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Banish those unwanted programs for good


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 30, 1998

A. This could be the most problematic area of PC software -- but let us not place all the blame on Microsoft. In fact, it has taken some steps in Windows 98 to try to address this area (System File Checker, Version Conflict Manager). Any professional software should include an uninstall program that should effectively clean up after itself. After all, it knows exactly what it put on your system. This is one of the requirements for attaining the Windows logo on the product package.

Most sophisticated software does put entries in various areas of the registry (such as OLE class registration) and incorrect entries in this area can cause problems that sometimes can be fixed only with a reinstallation of the operating system. So I tend to stay away from manual manipulation of the registry if at all possible. I also tend to stay away from gizmo/gadget software, finding that it often causes more trouble than it prevents. Making backup copies of the registry is also a good way to return to normal after an install of new software corrupts your registry. (Again, Windows 98 does this automatically for you: ScanReg.)

Is there a product that is 100 percent foolproof in uninstalling other vendors' software? I have not seen one. My advice is to be careful what you put on your PC (examine the contents first and alway check the Readme files) and become more familiar with the directory/file makeup of your PC.

Q. When I turn on my computer, I get this error message: "Write fault error writing device LPT1 Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?" I click Ignore and then Windows 95 comes up.

A. This error can occur if the printer has been placed in Work Offline mode. If this is the case, follow these steps to disable the Work Offline setting:

1. Click the Start button, point to Settings, then click Printers.

2. Double-click the icon for the printer you want to print to.

3. On the Printer menu, click Work Offline to disable the setting.

This error is likely to occur on notebook computers that are removed from and rejoined to a docking station. When a notebook computer is undocked, the printer is automatically placed in Work Offline mode. The Work Offline mode disables MS-DOS spooling for the local port. If there is not a printer physically attached to the computer, printing from an MS-DOS-based program generates the error message you received.

Q. When I first boot up I have 41 megabytes of physical memory free and 35 MB in cache used. As I run programs, the physical memory drops and the cache increases. As I close programs, the physical memory decreases until the cache is full and the physical memory is empty. Eventually the computer locks up and I reboot. I then have 41 MB of physical memory free again.

A. You'll need to do some detective work. I suspect that one of your software components has a memory leak. You'll need to eliminate programs at startup one at a time until you determine which is the culprit. My first suspect would be the video drivers. Change the video drive to Standard VGA (Control Panel/Display/Setting tab, then click the Display type button, then the Change button under Adapter type). Select the VGA-compatible Display Adapter (you may be prompted for your Windows 95 CD at this point). Reboot and monitor the activity. It is possible that the programs that you're using to monitor the resources are the problem. Use the System Resource Monitor supplied with Windows 95 (Accessories/System Tools). You may need to install it since it is an optional component. Continue to remove any programs that automatically start up at Windows boot time until you find which software component is causing the problem.

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