Ask a Windows Expert – Week 5

It’s that time again and boy did we get a lot of questions! The Windows operating system is always a source of some of the most troubling questions mankind has ever had to ask, but we’re not fretting. Every question here is looked over by Windows experts and answered with dedication. To participate in Ask a Windows Expert, send an email to windows-help [at] or click the “Ask Our Experts Now” button at the top of every page on the site.

Now, without further ado, here are your answers!

Q: My computer just shuts down a few seconds after I turn it on. What’s up?

A: This isn’t exactly a Windows-related issue, but I think it’s important to include it in this part of the series. What you have is a hardware problem, usually motherboard or power supply-related. If your computer didn’t have any strange beeping noises – except for that one “everything’s OK” beep – then you can be sure it’s not a memory or display issue. Try swapping the power supply for one with higher wattage/amperage. If that doesn’t work, you should switch the motherboard. These are usually the culprits when your computer fails to initiate boot. While I might usually recommend swapping the BIOS, it’s more trouble than it’s worth to find one that your motherboard can use, and swapping the motherboard will make things better in the end. More details would have been more helpful, but I’m almost certain you have one of these two issues.

Q: I lost my product key. How do I recover it? I have Windows 7.

A: Unfortunately, product key recovery isn’t as straightforward as it used to be in Windows XP. You’ll have to download a tool for that. Try something like what this article suggests. Read the comments section if you are having trouble. Our community is usually very helpful with alternatives and instructions.

Q: My computer freezes after a while. The mouse is moving and icons on the taskbar glow when the mouse hovers over them, but nothing else responds. What could cause this problem?

A: This usually happens when a program is occupying a significant part of your memory or processing power, especially if you have a single-core processor. Press “Ctrl + Shift + Esc” on your keyboard. This opens the task manager directly. Click the “Processes” tab and click the “CPU” column until the small arrow next to its label points down. Check to see if a program is occupying 100 percent of your CPU. It will often occupy slightly less, but the number is usually ninety-ish. Right-click that program and click “End Task.”


Your computer could also be going through a memory leak from one program. In the task manager, you can sort the “Working Set (Memory)” column the same way you did with the “CPU” column. If a program is consistently allocating more and more memory in short spurts, you have a memory leak in that application. I suggest you discontinue use of any programs leaking memory. If you still have this freezing issue, consider scanning your computer for malware or upgrading your hardware. Malware can sometimes make your computer unresponsive because of the control it has on your network stack and operating system.

Q: What do I do when I try installing Windows 7 on a hard disk, the installer recognizes the disk, but still gives me this error: Setup was unable to create a system partition or locate an existing partition?

A: Uhh… That usually doesn’t happen when Windows 7’s installer recognizes the disk. However, I think you have an existing partition formatted under a file system that Windows doesn’t already recognize. Either that, or you’re installing an edition of Windows 7 that doesn’t have the chunk address allocation capacity necessary for a disk that size. In the first scenario, you’ll just need to delete the current partition and create a new one. In the second scenario, split the disk into smaller partitions below 300 GB. If all that doesn’t work, swap the hard disk for another one and try partitioning it. If you don’t have a spare disk, you’ll need to take it to the shop and let them see what’s up. They’ll do this for you.

Q: I’m getting a blue screen when overclocking my CPU, but the temperature’s just fine. Why’s this happening?

A: If you have locked cores that you unlocked on the CPU, and overclock the whole CPU a certain amount, you might not have a good response from the system. No matter what people tell you, the CPU might be designed for its advertised speed. Having multiple cores overclocked can be kind of dangerous, because not all of them will use the CPU’s cache like they should. This might create a conflict that makes your computer go berzerk. Roll back the changes and see how it runs. Come back here and comment if you find that your CPU’s still going crazy. Remember: Even if the temperature’s low, that doesn’t indicate that everything’s OK in the inner workings of your CPU.

Q: My hard drive icons on the “Computer” window now have a red “X” next to them. The hard drives are fine, but the icon is annoying me. How do I change it back?

A: This red “X” must have been placed by some third-party software, as it’s not a native Windows behavior. I’m assuming that this is what you’re talking about:


Here’s a solution for your particular problem:

Note: If you already see a particular key that we’re asking you to create, don’t create it. Simply, navigate to it and continue.

1: Press “Win + R” on your keyboard. You should see a “Run” window.

2: Type “regedit” and press “Enter.”

3: Navigate to the following path in your registry editor:


Under “Drives,” check what letters are there. If you find a letter corresponding to a drive that has a red “X” icon, then delete it. This will restore the icon to default.

Got a Question?

Don’t forget to submit your question to windows-help [at]!¬†Alternatively, click the “Ask Our Experts Now” button on the top right-hand side of this site!

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