How to Recover Your Computer

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If your computer has suffered a crash, or you are trying to restore it to a working condition after a virus attack, there are some simple steps you can take to aid you in your recovery efforts. While the exact methods vary depending on exactly what is wrong with your computer, a general approach will help solve most of your recovery woes.

Things You'll Need

  • External hard drive case
  • Operating system CD

Data Recovery

  • Determine if your hard drive has failed or not. If your computer has a built-in BIOS hard drive diagnostic, or came with a diagnostic CD, use that to perform a system test and see if the hard drive has failed. If so, you will need to find a data recovery company that specializes in hard drives.

  • If your hard drive has not failed, you can try to recover the data. Disconnect the hard drive from your computer, and plug it into an external hard drive case. Attach that to a computer that is working, and browse the hard drive to determine if you can see your files. If so, copy them off of the hard drive to a new hard drive, then reformat the drive and recopy your data back on to it.

  • Download a data recovery program if you are unable to see your data when you browse your hard drive. If data headers or pointers (technical information used by the computer to catalog and store data) become corrupted, then the data may have vanished. A data recovery program can fix this information so that the files become visible again.

Operating System Recovery

  • Try using the "System Recovery" feature of Windows XP, Vista or 7. Click on the "Start" button, then go to the "Accessories" section, and select the "System Restore" program. Try restoring the operating system to a day when you know it was working properly.

  • If your operating system is unable to restore itself, insert your operating system CD into your computer, restart the machine, and boot from the CD by pressing F12 when the computer starts up, and selecting the option "Boot From CD." Select the "Repair" option from the installation menu and the CD will run an automated program that will attempt to correct any problems with the operating system.

  • If the "Repair" option does not work, try reinstalling the operating system using the same method as the restoration process, except choosing the "Install" option from the menu instead of the "Repair" option. This may cause data loss, depending on your exact configuration, so use caution when choosing this option.

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