Gray Matter


Be Prepared to Fix Windows With a Backup or by Reinstalling It

RT Cunningham | September 26, 2020 (UTC) | Windows

fix windowsI’m assuming you’re a Windows 10 user as you read this (most people are). Even though I prefer Linux to Windows, I’m not going to insult your intelligence. Windows gives you ways to back up and restore your system as necessary. The problem is that a system restoration doesn’t always fix Windows correctly.

Microsoft can’t take all the blame for problems with Windows, even if you want them to. Sure, they have issues with automatic updates at times, but a lot of the problems are caused by third-party applications and utilities. You should always plan for your operating system to crash and become unusable for absolutely any reason at all and at any time.

Storing Software and Data

If your computer has a hard disk drive or solid-state drive larger than 200 gigabytes, you have more than enough extra space. Windows 10, even if you allow for double its installation size to accommodate automatic updates, will easily require less than 100. It’s fine if you want to store things in the space beyond that, as long as the loss of it isn’t important to you.

External USB drives of all types are getting less expensive by the month. I picked up a 256 gigabyte micro SD card for under $50 a few months ago and I can get another one today for under $40. Whether you choose a flash drive, a micro SD card, an external hard disk drive or a solid-state drive, you’re heading in the right direction. Any of them are suitable for storing software and data files.

Anything you can’t afford to lose should be stored somewhere other than the drive that contains your operating system. If the operating system crashes or the drive becomes unusable, you’ll probably lose all of it. It happened to me enough times, back when hard disk drives were expensive, that I learned to protect the software I paid for and the data I couldn’t afford to replace.

There’s a couple of software items you should always have stored somewhere: The official Windows 10 ISO file and a utility for making a USB flash drive bootable with that ISO file. When you try to get the ISO file while using Windows, the page for it redirects you to a page where you can download and run the media creation tool. Downloading the ISO file and creating your own bootable USB flash drive is a much better idea.

Reinstalling Windows

The way to get around this is to change the user agent in your web browser to something other than Windows. Most of the user agent extensions for Chrome and Firefox provide examples. Switch your user agent and go to this address. You should be able to download the Windows 10 ISO without any issues, although it will probably take a while.

There are two utilities I’ve used in the past for creating Windows bootable USB flash drives. The one I prefer is called “Rufus”. The portable version, which doesn’t have to be installed, works as well as the other one. Once you’ve created the bootable flash drive, you should be able to plug it in, start your computer and repeatedly tap one of the keys to enter the BIOS before anything tries to boot up. It could be F2, F10 or DEL.

From there, you should be able to install Windows. If you do, make sure you wipe everything from the drive, including the partitions. Installing Windows (from scratch) takes a long time, especially when you let it install any updates since the ISO file was created. Installing Windows this way means you get nothing extra from your computer manufacturer. In my experience, you don’t need anything extra.

Keeping Windows Clean

I haven’t tried it, but I understand Bloatbox will help you remove applications you don’t want, that which can be considered bloatware. The only software I’ve ever used to keep Windows clean, and mostly the registry, is called “CCleaner”. The free version works well enough.

Anyway… I have no doubt that I haven’t provided enough information to satisfy your curiosity. If there’s anything you want to know, advice or something else, feel free to ask. Not only will I answer your question in the same manner that you ask it, I’ll update this post to include any relevant information.

Photo Attribution: Original work: Microsoft / Public domain

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