Questions tagged [community-faq]

These questions have been selected by the community as high-quality posts with generalized answers to questions which come up frequently on Super User. They are more canonical answers which can apply to many different variations on a topic.

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Computer doesn't boot up, shows PXE error and/or "operating system not found", "no bootable device", "insert boot media", or other similar error

My computer no longer boots Windows or the installed operating system. Instead, I may get this error: PXE-E61: Media test failure, check cable -or- Check cable connection! PXE-M0F: Exiting PXE ROM. ...
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  • 44.8k
50 votes
3 answers
70k views

What can I do if my USB flash drive is write-protected or read-only?

When I plug in my USB flash drive, it shows up on my computer as write-protected or read-only. I am unable to transfer data to it, nor can I modify or delete any files already stored on it. I also ...
user avatar
  • 44.8k
44 votes
4 answers
312k views

USB flash drive not working or is appearing as an empty disk drive, Disk Management reports "No Media" with 0 bytes size

I have a USB flash drive which is no longer recognized by my computer. Windows Disk Management and DiskPart report No Media with no storage space (0 bytes) on the drive and I cannot partition or ...
user avatar
  • 44.8k
3 votes
1 answer
14k views

Why does my computer beep when I turn it on? What are these beep codes?

Due to the amount of beep codes a PC can give, there are many questions on Super User about beep codes! I'm hoping this post will help to provide a community answer about all (dare I say all?) beep ...
user avatar
  • 25.1k
28 votes
2 answers
2k views

How do I identify hardware I am unfamiliar with on my computer?

How would I go about identifying a port, card or connector on my system which I am unfamiliar with? Where would I find information on what these parts are? What would be the steps I would take in ...
user avatar
  • 124k
39 votes
5 answers
15k views

Why are newer generations of processors faster at the same clock speed?

Why, for example, would a 2.66 GHz dual-core Core i5 be faster than a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo, which is also dual-core? Is this because of newer instructions that can process information in fewer clock ...
user avatar
  • 7,598
5 votes
3 answers
6k views

I don't have a touchscreen. How can I do gestures on my Windows 8 laptop's touchpad?

I just got a new Windows 8 laptop, but it doesn't have a touchscreen, and it seems like a lot of the gestures are designed for touchscreens, and not current mice & touchpads. Is there a way to use ...
user avatar
  • 3,647
7 votes
3 answers
5k views

How do I recover or "undelete" files that I accidentally deleted?

I've accidentally deleted some really important files on my machine, and I'm looking to find out how to recover them. Using the Trash bins "restore" isn't an option, as the files aren't there (mostly ...
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  • 25.9k
17 votes
2 answers
62k views

My keyboard is typing by itself, could there be a ghost in it?

The keyboard on my laptop seems to be typing by itself: It sometimes types characters like 134, whether by itself or when I hit certain keys. Repeating characters may appear unexpectedly. The system ...
user avatar
  • 44.8k
6 votes
1 answer
453 views

How can I tell which versions of Windows 8 a program will work on?

I've heard that there are two versions of Windows 8, and that some programs will only work on certain versions. What are the different versions of Windows 8, and how can I tell whether a particular ...
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  • 36.6k
52 votes
5 answers
8k views

What is the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT?

I was reading the specs about MS Surface and saw that there are two Models offered. One with Windows RT and one with Windows 8 Pro. I'm wondering what's the difference between those two OS?
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  • 1,146
26 votes
1 answer
48k views

How to Diagnose a Pre-Operating System Load or Hardware Issue

How can I find out if my problem is hardware based? If it is, how can I figure out what component is to blame How can I fix other pre-operating system issues? As an aside, what are all of these ...
4 votes
3 answers
9k views

How can I know I'm buying a heatsink that will work with my CPU?

How can I find out what CPU heatsink and fan will work for my system? If a system is shutting down after being used extensively for gaming or other intensive activities, I would assume it is over ...
user avatar
6 votes
7 answers
33k views

Why do applications "need to close" or "stop working", and what can I do about it?

While I use a application, the following error message appears (depending on the version of Windows): Windows XP [application name] has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for ...
user avatar
126 votes
1 answer
19k views

Windows Activation FAQ: How do language, version, 64-bit or 32-bit, and source affect ability to install and transfer Windows licenses?

We get a lot of questions on Super User about Windows activation and licensing. This question is an attempt to answer the most common questions in one place with a canonical answer. When reinstalling ...
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  • 36.6k
71 votes
5 answers
14k views

What do I need to consider when buying hardware to meet my needs?

I'm looking to build a new computer from the ground up. I'm not sure what to look out for and need guidance and help on how to pick the hardware needed to construct my new rig. How do I know what to ...
393 votes
5 answers
943k views

What are PATH and other environment variables, and how can I set or use them?

Questions about setting environment variables the PATH are very common here, and in most cases the answers are very similar to each other. In the future it would be nice to have a good Q/A for this....
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  • 211k
234 votes
1 answer
502k views

What is port forwarding and what is it used for?

There are a lot of questions on 'port forwarding', but there doesn't seem to be one that clearly states what it is and what it's used for. So: What is port forwarding? What is it used for, and why ...
16 votes
3 answers
10k views

What should a person know before assembling their first computer?

For people who are setting out to build a computer for the first time, there's a lot of information on this site about how to choose an appropriate set of components. But after searching for a while, ...
44 votes
9 answers
212k views

How do I determine which graphics card I'm using?

I recently read this answer on Gaming.SE, which made me realize that I actually have no idea how to tell which graphics card I have in my PC. Where can I find this information?
user avatar
39 votes
4 answers
3k views

How do I troubleshoot when I have no clue where to start?

I am looking for hints, tips and answers on how to get started on troubleshooting when: The problem is intermittent The problem could lie literally anywhere - operating system; free source software; ...
user avatar
52 votes
4 answers
19k views

How do I recover lost/inaccessible data from my storage device?

What steps can I take to try to recover lost or inaccessible data from any storage device? Answers: This applies to any computer storage device, e.g. internal/external hard drives, USB sticks, flash ...
57 votes
4 answers
32k views

How do I diagnose not being able to reach a specific website as an end user?

If I can generally reach web pages on the Internet but can't reach a specific one, how do I troubleshoot what the cause is as an end user? This question was a Super User Question of the Week. ...
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  • 3,999
3 votes
2 answers
3k views

How do computers boot?

How does a computer boot and how does this differ for Windows, Linux and other OSes?
22 votes
6 answers
61k views

Where should I find drivers for my Windows computer if it didn't come with a driver disk?

I had to reformat my machine because I had a virus. My machine did not come with a driver disk. How can I install drivers after having reinstalled Windows?
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  • 221
22 votes
3 answers
35k views

How do I troubleshoot hardware issues related to a computer freeze/crash?

What are some common guidelines and issues related to hardware being the issue of a computer crash? What should I look for and how do I troubleshoot these problems? What are some tools that are ...
22 votes
8 answers
1k views

What are some good practices for making sure my laptop battery serves its full life?

Basically, I'm looking for some do's and don'ts. Is it bad to keep my laptop plugged in when I'm not using it (majority of the time)? Is it bad to plug it in once I've finished using it (with it ...
user avatar
  • 229
28 votes
4 answers
27k views

How can I get the product keys for software on my PC?

How can I find the product keys for my Windows operating system and software installed, like Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and other software which requires an activation key?
user avatar
463 votes
18 answers
318k views

How can I remove malicious spyware, malware, adware, viruses, trojans or rootkits from my PC?

What should I do if my Windows computer seems to be infected with a virus or malware? What are the symptoms of an infection? What should I do after noticing an infection? What can I do to get rid of ...
203 votes
7 answers
303k views

Where can I download Windows 7 (legally from Microsoft)?

I just bought a serial for Windows 7 on-line from the Microsoft store (the most painful shopping experience EVER!). I selected that I wanted to download my version of Windows 7 after purchase. After ...
user avatar
  • 2,589
174 votes
17 answers
287k views

What can I do if I forgot my Windows password?

I got a brand new Windows 7 machine, installed the operating system, created one account and forgot its password. What can I do? There is no external CD, the operating system is loaded from somewhere ...
user avatar
  • 3,950
67 votes
7 answers
88k views

Install Windows 7 from USB flash drive

I have an ISO image of the Windows 7 installation DVD, but I can't burn it to CD or DVD. I have an empty flash drive with plenty of space. Is there any way I can put the ISO image on it and install ...
user avatar
92 votes
9 answers
36k views

Why does Windows only show about 3.5 GB of my 4 GB of RAM?

I recently upgraded my computer's RAM to 4 GB. My 32-bit Windows installation shows only 3574 MB of the memory. How can I make Windows use the full amount of RAM?
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  • 1,170
57 votes
8 answers
106k views

HDMI vs Component vs VGA vs DVI vs DisplayPort

What are the pros and cons of each of these different display adapters and cables? From what I can understand, HDMI offers the ability to send audio along the same cable as well as the ability to do ...
user avatar
  • 673
37 votes
4 answers
193k views

How to choose a UPS / calculate power for a new PC

Seven years ago a friend gave me a Liebert PowerSure 250 UPS and it has done well for whatever (home) PC and monitor I've plugged into it over the years. I've just ordered a new PC with the Intel core ...
user avatar
  • 533
303 votes
21 answers
163k views

How can I visualize the file system usage on Windows?

How can I visualize which folders and files are taking up all of the space on my hard drive? I'm getting some conflicting reports on the size of hard drive contents. Namely what is and isn't there ...