PC troubleshooting is among the most difficult propositions on earth, in part because your machine has so many cooks. Microsoft made the operating system, another company made the computer, and dozens of others contributed the programs you use every day. The number of conflicts that can arise and the number of problems you may encounter is nearly infinite. That’s why, if you were lucky, you bought your PC from a company that offers a toll-free, 24-hour help line. You may need it.
In the meantime, Windows is crawling with special diagnostic modes, software tools, and workarounds designed to revive a gasping or dead PC. Some are clearly intended only for licensed geeks. Others, however, are available even to mere mortals armed with no more information than, “It’s not working right.”
Whether you get it working or not, however, there’s one constant that applies to novices and programmers alike—you’re always better off if you have a backup copy of your files. This chapter covers both the backing up—and the shooting of troubles.
Consider that the proximity of your drive’s spinning platters to the head that reads them is roughly the same proportion as the wheels of an airliner flying at 500 miles per hour, 12 inches off the ground. It’s amazing that hard drives work as well, and as long, as they do.
Still, a hard drive is nothing more than a mass of moving parts in delicate alignment, so it should come as no ...