If you want to fix your computer for free then there will be some DIY work involved. There are a lot of free tools available such as Hiren’s boot CD and UBCD4WIN. If free software is what is needed, then the best would probably be UBCD4WIN. The thing to remember is that UBCWIND must be compiled and burned to a CD.
UBCD4WIN is not a software that's main purpose is to repair a computer. This specific software is able to fix some faults on a computer, but the main purpose of this software is to gain access to a laptop or desktop if it can’t boot up normally and then obtain data from it and diagnose. This software is also used to make certain diagnostics using HDTune on hard drives which you can get with S.M.A.R.T. data or with a stress test on the system using MemTest. I prefer to use MemTest to stress test the computer system. If I am not sure what is happening, I use two different stress test tools, OCCT and MemTest which are included in UBCD4IN and are available straight from the boot up menu.
Download UBCD installation to a well-functioning computer.
Install UBCD by leaving all the settings as they are.
Place a Windows XP installation disk into the DVD drive.
Start UBCD builder.
Navigate to the Windows XP CD.
Look for compiled ISO file
Burn this ISO file onto a blank CD.
Set the computer to boot up from the CD and then boot it up.
If after the steps, you still managed to boot it up from UBCD, then you must check the hard drive with HDTune. If there is just one red dot which is displayed, then back up your data and replace the hard drive on the computer.
You can also buy UBCD4WIN off eBay.
The second step is to test out the RAM
If the computer still works, then most likely the motherboard is okay. But, we will be testing the motherboard and the RAM in this step. Just because it will stress load the system, load the RAM modules and it will stress load the North Bridge. An amount of load will also go to the CPU. The third step is to check if there is a virus infection. UBCD has Avira pre-installed.
The fourth step would be to inspect the computer visually
If you are working on a desktop computer, then open the lid and take a look to the motherboard, Check the MOSFETs that are located near the CPU. Check all the other MOSFETs which are located on the motherboard. Check the temperature of the CPU, check to see if the heatsink is clean, and if the thermal paste is still good. Check the temperature of the North Bridge and the South Bridge. Usually, the South Bridge and the North Bridge temperatures are not monitored. If the computer can start and install OCCT, then all the available temperatures that are monitored by sensors will be displayed.
There are other diagnostic programs, but the best ones to start with are all mentioned here.
What about driver problems? I have not seen any problems related to driver conflicts. Sometimes, missing drivers can prevent a device from proper operation. Also there have been a few times when network card drivers crashed the system, but this was easily fixed by updating the drivers. The best free driver program out there is DRPSU. This program has almost all the drivers needed and does install or updates semi-automatically.
In the Mac world, there are two tools you can use including the Apple Hardware Test and the Apple Service Diagnostic. My advice to you is whenever possible, use a system stress test such as OCCT on a Mac computer as Macs also can run Windows.
I will also mention GSmartControl here. GSmartControl is hard drive diagnostic software and is somewhat complicated to use due to the fact that the results must be interpreted.
The other option used to access data from the desktop or laptop computer is Ubuntu. This installation disk has the ability to run Ubuntu without an installation.
Ubuntu can be downloaded from the Internet for free, bought from the Ubuntu store on a disk, or purchased from a third party seller which sell on famous online auction sites. What is great about this disk is the fact that it is a very simple disk to use and it is able to obtain the data from a Windows computer and write it to the external hard disk or to a USB stick. Another reason this is such as great disk is what is if a Windows computer is infected, the virus has no way of transferring itself to anything that is copied with Ubuntu.
Here is how the Ubuntu Live CD looks and how it shows the Windows files (the files that are on your computer). File copying using Ubuntu is the same as traditional methods.
The copy process is simple, just drag and drop away.
The Ubuntu live CD also has hard disk check capability.
This disk check is too quick and does not check for bad sectors, so I do not recommend you to use it.
It also has a RAM testing feature in the form of Memtest. Memtest is a separate memory test program that can also boot from a CD. This is a very good RAM test program and I definitely recommend using it.
Hirens boot CD. This is a Live CD that is very similar to UBCD4WIN. One advantage of this CD is that there is no work involved in building this CD to be able to burn it to a disk as it comes up as an ISO image. Although it is not easy to get and download, you can try to search for it on the internet or in a file sharing portal.
What is so good about the Hiren’s CD is that it can boot on Intel Macs and use hard drive diagnostic software such as Victoria.
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