[AI] Your questions answered

Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Thu Sep 9 02:13:28 EDT 2010


Expert computing advice 

Chris Byers tackles readers' hardware and software conundrums 


Q I upgraded my PC with a new CPU and hard drive, copying across the contents of

the old drive with the help of a disk-copying utility. When I boot up I now see

a screen asking which operating system (OS) I'd like to use, but I have only one

installed. Richard Perez

The imaging process has unearthed an older copy of Windows that's been upgraded

or overwritten. A hidden boot.ini file tells the computer which version of

Windows to use if it finds more than one. Because it doesn't know which OS you

want to use, it needs to ask you each time.

Right-click Computer, Properties, Advanced, Startup and Recovery. Select your

OS from the drop-down menu under 'Default operating system'. Change the option

next to 'Time to display list of operating systems' to 5 seconds. Reboot and

ensure the PC starts up correctly.

Revisit the Startup and Recovery panel and untick the box next to 'Time to

display list of operating systems'. Your PC should now boot into your chosen

version of Windows without prompting.

For more information on the boot.ini file, visit tinyurl.com/yzzfxg. 


Q I reorganised some files on my Vista Home Basic PC and am now receiving a

full-disk warning.

The drive has two 67GB partitions. I moved 40GB of files to D, leaving 31GB on

C. I unsuccessfully attempted to delete the Winsxs file, which hogs 12GB. I've

also removed 3GB of programs. But every time I reboot, the capacity used on C

is still 31GB. Doug Pyburn

A basic installation of Vista will gobble up 15GB of drive space before you've

even installed any software or downloaded any patches, service packs or Windows

Update files. It's also possible that your pagefile (virtual memory) is set too

large, or you have a faulty program generating masses of temporary files or a

disk error. Windows hibernation files can also grow very large, so make sure

you're turning off the PC using the Shut Down option rather than Sleep.

Don't delete any content from the Winsxs folder. This holds important files

that are required for the correct operation of Windows and your installed


Let's do some housekeeping and clear up what we can. Download and run CCleaner

( ccleaner.com). You'll need to close your web browser first.

Next, move your pagefile to another partition. The pagefile can grow and grow

if it isn't kept under control. Right-click Computer, Properties, Advanced

System Settings, Performance, Advanced, Virtual Memory, Change. Highlight your

second drive partition and tick the 'System Managed Size' option. Next,

highlight your C partition and select 'No paging file', Set, Ok. Finally,

reboot the machine.

Now let's shrink or delete the hibernation file. Go to Control Panel, Folder

Options, View and select 'See hidden files, folders and drives'. Clear the

option to 'Hide protected hidden operating system files', then click Apply.

Next, double-click the C partition in Computer and jot down the size of the

hiberfil.sys and pagefile.sys files (you may need to hover the cursor over it or

right-click it and choose Properties).

To delete the Hibernation option, go to Start, All Programs, Accessories.

Right-click Command Prompt and select 'Run as administrator'. When the command

prompt box opens, type powercfg -h and press Enter. You may have to manually

delete the hiberfil.sys file, however.

To shrink the hibernation file, open the command prompt and type powercfg -h -X

(where X is the percentage of the original size - for example, powercfg -h -75

reduces the file to 75 percent of the original) and press Enter. The smallest

you can go is 50 percent.

Windows Update files are another disk hog, but you'll need to stop the Automatic

Updates service before you can delete them. Right-click Computer and choose

Manage, Services and Applications, Services. Right-click Windows Update and

select Stop.

Navigate to C:\Windows and delete the SoftwareDistribution folder. It will be

recreated (but empty) the next time you reboot the PC. Remember to restart

Automatic Updates afterwards.

You should also check your drive for errors, since the 'free space' information

reported may be incorrect. Right-click the C partition in Computer and choose

Properties, Tools, Error Checking. Tick the 'Automatically fix file system

errors' option, press Start and reboot when prompted.

To complete the cleanup process, defragment your drive. Click Start, Search,

type disk and select Disk Defragmenter. Choose the C drive, then 'Defragment



Q Following a clean reinstallation of Windows, the volume control built into my

laptop no longer works. I reinstalled the Launcher, but it hasn't fixed things.

Acer expects me to pay for updated drivers. Anon

You're on the right track, since hardware controls on Acer laptops rely on

software as well as drivers to function correctly.

You can download free Acer drivers from the company's site at

tinyurl.com/dbdbds. Be sure to select the correct laptop model and OS, then

choose the Application tab and download and install eFramework, eSettings and

LaunchManager. This should fix your problem.


Q I installed the Office 2010 beta from your March cover DVD on two PCs. 

I find it impossible to change Outlook's default reminder for appointments from

15 minutes. Russell Ellis

Launch Outlook and go to File, Options, Calendar. You should be able to change

the default reminder under Calendar options.

If this is something you've already tried or it doesn't fix your problem, bear

in mind that Office 2010 is in beta and some bugs still have to be ironed out.


Q I recently built a PC around an Intel Core i7 950 processor, 3GB of RAM and an

Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboard. But the motherboard refuses to recognise

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit. Tony Hall

Windows 7 is still relatively new and some older motherboards may recognise

earlier versions of Windows only. You should be able to find the correct

drivers at tinyurl.com/7klbp, however.

Under General Download, choose Motherboard from the 'Select Product' drop-down

menu, LGA1366 for 'Select Series' and Rampage II Extreme for 'Select Models',

then click Search. In the pop-up window choose Windows 7 64bit to see a list of

drivers available for download.


Q While optimising my PC I came across some fascinating bits of software called

services. Can I safely disable any that don't sound useful to me, such as

Routing and Remote Access?

Alan Sears 

Definitely not. These services are important to Windows and ensure all aspects

of the OS work correctly. Each service is an application that controls an

aspect of Windows functionality, such as internet access or printing. Disabling

services can even prevent the PC from starting up in the first place.

A list of services and what each does can be found at tinyurl.com/yjparr6.

However, we don't recommend you disable any services unless you're instructed to

by a Microsoft advisory or a technician.


Q When I click on a zip file to uncompress it, Internet Explorer launches

multiple copies of itself. I have to switch off the PC using the power button

to continue. John W Taylor

I suspect that, when downloading a zip file in the past, you may have

accidentally clicked the option to open it with Internet Explorer. You'll need

to tell Windows which application it should be using instead.

Go to Start, Control Panel, Default Programs. Click 'Associate a file type or

protocol with a program', then scroll down to and highlight .zip. Click 'Change


If your preferred zip application appears in the list of Recommended Programs,

click this then press Ok. Otherwise, choose Browse, Computer, Local Disk,

Program Files and double-click the program you want to use. Click Open and your

chosen program should appear in the list of Other Programs; select it and click



Q I'm trying to print out messages in Outlook Express 6.0, but it prints only

the heading and middle bar. Printing in other applications is fine. Bob Bowen

First check for any Windows updates at update.microsoft.com, as well as printer

drivers at the manufacturer's site. Also reinstall Outlook Express 6.0 (get it

from bit. ly/cuFNHC), but note that this installation may not be successful if

Internet Explorer 8.0 has been installed. Strange errors can occur with Outlook

Express if the mail folders are congested. Compress or clear out unwanted


Head to tinyurl.com/acbv4 for a useful article on repairing Outlook Express



Q Following bootup or waking the PC from standby, my cursor always highlights

the top-left icon onscreen. For example, if I'm in Outlook Express, the cursor

will always go to the top of the list.

Richard Taylor 

It sounds as though you have the Snap To option enabled. To disable it, go to

Start, Control Panel, Mouse, Pointer Options. Under Snap To, untick the box

next to 'Automatically move pointer to the default button in a dialog box'.


Q When browsing the web on my brand-new laptop I get warnings that the memory is

running low and that I should close some programs.

On Startup a Performance Options window appears. This allocates processor

resources to adjust performance for programs or background services. Having

already set and applied my changes, I have to go through the same process every

time I start up the machine. EG Savage

Several Windows 7 users have reported this problem. Luckily, there are also

several fixes.

Ensure you have a pagefile set. Log in with administrator privileges, then go

to Start, Search, type cmd and press Enter. At the command prompt type sc

config afs start= disabled. Press Enter then reboot.

Another option is to create a custom power plan. Click Start, type Power

Options in the Start Search box, then click Power Options in the Programs list.

Click the option to change plan settings, then select the display and sleep

settings you want your PC to use. Alternatively, click 'Change advanced power

settings' to alter additional settings. Click Ok or Save changes.


Q My monitor stays on even after I've switched off the PC, endlessly flashing

through the entire spectrum of colours. David Hamilton

The monitor's burn-in mode has become activated. While holding down the menu

and plus buttons, press the power button to turn off the screen. When the

screen comes back on, press the minus button to enter the service menu. Turn

off burn-in mode here.


Q I bought a Dell Inspiron Mini 10v netbook with Ubuntu 8.04 preinstalled. I'd

like to use a mobile broadband dongle, such as the Huawei 160 on 3 or Vodafone,

but neither supports Linux.

When I plug in the dongle it tries to connect, with its LED flashing blue and

the dongle and its International Mobile Equipment Identify (IMEI) number visible

in Ubuntu. However, the Network Manager reveals that the point-to-point modem

connection isn't configured, and I'm unable to manually configure this without

an administrator password. Since my password doesn't work, I assume this must

be one Dell has set.

A Farrell 

You need the root password, rather than one you have set up. Usually with

Ubuntu this will be the password you gave your user account. If this doesn't

work then you should contact Dell.


Q My Vista laptop came with a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office. I'd like to

remove this, since I've never used it and it takes up a lot of disk space. Is

there any reason why I shouldn't? I don't have a Windows CD to restore the OS

should I mess things up. Ken Robinson

Since you've not associated any documents with it, removing Microsoft Office

shouldn't cause you any problems. Uninstall it from Start, Control Panel,

Programs and Features, Microsoft Office. Any applied updates will be removed at

the same time.


Q My Windows 7 desktop PC has four USB ports, all of which are in use. However,

no peripherals are automatically visible in Explorer.

I've used the troubleshooter to fix the drivers. I get a message stating that

there was a driver problem with the Intel 10H10 Family USB Universal Host

Controllers 3A34, 3A35, 3A36, 3A38, 3A39, 3A3A, 3A3C, as well as the USB Mass

Storage Device. It all works eventually, but why do I have to do this every

time I start up? Ian M Charteris

It may be that your motherboard needs a Bios update. Look on the manufacturer's

support site for a newer version. The problem could also be caused by outdated

motherboard drivers; as with the Bios, newer versions should be available from

the manufacturer's support site.

If you're still getting the same problem, it may be that the USB ports have

power-saving options enabled. Go to Start, right-click Computer and choose

Manage, Device Manager. Expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers list and

double-click the first USB Root Hub listed. Choose the Properties box and click

the Power Management tab. Ensure that the option to 'Allow the computer to turn

off this device to save power' is not selected. Repeat the process for each USB

root hub, then reboot.

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