I apologize for the recent lack of posts, I’ve been having some computer issues. I’ve been experiencing the usual sluggishness that happens after you’ve had Windows for a while, but recently it had been unbearably slow. Even after running multiple anti-virus and anti-malware software, defrag utilities, registry cleaners, I just gave up and had to re-install the operating system. Of course, I’m bad and only make sporadic backups so it took me a while to organize my files and make proper backups.
Although not directly related to finances, I found that re-installing a fresh copy of Windows on your computer can make a huge difference in speed and usability, so much so that you can delay buying a new computer for a while (within reason). This post is somewhat specific to Dell laptops since that is what I have, but much of it is still applicable to all Windows PCs.
According to this How To Restore or Reinstall Microsoft Windows page at Dell, I had a few choices after backing up all my data:
This is a Windows OS feature, so it should available across all PC laptop brands. It allows you to revert back to certain setpoints in your system’s past, hopefully back to a date in which everything was running smoothly. But I had been experiencing a slow and gradual decline, and none of the dates I picked improved my situation. It might work better for other folks. The good news is that you can also switch back to your original state.
Restore From Hidden Partition
Most recent Dell laptops have a hidden partition on the hard drive that contains a backup copy of your computer’s original factory software. The official name is Dell PC Restore by Symantec. You just have to hold Ctrl+F11 during start-up. I’m sure this would be great for most people. Unfortunately, my attempt failed. “Your installation was unsuccessful. Please call Dell Support”. Grrr.
Most other companies have a similar setup. For example, I did a successful factory reset on a family member’s Acer computer with Alt+F10. All I had to do was backup their pictures, and I was done in under an hour.
Restore from Recovery OS Disc
I was then left with the final option of manually re-installing the operating system with my Windows XP CD. Two houses and three years ago, I probably had it. Now, it’s nowhere to be found. (Side note: Some computer have you make the recovery CDs yourself. Do it before it crashes!) Luckily, I found that you can request a new recovery CD from Dell:
Dell Customers can now request a set of backup discs containing the factory-installed operating system as well as the device drivers and utilities specific to your system. Requests are limited to one (1) set of backup discs per system purchased.
There was no mention of needing a warranty, which made me hopeful since mine had already expired. After submitting my request, I received an e-mail saying that they would send me a Recovery CD for free, though they did make it very clear they didn’t have to since my warranty had expired. Still, they did FedEx it to me overnight at no charge, so I was very pleased with the service in this situation. Other brands may charge a nominal fee.
Final Result: Laptop that feels like new. Total Cost: $0. I am now back up and running, and it is amazing how much difference a fresh install makes. The cobwebs and grimy buildup is gone! I did spend hours on the backup and everything, but even if I bought a new laptop, I’d still have to spend hours reinstalling new apps and transferring files.