REINSTALLATION OF WINDOWS
Protecting Against Viruses
Dynamic Graphics can come help you update your
business or home computer at your convince.
Call to make an appointment. Stop potential viruses before they run
Viruses and other similar threats are unfortunately an everyday part of
The best way to avoid them is to install a good antivirus application
and keep updated.
What Is a Virus?
The term virus is thrown
around pretty loosely these days, and some of the malicious items
out that that people call viruses are actually other things, such as
worms and Trojan horses.
A real virus is a file virus. It infects the boot
sector of a disk, and loads itself into RAM when
the computer starts. Then it infects executable files by adding its own
code to them, so
whenever the executable file runs, the virus does its mischief. When
that executable file
is run on another computer, the virus spreads there too.
That type of virus is not very common anymore,
however. Much more common today are worms that spread via e-mail or
file-sharing programs. Rather than infecting individual files, they
infect PCs. They typically spread themselves by either attaching
themselves to your outgoing e-mail or automatically mailing themselves
to everyone in your address book. Further, many of them spoof the From
address, so the person that it appears to come from is not the actual
sender, but rather appears to be from someone the receiver knows.
This lesson uses the term virus very
generically to mean any of the threats out there -- worms, viruses, and
Are You Infected?
If you don't have an antivirus application running, you probably have a
virus on your system -- maybe more than one. Yes, they're that common.
Some people get at as many as three e-mails that are infected, some
more. If you have an antivirus program, it stops these from infecting
You might also have a virus if your antivirus
definitions are not up-to-date (for example, if you let your
subscription expire), or if you've disabled your virus checker for some
reason (perhaps to install new software) and forgot to re-enable it.
Some viruses actually disable your antivirus
software. These are called retroviruses. Nasty stuff!
So suppose you don't have any antivirus software yet. Go out and buy
some antivirus software immediately, or download a copy of one of the
more popular antivirus software programs, such as Norton Antivirus,
McAfee, Panda, or some other reputable provider.
If you already have a virus infection, you might not be able to install
antivirus software. Those retroviruses, just mentioned often prevent the
installation. So if you can't install antivirus software, try an online
virus detection utility to determine which virus (es) you have. McAfee
offers one called
FREE SCAN or use Trend Housecall for
SCAN. Then download a free removal tool for that virus,
available at various places on the Internet, including
Symantec's Web site.
The latest version of Norton Antivirus has a
pre-installation virus check utility that runs during Setup. So if
you're installing from the CD version of Norton Antivirus, you can check
your system prior to installation.
If your antivirus software is already
installed but not updated, you might be able to download an update for
it and run a complete system check even if you have a virus. The viruses
that disable your antivirus software typically only disable the
automatic checking process.
An antivirus program is only as good as its last
update. Good-quality antivirus software comes with an automatic update
component that checks the company's Web site every week and downloads
the needed files. The list of viruses and the instructions for checking
for them are called virus definitions.
There are actually FREE antivirus
utilities, one of which is AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition. Now you have no
excuse; you should be protected.
Safe Mode and Other
Alternative Startup Modes with Windows XP
Safe Mode starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers, and without any
applications loaded into the background. It's useful when you can't
start your PC normally because of a problem with something that's trying
to load itself at startup, such as a background application or a device
Once you enter Safe Mode, you can disable the device
for which the driver is causing a problem (through Device Manager, as
you learned in Lesson 2), or you can use MSCONFIG to prevent the problem
program from loading into the background at startup (as in Lesson 1).
You cannot operate your PC normally in Safe Mode (or at least not very
well). Many of the items you normally expect to have at your disposal
are not there, such as your CD drives and modem. Use Safe Mode only for
troubleshooting, and then reboot into normal Windows operation.
To enter Safe Mode, you need to display the Startup menu at Windows
startup. After Windows has failed to start normally, it might display
the Startup menu automatically the next time you try to boot. If it
doesn't, press the F8 key as the PC is
booting. It can be tricky to press it at just the right time. You can't
just hold it down, or you'll get a Keyboard Stuck error message. Try
pressing and releasing F8 at one-second
intervals starting at the moment the PC begins its boot sequence. If you
see the Windows splash screen, you missed it.
When the Microsoft Windows XP Startup Menu appears,
select Safe Mode from it, and Windows boots
into Safe Mode. Safe Mode takes longer than usual to start up; this is
Here's a complete list of the modes available from the
Microsoft Windows XP Startup Menu and what they mean:
- Safe Mode:
This is the mode you've been reading about.
- Safe Mode with Networking:
Same as Safe Mode except the drivers for your network load. This is
useful if the files you need to repair the problem are located on the
- Safe Mode with Command Prompt:
Same as Safe Mode except it opens a command prompt window. This is
useful if the files you need to repair the problem are command-line
- Enable Boot Logging:
This starts Windows normally but logs information in NTBTLOG.TXT. This
is useful if you want to see what's being loaded at startup (and if
you're a big-time techie).
- Enable VGA Mode:
This starts Windows normally except it uses the plain VGA (Video
Graphics Array) video driver. This is useful if you're pretty sure
that the video driver is causing the problem. You can then remove and
reinstall the video driver.
- Last Known Good Configuration:
Use this if you want to revert to the previously backed up version of
the Registry. This is good if you make bad edits to the Registry that
prevent the system from booting.
- Directory Services Restore Mode:
This is for domain controllers only; it's
not used on workstations.
- Debugging Mode:
This is for programmers only; it's not useful for ordinary PC
YOUR VERSION OF WINDOWS
If your problems are with Windows itself (not an application that you
can remove), and if System Restore doesn't help, you might need to
Before you get into this, though, go through this
checklist and make sure you have already tried easier fixes, such as:
- Run a spyware removal utility such as Spybot Search
- Prevent unnecessary applications from loading at
Remove the application that appears to be causing
- Make sure your system is virus-free.
- Install all available updates for Windows and for
hardware drivers (especially the video card).
The next step is to figure out whether you have a copy
of Windows XP on CD that will serve for a repair operation. You need one
of the following:
- A full version of Windows
(either upgrade version or non-upgrade version):
You have one of these if you bought Windows XP in a store, separately
from your PC.
- A bootable recovery CD for your
PC. This is probably what you have if
Windows XP came preinstalled on your PC.
There are huge differences between the recovery CDs
provided by various manufacturers (and even by the same manufacturer at
different times). Some recovery CDs boot to a menu system where you can
decide to selectively reinstall or repair individual applications that
came preinstalled on the PC, including Windows. You just select Windows
from the list that appears and the Windows Setup program starts
automatically. If you're lucky enough to have this option, you can
follow along with the next section.
However, others boot to a recovery utility that has
only one option: to completely wipe out the hard disk and reload
everything from a disk image. You lose all your data files, and all
applications that you've installed, and all settings you have
configured. Needless to say, this is less than an ideal solution. You
probably won't be able to use Windows Setup to repair Windows with such
PC makers often provide recovery disks
that only restore the full disk image because it's cheaper than
providing the full files, but it makes things much harder on the poor
consumer. Complain to them! It's the only way they'll learn that this
practice is not acceptable.
- You have some horrible problem with Windows that
you can't solve any other way.
- You have a copy of the Windows XP Setup program,
either on a real Windows XP CD or on a recovery CD provided by the PC
- If both of these conditions do not apply to you,
skip this section (or just read it on an FYI basis).
- Okay then. Put your Windows XP CD in your PC, and
restart the PC. It should boot from the CD, into the Windows XP Setup
program. (You might have to go through a menu system for the recovery
- When you boot from the Windows XP CD, or start the
Windows XP Setup program, one of the first questions it asks you is
whether you want to install Windows or repair an existing
installation; you want to repair. Just follow the prompts, and Windows
does its best to repair itself.
If repairing Windows does not work for you, or if you can't do it for
some reason (such as perhaps you have a recovery CD instead of the real
thing), you can either live with your Windows problems or do a clean
With a clean Windows installation, you typically
reformat the hard disk, wiping everything out and reinstalling Windows
from scratch. This gets rid of all the problems you've been having, but
it comes at a cost: you have to set up all your applications, hardware,
and settings from scratch. You might need to download new drivers for
some of the hardware, and you'll definitely need to reconfigure your
system for e-mail, Internet, networking, and so on.
This is not a project to be undertaken lightly.
If you have the recovery CD that came with your PC, it
probably has an option for doing a clean installation that restores the
PC to its original factory configuration. If so, it'll be very easy to
execute -- just a few clicks or key presses to get it started. This is
one way in which having a recovery CD is actually better than a full
version of Windows. (Okay, maybe better is
stretching it, but at least more convenient in this very limited
If all you have is a regular Windows XP Setup CD, boot
from the CD, and then do a new installation of Windows. When asked which
partition and drive to put it on, select the existing one, but then
select to reformat it through the Setup program. From there, just follow
~ Katherine Allen ~