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Find Fast can mean slow going on your PC


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 1999

Q. At various times my system slows down to a crawl. I use the Alt/Ctrl/Delete command to determine what may be causing the slowdown. When I check the list of programs running I see a program listed twice, shown as "findfast." When I delete both of them the system recovers immediately.

A. The Find Fast Indexer is installed on your computer with Microsoft Office 97. Find Fast builds an index to speed up finding documents from the Open dialog box in Microsoft Office programs. It is always one of the first things I remove when I load a copy of Office for just the reasons you described. The easiest way to remove Find Fast is to remove the shortcut from the Startup folder. However, Microsoft recommends using this procedure:

1. On the Start menu, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.

2. In the Control Panel window, double-click Find Fast.

3. In the "Index for documents in and below" list, click the first item.

4. On the Index menu, click "Delete Index." In the Delete Index dialog box, click "OK." When you are prompted whether to delete the index, click "OK."

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until no more indices are listed.

6. On the Index menu, click "Close And Stop." Then, click "OK" to stop Find Fast.

7. Then remove the Microsoft Find Fast shortcut from the Startup folder (usually in the Windows folder in the Start Menu\Programs folder).

Q. Please explain cookie files.

A. Cookies are used by Web sites as a way of "remembering" information about you between visits, and between navigating from one page to the next. Web sites operate in what is referred to as a "stateless" condition -- that means they do not hold a connection to you in between each page download to your browser.

Some ways Web sites use cookies are to remember preferences on what to display on your customized home page (MSN.com for example). Or if you visit a site that features a "shopping cart" of items you wish to purchase, a cookie can keep track of what you put in the cart. If you need to leave and come back later, your shopping cart should be as you left it. This keeps you from having to start over.

Cookies are harmless and are there in part for your convenience. They do not take up a lot of disk space so there is normally no need to delete them. The worst thing that can happen if you delete your cookies is that you will lose any customizations or passwords to particular sites and will need to re-enter them. Whenever I switch to a new PC, I always copy my cookies for this reason.

Q. I've been trying to free some hard disk space by defragmenting, but it doesn't work. The defrag starts but never finishes.

A. Make sure that there are no "background" processes running -- including screen savers, Microsoft Office Find Fast, Hewlett-Packard ScanJet Button Manager and even virus detection programs. Power management programs also can suspend the defrag assuming that no detectable system activity is occurring. If this is the case, disabling power management while the defrag runs should fix the problem.


Correction: To get the "open with" option, use shift-right click. Instructions in a Feb. 8 column were incorrect

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