By Dan Gookin

Part of Troubleshooting & Maintaining Your PC All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Change causes trouble. Recall the items you’ve changed recently and you can better pinpoint problems and devise solutions. Use this list as a starting place.

  • Restart Windows to cure common ills.

  • Rarely do you need to reinstall Windows. Use the System File Checker to repair damage to Windows. Reinstall only after an unrecoverable disaster.

  • When your computer is more than five years old, the problem is most likely the computer itself. Buy a new one.

  • The best hardware upgrades are memory and storage, in that order. If the system needs a new processor, it’s better just to buy a new PC.

  • Back up. Back up. Back up.

  • Use safe mode for troubleshooting only; do not run applications or finish your work in safe mode.

  • Create a System Repair Disk. Label it. Keep it handy.

  • The best way to troubleshoot mass storage is to understand what a file is.