By Steve Bass
Burning Down the Barn
I think it’s a Microsoft conspiracy: In my 27-year career in computing, I haven’t found a single, super-duper program to fix all of the troubles of a troubled PC. (I’m waiting for Leo to prove me wrong, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.)
Sure, there are God-only-knows how many Registry fixer-uppers that purport to get your computer back on track. And every few months, a slick magazine will promise that its 20 Secret Insider Troubleshooting Tricks article will restore your PC to pristine condition. The nerve of those annoying insiders keeping secrets! (Here’s a revelation: I used to be one of those insiders: How to Solve the Weirdest PC Mysteries, Ultimate PC Troubleshooting Guide, Computing Hassles Driving You Bonkers? We Feel Your Pain.)
But my experience tells me that to find and eliminate computer problems, you must use small, single-purpose diagnostic and repair tools, and dig deeply into Google for advice.
Now, when things get really bad, it may take more than fiddling with the Registry or uninstalling a few programs. You might have to "burn down the house": a computing euphemism for wiping your hard drive and doing a clean reinstall of the operating system. Or, if you believe Microsoft’s marketing, just upgrade to Windows 7 and all your problems will be solved. (Pause here for prolonged laughter.)
The most difficult decision is whether to stay the course with various fix-it tools, or put on your work gloves, dig out all the original operating system and application discs, and spend some quality face time rebuilding your PC.
It’s a big chore to tackle so, in this and future newsletters, I’ll suggest some tools to help you make the decision — and then get the job done.