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I have been approached by a couple of clients recently about installing new hard drives in their PC.

The first client was using Windows 7 and wanted to add an additional SATA Hard drive to their current configuration. They had successfully connected the drive, but required talking through the initialisation, partitioning and formatting processes.

This I was able to offer using Skype's 'Send my screen' functionality to talk the client step-by-step through the process. One thing that this call highlighted was that the right-click menus in the Computer Management: Storage section of the Control Panel Administrative Tools are very counter intuitive. There are three completely independent menus depending on whether you click on the drive listed in the top window, the partition layout diagram for the drive or the label of the partition diagram. My client had discovered the first two menus, but not the third and therefore could not find the 'Initialise drive' menu entry.

The second client had a more complicated issue.

Their Dell Dimension 5150 was crashing with several different Blue Screen of Death error messages. To attempt to resolve this, the client had begun to re-install Windows XP Home from their recovery media, however it was failing to initialise Windows for the first time.

Upon investigation, I discovered that the PC had 5GB of memory installed, consisting of a 2GB module, a 512MB module, another 2GB module and a second 512MB module. This is 1GB more than versions of Windows XP can support. Configuring a BIOS setting to restrict the memory available to the operating system to 256MB made the system stable enough to complete the re-installation of the Windows XP Home operating system. I then scanned the memory using the Dell Utility CD, and found that the 512MB memory modules had damaged sectors. Removing both 512MB memory modules resolved the problem, and also brought the total amount of memory within the 4GB limit. Therefore the BIOS setting could be reset to allow all 4GB to be accessed and used by Windows.

In addition to this, I offered advice and recommended free-ware programs to bring the system up full potential. I installed and configured all the relevant drivers from the Dell Website, located, installed and configured the NETGEAR wireless USB adaptor. I also installed several programs in consultation with the client, including Kindle and Acrobat readers, Irfanview for browsing directories of pictures and GIMP (which is the client's favoured photo-editing system)