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Online service fixes Windows problems

Software asserting it can fix various computer ills has been around for years. Most leave me cold, but Reimage PC Repair is unique. The online scanner is designed to revive the life of your PC, restore peak performance, and recover Windows with essential files it maintains in an online repository.

That's right. To repair your system, Reimage actually downloads and replaces damaged or missing Windows operating system files. The effect is akin to performing a "clean install," except your data remains intact and you don't have to reinstall all your applications.

It sounds great, but Reimage only addresses Windows' problems. Its disclaimers clearly state that it does not analyze "third party software," such as Microsoft Office, Apple iTunes, or popular games.

Viewers often email me about problems involving Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, and other popular apps. Reimage won't perform miracles if any of these apps are causing you grief, but if your system is crashing because of corrupted or missing Windows system files, it could be a godsend.

The big question is whether you are willing to pay $69.95 per year for the service, knowing its limitations and being forewarned that its file-replacement methodology is very time-consuming.

Let's begin with how Reimage works. You start by downloading and running a free scanner that checks for viruses, checks the Windows registry, and checks for missing or damaged Windows files.

The scanner also flags hardware inadequacies, such as your computer's not having enough RAM, not having enough hard drive free space, or running too hot. It also reads log files, looking for the causes of system crashes and other problems.

The initial scan takes about five minutes, during which it generates a report listing its observations about your PC. If Reimage finds any problems it knows it can fix, it prompts you to buy a license in order to begin the repairs. Otherwise, the scan and the report are free.

If you buy the license, the repair process can take several hours and requires two or more reboots.

The system relies heavily on "the cloud," so having a reliable, high-speed Internet connection is essential. If you lose Internet connectivity during a repair or if Reimage's servers go down (which they sometimes do), it can add to your gray hair. Your system will be stuck in repair mode until connectivity is restored and the system reboots. It also helps if you disable your anti-virus software before you begin.

Bear in mind that Reimage is headquartered in Nicosia, Cyprus, with research facilities in Ramat Gan, Israel. Technical support is available 24/7 via email, but you can't just pick up the phone. The company does not maintain a U.S. presence.

Pricing includes both a Home Plan and a Business Plan. The latter is intended for PC repair shops or IT departments. For $200 per month, the Business Plan lets you perform "unlimited repairs," provided the actual number doesn't exceed 40 within a billing period. It's a little confusing, but the license is clearly subject to a usage cap, which is not surprising, considering cloud-based nature of the service.

The Home Plan is more straight-forward. If you have more than one PC, the cost is $69.95, plus

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