QUESTION Microsoft Office Home and Student keeps trying to reinstall itself on my partner’s Microsoft Windows Vista laptop. If she cancels the installation, nothing works correctly and she has to wait until it configures and installs itself again before being able to use it. How can we fix this? James Witt

HELPROOM ANSWER Back up anything of importance, pop in your Windows installation disc and reboot the laptop. The laptop will try to boot from disc, and an ‘Install Windows’ screen should appear. Click ‘Install now’.

Follow the installation wizard until you get to the ‘Where do you want to install Windows?’ screen. Click ‘Drive options (advanced)’, then choose Format and click Ok. This will wipe your hard drive and remove corrupt installation files. Following this process, you can install Vista as normal.

If you’re worried about having backed up everything of importance, you can choose to ‘Repair Windows’ from the ‘Install Windows’ screen rather than reinstall it. This will prompt Vista’s diagnostics program to detect any problems you might be facing.

If it finds none, restore your computer to an earlier time using System Restore (you can find a walkthrough for using System Restore on our DVD under Troubleshooter).

UPDATED: 1 April 2011

The problem you’re experiencing could be down to a bad or partial Office installation, a corrupt user profile or incorrectly applied patches, for example.

The first thing to try is System Restore. Using this utility, you can roll back the PC to a time when it was functioning properly. See our DVD for a PDF walkthrough on using System Restore.

Other things you can try include uninstalling Office and ensuring all Windows patches are applied before you reinstall it. You should also download and apply any Office patches before you launch the productivity suite.

Re-register Office with the system. Click Start, Run and type msiexec /unregister. Press Enter and click Ok. Next, click Start, Run and enter msiexec /regserver.  A final resort is to reinstall Windows. Be sure to back up important files first.

See also: How to fix everything: the ultimate guide to fixing technology

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