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Loading the best system on your PC


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 19, 2001

Q. I have a simple question that nets me different answers depending on whom I ask. I'm running Windows 98 with the first upgrade and the second edition updates. I'm having a few small problems. People have told me that the full OEM version of Windows 98 is a better system than Win98 with add-on upgrades. I've heard that I must start with a clean hard drive to install the full system. Is this true?

A. I guess we would need to define "better system" to give a complete answer. If stability is the measure of a better system, then without a doubt a full install on a clean, or reformatted, hard drive is always the best option.

The vast majority of Windows problems result from mismatched VXD, DLL and other system drivers. When these files are put down in layers, the odds increase that something will get replaced or added incorrectly. The Windows System File Protection, or SFP, scheme addresses this problem to a certain extent, but not completely.

The good news is that system stability takes a giant leap forward when using Windows NT and Windows 2000 systems. The next version of consumer Windows (Windows XP, formerly code-named Whistler) is based on the same code as Windows 2000.

As far as needing a clean hard drive to install a full version of Windows 98, I personally have not experienced this limitation. I know certain versions of Windows 95 would install only on a clean drive, were meant for only new PCs and were distributed mostly by PC vendors.

Delete box e-mail

Q. I use Outlook Express 5.0 and receive mail in my Delete box. It happens only occasionally, but I have to check the Delete box daily.

A. Check to see if you have any rules set up in Outlook Express that automatically may be moving these e-mails to the Delete folder. To check this: From the Outlook Express menu bar, click Tools, Message Rules, Mail. If there is a rule in effect, you will see the Message Rules dialog window. You can select the Rule(s) and click Modify to check the rule conditions to see if they inadvertently may be moving select e-mails to your Delete folder. If this is the case, delete the rule or modify it.

Smoothing defrag

Q. I tried to run the defragment program on Windows Me. It never showed more than 3 percent complete before going back to 0. How do I get this to work?

A. Most problems of this nature are due to programs running in the background that will write to the disk and cause Defragmenter to restart.

You need to make sure all programs other than Explorer and Systray are not running, including antivirus programs. A Ctrl-Alt-Del will show all running task. Next, disable all Power management options (Control Panel, Power Options), and turn off your screen saver (Control Panel, Display, Screen Saver tab).

Along with these guidelines, performing a clean boot also will maximize your chances for a successful defragmentation. Here's how to do a clean boot:

1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, then System Information.

2. On the Tools menu, click System Configuration Utility.

3. On the General tab, click Selective Startup, then click to clear the following check boxes:

  • Process Config.sys File
  • Process Autoexec.bat File
  • Process Winstart.bat File (if available)
  • Process System.ini File
  • Process Win.ini File
  • Load Startup Group Items

4. Click OK and restart your computer when you are prompted.

After your computer restarts, run the Disk Defragmenter tool. After Disk Defragmenter completes, do the following to restore your computer to a normal boot. Run the System Configuration tool as described above. On the General tab, click Normal startup, click OK and then restart your computer when prompted.

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