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Week in Geek: The Geek Repairs a PC and Mini How-Tos Edition

It’s the end of the week, and time to sit back and review everything that’s happened, reflect on what we accomplished, and most important of all, try and relax and get some rest. It’s the weekend!

Mini How-Tos are Tiny, Useful Tips

You might have noticed yesterday that we published an article that didn’t look quite like the normal, extremely long article format you’re used to reading here at How-To Geek.

While we’re writing articles, we often pass over some of the really simple but very useful tips just because we’re used to writing longer pieces, but starting now we’re going to start publishing some of those tips as “Mini How-Tos”.

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How-To Geek Articles that Helped Me Repair a PC This Week

One of the funny side effects about writing articles is that I often completely forget how to do things after I’ve written it down and shared it with everybody else. Then a few months later, I’ll be trying to figure out something, Google for it, and notice that I’ve already written an article on how to do exactly what I was trying to remember. Duh!

So anyway, I was unfortunately stuck fixing a Windows XP PC today that simply wouldn’t boot, so I needed to use the the XP startup repair options—sadly XP doesn’t have the same useful startup repair that Windows 7 or Vista have. For XP, you have to boot off the installation media, and then head towards the Recovery Console—which prompts you for the administrator password.

Since the owner of the PC had no clue what that password was, it was time to reset it. I chose to use the Linux System Rescue CD, an excellent and geeky option to handle it.

Change Your Forgotten Windows Password with the Linux System Rescue CD

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Note that I could also have used the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows, but I didn’t have one on me.

After resetting the password, rebooting with the XP disc, and doing lots of work in the recovery console, I came to the conclusion that the system was beyond repair and required a reinstall. It was time to get the files off the PC, but since it wouldn’t boot there was only one option:

Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer

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At this point I had backed up the entire drive to an external USB drive, and it was time to reinstall. The only problem is that the machine had an SATA hard drive, and when you try and install Windows XP you’ll get the message “Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer”. The problem, in short, is that XP doesn’t have SATA drivers by default, and you’ll need to make a slipstreamed install disk.

Resolving “Setup did not find any hard disk drives” during Windows XP Installation

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It was at this point that I realized there was another spare PC laying around. So we just gave her that one. What a wasted day!

Email Newsletter Format Changing

Since we’ve dramatically stepped up article writing production in the last few months, we’ve started getting complaints about just how incredibly long the daily email newsletter is getting, especially when there are full images in every single post. It’s gotten to the point where I have to agree—there’s just too much in the email, and often some of the articles don’t appeal to everybody.

So what we’re going to do is change the format slightly. Instead of getting 3-6 full articles in the newsletter we’ll be publishing the best, most interesting 2 or 3 articles for the day in the full format, and then just give you an excerpt of the other articles that might not appeal to all readers.

It’s a good trade-off that makes the newsletter more digestible while continuing to provide all the same great content we always have. It’s an especially good decision considering that we plan to ramp up article production even more. =)

TinyHacker’s Tiny Links

The random links continue to pour in over at TinyHacker.

image Use Reliability Monitor in 7 to Assess Failed Events
image Improve The Audio In Vista And 7 With A Few Clicks
image 45 Beautiful December Wallpapers
image Cute Animal Icons
image Quattuor Simplex Wallpaper By kol
image How to Fix Master Boot Record Errors in XP and Vista

Super User’s Most Popular Weekly Topics

The great questions continue to pour in…

The Geek Note

Please don’t install Advanced Virus Remover. It’s a virus. More on this next week.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/4/09

Comments (6)

  1. scheng1

    haha, I have the same problem in writing. i often write to remind myself of something, and then forget completely about it.

  2. Joe

    I don’t know what you mean about XP not naturally installing on a SATA drive. I have very rarely had this problem when installing XP on a new SATA drive. I have had the same error where the windows boot CD does not recognize that a hard drive is installed, but 9 out of 10 times it has to do with something not enabled in the bios, or accidentally assigning the wrong drive to be the master or slave.

  3. The Geek

    @Joe

    If you have ACHI mode enabled in the BIOS, you cannot use an XP cd to install. You have to either disable ACHI entirely (slowing the computer down in the process), or use a slip-stream CD with SATA drivers included.

  4. Will

    I use the ubuntu live cd all the time to help repair computers. it just always works

  5. LH

    I actually liked the format of the emails. A list at the top, so you could jump to anything of interest. And just (try and) make a mental note of the others. But then I’m lazy.

  6. Jesse

    I remember the ACHI issue – haven’t seen it in years!

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