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For Seniors: How to Repair a Windows Operating System Installation

If you’re having problems with your computer, you may need to repair an existing installation of Windows. Keep in mind, though, that Startup Repair can’t correct hardware failures, such as a failing hard disk drive that corrupts files, or completely remove a virus.

  1. Choose Start→Turn Off Computer→Restart to restart your computer and watch the screen carefully.

    You should see a message to press a function key (F2 probably) or another key combination to enter the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) screen.

  2. Press the designated key or key combination.

    You have only a few seconds to press this key to interrupt the startup process and enter the BIOS screen.

  3. Look for an option called First Boot Device, Boot Sequence, or something similar; press the arrow keys on your keyboard to select this field and then press Enter.

    You may have to select Advanced Options or another submenu to find it.

  4. In the resulting screen, select CDROM/DVD and then press the Esc key until you return to the main BIOS screen. Follow the onscreen instructions to save your new settings and exit BIOS setup.

    Your computer will restart from the CD/DVD drive.

  5. Insert the Windows installation CD into the drive and restart your computer.

    If you’re prompted to press any key to start the Windows installation from the CD/DVD drive, do so.

    Windows XP users: You see a different startup screen than Windows Vista and 7 users. Choose Install Windows XP and then press F8 to accept the Windows XP licensing agreement. Then choose the operating systems you’d like to repair, press the R key on your keyboard, and then follow the onscreen instructions.

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  6. (Windows Vista and 7 users only) Select language settings and click Next. In the next screen, click Repair Your Computer. In the next screen, select the operating system or version of Windows that you want to repair and click Next.

    If the maker of your computer preinstalled the recovery software on your hard drive, check the Web site for directions on how to proceed. You may be asked to press one of the function keys as the system restarts to go to a hidden partition.

  7. .In the System Recovery Options window, select Startup Repair.

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    The utility scans your installation of Windows to determine which files need to be repaired or replaced.

  8. Follow any onscreen instructions.

    If you’re asked whether you want to replace a current version of a file with an older version, click No. If the installation process finds a newer version of a file on your computer, it means that you’ve upgraded the file from an online source; you should keep the newer file.

  9. Wait to see what the utility reports:

    • Successful repair: If the problem with your Windows installation is relatively minor, Startup Repair may be able to bring it back to health without erasing your software and personal files.

    • Failure to repair: If Startup Repair can’t cure your PC’s illness, it displays a report that provides some details on the problem. Make full notes and discuss the issue with the manufacturer’s support department or a repair technician.

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