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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Free Windows Repair And Recovery Tools


Microsoft has done a wonderful job of making Windows 8 faster and more powerful than previous Windows versions.
But no matter how good Windows 8 is, there will still be times when you need to use a Windows recovery tool to fix problems with your PC. Fortunately, many of these tools are free.
Previous Windows versions had many tools available to perform repair or recovery tasks, many of which were just a Google search away.

Unfortunately these tools often required downloading disk images and burning CDs, understanding the Windows command prompt or following other not so simple instructions. With Windows 8, the situation has changed for the better.

You may not know it, but there are several Windows recovery tools already installed on your PC. If your PC is running normally, you can take a first important step to making sure your PC runs as smoothly as possible by creating a Windows Recovery Drive.
A Recovery Drive will allow you to boot and use several Windows recovery utilities to recover a PC that cannot boot successfully from the hard drive.

The media you use for the drive can be either a writable DVD or a USB Flash drive, and will contain everything you need to fix the most common Windows problems that may appear.
Be sure to note that a Recovery Drive can only repair the same type of system from which it was created. That means that a drive created from a 64 bit installation of Windows cannot repair a 32 bit installation, and vice-versa.

To create a Recovery Drive, move your mouse to the lower right of your screen to bring up the charms bar. Click on the magnifying glass to perform a search, and type "Recovery Drive" in the search area. You should see an option to create a Recovery Drive on the left. Click that option to begin the process.
If on the other hand your PC will not boot properly, there are several free and pre-installed Windows recovery tools that can help. To access them, hold down the Shift key and tap F8 just after the startup system messages appear but just before the boot process starts.
Your timing is important here, and it is easy to not get the keystrokes just right. When you have pressed the keys properly, the Windows logo will appear, and the words "Please wait" will appear at the bottom center of your screen.

After a short time, you will be offered several options for repairing your system. These include System Restore and Automatic Repair, likely the two options you will use most. Each serves a different purpose; System Restore rolls back Windows to a previous known working state, before the boot issue began.
Select Automatic Repair to scan your system in an attempt to determine what is causing your issue and repair it. Automatic Repair can identify and replace missing or damaged system files and perform other tasks as needed to get your PC working properly again.

Perhaps the best feature of these two options is that neither will damage your documents, pictures, music or other data. These options can sometimes even undo damage done by a malware infection.
If your system boots fine but runs with issues, you can still try System Restore from within Windows. If that does not solve your issues, there is another Windows recovery option available, called a "Refresh". Refreshing your PC will install a completely new copy of Windows 8, while keeping your documents and other files intact.

After performing a Refresh, you will need to re-install your software.
You can access the Refresh option in the same way as the System Restore and Automatic Repair options.
Most Windows 8 PCs purchased at retail also come with a Windows recovery partition, which can restore your PC to its factory-fresh state, including pre-installed software.
This is usually a last-resort option, used when nothing else seems to work, or when the damage done by a malware infection is too extensive to be cleaned up by other tools.

Also note that this option will erase all of your documents, so be sure to have a backup of your files available to copy back over once the recovery process is complete. The method of using the Windows recovery partition can differ among manufacturers, so refer to your PC's documentation for instructions specific to your PC model.

If you have a malware infection, you can still utilize free tools to help clean up your system. Microsoft includes Windows Defender free with Windows 8. Windows Defender is a tool that runs in the background to provide help with prevention as well as removal of malware infections.
It features a clean, simple interface and an easy to understand green, yellow or red status icon to alert you to any problems that may occur. For many people, Windows Defender is the only anti-malware tool they will ever need.

Another highly recommended free anti-malware tool is called MalwareBytes. There is a paid version that offers advanced options, but the free version does an excellent job of identifying and removing most common malware, restoring your computer to the state it was in before the infection started.
MalwareBytes is a great tool to have installed before you need it, because some malware will block your Internet access or your access to common anti-malware websites.

If this is the case, download the latest version from a friend's PC, and use a USB flash drive to copy it to your PC. Then install it and let it perform a full scan on your system. MalwareBytes will provide you with a list of the malware it found and give you options to remove it.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to take care of all your Windows recovery needs without paying a cent. These free tools are mature, effective and best of all easy to use. Become familiar with them all so you can be ready if you ever need to recover your Windows 8 PC.

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