Why does my computer keep asking me to insert the boot drive?

Episode 998

Lee from Big Bear, CA

Lee has an old Gateway computer and when he did the latest Windows update, it got stuck. Now it won't work at all. It keeps asking to insert the boot drive.

Leo says it sounds like the hard drive has failed. Lee should reformat the hard drive and upgrade to Windows 7. If the hard drive is dead, they're cheap. So he could get another one and upgrade to Windows 7. Can he boot from the CD? Leo says yes, but it'll be running the Windows installer. Then he can format the hard drive from there. The key is to start fresh.

How do I transfer my programs from my old computer to a new one?

Episode 997

Bob from Manhattan Beach, CA

Bob wants to know if Laplink is still around. He wants to move his Windows settings and programs from one computer to another. Leo says he has a hunch that Laplink isn't around anymore, but Microsoft has a connection and transfer utility called the "EZ Transfer Wizard" that does the job rather nicely.

Leo says that in general, when getting a new computer, he should go with the most recent OS. Some of his old programs may not work under Windows 8, though.

What's the difference between backup and imaging?

Episode 996

Phil from Newport Beach, CA

Bill wants to know if Windows backup is as good as options like TruImage. Leo says that they do two different things.

TruImage is just a snapshot of the hard drive that can be restored should something go wrong and he needs to get it back fast. Backing up is just making another copy of his data somewhere. Both have merit and both should be used, but one does not replace the other.

Here are some great backup programs:

How can I backup apps on my computer?

Episode 990

Victor from California

Victor would like to include applications in his backup. Leo says that's not very effective and doesn't really work well. He'd want to save the data, not the apps. He can always reinstall apps. Programs may claim to do it, but when restoring, he may run into issues. Backing up apps is also time consuming.

If he wants to do this, imaging the whole hard drive is a good option. This would save the entire computer's setup to be restored later.

Imaging options include:

What's the best way to take a backup of my Mac with me?

Episode 988

Andrea from Los Angeles, CA

Andrea is moving to Europe and is getting her Mac Mini ready by backing it up with Time Machine. She'd like to get an iPad and restore the data from her Mac to that. Leo says that won't work because they are two different platforms. A MacBook Air is a good solution, though. She wants to wait to buy a laptop until after she moves, though. She could just take the drive with all of her backed up data, and then just restore that to the Mac she gets in Germany.

What's the difference between cloning my hard drive and backing up?

Episode 985

Richard from Lake Forest, CA

Richard wants to know about cloning his hard drive. He backs up religiously, but his concern is that it doesn't back up his computer's setup the way he wants it. Leo says that's exactly what cloning is for. He doesn't have to clone all of his data, though. A disc imaging program is part of an overall backup strategy, but he can focus on how the computer is configured. It'll clone everything, including data, so he could partition the drive or put his actual data on a separate drive. Then he can clone one partition or drive and skip the data, which he would have backed up elsewhere.

How can I get rid of malware?

Episode 964

David from Los Angeles, CA

David's computer runs Windows 7 Home Premium. Lately, he's getting a lot of failure messages. He ran MalwareBytes and has stopped malware that was running. Leo says that Malware Bytes may have taken out system files that the malware has attached it to. Leo suggests using the recovery discs that David can burn from his computer and then just start over. Back up the data, then restore from those recovery discs. That will format the drive and re-install Windows.

How do I reinstall Windows?

Episode 954

Paul from Redondo Beach, CA

Paul has taken on the task of repairing his sister's computer, which has had registry errors. He tried reinstalling Windows, but may have messed it up.

Leo suggests backing up the data, wiping the entire drive and then reinstalling Windows. He should watch carefully during the install process, and at one point he'll have a chance to re-partition the drive. He'll want to delete all existing partitions so there's one C drive. Format it NTFS and install Windows on it.

How can I get my laptop to recognize a hard drive?

Western Digital Hard Drive

Episode 954

Naomi from Denver, CO

Naomi has put a hard drive into her laptop and the laptop won't recognize it. Leo says that if the hard drive can't be seen in her laptop, or another computer, there's a very good chance it's dead. Naomi says the drive spins up, though. Leo says that's a good thing, maybe running SpinRite would fix it. But if the computer doesn't see it at all, SpinRite won't help. Time to take it to a pro, but there's a good chance it's just a dead drive.