A while back I had a blog on Google+ linked to my freelance IT business and I started recording some case studies. I think I only did a few in the end but I thought I'd share them anyway.
The Problem:Had a good one a few weeks ago. An Acer netbook that was failing to load Windows. It was inconsistent, as sometimes it would get as far as the desktop and sometimes it would just show a black screen and go no further.
The Investigation:In the good old days, you could start Windows in 'safe mode', a special mode that would load a very basic version of Windows, without any additional software. This was a great way to diagnose big, vague problems like this. Windows 8, however, is odd. You can only enable safe mode within Windows itself. This is no help if Windows won't load, which is usually the reason you'd want safe mode in the first place! A face-palm is appropriate at this point.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (free): ain't what it used to be, which was a small, independent, neat utility that scanned your hard drives and got rid of a bunch of nasties. It has unfortunately grown into something else but, if you can avoid the 'helper' app it installs in the system tray, it still works.
ADW Cleaner (free): similar story to above and is now under the Malwarebytes brand but has, without fail, been the best tool I've ever used for getting rid of software nasties.
Crap Cleaner (aka CCleaner, free): also has a 'helper' tool you want to avoid, as it will pester you with updates and upgrades. This is a great program to run once the malware has gone, as it has options for cleaning the Windows registry and uninstalling stubborn crapware.