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Device drivers causing stack problem

By JOHN TORRO

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 18, 2000


Q. Occasionally when I log on, I get the following message: "Windows Terminating thread due to a stack overflow problem. A VxD, possibly recently installed, has consumed too much stack space. Increase the setting of MinSPs in System.INI or remove recently installed VxDs. There are currently 5 SPs allocated." Then I got: "Windows: There are no spare stack pages. It may be necessary to increase the setting of MinSPs in SYSTEM.INI to prevent possible stack faults. There are currently 5 SPs." I use Windows 98. How can I remove the data from the stack spaces?

A. This error occurs when Windows encounters an internal overflow of the stacks used by 32-bit Windows device drivers. Stack overflow conditions normally are indicative of errors in device drivers, which are system level software programs that control individual devices on your system, such as video, sound, mouse, etc. The stack pages referred to in the error message are special areas of memory, each 4KB in size, used by device drivers to do their work. It sounds as if one of your device drivers is buggy. Increasing the stack pages by adding the following line to the [386Enh] section may solve the problem: MinSPs=6.

However, you may want to check the versions of your device drivers, starting with whatever you added last. You can check versions by right-clicking My Computer, Properties, hardware, Device Manager, then highlighting each device and choosing Properties. Windows Update probably will not find an updated driver and you may need to go to the vendor's Web site to check the latest version of the specific device driver.

Backing up in synch

Q. What is the best technical way to regularly synchronize a laptop and a desktop so that you have a mirror image of programs on each machine? What is the best software to use for the synchronization? Do you agree that synchronizing two machines is the best way to back up and restore data and programs in case of a hard drive crash if you can afford two computers?

A. If you haven't already, read my Tech Times colleague Jules Allen's article on this subject at www.sptimes.com/Technology/techarchive.html. Look under the Nov. 20 section titled "Easing the move to a new computer." The article does a good job covering your first two issues (considering Jules is a UNIX/Linux type of guy). As far as the best way of backing up your machine in case of a hard drive crash, I find the most efficient way is a drive-to-drive image copy. The chances of both hard drives crashing at the same time is pretty slim, and with the low cost of large drives, this is a fast and practical alternative. However, the drive you copy to must be the same size or larger than the drive you copy from. Norton's Ghost and PowerQuest's DriveCopy are products I have used for this with great ease and success.

Turning back Office clock

Q. I bought Office 97 and used it for years. I later bought Office 2000 and am very dissatisfied with it. Can I go back to Office 97, even with my files upgraded to 2000?

A. All files except for Access MDBs created with Office 2000 should be backward compatible with Office 97. The Access 2000 MDBs can be converted to an Office 97 version by using the Convert Database to Prior Access Database Version utility found at: Tools, Database Utilities, Convert Database.

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