Remember the file sharing application Kazaa? I remember when I first discovered it. I regularly went on music-downloading binges, thinking that I was getting free music with no strings attached. Or so I thought. Soon after bulking up my hard drive with downloads, loading a simple website like grew to become a thirty-second process, and I found a new ability to take care of household chores while waiting for my favorite applications to open up.

Someone finally broke the news to me. Apparently, there is no free lunch when it comes to downloading music. A nasty little virus was tagging along behind each new mp3 I downloaded. A friend offered to reformat the hard drive on my computer.

“Will I lose all my music?” I asked.

“Yep – but you really have no choice,” was the response. I cried myself to sleep that night.

Turns out, I may have been able to save my many cherished pop punk mp3s if I had sought professional IT help. Viruses, malware, corrupted file systems, a system crash; these are a few things that can make your computer act funky and require reformatting the hard drive. I recently interviewed Michael Thomas, owner of A+ Mobile PC Doctors, and asked him what he does when a computer needs its hard drive reformatted.

1. Consider if there are files that need to be recovered or existing software license keys that are needed once reformat/reinstallation is complete (e.g. Security/Anti-Virus software, etc.). If so, take Data Backup steps and recover license keys if possible – once data is backed up:

2. Run Reformat/Reinstallation process

3. Load NIC Driver

4. Install Security Software: pre-existing or  AVG (AVG FREE – if doesn’t have a paid version)

5. Connect Internet connection, launch browser and validate security software

6. Update security software but DO NOT run system scan

7. Load all SYSTEM drivers (not peripherals such as printers, cameras, etc.)

8. Perform Windows Updates using Custom Selection (DO NOT Install IEv8, and do not remind about this installation again)

9. Install Firefox, Adobe Acrobat Reader (free), Adobe Flash (free)

10. Install CD burning software if customer has it

11. Install MS OFFICE if customer has CD. If installing MS Office 2003, then install MS Office Compatibility Pack

12. Configure desktop (properties) to show My Documents, My Computer & My Network Place. Also ad d the Quick Launch to the Windows Nav Bar, and if installing MS Office, add shortcuts for Word, Excel, PPT & Outlook

13. Check power settings, screen saver and wallpaper

14. Install any specialty software at customer’s request (e.g. QuickBooks, etc.)

15. Reinstall data from data backup once data is cleansed of malware

Only a professional computer repair company like A+ Mobile PC Doctors will have the knowledge and expertise to back up your data, isolate the problem, and reinstall the data in good condition. And a bit of advice for music junkies – stay away from file-sharing applications like Kazaa. They’re always a bad idea.