BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 1998

  

 

BOOT CAMP  005

CRASH! -- A SURVIVAL GUIDE

If Benjamin Franklin had been around today it’s a fair bet he would have added Windows 95 crashes to death and taxes, as another one of life’s certainties. It’s not a case of if it is going to happen, but when! Sooner or later your PC is going to stop working, suddenly, and without warning. It can happen whilst you’re in the middle of something, or it may simply refuse to boot up, either way don’t panic! There’s an almost infinite number of causes but in most cases no permanent damage will have been done. If it happens when you’re working and you’ve followed our advice, you’ll only loose a few minutes work, and hopefully have your PC up and running again in no time flat.

Step one is to put some damage limitation measures into place. If the software you’re using has a facility to make automatic backups, enable it and set a low delay time. Otherwise get into the habit of saving your work to disc -- hard and floppy -- every few minutes. It’s worth investing in some crash protection software, like Cybermedia First Aid 95. This program constantly monitors your PC and the programs it is running. If it senses trouble, it steps in and stops a full crash from occurring, and where possible suggests a remedy, that will stop it happening again. Make sure you have an up to date emergency start-up disc, if not make one right away. Simply click on the Start button, then Settings, Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs and the Start-up Disk tab, then follow the on-screen instructions.

If a program freezes, the egg-timer won’t go away or a blue warning screen appears, whatever you do, don’t switch off. This could cause even more problems. Go and have a cup of tea, your PC may just have gone into slow motion mode, it might start responding again in a few minutes. Well, it’s possible, and it stops you doing anything hasty. If it won’t wake up try pressing the Ctrl, Alt and Delete keys, in that order, just once, and you should see the Close Program window. Select the offending program from the list and click on End Task. With a little luck it will close down; you can then safely close any other programs that are running, and then shut down the PC or re-boot. If that doesn’t help then press Ctrl, Alt and Delete again to re-boot the machine, and cross your fingers...

If the same program keep crashing here’s a couple of things to try. From the Start button click on Settings, Control Panel and System. Select the Performance tab and check the Graphics button. There you’ll find a slider for controlling graphics acceleration. Try the None or Basic positions. Too high a setting is a common cause of lock-ups. Whilst you are in Control Panel click on the Display icon, then Settings and the Change Display Type button, and make sure the type of monitor shown is correct.

Software drivers, that control the various items of hardware used by your PC, are a constant source of trouble, particularly following an upgrade. From the System icon in Control Panel click on the Device Manager tab and look for any black on yellow exclamation marks, next to the devices listed. If you spot any, fire up the Hardware Conflict Trouble-shooter, this can be found in the Help menu; type Conflict in the Index field, double-click the highlighted selection and read the instructions.

When problems persist it’s a good idea to start Windows 95 in Safe mode. This is a minimum configuration, that bypasses potentially troublesome start-up files.  Press F8 when the message ‘Starting Windows 95’ appears, after switch-on, and select option 2. If the PC appears to behave normally in Safe mode, repeat the procedure, this time choosing the Step by Step option, which hopefully will help isolate the problem.

If your PC and monitor powers up but won’t boot, or Windows 95 refuses to load then dig out your emergency Start-up disc. It contains all the necessary files needed to get the PC going, at the very least into DOS, and hopefully, into Windows and Safe Mode start-up. It contains several useful utilities to check and repair simple faults on the hard disc drive. There’s also a program for editing the Window 95 Registry files, which are behind a lot of crashes, but that’s another, very long, story...

TOP TIP

By now you’re probably getting a bit bored with the cheesy tunes, ‘pings’ and ‘ta-da’ coming from your PC, so do something about it! From the Start menu select Control Panel, and then the Sounds icon. Here you will find, and change,  all the standard sounds, and the actions or events they’re associated with. Click the Browse button or scroll through the list and you should come across some additional Windows 95 repertoires, called Jungle, Robot and Musica. Try them, they’re fun. If they’re not there you can load them from the Window 95 CD-ROM using the Add/Remove programs utility in Control Panel.

The ultimate trick is to make up your own sounds, all you need is a microphone. It plugs into the ‘mic’ jack socket on the PC’s sound card or audio input. It should be on the back of your PC, close to the speaker plug. Find the sound recorder utility, it’s in the Multimedia folder in the Accessories directory. It’s easy to use, just like an ordinary tape recorder; full instructions are in the associated help file. When you’ve recorded your sound give it a name. From the File menu choose ‘Save As’ and put it in the Media directory in the Windows 95 folder, then go back to the Sounds icon in Control Panel and assign it to the event of your choice.

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