Free Windows Repair and Recovery Tools

Free Windows Repair and Recovery Tools

By Bob Rankin

A hard drive glitch, a virus, or other data catastrophe can delete or damage critical system files in any operating system. Learn about free repair and recovery tools that can fix damaged Windows installations without having to reformat and reinstall everything from scratch…

How to Fix Windows Problems for Free

Windows includes a number of free tools that can help you recover from a major system error. These tools include System Restore, Startup Repair, System Image Recovery, Windows Memory Diagnostic, and the good old Command Prompt. There are also some free third-party tools that can be very helpful wqhen trying to repair a damaged Windows system.

System Restore is the best place to start, when things don’t seem to be working right, and you have an idea of when the problem first started. System Restore can “turn back the clock” and return your computer to a previous point in time when things were working. If you’ve accidentally made changes to system settings, or downloaded something that’s causing problems; if your Windows registry is damaged, or you think a virus has snuck past your defenses; System Restore can usually fix things up.

Unlike some of the other repair tools I’ll cover later in this article, System Restore is non-destructive. All of your documents, photos and other personal files will remain, while changes to system settings and software are rolled back. See my article System Restore for Windows 7 to more details on System Restore and how it works. If you’re running Windows XP, see Time Travel with System Restore.

If you still have a virus or other malware after running System Restore, see Free Anti-Virus Programs.

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Excerpt shared with permission from Bob Rankin.

Bob Rankin

Bob Rankin is a translator for the technology impaired -- a writer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the Internet and explaining technology in plain English.His work has appeared in Computer World, NY Newsday, and other publications. Bob is also publisher of Internet TOURBUS, author of several computer books, and creator of the Lowfat Linux tutorial.


  1. Windows 7 is the most stable version of Windows since win 95 came out. Their repair tools are much better than previous versions. What do you say when they get it right?

  2. I have WINDOWS 7 but the snipping tool has stopped working & even my computer repair man couldn’t fix it. Any hints?

  3. I note you recommend automatic backups into an external drive, but doesn’t that expose a risk of hackers accessing this external drive and infecting it with malware, worm or virus and render it useless??? I like to keep my external drive unplugged unless I do my backup manually or wish to access a sensitive or personal file that’s not on my computer????

    • @Maurice Lampl: I use an external drive for my backups and when it is idle it is also unplugged from the computer because of this risk. You CAN’T be too lax about hackers etc these days

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