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Sep 28, 2010

How To Restore Outlook Express Backup Folder

Restore Outlook Express Backup
A friend of mine backed up his Outlook Express folder to a flash drive. He then consulted me how to recover the messages inside it.

What appears as a folder in Outlook Express isn't really a folder. As far as Windows is concerned, it's a single file with a .dbx extension. The email program has to know it's there to look for it and open it.

Sep 25, 2010

Keep Your Keyboard Clean

When was the last time you did anything with your keyboard besides drop cookie crumbs on it?

Over time, all keyboards accumulate dust, crumbs, and other everyday dirt. And all it takes for, say, your 'S' key to stop working is for something to get lodged under it.

Sep 22, 2010

Blue Screen of Death During Startup

blue screen during startup
If you're trying to boot from an existing Windows installation on a hard drive transferred from an older system, then a BSOD on startup can occur. This often means that the system can't find the right storage controller; the actual error code is 0x0000007. Maybe your old system had its SATA ports set to IDE mode and your new one is set up for AHCI. Or perhaps your new board has a different chipset.

Sep 19, 2010

Troubleshoot POST Problems

Every PC goes through POST--power-on self test--when it first powers up. One mistake many new system builders make is to assemble the entire system, then try the first boot. The problem with this approach is that it's difficult to narrow down the actual culprit behind a boot problem. Instead, install the CPU with CPU cooling solution, memory, and the graphics card. Don't connect hard drives, external storage, or optical drives. Don't install additional expansion cards yet, either. Try a bare-bones boot first, with only the monitor and keyboard attached to the system.

Sep 16, 2010

Troubleshooting Your PC

PC Troubleshooting
Here are a few tips to avoid getting stuck in a troubleshooting rut.

State the problem clearly, even if it's only to yourself. If you need to, write it down. "The system won't boot" isn't good enough. Instead: "The system won't boot; when it tries to boot, it generates an error saying that no operating system is installed. When I try to reboot, I can see that my hard drive isn't visible to the BIOS."

Sep 13, 2010

How to Backup Firefox Preferences

Firefox Preferences
Firefox saves your preferences and settings in a single place. Some of those settings you can alter in the Options dialog box, but not all of them. The others require going into an obtuse, difficult-to-understand work environment called about:config.

And if you play around in about:config, changing settings that you think you understand, you can really mess things up. That's why, when you enter this environment--which you do by clicking the address bar (pressing CTRL-L will not work in this situation), typing about:config, and pressing ENTER--you have to click a button that reads "I'll be careful, I promise!"

Sep 10, 2010

Use Hibernate for Laptops

A friend recently told me about a problem with her new laptop: Whenever she'd step away from it for more than a few minutes, she'd close the lid. Upon returning, she'd open the lid, only to be faced with a blank screen and no response from the mouse or keyboard.

Want to know why? The default lid-closing action for most laptops is to put the system in Sleep mode, and Windows is notoriously bad at waking up properly. I advise most laptop users to use Hibernate mode instead, as it's much more reliable when it comes to waking up.

Sep 7, 2010

Re-Use Your Old Laptop's Hard Drive

Hard Drive Enclosure
Inexpensive hard drive enclosures are ideal for recycling old laptop drives that have been replaced by higher-capacity models.

An enclosure is essentially an external case for that internal drive, one that lends it a USB interface. When all is said and done, you'll have a compact USB hard drive you can use for backups, extra storage, transporting files, and so on.

More immediately, an enclosure lets you easily restore your data onto the new drive--a simple drag-and-drop operation. With that done, you'll have to decide if you want to wipe the drive or keep it intact.

Sep 4, 2010

Upgrade Your Laptop's Memory

So my boss was griping that his Toshiba laptop takes forever to boot. I inspected it for spyware, excessive startup programs, and the other usual suspects, but everything checked out.

Then I remembered that the machine is about three years old and wasn't a powerhouse to begin with. So I checked the RAM. Bingo: it has only 1GB. Windows Vista needs at least 2GB to run smoothly.

Upgrading a laptop's RAM may sound like a big deal, but it's actually the single easiest upgrade there is. The only challenge lies in determining how many RAM modules your system currently has and what kind they are.

Sep 2, 2010

How to Fix a Rogue Process

Windows Task Manager
When Windows slows down to an unbearable crawl, there's a good possibility that one particular process is at fault--sometimes taking close to 100-percent of the CPU's capabilities. In such a case, it's best to kill the process.

A process is a program or an independent piece of a program. As I write this, I have six applications, but 57 processes, running on my computer.

And if the problem keeps occurring, it's best to find out what that process is about and stop it from loading altogether.