Fixing broken Windows

by Ed Sawicki

broken Windows icon

Ever since the mid- to late-1980s, when your Microsoft Windows computer broke, often due to a virus or malware infection, what did you do with it? There was no such thing as a Microsoft Store until about 2009 and, even today, there are far fewer of these stores than Apple stores.

Before the stores and perhaps even today, there were not a lot of places to get inexpensive help. There are lots of stories about people who called The Geek Squad to take care of virus infections and paid over $300 for the service call.

There are about 479 Apple stores worldwide. Microsoft has about 116 stores.

People who tried to fix the computer themselves had to jump through a lot of hoops. First, they had to find the repair CDROM that may have been shipped with the computer. If it wasn't shipped with the computer, you had to find out how to get one. You usually had to pay for it. Then you spent time reinstalling Windows on a freshly wiped hard disk. It was not rare to have to download drivers for your particular computer from the Internet. It often took more than one full day to get the computer working.

Those of us who switched to Apple computers didn't have these problems. Apple computers are far less vulnerable to viruses and malware. If our computer broke, we took it back to Apple for repair at lower repair costs. So what's a poor Windows PC owner to do when it breaks?

Switch to Apple

If your Windows PC is a notebook computer, you can replace it with an Apple notebook. Apple Macbooks are sweet computers but their purchase price may seem steep but remember that the purchase price may be your total cost of ownership though.

A Windows PC has extra costs to add-on. You need the extra-cost virus scanner and the annual subscription to keep it current. Then there's that service fee for repairing your Windows computer when it becomes infected because the virus scanner didn't stop it. You may have to purchase a copy of Microsoft Office. The total cost of ownership of a Windows PC may easily be more than the Apple Macbook.

If your Windows PC is a desktop computer, where the monitor, keyboard, and mouse are external to the computer, you can buy a Mac mini (shown below). This is a small box that contains the actual computer. You can still use your existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse from your broken Windows PC. The Mac mini starts at $499.

Apple Mac mini

Switch to Chrome

I predict that you'll like this. You can repair your virus-infected Windows computer by turning it into a Chrome computer. There is an open source version of Chrome OS, called Chromium OS, that is freely available. You can download it from sites on the Internet and install it on your broken Windows PC. It will then behave as a Chrome computer.

Chromium OS won't provide all the features of a Chrome computer but you'll have most. For example, a Chromium OS PC will not startup in under 10 seconds. My Dell Optiplex 990 computer takes one minute and 13 seconds to startup Chromium OS instead of under 10 seconds with a real Chrome computer.

Similarly, the Web browser supplied is not the Chrome browser that you'd install on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. It's the open source equivalent called Chromium. It has most of the features of Chrome but some features may be missing or not work as well.

One of the simplest ways of installing Chromium OS on your broken Windows PC is to use the software called CloudReady from Neverware. If you use the software for your personal use, it is free. If it's for your work, it costs $49 per computer per year.

You can check this Web page to see if your computer is certified to work with CloudReady. Clicking this link opens the page in a new tab. Close that tab when you're finished. Come back here by clicking the "Fixing broken Windows" tab.

Neverware

Click the logo above to go to the Neverware Web site for details and to download the software. You'll need an 8 GB USB flash drive to copy the software to. You then plug the flash drive into your broken Windows PC, then boot from the flash drive. Documentation on the Neverware site tells you how to do this. When it boots up, you select an item in a menu to install the software on the computer's hard disk. That wipes away all of the Windows software, viruses, and your data from the hard disk.

Copyright © 2016 by Ed Sawicki