You turned on your computer this morning, and instead of being greeted by a welcome screen, you are greeted by a message that looks something like ” Windows cannot start, file xyz is missing”. Now what?

Unless your computer is 6+ years old, its probably a no brainer to have your computer repaired.

So you take it somewhere (hopefully us) and the prognosis is that you’ll need a new hard drive. What a pain.

If you purchased your computer new from Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer, etc, then you most likely have a little sticker somewhere on the case with your windows key on it. Great! We can use this to re-install your operating system with no problems. And the rest of your stuff?

Windows by itself is pretty basic. You get IE, Media player, Movie maker, Solitare, and Outlook express. Chances are, the main thing you use from that list is Internet Explorer. What about Word, Outlook, Nero, Nortons, Realplayer, Smiley face maker, family tree mapper, and all the other icons that were on the desktop when you purchased it?

All those programs have to be installed separately. None of those are a part of windows. When you buy a computer, they put all that on for you. Most consumers don’t realize that if you have to have your hard drive replaced, you have to re-install all that stuff as well.

Most of the big PC manufacturers give you recovery “solution”  built into your hard drive. Thing is, that helps you absolutely zero if your hard drive dies.

If you run the recovery program, it puts your computer back the way it was when you bought it. Thats great for a “recovery” from a software issue, like a virus, bad download, or a failed update. However, if your hard drive goes, so goes the “system recovery” as well.

One of the biggest issues we have is explaining all that to our customers. We have found that saying we’re going to re-install “Windows” does no good at conveying the message that Windows is all you will get. Even saying, all windows comes with is IE is still not enough. (they must think we’re joking)

When they ask “How do I get the rest of my programs” our first question is” Do you have your software cd’s?” If their answer is no, our next comment is to  contact your original retailer.

We can  install windows  because your product key is on the PC somewhere. The product key to the rest of your software should be in that big stack of paperwork you got when you purchased your pc.

Sometimes we cant get your product key from the PC. Someone may have removed it, or its too damaged to read.

Losing that key is like losing $100. You will be forced to buy your software again. Losing your recovery cd’s is like losing $500. Windows Pro+ office 2003 Pro + Nero = over $500 worth of software.

Most computers give you the option to create recovery cd’s from the recovery partition the first time you boot your computer. Make sure you do that. Sometimes the opportunity to do that expires after 90 days. Then you cant do it. You can try to call and complain to Microsoft, but it probably wont get you anywhere.