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ScanDisk may fix bad sectors on hard drive


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 15, 1999

Q. Gateway said if I reformatted my hard drive, some bad sectors on my hard drive would go away. If so, how do I do it? My computer also shows an E drive, which is not there, but shows that it is identical to the D drive. That makes my CD drive an F drive.

A. You may be able to fix the bad sectors (actually they get moved) using ScanDisk with the Thorough option (right-click the D drive, Properties, Tools, Check Now button). Make sure the Automatically Fix Errors option is selected. If ScanDisk does not seem to finish but makes repetitive clicking noises, this is a sign that the disk may be damaged beyond repair. If this is the case, reformatting would not help.

The E drive sounds as if it could be a host file for your D drive. This would be the case if your D drive is DoubleSpaced (compressed) using Microsoft's DriveSpace. If this is the case, then the utilities to scan or format will automatically take this into account.

Q. When I leave my new computer with Windows 98 unused long enough, it goes to sleep as expected. However, nothing I do will wake it except to power it down and then reboot. Also I have added a slave hard disk from my old system I am using to transfer my previous software. This also works fine except when I boot up, I get the error message: "Primary Slave hard disk fail." I press the reset button and it boots up correctly.

A. The first problem could be a power supply/switch problem. See what options the computer vendor has for support, since this will require opening up the case.

As far as the second question, since the drive is recognized on a warm boot but not on a cold boot, this can imply a BIOS timing problem. The BIOS may be attempting to access the hard drive before the drive has initialized. Check the BIOS setup screen for the following options and set them as designated:

Quick Power on Self Test (disable)

Fast Boot Option (disable)

Above 1 MB or Any Ram Count option (enable

Q. When we start our PC, it hangs up with the black screen and won't go to Windows 95 until we hit the F1 key.

A. Try hitting the F2 key, enter the CMOS setup program and select the option to Save and Reboot. If the problem persists, re-enter the CMOS settings program and check to see if there is a setting for Operating System type. This should be set to indicate a PnP (Plug and Play) system.

Q. During and sometimes after using Internet Explorer 4.X or Outlook Express, the text display will become garbled.

A. I've seen problems like this solved by re-seating the video adapter card. Try re-seating the card in the same slot, and then in another if you still have a problem. If the problem persists and your other PCs have the same card, try swapping out the video card with one from a working system. This should determine whether you have a defective card. You also may want to use the Video Hardware Acceleration slide bar (right-click My Computer, choose Properties, Performance, then click the Graphics button). This should tell you if it is a driver problem.

Q. I saw your answer explaining the difference between SyncDRAM and EDO. I was wondering what is the difference between SyncDRAM and SDRAM? Which is better to have in a notebook?

A. SyncDRAM and SDRAM are the same thing. SDRAM control signals are put in synchronization with the clock, so theoretically input/output transactions are possible on every clock cycle. SDRAM most likely will be your only option. Some other types of RAM that are or will be available soon (in increasing performance order) include: DDR SDRAM (Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM); RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic RAM); and nDRAM.

Q. I have a floppy disk with a data base that I copied from Microsoft Works on my old computer. I have a new computer with Windows 98. It has Microsoft Word, but not Works. How can I transfer this data to my new computer?

A. Word is capable of reading Works 3.0 and 4.0 files (.wps) files. If you don't see these options in the Word file open dialog (files of type:), you may need to re-run the Word (or Office) setup and select the proper options under the Converters and Filters option.

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