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Missing file thwarting outgoing e-mail


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 5, 2001

Q. I was sending a photo as an e-mail attachment using Outlook Express when a problem developed, apparently an improper shutdown. Now I can receive e-mail messages on Outlook Express, but when I try to send I get the message: "This program has performed an illegal operation. Details: MSIMN caused an invalid page fault in module DIRECTDB.DLL @0137:5F5875b6. Registers: . . . etc." I have re-installed IE 5.5 with Outlook Express, but it doesn't help. My PC has Windows 95, updated to Outlook 97.

A. This problem is known to occur if the folders.dbx file is missing, damaged or has its read-only attribute set. According to Microsoft, you should:

1. Click Start, point to Find and click Files or Folders.

2. In the Named box, type folders.dbx.

3. In the Look In box, click your primary hard disk (usually drive C) and click Find Now.

4. Right-click the Folders.dbx file and click Rename.

5. Type folders.old, then click OK.

6. Start Outlook Express. This creates a new folders.dbx file automatically.

Excel's floppy disk trouble

Q. I save my Excel data files on 3.5-inch disks. Two disks contain identical data. Each time I update an Excel worksheet, I save the updated version on each of the disks. Occasionally, one of the workbooks on my disks will not open. I get a message saying "Cannot access read-only document (name of workbook).xls." When I click OK, another box comes up that says "Cannot access (name of workbook).xls." The same thing happens no matter which of the data disks are in the drive; however, the other workbooks on the disks can be accessed. I have checked the problem files' attributes by going to Explorer and looking at Properties. It is not a read-only file, which I should be able to access anyway. I have unsuccessfully tried opening the file in Word. It says to make sure it is a doc file, but I can open other xls files in Word. This has happened to different files at different times. The only solution that I've been able to find is to type the entire file over and save it on top of the old file. I had the same problem on my previous computer with an earlier version of Excel. How can I prevent this from happening and how can I recover a file if it does happen?

A. This is a known problem caused by Excel, which uses a "back-seeking" technique when reading and writing files. What this means is that Excel does not necessarily read or write in a sequential manner. This jumping back and forth sometimes causes intermittent corruption of files when saved to a floppy disk. Microsoft recommends two methods of correcting the problem.

Solution 1: You can realign the floppy disk drive head by reading or writing other files to your floppy disk drive before and after saving your Excel files to it.

Solution 2: Windows may be having a conflict when it "virtualizes" the hard disk controller. To test for this possibility:

1. Start Windows in Safe mode (Windows 95, Press the F8 key when you see the Starting Windows 95 message; Windows 98, hold down the Ctrl key until the Startup menu appears).

2. Right-click My Computer and choose Properties from the shortcut menu to open the System Properties dialog box.

3. Click the Performance tab, then the File System button, then the Troubleshooting tab. Click to select the following check boxes:

Disable protect-mode hard disk interrupt handling

Disable synchronous buffer commits

Disable all 32-bit protect-mode disk drivers

Disable write-behind caching for all drives

4. Restart your computer.

Solution 2 is extreme and will result in poor performance, so I am hesitant to recommend it. Solution 1 doesn't fill me with confidence either, but is probably the best of the two. In either case, I also recommend saving copies of the xls files to your hard drive. Excel 2000 doesn't correct the problem, in case your were wondering.

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