Reinstall Windows XP (Full reinstallation part 1)
Reinstall Windows XP (Full reinstallation part 2)

Reinstall Windows Vista (Startup repair)
Reinstall Windows Vista (Full reinstallation)

Reinstall Windows 7 (Startup repair)
Reinstall Windows 7 (Repair installation)
Reinstall Windows 7 (Full reinstallation)

In Windows 8 and Windows 10, Microsoft made it much easier to perform a reinstallation of the operating system, as long as you can still start Windows, that is.

Reinstall Windows 8 using the Refresh feature
Reinstall Windows 10 using the Reset/Refresh feature

If your PC cannot start normally, for instance if Windows has become completely corrupt or you had to replace your computers hard drive, you can reinstall Windows 8 or 10 using the Media Creation Tool. You may need to borrow a friends PC in order to do this, of course.

Reinstall Windows 8 or 10 with the Media Creation tool

Once you have your rescue media, you will need some way of booting your PC from this newly created media. We cover that in the tutorial below.

Booting your computer from USB

To completely wipe your computer and reinstall Windows 8 or 10, follow the tutorial below.

Reinstall Windows 8 or 10 (Full reinstallation)

Back from Windows Troubleshooting to Home Page

Discuss this page in our forum.


  1. how can i identify the different drive in the middle of formating the computer
    when an option appear during formating is “where do you want to install windows” with follow the different hard drive option

    • My method for this is simple, disconnect EVERY other drive except the one you want to use, then reconnect them when you’re done installing Windows.

  2. When changing my password I evidently put in to many letters and now my computer will not except my new pass word, how do I get back in and change it? (Windows XP)

    Regards; Robert Bousfield

  3. my lap top is so sensitive that the cursor skips all over the place, and makes it very difficult to type emials etc,,, any suggestions

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