FAQS! FACTS! FAX!  612 (13/05/08)


Q. You sometimes give advice about clearing a fault caused by a corrupted file, which involves renaming the suspect file with the extension ‘old’. I have often wondered how that clears the trouble. If it is not too complicated for a non-expert to follow, would you please explain how it works?

Bill Ryan, via email


A. No problem. This is an old fault-finding trick based on the fact that ‘old’ isn’t a recognised file extension. Let’s suppose you are having a problem with a program and every time you launch it you see an error message that says something or other is wrong with a particular file. To find out if that file is actually responsible for the fault, or merely a symptom, all you have to do is rename it with the extension ‘old’ and insert a known good copy, or an updated version of the same file in the same location and see what happens. Windows or the faulty application will ignore the ‘old’ file, and if the replacement file fixes the problem, case closed. If it doesn’t, or you see another error message then you can easily undo the change and try something else by deleting the replacement and giving the ‘old’ file back its original extension.



Q. Sometimes, when I put my computer into Hibernation mode I get an error message that says: ‘Insufficient system resources complete the API’. When I restart the computer it usually performs normally, what, if anything should I do about it?

Peter Thomas, via email


A. This is a known glitch on XP SP2 computers. For some obscure reason it usually only affects machines with 1Gb or more of RAM and it is due to the Windows power management system not being able to find enough system memory for the hibernation utility to run. Sometimes it happens after a memory upgrade, in which case Windows may not have allocated enough space for the ‘hiberfile’. The trick is to reset it by going into Power Options in Control Panel, select the Hibernate tab, uncheck ‘Enable Hibernate’ click OK, reboot, then go back and re-enable Hibernation. If that doesn’t work then there is a Hotfix that you can download from Microsoft Knowledgebase article 909096  



Q. My son and I have separate log on screens onto our XP Professional personal confuser. However when I boot up there are programs (like his MSN messenger service) that open up and try and log on, even though I have booted up using my password and account. Is there a way to not have my son’s programs start up when I boot up under my XP account?

Andrew Thomas, via email


A. It sounds to me as though you are both logged on as Administrators and this happens by default in XP, unless you tell it to do otherwise. The preferred strategies, when more than one person has access to a computer, is for you as the owner to use the Administrator account and create a separate User account for your son, or, if you want to play it safe, leave the Admin account alone and set up two User accounts for you and your son. The latter method reduces the chances of one of you doing something regrettable or stupid in the all-powerful Admin account that could upset the system or compromise security.


To change the status of an account go to User Accounts in Control Panel click on the Account you want to modify – i.e. your son’s -- select Change Account type and switch it from Administrator to User. To preserve the Admin account and set up a new User Account for yourself just click Create an Account and follow the prompts.


By the way, in response to a growing number of enquiries on this topic I’m working on a short series of Boot Camp articles on the subject of XP and Vista accounts, passwords and password recovery, so watch this space.



Q. I recently purchased a Dell PC with Windows Vista preinstalled. For no apparent reason and after several weeks of trouble free usage I now get a message on start up (bottom right of screen) to the effect that several programs have been blocked from starting. They were installed by me when I first set up the computer and are okay to run without further action. This message re-appears several times after start up for the first hour or so of usage. How do I stop it or stop Vista blocking them at start up?

Ben King, via email


A. This message is a fine example of Microsoft’s sometimes convoluted logic and parts of an operating system not communicating with one another but the good news is the programs concerned are almost certainly still there and ready to use, and it’s really easy to make that message go away.


But first, a few words of explanation. I’m assuming that that you used the Microsoft configuration utility (msconfig) to stop some programs launching or loading at start-up, but through no fault of your own you didn’t quite finish the job and msconfig is being launched at startup. However, Vista can’t tell you that because User Access Control (UAC) is blocking the dialogue box that would tell allow you to fix the problem…


Don’t bother trying to figure it out, it makes no sense whatsoever. The next time the ‘blocked programs’ message appears click on it and a context menu appears. Click on Run Blocked Programs and you should see an entry for ‘System Configuration Utility’. Click that and the UAC box pop ups asking for your permission to proceed. Click the Continue button and now, at last, you’ll see the message box that’s causing all the trouble. If you know your way around Windows will recognise it as the normal System Configuration warning message that appears at startup, after you have used msconfig. All you have to do now is tick the checkbox in the bottom left hand corner that says ‘Don’t show this message or start System Configuration when Windows starts’, and normal service will be resumed.  


If you have a computer problem write to: fff@telegraph.co.uk




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