Windows XP Repair
Sometimes, something goes wrong with your Windows XP installation. It could be due to a hardware glitch, a software error, malware, a lightning strike, or who knows what else. In the worst case, Windows XP won't boot at all; you get a black screen and a message like disk boot failure, Invalid partition table, or missing operating system. Or Windows may boot up, but you keep getting error reading disk or file not found errors. In other cases, everything seems okay, but you can't access the Internet. Here are some time-tested tools and techniques to repair your Windows XP system...
How to Repair Windows XP
If anything like this is happening to you, you'll need to re-install Windows XP, or repair your existing installation.
Re-installing Windows is usually a drastic measure of last resort, because it means starting from scratch and spending several hours rebuilding your system. You'll be reloading not just the Windows operating system, but you'll also have to re-apply all the security updates, re-install all your software, and reload all your personal files from a backup. But in some cases, it is necessary.
The upside is that a reinstall is the only way to be certain that you have a truly clean (error-free and virus-free) system to work with. See my article Reformat Hard Drive Under XP for instructions on how to wipe your hard drive with a reformat. Then insert your Windows Setup CD to begin the re-installation process.
Fixing Common XP Problems Without Reinstalling Windows
But in many cases, a complete reformat and reinstall is not necessary. If your computer won't boot up, see my article on Hard Drive Recovery and you'll find some tools you can use to fix a damaged partition or master boot record that's preventing your computer from starting.
If you can boot up into the Windows desktop, and you're seeing error messages that weren't popping up a few days ago, try System Restore to return your computer to a working state.
If your computer is still running slowly, or if you have a problem accessing the Internet, I recommend that you do a thorough anti-virus and anti-spyware scan. In many cases, clearing out malware infections on your computer will take care of the problems you're experiencing. Check out my resources for finding Free Anti-Virus and Free Anti-Spyware tools.
Windows Repair Install
If you still have problems after trying all of those remedies, you should consider a "repair install". This process will delete Windows XP configuration files that are messed up, and replace them with fresh copies of these files from the installation source (CD or hard drive). No data or application files will be deleted so everything should still work when you're done.
You will need your Windows XP installation source files, which are on the Windows XP Setup CD. A repair install can be a little tricky, at least the preliminary steps. But fortunately there's an excellent tutorial on how to do a Windows repair install.
The whole repair process should take only a few minutes, unless your Setup CD has a version of Windows that's older than what's on your system. This can happen if you've applied a service pack such as SP2 or SP3 after the initial Windows installation. If Setup warns you about this, you MUST follow the instructions for creating a "slipstream disk" or you'll end up replacing important system files with outdated copies.
Reformat or Repair?
Should you repair or replace a corrupted Windows XP installation? Repair is faster and preserves data and applications on your hard drive. But if a repair is imperfect it can cause new problems. Also, some stubborn malware is very hard to remove with repair tools. Many people prefer to reformat the drive and do a clean installation from CD. That takes longer, and then there's the pain of re-installing all your application software and restoring the backup copies of your data files. You did make backup copies, didn't you?
If you don't have a recent backup copy of your data files, a repair is probably your first resort. Make a backup of all your data as soon as the repair allows you to use Windows XP again. Then, you might want to reformat and do a clean installation.
Do you have something to say about repairing a Windows XP system? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Jan 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Windows XP Repair (Posted: 15 Jan 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved