- 1 Warnings
- 1.1 Integrity checklist
- 1.1.1 Verify the integrity of your memory modules
- 1.1.2 Note the S.M.A.R.T. status of your system drive
- 1.1.3 Verify the integrity of your filesystem
- 1.1.4 Backup critical data
- 1.1.5 Undo changes you made to system files
- 1.1.6 Create a complete System Restore point (XP)
- 1.1.7 Backup your registry (98/Me)
- 1.1.8 Flash your system BIOS
- 1.1.9 Scan for viruses and spyware
- 1.1.10 Install all service packs and updates
- 1.1 Integrity checklist
||It is highly recommended that all users read this section in full before running Dial-a-fix.|
Dial-a-fix is designed to be easy to use (although its options seem daunting at first - ask for help at the Lunarsoft forums if necessary!), but it is highly recommended to use it under the guidance of a technician. Although Dial-a-fix by itself can pose no harm to your system, there are situations which Dial-a-fix simply cannot account for. If you have experienced exaggerated problems due to the usage of Dial-a-fix, contact a computer technician immediately (preferably one with experience using Dial-a-fix, and more preferably the Lunarsoft forums). The following is an incomplete list of examples of known problems that can cause Dial-a-fix to exaggerate or expose issues on your system:
- Hard drive integrity problems, possibly including but not limited to:
- Registry entry corruption
- Filesystem corruption, possibly leading to:
- System file corruption
- Registry hive corruption
- Memory module failures
- Other hardware failures (video card, motherboard, processor, modem, etc)
- Use of Dial-a-fix on an unsupported platform (such as Windows XP x64; 32-bit XP with a 64-bit processor is fine, however)
- Use of Dial-a-fix with unsupported beta software
If you have experienced more issues than you started with after using Dial-a-fix, post on the Lunarsoft forums (in the Dial-a-fix section). Be prepared to submit thorough reports of all events, including information about your operating system version and service pack level, the sections in Dial-a-fix that you have executed, the original problem, and the new or resulting problems. If you have already resolved the problem by more drastic measures (such as formatting your hard drive and reinstalling Windows) please continue to consider Dial-a-fix for your future problems, as it is highly unlikely that Dial-a-fix directly caused the issues resulting from its use.
Dial-a-fix is not likely to be the source of the additional issues, as it only performs procedures recommended and supported by Microsoft, Microsoft MVPs, and other highly respected members of the Windows internals community. These procedures include, but are not limited to: registering DLLs/COM objects, stopping, re-registering, starting, and configuring services to their original Microsoft-supplied defaults.
NOTE: Hardware has the distinct ability to be "slightly defective". That is to say that it is entirely possible for hardware problems to be extremely intermittent. It is advisable to have the integrity of your system checked out before using Dial-a-fix.
Here is a list of the things (in order) that you should do and be aware of before using Dial-a-fix. This list exists because of the tendency to blame whatever is sitting right in front of you (i.e., Dial-a-fix) rather than what is actually happening behind the scenes (such as a hardware failure). It is not required that you do any of these steps, and you may wish to have a computer technician review them with you instead of doing them yourself, but it will save DjLizard a lot of extra work in the long run if you are aware of your own computer's instabilities before requesting support.
Verify the integrity of your memory modules
Download Memtest86+. You can create a bootable CD-ROM or floppy disk. Boot to the disk/disc you have created and make sure that Memtest86+ passes its complete memory test at least 5 times. More passes, obviously, are better. Memory, like any other hardware, can truly be slightly defective. If you find one or more errors while using Memtest86, remove one of the memory modules in your system and run the test again until you can prove which memory module(s) is/are at fault. Consult a local PC technician if you are uncomfortable with testing your system or removing memory modules.
Note the S.M.A.R.T. status of your system drive
Here are a few programs that will allow you to see the current S.M.A.R.T. status of your drive(s):
- HD Tune (simple display) - highly recommended
- Belarc Advisor (simple display)
- SMART Explorer (advanced display)
- SpeedFan (advanced display)
- DTemp (advanced display, but easy to use)
- SMARTUDM for MS-DOS (advanced display and technician-oriented)
Consult the documentation that comes with each program for more information. Also visit the S.M.A.R.T. Wikipedia entry.
There is also a wide variety of software available on S.M.A.R.T. Site.
Verify the integrity of your filesystem
If you are using Windows 2000 or Windows XP, there are at least two ways to perform thorough checking of the system drive's filesystem. Only do so if you have verified the integrity of your hard drive itself and the memory modules in your system.
If you are using FAT32 on your Windows 2000 or Windows XP system drive, it is highly recommended to convert the partition to NTFS. Do so only after you have verified the integrity of the filesystem as directed below:
2000/XP method one
- In My Computer, right-click on your system drive, choose Properties, and click on the Tools tab.
- Click Check Now..., checkmark both Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.
- Click Start. Windows will prompt you to schedule the disk checking for the next system restart.
- Restart your computer.
If Windows is unable to complete the disk check for any reason, consult a local PC technician.
2000/XP method two
- Boot your installation media, enter Recovery Console, and perform the following commands, substituting "C:" with your system drive letter if "C:" is incorrect:
chkdsk C: /r /p
chkdsk /r is currently not recommended by DjLizard because it has arbitrary criteria for what to do with bad sectors and it does not present a useful status display while working with your data. There will be another guide soon describing exactly how to cope with data recovery when bad blocks are present. For most people,
chkdsk /r will work just fine (although you should know that there are better ways to work with your data and that DjLizard specifically does not recommend
chkdsk /r can take hours to complete. Usually,
chkdsk will state that it has found and fixed one or more errors (one of the least useful status messages in filesystem repair utilities to this date).
chkdsk /p will take a fraction of the time, and it may or may not state that it has found and fixed one or more errors. Repeatedly perform
chkdsk /p until there are no more detected errors.
If at any point
chkdsk returns an error stating that there are one or more unrecoverable errors/partitions, type
exit, shut down your machine, do not use Dial-a-fix, and consult a local PC technician as this type of problem is extremely difficult to solve 1) over the internet and 2) if you are not a technician.
The built-in Scandisk utility can fix common issues with long file names, directory entries, and the buggy FAT32 free space counter (if you're using FAT32 that is - and you should be).
- Start > Run > scandisk
Perform a normal scan of the disk. The "Thorough" disk check can take up to an entire day to perform, and can cause the computer to feeze when bad blocks are encountered. If bad blocks are suspected, consult a local PC technician.
Backup critical data
This is self-explanatory. There are thousands of ways to backup your data, and it is beyond the scope of this article to attempt to discuss data backup procedures. If there are any doubts or concerns, consult a local PC technician and have them backup your data for you.
Undo changes you made to system files
If you have installed any unsupported hacks such as uxtheme.dll, LegitCheckControl.dll, tcpip.sys, or any other patches/hacks, you should uninstall them as they are not part of Microsoft's standard distribution of Windows, and can cause unexpected results that cannot be warrantied by your hardware and software manufacturers.
Create a complete System Restore point (XP)
Automatic System Restore point creation will be a feature of a future revision of Dial-a-fix. In the meantime, you can create your own complete restore point:
- Start > (All) Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore, or
- Start > Run > %SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe
System Restore creates a full backup of the registry hive files, as well as other critical system files. You will be able to completely roll back any changes made by Dial-a-fix by reverting to a previous restore point or by manually replacing a registry hive file with one from the System Volume Information folder (advanced). 95% of Dial-a-fix's procedures perform writes to the SOFTWARE registry hive, in the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT tree (which is really just a shortcut to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes).
Backup your registry (98/Me)
To backup your system registry in Windows 98 or Windows Me, do the following:
- Start > Run > scanreg
If a registry backup has already been made for that day, answer 'Yes' when prompted so that a new, up-to-date backup is created. If any new registry problems arise, it is quite easy to restore to a previous date in MS-DOS mode by typing
Flash your system BIOS
Though your BIOS should not be upgraded unless there is known to be a problem with it, it is a common cure to problems with Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2. This is an advanced procedure that should only be performed by highly experienced end-users or PC technicians. It is also beyond the scope of this article. Contact your system manufacturer for more information. Many strange issues can be resolved by updating your BIOS. Flash BIOS upgrades are only recommended in very specific circumstances, and has little to do with Dial-a-fix. This tip is only provided as a convenience.
Scan for viruses and spyware
It is beyond the scope of this article to explain the methods and software required to scan for and remove viruses and spyware, however, you must be certain that your system is clean before proceeding. Spyware and viruses can devastate your system stability and performance by making changes unbeknownst to you.
Install all service packs and updates
Visit Windows Update to ensure that your system is completely up-to-date. Avoid the driver download section of Windows Update, as this section almost always causes issues.