Friday, June 23, 2006

Formatting the Computer with Windows XP CD

Format Checklist

Before you format, make sure you have completed the following checklist.

  • You have all the drivers required after the format
  • The CD/Setup files for the applications you need to install (eg. Office, Winamp, Winzip, eMule, Azureus, etc)
  • Make sure you have backed up all important files like word Documents, images and videos onto CD/DVD
  • Remember to save your favourites (a common overlooked item)
  • Ensure that your Windows XP CD has SP2 preloaded. If not, ensure that you have the SP2 Setup File
  • An antivirus for installation after installing XP


To format the computer, we would have to use the Windows XP CD. (Home or Professional is fine).

  1. First boot the computer onto the XP CD. (Configure the BIOS boot sequence to boot from CD)
  2. If its booting from CD, a phrase would appear saying Press any key to boot from CD.... Press any key to do that (Please don't ask what is the any key. I'll smack you! :P)
  3. A blue screen would appear showing the Windows XP Setup with some loading at the bottom of the screen.
  4. After all the loading a Welcome to Setup Screen would appear

  5. Press Enter to continue
  6. The Windows XP Licensing Agreement screen would show up. Read it if you want, if not just press F8. If you do, press F8 anyway

  7. Now, we'll be in the page which shows the existing partitions and unpartitioned space on your computer

  8. To format, we'll have to delete the partition and recreate it
  9. Press D key to delete the partition
  10. If its a system partition a screen would appear asking if you are sure with the deletion, press Enter to confirm

  11. Another confirmation screen would appear and to confirm the deletion

  12. Press the L key.

  13. Now we'll be back to the original partition screen showing your unpartitioned space as we have deleted the partition.
  14. Press the C key to create a partition

  15. Enter the size for your partition.
  16. The maximum size possible is already automatically entered.
  17. Press Enter to confirm

  18. We'll be back to the partition page showing your partitioned space and some unparititoned space.
  19. The unpartitioned space which is small cannot be partitioned (I'm not sure why yet)
  20. To begin the format and the installationo of Windows XP, press Enter

  21. The format page will appear prompting some format options. If your partition is above 40GB, the FAT option is not shown.
  22. There will be 2 format options, Quick and the non-Quick. If you're rushing for time, you may use the quick but the non-quick one is always recommended

  23. Press enter and the format will commence
  24. once done, the installion of windows XP will begin
  25. Follow the instructions to complete the installation.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Identifying Problems With Your PC

There are 2 kinds of problems in a PC. Its either a software error or a hardware error. So you may ask me, how do I know if its a hardware problem or a software problem? Is it hardware related whenever i get a blue screen of death?

Hardware Issues

Well to try to help all of you, lets try to identify the main components of a PC in the hardware context. We have:

  1. Motherboard
  2. RAM
  3. CPU
  4. Graphics Card
  5. Harddisk
  6. CD/DVD/etc ROMs
  7. Monitor

1) Motherboard

Symptom of Motherboard problems:

  • Problem at bootup with random error messages.
  • Sound coming out from the chipset fan (Problems with chipset fans could bring random errors while in windows)
  • Random restart or shutdown
  • Weird beeps at startup
To better understand the errors on your motherboard, it is always good to refer to the manual provided. If you do not have a manual, download one. Most manufacturers should allow you to download your motherboard manual. From there, the manual should contain information about the certain beeps it produces as well as certain errors. The troubleshooting page should help you when there are problems with either your motherboard or the stuff connected to it.

2) RAM

Whenever its a RAM problem. If its in windows, it should display a short bluescreen and then restarts. It could sometimes hang a PC. But the most common problem with RAM is that its not inserted correctly. For that problem, the motherboard will emit certain patern of beeps. The common one is Long Beep in a loop

3) CPU

If there is a problem with the CPU, 2 things could be the cause of it. An already faulty CPU or a overheated CPU. A faulty cpu would display a message at the startup saying "CPU initialization error" As for overheating, depending on your motherboard, if it has a safety feature to auto shutdown your PC, then you're in luck that the CPU is safe. But if your motherboard does not have that, it will either hang, or blue screen and shortly after that, smoke should be seen coming from your casing. (You do not want that to happen).

You should check your cpu's temperature periodically. New motherboards come with a PC Health status on your motherboard bios. If its dangerously high say above 70degrees celcius, its time to find ways to cool it down. Maybe the thermal paste has worn out or maybe the fan is not spinning optimally.

4) Graphic Cards

The common symptoms found in a graphic card error is:

  • System hang/restart/bluescreen. This could show that the graphic card is overheating.
  • No picture on the screen with beeps from the motherboard. This means that the graphic card is not properly attached to the motherboard.

5) Hard Disk

If you have a faulty harddisk, the system would not detect it and would not boot from it. However if the system detects it and its already showing the windows Icon but hang there continuously even though you restart the computer countless times, then I'm afraid that your hard disk has come bad sectors.

Bad sectors cannot be recovered by any normal means. Although sometimes a format could remap the bad sectors with some extra sectors created by the manufacturers but if the bad sectors is caused by the read/write head crashing onto the disc, then there is no definite recovery except replacing it.

There are some services provided by some company which allows you to retreive all the data from the damaged hard disk but it would cost a lot. I would recommend that you just get a new one unless the data in the damaged hdd is a matter of life and death. But if thats the case, then you should always backup the data

6) The Roms

I dont have to describe the Rom problems. Its simple to know that when it works or when it does not. However, do not ever place a cracked CD/DVD into the drive. It could potentially explode. Also avoid buying cheap CD-R's or DVDR's. They could sometimes damage your burners.

7) Monitor

Well I don't really need to go through this as well. Its either working or its not. If the monitor is on but no image is on the screen, ensure that the signal cable (the one with the blue head (usually)) is attached to the graphic card behind the casing.

If the colour is slightly off, it could be either the cable connection is lose or the monitor is faulty.

Software Issues

Software errors are errors generated by software which may cause certain events on the PC. If your windows, shutdown/bluescreen or restart randomly, try to find out if it happens again at any time and also remember what you did before that event happening. If a restart does not stop the problem, it could either be a hardware problem or a problem with one of the software itself.

Before tinkering with any software or deciding on formatting, always ensure that you have the latest drivers installed for all your hardware.

To try to diagnose the problem you could either uninstall the software which is causing the problem and check if the problem still persists. If it still does, check if there were any new hardware installed. If there are, remove it and see if it still has a problem. If all else fails, format should take care of any software errors.

After a format and if you still have the same problem. It would most probably be a hardware error.

Remember, not all blue screen's are hardware errors.