Q: Microsoft told me that I need a new hard drive for my Windows 7 laptop. Should I buy a new hard drive or a new computer? I don’t want Windows 10.
Alicia Vidal, West Miami, Fla.
A: Buy a new hard drive. It will cost $40 to $60 plus the labor to install it, which is cheaper than purchasing a new computer. And it would be hard for you to find a new PC that doesn’t come with Windows 10.
I recommend that a repair shop replace the drive. Once done, there are two ways to install Windows 7 on it.
If the current hard drive is still functioning, the shop may be able to make a “system image” of it and transfer that to the new hard drive. The system image would include both Windows 7 and any data that’s on the current hard disk. (For details on how this process works, see tinyurl.com/ycnyg4jk).
If the current hard drive isn’t working, you’ll have to pay the shop to install a new copy of Windows 7, which either you or the shop can buy online for about $25 (search Google for “buy Windows 7”). Once the new copy of Windows 7 is installed, you can copy any data backups of the original hard disk to the new one. Any programs you used that weren’t part of Windows will have to be reinstalled on the new hard drive.
Q: I’d like to dispose of an old desktop PC running Windows Vista. How can I erase or destroy the hard disk drive before recycling the PC? And where can I find a recycler that will take it?
Bill Page, Eden Prairie
A: You can either erase the hard disk with “data destruction” software or you can remove the hard disk from the PC and drill a couple of holes in it. Either way, the disk becomes unreadable.
For a list of free data destruction programs, see tinyurl.com/lfus4gt. You’ll need to download the software to a USB flash drive or CD disk, then boot (or start up) the PC from that device. (For directions on how to boot a PC from a flash drive or CD drive, see tinyurl.com/nd6qvhd).
To find computer recycling firms near you, do a Google search for “computer recycling” and your ZIP code.
Q: We received a new wireless router from our internet service provider, and now our HP wireless printer can’t connect to Wi-Fi. What can we do?
Lori Vinland, San Diego
A: Your new router is using different network settings than your previous one did. To enable your printer to connect, restore it to its default settings and run its setup software again. On most HP printers, you can do this through the setup menu on the printer’s screen. After you select the setup menu, choose the “wireless or network” option. In the resulting menu, choose to restore the default network settings. Then turn off the printer, turn it on again and use the printer’s screen to start the “wireless setup wizard.”
Q: Whenever I type messages, my cursor skips all over and even hops from one window to another. I use a mouse exclusively. What’s wrong?
Mary Bickerstaffe, Alton Bay, N.H.
A: Be sure the mouse’s optical sensor isn’t obscured. Try plugging it into a different USB port. For more hints, see tinyurl.com/yc2lg354.
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