We’ve come to the 15th week running of Ask a Windows Expert, where you ask a question and we get an expert on the case to give you a fully-researched and concise answer to your issues or curiosities. No matter how complex the question, our answers will always cover everything that you need to know about your particular inquiry. As long as you’re here, if you want to submit your own question, just click the “Ask Our Experts Now!” button on the right sidebar of any page of this site. Now, let’s get on the grind with some of your questions!
Q: Windows is not seeing my DVD drive when I plug it in. I run Vista 32-bit on a notebook. How can I get it to detect this drive?
A: When Windows isn’t detecting a drive, it’s possible that the drive requires some drivers from the manufacturer in order to function. Have you tried another spare DVD drive to see if Windows detects that one? Try opening your device manager (Start -> Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Device Manager) and finding the drive within it. If you don’t find it, there’s something wrong with the connection. It should show up even if Windows didn’t find drivers for it.
If you see the drive, right-click it and click “Scan for hardware changes,” like so:
If this doesn’t work, try uninstalling the current driver and attempt to scan for changes again. You know it worked when you see a message on the right-hand side of your taskbar saying “Device driver software installed successfully.”
Q: What Can I Use to Restore My System to a Previous State?
A: If you haven’t made any image of your system to restore to, you won’t be able to restore your system to a previous state using any software offered on the market. All system restoration software requires that you create a restoration image using their software. Some of them use similar restore images.
I highly suggest, for future reference, that you use Microsoft System Restore, offered in Windows XP and later. You can find this utility by accessing your Start menu, clicking “All Programs,” clicking “Accessories,” clicking “System Tools,” and clicking “System Restore.” Within this program, you can create system restore points and recover from them. Create a restore point every time you install a new application so that you can restore to any point prior to the application installation. These are best practices for system restoration in any version of Windows from XP and beyond. Have a look:
Q: How can I install Windows XP through a flash drive?
A: First of all, you need a flash drive large enough to hold all the installation files. You also need a flash drive that is bootable. It’s safe to assume you’re trying to install XP on a netbook. You will need a desktop PC or laptop with CD/DVD drive to create the bootable flash drive. Here are some simple steps for bootable USB Nirvana:
- Download and install “A Bootable USB” from this link.
- Click “Check USB” and “Format USB” while the USB drive is connected to your computer.
- Insert the Windows XP installation CD into the computer’s CD/DVD drive. Click “Check DVD” and “Start DVD.” This will begin the process of writing the DVD onto the USB drive and making the flash drive bootable.
All your problems will be solved by this little utility:
Q: My pictures are showing up as icons instead of showing me thumbnails. How can I fix this? I’m running Windows 7 64-bit.
A: Someone must have switched your folder options to show the icons representing the file type instead of preview thumbnails. To fix this, click “Organize” on the upper left-hand corner of the folder’s container, like this:
Once you see the menu, select “Folder and Search Options.” Click the “View” tab and then clear the checkbox next to “Always show icons, never thumbnails.” This should solve your problem fair and square.
Q: I installed Windows XP on my computer that already had Windows 7 in it. Now, the computer only starts with Windows XP, although I’m certain that both operating systems are intact. How can I create a boot menu for both these systems?
A: If you’re not familiar with using MSConfig and other utilities to properly detect both operating systems and fix the boot loader manually, you can always use EasyBCD, a program that lets you completely modify the boot loader as you wish without having to go through all the painful steps you normally would go through. You can download EasyBCD from here. Take note that you must scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose the non-commercial license (unless, of course, you’re downloading it for corporate use). This way, the license will be free. Don’t get scared by the “Buy Now” button near the top of the page.
Q: I get an error saying: The Windows Installer service is unavailable. Another application may be running setup. Finish and installations in progress, or restart your computer, and then re-run setup. How do I stop this?
A: Attempt to stop the Windows Installer service and start it again. Click the “Start” menu and type “
services.msc” on the bottom, then press “Enter.” This will take you to the “Services” window. Just scroll down to “Windows Installer,” right-click it, and stop the service. Start the service using the same method. Once the service is started, it should no longer give you trouble.
If you continue having problems, your computer might be attempting to install updates on your computer. Install the updates, shut down, and try installing an application again. This often is the case.
Q: I run Windows on a multiple monitor setup. Whenever I press “Print Screen” on my keyboard, I want to get an image only of the currently selected monitor. How can I do this without having to edit the second monitor out of paint?
A: Try “Alt+LShift+PrtSc/Print Screen.” This combination gets the display input from the currently active monitor. If that key somehow isn’t working here, come back and we’ll talk in the comments section.
Got Your Own Question?
As we’ve mentioned above, you can submit your own query to us using the “Ask Our Experts Now” button at the right sidebar of any page of this site. If you would like to discuss a question already mentioned here, please use the comments section instead of making another inquiry. Have a Win-tastic day!