Ask Rick 2008



Ask Rick 003 (24/11/08)


Hibernation Consternation

Recently I had to do a System Recovery on my Windows XP computer and now, when I try to restart from hibernation mode I get a message that says:  'The system could not be restarted due to a read failure'. It goes on to say that I have to ‘delete restoration data’, what does it mean and can you help?

Jim Duncan, by email


This is a known bug with XP hibernation mode and normally it goes away when you follow the prompts and delete the corrupt restoration file. However, occasionally the message just keeps appearing, which can be very annoying.


There are a couple of things to try. The first one is the Windows System File Checker (SFC), which scans for and if necessary, replaces damaged system files. Go to Run on the start menu and type ‘sfc /scannow’ and click OK. Windows maintains a protected library of critical system files, however, if any of these are damaged you may be asked to insert your installation disc. The other, slightly more drastic option is to carry out a Repair Install, which basically means reloading Windows from your installation disc. In theory you won’t lose any data or your programs and it’s usually pretty safe but before trying this procedure you should backup all of your irreplaceable data. You’ll find a step-by-step guide in Boot Camp 336 (




Hotmail Hijack

I have found a payment on my credit card marked as 'Microsoft Hotmail 1 866 672 4551’. This is a yearly subscription and is described as being from Luxembourg.  As far as I know I do not use Hotmail and have no account that I know of with them. 


Have you any idea what this could be? I have tried ringing the phone number but it is not recognised. Obviously I want to cancel the subscription if it is for something I am not using but I do not know how to find a contact number. I have been on the Hotmail/MSN site but a password is required.

Sue Hamilton, by email


That is odd. That subscription payment is for Hotmail Plus, an extended Hotmail service with, amongst other things, online storage space and the facility to send large attachments. Someone must have used your credit your card details to set up the subscription so if you are absolutely certain that it wasn’t you or someone that you know then you should contact your credit card company immediately, and check all of your recent bills for any other unauthorised transactions.


Your credit card company will cancel the subscription but you need to contact Microsoft as well, however, they don’t make it easy. The phone number you have is for US subscribers, which is why it wasn’t working. The correct contact number for Microsoft in the UK is 0870 60 10 100, and make sure that you tell them this is a security problem.


For the record, if you have your Hotmail account details one of these two web addresses will get you to the cancellation page:



Speed Trials

Until very recently I enjoyed a steady 2.3 Mb/s broadband speed then, for no reason, it dropped to 416 Kb/s and there it has stayed. I say for no reason because my equipment, peripherals and configuration have not changed.


BT’s speed checker states that I can benefit from up to 4Mb/s but the fact remains I have reverted to almost dial-up speeds. Neither my ISP nor BT can explain this speed reduction and the only advice I have been given is to downgrade my contract from 2 Mb/s to, presumably, dial-up. Can you suggest a reason for this speed reduction and a way around it?

Michael Weston, by email


Sudden and apparently permanent changes in download speeds can be due to a fault on the line or the equipment at the exchange end, a problem with your modem or a change in the Contention Ratio. This last one is basically a measure of how many other people you are sharing your connection with and the ISP sets it.


It’s worth getting BT to test the line, you can use the automated system at: However, this isn’t always conclusive and if you have noticed a change in the quality of voice calls, an increase in hiss, crackles etc, then ask them to do a manual check. 


If the telephone line and your internal wiring gets a clean bill of health then you can eliminate any other possible causes at your end by connecting a second PC to the line, and if that makes no difference, try a known good ADSL modem/router handy. They’re not that expensive nowadays – you can pick one up online for less than £25 – and it’s always handy to have a spare. Nowadays they are very easy to set up, all you need to do is enter your broadband username and password into the browser configuration menu. If that also checks out then you are just going to have to persist with your ISP. Threatening to take your business elsewhere may help to concentrate their minds…



Boxing Clever

I have recently had a problem with writing e-mails. I can fill in the address bar but I am unable to access the text box to write a message. I can still receive messages and also send the blank page. This problem seems to have started since the recent change in Windows Mail. I am finding this very frustrating, any suggestions as to why this has happened

Pam Buckby, by email


I’ve looked high and low and I cannot find any reference to a fault of this nature, which makes me wonder if it’s something really simple. Could the New Message text box have been inadvertently squashed or resized? I can’t think of any other mechanism that would make the text part of the window disappear and it’s the only way I can replicate the layout that you describe. If so all you have to do is click and drag down the lower edge of the message box, or right-click on the title bar and select Maximize. 





© R. Maybury 2008 0411


Search PCTopTips 



Digital Life Index

Houston 2006

Houston 2007

Houston 2008


Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME








 Copyright 2006-2008 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.