Simple Fixes for Hard Drive and Folder Annoyances

You hit your PC's power button, and instead of seeing the familiar Windows logo, you get a boot-failure message. You could throw yourself in front of a moving truck--or maybe just read my quick fix. I also show you how to repair dopey folder icons and how to cleanly uninstall unwanted programs.

My PC Won't Boot (OMG!)

The Hassle: I booted my laptop only to see this message: "Boot Failure: System Halted." I've tried every partition recovery program under the sun, but my notebook still won't boot. H-e-l-p!

The Fix: Stay calm. Somehow the laptop's BIOS isn't able to identify your hard drive's partition. But chances are good you can fix it. First, boot to the BIOS (press Del or F10 as you boot) and jot down the current settings. Then find the option to set the BIOS back to the default. It's usually the menu item on the far right. Reboot and keep your fingers crossed.

If that doesn't work, grab a copy of the free DTIData NTFS Recovery Repair tool. It lets you repair the boot sector and make the drive bootable again. Before you start, however, it's essential to read the instructions found here and here.

Program Folder Opens at Startup

The Hassle: When I boot my system, an Explorer folder pops open on the desktop for the VMWare virtualization app I recently in­stalled. Where's this folder coming from--and how do I stop it?

The Fix: You'll need to go on a treasure hunt to find where the program's folder is loading. The first spot to look is in Scheduled Tasks (from Control Panel). Not there? See if a shortcut with the program's folder resides in the Startup folder (Start, Programs, Startup). No luck? Then use WinPatrol, a free utility for removing background programs, and see if it's listed. If it is, use WinPatrol's Remove feature. (Click here to download WinPatrol.)

My guess, though, is that Windows is trying to read a Registry entry with an incorrect value, likely a string that contains spaces but is not surrounded by quotation marks. Windows is reading only part of the path, so it opens up a folder on the desktop.

Try adding quote marks at the start and end of a problem folder's path in the System Registry to make that folder quit popping up at startup.
You can manually massage this Registry entry by opening RegEdit (Start, Run, type regedit, and press Enter). Next, use Control-F to search for the path you see in the Explorer folder that appears on your desktop. This path will look similar to 'C:\Program Files\VMware Workstation\vmware.exe' with a space separating other characters, such as '%1', if they appear. In the right-hand panel, double-click the item and add quote marks to the start and end of the path. You may have additional flawed Registry entries if the problem is not resolved. Some fun, eh?

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