This HP Computer Survival Guide was created for those HP users out there that are either trying to recover from a system crash or are waiting for the inevitable and paralyzed with fear because they will not know what to do when it happens. You have no Windows install disk, after all. What will happen to your pictures, your music, your entire computer? Will you be forced to take it into the shop, or will you be forced to break down and buy a new PC?
This guide will cover a wide range of ways to troubleshoot and repair your HP computer. It will explain some of the things you need to do immediately to begin taking control of your computing destiny.
Note: These tactics may not work with your HP. Depending on the age of your computer, the keystrokes might be different. It’s always best to seek out the owners manual on the HP website for your specific machine.
How To Run HP Diagnostics
Unfortunately, in order to keep your computer out of the shop, normal users need to become bonafide PC technicians. That’s not such a bad thing. If you can diagnose hardware problems with your computer, you can proactively repair the computer and save yourself money. The good news is, HP provides you with a couple of ways to take the mystery out of hardware troubleshooting your computer.
Online HP Diagnostics
If you can get online, visit the HP Online Diagnostics site to test your computer. Follow the onscreen prompts and if there are any issues with your HP computer, the test will show you.
System Diagnostics are built-in tests that allow you to run diagnostic tests to determine if the computer hardware is functioning properly. To begin system diagnostics, try the following:
1. Turn on or restart the computer. While the “Press the ESC key for Startup Menu” message is displayed in the lower-left corner of the screen, press the esc key. When the Startup Menu is displayed, press f2.
2. Click the diagnostic test you want to run, and then follow the on-screen instructions.
Creating HP Recovery Media
Unless your computer came with recovery disks (which most do not these days) you will need to create these disks. It’s best to do this as soon as you possibly can after purchasing your computer. Create these disks, and put them in a safe place–preferably with your other HP computer documentation. You will need blank CDs or DVDs to complete this process. To create these disks, do the following:
1. Select Start and type “recovery” in the search field. Select Recovery Manager from the list.
2. Click Recovery Media Creation.
3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the task.
Windows Backup and Restore
It is important to have a backup of your files in case your computer ever crashes. While there are numerous ways to do this, you can perform this action easily within Windows 7 by creating a backup using Windows Backup and Restore. You can select the level you want to back up, from individual folders to drives. The backups are compressed to save space.
To back up your files in Windows, do the following:
1. Select Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore.
2. Follow the on-screen instructions to schedule and create a backup.
Try A Windows System Restore To Fix Your HP Computer
System Restore is a functionality within Windows and should not be confused with System Recovery, which is a functionality within HP. A system restore should be one of the first things you attempt to fix your computer–no matter what brand of PC you have. It is non-destructive to personal data and will usually fix problems associated with drivers or system files that have become corrupt or changed since the computer was last working properly. You can restore the computer to a previous system restore point (created at an earlier date and time) if you are having problems with your computer.
To restore to a previous system restore point, when the computer was running correctly:
1. Select Start > Control Panel > System and Security > System.
2. In the left pane, click System Protection.
3. Click the System Protection tab.
4. Click System Restore, and follow the on-screen instructions.
Recovering Your HP Using The Recovery Media
You are about to delete all of the files on your computer because you have exhausted every other means to fix your system. By using the HP Recovery Media, you will be reverting your system back to factory condition. To perform this operation, do the following:
1. If possible, back up all personal files.
2. Insert the first recovery disc into the optical drive on your computer or an optional external optical drive, and then restart the computer.
– or –
If you created your recovery media on a USB drive, insert the recovery flash drive into a USB port on your computer, and then restart the PC.
NOTE: If the computer does not automatically restart in HP Recovery Manager, change the computer boot order. See instructions on how to do that below.
3. Press f9 at system bootup.
4. Select the optical drive or the flash drive.
5. Follow the on-screen instructions.
How To Change The Boot Order On Your HP Computer
Normally, when your computer boots up, the BIOS will immediately look at the hard drive since that is where the Operating System is stored. Occasionally, however, you need to BIOS to look at other devices first and now load the Operating System. In the case of using your HP recovery media, we need to instruct the BIOS to look at another drive in order to initiate the HP recovery media. To change the boot order for recovery discs, do the following:
1. Restart the computer.
2. Press the esc key while the computer is restarting, and then press f9 for boot options.
3. Select Internal CD/DVD ROM Drive from the boot options window.
To change the boot order for a recovery flash drive:
1. Insert the flash drive into a USB port.
2. Restart the computer.
3. Press esc while the computer is restarting, and then press f9 for boot options.
4. Select the flash drive from the boot options window.
Hit the F10 ket to save and exit. The computer will reboot and launch the recovery media you have in the drive without loading the Windows Operating System.
Tips To Help You and Your HP Computer
If you read our forums or comments on some of our other HP articles, you will realize the process for recovering your HP to a working state doesn’t always work. Sometimes people using the recovery media will get to a certain point in the precess where the system hangs and never finishes. This is essentially the end of the line for most people since they have no other means to reinstall their Operating System. To avoid this, it’s not a bad idea to try the following:
1. Make sure you remove any peripherals or hardware that did not originally come with the computer. At a certain point in the recovery process, Windows will find all of the hardware in your computer and install drivers provided on the HP disk. Naturally, the HP media will not contain drivers for hardware you have installed after the fact. So to avoid any conflicts, unplug any cameras, scanners, printers, etc.
2. If your system hasn’t already crashed, consider cloning your drive using a program like Acronis True Image 2013 –a program that performs full-image backups and restores your entire system. You can use an external drive like the Western Digital My Passport 1 to store your image.
3. You can also use a program like Reimage. Reimage is able to scan and fix bad system files using its clean database of Windows files. If you have a damaged system file, Reimage finds it and replaces it, fixing your system.
Read our other HP articles if your specific issue has not been addressed in this guide. Or visit our forums and post a question there.