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Fixing An Aging PC

by Wei725 / September 1, 2012 11:14 AM PDT

My ten year old Dell desktop acts unresponsively lately And today, the situation went very bad. After running PC-TuneUp, it can't shut up properly for restarting. The menu is hung after I click the "start". I got a blue screen few times yesterday. I have to use the switch to shut down it quite few times today. It was my workhorse and hold some important data.

Anything I can do to fix those aging problems?

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Those registry cleaners are trouble.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 1, 2012 11:38 PM PDT
In reply to: Fixing An Aging PC

Did you re-install the OS after this cleaner damaged the OS?

Also, did you do you yearly canned air cleaning?

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I agree...
by Willy / September 2, 2012 1:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Fixing An Aging PC

If you hadn't yet, pull the cover and blow out the dust bunnies. Next, pitch that PC-tune-up for now and get CCleaner. Install CCleaner using "only defaults" and allow it to do its job of 1st use cleaner, 2nd use registry button. Excluding all other issues, CCleaner has worked too many times to complain about it, it just works. Alas, you have an 10yr. PC, if now you're trying to clean house, you should have at least safeguard your data, thus save the most critical before any use of anything that supposedly does this. If you do get going again with no problems, save data. Come back with results.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Thanks and ...
by Wei725 / September 2, 2012 1:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Fixing An Aging PC

Thanks both for your information.

I haven't reinstalled Window XP yet. Do I need to reformat the hard drive when I reinstall the OS?

I opened the cover and vacuumed inside two or three months ago. Is the type of cleaning called canned air cleaning?

I will run CCleaner to see whether it will help or not.

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About the reinstall.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 2, 2012 5:46 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks and ...

If I head to and type in XP REPAIR INSTALL I find I don't need to reformat the drive. Besides, formatting is done during the install IF YOU CHOOSE TO DO SO.

As to the canned air, the question is to see if you are maintaining the PC. I use canned air because I can get the little tube into the fins and be sure it's clean.

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CCleaner doesn't solve all problems
by Wei725 / September 9, 2012 8:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks and ...

I get a blue screen when I start my pc. I restart it with the safe mode and run CCleaner. The frozen menu problem is gone. I still get a blue screen after another restarting.

It doesn't seem that I can reinstall Windows XP on my pc. "Setup cannont continue beause the versin of Windows on your computer is newer thatn the versin on the CD. ..." is a message from I click "install Windows XP".

What I can do right now?

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Repair XP
by Wei725 / September 9, 2012 8:19 AM PDT

I will look into how to repair XP.

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XP re-install
by minahan1 / September 14, 2012 8:38 PM PDT
In reply to: Repair XP

Sounds like there is more than a cleaning that computer needs.
Have you tried to use system restore?
Going back as far as you cam ,ay help get you away from the problems.
Also another thing would be a virus. If you can get into SAFE MODE I would try a couple things.
First open a cmd prompt: click on start then run and type cmd hit enter.
A black box will come up, type "chkdsk /f"( without the "s) and hit enter. Let it run and when finished reboot into: safe mode with networking.
After it loads open a browser and do a search for Malwarebytes cnet/ or just copy and paste this link in the address bar on the browser.
Download and install and run a full scan of c:/

After it runs and it finds anything delete them all ! Follow and read the boxes on the program on how to do this, pretty simple.
Then reboot the computer and see what you have.


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Malwarebytes is good...
by btljooz / September 29, 2012 5:10 AM PDT
In reply to: XP re-install

As a matter of fact it came to my mind, as well. But only to make sure that "PC-TuneUp" wasn't a malicious program. There are a LOT of these types of progs running around on the net that range from just useless to being ransom-ware. It should be installed after the OS is re-installed for future use.

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Uninstall service packs then try running installation.
by nruffin3 / September 28, 2012 11:13 AM PDT

<span id="INSERTION_MARKER">Uninstall service packs then try running installation.

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Source of pc tune-up
by Willy / September 3, 2012 11:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Fixing An Aging PC

+++Where did you get PC Tune-up and were there any other displays posted after its install suggesting other s/w? It matters because there are various pc tune-up labeled pgms. out there and one is malware. Otherwise, you mau need to reformat, etc. if you plan to return back from day 1 and reload the OS, etc.. reply back, I may be able to save you some issues if you hadn't reload the OS, etc..

tada ------Willy Happy

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Thank for your info
by Wei725 / September 5, 2012 1:46 AM PDT
In reply to: Source of pc tune-up

My PC TuneUP is an official version. If I reformat the HD, all files will be erased. I need to backup all or some of files on the HD before reformating.

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Moderators often say.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 5, 2012 2:02 AM PDT
In reply to: Thank for your info

"We only lose what we don't backup."

Since repair of an OS is never a sure thing, why would anyone not have a backup unless what they have is nothing they can't lose?

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Your choice
by Willy / September 9, 2012 8:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Thank for your info

Your original post was about repairing the PC, not saving files. I take it now you need to format in order to get back to a stable PC again. Besides all the fixes, if none of them work and you can't do a repair, you're stuck. Try to boot into safemode with networking after hitting F8 during boot-up. Once in safemode, try to save any files to a flash drive or ext. USB HD. Otherwise. its going to get hosed as time goes on, which if you hadn't already run your current AV pgm. to see if any virus, malware or trojans are present. Take action if any found and hopefully return to a stable system. But, if after 10yrs. you never did any progressive cleaning or maintenance, it maybe too late or one heck of a job to recover. Your complaint is not uncommon for an older PC or unkept one, so it becomes harder to resolve, which the easiest way to become stable again to reformat and reload OS, drivers, updates etc.,. Critical files should have been kept now and then on some time table in order to reduce this headache.

If not already, and XP own restore feature was active, use a restore point before the troubles began. -OR- as already explained get your hands on a XP repair disc, this NOT a restore/recovery disc but it does fix OS issues and such. Vendors offer them online, some are free(trusted source???) but many for small cost. Access to an XP install disc which is recovery/restore see if the repair console is present and use it. Google for hints and tips to explain usage.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Recover your files with:
by kevinthefixer / September 28, 2012 12:24 PM PDT
In reply to: Fixing An Aging PC

If you have access to a friend's computer, make a bootable disc (either Hiren's Boot Disk or any number of "live" Linux distros, Ubuntu, Puppy, Damn Small Linux, even an old Knoppix distro for your older hardware). The learning curve is not as steep as it used to be, most of these boot to a familiar-looking desktop, from which you should be able to find your data and copy it to some external medium (hard drive, flash card, whatever) or burn it to CD or DVD if you have a burner installed. Once you have your data safe (check it on your friend's computer) then format & reinstall, or give up the ghost and buy new hardware, whatever you like.

Another thought: you may well have a failing power supply. Any computer repair facility should be able to test that easily, in or out of the box, and/or replace it without requiring you to take on a second mortgage.

Good Luck!

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by Wei725 / September 29, 2012 9:37 AM PDT

Thanks for your suggestion on booting disc. I don't know whether I need to go the round or not though.

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by richteral / October 3, 2012 1:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

You may well have to take his advice, which is perfectly sound. It just depends on how much you value your data, and if losing them all would make a too bitter pill to swallow. Leaving that aside, the question remains whether your problem is hardware-caused. If so, Linux CD/USB will provide excellent tools for testing the system - apart from enabling you to save your data.

If the hardware is still sound, due to the obsolescence of both XP and the computer it is an open question what OS to put on it to keep it going. Without replacing at least some of its components, your Dell would again be best off with a lightweight Linux distro, as long as you can live without Windows.

A big unknown is your budget: if you have little to spend and your hardware works fine, Linux is the cheapest option to keep you in business. If funds are available, forget it all and get a new desktop. After all, time is money.

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I too have an old XP desktop...
by btljooz / September 29, 2012 6:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Fixing An Aging PC

This is what I would do:

Take the sides off the computer and use dry canned air designed just for this purpose to blow out all the dust that has collected inside over the years or since the last time you did it. Pay special attention to ALL fans. I take them out and clean any encrusted dust with an old electric razor brush before hitting them with the canned air.

Get rid of that PC-TuneUp program. Those things are just bad news straight across the board. As suggested elsewhere in other answers to your question do get CCleaner and Malwarebytes Anti-malware. CCleaner is great for general housecleaning and MBAM is great for getting mal-ware and other files that AVs just can't or don't look for. Remember to run your UPDATED AV program, CCleaner and UPDATED MBAM all in Safe Mode to clean your computer of any nasties that could be causing your problems.

If none of that helps the problem I would do a clean install of XP. IF you wind up having to do an OS re-install you can follow the directions that Michael Stevens give on his website at I think that you'll find that he is quite complete in his guide.

*****Just know some things before you start your re-installation process:

1. You WILL lose all of your files when you do this. Therefore, as stated elsewhere, back up what you want to keep - ALL documents, photos, videos, music, everything - to some sort of removable media. I bought a 30 gig thumb drive to keep my stuff on. I just keep it with my computer at all times so that I can add my new stuff to it every few days. This way if I have any problems I don't run the risk of losing what I need/want to keep.

2. You WILL need the CDs that came with your computer originally. Without those you can't go any further.

3. I, personally, wipe the drive before an OS re-install so that the re-installation is truly a clean install. It's just better that way. You can use any one of the programs listed at <---That website is for education only. Please download any software you want from it's OWN site to avoid getting something you don't really want. (E.G.: Cleaner from rather from anywhere else, etc. AND if you do use such a program make double sure that you do NOT wipe the partition that houses your Recovery Console.

4. I like to keep all of the Service Packs for XP burned to CD so that as soon as the OS is finished installing I can do it from them rather directly from the internet. Get the ones that you need for your system here: XP Service Pack 1a XP Service Pack 2 Service Pack 3 contains everything in SP 1 and SP 2 so if/when you get it, you won't need the other two Caveates with SP3 are that you will have to pass Windows Genuine Advantage and there are other issues with SP 3 that you may want to consider which you may want to research to see if you really want to install your updates with it. Start at first and then do some googling for other info. The reason I'm giving you this information right now is that XP is at it's End of Life. Read about this on Microsoft's Lifecycle Fact Sheet at The main thing, though, is that these service packs will no longer be available after April 8, 2014. PERIOD. So download all of those Service Packs, save them to a CD and put it with your XP Installation CDs.

5. You will need the software to all of your peripheral hardware like
printer, camera, etc. to re-install them once you get your OS
re-installed. In addition to this you will need installation media for all of your other software like AV, third party firewall if you use one, other programs you like and use, etc. This means the original CDs or .exe files (burned to CD or thumb drive) that you downloaded or can download for your system. Once you have all of your software - including new versions of your AV - downloaded and/or gathered together you can go ahead and wipe your drive and begin the re-installation process described on Michael Stevens' website above.

6. Once your OS is finished re-installing, you can then update it with the Service Pack file(s) that you downloaded and burned to CD in step 4 above and then start installing all of your other software. I like to make a manual restore point after the installation of each piece of 'new' software that I install on a new OS installation so that if anything goes wrong, I may be able to fix it with that and then re-install just one piece of software rather than all of them or the whole system all over again.

I hope this helps. Good Luck! Grin

<i>NOTE: While this is written for XP a lot of the ideas projected here may be kept in mind for XP's successors, too. Wink </i>

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Thanks for your detailed information.
by Wei725 / September 29, 2012 10:20 AM PDT

My desktop currently is in a unstable condition.

Reformating the hard drive seem to be a pre-condition of reinstalling XP. Another option is to install Vista. A few programs such as my print driver don't work with Vista.

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Format not necessary but...
by kevinthefixer / September 29, 2012 12:32 PM PDT

"Reformating the hard drive seem to be a pre-condition of reinstalling XP." Not. Assuming you're using either the Dell installation discs or a Microsoft Windows XP disc, you should get a dialog asking whether to reinstall or repair Windows. Repairing actually reinstalls Windows but leaves your programs and data intact. Reinstalling formats the HD first, wiping all data, what is called a "clean install". If you're using Dell's discs, it won't be all that clean, it'll be loaded with bloatware. But it's still better than leaving all the old errors and (probably) corrupted registry keys in. Clean installs always run better.
"Another option is to install Vista." ONLY if you have a very fast processor and loads of RAM, say 3GHz+ and 2GB+, and if that's the case I recommend 7 rather than Vista. Or even 8. Vista is another of Microsoft's premature releases, is resource-hungry and has stability problems. A machine designed for XP will have problems with it.
"I don't know whether I need to go the round or not though." How badly do you need those files? Can you recover them in Safe Mode? It might be as easy as booting into Safe Mode, plugging in a USB flash drive and copying a few files to it. How much data are we talking about anyway? Whatever you decide to do I wish you luck!

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maybe not...
by porsche10x / October 1, 2012 4:55 AM PDT

Sorry, but I think you may have missed the point a little. The only reason an upgrade to Vista was recommended was to have a fresh install without losing his data and programs. You can't upgrade from XP to 7 without a clean install. If Wei were to do that, he might as well just re-install XP for free.

I certainly agree that an upgrade to Vista might be problematic, but it was suggested solely to get around his inability to do an XP repair install.

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Point taken...
by kevinthefixer / October 1, 2012 12:27 PM PDT
In reply to: maybe not...

I guess I did miss that. I still believe the easiest solution would be to use another OS from a bootable CD to transfer files to another medium. And I'd certainly check the PSU first, but then I have the tools to do that on hand and I realize not everyone does. But 10-year-old computers are very good at eating power supplies and the symptoms may well resemble what we have here. BTW the same is true for the hard drive; we may well have a hardware problem and be wasting time thinking of software upgrades.

Another thought for the mechanically-minded: remove the HD, install it as a slave in another machine (perhaps a replacement computer?), and the data is there for the taking (assuming the HDD is still good). That should be done by a shop or at least a geek, since it will almost certainly involve installing an IDE drive in a SATA-based computer. But it handily solves the problem of migrating files to a new system.

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Can't repair it
by Wei725 / October 3, 2012 10:08 AM PDT

Hi Kevin,

Thanks very much for your detailed information.

I can't see the repair option with my XP CD. After click the "install XP", I get a message of the current OS is newer and can't install. The XP manual says that I can trouble shoot a problem by the following steps: start>Help and Support>Fixing a problem. Nothing show ups when I do so.

In regarding of OS upgrading to Vista, my desktop hardware likely is not enough as you said. I have read the video card could an issue to display the Vista semi-transparent windows.

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By now you've recovered your files.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 4, 2012 3:41 AM PDT
In reply to: Can't repair it

Why not start fresh?

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