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Basic Fix for Corrupt File Causing Older Laptop Boot Issue

We see plenty of instances in business settings that still use older laptops with older operating systems installed on them. Many of the roles that these computers play are that of a very specific task, such as a file server for a relatively small group of users in a small department. These may have been in this role for many years and there is no real reason to upgrade them, as it tends to be perceived as an unnecessary expense. “If it is not broken, why fix it” happens to be a saying that applies to many businesses out there to this day when it comes to the computer systems they have on their networks. There is really nothing wrong with this arrangement on internal network segments completely segregated from the Internet.

Recently we resolved a situation which may help anytime a laptop is running say Win2k or XP for example. An error message stating that Windows could not start due to a missing or corrupt file, likely a .dll file, was causing some issue with the boot. This may happen to any computer user so we thought we would share what our approach was to this issue.

Ultimately this was the same install which had been on the laptop for many years. The company maintains a good backup system, and there was no critical data on this particular laptop anyway. Basically the hard drive tested fine and the customer had the Windows install disc available. By booting to this we chose to access the repair options, pressing R here, and then pressing R again at the next screen. Pressing F next will begin a full repair of the install thus replacing the corrupt file which was causing the booting issue.

Typically we recommend keeping an eye on the hard drive for any signs of it going bad after something like this where the customer confirmed that nobody had installed, or attempted to install any other updates or software just prior to the issue. However this was an older laptop which served a minimal, and ultimately easily replaceable, role in the grander scheme of things. While the operating system in this case was Windows 2000 this methodology can be helpful with other similar situations as well. While the vast majority of the cheaper laptops under 200 dollars displayed on Priceit.biz will not be using Win2k, there are going to be very similar steps to attempting to resolve this kind of issue on other Windows operating systems. The key points to always consider however are the data on the drives, which should always be backed up regularly, and the technical abilities of the user. While this is not a complicated process, there are decisions which will need to be made that might be better left to a competent laptop technician.

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Catching XP Error Codes

The Windows XP and Vista operating systems are often configured to automatically restart when a system failure occurs. However if the laptop restarts then it does not give you enough time to actually see the error message before the system restarts, and often the error message is extremely important to efficiently diagnosing computer issues.

The actual error message can be a great help so to prevent the system from automatically restarting you can follow these simple steps in XP.

Right click My Computer > click Properties > Advanced tab > Settings under Startup and Recovery > and remove the check mark from Automatically Restart in the System Failure section.

This may or may not be set by default in Windows XP depending on which Service Pack is installed on the particular refurbished laptops under 200 but it is good to check just in case you ever need to actually see the error message Windows is providing you before it automatically restarts. The error codes are often referred to as stop errors and when you have access to them it can be surprisingly easy to identify what the cause of the issue is simply by researching the code provided.

The system failure screen is known as the BSOD or Blue Screen of Death in the world of computer technicians and Windows operating system users alike. This is the dreaded screen you see which is all blue and has lots of cryptic looking wording in white letters on the screen. As bad as it sounds it can actually be quite easy to resolve the issue on laptops under 300 dollars as well as brand new ones when you know exactly what the error code being displayed is.

You can follow the steps in this laptop tip to see if the check mark is there meaning it will do the automatic restart, or if the check mark is not there meaning it will leave the error on the screen so you can get the necessary error code as well as information you need to help you begin to resolve the issue causing the system failure.

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New Cheap Laptops Under Performing

The most common reason for laptops under performing to be running slowly in the computer hardware realm is simply a lack of having a sufficient amount of memory, especially in these days of resource intensive operating systems. Memory is RAM (Random Access Memory) and it is not hard drive space which is a common misconception among many computer users.

Hard drive space is permanent storage while memory is temporary storage, aka volatile storage. Data permanently stored on the hard drive is for example your pictures, your Word documents, your spreadsheet files, and things of this nature. The data stored in memory is the computer programs themselves for example, and they only need to be there when they are actually running. Once you turn off or reboot your laptop everything in memory is removed hence the term temporary storage.

Windows 7 and Vista laptops by design are in a much more resource intensive operating system environment than previous Microsoft operating systems such as the preferred Windows XP. The additional features, especially the graphic enhancements commonly referred to as eye candy require your computer system to meet additional system requirements meaning the hardware within your laptop such as memory and the processor.

One of the main points to be sure you cover is to have at least 1GB of RAM (system memory) installed in your laptop if you plan on running Windows Vista or later on it. This operating system will run on 512MB of memory as is stated in Microsoft’s recommended requirements which is different than the minimum requirements to actually install.

However laptops with Vista and only 1GB of RAM which is double the recommended requirements is going to handle not much more than very basic computing duties such as email, web surfing, basic office apps, etc. After this you will notice a very prominent reduction in overall responsiveness of your laptop computer, especially with any multitasking going on.

When you compare this to Widows XP which has a recommended requirement of 128MB of memory and a minimum requirement of 64MB, you should use the rule of thumb that in order to do the very basic computing duties you should have at least 512MB of memory.

Most refurbished laptops under 200 dollars for example have a decent amount of memory in them already as it is becoming rarer these days that there is an insufficient amount of memory in a laptop. As a matter of fact memory has become so inexpensive that people occasionally buy more than they actually need for what they do with their laptop computer.

Just because you can get an operating system installed and running on the minimum system requirements or the recommended system requirements does not mean that your laptop will be much fun using. The purpose of these requirements is to let the user know what the basic starting point is and certainly does not address overall performance.

We have seen many laptops under performing running Vista on only 512MB of RAM and the user suffers through such a slow and non-responsive computing experience. This does not have to be this way we will always inform them. A simple RAM upgrade will improve the speed and responsiveness of the newest cheap models as well as the laptops under 300 dollars making life much less frustrating.

For example running Windows XP on a laptop with only 128MB of memory which is the recommended system requirements will be a painfully slow computing experience and to run it on the minimum system requirements will basically be unbearably slow.

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Partition Laptop Hard Drive without Formatting

There are certain instances where it is necessary to partition the hard drive in one of the laptops under 200 dollars that someone has but they want to completely avoid having to format the drive. Of course this is not really something that too many folks are going to have a need for but the situation arises occasionally nonetheless.

One of the simple suggestions which seems to work out well for people with a little bit of knowledge about the process of working with laptop computer operating systems is to use a tool which will accomplish the task relatively easily as well as quickly. One such tool is part of the Ubuntu Linux operating system install disc. There is actually a utility which allows the user to shrink an existing partition which includes the installation of another operating system on the hard drive.

As an example you can run the utility on a laptop which already has Windows XP installed on it. When you need to avoid having to wipe the drive and start fresh you can simply use the Ubuntu Linux install disc to shrink the current partition which has the XP install on it. This is relatively easy and fast but if you plan to do these processes be sure that you back up your laptop hard drive before you do this just as a measure of security. After you have run the utility you can simply stop the Ubuntu installation if it is not wanted. This should accomplish your goal, but this may not be for everyone. You should only attempt this if you feel comfortable with working on laptops at this level.

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Dell 1737 Laptop Review

The refurbished Dell 1737 Studio 17 notebook computer is a powerful laptop designed around the Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 processor which runs in the 2.0GHz range. This is a very popular processor and when combined with the maximum 4.0GB of DDR2 SDRAM contained within the 1737 it makes for a pleasantly fast as well as responsive laptop computer.

The display size is a standard 17 inches and uses the WXGA Widescreen Display with a native resolution of 1440 x 900, a decent size for watching DVD movies on your laptop. The overall quality of the display is acceptably bright and clear.

Originally with Windows Vista Home Premium operating system fully loaded on the 320GB 5400RPM SATA hard drive, the computer is capable of holding quite a bit of data such as your movies, pictures as well as other various files. However, if you were to ever run out of space you could simply add an external hard drive via any of the available USB ports.

One of the really nice multimedia features of the Dell 1737 laptop is the Blu-Ray ROM and 8x DVD+/-RW drive with Double Layer Support for all of the latest Blu-Ray movies and an ultra large amount of data backups as well. We occasionally display these refurbished laptops under 500 dollars yet they remain typically more than that even refurbished due to their original retail values.

Today everyone basically needs wireless networking capabilities in their laptops and the Dell 1737 laptop provides an 802.11a/g/n WLAN wireless card as an upgrade feature. This means that you can connect to hotspots at cafes, libraries, University campuses, campgrounds, or basically anywhere else which provides a wireless hotspot.

Additional basic multimedia features include an integrated microphone, web cam, and 7-in-1 Digital Media Reader all housed within a rugged yet lightweight silver and red colored laptop case.

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Refurbished Laptops Task Manager

Troubleshooting a new or refurbished laptops performance issue will often require taking a look at the system resources being used in the Windows Task Manager.

For example on an XP or Vista laptop the easiest way to open the Task Manager is to right click the Task Bar and choose Task Manager. The first tab which is called Applications is handy for discovering what actual applications are open at that specific point in time. This is useful because it can give an indication of what is causing the amount of Processes which are running. You can also see if any known spyware happens to be running as well.

The running processes are what you should really be interested in if it is a performance issue or there is suspected spyware infestation. Along the bottom of the Task Manager window you can see the number of processes running and you can also see the current CPU usage. If the system is basically idle your CPU usage should be very low as in basically zero.

If you just move your finger along the touchpad of your laptop computer then you will see the CPU Usage respond by going up a few percentage points. This is perfectly normal but if your processor is pegged at 100% then there is definitely a piece of software causing the performance issue. This is when I would look at the Processes running eating up the system resources in XP and other Windows operating systems.
If you click on the Processes tab next to the Applications tab you will then see the actual files and processes which are running as well as their PID, the amount of system memory they are using, and the percentage of the CPU they are using. This is where you can identify which file is using up system resources and 100% of the processor in this example.

You can sort the columns by clicking on the word CPU for example along the top of the Task Manager window. If you click on it once you will see it change from lowest to highest. System Idle Process will always show very high like 99% when no instructions are being sent to the processor.

However in this example if you were to find an application or file taking up a very large percentage of the new or refurbished laptops CPU power constantly, then you would be able to research and identify the file so that you could identify the application it is associated with. If it where spyware then you would know what you are dealing with and could progress accordingly. If it were an application which you intentionally use on your laptop computer then you would have to begin troubleshooting the particular application as to why it is eating up so much of the system resources and processing power.

There is a great deal more which can be done with the Task Manager when using it as a laptop troubleshooting tool. However this is just very basic information on how we use it when we are troubleshooting system resources on XP or Vista or basically any Microsoft operating system these days.

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