Rick, sometimes we have a problem during downloading and have to start from the beginning again.  I seem to remember a program, which started the new download from the end of the first one.  This would save a lot of time and aggro. Is my memory letting me down, is there such a program?

Peter Barns


A. No, your memory is fine and the program you are looking for is called a Download Manager. However, they are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, fast broadband makes them largely redundant for day-to-day data downloads of a few megabytes, or even tens of megabytes. Larger downloads of hundreds of megabytes, movies and so on, are normally handled by separate programs that have their own built in download recovery features. I was going to point you in the direction of a download manager that I used to use many years ago, called Paraben, but I checked the website and see that it is no longer available. There are still a few of them about but I haven’t tried any of them. A quick Google trawl turned up a few likely candidates so have a look at the selection of freeware and shareware programs on the Snapfiles site.




Firstly, a big thank you for BootLog and Connected, which I've read since many moons ago. I've learnt so much from your informative and easy to understand style - long may you continue.


Following a serious hard drive problem I managed to get it running again and cloned all the information to a new HD. Since then I have been backing up my important stuff to DVD using Nero Backitup.  The new drive failed on me within 3 months. This was returned to the manufacturer who accepted that it was faulty and a replacement provided.

My problem is to do with restoring my backup files. Almost everything has been restored, however my OE files will not restore. Could this be to do with Identities, since when the backup was made the ID numbers were different to those, which I now have following re-installation of OE?

Mick Lowes  


A. The support and those kind words are much appreciated and let’s hope we can get your OE backup back on your hard drive. But first, an oft-repeated piece of advice that makes this whole business a lot easier and that’s to move your OE store folder out of the depths of the Windows filing system and into a folder in the root of your hard drive. First create an empty folder on your C: drive -- I call mine ‘oestore’ then go to OE Tools > Options, click the Maintenance tab, then the Store Folder button and follow through on the prompts to move your messages into the newly created ‘oestore’ folde


Now for your backups, the ‘Identities’ or GUID (Global Unique Identifier) business is a red herring, if your message files are intact they can be put back into OE, but it’s no good trying to do it by copying and pasting files or folders. You have to use the ‘Import’ function on the File menu, and after selecting ‘Microsoft Outlook Express 6’ from the menu check the item ‘Import from an OE6 store directory’ click OK and Browse your way to where the messages are stored. 




Rick, in the interests of 'doing my bit', I recently joined the BBC/Oxford University Climate Change Project. As you may know, this involves the download and running of a data model on my desktop machine as part of a very large distributed computing network.  It seems a great way to contribute spare computing time to a very worthwhile cause.


The size of the model is huge and will take a number of months to complete.  As it drives the CPU etc. very hard, apparently it is not recommended for laptops due to potential overheating. Given the workload over a long time period, is it likely to cause any damage or to significantly reduce the working life of my PC if I run it 24/7? Also are there any other issues I need to be aware of?

Anthony Odhams


A. I can understand the warning against running it on a laptop. Many recent models do run quite hot and can be prone to overheating. This is due to a combination of faster and more powerful processors and the trend towards ever-thinner cases, which makes effective cooling that much more difficult.


For those reasons it’s best not to run a skinny laptop for more than a few hours at a time but desktop PCs are (or should be) rated for continuous operation. My home office server PC has been running for over 3 years with only the occasional reboot and spring clean to muck out the dust bunnies. If a desktop PC runs hot or overheats then there’s something wrong with the cooling system, it’s as simple as that.


Heat can and does reduce the working life of PC components but we’re talking about MTBF (mean time between failure) figures of tens of thousands of hours for most parts and even when run at or close to their maximum temperatures the reduction in life span will still be well outside the 2 to 5 year working life of most home and office PCs, before they are replaced. 




Hi Rick, It sounds boring, but I used to be able to play DVDs on my computer, and now I can't. I have a Packard Bell computer, factory installed DVD player, Windows XP, etc. No changes except Windows and Windows Media Player updates. I am asked to insert the disk when it has already been inserted, yet the computer had shown signs of recognising when the disk was being inserted, and will eject it if I click on "eject". A brief look at some forums hasn't produced any useful suggestions. Any ideas?

Tony Pike


A. I doubt that the Windows updates are responsible and since you haven’t made any other changes to your system the simplest explanation is probably the right one, namely a hardware fault with the DVD drive. Usually it’s nothing more complicated than some dirt or dust on the pickup lens, even a single speck can upset DVD replay; if the drive can still read CDs this would strengthen the case for a dirty lens. It’s a common problem too as dust-laden air is sucked into the case by the PC’s cooling fans. To see if this is the cause of the problem or eliminate it from the list of suspects give the drive a run-through with a good quality CD cleaner disc. If that doesn’t work then there could be a problem with the drive’s data cable, they can work loose over time or summer from contact creep, and if that doesn’t work, and the drive cannot read CDs then it could be the actual drive that’s faulty, or a problem with the driver software.




When I send email messages to several people at once, apparently all their email addresses are printed out on the email, which takes up a lot of space and may breach confidentiality.  How do I get my system to just show their names and keep their addresses private?

Julia Chandler


A. I’m constantly amazed me at how many mass-emails I receive from large and apparently professional organisations, with the name and address of every other recipient at the top. I’m seriously thinking about setting up in business as a spammer… But seriously, large companies have no excuse but you may be forgiven for not knowing about the Blind Carbon Copy or Bcc facility in Outlook Express and most email programs. When you next compose a message enter all of your recipients addresses in the Bcc box, and put you own email address in the To: box. Incidentally, if the Bcc box isn’t displayed got to the New Message Box’s View menu and tick ‘All Headers’.




Hello Rick. I have an intermittent problem with my mouse in that it appears to get things "stuck" to it, like icons on the desktop, the slide bar on a long screen page, also it will draw a rectangle across the desktop, (highlighting all icon with in it,) or highlight an area on a page as I move it.


Sometimes I can’t click. I repeat and repeat, but nothing happens. Clicking on the red cross, (top right corner) to close a page depresses the button, which turns to grey, but which needs a second click (when possible) to "spring back" and close the window.


I have changed batteries - no difference - it is an intermittent error: I've looked in Mice in the Control Panel, but can't see anything untoward in there.

Colin Jewes


A. I was scratching my head until I came to the last paragrah of your letter and the word ‘batteries’. In other words you have some sort of cordless mouse. Horrible things and prone to all sorts of problems, not least interference from other nearby wireless devices.


Depending how well, or badly it has been designed it could be upset by anything, from next door’s wireless mouse or keyboard, to a nearby Wi-Fi router or adaptor card, the local cab company or a bloke up the road heating up his pot noodles in the microwave. Of course I am bound to hear from a lot of agreived cordless mouse owners with mice that behave themselves, and I’m sure there are a few of them around but these days the world and his wife are using wireless devices, creating a fug of signals that are only going to make the problem worse. Unless you have a compelling reason to use a cordless mouse my advice is to go back to one with a good old-fashioned cable.




Dear Rick, will you please give me 'Janet and John' instructions how to copy text and photos to and from DVDs and CDs?  I've always used floppies but my new computer doesn't have a floppy slot.

Jack Pickles


A. Windows XP makes it very easy, though I have to say that once you’ve got the hang of it you will probably want to switch to a program like Roxio Disc Creator or Nero Burning, which are more flexible with many more useful features.


Anyway, to copy a file to a blank CD all you have to do is open Windows Explorer or My computer click on the file -- and it can be anything, text document, photo, music file etc -- then drag and drop it onto the icon for your CD/DVD drive (making sure of course there’s a blank disc inside, and that’s all there is to it…


Well, not quite, Windows gives the impression that the file has been recorded or ‘burned’ to the CD when in fact it has just been ‘queued’. Actually it’s not a bad plan because it means that you can keep on adding files to the disc until you run out of space but unless you carry out the final step the files might not be recorded, so when you have finished right-click on the CD/DVD drive icon and select ‘Write Files’ and the ‘burn’ will begin.


It’s not especially intuitive, which is why I prefer the commercial disc burning programs, and Roxio software in particular, which has (in my opinion) the best UDF/Packet writing utility, called Direct CD. This turns a blank disc into a big fat floppy disc and you can read and write files to it at will. Have a look at Boot Camps 251 to 256, which go into the whole business in a lot more detail.




Hello Rick, a colleague is having problems with Outlook Express sending attachments with e-mails from his home PC. Everything appears fine with the first e-mail account that he set up but the other one just will not send attachments, when he clicks on Send the attachments ‘disappear’ from the e-mail and are not sent with it; e-mails without attachments are fine. The files that he is trying to send are small Word files, typically 35 to 50kb. I have gone through his Outlook Express settings with him by phone and e-mail correspondence and everything appears fine with the basic set up, I don’t claim to be any sort of ‘expert’ but he is an ‘old’ newcomer to computing I would be grateful for any help and advice that you can provide.

Dave Clarkson, Lincoln


A. This sounds a lot like a fairly common problem that a lot of PC users experience when trying to set up multiple email accounts. It all boils down to the fact that many ISPs do not like delivering mail for rival ISPs, which is fair enough, but unless you know how and why it’s happening it can be very frustrating.


Fortunately there is a simple solution and you can fool OE into sending mail from any account through your ISP. Go to Tools > Accounts, select the Mail tab and double click your ‘Default’ email account (i.e. the one from your ISP). Now select the Servers tab and make a note of the entry in the box marked ‘Outgoing mail (SMTP)’. Click Cancel to close the dialogue box then double click the entry for any other email accounts that you have, select the Server tab again make a note of the entry in the SMTP box (just in case…) then replace it with the one from your Default account. Click OK to exit the dialogue boxes and you (or rather your friend) should now be able to send emails with attachments from any account.   




Hello Rick, I have a puzzle, which I hope you can help me with. I have a website and decided to replace my counter. I did this with Statcounter, I got the code and installed, but it failed a number of times and when uploaded it said it was corrupted. However, with the Statcounter support people, who I cannot fault, it was placed on my opening page, but only lasted for a few days before I lost it. I reinstalled and it worked, then, once again disappeared, leaving the message that it was corrupted.


The problem seems to be that as I update my pages and reload this causes the HTML to change? Statcounter have no answer and they have tried all they can.


Any help you can give would be welcome but also do you have a counter you can recommend?

Geoff Inwood


A. For the benefit of anyone who doesn’t yet have their own web site (and why not, it’s fun and easy to do!), a counter is a way to see how many people visit your site. You sometimes see them on web pages but more often than not they’re ‘invisible’, so that only the site owner can see them. Anyway, in order for the counter to work it is necessary to put a short piece of HTML code on the web page, which registers every time someone looks at it. In the case of Statcounter, which I also use, you simply copy the code from the forms on the company’s website and paste it into the page on your web editing program. It’s very simple and theoretically idiot proof but I also had a few problems with code corruption in the early days of BootLog. Eventually I discovered that it works best when it is placing right at the very bottom of the page, well away from anything that might change. In your page-editing program simply scroll to the bottom of the page, add half a dozen line returns then insert the code there. Don’t give up, it does work.




Dear Rick, my XP setup with SP2 works fine except for one infuriating fault. Every so often it refuses to shut down.  I get as far as the ‘Windows is shutting down’ screen, then it freezes. The only way out is to press the restart button, go through the loading procedure again, after which it will switch off normally. I should be most grateful for a solution to this annoying problem.

Peter Reardon


A. Nine out of ten shutdown problems are due to programs or services running in the background not being properly unloaded or purged when you shutdown, otherwise it’s likely to be a dicky driver or an item or a troublesome peripheral. That’s the easy bit, the tricky part is finding which piece of software or hardware is causing the problem. I would start with the Windows XP Startup and Shutdown Troubleshooter, which does a very fair job of helping you to track down the culprit. Just go to Help on the Start menu, type shutdown’ in the Search box then click on Startup and Shutdown Troubleshooter then follow the prompts. For more comprehensive help with shutdown problems try here.




Dear Rick, I've just built my first DIY PC and I am unable to load an operating system (Windows XP Pro) due to a "Disk Boot Failure" message after the POST screens. The POST seems to be successful and the BIOS does seem to recognise the HDD and CD ROM/DVD Writer drives as far as I can tell from the on-screen responses. I have set the BIOS to boot from CD ROM/DVD Writer but it still fails every time.  I've tried a number of steps to eliminate possible causes but to no avail and would really appreciate your help in finding a solution. 


I’ve tried swapping the two IDE cables used for the HDD and CD ROM/DVD Writer, disconnecting the floppy drive, swapping the CD ROM with DVD writer as the master/slave, double and triple checking connector seatings and orientation (power and interface cables), double and triple checking master/slave jumper settings for the HDD and optical drives, clearing the CMOS by moving the jumper and back again, swearing, praying and kicking the cat (this one helped my temper but now neither my wife nor the cat will talk to me!)


When the system attempts to access the CD ROM/DVD drive it does begin to spin up but then stops after a second or two then I get the Disc Boot Failure message. I have put in a floppy disc with Windows XP "system" on it and the BIOS does boot to the A: drive but I don't know what to do from there to get the system booting to the CD ROM. Sorry for such a long and woeful tale but I don't know where to turn next.

Richard Hyland


A. I think we can pin this one down with some certainty but first a few words on what happens when you boot a PC. Immediately after switch on the motherboard goes through its POST (power on self test) checks, and when it’s satisfied everything is present and correct it fires up the BIOS program, which configures the motherboard for the hardware connected to it.


Once the BIOS program has done its stuff it then looks for boot up information and an operating system on one of the disc drives. A setting in the BIOS program, called ‘boot order’ tell it where to start and the usual order is CD-ROM or floppy drive, then the primary or C: drive.


Up until this point everything that happens is controlled by ‘firmware’ stored in chips on the motherboard and it will go through the boot up motions whether or not there are any disc drives connected to the motherboard. This gives us the clue to the failure of your machine. Since it appears that POST and BIOS are working normally, and it’s set to look for boot up information on the CD-ROM drive then it seems fairly clear that the latter is either faulty, or there’s something amiss with the connections. I suspect the drive since you mention in your letter that it’s an old one pulled from another PC. The simple way to find out is swap it for a new or known good CD/DVD drive. If that doesn’t work then there could be a problem with the motherboard.




Hi Rick, I have an oldish Canon Video8 camera and wonder if there is anyway to transfer the images from Video8 tape to computer and then onto CD-RW?


Also is there any software that can handle a JVC digital camera better than the software that came with it. When I view the on the screen it is in a very small window, I then don't seem to be able to download it onto CD-RW disks. Do you have any suggestions for that one please??

Lloyd Gurney


A. It can certainly be done but I wouldn’t advise it if your intention is to preserve your old home videos. Blank CDs can only hold around 700Mb of data, which in video terms is next to nothing; you can use the Video CD format (VCD) to store movies, and discs will play on a DVD player, but the quality is poor, sub VHS, and your footage will end up looking worse than it does now. The only viable solution is to copy your tapes to your PC and then on to DVD and to do that you will need a capture card, a DVD-RW drive on your PC (prices start at under £50) and some decent editing software. Have a look at Boot Camp 326. The same software and DVD burner plus a FireWire card will also sort out the problems you’ve been having with your JVC digital camcorder




Hi, Rick, I'm new to laptops and don't know what are the best practices to extend battery life. My manufacturer recommends using the laptop plugged in to its power converter when working with CDs: that I understand.  It also recommends not recharging the battery until it has discharged to about 10 per cent of a full charge.  I've found that my battery functions for about 4 hours before needing a recharge.


Here's what I don't understand.  If I'm going to be working on my laptop for more than 4 hours (but not using CDs), is it better to start work on battery power and then plug in when recharge is necessary?  Or should I just plug in from the beginning? 


What about the times when the computer is turned off? Should I unplug from the converter as soon as the battery is fully charged? Or leave it plugged in until I need to work on battery power? Any help you can give toward demystifying laptop batteries would be greatly appreciated.

Mary Fran


A. The simple rule of thumb is that if mains power is available use it. This will allow the PC to run at its optimum speed and it will keep the battery topped up, so that when you need to go onto battery power you will have a full charge. As far as extending the battery’s life is concerned there’s not much you can do about that.


The lithium Ion batteries now used in the vast majority of laptops have a finite life and the clock starts ticking the day they roll off the production line. With normal use you can expect it to last for between 3 and 5 years before there’s a significant reduction in running times.


The advice about waiting until the battery is almost depleted before charging is sound as this will ensure the cells go through deeper charge-discharge cycles, otherwise avoid leaving the charger plugged in when the PC is off, that’s just a waste of electricity, and don’t be tempted to buy a second battery, unless you actually need it, because that will expire at the same rate as your original battery pack. It’s better to wait a year or two, by which time your original pack will be starting to deteriorate and replacements should be a good bit cheaper.


One final tip, when buying laptop batteries look for a date code, and avoid ones that are more than few months old.




Hi Rick, I just upgraded to Windows Defender from Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta 1, but the program refuses to complete the necessary update, and instead gives the error message: "Windows Defender was unable to complete the update: 0x80240022. The wrong diskette is in the drive. Insert %2 (Volume Serial Number: %3) into drive 1." I have Windows XP SP2. Also it seems impossible to download the original Beta 1 version. What can I do? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

Dr Michael Spira


A. Microsoft’s free malware cleaner program AntiSpyware, which many of you have tried when I first mentioned it last year may already know that the Bet trial has now ended and that it has been renamed Defender.


Users are now being notified and invited to upgrade to the new program, the trouble is, if you jump the gun and download Defender there can be a clash, as Michael has discovered. The problem seems to centre on the Signature files, which carry details of the malware infections Defender can detect and neutralise. If you try and update too early the signature files can get out of bonk, stopping the Defender update from working. The solution is to either wait for the next update or delete the most recent signature file. To do that go to Run on the Start menu and type the following:

Msiexec /x {A5CC2A09-E9D3-49EC-923D-03874BBD4C2C}

Click OK and you should now be able to complete the update.




Hello Rick, I have some emails in my Inbox/Deleted Items folders containing information I would like to destroy as securely as possible - e.g. password reminders I have requested. Is there any way of achieving this? I don't want to erase the whole dbx file, just the sensitive messages, where the passwords etc. might appear in plain text.

Mike McDermott


A. As you probably know when you delete a message from your Inbox it’s not really deleted at all, it is simply moved to the Deleted Items folder, where it can be recovered at any time. The first stage in the permanent removal process is to purge Deleted Items and to do that go to Edit > Empty Deleted Items folder and you will be asked to okay the action.


For most people that should be sufficient but as you know data is never completely removed from a hard drive and powerful recovery programs could, in theory, still restore information, though I have to say the threat is minimal for the vast majority of users. However, if you want to be really fastidious in your cleanup operation then I would delete a similar number of messages and empty the folder again. This action will overwrite the recently deleted files, making recovery virtually impossible except for all but the most well resourced criminals and government agencies. 




Rick, my problem is this: if I hover the mouse over a jpeg file created by my digital camera it will bring up details of the camera, time, day etc. However, when I back up the files to CD-ROM this data is lost. I'm sure it's just a question of switching something on, but what it is I cannot fathom.


The originals are still on my hard drive anyway and the back-ups are for emergencies, but it's still a puzzle.

William Leece


A. That is a weird one…The feature you’re describing is a pop-up ToolTip and by default when you hover your mouse pointer over a file or folder in Windows Explorer, and it can be any type or file, a small pop-up window appears with details of file size, date modified and so on. In addition jpeg files also includes extra information, generated by the camera, concerning the camera model, file dimensions, date taken and so on.


There’s no reason I'm aware of why this data shouldn’t be copied to a CD and I’ve been unable to replicate this behaviour using the standard CD writing applications. This pop-up can be switched off, though, and the only thing I can think of is that it has somehow been disabled but only for your CD folder view. To find out go to Folder Options on the Tools menu and select the View tab. Scroll down the list and close to the bottom you’ll see the item ‘Show pop-up description for folder and desktop items’, and make sure it has been checked. Otherwise I’m stumped alternative suggestions are welcomed..




Rick, perhaps you could shed some light on a problem that has irritated me for ages? I run an up to date desktop PC running a fully updated version of XP Home SP2, I think however this is an XP issue rather than the PC.


When using Windows Explorer, I’m sufficiently old fashioned to prefer to see my files as “Lists” and showing “Details”, as in this way, I can very quickly search my hundreds of files to locate the one I wish to deal with, instead of scrolling through icons which could take forever.


In Explorer, I set my preferences successfully, and then using “Tools”, “Folder Options”, “View”, “Apply to All Folders”, attempt to change the defaults. This appears to work in the very short term, but perhaps an hour or so later in the session, the settings appear to randomly revert to Icons or other settings. This irritation has occurred on every XP PC that I have worked on.


Is this a known bug, or is there a simple solution, which I have failed to discover? I’m conversant with, and happy to edit the Registry, if this is necessary.

Alan Walker


A. I have come across this glitch before and it has to do with how you open Windows Explorer (WE). I suspect that if you open it using the keyboard shortcut Winkey + E or the icon in My Computer and set your default view again it will stick, but only as long as you use those two methods to open WE. If you use a desktop icon or Quick Launch shortcut you’ve created you will find that the settings won’t be stored. The reason for that is the ‘target’ line in manual shortcuts contain a solitary command line switch /e, which on its own will reset WE to its default state. The solution is to modify any shortcuts to WE you’ve made by right-clicking on the icon and selecting Properties. In the target box change the command line to read:

%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /e,c:\

In addition to (hopefully) fixing the memory loss, it will also open Explorer on the root of your C: drive, which is a lot more useful than the default My Documents setting.




Rick, without going into too much detail at this stage, I'll just say that in the course of clearing out some old papers I have come across and article you wrote in January 2000 in which you talk about Amstrad PCs still being in use. Whilst realising that this was a long time ago and much has changed since then I am writing to ask you if you know of anyone who would like to have two 8256 that I upgraded some years ago just for the technical pleasure of doing so with Loco Spell and Loco Script and used very little before getting my present up-to-date system.  Both have printers and a spare ribbon but only one set of instruction books. Otherwise I shall have to junk them  (as I am approaching 90) and this will break my heart,

Jim Balls


A. Whoa there Jim, stay away from the skip! I’m sure we can find a good home for them. The first thing to say is these machines were outdated in 2000 and the situation hasn’t improved in the intervening six years. They’re not quite old enough to be serious collector’s items but they would be of interest to a die-hard Amstrad fan for use or for spares and a very good way to find a potential suitor would be to offer them for sale on ebay. You can price them for a nominal sum, not forgetting to make a fair charge for carriage (or make a stipulation that the purchaser has to pick them up). You never know, they might even make a few bob, and you can pocket the dosh, or donate it to charity. Selling on ebay is very easy, see Boot Camp 382. If anyone wants to contact Jim I’m happy to forward any messages.




Hi Rick, great site! I have set up an email signature in Outlook Express according to your article, Boot Camp 372 and 373. It all looks and works well with one problem, The signature saved as a jpg will not send. The recipients of my email see a square with a red cross and the message pictures could not be found! Any suggestions?

David Evans


A. It does work and judging by your email I can see that you are ninety-nine percent of the way there. A missing image, represented by the red cross ‘placeholder’ icon is almost always due to a mismatch between the location of your signature image file and/or the name in the HTML code. Check also that you have inserted the HTML code precisely as it is shown in Boot Camp; it’s not very forgiving and a slash or a or colon out of place is enough to put it out of kilter.




Dear Rick, a PC of my acquaintance has developed a problem when loading IE. The following message appears and the program will not run:


Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime library Run Time error c:\program\program files\Internet Explorer \IExplore.exe has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way


Any suggestions? I have overcome my friend's Internet access problem by installing Firefox but he wants IE back! Windows is 2000 Pro.


Talking of Firefox, now and again I come across sites, which do not present correctly in Firefox but are OK in IE. Any basic settings I should be checking - cookies are allowed. Many thanks for the vast archives, almost too much to absorb!

John Hall


A. Unfortunately quite a lot of things that can generate this particular error message and the only thing you can do is work your way through the list so start with a thorough virus and malware scan. PWSteal Metafisher in particular is one to watch out for and there’s more info about what it does and how to remove it on the Symantec web site. If you can pin down the fault to a date or an event, such as installing a new piece of software, then that is definitely worth investigating. I have also seen several reports linking it to Norton Internet Security and browser Toolbars (Google Yahoo etc), if any of these are on the PC then it’s worth temporarily uninstalling them one at time to see if that makes a difference.


More bad news on the Firefox front, I’m afraid, some sites simply will not display properly in anything other than IE. In most cases there’s nothing you can do but there is a Firefox plug-in that will helpfully open an IE window when you encounter a troublesome page. We covered this in a Top Tip called Lifting the Ban a short while ago.




Hi, Rick, I have read your earlier BootLogs and Boot Camps, taken a deep breath of fresh air, and am about to make a necessary adjustment to my PC’s Registry using Regedit. A simple question - obviously, I must make a backup of my Registry first - but where do I find the file?  And, if my PC goes belly up after amending Registry, do I re-instate the backup in DOS - or Safe Mode?

Hugh Sawyer


A. Editing the Registry is not to be taken lightly; this large collection of System files controls almost every aspect of Windows and the programs on your PC. A small mistake can have major implications, even stopping your PC from working, so I always caution novices to leave it alone.


That said Registry editing is not difficult or dangerous, provided you take a few simple precautions. Windows always keeps several known good copies of the Registry as well as an original copy made when Windows was first installed, all of which can be resurrected in the event of an emergency. However, the trouble with old Registries is that any software installed after it was created and any changes made to the system will not be recorded so it’s always better to have a fresh backup to hand, before you start tinkering.


There are two ways to make a backup in Windows XP. The easy way is to set a System Restore Point and if the worst happens you can roll back Windows to the most recent RP -- see Boot Camp 334. The other method, and the one I always use is to create a separate Registry backup from within Regedit. Simply go to Export on the File menu, it will open a window on My Documents; give your backup file a name (I use the date, i.e. 0503) and a file with the extension *.reg will be created. You can restore your Registry backup from within Windows or Safe mode simply by double-clicking on the *.reg file.




Hi Rick, ever since I loaded Windows XP Pro on my machine the scroll wheel on my
mouse makes the screen scroll in jerks, refreshing the screen after each turn of the wheel, instead of the nice smooth scroll action I used to get with XP Home and it's driving me nuts!  Any ideas?
Carolyn Mitchell


A. It sounds to me as though the software that controls your mouse’s scroll wheel needs tweaking. Begin by going to Control Panel on the Start menu then double click to open the Mouse icon and select the ‘Scrolling’ tab. You will see a slider for controlling scroll speed; I’m guessing that it’s set too far to the right (fast) so move it to the left (slow), click OK and see if that makes a difference. If not go back to the Scrolling tab, click the Advanced button and move the ‘Accelerated Scrolling’ slider further to the left. Failing that there is one last thing you can try. Open Device Manager by pressing Winkey + Break, select Hardware then Device Manager and scroll down the list to ‘Mice and other pointing devices’, expand the tree by clicking the plus sign ‘+’ then right-click on the entry that corresponds to your mouse. Select Properties then the Advanced Setting tab and change the Sample rate from the default (usually 200) to 40 or 60. Exit the dialogue boxes and give it another try.




When I try to open a program called Ultimate Family Tree I get a message saying ‘System Error, Divide by Zero or Overflow Error’. Any ideas please? I have Windows XP.

Dennis Byatt


A. The first thing to say is that it’s not you or your PC's fault. It's a bug in the program and this type of error often occurs on older database programs that were designed to run under Windows 9x PCs and older, slower machines. There is a fix, known as ‘Patch 26’ and it can be downloaded from the Microsoft website. Try this first but if it doesn’t work you’ll have to get in touch with the program publisher’s support department to see if they can help.




Hello Rick, how do I stop Outlook Express from being my default email program? Whenever I click on an email link up comes OE but I use Yahoo.



A. Normally all you have to do is go to Internet Options in Control Panel, click the Programs tab and this will display a list of the email, newsgroup etc. programs on you PC. However you won’t find Yahoo mail on the list but you can easily fix that by downloading a small program that will make it the default. There’s more information and a link to the download here. 




Hi Rick, I have an old HP LaserJet 5L which only has 1MB of memory and keeps running out of the grey cells when I am scanning documents. Is there any way of getting the printer to use the PC memory? As you will have realised the 5L is totally obsolete so it is not really worth spending any serious cash on it.

Alan Marco


A. I am not aware of any way to allocate system memory to a printer but according to the HP Support website the memory card on this model can be replaced and presumably upgraded so I would investigate that possibility before retiring it (in an environmentally friendly way of course…).


[Home][Software][Archive][Top Tips][Glossary][Other Stuff]