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PCs: The Missing Manual by David A. Karp, Andy Rathbone

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Chapter 17. Advanced Troubleshooting

Some problems go beyond the “troublesome” category and fall into the “real head-scratcher” department. You’ve checked and double-checked the cables, the drivers, and the software. You’ve run wizards and troubleshooters. You’ve tried all the fixes suggested in Chapter 16. Everything should be working properly, but the gremlins are still up to no good inside your PC.

This chapter explores those really tough-to-implement fixes, showing how to hunt for hidden clues by watching your PC start and probing its nether regions called the BIOS. This chapter explains how to locate and upgrade firmware, that last-resort fix that can add new features to older devices like routers, video cards, CD burners, or even your PC itself.

You’ll also learn about Microsoft’s Knowledge Base, a huge Web site where Microsoft admits its faults, dishes out solutions, and sometimes offers downloads or articles that fix specific problems. Armed with this wisdom, you can apply a fix, if possible, or know when it’s time to give up and either replace a part or take the PC into the shop.

Finally, should Windows fail both you and your PC, head to this chapter’s last section. There, you’ll find instructions for running Knoppix—a neatly packaged version of the Linux operating system that fits on a single CD—which can help rescue your data before it’s at the mercy of your PC’s repair shop.

Watching Your PC Start

When you first turn on your PC, you may notice some words popping onto the ...

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