If you're a regular Windows user, you've no doubt run into trouble with your operating system at some point. Windows is everywhere, and because of that, it's the number one target for hackers, malware, and other nasty things you might encounter online.
If you've found yourself frustrated after investing time and money into fixing your machine, you might be surprised to learn that Windows can fix itself. Every Windows operating system has the ability to repair its own software, with apps for the task bundled in every version since Windows XP. You won't believe how much time you'll save by letting Windows do the heavy lifting.
Having Windows repair itself is a process that uses the install files of the operating system itself. Before you go forward with any repairs, you'll want to make sure to back up your important data to an external drive of some kind.
A USB flash drive or a solid state drive are good choices that will preserve your personal information in the event that any is lost during repair. You'll also want to check which version of Windows you have, since each version handles operating system repair differently.
How does Windows automatically repair itself
Windows uses its own install files to overwrite data that may have become corrupted over time. In previous versions, this was done through install discs, although the latest versions of Windows can use the internet to download and patch its own files.
Before you get started, you'll want to make sure your computer is plugged in and running. I know -- it's an obvious statement, but we've all had those forehead-slapping moments where we forget to do the obvious. If you're using a laptop, make sure the system doesn't become unplugged at any point during the repair. If a laptop dies during a system re-install, critical information will fail to install and you'll have to start the whole process over again.
How to repair Windows 10 and Windows 8 automatically
Since these two systems are the latest from Microsoft, they both enjoy the most support from Microsoft. To access the automatic repair features, you'll want to click on the search menu. This is the circular button on your task bar located next to the windows icon.
Once you're inside the search menu, type "Change Advanced Startup Options." This will locate the Advanced Startup Options menu, where you can select to restart or refresh your computer. Click "Restart now," and you'll be guided through a series of startup options -- including Startup Repair. Select this mode, and Windows will get to work. You'll want to wait patiently until it's finished.
If that still didn't fix your issues, you'll want to do a so-called "clean install" of Windows. This is when you completely erase and overwrite Window's files with fresh ones. You can access this option from the same menu as before. Just click on the link below "More recovery options" that says "Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows.
How to automatically repair Windows 7 or Windows Vista
The process for repairing Windows 7 and Vista is similar to the latest operating systems except for one factor: it requires the install disc. If you have it, all you need to do is pop it into your disc drive and go. If you need to order a new one, Amazon has nearly every version for sale in one form or another. Double check to make sure that your version number matches the one you're ordering.
When you are ready to start repairing, insert your install disc and restart your computer. If the disc is working properly, you should see an alert that says "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD." This forces your computer to start up using the disc instead of its own hard drive. By doing this, your computer can fix itself without harming itself in the process.
Once the disc has been booted up, follow the instructions on each screen and wait until you see a menu that says "Install now." Do NOT click this. Instead, locate "Repair your computer" on the bottom left hand corner. This will give you multiple repair options for your computer, including startup repair and full system restores.
How to automatically repair Windows XP
For those of you still rocking Windows XP, congratulations on making it this far. Just like Windows 7 and Vista, XP relies on an install disc to fully repair itself. As with before, you'll want to look on Amazon, but keep in mind that official XP install discs are becoming rarer as time goes on.
As with Windows 7 and Vista, you'll want to put your disc in your drive and restart your computer. A prompt will come up asking you to press any key to boot from the disc.
Once your computer boots from the install disc, the process becomes a lot more automated. You'll follow the instructions on each screen and hit Enter to set up Windows XP when prompted.
Be aware that this form of repair will completely erase your computer and everything on it. A clean installation of Windows will be applied to your computer in order to remove any data corruption. As we mentioned above, backing up your data is crucial to prevent any information loss. Once it's gone, you can't get it back.
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If you've been using a PC for a while, you probably know that you can add software, like photo editors, graphics programs, productivity apps and much more. What you might not know is that Microsoft also has tons of free software programs. Here, I've rounded up five of my favorites.