Reimage Works Like Magic to Solve Problems with XP

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2008-08-22

IT professionals know that supporting Windows XP can be a tricky and time-consuming process. After all, the number of malware infections, spyware incidents and user mistakes is growing at an alarming rate! And, invariably, even the most cautious of users will encounter undesired behavior from a Windows XP PC. That undesired behavior can manifest itself in many forms, ranging from unexplained "blue screens" to system slowdowns to nonworking applications and much more.

For MSPs, solution providers and technicians in general, fixing those XP problems often involves a complete reinstall of the operating system, or, worse yet, a site visit, both of which could lead into an expense that no one would want to incur. Further complicating the problem is the fact that most PC users fail to back up their desktops on a regular basis, if ever!

Reimage.com takes a new approach to fixing XP systems: The company provides a service via the Web that works using an ActiveX application to replace all of the standard Windows XP files and then cleans the registry of unidentifiable entries or known problems. The service also scans the hard drive and removes viruses, malware, adware or anything that can cause a problem. If the system is unbootable, Reimage.com provides tools on its Web site to create an emergency boot CD, which will enable the subject PC to boot and connect to the Reimage service.

We put Reimage through its paces and tested the product on a few problematic XP PCs, and had good results. One of our first test machines was a system that would not boot after a motherboard and CPU upgrade. The system would hang while loading up a particular system file, in this case a file that was used by a freeware utility called SpeedFan. We created an emergency boot disk using a utility found on the Reimage site. That utility uses a Windows XP Service Pack 2 disk to create an ISO image with the drivers needed to boot a dead PC and connect it to the Internet and then the Reimage service site.

For Reimage to work, all it needs is the ability to "see" the XP hard drive and perform a scan. We rebooted the test system with our newly created boot disk and connected to the Reimage site, logged in to the service, and ran a recovery scan. The scan ran through the hard drive and reloaded all of the Windows XP system files, removed unidentified pieces of software and cleaned the registry. After about 20 minutes, the system was ready for a reboot. Upon reboot, the system functioned again and was for all intents and purposes fully usable.

We tested Reimage on another system that was plagued with spyware and browser hijacks, among other things. The subject system took over 5 minutes to boot and was basically unusable. Internet Explorer consistently went to unintended sites and adverts for spyware removal and security products would constantly pop up. The system also suffered from other performance issues, random crashes and many other problems. We were able to connect directly to the Reimage site, log in to the service and run the ActiveX-based scanner. The service quickly identified a multitude of problems and went to work.

Overall, the repair process took about 25 minutes and offered informative screens during the analysis and repair phase. What's more, the product offered the ability to generate a custom report at the end of the process and even offered an undo capability.

Reimage is currently offered on a monthly subscription basis or as a pay-per-use service. Monthly subscriptions start at $150 per month for as many as 50 PC repairs. The pay-per-use service is available for $200 and allows the repair of 20 PCs. Reimage is available for Windows XP and Vista support is expected in the near future. Reimage.com is looking for MSPs to partner with and will offer the ability for MSPs to "rebrand" the service.