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  • System Specifications:
    240 MB RAM, Win98SE, Intel Celeron CPU - 2.40gHz, 80 GIG HD and .7 GIG HD, CDRW/16xDVD
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  1. I don't know what a router is - is it software, something like a proxy? The budget won't let me buy new equipment for quite some time, but if there's an open-source proxy I could try to download it. I don't connect with wireless; a direct cable DSL using the phone line. I'm the only one who uses my PC. The only "LAN" I have is for using DSL Internet. No other PC has access to my PC, except where specific permission is given, such as a download. ZoneAlarm Pro blocks a whole lot of stuff, but I suspect my hacker's attempts manage to get something through, anyway. I've been "gagged" at the SoundOff boards of CNN (see my post), and it's clear somebody dislikes what I say and wants to cause maximal trouble for me. When I am online to URLS about the subject he dislikes, I often get as many as 500 or more blocked access warnings from ZA Pro. When I browse for, say, recipes, I get maybe 20. If I knew what DHCP, UDP and those other things meant, I'd be able to configure ZA more precisely. But I don't know where to learn; ZA's help is no help at all. Sorry my post got here twice - power went off as I posted this, and I didn't know it had "taken," so it got posted again. In the second one, I mentioned that I wanted to change my password for internet access, but can't seem to connect to the URL of my ISP, Telmex. It times out all the time, and I don't know where to go to configure a longer interval. It wouldn't surprise me if this was more mischief by the hacker. This is definitely an external hack, and not for the first time, either. If you check out some of my other posts here, you might get a clue, if any of them might be related to this problem. I have many. If I don't track down how it got in, and learn what it uses to mess with my PC, it'll happen again and again. Each time requiring a format of C:. This is not a general "shotgun-type" hack; it is focused on ME. And is probably useful for others whom the hacker detests the same way. Once, it, or another one, tried to open a .doc file. It failed, and I got a popup. I had NOT launched any .doc files, because I hadn't reinstalled Word after my LAST attack like this. Somebody wanted it, though - it was titled "E-mail and Passwords." So I moved the content to another file and made it possible to open that first document next time - and he'd get his skin peeled from the ripe and scathing language I addressed to him there! There are times when even a lady needs to get a bit rough. I don't know if it got read or not - hope it DID! But this tells me someone is able to browse my files and look at almost anything I've got. It isn't going to gain him anything, because ALL of my personal info is on paper, not in the PC. Except the data necessary to use online, of course. I never buy anything online, ever, have never used any chat-type services like Tweet, Facebook, etc., don't open mail that isn't clearly valid, and don't even download mail - I use Mail Washer to view the stuff and cull the junk, then I just read the good stuff, so there is no place where my e-mail is downloaded. I think you can tell I'm rather careful. After repeated "burnings" I have tried to fireproof my PC. How do I find the hack itself? Hijack This won't work, though it used to. Two of my programs show the modules that are functioning, but none look suspicious. If it uses a module, it somehow keeps itself hidden. Using every "sleuthing" method I can think of, I've also checked my registry. Again, nothing pointedly suspicious. I clean my caches after every time I've been online, and have started removing cookies that are unfamiliar. I scan often with AdAware Pro, S&D and AVG antivirus. Only find pootzy stuff. So far nothing's helped. I'll probably be rid of it all when I reformat C: in the next couple of days. But I want MORE than to just be rid of it - I want to be savvy to prevent the next time it attacks me - which I'm certain it will. Got any ideas?
  2. Has anybody had a hack or malware that keeps turning off the DSL modem? Even when it states it is connected, the numbers of bytes sent and received don't move. I have to keep clicking the button to restart the modem, and the numbers THEN move, but even after I've connected again, I have to keep punching away at it to get bytes sent or received by it at ALL. I have better things to do online than to keep pumping at that button - especially since it does almost no good. In spite of it, some things DO load, but slowly. Others are perpetually trying to do so - especially videos - but get nowhere. I think my TCP/IP connection is what is doing all the real work. I've had this done to me before, and had to reformat C: to be rid of it. But it's back again. I'm already planning to reformat because of other problems I've been having (I've posted several of them), and there's really no choice. But if I haven't a clue how this was done to me, it WILL happen again. And again... So somebody who's knowledgeable enough, please tell me what a hacker might do to his victim to bring about this kind of result. Antivirus scanning turned up nothing, but I'm not surprised, since I'm sure this is a direct attack on me, and possibly other selected people - it's not an attack on just anyone. It's targeted, but also focused, to make it hard for me to be online, or to gag comments I try to make. I have many other problems, and I'm pretty sure most of them have the same origin. I know that once somebody was trying to open files to get my passwords and such - it failed, but I knew it was not just a virus, but a person doing it. This is a hack. I don't know what can stop it, but I'd like to know what kind of scheme a hacker would have to come up with to do it. Is there, for instance, some kind of Registry entry that I might look for? Some malwares put Registry entries which are full of those geeky symbols. I've often moved them elsewhere, to see if it causes me any problems, and if not, I then delete the .reg file. How does one go about FINDING (other than by pure accident) those Registry entries that are all in geek? Those symbols ARE used by various entries legitimately, but the baddies are sometimes rather obvious. What Search parameters might I use? Oh, and I suppose nobody has any way of tracking down these maggots? ZoneAlarm Pro only tells me a very few things, not nearly enough to actually identify a perpetrator. What is being done to improve this problem? Thanks, H. B.
  3. All they had to do was to leave the stuff that was ALREADY on their site to test W98SE PCs. They didn't. They don't even deign to do the "test for Vista-readiness" for such lowly OSs as 98SE. This is part of the tacit conspiracy in the PC world to FORCE people to "upgrade" to bigger, more gonzo, and more problem-laden operating systems. Just as the worst of the problems of an earlier OS begin to be ironed out, they come out with a new one with a whole new set of them - usually worse, and more difficult to deal with. And usually with a price tag that the consumer, forced to buy the new OS, must also pay for. And then the entire industry begins to squeeze out the earlier systems, the ones which are - finally - working reasonably well. And maybe that's WHY they had to be replaced - if they work too well, the markets for fixup stuff go poof. They need new OSs, with new problems, to "revitalize" the industry's market-gouge. And the newer, gonzo ones won't even operate certain older software. So now, because I haven't succumbed to the evil forces of planned obsolescence, I can't even get my PC tested any more! THAT SUCKS, PC PITSTOP! I don't mind that they come out with new OSs. What I DO mind is the absolute abandonment of the perfectly good ones that still exist, and that some people still PREFER. I do not have XP or Vista, because I don't WANT THEM. I tried XP and hated it intensely. Now I hear Vista is a resource gobbler riddled with bigtime errors and security loopholes, yet everybody's GOT to get one or the other - and XP is already almost being squeezed out, too. I have certain games and utilities that I could not get to work in XP at all, in spite of its supposed capability of adapting to DOS-based software. It never worked for me. If I can't use TweakAll (the original freeware version) and IconLock, screw it! I refuse to deny myself these two utilities, which have been godsends for me. Now planned obsolescence intends to take them from me, forcing me to buy - if such are even made available at all - new software that does the same thing. It's good and stinking. And for PCPitstop to sink to the level of helping planned obsolescence force an unwilling public to buy new things they neither want nor need, they've lost my respect entirely. They've betrayed the faith of the public. I don't like being forced. A consumer has lost free choice in the marketplace when he is FORCED to buy something, even if it isn't done by a specific individual you can point to. Force is still force. In fact, when it's done by collective, TACIT agreement in an entire industry, it becomes downright sinister. There's NO REASON why a patch for older systems couldn't have been made to upgrade them for those who WANT to do so, rather than coming out with a whole new OS. We end up buying more and more - not because we have greater prosperity and want to buy more, but because we have no choice. I won't be an enslaved consumer. And since the industry as a whole sees fit to force me to pay hundreds of bucks for software I do NOT want, I will feel no compunctions whatsoever at obtaining cracked utilities from now on. If they can so publicly try to filch me, why shouldn't I return the favor? I'm really mad about this. Not that anyone out there cares how many PC users are mad, mind you. They know that THEY wield the power over them, so why care? It must be "good to be the king". I tend to get unreasaonable, though, when a market which has served me once has decided that I simply - don't count any more. The last thing I will do is cave in to them. Nor am I being stodgy simply because I don't want the "latest and greatest, new, new NEW!" stuff. I want what I know, and what I know still WORKS. Of course, part of the conspiracy is to work feverishly to see to it that my older system no longer DOES work. That's a given. In due time, if I want to use a PC at all, they will surely prevail; I will have to lay down the cash they want to rob me of. But I do NOT want to have to learn - at great length and most painfully - about the inner workings of yet another - very different - operating system. It took too long to learn about this one, and I still am no expert. Nor is Vista the end of this game. There'll be a time - probably soon - when they'll be squeezing out Vista, too. I've already paid - once - for an operating system. I shouldn't have to keep buying new ones. I should be allowed to download them for free when they come out, whether as whole new OSs or as patches, just as honorable software companies allow you to upgrade, at no additional cost, the programs you paid for. This business of making people buy what they've already paid for, over and over, is despicable. I'd be very grateful if other 98SE users could guide me to sites that try to take up the slack where the PC industry has chosen to squeeze us out of the things we need online. We, who resist planned obsolescence, need a list of RELIABLE online resources that haven't abandoned us, or which were created specifically to keep us well-served with our older OSs. Is anyone making patches that can give 98SE some of the more desirable functionalities of Vista, for example, but without all the overburden of resource-gobbling and registry-bloating? There aren't very many genuine improvements in Vista, but I would not mind having them. Some may require patching my present OS, I suppose. If they're well-made, I wouldn't object to that. I also want to find a community of renegades like myself, who refuse this collectively imposed enslavement. There was a time when I used to praise and recommend PC Pitstop. That's ended, now that I know them to be part of the industry conspiracy. End of rant. Holly B.
  4. I just tried to do the free Exterminate and Optimizer scans. They found stuff, but won't fix any of it till I register - and I can do so by entering a "promo code" in the registration field, for the free s can. Trouble is, I can't find where that promo code IS on the pcpitstop site. Can someone enlighten me?
  5. Awright...but you don't tell me why I should crash my PC and force a reinstall of my OS. What will typing fdisk /mbr do? Besides, I've already reinstalled the OS several times just in the last two months. Did no good. Besides, the MBR part shouldn't apply to me at all. I do not partition my disk. It's the other - about the boot sector, that is probably the main problem child. Or is it saying it can't read the one partition I do have? If so, I'd call that rather serious. And I do not use two antivirus programs. I uninstall one, then install another and update it, then repeat with several others - hoping to find the problem. No cigar. I'm now back with AVG, because it's the only one which even SAW the problem in reading the boot sector! I would think ALL of them would do at least that much - but no. If an AV program can't detect that the boot sector has a read problem, what good is it? Thanks anyway, friend.
  6. I think what I've got is a boot-sector virus. I want to find a program that can detect where it's hiding out on my PC AND fix that darn thing. It says: Partition Table (MBR) reading error (I have no partitions!) Boot Sector of disk reading error What do you recommend? Here's what I've got: W98SE (I LIKE IT!) 256 MB RAM, 2.2 Ghz Celeron Intel chip. New 80G HD, 40G free. I have AVG Free and Avast!. AVG detects a "read error" on the boot sector, but can't fix it. Neither program has found the virus. Full system scans have only turned up a trojan or two. I downloaded Kaspersky - no cigar. Ditto for Spybot S&D, AdAware and Hijack This. My motherboard has "Magic BIOS" which lets me update the BIOS online. They tell me my system is up to date, but when I check with AVG again, the "read error" is gone. So I guess they fixed it online. Trouble is, it doesn't STAY fixed. Within a bootup or two, it's right back. I can't check it with AVG now, because Kaspersky is loaded and won't tolerate another AV program. Something on my system also has a cute habit of knocking the entire TTFontDimensionCache off of my System.ini file. When it does, my system crashes, and then I can't reboot at all. This may or may not be connected to the boot sector problem, but it's highly unlikely that this is anything BUT malware. I'm not expert enough to know, though. I put the data on the FontDimension back into the file in Safe Mode and save the file. Then it'll boot up, but it, too, comes right back, usually in my very next session of Windows. I "fix" it by making the file "read only," but that's something that makes legit programs unable to install properly sometimes. I've got to find what's making my boot sector become suddenly "unreadable" and what's kicking out part of my System.ini file so often. Of all my anti-scumware, only AVG has detected this boot sector problem, but gives no info, or suggestion about how it got there, what it is, and how to handle it. Also, I have a couple of files that were identified as "decompression bombs." What in blazes is that? Are they good or bad? I also want to know HOW these things can be getting into my system at all, since I'm a very cautious person. I NEVER open suspect mail. My AV program is always loaded, faithfully updated. ZoneAlarm Pro is always loaded and fully tended to. I even have "Crash Proof" utility from Ontrack to forewarn me of crashes and give me any possible options to avoid it. It never detects these sudden crashes, though it does find things where conflicts arise when I'm online (usually news videos cause it). These security programs often find infections that got through ALL my defenses. Yet none of them find the same things. To find all your infections, you have to use a whole handful of AV programs. And that sucks. And you STILL may have infections that NONE of them can find. Like I am sure I have. What should I do?
  7. -------------- You didn't get into BIOS with the Esc key, because that's the wrong key. Turn on the PC. After the "beep" press the del (delete) key several times. This will call up the BIOS, and in BIOS it's all keyboard - no mouse. And the only help you're gonna get will come from the manual. These manuals are notoriously ambiguous, geeky (without explanations for mere mortals) and close to useless at times. I hope I'm not wrong in saying this, but you sound as though you're fairly new to PC'ing. If so, you shouldn't be messing much with BIOS. If you want to do it anyway, arm yourself thus: Have the motherboard manual right there - you'll need it. Don't make any change without first writing down precisely what the setting was before you changed it. Don't make any change unless it is crystal clear what is going to result. Make one change at a time, and don't forget to tell it to save the changes. Test out how the change affects your system before making another. If things get mugged up, there's usually an option to restore system defaults or optimal defaults. Either one should restore a fairly normal BIOS. Unless, of course, you mugged it so profoundly that you can't enter BIOS at all any more. EEEk. It sounds from your other posting that you did try to do an "overlay" reinstall of Windows. That's the kind of reinstall of the operating system which looks for your installed programs and retains them. You did that, and it appears that the results weren't satisfactory. They rarely are. That's because most problems have to do with things other than the operating system's health and stability. I keep a shortcut to the file "msconfig.exe" on my desktop. With it, I can always check, and have some control over, which programs will load with Windows and which will not. I don't see a way to upload a file to attach here, but if someone can show me how, I'd like to send you a copy of a delightful little freeware app called "Tweakall." There's a commercial version of it out - they bought it from the original programmer, but the first version, freeware, is better, particularly for Win98SE. I wouldn't want to live without it. It allows me to configure the bootup sequence to always give me the list of bootup options: normal, safe mode, command prompt only, bootup from bootlog and step-by-step confirmation. It's only a second or two of extra bootup time, and often has been a lifesaver. Though there's a commercial version with the same name, that doesn't make the original freeware of TweakAll any less freeware. I'll gladly upload it if someone can show me where this forum might allow it. One reason (of many) I won't use XP is because it's incompatible with TweakAll. The "invalid system disk" problem can sometimes occur with floppies. That's because there are two kinds of 3 1/2" floppies. In BIOS, you can tell your PC which kind is to be used in Drive A. It will then work very nicely, but only with that particular kind. The other kind "doesn't exist" to your system. If the disk you're trying to use is the other kind, it won't work. You'll have to change in BIOS to the kind you are going to use as a bootdisk. That's a fairly clear-cut and easy thing to do, even if you're a beginner. I think it's on the first or second of the BIOS pages. If you have other floppies you want to use which are the other kind, you'll have to remember to switch it back. I ended up once throwing out (with tears in my eyes) bunches of floppies which didn't work - if I'd known this about BIOS back then, I'd have spared myself a good cry. Hasta la vista, mon choux, Holly B.
  8. I'm not really concerned with the data on the HD , I just want to learn how to get rid of everything and start new again. ------------- I'm not a geek, but I have used W98SE for a very long time, and have had many wrangles with it, and with formatting C - the whole enchilada. I know the problem you're speaking of, but I don't think you are even close to needing to reformat C yet. Not if this is the only problem you've got. You'd be trying to kill a mosquito with a nuke. I'm about to reformat C myself, but my problems are monumental, some probably malware but others definitely hardware. I, too, want to know how to do a total wipe of the hard drive, but I need sometheing more thorough than merely "format C:" because some of my problems have survived that more than once already. But you don't have a ghost desktop. You don't have sudden, constant freezes. You don't have programs that simply won't save anything that they should. You don't run out of memory resources when you're not doing much that is at all demanding on your PC. The worst that can happen to you now is that you have to push the button, reboot and run scandisk. It is a nuisance, but a very minor one, where PC woes are concerned, my dove! Not nice, of course, but not the end of the world. Scandisk is slow, especially for big hard drives. But after any crash or dirty shutdown, you should, without fail, scan for disk errors. Try getting Ontrack's Fix-It Utilities - it's a highly respected program. Most of the experts here would probably endorse my recommendation It does bunches of things to optimize, clean and keep your system in shape. It has its own version of Scandisk, called "Disk Fixer," and it's much faster. You just click away the bluescreen for Scandisk after a bad shutdown, then get into windows and launch Disk Fixer. It also has a fast and improved Disk Defragmenter. Which reminds me, when was the last time you defragged your HD? Neglecting that little chore can slow everything down on your system, including shutdown. You asked about reinstalling Windows over the existing installation. I've done that, but haven't usually had very good results. Sometimes the problems actually get worse. Sometimes I get new ones. Sometimes both. But typing "format c:" into pure DOS isn't a complete wipe, either, I've been told. It retains some parts of the registry. If that's where your problem resides, even a reformat and reinstall of the OS won't make them go away. That's what has happened to me. First, go to Microsoft updates. There is a specific update for this particular problem. It's a kind of "bug" in W98SE, and the patch slows down the shutdown time somewhat, because the OS seems to want to shut down too soon, before everything gets unloaded. Try that and give it a few days, so you can see whether the problem is gone or intermittently still there, or no change has occurred. If you don't already have this patch, I'd bet that will solve your problem. I have the patch, but even so, sometimes my system "hangs" in the process of shutdown. I've found that when I'm doing certain things on the PC, certain parts of my system (hardware, software or both) just "take a nice nap." If that's going on when I shut down, it could be causing the hangups. I've found that simply opening a program that "wakes it up" will help - something as simple as opening Notepad, for instance. Then I hear the system "cranking up" something, making a nice hum. Then I have better luck shutting down clean. Before shutting down, try opening Notepad to see if your system snoozes like mine does. I've configured everything I come across to never turn off, but it doesn't seem to help. If your system takes naps, and opening Noteopad helps, great. If not, then when you want to shut down, close as many programs as you possibly can before doing it. You might even want to ctl-alt-del and unload some of the startup items, which are the TSR's (terminate and stay resident) programs which always load with windows. Then wait a bit. Give the system time to finish unloading all that stuff before you try to shut down. Play a simple little game for a few minutes, or something, so that's just about the only thing needing to unload when you shut down. One other suggestion. Get a little app called "FreeRAM XP Pro". It's available at download.com. The "XP" in its name has nothing to do with Windows XP. That was its name before Windows XP was available. I keep mine in the system tray - it loads with Windows. I can force Windows to clear away any data in RAM memory that might interfere with the tasks I want to be doing. It can be done safely if allowed to run autofree. It can be configured to free up RAM without interfering with anything ongoing. It also keeps track of how busy your CPU chip is at the moment. If it's fully occupied at 100%, it might not be a good idea to shut down until it's back to a normal level of CPU usage. Best of all, this little app is freeware, and very handy, time-tested and I recommend it highly. FreeRAM also has a feature that can help with your particular problem. On the menu bar, you can click "Tools," and get the option to either shut down or reboot your system. In addition, you can "force" either a cold or warm shutdown. If you use that, be sure you've saved any data you need to save, first. Certain configurations you made during that session of the PC will not "take" if you force a shutdown, and you'll probably have to repeat doing them again. But forcing a shutdown or reboot usually works without hanging. If you use "the force," (hahaha) it is still a good idea to close as many programs as you can, first. If you aren't familiar with it, you should check out the file called "SFC.exe" in C:\Windows\System. It is an app that comes with W98SE. With it, you can check your system for changed and corrupted system files. If you don't do this every so often, it slows Windows down. It has to decide which file to use for certain operations, the older or the newer one. With SFC, you can select the newer one and that eliminates yet another area of sluggishness. I still haven't figured out how to choose which file to verify at times, because it's often hard to tell. But you can ignore those and no harm done. If the choice is a clear one, you've just speeded up your system a bit by choosing the recently-changed one, or the newer version of it. I hope this will help you. If not, I'm sure you can find a way to deal with this problem. It doesn't sound to me like a total reformat and new install of Windows is called for here. It should always be a last resort. If you do it anyway, be sure to save your data to disks - preferably rewritable burnable CDs, if you have a burner. But unless you know all the stuff you'd want to save, you could still lose important stuff - like your e-mail, bookmarks and other things. You'll have to wrack your brain to remember what programs you use that might have files like those, that you don't want to lose. Like gamesaves you don't want to lose - all kinds of stuff! But saving them isn't always enough, either - you have to also know where to PUT them once you've reinstalled Windows. If you've done any serious configurating of various aspects of your system, you'll have to do those all over again, too. If you use a special favorite wallpaper, for instance, and it didn't come with Windows, you gotta find that file (probably in C:\Windows) and save it off of the hard disk. Otherwise, it's gone, baby gone. I enjoy making custom-buttons for Winword. After formatting, they're gone unless I find the template where they're stored and save it elsewhere. Are you getting the drift? Formatting C is a major decision and an even more major effort. A pain in the tush, from start to finish. After reformatting, this time I will also save the first few .cab files that Windows98 makes (in Sysbckup folder, which is a hidden folder). Those files have numbers and the letters "rb" in the title. Each time Windows loads, it saves your registry. After a few times, it stops making new files and simply overwrites existing ones. It's all too easy to end up with all those rb files overwritten and every last one of them containing references to malware, without your knowing it. Or to a program that you uninstalled (like Norton - grrr) which actually don't uninstall diddlysquat, and leave your registry bloated with entries you'll never use again. Saving an "untainted" registry is often a big help, especially against malware that makes registry entries. Ontrack's Fix-it can help speed up your system in many ways, optimizing many devices, cleaning out trash from the registry, defragmenting both it and your entire system's files, and more. You need something on the PC that does those things - or you will surely need it one day. So if you want to save your registry in the "pristine" form in which it existed right after installing Windows, you should rename the "rb" cabinet file and hide it somewhere else till you need it. I also save these files just before installing something which might overload the registry later on, or where I might change my mind about it. By saving the registry that existed "just before" I made that change or install, I can easily undo even the sloppiest of uninstall programs. Then when you need it, you only have to give it the original name and cut/paste it back into that folder. Then ask Windows to check the registry for errors. That program usually allows you to choose one of the saved registries and restore it. Then you choose the file you just put in the Sysbckup folder. After that, of course, you will have to reinstall every program on your system, because virtually none of them will work until you do. Using the pristine "rb" file puts you right back where you were right after Windows was last installed. Before reinstalling a program, be sure to preserve anything in it that you don't want to lose - like mail, or gamesaves, or special files with your personal customizations, etc. Do this for each program before reinstalling it. Reboot after every install, whether prompted to do so or not. As you go along, you might want to save "rb" registry saves, that you can revert to without having to go as far back as the pristine one. Save the "rb" where you have things installed, and all is going well. Saving them after things go wrong is trying to unspill spilled milk - it won't work. Preparing for a format is a chore that can take days - and even then you could have forgotten something. It's traumatic, having to reformat at all, even if you don't lose anything important. Then the resinstallation of absolutely everything from scratch takes more days. If you haven't done it before, you have no idea what you're in for! I kept a diary several formats back, of the things I installed, and in what order, and what problems I might have encountered (or wished I'd done better, or in some other way). It has proven invaluable. You have to think, before you blot your disk's copybook for good, which programs you absolutely must install, and decide which must come before others. If you have a sound card that isn't on your motherboard, for instance, the one for the motherboard will install. Before you go and install DirectX, you should install the one you want. There are other examples. Stay in these forums and ask people about how to do these things, and get their recommendations. Know precisely what you are going to do after the hard drive is wiped clean, and that means to have your plan in writing in front of you. Print the readme's and other information you'll wish you had if things start to go wrong. Since some of my programs and/or devices seemed to have "lost" files needed for reinstalling, I've kept a list of as many as possible, and saved copies of these files elsewhere, in case of need. In fact, I burned a CD with ALL of my .inf files, .cat files and the whole humungous C:\SYSTEM folder. If I had the needed file for an installation once, I've still got it somewhere on that CD. It needn't be lost forever. If you have important e-mail, don't even think of reformatting until you've learned precisely where the PC is storing your mail, and you've saved a copy of it somewhere other than on the hard drive. If you have any special files, such as music and such, they should be saved elsewhere, along with your documents and program installers, etc. There's so much to save before formatting, and some of it you may not remember until it's already too late. To take great care. I'm telling you all these things in case you ever DO need to reformat C. To put "a bit 'o fear of the divil" in you at the idea, because it is both fearsome and time-consuming - arduous, actually. You might want to make some preparations, even now, before the need arises. Because when such a need really DOES arise, it can sometimes be so serious that you have no time to prepare anything at all - you simply have to reformat and lose everything you once had. It pays to prepare in advance for PC problems, because they surely WILL occur, given time and world enough. Another recommendation. Create a new folder (I call mine "PC Brains"), in a place (like C:) where you can easily remember (in case you ever need to access it from DOS without going into Windows to search for it) and in this folder, put all the knowledge you've been able to find about PCs. Notes to yourself of problems that can or might arise, how you dealt with them, etc. But also any stuff you find online that you might want to reference in the future - put it all into that folder. Then, even from DOS, you can read the stuff in it, if you know how to write the proper command to open the folder. Keep a printed copy of information on how to write DOS commands. If you're ever unable to use Windows or save anything prior to reformatting, you'll at least be able to read this important stuff in that folder. When you have to work in DOS - and it can happen even to the most ungeeky of souls - it's usually because of need. If you don't know squat about those commands, you're really in trouble, chum. But you don't need to reformat at all. I think the suggestions above will probably deal with your problem satisfactorily. Best of luck to you, and may your system never crash, Holly B.
  9. Maybe I'm all wet, but thought I'd try to help, if I can. I don't have XP. I use W98SE, and it has a feature called "system file checker." It's a program in SYSTEM folder, called "SFC". With that, I can extract any file from either the original Windows CD or from the folder I made which contains the files I copied from the CD. On occasion, I've had reason to think Explorer itself had become corrupted, and replaced it. SFC can also go through all your system files and let you decide between two versions which might exist and cause conflicts. It will also search for any system files that might have become corrupted and offer you options on how you want to deal with what they find. Since SFC is such a valuable little app in Windows, I have trouble believing that Microsoft would just "leave it out" of XP. I've had msconfig.exe messed with in the past - probably malware, but who knows? Some devices that depend on various driver files weren't functioning, and I couldn't get them to work in other ways. So I extracted all the drivers for the device, with the thought that the files in SYSTEM might have gotten corrupted. In the case of msconfig.exe, that turned out to be so, at one time. After extracting the original file, the problem went away. It's a very important system file, and you should reboot after extracting it, whether asked to or not. If you have SFC in your SYSTEM file, why not try it? When a file you want to extract is one which must go in a specific place, SFC will indicate where it is to be put. With other files, it allows you to tell SFC where you want it to go. It asks you where it should look for the file - either the CD ROM or some other location where you think the original file might be on your system. If you don't have SFC, why not go into your Windows CD ROM and find the original msconfig.exe file (which can be hard to do if you can't use a searcher to find files in .cab files), then copy it and paste it into SYSTEM folder manually? If the file is corrupted, nothing you do to it or with it is going to help until you replace it with the original. If you have XP, and it doesn't have this utility, you might want to peel some skin off of Microsoft for such a major lapse of common sense. I hope you can do that. Best of luck, Holly B.
  10. I'm no geek, but have a lot of experience with arbitrary freezes. The people here have been so kind and helpful, I want to help you, since I've had a similar problem. I have Win98SE, but freezes were driving me nuts too. Even after a reformat of C, they continued. In fact, I had to load a specific game - like REAL fast - after boot up, or else it would freeze within the first few seconds. The game somehow kept the freezes at bay. Nobody, in any of the forums I visited with my problem, had a clue how this game managed to do it. It did, though. People on various forums told me my system was probably heating up, too. It wasn't. Nice, try, but wrong. They said to check the capicitors, and eve provided photos so I'd know what they looked like. Mine were fine. Be sure, though, that overheating isn't the cause in your situation. Check the fans, including the one in the sealed power box - it probably has holes to vent air through and you can feel if it's working. I've heard that "overclocking" is a good way to kill a HD, too, so if you've overclocked, switch off that feature, and see if it helps. My expert looked at my system and said the new CPU he'd installed a few months back wasn't entirely compatible, so he switched it out for another without charging me. The freezes stopped. Then they started again, but not as bad as before. The game that used to forestall freezes is no longer operational (due to other problems), but I've found that my freezes seem to want to occur shortly after bootup. If I play a short DOS-based game, then go back to doing what I wanted to do, the freezes won't occur for quite some time. But in due time, they will occur - like death and taxes, I guess. I noticed, also, that the freezes were much more persistent and more likely to happen - and sooner - whenever I went on the Internet. After crashing, I'd have googobs of lost clusters. Once there were over 1500 of them! While I haven't solved my problem yet, I do have a few clues, and you should check these things on your own system. First, do a complete surface scan of your hard drive. Bad sectors can cause freezes - and other things can go haywire from them, also. Do a total virus scan of every file on each of your hard drives - checking all files. Then do a couple others - I found some free scanners on the Internet. But the problem I had was that the system froze before these lengthy scans could finish. I've been using Avast antivirus freeware, and am extremely pleased with it. Norton was a gargantuan program - like asking an elephant to stamp out a flea - and it missed just about every infection that other scanners found. I trashed it. Especially because it won't uninstall, and leaves your registry JAMMED with entries that are no longer needed - and it takes hours to get rid of them manually. If they aren't expert enough to write an uninstall program for their antivirus, they can't be very good at the job of detecting viruses - and they aren't. They missed everything - tons of stuff they were supposed to find, and that freeware stuff found easily. Check for adware and spyware, too, if you have a utility that will do a good job of it. AdAware is a good old standby. Check to see if your equipment is up to date - enough RAM, enough space on the HD, a good fast chip, for example. If your equipment is damaged or being strained, it could cause freezes. If you haven't run Hijack This and other diagnostic scanners, try that and see what might come out of the woodwork. Go into Safe Mode and update the drivers for everything you find there. Maybe the resident experts here can explain why, but there are devices listed in Safe Mode that aren't listed in the Device Driver utility in Windows. Don't do the dumb thing I once did, and delete any devices which appear to be duplicates, though! For some reason, they're supposed to be there. Again, the resident experts here would know why better than I do. I'd like to know, myself! Try to remember precisely what was happening - or what you had done - when the system froze, and keep a kind of "diary" of them. You might discern a pattern there, which can give some clues about the freezes. Pain in the neck though it is, never fail to do a Scandisk after every freeze. I've found that Ontrack's Fix-It utilities do this far faster, so I click away the blue screen when I reboot after a freeze, then launch Disk Fixer. The same utility can do a defrag of your hard disk and registry, clean out junk in the registry, do a surface scan of any HD you have, and has optimizer and diagnostic utilities as well. Ontrack's Fix-It Utilities is a very good program. Another which might help is SiSandra, at: [email protected] Not all of its utilities run on the free download, but it's still very helpful, giving you tips where your system is lagging behind or in trouble, and giving recommendations. Go through whatever you can find in your system which allows for configurations of your programs or devices, and be sure there isn't something amiss there. FreeRAM XP Pro is a fine freeware that keeps your RAM from holding stuff that's no longer needed. It's at: http:www.yourwaresolutions.com I think the download is available at Download.com also. In my case, I have a suspicion that some of my problems and freezes may have a connection of some kind to my sound card, which is a piece of - I won't say. It synthesizes Sound Blaster sounds - and does a terrible job of it. It had the label of Sound Blaster, too, which was misleading, because it was made by Ensoniq of France. It's given me plenty of trouble, and seems implicated in some of the problems I still have. So check your sound card as well as you are able. I think most of my problems are coming from having a bunch of bad sectors on my HD. Till I can save up enough to buy a new one, I'm about to format it after doing a total wipe. Maybe then it'll work better. You should know that going into DOS and typing "format C:" is NOT a total wipe. I was told by someone here that it erases most data, but preserves parts of the registry. Since some of my problems (including the freezes) followed me through several formats, I am going to do a total wipe this time, using a utility I was referred to in this forum, at: http://dban.sourceforge.net/ Check it out if you think reformatting C might help, and pay attention to the cautions given there. It might be that reformatting will solve the problem, since these freezes could very easily be caused by malware that can't be detected since the PC freezes before the scan can be completed. Last time I reformatted, I kept a "diary" of each step I took in reconstituting my system with the programs I need and use most. I listed there any problems I had encountered in program installs, and other info that might be helpful next time I need to reformat. It's coming in handy now. I saved the diary in my other hard drive, so I could access it while the tedious process of replacing all my programs and utilities was going on. One thing to remember is to reboot after each install, whether prompted to or not. Another thing that would help is to go to C:\Windows\Sysbckup (a hidden file) and locate the files with "rb" and zeros and other numbers. Try to save the very first one made after you reinstalled Windows, and save an occasional one as you go along, especially if you're about to do something you might regret or change your mind about. Those "rb" files are complete registry saves which Windows makes every time you reboot. After a time, they get overwritten, though. To save one of those, rename the most recent one, in case you ever have to revert back to it. I'd just put an underscore before the file's name. Then it won't be overwritten. To revert to it, you'd have to remove any file that has the same filename to some other place, then remove the underscore. It will then appear on the list of registry backups that Windows will offer for restoring. I hope you have the manual for your motherboard. If you do, you can use it to help discover if your BIOS has been altered somehow, or isn't optimum for your needs. If you change something, make a written note of how the settings were before making the change, so you can go back to it if need be. If your handbook is like mine, it's often more confusing than enlightening. So proceed with caution. If you become convinced that BIOS is the culprit, you may have to "flash" the BIOS - but this should NEVER be done without extreme care to do it in a letter-perfect way. See various forums for detailed advice and directions. You can ruin your motherboard if you do the weenciest thing wrong. I hope some of this will help you, Holly B.
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