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Software Problems and Solutions: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Applications and Tools/Utilities - Page 1 of 4


This section of this website consists of four pages that provide solutions to a wide range of software-related problems (100+) occurring in computers running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Most of the problems deal with problematic situations caused by those current versions of Windows, but problems with applications, programs and tools/utilities are also dealt with.

Note that the Fixing problems with Windows Vista and Fixing problems with Windows 7 sections of this website provide more problems with those versions of Windows than are dealt with on the four pages of this section. Visit the Recovering Windows XP section for information on repairing and recovering that version of Windows. If you found your way to this page with a web search, the quickest way to find the problem you are looking for is to press the Ctrl + F keys to bring up the Find box in your web browser and then enter the same search query that brought you here - or the most relevant words in it. Alternatively, read through the list of problems provided below.

Click the relevant link below to go to that Q&A article. Use your browser's Back button to backtrack

1. - Useful free diagnotic tools that can help find out what is wrong with a computer or supply information about it

2. - How can I fix my slow unresponsive Samsung Galaxy Android phone?

3. - How can I get Windows XP programs and applications that won't work in Windows 7 to work?: XP Mode and Compatibility Mode

4. - Programs/appications freeze for between about 30 seconds and as long as 2 minutes

5. - The best way to diagnose and fix random PC/computer freezes

6. - A PC that runs slow occassionally or becomes slow generally: Fixing a slow desktop or laptop PC/computer running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 [A computer that becomes slow occassionally or generally is probably the most common problem that can be caused by software and hardware.]

7. - Is it possible to install and OEM copy of MS Office 2007 that was preinstalled on one PC on a new PC without having the installation DVD disc?

8. - Common printer problem: Office XP won't print to USB printer in Window - Using Windows Compatibility Mode

9. - What to do when unknown programs produce error messages or identified or unidentified windows during system startup

10. - MS Word 2010 hangs frequently on exit with a AppHang error message

11. - Quicken launcher has stopped working - Quicken 2011 and other versions no longer launch

12. - Just reinstalled Windows 7 Home Premium, some hardware drivers are missing, Device Manager doesn't provide enough information about them to find them online. How can I find enough system information to be able to do that?

13. - I can't change or save Word 2010 docs because they have become Read Only by themselves in Windows 7 but not in Windows XP

14. - Windows XP Home says I am the Administrator, but Secunia and some other programs tell me that I need administrator privileges, which they indicate I don't have

15. - Crooked PC repair companies or technicians: If I have to send my desktop or laptop PC in for repairs or recovery, how can I protect the files, data and hardware from unscrupulous repair companies or technicians?

16 - A list of Windows Vista upgrade error messages in the MS Knowledge Base AND How to download updates and drivers from the Windows Update Catalog

17. - How much longer will I be able to use Windows XP? - When will Microsoft's support for Windows XP and Product Activation end?

18. - File and Printer and Sharing has stopped working in Windows XP/Vista between a desktop and laptop/notebook PCs

19. - How can I download and save Windows XP/Vista updates to a CD/DVD for future use and then create an image of the updated Windows installation on a DVD?

20. - Windows Update/Automatic Updates keeps wanting to install the same update. How can I stop Windows Update from repeatedly offering the same patch? - AND - How can I prevent Windows XP or Windows Vista from pestering me to download and install Windows Genuine Advantage Notification (KB905474)

21. - I can't remove Adobe Reader 7.0.7 with Add or Remove Programs in order to install Adobe Reader 8.0

22. - I installed Windows Vista Premium, but some of my software and my printer/scanner/copier no longer work. How can I get my PC back to Windows XP?

23. - When I run Windows Backup in Windows Vista to copy files to a DVD I get a "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error 0x8007045D" error message

24. - I have encountered software problems after I upgraded a Dell Inspiron to Windows Vista

25. - Microsoft's Vista Upgrade Advisor said my computer can run Windows Vista Ultimate but the upgrade from Windows XP always fails

26. - Going into Hibernate mode in Windows Vista Home Premium crashes my laptop/notebook computer

27. - Windows Update keeps rebooting/restarting my computer without saving opened files

28. - My Dell Inspiron laptop computer is incredibly slow when starting up with Svchost using 98% of processor time

29. - Windows XP was messed up during shutdown

30. - Most email accounts won't accept large files as attachments, so how can I email a large collection of digital photos?

31. - Why have some of my Outlook Express 6 folders with emails in them disappeared and how can I get them back?

32. - My Windows XP Pro computer with a USB keyboard won't boot into Safe Mode

33. - Halfway into upgrading Windows 98 to Windows XP my computer froze and then wouldn't start up

34. - System Restore won't work. What do I have to do to get System Restore to work?

35. - Windows XP won't boot and produces an "NTLDR is missing" error message

36. - Can I install a legal copy of Windows XP Pro over an illegal copy without losing any data files or settings?

Software Problems & Solutions - Click here! to go to Page 2 of 4

Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website


Useful free diagnostic tools that can help find out what is wrong with a computer or supply information about it

1. - DirectX Diagnostic Tool - the free tool that is part of DirectX, which is itself installed with Windows, being used as a software driver for PC games, multimedia applications, playing video, etc. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DirectX

It is part of Windows and is updated by Windows Update along with security updates and hotfixes, but here is the information provided by Microsoft on how to download and install it:

How to download and install DirectX - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/179113

DXDiag reports any problems it detects. In Windows XP, it provides video and sound tests, but the tests have been removed in the versions used in Vista, Win7 and Win8. To access it in XP enter dxdiag in the Start => Run box. Use the Search box in Vista and Windows 7. In Windows 8 press the Windows key (the one with a flag on it) plus the R key to bring up the Run box and enter that command.

2. - The very useful HWMonitor PRO, PerfMonitor and CPU-Z monitoring tools are available from http://www.cpuid.com/.

GPU-Z - Graphics card information - http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/

3. - What's My PC Doing - Informs you of what the hard disk drive and processor are doing - http://www.itsth.com/en/produkte/Whats-my-computer-doing.php

4. - System Information for Windows - SIW - Freeware Version -

http://downloads.cnet.co.uk/view/utilities/siw-freeware-version-39777415/

5. - Speedfan - "If you need a tool that can change your computer's fan speeds, read the temperatures of your motherboard and your hard disk, read voltages and fan speeds and check the status of your hard disk using S.M.A.R.T. or SCSI attributes, then you came to the right place." -

http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php

Windows XP, Vista, Wndows 7 & 8 Administrative Tools

All of the versions of Windows from Windows XP to Windows 7 and 8 come with several very useful Administrative Tools that can be accessed under their section in Windows by that name.

Click here! to go to the page on this website that provides information on them.


How can I fix my slow unresponsive Samsung Galaxy Android phone?

Problem

Generally but particularly when viewing or navigating the homescreens, my Samsung Galaxy smartphone that runs the Google Android operating system has become annoyingly unresponsive. After pressing the back button to quit an app, I often have to wait about a minute until the homescreen gets redrawn and then responds to taps. It has reset a couple of times and I have lost my cool quite a few times and held the power button down until it shuts down. Sometimes a message displays saying that TwLauncher, whatever that is, has stopped responding.

Answer

TwLauncher is used by Touchwiz, the touch interface used by Samsung smartphones that run various operating systems, including Google Android. There are reports on the web of it becoming so unresponsive that the phone is unusable.

To fix the problem requires resetting all of the homescreen data to the default settings that were set in the factory. If you have customised the homescreens to the way you want them, take screenshots or make notes so that you can recreate the way they were.

Now press the menu button and tap Settings => Applications => Manage applications to view the installed apps. Next, tap All, scroll down to TwLauncher to view its properties and tap the Clear data button, followed by OK. Tap the back button to go back to the homescreen and restart the phone in the normal way. It should now be more responsive. However, if the problem remains, the next step is to reset the phone, which takes it back to the state it was in when it left the factory, which involves overwriting the entire Android system and all of the user's personal data, so the first step is to make a restorable backup that can get you back to where you left off.

There are plenty of how-to articles on the web on how to do that most of which can be found by using a search query such as: reset an android phone. Here is one that I found that takes you through all of the required steps:

How To Completely Erase and Reset Android Phones – A Comprehensive Guide -

http://www.gottabemobile.com/2012/02/21/completely-erase-reset-android-smartphone/


Programs/applications freeze for between about 30 seconds and as long as 2 minutes

Problem

My desktop PC is experiencing a very annoying problem. Several times a day a program (Outlook, MS word, the Firefox web browser, etc) can freeze for between about 30 seconds and two minutes. What I have tried to fix the problem: ran CCleaner in normal and in Safe Mode, scanned for malware with MS Security Essentials, Malwarebytes and AVG. Otherwise everything is working normally, but the problem is so annoying if I can't find a remedy I am going to reformat the hard drive and reinstall everything. That will probably take a few days, so I am hoping that you can suggest a relatively simple fix.

Answer

Try doing the following first. Download install and run a free utility called What’s my computer doing? from its developer's website, itsth.com, or another download site. Henceforward, the tool is called WCMD here.

WMCD monitors and displays the programs running on a computer. The Utility's Also show system processes option monitors the background processes.

WMCD can be left open on the desktop (the main window cannot be resized) or be left running in the background (preferable). Clicking the WMCD icon (a circle with a black rim and a red interior) in the Notification Area (usually in the bottom right hand corner of the screen) to opens the main display, allows you to see what is taking place.

Observe what is reported when the freezing occurs. The program that is always active when it occurs is probably responsible. You can then try updating it from its developer's website or uninstall it using Add or Remove Programs (Windows XP) or Programs & Features (Windows Vista/Windows 7) in the Control Panel.

The person who sent me this problem wrote back that he had used WMCD to identify his backup program as the culprit, which was an old version. He updated it to the latest version and the problem no longer existed.

Alternatively, use the Windows Performance Monitor, which provides almost every detail of what is taking place in a system, which unfortunately also makes it a tedious business reading through all of the data that is provided. It can be used as diagnostic tool working in real time or it can create a log of the system's activities, allowing you to pinpoint the software, subsystem, driver, etc., that is always active when the freezing occurs. Then, as with WMCD, you can update or uninstall the identified software.

Click The Administrative Tools in Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 to read detailed information on them, including the Performance Monitor.


The best way to diagnose and fix random PC/computer freezes

Problem

I have tried using the program "What’s my computer doing?" that I obtained free from http://www.itsth.com/en/produkte/Whats-my-computer-doing.php, to find out why my PC freezes randomly, but failed since there is no response until the freeze goes away, so clicking the tool's taskbar icon does nothing. The inexplicable freezes only happen a couple of times a month, during which the PC can't respond to anything, not even a Ctrl+Alt+Del, for several minutes. The hard-drive's light is usually on but shows no activity or it is off and doesn’t even blink. When the hard-drive's light is on constantly and the PC won’t respond, after a forced shutdown, it comes back up in the frozen state. After a while, for some unknown reason, it somehow frees up and works properly.

Answer

The problem might be caused by some kind of intermittent fault with the hard disk drive itself, so try scanning it with a tool such as HDDScan from http://hddguru.com/.

If that gives the drive a clean bill of health, try having the tool you used - "What’s my computer doing?" (WMCD) - running in the background. When the PC hangs, as soon as the PC starts working again, open WMCD’s window and click its Freeze option, which prevents WMCD’s display from updating, keeping information it has already collected from scrolling off the screen. The last 10 - 15 seconds of recorded activity should be available.

Scroll down in the main window area. You should see a log of all of the recently active programs and processes, going back in time. One of the listings is likely to be responsible for the latest freeze. If there is a program that can be uninstalled, uninstall it. A process that belongs to a program that is listed points to that program as being a possible culprit. The processes are listed under Processes in the Windows Task Manager, which can be opened by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del. Draw on your experience of what you had running whenever the freezes occurred to determine which of the programs or processes is most likely to be the cause. If a program is a startup program, you can disable it by entering msconfig in the Start => Search... box (Vista/Win7) and the Start => Run box in Windows XP. Look under the Startup tab. Or use the Startup option under Tools in the CCleaner utility. If you don't experience the problem when programs tagged by WMCD are not running, one of them is probably the culprit.

Alternatively try using the more powerful diagnostic tool, Performance Monitor, provided by Windows, which is dealt with on the following page of this website:

http://www.pcbuyerbeware.co.uk/Windows-Administrative-Tools.htm#pm


A PC that runs slow occassionally or becomes slow generally: Fixing a slow desktop or laptop PC/computer running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7

Problem

My desktop PC has a 2.5GHz second-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 2GB of system memory and runs the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. The hard disk drive has an unpartitioned capacity of 500GB. [Windows can make use of all of the free disk space.] On occasions it slows down to a crawl. I have an idea that Outlook 2007 or Internet Explorer 9 or both might be responsible. I keep the PC switched on 24/7 and rebooting solves the problem, but I have to reboot every few days. Sometimes that irritating rotating ring appears when running IE9 and I have to force it to shut down with the Windows Task Manager [Accessed by pressing the Alt + Ctrl + Del keys]. I updated and ran Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes in case the PC has a virus infection, they only ever find cookies.

Answer

A PC that has become slow over time with use and system slowdowns that occur regularly when using certain software or which can be attributed to newly installed hardware or software are usually easy to fix by uninstalling or updating the software, device drivers, etc., uninstalling unnecessary programs, performing a clean installation of Windows and all of its software and the user's data files or by adding more RAM memory, etc., but occasional slowdowns or ones that have no clear pattern are more difficult to diagnose and fix.

A PC that has been in use for some time and whose owner has installed and uninstalled plenty of software must suffer from a bloated Registry, which is the database that Windows uses to keep track of the installed software. Even good paid-for Registry cleaners and free ones such as CCleaner don't remove all of the redundant entries. Recently I uninstalled every bit of Google software/spyware on a PC (the Google Toolbar, Chrome browser, etc., and then ran several Registry cleaners. Then I entered regedit in the Search... box to open the Registry and did a search for the term Google and had to spend about 30 minutes deleting all of the Registry keys that were created by Google software that were missed by the Registry cleaners. (Note that you should always have a recently-created restorable backup before editing the Registry, because doing so can render the computer unbootable.)

A bloated Registry slows Windows down and the only way to cure it properly is to back up all of the data files that you value and then format the drive that Windows is installed on (usually the C: drive) by booting the system from its installation CD/DVD and then reinstall Windows and all of your software and backed-up data files. If you have a brand-name PC, you could use the recovery disc that most of them provide to set the PC back to the state it was in when the PC left the factory, but that would also mean having to update Windows with Service Packs and update software that was preinstalled or reinstall and update any software that was added and restore the backed-up data files.

It is possible to create an installation disc that contains the Service Packs, device drivers, etc., that came out after the Windows installation CD/DVD that came with the PC or was bought to upgrade it. Using it saves having to update Windows after a clean installation. The process of creating that disc is called slipstreaming. Click here! to go to the information on slipstreaming on this website.

The hard drive or partition on a hard drive that Windows is installed on can get badly defragmented with use, so running the Disk Defragmenter tool that Windows provides (accessed in All Programs => Accessories => System Tools). In Windows Vista and Windows 7 just be entering the tool's name in the Start => Search... box.) Third-party disk defragmenter tools are also available, many of which can do a more thorough job, such as the free EaseUS Partition Master Home, which can manage partitions and defragment a hard drive.

Note that tests on the well-known malware scanners (AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, Norton, McAfee, Comodo, etc.) has shown that none of them is repsonsible for slowing a system down significantly. They all slow a system down to an insignificant extent; some more insignificantly than others.

The PC has 2GB of RAM, which is all right for 32-bit Win7, which can only use a maximum of about 3.2GB. Microsoft recommends a minimum of 1GB for Windows 7. Note that a 64-bit version of Win7 should have twice as much memory as a 32-bit version up to 4GB.

Removing unnecessary files reduces the amount of file-management work that Windows has to do and therefore improves performance.

I use the enhanced mode of Windows Disk Cleanup and CCleaner (from ccleaner.com). To do that in Windows XP, open My Computer, right-click the C: drive that has XP installed on it and click Properties. The Disk Cleanup button is on the General tab of the window that comes up, which is the tab opened by default. I run CCleaner using its default settings, opting for a backup to be created. If the system goes wrong after running CCleaner, you can get back to where the system was by restoring the backup in normal mode or Safe Mode if Windows doesn't boot normally. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, enter disk cleanup in the Start => Search... box to be presented with a clickable link that opens the program.

The Recycle Bin, Internet Explorer and System Restore can reserve large amounts of storage space that can be responsible for reducing the available hard-disk space that Windows has to work in, thereby reducing performance.

The PC in question has an unpartitioned hard-drive with a capacity of 500GB, so reserved disk space should not be a problem, but it would be for drives that don't have plenty of free space. If you have a hard drive with a low capacity (less than 100GB), consider buying one with plenty of space (500GB+). Most hard-drive manufacturers provide a utility that can transfer the system from the old drive to the new drive, with both drives being installed in the PC. The best way of doing that with a laptop PC requires creating a master image of the system using imaging software (Windows 7's Backup and Restore can create a system image as well as a standard files' backup), saving it to an external hard disk drive, removing the old drive, installing the new one and then restoring the system image to the new drive. A cramped drive will always tend to degrade performance.

Click here! to go to information on how to install a hard disk drive on this website in its Build Your Own PC section. It deals with both older IDE drives and the current SATA drives. Installing a external drive just involves plugging it into a USB port, which most of them use, and allowing Windows to detect and install its device drivers, as is the case with a USB flash drive. When Windows has recognised the drive, it appears under My Computer (Windows XP) and Computer (Vista and Windows 7) as an external drive, as does a USB flash drive.

In all versions of Windows, right-clicking on the desktop's Recycle Bin icon and clicking on Properties in the menu that comes up allows you to set the amount of storage space per drive. Likewise, when opening Internet Options in the Control Panel, the Browsing history => Settings button allows you to set the amount of reserved space for IE only. For any other browser, you have to search through its settings for the one that sets the reserved space. Visit System Restore on this website for information on how to set the amount of disk space it reserves.

The Windows Pagefile (also known as the swapfile) is an area of the hard drive used by Windows as virtual memory. When Windows needs to swap data out of RAM memory in order to use the memory for something else, it places it in the Pagefile from where it swaps it back into memory if needed. If the amount of space reserved for by the Pagefile is too low Windows has to make more use of it than it has to, thereby causing a performance hit, because using disk space is very much slower than using RAM memory.

Windows 7 sets its Pagefile size at about three times the amount of RAM memory and manages it by expanding or shrinking the Pagefile as required - automatically. The Pagefile in Windows Vista and Win7 has reached the point where a manual setting do not improve performance. In Windows XP a manual setting can often improve performance. (There is plenty of advice on setting the Pagefile in XP on the web.)

You should check the Pagefile setting in Windows 7, because instead of allowing Windows to manage it, the computer's manufacturer could have set it lower than it should be. I have come across this being the case more than once myself. A small Pagefile would make Windows use it far more than would be the case if it reserved the optimal amount of disk space.

In Windows Vista and Windows 7 enter the word pagefile in the Start => Search... box to be presented with a clickable link that provides information called "How to change the size of virtual memory". If the setting called "Automatically manage paging file size" is enabled, leave it. If not, enable it.

The next step to take is to uninstall any unnecessary software by using Programs and Features in the Control Panel. Remember that in Vista and Win7 just entering the name of what you what usually brings up a clickable link to it. In Windows XP, Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel is used to uninstall programs and Windows updates.

Then I would run Windows Update in Vista and Win7 by entering that term in the Start => Search... box. In Windows XP, a link to Windows Update is provided by Automatic Updates in the Control Panel.

It would be a good idea to install and run the free Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) and make sure all of the PC's software is up-to-date.

RAM memory is very cheap now, so the final step I would take to improve performance would be to use the Memory Advisor at crucial.com to obtain another 2GB of memory. As stated earlier, a 32-bit version of Windows can only use a maximum of about 3.2GB of memory, so don't have any more than 4GB.


Is it possible to install and OEM copy of MS Office 2007 that was preinstalled on one PC on a new PC without having the installation DVD disc?

Problem

I have Office 2007 Home & Student edition that was pre-installed on a PC that I upgraded to Windows 7 from Windows Vista. Being preinstalled by Dell, the installation DVD was not provided. I have a new Windows 7 PC now and I would like to know if there is a way to move my copy of Office to it.

Answer

It is possible to install and activate any version of Office 2007 (Home and Student, Professional and Small Business versions) on a new PC just by clicking on the version that you have on this page: http://www.microsoft.com/office/downloads/ and entering its Product Key. An OEM version has the letters OEM in the Product Key and the retail, boxed copy looks like this: CWRMM-364WT-RTVVY-DKD89-YQ9Y6 (not a real key - the letters and numbers have been changed in a real key). Try entering its key and see if you can obtain the download, which is a 300MB file. I have read on the web that this is possible, but haven't tried it myself. If you obtain the file, try installing it on your new PC.

An OEM copy of any software is supposed only to be installed on one computer - the one it was preinstalled on. (Read Product Activation page on this website for more information), so it might not work or once did work but no longer works.

The Product Key is encrypted in the Windows Registry, so you might have to use a tool to reveal it. I have used the free tool provided on this page successfully:

http://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder/


Common printer problem: Office XP won't print to USB printer in Windows 7

Problem

Having installed Microsoft Office XP in a new Windows 7 laptop, I found that Word and Excel can't find my USB printer so I can print from them. Wordpad, Firefox and Adobe Reader can. Is Office XP incompatible with Windows 7?

Answer

First go to Control Panel => Hardware and Sound => Devices and Printers. Right-click on the Printer icon and choose Properties. In the Sharing tab, deselect "Share this printer". You should now be able to print to the printer with all the Office XP programs.

If not, Office XP is an old version of Office designed to work with Windows XP, but you should be able to use your printer from Word and Excel in that version. Windows 7, like Windows XP, has a Compatibility Mode that makes a program run as if in an earlier version of Windows. Choose Open Windows Explorer by right-clicking on the Start button, scroll down until you find Program Files, open it and find and open Microsoft Office. For Word and Excel find their executable .exe files, which are Winword.exe for Word and Excel.exe for Excel, right click on the executable file and choose Properties. Open the Compatibility tab, as shown in the image below for Winword.exe. Enable "Run this program in compatibility mode for:" and choose Windows XP SP3 from the list. The image below was taken from a PC running Windows XP, so it only has the versions of Windows that came before XP.

Showing Windows Compatibility Mode for MS Word

What to do when unknown programs produce error messages or identified or unidentified windows during system startup

Problem

The following problem is very common, but can often be very difficult to get rid of short of restoring a full backup or system image. One such problem once forced me to reinstall Windows after trying everything else because I had neglected to make regular backups/create system images. During system startup, Windows produces an error message or one or more windows that are not associated with any particular program or are associated with a particular program. The error message or window might disappear or not respond to closing it or it closes but returns with the next startup. The error message might say something incomprehensible, such as "Unable to access jarfile C:Documents," and below it is just a small button that says OK, which makes it go away when clicked or it doesn't work.

Answer

Since the problem occurs during startup one of the startup programs is probably malfunctioning. The problem can be solved by identifying which startup program it is. Note that before you start messing with the system you should always have a restorable backup that can put you back into business should something go seriously wrong. Visit the Backups page on this website for more information on them. If using System Restore and restoring a restore point that pre-dates the problem doesn't work and you want to avoid having to restore a backup or system image or you don't have one to restore, try the performing following options.

In Windows Vista and Windows 7 you can try identifying the software responsible for the problem by the date of installation.

1. - Enter the word uninstall in the Start => Search programs and files box and click the Uninstall a program link that is produced immediately along with several other links without having to press the Enter key. Note that Windows XP does not provide the date of installation in its Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel.

Click the Installed On tab to sort the column so that the latest installed programs are listed first. If one or more programs were installed at the time the trouble started, try uninstalling them one at a time. Reboot the system after uninstalling each suspect program to find out if the problem has disappeared.

2. - If doing that proves fruitless, you can try using the msconfig utility provided by all versions of Windows that can manage the programs that are set to load at startup.

In Windows Vista and Windows 7 just type the word msconfig in the Start => Search programs and files box. There is no need to press the Enter key. When you click on the link provided called msconfig.exe, the System Configuration window opens. In Windows XP enter it in the Start => Run box

Click the Startup tab and use the mouse to uncheck any suspect items one at a time that you determined might be causing your startup problem while performing option 1 above. Windows tools hardly ever cause startup problems, so leave those alone and deselect only suspect third-party software and reboot after each deselection. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, the Manufacturer tab provides the developers' names, such as Microsoft, Sun, Secunia, Java, etc. If a deselected item fails to solve the problem, re-enable it, deselect another, reboot, etc.

If you need more information about using this kind of selective startup, here are the Microsoft help articles:

Windows 7: Using System Configuration

Windows Vista: Run Selective Startup using System Configuration

Windows XP: To isolate problems using Selective Startup options

3. - In the unlikely event that the problem remains unsolved, if it is named in the error message or window or you suspect that software you installed just before the problem appeared is responsible, try uninstalling and reinstalling it by performing the option 1 above to get to the list of installed programs and selecting that software from the list. Right-clicking on an item provides an Uninstall option in Windows Vista and Windows 7 or you can select the program and click on the Uninstall button provided at the top of the list. In Windows XP, open Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel, which provides a Remove button for each item. Reboot.

Run a reputable Registry cleaner, such as the free CCleaner, and reboot again.

If possible download and install a fresh of the offending software from its developer's website.

4. - If the problem still miraculously survives, which it did once for me, the only options remaining to get rid of it are to restore a recent backup or system image or format and reinstall Windows.


MS Word 2010 hangs frequently on exit with an AppHang error message

Problem

I have a new Dell XPS 15z laptop PC that runs Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit version) and has Microsoft Word 2010 preinstalled. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, it has started producing an AppHang error message on about 50% of the exits from the application. When I click on restart it does so and then I can close it normally. The error message provides the following usable information: Problem Event Name: AppHangXProcB1 and Waiting on Application Name: csrss.exe.

Answer

The error message has provided all of the information required to fix the problem. The csrss.exe system file, which is the Client/Server Runtime Subsystem, is the cause of the hang. If, say, a user profile data file is corrupted somehow, the most common cause of CSRSS errors, CSRSS can hang and produce the error message when a program like Word 2010 is exited.

The solution is to remove the corrupt data so that Windows can rebuild it, an involved manual process, but fortunately Microsoft now provides an automated one-click Fix it solution from this Knowledge Base article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/947215/en-us. You have to scroll down the page until you came to an image showing a repair man holding a spanner and the words Fix it. Clicking on the image runs the fix.

The article also provides "Let me fix it myself" instructions just below the Fix it button, which you can try in the unlikely event that the automated fix fails to work. You can try implementing the fully manual methods, listed higher up on the page, if the problem still hasn't been fixed.

In the unlikely event that the problems still needs fixing you can run the System File Checker (SFC), which still exists in Windows 7, to make sure that CSRSS and none of the other system files aren't faulty or corrupt. To run SFC, open an administrator-level Command Prompt by clicking Start => All Programs => Accessories, right-click with the mouse pointer on Command Prompt, select Run as administrator and enter the command sfc /scannow at the prompt.

How to use the System File Checker tool to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7 -

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929833/en-us

It is unlikely that malware is responsible for the file corruption because csrss.exe is a protected system file almost impossible for malware to interfere with, but just in case make sure that your malware and virus scanners are up-to-date and updated. Microsoft's own free Security Essentials is a very effective combined malware, spyware and virus scanner.


Quicken launcher has stopped working - Quicken 2011 and other versions no longer launch

November 20, 2011. - Many Quicken users are reporting that it is no longer launching. Apparently, there are plenty of users offering help on the web that is useless. Here is some advice that helps many users.

Right-click the Quicken icon and click Properties. Run as Administrator must be enabled on the General tab. Enable Run this program in compatibility mode on the Compatibility tab and then select Windows XP.

Apparently a necessary Quicken file - qwutilnet.dll - is being treated as a virus by some virus scanners. Checking your scanner's logs should reveal if this is the case. If necessary, restore that .dll by conducting a search for it on the web.

Web-search query for more help: "Quicken launcher has stopped working".


Just reinstalled Windows 7 Home Premium, some hardware drivers are missing, Device Manager doesn't provide enough information about them to find them online. How can I find enough system information to be able to do that?

Problem

Having had to reinstall Windows 7 on my laptop after it was hosed by software I ran from the web, according to the Device Manager, some of the device drivers are missing, but it doesn't provide me with enough information to be able to identify the hardware so that I can download the drivers from the sites of the device manufacturers. Is there a free program good enough to provide system information that is detailed enough for me to be able to do that?

Answer

There are several free tools that provide detailed system information. Probably the best one is called PC Wizard by the same developer that is responsible for the processor, memory and motherboard information tool, CPU-Z. It divides the hardware devices into categories in the same way as the Device Manager, providing system information in great detail. It should be able to identify all of the makes/models of hardware used by your computer. For example, reports all of the supported screen resolutions of the monitor and reports about all of the devices attached to each USB port. You can download it from http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/pc-wizard.html.


I can't change or save Word 2010 docs because they have become Read Only by themselves in Windows 7 but not in Windows XP

Problem

I use a dual-boot laptop PC that boots to Windows XP or Windows 7. In Windows XP, all my documents open correctly in Compatibility Mode. I can save and edit them normally, but in Windows 7 all of the my thousands of .doc files open as Read Only documents, which means that I can't edit or save them. I have gone into the Trust Center and unchecked all the boxes in the File Block Settings. Unfortunately, some settings such as Word 2003 Binary Documents and Templates and Word 97 Binary Documents and Templates do not have a check box to uncheck for Save, so there is nothing that ca be done about that. Creating a new Word document with the .docx extension, allows the document to be edited and saved. I have gone into Documents (My Documents in Windows XP) and taken ownership of the files so that you can change them, but this hasn't fixed the problem - they still open as Read Only documents. The files are on the laptop's hard disk drive, not on a network. I have created all of the .doc files and they are not accessed by anyone else. All the files are being opened in MS Word 2010 - the only difference is the version of Windows that I'm opening them with.

Answer

Some users using Windows 7 exclusively have reported this problem. It happens when an MS Word .doc file is opened from its containing folder using Windows Explorer. Double-clicking on the file makes the Read Only warning pop up, but when right-clicking on the file and choosing the Open option from the context menu, it opens normally.

The read-only problem is fairly widespread in Windows Vista and Windows 7. According to Microsoft, "The Read-only attribute for a folder is typically ignored by Windows, Windows components and accessories, and other programs. For example, you can delete, rename, and change a folder with the Read-only attribute by using Windows Explorer. The Read-only and System attributes is only used by Windows Explorer to determine whether the folder is a special folder, such as a system folder that has its view customized by Windows (for example, My Documents, Favorites, Fonts, Downloaded Program Files), or a folder that you customized by using the Customize tab of the folder's Properties dialog box."

Apparently, several things can happen that make Windows 7 take the read-only file attribute more literally. Users have tried many ways to remove the Read Only attribute from data folders, including going into DOS mode (using the Command Prompt), but without success - the Documents and Music folders, etc., remained read only. The only work around discovered was to turn off the User Account Control (UAC), which then allows the editing of all documents and music files in iTunes.

Turn User Account Control [UAC] on or off [Windows Vista] -

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Turn-User-Account-Control-on-or-off

How to Disable and Turn Off UAC in Windows 7 - http://www.mydigitallife.info/2008/12/30/how-to-disable-and-turn-off-uac-in-windows-7/

For more information visit: Fixing the Windows 7 Read-Only Folder Blues - "Are some of your directories showing up as read-only? Join the crowd. It's a common problem in Windows 7, but there are a few ways to address it." -

http://itexpertvoice.com/home/fixing-the-windows-7-read-only-folder-blues/

Windows 7 won't allow me to delete jpeg (.jpg) image files, saying that I need permission to delete them, but I don't know how to get that permission

Click here! to read that Q&A on this website. The solution involves taking ownership and granting permissions to access files and folders in Windows 7.


Windows XP Home says I am the Administrator, but Secunia and some other programs tell me that I need administrator privileges, which they indicate I don't have

Problem

My laptop PC runs Windows XP Home Edition. But after installing Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI), it scanned and updated the programs requiring to be updated. But when I tried to open it again, an error message appeared saying that it could only be run by the Administrator. I am the only user and Windows says that I am the Administrator. But Secunia and some other programs tell me that I need administrator privileges, which they indicate I don't have. How can I make sure programs see me as the Administrator? This is what I see after I have done the following: right-clicked on My Computer and selected Manage => scrolled to Local Users and Groups => Groups => opened Administrators and checked my account. I see my name (removed for security reasons) as Administrator.

The Local Users and Groups window in Windows XP Home Edition

Answer

An error message appears when you try to access Local Users and Groups because Windows XP Professional Edition is required to use that feature. If you are running Windows XP Home Edition, you must boot into Safe Mode by pressing the F8 key repeatedly just before Windows starts to load to bring up the boot menu that provides it as one of the boot options and then log on with the Administrator account that has administrative rights in order to access the missing Security tab.

When right-clicking the shortcut icon (say, in the Quick Launch area) for the programs you have not been able to run and select Run as... this is the window that presents itself in Windows XP Professional:

Showing the Run as... window in Windows XP Professional

The drop-down menu has another option in addition to the Administrator option - your User name, which in my case is Eric Legge. But in Windows XP Home only the User name option is available. In WinXP Pro, you could just use the Run as... method to assign Administrator privileges, but not in WinXP Home.

Read the following MS Knowledge Base article on how to change security permissions in Windows XP Home:

How to take ownership of a file or a folder in Windows XP - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308421

Follow the instructions on how to start up in Safe Mode in Windows XP Home (also provided above the second image) and log in as Administrator, after which you will be able to see the Security tab when you right-click on files and select Properties. The article provides other steps that you can try.

There may be some corruption in your Windows XP user account. If the problem remains after you've taken ownership of the affected programs, you can try creating another Administrator account to see if you are able to run those programs. If the problem is still not fixed, you'll probably have to reinstall Windows as a clean installation in order to remove the file corruption, which would mean having to save and files and settings you want to keep by using the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, which the following page on this website tells you how to use. -

http://www.pcbuyerbeware.co.uk/Files_and_Settings_Transfer.htm

You could also buy either the OEM or the retail Upgrade version of Windows XP Professional and upgrade to it.


Crooked PC repair companies or technicians: If I have to send my desktop or laptop PC in for repairs or recovery, how can I protect the files, data and hardware from unscrupulous repair companies or technicians?

Problem

In have just been watching the eye-opening Sky TV expose (July 2009) of computer repair companies. Sky sent a laptop computer with a loose RAM memory chip to six repair companies in London and only one of them did the job properly. It did not charge for reseating the chip, but all of the other repair outfits engaged in various forms of skulduggery from charging for a new motherboard that was not replaced to the technician finding and attempting to use bank logon details found on the computer, which were not genuine so he failed to gain access to the bank account.

If I have to take my desktop or laptop computer to PC World or some other PC repairer for upgrades/repairs, what is the easiest way to deny access to personal files, photos, access to Internet Explorer, or prevent the installation of spyware, etc. I know I could back up the whole system to DVDs or an external hard disk drive and then delete the file folders before I send the computer in for repairs and then restore the backup when I get the computer back. However, I want something that is relatively straightforward to achieve, and above all, secure. My operating system is Windows Vista Home Premium.

Answer

You could back up the system and then delete the folders that you don't want a technician to be able to access, but the computer might not be able to start up, which is why you would have to send it in for repairs, so you won't be able to delete anything. The technicians will probably then be able to recover the system and have access to your files. In any case, deleting folders and files leaves the data intact on the hard disk drive. Only the entries for the files in the file system are deleted, not the files themselves. If they are not overwritten, they can be accessed by making use of hard-drive editing software.

The following advice will work just as easily on desktop and laptop PCs because the hard disk drives can be removed and a second hard disk drive can be installed easily on both types of computer. Click here! to go to information on installing a hard disk drive in a desktop PC. The manufacturer of some laptop PCs provide user manual that show how to remove the hard disk drive from a particular model. If not, to find information, try entering this search query into a search engine: replace laptop hard drive. Here is a link that I found using that search term:

Replacing Laptop Hard Drives - Illustrated how to replace a laptop hard drive - http://www.fonerbooks.com/laptop_1.htm

I would buy a second hard disk drive (they are cheap for both desktop and laptop PCs) and just install Windows on it plus any diagnostic software that you have and the antivirus and spyware scanners that you use. Then, should the computer have to go in for repairs, just remove the hard drive that contains your files and replace it with the one with just Windows installed on it.

If the problem was caused by a failed hard disk drive or a software or malware problem, then the PC will work with the extra drive and you will know the nature of the problem and you won't have to send the PC in for repairs if you can fix it yourself.

Failed hard drives are common, so, if you value your files, you should always make a backup of the whole system or at least copy the files to an external hard drive or recordable DVDs. Just remember to buy the type of hard disk drive that the PC supports - IDE or SATA. Many desktop PCs have motherboards that support both types and you can add a host controller adapter card that supports IDE or SATA drives, but laptops will only support the type of drive that was installed. If the laptop has an IDE drive, you have to buy an extra IDE drive because the wiring is different for a laptop SATA drive and vice versa.

To prevent a repair shop from charging you for replacing hardware components, such as the motherboard, that are not faulty, you can open the machine and place a mark on the circuit boards, hard drive, memory chips, etc., with a marker pen and then take photographs. You can also insist on the return to you of the originals of any replaced components, which must have your marks on them, otherwise they did not belong to your computer. Unfortunately, you need to take action of this kind in order not to be ripped off or have you property abused by the unscrupulous people who operate everywhere these days.

With most desktop PCs you can install several internal hard disk drives that can all function, but you can only install one hard disk drive in a laptop, so you might find the following article useful. It deals with extracting the data from a working hard disk drive in your laptop if the machine itself is damaged and rendered inaccessible.

Extracting data from a dead laptop with a laptop hard drive adapter - http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5160538.html


A list of Windows Vista upgrade error messages in the MS Knowledge Base

A list of Microsoft Knowledge Base articles is available to help troubleshoot error messages that you may receive when you try to upgrade to Windows Vista - This article contains a list of Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that you can use to help troubleshoot issues that you may experience when you try to upgrade the current version of Windows to Windows Vista. - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/930743

Click here! to go to other MS Knowledge Base articles on Windows Vista.

Click here! to go to MS Knowledge Base articles on Windows XP.

How to download updates and drivers from the Windows Update Catalog

"Learn how to download updates, enhancements, and Windows Hardware Quality Lab (WHQL) logo device drivers from the Windows Update Catalog. You can search the Windows Update Catalog to find updates (such as updated system files, service packs, new Windows features, and device drivers) to download and to install across your home or corporate network on Microsoft Windows-based computers that are running Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows XP, or Microsoft Windows Server 2003..." -

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=323166


How much longer will I be able to use Windows XP? - When will Microsoft's support for Windows XP and Product Activation end?

Problem

I have a Dell Latitude laptop PC running Windows XP Home that I bought just before Microsoft stopped selling Windows XP. It came with a free upgrade to Windows Vista. However, I don't want to upgrade to Vista because Vista taxes the hardware far more and I prefer Windows XP. I have read that Windows XP is near the end of its life. I am concerned about this because on two occasions I had to make use of System Restore to roll the system back to a previous date after a driver update degraded the system. On both occasions, I received a message that I had to reactivate Windows within three days. This has to do with the ProductActivation that takes place online or that can be achieved by getting a reactivation code over the phone from Microsoft. So, I would like to know if Microsoft will be retaining Product Activation for Windows XP indefinitely.

Answer

You should not have had to reactivate after only using System Restore, because the activation process is only supposed to activated after a major upgrade of a piece of hardware, such as the computer's motherboard, that makes the system unrecognisable to the installation of Windows XP.

Visit the Product Activation section on this site for more information on it.

Many people are wondering if their Windows XP computers will stop working and are registering their worry in web forums, etc. Let me assure you that there is no need to worry. Microsoft only intends to end support and free security updates for XP in 2014. Moreover, it has no right to prevent any users from using software that they have paid for. Therefore, the product activation line will have to be kept open, or Microsoft will have to issue a fix that removes the need to activate. Indeed, Microsoft has hinted that issuing a fix is the most likely of the two options.

That said, I doubt very much that you will still be using your laptop after 2014. I always intend to go on using a version of Windows, but always give up after using it becomes impractical. That is, when new printers, etc., don't come with device drivers for that particular version of Windows, which is what happened when I gave up on Windows 98.


File and Printer and Sharing in Windows XP/Vista has stopped working between a desktop and laptop/notebook PCs

Problem

I have a Dell Inspiron 530s desktop PC and an HP dv5t Special Edition series laptop/notebook computer. The desktop computer runs Windows XP Professional and the laptop uses Windows Vista Home Premium Edition. My Internet connection is provided by a cable modem connected to a Linksys WRT54G router. The desktop PC is connected to the router by an Ethernet cable. The laptop has a built-in wireless adapter that shares the Internet connection and uses file and printer sharing to share the printer connected to the desktop and share its files. The printer is an HP OfficeJet 5510 All-in-One Printer, Fax, Scanner, Copier MFP updated with the latest drivers. Both computers are now using Kaspersky Internet Security. When I switched the laptop's security from Steganos to Kaspersky, the ability to print and access shared files on my was lost on that PC, which can still connect to the web.

Disconnecting and reconnecting the network and using a new workgroup name [Control Panel => System in XP/Vista] has failed. With the laptop, every time I try to open Start => Network => Network and Sharing Center => View computers and devices under Tasks [It is Start => My Network Places => View workgroup computers under Network Tasks in Windows XP] I get the message "[Desktop PC is not accessible. You may not have permission to use this network resource. Contact the administrator of this server. The list of servers for this network is not available."

I am the administrator for both computers. I have connected the laptop to the router using an Ethernet cable, changed the network cable, tried using a different Ethernet port on the router, and disabled the Windows and Kaspersky firewalls. I've also renamed the network and used the Recovery DVD from HP to repair Windows Vista on the laptop. When I open the Printers in the Control Panel on the laptop the HP OfficeJet that is physically connected to the desktop PC, is shown, but no status information appears when I hold the mouse pointer over its icon. If Windows Update is enabled in the Control Panel, the message "Installing update 1 of 12 do not turn off" come s up when the laptop is shut down, which is annoying, so I have disabled updates. When checking for updates manually, I am told that Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool (KB892130) is required. It starts to download but fails to install and is not listed under Update History and no error code or reason for the failure is provided. The only entry on the Update History is Windows Installer 3.1 April 2008.

Answer

This is most probably a firewall problem.

Check to make sure that only one firewall is running on each PC, not both the Windows Firewall and Kaspersky firewall.

Although Kaspersky's products are usually very good at identifying and removing problems during installation, it is still a possibility that unremoved components of the previous Steganos security software are interfering with the Kaspersky software.

Try entering the command cmd in Vista's Start => Start Search box to open a Command Prompt window and enter the command ipconfig, which should display the laptop's IP address, Default Gateway address (the router's IP address) and the Subnet Mask (usually 255.255.255.0). The default on all Linksys and many other routers is 192.168.1.x, where x can be any number between 2 and 254. The Default Gateway IP address is probably 192.168.1.1 and the Subnet Mask should be 255.255.255.0.

Go to the Kaspersky Internet Security control panel and click on the Zones tab in the Firewall settings area, which should show two zones, one simply called Internet with its type set to Internet, and another with the IP address range of your local network (most likely 192.168.1.1/ 255.255.255.0) with a type of Local network. If there is no entry for local network, or the subnet address doesn't match the results obtained by the ipconfig command, you need to correct that by adding a new entry for your local network. This should solve the problem. If it doesn't, try uninstalling Kaspersky, reboot and then make sure that the laptop computer is set up for file-sharing.

Microsoft Vista Home Networking Setup and Options - http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/webmaster/article.php/3667576

Windows Vista Password Protected File Sharing - http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/biztools/article.php/3667616

Without security protection, try using the printer from the laptop and accessing files on the desktop PC. Visit http://update.microsoft.com/ and install all of the available updates. If file-sharing is working, create a restore point in System Restore so that it can be restored if the next step goes wrong, and reinstall Kaspersky's software. The laptop must be connected to the network while that is being done so that the Kaspersky software sets up the correct values for its local network zone automatically. If Kaspersky's software is still blocking file and printer sharing, contact its technical support for advice on how to fix the problem.


How can I download and save Windows XP/Vista updates to a CD/DVD for future use and then create an image of the updated Windows installation on a DVD?

Question

I want to save Windows XP/Vista updates to CD/DVD so that if I reinstall, I don't have to download them from the Microsoft Update. I would also like to create an image of the updated Windows and save it to DVD for easy install.

Answer

You can't save downloaded updates that install automatically, but you can download updates and burn to CD for later use. Security updates are available on ISO-9660 CD image files from the Microsoft Download Center - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/913086.

You can also download individual updates from the Microsoft Update Catalog and save to be installed later. -

http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/Home.aspx

Click the Add button for each update you want to download. Once you have what you want, Click the Go To Download Basket. Type in or browse to the location where you want the updates saved to and then Click the Download Now button. Once downloaded, you can then burn them to CD.

How to download updates and drivers from the Windows Update Catalog [or from the Microsoft Update Catalog] -

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323166

Other links that may be of interest:

Search for a download - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/search.aspx?displaylang=en

How to install multiple Windows updates or hotfixes with only one reboot - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/296861

For security and other patches released for a given month : http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms##-***.mspx

Replace ## with the two-digit year. Replace *** with the three character month abbreviation. Providing there are releases for that month, you will see the list of Critical and Important security updates for that month. Check on the second Tuesday of each month.

For just the current listing visit http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/current.aspx.

You can also use the following site to install security updates manually:

Windows service packs & updates for Windows XP and Windows Vista - Scroll down the page for the update links -

http://www.softwarepatch.com/windows/index.html

You can use the free Belarc Advisor from http://www.belarc.com/ (look under Free Downloads) to check if you have any missing updates. If Microsoft Update doesn't want to install them, install them manually.

Note that Windows XP SP3 will be available in April 2008 and it will contain all of the updates up to that date. Windows Vista SP1 is available from Microsoft Update - http://update.microsoft.com/.

Visit How to create a boot (startup) CD or a customised setup CD for Windows XP for information on how to create a slipstreamed CD/DVD.

Now that Windows Vista SP1 and SP2 are available, pages will appear with instructions on how to create such a DVD for Windows Vista. You can make use a search engine to locate them. Use a search query such as: slipstream + vista + sp2 (as is). If you need free CD/DVD-burning software, enter a search term such as: free + dvd + burning + software.


Windows Update/Automatic Updates keeps wanting to install the same update. How can I stop Windows Update from repeatedly offering the same patch?

Problem 1

I am plagued by a Windows Update which will not install - but the Task Bar icon and message telling me I have updates to be installed will not go away! The update is MS NET Framework 1.1 SP1 (KB 979906) and presumably will not install because I have un-installed all NET Framework from my PC; that was due to a problem I had a few months ago and was advised here that I could live quite comfortably without NET Framework - which has proved to be true. I just want to get rid of the constant reminder about this update, but if anybody advises me differently I would welcome that.

Answer

You haven't said which version of Windows you're using. Automatic Updates (in the Control Panel in Windows XP) is called Windows Update in the Control Panel in Windows Vista and Windows 7. If you want to prevent a single update from being installed, in Windows XP, first change the Automatic Updates setting by right-clicking with the mouse pointer on My Computer, click Properties on the menu that comes up, and then click on the Automatic Updates tab of the window that comes up. Select the Notify me but don't automatically download and install them option. When Windows notifies you from the System Tray (Notification Area) that updates are waiting, click on the shield icon and choose the Custom option. It lists the updates that can be installed, allowing you to choose not to install any of them. If you remove the check mark beside any of the updates with the mouse, another window called Hide Updates presents itself. It has the option called Don't notify me about these updates again.

Problem 2

My Sony Vaio notebook computer keeps on receiving repeated automatic updates for the update called KB 924885: Windows Outlook E-mail Junk Filter. I keep installing it, and have even run Windows Update from Internet Explorer 7 to make sure that the update is installed, but that KB number never appears in the Add or Remove Programs list (with its Show updates option checked). Is there any way to break this highly annoying cycle, because I wouldn't know where to start?

Answer

Read the information provided below on fixing your particular problem, but if you have a problem with Windows Update, if you can't fix it, the first port of call should be the Windows Update Troubleshooter: http://v4.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/troubleshoot/

The new Microsoft Fix It Center software can fix problems and it also provides an online presence that allows Microsoft to provide you with further help. It provides several troubleshooters for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. The later the version of Windows, the more the troubleshooters that are provided. - http://fixitcenter.support.microsoft.com/

Using the search query windows update troubleshooter in a search engine provides links to information on fixing problems with Windows Update.

Windows 7 provides a Windows Update troubleshooter (one of many). To run it, enter the word troubleshoot in the Start => Search programs and files box, then click on the link provided called Find and fix problems. Under the System and Security heading, click on the Fix problems with Windows Update link.

A cycle of the kind that you described can happen after an aborted installation of any security update or patch.

An initial installation usually fails, leaving behind files, etc., that would normally be cleaned up. The leftover files, etc., then prevent Windows Update from completing subsequent installation attempts successfully, leading to an endless cycle of requests for the user to download and install the update.

If there is a C:\WUtemp folder, try removing any reference to the failed installation in it. Then download and install the troublesome KB 924885 file manually. If necessary read How to download updates and drivers from the Windows Update Catalog. You could also try using the Windows Update Troubleshooter.

If you want to prevent a single update from being installed, in Windows XP, first change the Automatic Updates setting by right-clicking with the mouse on My Computer, click Properties on the menu that comes up, and then click on the Automatic Updates tab of the window that comes up. Select the Notify me but don't automatically download and install them option. When Windows notifies you from the System Tray (Notification Area) that updates are waiting, click on the shield icon and choose the Custom option. It lists the updates that can be installed, allowing you to choose not to install any of them. If you remove the check mark beside any of the updates with the mouse, another window called Hide Updates presents itself. It has the option called Don't notify me about these updates again.

In Windows Vista, you change the Windows Update setting. To do that, click the Start button, right-click Computer, under Tasks click on Windows Update. Click on Change settings in the window that comes up, and then choose the option called: Check for updates but let me choose when to download and install them.

Read How can I download and save Windows XP/Vista updates to a CD/DVD for future use and then create an image of the updated Windows installation on a DVD? on this page for download links to Microsoft's site allow you to download the updates manually or to download an ISO image containing the updates that can the burned to create a CD/DVD.

You can also use the following site to install security updates manually:

Windows service packs & updates for Windows XP and Windows Vista - Scroll down the page for the update links -

http://www.softwarepatch.com/windows/index.html

You can use the free Belarc Advisor from http://www.belarc.com/ (look under Free Downloads) to check if you have any missing updates. If Microsoft Update doesn't want to install them, install them manually from the above site.

Updates are not installed successfully from Windows Update, from Microsoft Update, or by using Automatic Updates after you perform a new Windows XP installation or you repair a Windows XP installation -

"When you try to install updates from the Windows Update Web site, from the Microsoft Update Web site, or by using the Automatic Updates feature, you receive a message that states that the update or the updates were not installed successfully. However, the updates are not displayed in the Update History part of the Web site." - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/943144


How can I prevent Windows XP or Windows Vista from pestering me to download and install Windows Genuine Advantage Notification (KB905474)

Problem

On several occasions after a Windows update, I have been asked to download and install Windows Genuine Advantage Notification (KB905474). I registered my copy of Windows XP Pro when I purchased it in 2005, so I am finding this impertinent and annoying. I know that I could turn off Automatic Updates (Windows Update in Windows Vista), but I obviously don't want to do that given the number of updates rated critical that come out every month. Is there an easy way to stop this from happening?

Answer

This is a very common complaint, the most annoying aspect of which is that the update often fails to install properly, consequently other usually critical updates get caught behind it in the queue and also fail to install.

All you have to do is open the Control Panel and choose Automatic Updates (XP) or Windows Update (Vista). Choose to enable the option that allows the updates to be downloaded but lets you choose when to install them. Then visit the Microsoft Update site - http://update.microsoft.com/. It will scan your computer and let you know which updates it requires. You will then be given the choice of Express or Custom installation. Choose Custom and look down the list of updates until you find the entry for Windows Genuine Advantage. Remove the tick in its checkbox and enable the "Don't show me this update again" option. Now this update will never be downloaded again, so you can change your Automatic Updates/Windows Update settings back to Automatic.

There is also a Registry hack that you can use. It is provided on this page:

How To Disable Windows Genuine Advantage Notification in 3 Simple Steps -

http://blog.taragana.com/index.php/archive/how-to-disable-windows-genuine-advantage-notification-in-3-simple-steps/

To open the Registry Editor, enter regedit in the Start => Run box (for XP) and the Start => Start Search box (Vista). In Vista's Start Search box, you just have to leave the mouse pointer in front of the command in the box and press the Enter key.


I can't remove Adobe Reader 7.0.7 with Add or Remove Programs in order to install Adobe Reader 8.0

Problem

My computer is running Windows XP Home Edition SP2. I want to update Adobe Reader 7.0.7 to version 8.0, but when I attempt to remove it using Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel, this error message is produced: "This patch could not be opened. Verify that the patch exists and that you can access it, or contact the application vendor to verify that this is a valid Windows installer patch package."

Answer

You have added several patches to the original version 7.0 of the Adobe Reader to turn it into version 7.0.7. Some of the patch installation information must be missing, which is preventing Add or Remove Programs from uninstalling the program.

Because this is such a common problem, Microsoft has written a utility that fixes it.

Description of the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility - http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=290301

When you have installed the utility, use it to select all of the various updates to the Adobe Reader and remove them. You should then be able to install version 8.0.

However, note that sometimes it is necessary to remove the program manually. For instructions on how to do that, visit http://www.adobe.com/ and search for "manually remove adobe reader". To remove Adobe Reader 7.0, you can also search for kb400728.


I installed Windows Vista Premium, but some of my software and my printer/scanner/copier no longer work. How can I go back to Windows XP?

Question

After I upgraded my PC to Windows Vista Premium from Windows XP Home in April 2007, I discovered that some of my software and my MFP printer/scanner/copier no longer work. There are currently no Vista drivers for the MFP, so I want to revert to Windows XP until all of the issues with Windows Vista have been resolved. How can I do that?

Answer

Look up Compatibility Mode in Vista's Start => Help and Support, because you might be able to use it to run software that worked under Windows XP by using it to make Windows Vista run it as if it is being run by Windows XP.

The following MS Knowledge Base Articles provide you with the information required to go back to Windows XP:

How to go back to Windows XP after you have upgraded a Windows XP-based computer to Windows Vista -

After you upgrade a Microsoft Windows XP-based computer to Windows Vista, you may decide to remove Windows Vista. However, in the Programs and Features item in Control Panel, there is no option to remove Windows Vista. This article describes how to remove Windows Vista by reverting to Windows XP. - http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=933170&SD=tech


When I run Windows Backup in Windows Vista to copy files to a DVD I get a "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error 0x8007045D" error message

Problem

When I run Windows Backup in Windows Vista to copy files to a DVD I get a "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error 0x8007045D" error message. Some files are written to the DVD, Windows says that the backup is not complete and keeps asking to rerun the backup. Other users have reported this error message when backing up or transferring files to hard disk drives. One suggestion I found on the web said to switch off System Restore and then run Windows Backup. However, it did not work in my case. I also saw a suggestion that there might be a conflict with Norton AntiVirus, which I use. Is there a fix for this problem? If not, is there any inexpensive and reliable backup software that I can use instead?

Answer

Many users are having this problem with Windows Backup and the Complete PC Backup and Restore program that is incorporated into Vista Business Edition and Vista Ultimate Edition. Unfortunately, the message doesn't provide the causes, of which there are at least three that give the same error message.

1. - The PC's DVD writer could have a hardware fault (or a faulty cable, etc.), or the discs you are using could be the cause, but that is unlikely in your case.

2. - You could be trying to back up files or folders for which you do not have the correct access rights. If that was the case, the error messages would list the specific files that are responsible. If you are the only user of the computer and it is running Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium, that is unlikely to be the cause. Run the Windows hard-disk-drive diagnostic utility, Chkdsk, to make sure that the NTFS file system is not corrupted, causing the backup program to get confused. Click here! to go to information on Chkdsk on this site.

3. - A problem with the Volume Shadow Copy Service is the most likely cause of the problem. This service makes snapshot copies of files at a particular point in time. It allows a user to roll back to a previous version of a file if it was overwritten accidentally. Only Vista Business and Vista Ultimate Editions have this rollback feature, but all of the versions of Vista use shadow copies for System Restore and to perform backups of files that are in use. The copies are backed up instead of the original files that are in use and therefore cannot be accessed.

Running out of hard-disk space is the most prevalent problem with the Shadow Copy Service, because it requires plenty of disk space for the shadow copies and the compressed Zip (.zip) files that creates before writing them to a DVD. The computer should have plenty of disk space if it has a large hard disk drive (100GB to 250GB) formatted as a single partition. However, if the drive has several smaller partitions, or you have upgraded to Vista from Windows XP, and the C: drive was already full of installed programs, there could be insufficient disk space.

Some users have found that deleting restore points created by System Restore fixes the problem. This is because restore points make use of the same shadow-copy space as the backup program. In order not to disable System Restore, you should use the Disk Cleanup utility under Start => Programs => Accessories => System Tools, because it has an option to remove all but the most recently created restore point.

To find out how much disk space has been allocated to shadow storage on each disk volume/partition, click on Start => Programs => Accessories and right-click with the mouse on the Command Prompt reference/icon. Choose Run as Administrator and in the command window enter:

vssadmin List ShadowStorage [press the enter key]

Entering vssadmin /? brings up a list of the available vssadmin commands.

The amount of shadow copy storage on the C: drive can be changed with this command (typed on a single line):

vssadmin resize shadowstorage /on=C:/For=C /MaxSize=10GB

This command sets the size to 10GB. You can specify the drive letter and the size yourself.

To find out what the shadow storage is being used for, enter this command that creates a very long list:

vssadmin List Shadow

The Windows Backup that is built into Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium Editions appears to be buggy. It might be fixed with Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), which at the time of writing (January, 2008) had not been released . You might prefer to use an alternative backup program. AIS Backup from http://www.aiscl.co.uk/ is inexpensive. It has a trial period of 30 days.

"AISBackup works with the following Microsoft Operating System's: Windows Vista (all versions), Windows XP (all versions), Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 RC0 (see below), Windows 2000 client and server, Windows NT4, Windows ME, Windows 98SE, Windows 98 and Windows 95 (Release 1 and 2). Some earlier versions of Microsoft Windows Operating system's do not support all the features in AISBackup."


I have encountered software problems after I upgraded a Dell Inspiron to Windows Vista

Problem

I have a Dell Inspiron 1501 laptop PC that came with Windows XP Home, an AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core processor, and 1GB of RAM, which is designated as being Windows Vista Capable. I was given an upgrade copy of Windows Vista Business, so I installed it. Two problems became apparent immediately: the sound wouldn't work and I couldn't play DVDs. Dell support in India sorted out the sound by providing me with a download link to the correct Vista sound-card driver, but said that as the DVD was working previously, it was a software problem, and, since I hadn't installed a Dell Vista upgrade, I had to pay to speak with software support. I refused that option because the computer has a three-year onsite warranty. How can I fix the DVD problem without having to pay Dell's support to tell me how to go about it?

Answer

You have caused the DVD problem yourself by not installing a copy of Windows Vista that was supplied by Dell, therefore Dell's support is correct in not providing you with free support. Microsoft supports retail copies and copies obtained directly from the company.

Your DVD problem has been caused by upgrading the Windows XP installation to Windows Vista instead of installing a clean installation. If you have another empty partition on the hard disk drive, you could probably have kept the Windows XP installation and installed Windows Vista to it. In that case, Windows Vista installs a boot manager that allows you to choose which version of Windows to boot with at startup.

Problems of this sort arise because some of the software programs and drivers that can run on Windows XP are not compatible with Windows Vista and so won't run. You should have uninstalled the programs in Control Panel = > Add or Remove Programs and removed the affected devices in the Device Manager before upgrading to Vista.

Note that the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor is no longer being provided by Microsoft due to the fact that at the time of updating this Q&A, Windows 8 had been made available (on 26 october 2012) and Microsoft only provides the Upgrade Advisor for the latest version.

If you visit the Drivers and Downloads section of http://support.dell.com/ and select Windows Vista, you are provided with a list of most of the downloads that you need.

For those of you who are still suffering from the sound problem, there is a note in the Frequently Asked Questions for your model about missing sound after using an upgrade DVD supplied by Microsoft instead of Dell. You have to uninstall the Sigmatel HD program and then install the Vista-compatible version.

The DVD problem was probably caused by the Roxio (aka Sonic) CD/DVD-writing software that came with the computer. It is not compatible with Vista and screws the DVD drive up when used. You should uninstall all Roxio/Sonic applications and download and install the latest Vista-compatible versions from Dell's support site.

You may need to install a firmware update for your DVD drive, the make and model of which should be shown in the Device Manager. You can obtain it either from its manufacturer's site or from Dell's support site - http://support.dell.com/ for that model. Make sure that it is firmware for that specific model of DVD drive.

Vista should have downloaded and installed the latest device drivers, but you can check that this is so by visiting Microsoft Update. You make use of the Custom option.


Going into Hibernate mode in Windows Vista Home Premium crashes my laptop/notebook computer

Problem

My Packard Bell Easynote L4014 laptop PC has had its original 256MB of RAM memory upgraded to 1GB. The computer used to go into Hibernate mode correctly in Windows XP, but since I performed a clean installation of Windows Vista Home Premium, it has crashed after seemingly going into hibernation. The settings under Power Options in the Control Panel make the computer go into hibernation when I close the lid or press the power button. Unfortunately, hibernation mode crashes the PC no matter which way it goes into hibernation, including manually from the Start menu. As far as I know, it has enough memory to use Hibernation mode in Vista.

Answer

Most hibernation problems, which are either incomplete hibernation or failure to restart after hibernation, are the result of a device driver issue.

The Windows Vista device drivers could have bugs, so check for updated drivers by visiting Microsoft Update - http://update.microsoft.com/. Choose the Custom option and look in the hardware category. You don't need to know which drivers to install, just allow the service to install all of the available updates.

When a PC goes into Hibernate mode, Windows writes all of the contents of the RAM memory into the hibernate file (Hiberfil.sys, a hidden system file in the root directory, C:\), which means that the hibernate file has to be a bit larger than the total amount of RAM memory in the computer. However. Sometimes the hibernate file doesn't increase in size when you add more memory.

If that has not happened, to rectify the situation, open the Start => Control Panel => Power Options. Click on the Hibernation tab and clear the check box called Enable Hibernation with your mouse and click the Apply button. Windows will delete the hibernation file. Now you should run the Disk Defragmenter to consolidate the files on the hard disk drive.

To open the Disk Defragmenter in Windows Vista, click the Start button and type Disk Defragmenter in the Search box, and then double-click its reference in the list of results.

Now go back into Start => Control Panel => Power Options and enable hibernation by placing a check mark in the Enable Hibernation with the mouse pointer. Windows will create a new hibernation file of the correct size. Now try going into hibernation to find out if that action has worked.


Windows Update keeps rebooting/restarting my computer without saving opened files

Problem

I have Windows Update set to download updates automatically, but when it has finished downloading updates it usually wants to restart the computer. It then starts a countdown, and, unless I tell it to wait, it restarts the system without saving the opened files of applications that are running. Is there any way to prevent Windows from doing this short of disabling Automatic Updates/Windows Update?

Answer

The problem only occurs if the default setting of Automatic Updates (Windows XP) and Windows Update (Windows Vista) is enabled. The default and recommended setting is: Automatically download recommended updates for my computer and install them (according to the default time schedule or one that you have chosen. It only happens when one or more of the updates requires a restart in order to complete the installation.

Automatic Updates/Windows Update chooses to download and install updates at 3:00 a.m. by default. If the computer was switched off at that time, or power-saving settings have made it hibernate, updating takes place when the computer is next switched on and is online. When it has to restart, it gives the user a five-minute warning. The user can choose an option that prevents a restart taking place for five minutes, after which the five-minute warning reappears. If the user is away from the computer for longer than five minutes, it reboots and any unsaved data is lost.

To prevent Automatic Updates/Windows Update from restarting the computer after the updates have been downloaded, you have to use the Registry Editor. Before editing the Registry, it's advisable to create a restore point in System Restore so that if anything goes wrong, you can restore the system by running System Restore in Safe Mode, which is entered by pressing the F8 key repeatedly at startup before Windows starts to load.

To open the Registry Editor, enter regedit in the Start => Run box in Windows XP. In Windows Vista, enter it in the Start => Start Search box. With the editor open, navigate through this path: Hkey_Local Machine => Software => Policies => Microsoft => Windows. With Windows highlighted in the left-hand window, you should see a number of subordinate keys under it. If there is not one there called WindowsUpdate, click within the right-hand window and choose New => Key. Type in the name WindowsUpdate (with no space). Highlight the new WindowsUpdate key in the left-hand window and right-click in the right-hand window's space. Choose New => Key as before and call the new key AU. In the AU folder's space in the right-hand window, choose New => Dword Value and name it NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers. Click on the new value and enter a value of 1. If all of the keys were already there, just make sure that NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers has a value of 1.

Now, Windows will still inform you that the installed updates require a restart, but, instead of providing a countdown, it will wait until the user is ready to restart the computer.


My Dell Inspiron laptop computer is incredibly slow when starting up with Svchost using 98% of processor time

Problem

My Dell Inspiron laptop PC, which runs Windows XP Home, is incredibly slow for several minutes every time it starts up. It runs normally after it is fully booted, but repeats the slow startup every time it is switched on. I pressed the Ctrl + Alt + Del key combination in order to find out what the processor usage is under the Performance tab of the Windows Task Manager. It showed it as 100%. I looked under the Processes tab. A service called SVCHOST.EXE was shown as using 98% of processor time. There were several other entries for SVCHOST.EXE, with each of them showing as using zero processor time and different amounts of memory. Is my computer infected by a virus?

Answer

No, your computer is not infected by a virus, but what is causing the problem could be called spyware even though Microsoft is responsible for installing it.

Windows Task Manager doesn't provide detailed information on the running processes, making it easy to to confuse legitimate files with a virus or spyware.

Svchost (short for Service Host) is a small .exe system file that is part of Windows, which uses it to load services or groups of services. Each group of services loads as a separate process. That is why there are multiple instances of Svchost.exe shown under Processes. It can hog the processor's time to such an extent that the mouse becomes difficult to control because it lags behind when you try to move it across the screen.

There is an excellent utility called Process Explorer from Windows Sysinternals that can tell you which service/services are responsible for the high processor usage.

Process Explorer for Windows - http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/ProcessesAndThreads/ProcessExplorer.mspx

"Installation: Simply run Process Explorer (procexp.exe). The help file describes Process Explorer operation and usage. If you have problems or questions please visit the Sysinternals Process Explorer Forum."

Run the program when processor usage is high and then wait until the Process Explorer window appears. You look down the processor column to find out which process is using most of the processor time. It lists all of the running processes and provides a description of each of them and the processor time that it uses. When minimised, it shows as an icon in the System Tray (Notification Area). When the mouse pointer is held over the icon, it shows the current processor usage and the name of the process with the highest processor use.

Process Explorer shows which services each instance of Service Host (svchost) is running. You will probably discover that the problem is caused by Wuauclt.exe, which is the Windows Automatic Updates service.

Since October 2006, on certain computers, but inexplicably not on others, Automatic Updates uses most of the processor's processing capability. It just seems to be checking which updates are installed. The problem has worsened since April 2007. Microsoft should have produced a fix for the problem, but thus far it has not produced one that works in every case, because there is more than one cause.

You can try using the following fix. Enter services.msc in the Start => Run box to bring up the Services window. Locate the Automatic Updates service. Visit this link http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43264. It will offer to download a file called WindowsUpdateAgent20-x86.exe. Don't run it until you've done the following. Use Windows Explorer (right-click Start => Explore) to located C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution. Right-click on the SoftwareDistribution folder and use the Rename facility to rename it as SoftwareDistributionX. Locate the C:\Windows\ WindowsUpdate.log (use the Start => Search facility if necessary) and rename it WindowsUpdateX.log. Now run the downloaded WindowsUpdateAgent20-x86.exe file and restart the computer.

If that doesn't do the trick, the problem may be caused by the Windows Installer service, which is described in this MS Knowledge Base article:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/916089

The article links to the updated version of the Msi.dll, which must replace the existing version.

If doing that doesn't work try deleting the contents of the C:\WINDOWS\System32\Catroot2 folder. The folder itself must not be deleted, just its contents.

If none of these fixes works, you should just disable Automatic Updates (in the Start => Control Panel), and remember to check the Windows Updates site - http://update.microsoft.com/ - for updates every week.

Microsoft might succeed in producing an update that works in every case. Automatic Updates can be tested to find out if the problem is fixed by entering wuauclt /rundetect in the Start => Run box.


Windows XP was messed up during shutdown

Problem

I shut down my desktop PC that runs Windows XP in the usual way using Start => Turn Off Computer, but for some reason the hard-disk light and the fan stayed on, so I pushed the on/off button in and held it there for several seconds to force the machine to switch off. I expected it to run the hard disk diagnostic utility chkdsk when I next booted up, which happened, but it started deleting many corrupt files, which it then began recreating. This took a long time. When I came back to the computer, the normal login screen was showing, so I logged on. However, I soon noticed that only the Comodo firewall and two other icons were in the System Tray (Notification Area). The AVG AntiVirus icon was missing. When I opened the program manually, it wouldn't minimise to the System Tray, but it could perform a system scan, which turned up nothing. There are several other non-functioning features, such as any opened program refusing to minimise. The Recovery CD refuses to load because it says that a later version of Windows XP is installed than is on the CD. Microsoft refused to provide me with support because the computer has an OEM version of Windows installed that is supported by its manufacturer. The computer is out of warranty, so its manufacturer isn't interested in providing any support. Is there any way of recovering the system other than buying a retail copy of Windows XP and installing it?

Answer

This is what can happen if you force a computer running Windows XP/Vista to switch off in the way that you did. If you had created a full system backup, which includes Windows and your data files, with, say, a disk-imaging program, recovery would have been a simple matter of restoring it.

It appears as if Windows downloaded some updates of the kind that are installed while the computer shuts down. Before this happens, the Start => Turn Off Computer icon changes to include a Windows Security shield and the shutdown screen says: "Install updates and shut down," and warns the user not to turn off the power before the updates have been installed.

You should test the hard disk drive by making use of its manufacturer's diagnostic program. A list of links to hard-drive diagnostic programs is supplied at the top of Hard Disk Problems pages on this site. You should be able to identify the drive's manufacturer in the Device Manager under Disk drives. Note well, that if your computer's hard drive is starting to fail, you should back up the system, or, at the very least save copies of your data files to a CD/DVD, flash drive, etc., because the testing process could kill a failing drive.

If the computer's manufacturer had supplied a Windows XP installation CD instead of a Recovery CD, you would be able to repair Windows. However, you have a Recovery CD. Most Recovery CDs restore the system to the state it was in when it left the factory and in doing so remove any programs and files that have been added by the user. Since you can't use the Recovery CD because it detects a later version of Windows, you could format the hard drive and then run the Recovery CD. The easiest way to do that would be to boot the system with a Windows XP installation CD (which you probably don't have) and then use its format option. However, you can obtain the files for a boot disk from http://www.bootdisk.com/. To find out which switches can be used with the format command, enter cmd in the Start => Run box and then enter format /? at the command prompt. You must format the drive as either NTFS or FAT32, depending on which file system is in use for the C: drive. You can find out which one it is by opening My Computer and looking under File System for that drive.

If the problem is the result of corrupt Registry files, you can use System Restore to repair the damage if it was enabled for the C: drive. If it was enabled, but won't work click here! to go to the information on System Restore on this site.

Chkdsk (the Windows XP hard-drive diagnostic program) could have saved the recovered folders and sub-folders with their correct names but could have placed them in the root directory (C:\) instead of in the proper folders (C:\Windows\system32, etc.) If you know where the system files belong, or you have access to a working installation of Windows XP, you could use Windows Explorer to find out where they go and then move them to their correct folders.

If Service Pack 2 (SP2) was installed on an original copy of Windows XP, you might be able to fix the problem by uninstalling it (via Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel) and then reinstalling it. If you can't uninstall it because there is no option in Add or Remove Programs, try reinstalling it. If you don't have a copy on a CD, you can obtain SP2 from http://support.microsoft.com/. It is a large download, so you'll need to use a broadband connection.

Finally, you could buy a new hard disk drive and install it as the boot drive and the old drive as a slave/secondary drive. You can buy IDE or SATA internal hard disk drives, so make sure you buy one that is supported by your computer's motherboard. Visit the Hard Disk Drives section of this site for more information on them. You could then run your Recovery CD so that it installs Windows XP on the new drive and then copy your data files from the old drive to the new drive using Windows Explorer (right-click Start => Explore). If you created any folders on the old drive, you'll have to recreate them in the new installation of Windows XP.


Most email accounts won't accept large files as attachments, so how can I email a large collection of digital photos?

Question

I want to email a large collection of digital photos to friends and family that consists of about 25 images that come to 80MB. Most broadband connections are fast enough for a relatively quick transfer, but most email services won't accept such a large attachment. Is there a way to overcome this limitation?

Answer

Most email services allow attachments of between 10 and 20MB, so you could try sending them in smaller groups, which is a tedious business. The best method is to zip them up into a single .zip file using Zip compression and then send it through a file-delivery service such as YouSendIt.com.

You can use WinZip or Windows XP/Vista to zip the files.

To create a zipped compressed folder open My Computer/Computer. Double-click a drive or folder. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Compressed (zipped) Folder. Type a name for the new folder, and then press ENTER. Then all you have to do is drag-and-drop files into the zipped folder to add them. Note that this option is removed if you have WinZip installed, because it takes over as the default zip program. With WinZip installed, just select the files that you want to zip with your mouse and then right-click on them and choose the WinZip option. WinZip itself contains help files that can answer any other questions that you may have.

You would then visit http://www.yousendit.com/, enter your email address and the address of your recipient, and browse to the zip file that you created. YouSendIt.com is free for files up to 100MB. If you have a larger file, you could spit the contents half and send it as two files.


Why have some of my Outlook Express 6 folders with emails in them disappeared and how can I get them back?

Problem

I use Outlook Express 6 for my email. I had 25 folders with emails in them, but, for some unknown reason, the saved emails from folders 15 to 25 have disappeared. Folders 1 to 14 still have all of their emails. The .dbx files that hold them show up as being of several megabytes in size, so it looks as if the emails are still there, but just aren't being shown as being there by Outlook Express. Is there any easy or complex way to recover them?

Answer

Unfortunately, Outlook Express (OE) is prone to corrupting its data if there are too many folders for it to manage, or too many stored emails. For that reason, you should limit the size of each folder to under 2MB in size. If you want speedy access, you should keep each folder under about 400KB in size.

Your email is no doubt still there. Each folder is stored in a file with a .dbx extension, which contains both the messages and the indexing information. For some reason, the indexing information must have become corrupt. Most other applications, such as Quicken and QuickBooks, that store information in a database, have a re-index function that can rebuild a corrupt index, but OE does not. However, its messages can be recovered.

You should first make a backup of the folders in which OE is storing your email. The easiest way to do that is to use OE Quick backup program from http://www.oehelp.com/oebackup. When you have a backup, you can attempt to repair the corruption.

OE stores its list of folders in a folders.dbx folder, which can become corrupted so that the folders are not seen at all by OE rather than being empty.

Here is how to fix a corrupt folders.dbx file:

Open OE and click on Tools, choose Options, open the Maintenance tab, and click on the Store Folder button. The emails are stored in a folder that has a very long pathname. The Store Location window that comes up provides it. With my copy of OE it is: C:\Documents and Settings\Eric Legge\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{85122382-CF62-4EB7-9F8D-D92E6BFD4C42}\Microsoft\Outlook Express.

Copy the pathname, close OE, and then paste it into the Start => Run box in Windows XP. (In Windows Vista it is the Start => Start Search box.) A Windows Explorer window opens that contains the message folder files. You can use this method to make backup copies of them instead of using the OE Quick backup program.

In Windows Explorer, make sure that the option to show file extensions (.dbx, etc.) is enabled. The option can be set from the Tools menu, Folder Options, View tab. Make sure that the box beside Hide extensions for known file types has no check mark in it. Click OK.

Now right-click on the folders.dbx file and use the Rename option to rename it something such as folders.old. Open OE and Windows will create a new folders.dbx file. If the only corruption was to the folders.dbx file, then your email folders should now be visible in OE. Note that if you use OE to view newsgroups, that newsgroup data might have been lost. If so, you'll have to make OE download the newgroups again. Subfolders can also be moved to different positions, so, if you use message-filtering rules, you may have to edit them.

If that fix didn't work, another quick fix will either fix the problem or destroy the missing emails, so make sure that they are backed up before you try using it.

In OE, open the File menu, choose Folders, then Compact All Folders. Compacting the emails, frees up space by removing gaps left by deleted messages, but the process of compacting should make OE determine that the index is corrupted and then correct it.

If compaction hasn't worked, exit OE and restore your backup copy of the files to the location that the long pathname mentioned above brought you to. Now you can only make use of recovery tools/utilities that can extract what appears to be emails from the corrupted .dbx file and store each message in a separate file with an .eml extension, which is the extension that OE uses for each email message. There are several such tools/utilities available. Some of them work better on certain corrupted files than others, so you may have to try several of them to find out which ones work best for your corrupted files.

To locate these tools/utilities, you can make use of a search engine. Use a search query such as: "outlook express" + recovery + utility.

DBExpress - http://www.oehelp.com/DBXpress - £12/$25

Recovery Toolbox for Outlook Express - http://www.recoverytoolbox.com/ - £13/$27

DBX Backup (can also recover corrupt OE folders) - http://www.mailnavigator.com/outlook-express-dbx-backup.html - £14/$29


My Windows XP Pro computer with a USB keyboard won't boot into Safe Mode

Problem

After I was infected by spyware pop-ups, such as ErrorSafe and DriveCleaner, I was advised in a computer forum to update all of the anti-spyware tools I use and to boot into Safe Mode by pressing the F8 key after the memory count, because the scanners work more effectively in that mode. But, no matter how many times I press the F8 key at startup, my computer just continues to load Windows XP Professional. My computer has a USB Logitech iTouch keyboard. Is there any other way to force Windows to boot into Safe Mode?

Answer

The problem is no doubt caused by the fact that the device driver for the USB Logitech keyboard isn't being installed until after Windows XP has started to load, which is normal for USB device drivers, so you can't use it to enter Safe Mode by pressing the F8 key before Windows starts to load. You probably won't be able to enter the BIOS setup program for the same reason. You have to press the BIOS entry key(s) before Windows starts to install. That means that you won't be able to enter the BIOS in order to enable Legacy system support for a USB keyboard and USB mouse, which would install USB keyboard and mouse device drivers before Windows starts to load. To enter the BIOS would therefore require the use of a standard PS/2 keyboard, the device driver for which is installed before Windows starts to load. The motherboards of all standard desktop PCs have PS/2 ports for a mouse and a keyboard. You have to use the PS/2 keyboard port for a keyboard and the PS/2 mouse port for a mouse. Fortunately, most motherboards indicate in writing which motherboard port is for the keyboard and which port is for the mouse. Visit the Keyboards page on this site for more information on keyboards.

If you don't have a PS/2 keyboard, you can use the following method to force Windows XP/Windows Vista to boot into Safe Mode.

Open the System Configuration utility by entering msconfig in the Start => Run box. (In Windows Vista, enter msconfig in the Start => Start Search box.) Open the BOOT.INI tab by clicking on it with the mouse. There is a setting called SAFEBOOT under the Boot Options heading. Place a check mark in its box with the mouse pointer. The MINIMAL radio button is enabled by default. You can enable the NETWORK radio button if you want to boot into Safe Mode with network support. Windows will now boot into Safe Mode the next time Windows is booted. You can run your spyware scanners and then open the System Configuration utility (while still in Safe Mode) in order to disable the SAFEBOOT setting so that Windows boots into normal mode when the system is restarted.


Halfway into upgrading Windows 98 to Windows XP my computer froze and then wouldn't start up

Problem

Because Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows 98 with security updates, I decided to upgrade my Windows 98 SE computer to Windows XP Home Edition. I purchased the Upgrade version of Windows XP Home and ran the CD. Unfortunately, about half way into the installation, it froze, and the computer wouldn't start up when I switched it off and restarted it. It is as if it has no operating system installed. Microsoft recommended that I contact a reputable computer technician and get him or her to perform what is called a parallel installation of Windows in order to get the computer working again. The technician that I called did not know what a parallel installation was, but he said that the cost of recovering the computer would be high. He recommended that I buy a new computer and then pay him £100 to transfer the data files from the old computer to the new one. I have now bought a new computer and I would like to know if there is an easy way to transfer the data files from the old computer to the new one.

Answer

The technician you contacted provided you with some very poor advice, because your computer could have been made to work again without too much effort or expense.

When you upgrade a fairly elderly computer from Windows 98 SE to Windows XP, the setup procedure attempts to keep all of the software programs and settings that were installed by Windows 98. The accumulated entries in the Windows Registry can cause the conversion process problems that can make it freeze in the way that you described. There might also not have been enough hard-disk-drive space for the installation, or there could have been bad sectors on a previously unused part of the hard disk drive, both of which could have caused a frozen installation procedure.

If the system is recoverable, the best way to recover it is to perform what is known as a parallel installation of Windows XP, which involves installing it into a different folder to the default C:\Windows folder, or even to a different drive partition of the hard disk drive (say, to drive E: instead of into an alternative folder on drive C:). During the setup procedure, you are given the option to choose your own drive or folder in which to install Windows. Either option would provide the computer with a clean installation of Windows XP. You could then use the working installation of Windows to move data from the installation of Windows 98, which you could still access with Windows Explorer (right-click Start => Explore).

In any case, you should be able to uninstall Windows XP by booting the computer with its CD in the CD/DVD drive. The uninstallation process returns the system to using Windows 98. You may have to set the CD/DVD drive as the first boot device in the BIOS setup program in order to be able to boot the system from it. You could then run the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, which is also run from the installation CD. Visit the Windows XP: How to use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (FAST) page on this site for more information on it. If your PC has a CD/DVD writer, the FAST wizard allows you to copy the files and settings that you want to keep into a large file that you can burn to a recordable CD/DVD disc, and then it allows you to restore them to a working copy of Windows XP from the disc.

Alternatively, if both of your computers are desktop machines, you could open the case of the new computer, disconnect its CD/DVD drive and use its cable to connect the hard disk drive that you have removed from the old computer to the new computer. With the old hard disk drive temporarily installed in your new computer, you could make use of the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard on the new computer to re-import your old files and settings. This method also allows you to copy files across manually by using Windows Explorer to access the old drive in the new computer.

Click here! to visit the page on the Build Your Own PC section of this site that deals with installing a hard disk drive.

For your information, if Windows XP has been fully installed, you can uninstall it by making use of its entry in Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel. For additional information, enter Uninstall Windows XP in the Search box of Start => Help and Support.


System Restore won't work. What do I have to do to get System Restore to work?

Problem

I am having a problem with System Restore in Windows XP. I can create a new restore point, but whenever I try to restore it, the message "Restoration incomplete. No changes made." is produced. Is there any kind of workaround for this problem?

Answer

Every restore point that System Restore creates contains a complete backup copy of the Windows Registry, and backup copies of the system files that have changed since the previous restore point was created. When System Restore restores the system to the state it was in on the date the restore point it is restoring was created, it has to remove all of the changes that have been made since that restore point was created. If there were any restore points created in between the one being restored, it has to go through them to find out what it needs to remove. If any of the files that those restore points should contain is missing or corrupt, it refuses to restore.

Spyware and virus scanners are often responsible for making System Restore fail to work. The restore points are stored in a folder called System Volume Information, which the malware scanners search through. If they find any infected files stored in them, they offer to remove them. But as soon as the user agrees to remove the files, that restore point and all of the previous restore points becomes useless, because none of them can access all of the information or files that it needs to undo changes. System Restore can't tell the difference between infected files and non-infected files, so it refuses to work if a restore point it needs to access has any missing files.

However, if this is the case, you can still at least perform a partial system restore. When Windows boots, access to the System Restore files in System Volume Information folder is blocked. But you can access the folder if you boot the system from a CD that contains a bootable copy of an operating system that understands the NTFS file system, such as a bootable Linux CD, or if you install the hard disk drive in another computer that is running Windows XP.

You can also use a program called ERD Commander, a utility created by Sysinternals, which is now owned by Microsoft. You should be able to obtain it from http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/default.mspx. If you can't afford it, you can try using MiniPE or Hirem's Boot CD, both of which are available for download from many sites. You can use of a search engine to locate them.

You might also want to try the cumbersome method that is described in this MS Knowledge Base article: How to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting - http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=307545.

If you access the System Volume Information folder by booting from another operating system, you should be able to view its contents. If you can't, this MS Knowledge Base article tells you how to do so: How to gain access to the System Volume Information folder -

http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=309531.

After you have access to the System Volume Information folder, you should be able to see one or more folders that have long file names made up of a long string of numbers and letters, such as: _restore{98CD7788-3445-567B-978G-F97G40B3E8F9}. When you click on each of those files, you should see a series of folders called RP1, RP2, RP3, etc. These are the restore points. To see the date on which each of them was last used, right-click on an empty part of the folder and then choose View => Details.

Choose a restore point that has a suitable date. There should be a folder called snapshot under each of the restore point folders.

Each snapshot folder contains several files, including the following: _REGISTRY_USER_DEFAULT, _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SECURITY, _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE, _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM, REGISTRY_MACHINE_SAM.

Those files are copies of the five essential Registry files as they were at the time when that particular restore point was created. You must now copy them to the C:\Windows\System 32\Config folder of the damaged installation of Windows.

This next step can only be done if you booted from a different drive, because the copy of Windows that is running won't allow any of its files to be deleted.

Move to the C:\Windows\System 32\Config folder of the damaged installation of Windows.

Delete the following Registry files: DEFAULT, SECURITY, SOFTWARE, SYSTEM, and SAM. Now you can rename the files that you copied across to the folder to the corresponding Registry filename. E.g., rename _REGISTRY_USER_DEFAULT to DEFAULT by right-clicking on it and choosing Rename.

Doing that should restore the Windows Registry to the state it was in when the restore point was created.

You might discover that don't have permission to access the System Volume Information folder after you have installed the hard disk drive containing the defective copy of Windows XP in another computer running Windows XP. This is probably because the folder only has access rights defined for SYSTEM. In that case, you must add access rights for Administrators.

If you are using Windows XP Professional, you must first turn of Simple File Sharing if it enabled. If you don't know how to check if this is the case, read the information provided on this page:

Windows XP Simple File Sharing -

"Windows XP lets you share a computer's disks and folders with other computers on the network, using a method called Simple File Sharing. And it really is simple. If a disk or folder is shared, everyone on the network can access it. There are no user permissions and no passwords. Because sharing in this way is so wide open, Windows XP tries to protect you from some potential security risks..." - http://www.practicallynetworked.com/sharing/xp/filesharing.htm

Next, right-click the with mouse pointer on the System Volume Information folder and choose Sharing and Security. Click on the Security tab. The top part of the window shows which users or groups have rights to access this folder. If it shows just SYSTEM, an entry for Administrators must be added. To do that click on the Add button, enter Administrators, click on Check Names, followed by OK. The lower window should then show permission for Administrators. Use the mouse pointer to place a tick in the Allow box next to the description Full Control and click the Apply and OK buttons.

Note that users of Windows XP Home Edition have to do that in Safe Mode, because the Security tab is not available in normal mode. You can boot into Safe Mode by repeatedly pressing the F8 key at startup and then choosing Safe Mode from the boot menu that presents itself.


Windows XP won't boot and produces an "NTLDR is missing" error message

Problem

All of a sudden I discovered that my PC running Windows XP wouldn't boot. It produced an "NTLDR is missing" message. This had happened before, so I tried the suggestions I had previously found on the web to fix the problem - used a boot disk that enabled me to boot into Windows, replaced the boot files with fresh copies from the Windows CD, and installed the latest BIOS update. When none of those fixes worked, I tried some other options, but it looks as if I'll have to do a fresh install of Windows, because none of them worked this time.

Answer

A "NTLDR is missing" message, like "Missing HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," and "Windows could not start..." messages, mean that something has gone wrong that prevents the PC from booting.

Visit How to use the Bootcfg /Rebuild command in the Recovery Console to recover from "Missing or corrupt HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," or "Windows could not start..." startup error messages to read a Q&A on this site that covers those error messages.

A missing NTLDR isn't usually difficult to fix. Read this MS Knowledge Base article: How to troubleshoot the "NTLDR Is Missing" error message in Windows 2000 - http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=318728. It applies to Windows 2000, but Windows XP is built on the same software architecture.

To find other MS Knowledge Base articles enter "NTLDR Is Missing" error message (as is) in the search box at http://support.microsoft.com/. To find other articles, use this search query, as is, in a search engine: ntldr + is + missing.

However, there is a fix that I have come across when the PC has more than one hard drive installed. The computer could be trying to boot from a hard drive that doesn't have a bootable version of Windows on it. To check if this is the case, check the boot order of devices in the BIOS.


Can I install a legal copy of Windows XP Pro over an illegal copy without losing any data files or settings?

Problem

After Microsoft included a "validation" update with the updates a couple weeks ago, I discovered that I have an "illegal" copy of Windows XP Pro installed on my PC. Rather than get into trouble, I bought a legal copy. So, now I need to know if I can install the legal copy over the illegal one. I don't want to reformat and lose not only my wireless settings, but also the User account that I paid someone to set up. Any advice is appreciated.

Answer

You can use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to save any files and settings to recordable CD/DVDs. Click here! to go to the page containing information on how to use it.

You should back up your data before attempting the following remedy to your problem. It is unlikely to cause a problem, but anything that writes to system files has the potential to cause problems.

If you are using the same version of Windows, for example, Windows XP Home to Windows XP Home, or upgrading Windows XP Home to Windows XP Pro, you can do what is called repair installation, or an in-place upgrade.

If you are downgrading from Windows XP Pro to Windows XP Home, then you have no choice but to back up your data and start again with a clean installation.

Click here! to go to information on this site on how to perform a repair installation.

Software Problems & Solutions - Click here! to go to Page 2 of 4

Click here! to go to the full list of hardware and software problems dealt with on this website


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