Computer Services

Tel 650.548.1010
Burlingame, CA USA


General PC Setup & Operation

Revised on

First just let me say that some problems have no explanation.

A client asks about a PC that would not boot up: A diagnostic program verified that there were no hardware faults. Three different virus scanners, run from a clean boot diskette and CD and updated, found no viruses. The boot files were gone, so I restored them from a backup, but still no boot, so I SYSed the drive and still no heartbeat. I then performed a FDISK /MBR command and It then booted, but had no Windows. I checked the Windows directory, and win.ini, sys.ini and the Command directory,, and several DLLs were missing, along with Windows\options\cabs and the wininit.ini file under c:\windows. I reinstalled Windows, but none of the applications work. Do you know of a virus that will do that, or could it have been the client?"

I get questions like this all the time, and since I'm not on the scene, I can only offer an educated guess. In this case, a client-user could cause such random-appearing damage, and there are thousands of destructive programs--some can delete or overwrite files in the root directory, others work on c:\windows, some attack the first megabyte, and so on. But picking and choosing files as described would be unusual for a user or a virus. Most viruses are designed to spread themselves around before wrecking the place, but some are not, and most Trojans don't wait. Some get destroyed along with file data, leaving no evidence. And there's the possibility that something is there that scanners can't detect because they don't recognize the what the user did. In cases like this, it would be advisable to check with the vendor if this happens again.

All this being said. The worst thing you can do to a computer is load software. Yep. You read that right. Loading software. There are so many developers out there making software that it just stokes the mind. Not all these guys follow the rules when writing the code and guess who gets it in the rear. YOU. There are ways of protecting yourself, you can backup using popular software, but an extra hard drive hoping that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place and you could hire a consultant to give you redundant backup of your most precious blood sweat and tears... your data.

Setting Up Your System

When you buy a new computer or have one built for you, the common concenus these days between technologists is to have a hard drive backup in addition to some other form like a Zip drive or a CDR/CDRW drive. The point here is nothing wrong with redundancy. In fact, more times than not, I've had to depend on the secondary backup to restore data. Your biggest worry is a virus coming in through your email. There are very rare situations where you can get one from a store bought CD like Microsoft Office or the like but this is rare.

So that being said, get a good backup device.

Now then...