Friday, August 2, 2013

Computer Registry Corrupt? Machine not booting?

It happens...usually due to neglecting to maintain your computer.  Regardless of what Microsoft says you need to defrag and clean your registry at least once a month.  There is software out there to pay for but for those of us that are broke you can use defraggler and ccleaner, which you can get from  Thing is that if you are one of those who thinks your computer will just run forever without any care and now your machine will not even startup due to an error like "windows\system32\config\software corrupt", then you need to be here on my blog asking questions.  Take this scenario, for instance, how do you recover from this?  Well if you have made a recovery cd/dvd you can fix the damaged file.  Most don't do this though and end up calling someone like me to make repairs to their computer.  Many newer machines have a partition where you can just reload the operating system, which works too, however in doing so you lose your browser history, saved passwords, software installations etc...pretty much everything except your hard drive data.  It means you have to re-install any software you added from the time you bought your machine to that point.  Sometime this is necessary to do, but in most cases it can be prevented.  Microsoft came out with system restore with Windows XP but that may not always work either if the registry databases are corrupt which me manual restore maybe required.  This is all controlled by the registry and four very important files on every Microsoft OS located in the directory <systemdrive>:\<windowsdir>\system32\config\.  This directory contains the files that are the heart of your computer, most importantly the system and software registry hive files.  If either gets corrupted your computer will not boot regardless.  I use ERD Commander in these cases to boot off of a cd/dvd drive external or internal to evaluate the operating system. In many cases if one of those two files are corrupt you will not be able to use restore points or system file repair, which means you have to do it manually.  This is how you get booted back up without having to re-install all of your software again, right here in this blog. Steps(will refer to command dir):

1) Boot the machine with either a 3rd party cd/dvd like ERD commander or the original MS Windows cd/dvd where you would choose to goto the recovery console rather than install windows(basically you want to be able to access the harddrive and files on it.)

2) Once you have the machine booted off external media you choose, open the scary DOS or command prompt windows/app.  You can use use explorer for this if you use ERD but the Windows recovery console is DOS based.

3) Once you have command prompt eg. c:>\windows type in: cd\ to return to the root of the hard drive files The \  character is always root.  Now at "root" you can type cd System Volume Information  (at any part of this you can use cd\system volume information as well). By putting a backslash(\) at the end of  the cd command you access root, so basically I am telling you that no matter the directory on the system drive (c:>) typing: cd\<whatever directory you want>; the OS will take you there.  Keep in mind that this directory is protected in Windows and this process works only if you are booting off original disk or a product like ERD because of this protection.

4) Now in sys volume info directory cd snapshot.  Now you are in the area of the hardrive where all the restorepoints are kept. Type dir /p and check the dates on each directory.find the latest directory matching the last time you computer was working fine and cd to it : eg cd <my latest>.  Each directory will be named RP# (aka restore point).  Find the newest and cd to it.

5) Now in the restore point directory you can copy the registry hives to a disk or to a backup directory you can create on the hard drive of your computer  Those files will show here as _restore<etc>.  Copy the system and software files(rename them to be system and software) and replace the corrupt files in c:\windows\system32\config.

This is poor descriptions of the issue.  I am trying to keep everything in lamans terms and not be too technical.  The process is really not as scary as you might think.  For me it is a 10 minute process, well really 5, but if you have questions or need help visit me back here and post your questions/comments...I am here to help with any computer questions you have.

Thanks All

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Top Free Realtime Virus Protections

Virus protection is the most important thing for you your online computer.  There is malware, spyware, etc. out on the internet that can destroy a machine.  If you have protection from that, just like protection from being pregnant too young(lol), your machine is safe on the internet.  I have a lot of experience with protecting networks; I did it for NASA for 13 years and the DOD for 2, and every network I setup was the best in the country while I was there! I challenge any NASA official to dispute that statement(Jim?)

Point is that virus protection does not have to cost you! Many provide the protection for malware and spyware even if they say they don't.  I am talking the free versions. That is not to say that the added scanning features are not good, but for the novice computer user or home user you really need to have a reliable virus software on your machine.  Many cannot afford to pay for additional protection so here is what I give you from my 24 years experience:
1)  Avast Antivirus - This this the very best on the market right now.  One of the best features is the boot scan!! They were the first to do it, well I should say in the real windows operating system era anyways, which is a huge deal if you consider some viruses or trojans that block your virus scanner (eg. anti-virus 2000 pop-ups).  Only way to remove this bastard was with someone like me who knows how to use bootable cds etc or a scanner that can run before the OS actually loaded.  Same as chkdsk /f or /r : you pick the parameter.  You can get the free version at

2) AVG:  This scanner has always been up to date and user friendly.  I believe they now have a boot-time scanner now as well. Not as easy to register and obtain but a very nice second, goto

3) Trend Micro - Trend is the very best at centralized computer protection!  If you are a business and have 100 computers you need to protect with a central control these are your guys.  For personal protection, not so much anymore.  Thier "free stuff" is not so free anymore but the protection is still good.  I put them above Mcafee and Symantec(aka. Norton) because those 2 companies lost focus 10 years ago.and tried to be like Internet explorer from Microsoft! Almost impossible to remove from a machine and their advertised protection was not and still is not very good.

Point is that the top 2 for sure are up for debate and the 3rd has now adopted subscriptions to a detriment but still provides some of the best protection out there.

Please comment on my advise, let me know your thoughts and/or tell me if you think I am full of shit or on the mark.  Thanks.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Password tip- May help with forgotten passwords

Been a long time since I have posted any technical support info.  Sorry for that but I did not have Internet for quite awhile; not that I have a following or anything. .Got it back recently because a family member is paying for it, since I am out of work for the most part. I may post a couple items today, or more so I hope they help someone.

This first post is about maintaining  passwords...

Passwords are essential for any computer regardless of the OS you are using. With the Internet most have accounts on more sites than they can keep up with, so you try to have just one that you can remember, however different sites have different requirements for passwords.  For instance, one site requires 6 characters and that is it, but these days many sites require more.  Many require 6 with 1 uppercase and 1 number, others want that and a punctuation mark and so on.  To add to this many computers have fingerprint scanners which are handy to use but can be detrimental if, say after using that fingerprint for weeks, months or years the scanner fails and you have to login to accounts using a password, or if you do not have access to a machine with a scanner and have to login with a password; YOUR password.  Problem is that many people will set a password at every site they join online and it is different each time, but if you have all these different passwords then use a biometric method for sometime and you lose that you most likely will not remember what password you set for every site you accessed when that fingerprint gadget fails.  All sites today still use passwords even if your fingerprint/biometric device is not working you can login using that old password.  So here is a tip/set of guidelines to follow:
1)  Come up with a password you will never forget with a minimum of 7 characters(can be more) that includes 1 number (this base password is now alpha-numeric).
2)  Take same password from 1 above and manipulate it to have 1 capital letter; just pick any letter in the original password.  Reason is some sites require a capital letter so now you have same combination of letters/numbers but still the same group of such from tip 1 above.
3) Take that same password you came up with from tip 1 and add a punctuation mark(comma, period, exclamation, you get the picture). You can lengthen the password with that mark or put it anywhere in the original.  Some sites may require the punctuation mark along with cap.
4) Thru all this keep the capital letter and punctuation mark you choose the same.

This gives you 3 different passwords with same letters/numbers/punctuation of which you will always know.
This is totally secure and now you have 3 passwords that even though have different combos you will know that every site you access will be one of those 3.  Most sites accessed give at least 3 login attempts, so if you know that your password on all systems you access is 1 of 3 possibilities you will always be able to remember and login without biometrics/fingerprint scanners

Example:  I like baseball so I pick strikeout as my base word for my password and add a 1 to the end, hence strikeout1 is password meeting #1 criteria above. Website needs cap letter so I set Strikeout1 (s in caps) meets #2 above.  For sites that require punctuation they may require a combo(one uppercase letter) so I go with Strike,out1 for a password.

In rare circumstances a site may require 2 numbers so add a number at your discretion in those circumstances, which are so rare you will probably remember that password anyways as long as the rest of the password contains the original set of letters/numbers/caps. Like still using example above Strike,out11 - I added a 1 at the end is all maintaining original 3 combos and meeting all requirements currently in place on websites you or anyone is using.

If you follow this guideline you will be able to login to your accounts regardless of using biometrics for months and it failing, because you will know your special password combos and can never forget them.  I use this guideline/system and with the 40 or so accounts I use online at work or otherwise I can always get logged in.  When I worked for NASA and DOD I put these guidelines in play and many use today.  Is absolutely secure and you don't have to write down, or try to remember 40 passwords but just 1 combination of three that only you know.

Comments welcome and encouraged.

Wes - aka Lasarian

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