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Files sometimes can be saved after hard drive crash


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 1999

Q. My hard drive crashed. I reinstalled Windows 95 and the other programs I was using. However, all the files I had are lost. Is there any way to recover the files?

A. If you installed your programs on a new hard drive and still have the old defective one, chances are you may be able to recover a good deal of data from the damaged disk. However, this will require the services of a professional data recovery company. One such company is CBL Data Recovery Technologies Inc. (www.cbltech.com/). (A few others were listed in the Oct. 19 Tech Times, which can be found at www.sptimes.com/Technology.shtml.) Also be warned: Recovery services can be expensive.

If you reinstalled your programs on the faulty drive, your chances for recovery will be significantly less (if at all) since the data may have been permanently erased by a re-format or already has been written over.

Q. I decided to remove Windows Messaging from loading at startup, but I didn't use uninstall. Instead, I looked for the files associated with it and deleted them individually. Now I get this message soon after my desktop appears: "Missing Shortcut . . . Windows is searching for EXCHNG32.EXE. To locate the file yourself click browse." I've deleted other programs the same way, but when I view the install/uninstall window, these deleted programs are still listed. How can I remove these ghost programs, and how can I stop the above message from appearing?

A. There are registry settings you can modify that will take out the ghost programs from the Installed list. However, the best (and safest) way is to simply re-install them and then properly uninstall them through the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs or the program's own Uninstall routine (if provided).

Q. More and more, I am getting the error message "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down. If the problem persists, contact the program vendor." It will occur while I am using the Net or when the printer finishes printing a page. Closing this out will sometimes wipe out the SysTray, and other times it will cause the computer to reboot.

A. What you are experiencing is called a General Protection Fault and usually is caused by programs running into unexpected results in memory and/or linkage structures. If you click the Details button, you will see the program that is having (not necessarily causing) the problem, which may give you a hint of what to check. Since this seems to occur after you print, you may want to try uninstalling and then re-installing your printer drivers (also check to see if they are the latest version). Sometimes reinstalling Windows can correct the problem. Faulty memory or motherboards also can cause GPFs. Sometimes selectively removing, rearranging or replacing memory SIMMs will correct the problem.

Q. When I pull up Documents file, I see a number of items I never saved intentionally. I cannot seem to get rid of these items. How I can get rid of these items?

A. If you mean the list of what you see when you click Start, then Documents, this list is kept at \Windows\Recent and consists of shortcuts to documents (including graphics files) that you have edited recently. You can delete any of these shortcuts from this directory, which also will remove them from your Documents list. The files they point to, however, will remain.

Q. I downloaded a copy of QuickTime for the PC. When I try to open it, the status bar comes up, goes about 80 percent of the way, then gives me an error message, "The Decompression %s failed. There may not be enough free space available in the TEMP directory." I went to the temp folder and deleted some old Web layout pages to see if that would help; it didn't.

A. This is a known problem with this particular download. One solution is to delete all files in your \Windows\Temp directory before initiating the self-extraction.

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