June 2018: Troubleshoot a Failed Hard Drive

If you get a BSOD or other random error with the Windows operating system, it is usually assumed to be because of a virus, malware or other software error. If you’ve gone through all of the proper troubleshooting steps regarding PC viruses and other Windows software, but still are getting an error with the operating system, it may be due to a failing or erroneous hard drive.

If any PC part is to fail, or at least cause errors within the Windows OS, it’s most likely the hard drive. Sometimes, PC parts can fail without notice, leaving Windows in a non-functional state or with poor performance or random errors. In today’s article, we will review some ways that you can troubleshoot a basic hard drive.

Hard Drives

Hard drives are one of the most common computer parts that fail without notice. Additionally, hard drive errors can cause many types of Windows errors.

Checking a Hard Drive for Errors

If you can boot into Windows, you can use the built-in CHKDSK function to help troubleshoot a failing hard drive or hard drive with errors.

Begin by launching the Start Menu and selecting Computer. This will queue the Computer window, which lists all of the PC’s active drives.

Windows Computer Pane

In most cases, the internal and primary hard drive for a PC will be the Local Disk (C:) drive. However, it may be different depending on your PC’s drive setup. From the Computer pane, locate the PC’s hard drive and right-click it. From the context menu, select the option Properties.

This will launch the Properties dialog for the specific drive.

Local Disk Properties

Click the Tools tab and select the Check now option to check the hard drive for errors.

Windows Error Checking

Can’t Boot Into Windows

If you cannot boot into Windows, then you also have the option of running the CHKDSK function (mentioned above), from Windows Recovery Console. You will need a functional PC with Windows to create a System Repair Disc. As Microsoft notes, creating a System Repair Disc can be done using the following steps:

System Repair Disc

Upon booting from the system repair disc, you can run CHKDSK, but additionally, the disc has a few other utilities that can help repair and troubleshoot a Windows operating system that will not boot. Remember, for failed or erroneous hard drives, the objective is to be able to boot into Windows so that you can backup any important files or data from the drive.

Data Recovery

If none of the above options are suitable, then you can also attempt data recovery, if the hard drive has important files or data that you absolutely need. Data recovery is a bit more work, but it can be worth it in some situations.

Data recovery is complex, and can involve advanced drive troubleshooting using fdisk and commonly, specialty recovery software. If the hard drive has errors, is completely corrupt and won’t boot into Windows, you may be able to recover files simply by removing the drive from the PC and using a hard drive enclosure to connect the drive externally to an existing Windows PC. From there, you may be able to use specialty software to manually browse the Windows based disk using file structure, and manually move important files or data to another drive.

Additionally, to learn more about hard drives and complex data recovery options, you may want to check out PCStats Beginner’s Guide to Hard Drive Recovery.

Complete Reformat and Erase

In a scenario where Windows won’t boot and even the System Repair option fails to fix the hard drive, you should consider performing a complete reformat and erase, before considering the drive to be a vegetable and throwing it to the garbage. In some cases, such as a complex rootkit virus, Windows may have system level errors, in which a hard drive format is the best option.

To completely format and erase an internal PC hard drive, you can create a bootable formatting disc. For this, you may want to check out DBAN, or Darik’s Boot and Nuke. Upon booting from a DBAN disc, you can wipe the primary PC hard drive using some basic command line.

A Failed Hard Drive

Worst case scenario is a completely failed hard drive that may have a failed spindle, arm or platter.

Hard Drive Components

In a case where the actuator/arm or other mechanical component has failed, you may want to consider the drive to be done with. However, if you have extremely important data on the drive, and the platters are still intact and undamaged, you may be able to swap the platters to an identical drive and repair the drive, which would ultimately give you the option to recover your PC data.

This requires an advanced technical understanding of hard drives, calibration and more. So, in most cases, it would be better to have a tech or data recovery specialist do this, rather than attempt it yourself.

Those are a few ways that you can troubleshoot, recover, diagnose and fix hard drive errors and failed hard drives. Enjoy!

Compiled by the Tech Support department from the Help Desk Geek  

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April 2018: What’s The Difference Between PC And Mac RAM?

Put a Mac-specific RAM stick next to a PC-specific stick and they look nearly identical, so what’s the difference? The difference is that picking out proper Mac memory is determined by model while on a PC it’s determined by motherboard.

If you built your PC yourself, you shop for memory based on what the motherboard supports. If the mobo’s documentation states it will run DDR3 of either 800, 1066, 1333 or 2200, you’ll most likely go with middle-of-the-road (as most people do) 1333 memory, install it and that’s that.

You can’t buy a logic board independently for any new or currently-produced Mac computer, so the way memory is bought for those systems is by model, such as "for iMac", "for Mac Pro" and so on.

The "forgiveness" of PC memory

PCs are "more forgiving" when it comes to memory than Macs are. For example if you put in mixed DDR3 memory in a PC, such as one 1066 stick and one 1333 stick, as long as the motherboard supports it, both sticks will simply run at the "lower" stick speed, in this case 1066.

Disclaimer before continuing: Don’t use mixed memory in your PC. Use the same speed for all your RAM sticks, and if possible same-brand as well.

If you try to do the mixed memory thing on a Mac, OS X either won’t "like it" very much, or the Mac simply won’t boot. Some Macs are very particular almost to a fault when it comes to RAM speed; that’s the way Apple designs their computers.

Could you put PC RAM in a Mac and have it work?

In some instances you can, but more often than not the answer is no. Some will say they’ve done it and their Mac runs great, while others will say all the machine did on power-up is show a blinking power LED on the front, no picture, and no boot until they used "all-correct" memory.

The general rule of thumb is to always use Mac-specific memory for your Mac. That doesn’t mean you have to buy it from Apple specifically, but it does mean the memory must be listed as being compatible with your specific Apple system. If not, you’re just figuratively rolling the dice, you’ll probably lose, and your Mac won’t work.

Does Mac memory cost more?

Yes, and this is usually because a Mac requires fully buffered ECC (error-correcting) memory as a hardware system requirement.


The price difference between Mac and PC memory isn’t nearly as wide as one would think.

8GB of Kingston PC2 5300 fully buffered Mac memory at the time of this writing is $259.99.

8GB of like-type Crucial PC2 5300 memory for PC is $225.99.

When you go with a different type of PC memory, such as PC3 12800, that’s only 80 bucks for 8GB.

What you pay for memory directly depends on what type it is. Why does PC2 5300 cost so much on the PC side? I honestly have no idea, but you will spend over $200 to get that 8GB.

If you participate in seriously tired and old Mac vs. PC argument concerning cost of memory, the like-to-like type cost difference here was only 34 dollars. PC2 5300 costs a ton for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is especially considering the Crucial has no ECC and is unbuffered, but it busts over $200 while the PC3 12800 sits well under $100.

Maybe someone out there knows why PC2 5300 memory sticks cost so much?

Therefore, before you change or upgrade your RAM or swap your RAM consider what is best suitable for your computer and use the right hardware. For mroe information read it here

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March 2018: Best Search Tricks of Windows 10 that You Missed

Majority of Windows 10 users are ignorant of many of its features. One such feature is Search feature in Windows 10. Windows 10 has a very powerful search tool and that can be used in various ways to find out any data within a short time.

The search feature of Windows 10 can make finding stuff in Windows much easier, all you need is to learn and practice these tricks a couple of time. Here you will learn about such search tricks for Windows 10, which you would wish that you knew it earlier.

Cortana Search Filtering

It hasn’t been long since Cortana was introduced to Windows 10, but it has improved a lot since then. Cortana search aka taskbar search has made finding things in Windows 10 so much easier. You can search for files, apps, settings and so on using taskbar search. But one thing went unnoticed in Cortana search is the Filters feature.

Windows 10 Taskbar Search Filters

When you search for something in taskbar search at the top of the search wizard you can see three icons which are filters for apps, documents, and web. Clicking on them gives the results for your search term belonging to that specific section.

Apart from this three filters you can access more filters from the Filters menu, placed next to the three icons. The Filters menu offers folders, music, photos, settings and videos filters apart from the already mentioned three filters.

Search Results for Settings App & Control Panel

Being a mixture of Windows XP and Windows 8, Windows 10 has confused many users since its first release. As the time passed we got used to most of it. But there are things which are not figured out yet. One such thing is the distribution of settings in Settings app and Control panel. Microsoft is moving more and more settings to Settings app on each update and we can hope every setting will come under Settings App one day. But for the time being, we have to deal with scattered settings in Control panel and Settings App.

Settings Icon For Control Panel and Settings App
Control Panel                                                               Settings App

There is a trick to identify which setting is in which, while performing a search in the taskbar. The search results show settings either with a black and white icon or a color icon. The settings in Settings app will have black and white icon while the control panel settings will have colored icon. Remember this “decipher” key next time you search for settings.

Quick Calculation in Taskbar Search

Unlike old versions of Windows, you can find calculator app in a snap in Windows 10 using search. But there is an even easier way to do your calculations that too without opening your calculator app.

Windows 10 Quick Calculation

If you want to do a basic calculation quickly, type in the equation to the taskbar search. You will be presented not only with the result for the problem but a bing calculator to perform some more calculations.

Search in File Explorer

Windows 10 File Explorer comes with a search box. File Explorer search box can help you to search for files and folders without leaving the explorer. All you have to do is type in the name of the file/folder you need to find. If you are searching for a specific file this works fine, but when searching large directories you may feel the sluggishness.

Windows10 File Explorer SearchBox

If you find yourself searching the same thing over and over again, you can use yet another feature in file explorer. Save search is a feature in file explorer which would help to save your searches for future needs.

Windows 10 File Explorer Search Menu

To save a search first type in the search term to file explorer search box. Select the  Search option from the Search Tool ribbon at the top of the explorer window. If you feel like tweaking some search parameters you can do so from the Refine section. You can fiddle with parameters like date of modification, kind, size and other properties.

Windows 10 Search Folder

After that click on the Save search option. Give a name for your search and hit save button. If you haven’t selected any specific folder to save to, by default it will be saved in the search folder. Next time you need not type in the search term but just double click the saved search.

Wildcards Search on Windows 10

Wildcards are some filler characters used to guess words. So when we use wildcards in our search terms the possible combinations of words are used to get the search results.

Let’s get familiarized with some of the wildcard characters.

*(asterisks): Asterisk is a wildcard character which replaces either none, one or more characters in the search term. Suppose we type in a word bea*, we get words starting with bea, which can be anything like beans, bear, beard, beauty and so on.

?(question mark): This wildcard helps to replace only one character in our search term. For example, searching for ad?pt gives us words such as adopt, adapt, adept and so on.

#(hashtag or pound): Hashtag/pound is a wildcard used to replace a numeric character. Search for 5#3, which would give you results such as 513,573 or any number in between 5 and 3.

Use File Properties to Search

Suppose you don’t know the name of a file but know some details about the same and you need to find that file, what to do!!! No worries since Windows 10 has the ability to find files/folders using the properties/metadata/details of the files in file explorer search.

Windows 10 Properties Search

You can perform your search based on properties such as date, file type, author and so on.

Search with Metadata

How to search using metadata! Let’s see one by one. To search using metadata we can use a key-value pair. For the file, name key will be ‘name’. After entering the key put a colon(:) and then the value(name: guitar or name: tutorial).

Similarly to search as per file kind/type we use the key ‘kind’. This helps to search for specific type of file like audio, documents and so on. Type in the key followed by the colon and then the value(kind: document or kind: video).

Tags are metadata that helps to search file as per the description of the file. Key value pair for which would look like tags: office or tags: must read.

If you need to search based on the author of the file using the key ‘author’(author: James).

Search using Boolean Filters

Boolean filters help you to combine multiple search terms. Let’s jump into different boolean filters right away.

Windows 10 Boolean AND Search

AND is a Boolean filter combine two search terms and show results with both the words. Suppose you searched ‘guitar AND tutorial’ you would get results such as ‘guitar tutorial.doc’ or ‘guitar basic tutorial.mp4’.

Windows 10 Boolean OR Search

To type in two words and get back results with either of these words you can use OR filter. Search for ‘stock OR market’ and you will get results such as ‘stock.xlxs’ , ’market list.txt’ and so on.

Windows 10 Boolean NOT Search

If you want to get files without a specific term you could use NOT filter. ‘NOT tutorial’ can bring up results like ‘guitar.mp3’, ‘guitar basic.txt’ and so on.

Windows 10 Boolean Quote Search

Quote your search term to get files with exactly that words. To quote a search term enclose it inside “”. “guitar basic tutorial” will give you files with that exact name.

Windows 10 Boolean Parantheses Search

Parentheses is a filter which would get the result with all the words in the search query but not only in that exact order. ‘(guitar basic tutorial)’ results ‘tutorial guitar basic’, ‘basic tutorial guitar’, ‘guitar tutorial basic’ etc.

To search for greater/more than or later than some value you can use greater than(>) filter. If you want to search for a file after a date, say 1st Jan 2018’, search ‘date:>01/01/2018’.

Similar to greater than filter we also have lesser than(<) filter, which would give you results lesser/earlier than a value. ‘size:<10MB’ gives you files with size less than 10MB.

Now you are aware of search tricks for Windows 10. Do try them out and these are going to save tons of your time while using Windows and searching for a file or data. Hope these tricks will make your Windows 10 experience smoother.

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February 2018: How to use Continue on PC in Windows 10 with Android or iPhone?

The new Continue on PC for Windows 10 feature came with the Windows 10 Fall Creators update made a lot of buzz within tech users. The reason being the ability to continue your important work irrespective of the range of devices being used. Whether you are using an Apple iPhone, Google Android smartphone or even (highly unlikely!) a Microsoft Windows 10 mobile smartphone,  the Continue on PC on Android and iPhone feature just as the name implies let’s continue your work in your PC device.

Even as Microsoft made such bold and exciting news of such further developments and improvements, only web browsing is fully supported for the feature.  Nevertheless, continuing the browsing experience on the bigger screen even for all the users who do not use the Smartphone from Microsoft makes for accessibility. The Continue on PC is currently limited to the web browsing experience and does not allow file sharing or screen sharing between PC and mobile.

We have a tutorial on How to set up the Continue on PC for Android and iPhone in Windows 10 Fall creators update.

How to Setup Continue on PC in Windows 10?

  • Windows 10 Fall creators update (version 1709 or above) PC.
  • Internet connection.
  • Microsoft Account
  • iPhone Or Android Smartphone device
  • Cellular Network Connection.
How to use Windows 10 Continue on PC on Android?
How to use Windows 10 Continue on PC on iPhone?
How to use Continue on PC in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update with your Android or iPhone?

The setup process is pretty much the same for both iPhone and Android. To do this, You will need,

Windows 10 Settings

Let us start from Windows 10, to begin, go to Windows Start Menu > Settings > Phone. 

Add a Phone Continue on PC

Now, Click Add a Phone. A dialog box will appear to confirm your phone number on your smartphone device. Select your Country code from the drop-down list and Enter your phone number. Now Click Send and wait for the confirmation message to be sent to your device.

Link Your Phone Continue On PC

The text message that you will receive will contain a link which redirects you to either Android Google Play Store or Apple iTunes store depending on the Smartphone device (Android or iPhone) from which you are opening the text message.

Continue on PC Link Your Phone

Tap the link in your text message. You will be redirected to Microsoft Launcher page in the specific App store. You can Download and install the iPhone app or Android app accordingly on your device OS. The Continue on PC option will always be available as long as you have opened the Microsoft apps at least once.

To start, Launch any web browser you want from your Andriod device. Here the default browser Google Chrome is chosen. Open any webpage you wish as you usually would. Now select, 3-dot menu > Share > Continue on PC.

Android Continue On PC

You will be presented with two options: Continue Now, Continue later. The Continue Now option will instantly open the webpage on your Windows 10 PC while the Continue Later option will set a reminder on your PC telling you about the operation for a later time.

Doing this process requires a Microsoft Account from which you use your Windows 10 PC. Note that this step is only necessary for the first time.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Continue On PC Edge

Sign in with Microsoft and enter your Microsoft Account email address and Password. After a few moments, the webpage will be opened in your Windows 10 default browser.

Using Continue on PC feature on your iPhone device requires a little different set of steps. To do this, Launch your Web browser. Similar to Android, we are using the default Safari browser for Apple iPhone.

After selecting the web page you want, Tap the Share button from the bottom panel of the browser and tap More. Now Enable the toggle option for Continue On PC from the lists and tap Done. Similar to the Android procedures, Tap on Continue on PC. This brings up the Continue now or Continue later option.

Noteworthy is that doing this process requires a Microsoft Account from which you use your Windows 10 PC. Note that this step is only necessary for the first time. Sign in with Microsoft and enter your Microsoft Account email address and Password. After a few moments, the webpage will be opened in your Windows 10 default browser.

So as we mentioned before, the Continue on PC feature in the new Windows 10 update shows us a glimpse of the future of portable and accessible computing. Though its availability was limited initially, the feature is gaining much-deserved attention over time.

Edited and published by Tech Support Wougnet and borrowed form MASHTIPS 

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January 2018: A Complete Guide to Windows 10 Backup Restore Options

This year we dont want to have you suffering from Data loss thats why, no matter how many layers of security have you set there is still a slight percentage of vulnerability. May it be a Ransomware attack or a sudden hard-drive failure, there is a chance of your files and data to get lost.So it is better to have a copy of your files backed up, and Windows has that covered with an in-built Backup option.

It is better to have a copy of your files backed up, and Windows has that covered with the inbuilt Backup option. It is a matter of few steps that let you take a complete backup of your PC. However, on Windows 10, Microsoft is giving you different choices to secure your data.

We recommend you to use dedicated external hard disks to backup your data. You can get a 2 TB External Hard disk from Amazon for less than 70 bucks. We do not recommend external SSDs for system backup, however, those who are looking for amazing speed and performance, there is Samsung 1TB SSD from Amazon.

We are going to list all the possible options on Windows 10 to Backup Restore your files, based on your choice, select the best one that matches your requirements.

Windows 10 File Backup

You will need an external storage device to back up your files. Once that is done head over to settings then to the Update & security section. From the left panel of the window that appears click on the Backup option which is right below the Windows Defender option.

Now select the Add a drive option with a ‘+’ symbol on its side to see all the external devices connected to your system (If you are setting for the first time). Select the preferred device, and the previous option ‘Add a drive‘, would be changed to ‘Automatically Backup My Files’ which is switched on by default.

Clicking the More options button provide you additional options such as Back up now, scheduling backup duration and how long to keep the backed up files. Also, there is an option to add other folders other than the files in Users folder of the system (the default file that would be backed up).

Now to restore the files backed up go to the Control Panel. In the Control Panel select ‘Save backup copies of your files with File History’ option under System and Security Section. From the section select the Restore personal files option.

Windows 10 System Image Backup

The above steps will back up your files, but it is still good to back up your system files/image. Thus if something is to happen to your system you will have a copy of your system image to get things done, without reinstalling the whole thing and with your settings.

To back up your system image click on the Go to Backup and Restore option in the Backup section that we have seen earlier. Click on the Set up backup option, this will prompt you to select a backup drive. After selecting the drive you prefer you can either let Windows choose what to back up or you can choose yourself.

If you let Windows to choose then the files will be saved on your desktop and also in your libraries. This can cause a shortage of storage space. To avoid this we could use the Let me choose an option.

Now click on the Save settings and run backup button, which will perform the first backup. Now we have to see how to restore the same.

Go to Settings then to Update & Security. From the side panel select the Recovery option. Then click on the Restart now button under the ‘Advanced startup’ section. Continue by selecting the system image preferred to restore

Windows 10 System Restore

System Restore is a feature in Windows 10 that helps you to resume from a previous working state. This is possible because Windows automatically saves restore points whenever a major change happens. These changes can be a Windows install or installation of an application so on. It is less likely to happen but if anything wrong happens to your system this feature helps to get back to a working state of the same.

Even though system restore is a useful feature it is off by default in Windows. So we have to turn it on manually. To turn on this feature open up the System Properties(use the search box) then go to the System Protection tab. Now click on the Configure button. Select the Turn on system protection option. You can also manage the amount of disk space used for system protection by adjusting the slider for ‘Max usage’. Then click OK.

If you wish to create a restore point manually click on the System Restore button in the System Properties wizard. Follow the on-screen instructions and at one point you will be prompted to select desired Restore Point.

Windows 10 System Repair drive

Windows has a provision to create a system repair drive which would help in troubleshooting or restore your computer. How to create a system repair drive? First, open up the Settings. Now type in the word ‘restore’ into the search box of the Settings page. From the suggestion list that appears, select the Create a recovery drive.

Now a Recovery Drive window will appear. Click on the Next button. The next window will inform the capacity required for the flash drive you are supposed to use. After connecting the USB drive click Next button.

The contents of your drive will be erased during the process, so you should be absolutely sure before you click the Create button. The creation of a recovery drive will start and will take some time to complete, but you can freely use your computer during that time.

These backup option is going to save your Windows machine. In case of any startup issue that cannot be resolved by Backup and Restore, we can use the system recovery drive by simply booting up the device from it. We can run diagnostic tools from the system recovery drive to find and resolve the issues.

Generated and edit by the Techsupport Department from MASHTIPS thanks for reading and happy new year.

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