So you are having problems with your PC, Windows is not performing properly for you, and you just have no idea where to start. Finding these Windows problems is not always so easy but if you know where to look and what to look for the repair can be fairly easy.
The first thing you must do is to troubleshoot the problem. You must determine what is causing the problem and when it happens. On the large picture there is only three things that are going to cause your problem, hardware, the file system, or the Registry; however all three could be the problem. I know, I have not helped you yet, but stay with me and I will explain.
Let's first assume that you already had Windows installed and it was working fine previously. Then one day your Windows problem appeared. Now the first thing we need to do is to determine when the problem first appeared. Let's assume it started this morning when you first boot up your computer.
If you get Stop Errors or Protection Errors while you are booting up, you got some kind of hardware problem. Did you install any new hardware? Did you update of change any drivers? Did you install any new software? This is going to be a File System problem, an incompatible driver is loading, or your hardware is failing. You can safely rule out the Windows Registry, unless someone changed some setting.
Now let's assume that when you click on a doc file your word processor gives you and error message about some file causing an unknown error. Normally I would say that the file got corrupted, but it could be just a registry setting that got altered by some program.
Here is a good example, the other day a friend called me asking if I could come by his house to look at a computer problem. When I got there he explained that he could no longer open any of his doc files. I asked what he had installed recently, when did the problem start and did he notice any other errors besides opening his doc files. The answer was yes he installed some software for his DSL just the day before the problem appeared, and he has only noticed this one problem.
So I sat down and told him to show me what he is doing to get the error message. Well, he opened his Documents folder doubled clicked on a doc file and a word processor opened with some error message about some file Mscnv832 cause an error. I looked at the Icon next to the doc file and noticed it was not a MS Word Icon. I then asked what program he uses for doc files, and he replied Star Office.
So I opened the program by clicking on its shortcut, the program opened fine, no errors. So I sat back and gave it a little thought. It must be the Mscnv832 file is corrupt or it is calling some other file that is corrupt. I cannot picture a DSL program changing any Word Processor files. So I open the Mscnv832 file in notepad to see what files it is going to call to ask for help. The file will need to include any dll files in a string format, this will made their name readable in notepad. However, there where none, so now the only thing that it could be is the file Mscnv832, right? Wrong! So I opened his doc file using the File Open method in his word processor, it worked perfectly. So I closed it and went back to double clicking on the file. The error was there. I viewed the Icon for the file and it was correct, I then said it a file association problem, a Registry problem.
Now how did I figure that out? Well the Icon is correct, so the Registry must be correct, no, you would be wrong if you make that assumption. Only the Icon association is correct. I double click on the doc file again and this time I look at the Window title bar and saw the word Wordpad. Both the word processors looked the same, but the title bars tell me something else. So now I open Wordpad with its shortcut, used the File open method and got the same error.
I then opened the Registry and went to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.doc to see what the value was, it was WordPad.Document.1. Well this is the problem, his DSL program or someone has changed the program used to open his doc files without change the Icon. Not changing the Icon is not the problem, that only made it less obvious to find the problem. Wordpad just cannot read a Star Office doc file, we all shoud learn that. The method I used to fix the problem is not the recommended way, I simply went to the Key HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Wordpad.Document.1\Shell\Open\Command and changed the value to point to his Star Office file. He never know he had Wordpad to begin with, so why confuse him.
If you where going to fix this you should hold the Shift Key down and right click a doc file, select Open With and file the correct program.