Questions and Answers

By Kenny Williams

(By popular demand I am reprinting a previous column.)

One of the fun parts of writing the Webserver is that occasionally I am recognized by one of my readers. This happened the other day while I was visiting a good friend. While sitting around discussing different philosophical  principles, the inevitable happened. I was asked a question pertaining to a computer problem. The gentleman asking the question mentioned that he appreciated my informative and easy to understand columns. With that compliment, I attempted to answer his question in a manner that would be easy to remember. The unfortunate thing about computer problems is the fact that it is very hard to guide someone without the "problem child" computer in front of you. This led me to this week’s column. I decided I would answer his question along with some of the more common questions I receive via e-mail each week.

Q: I receive an error message at startup that states that my floppy drive is not functioning properly. I have to then press the F4 key to continue with the start up. Since I never use my floppy drive, is there any way to disable it?

A: Yes. Each time you boot the computer, Windows automatically scans your hardware to see if a floppy disk has been installed since the last time the system started. To get around this initial test you need to disable the checking.  The good part of this is that this will also save yourself a few seconds of boot time.  To disable the floppy drive check, simply right-click on My Computer and select Properties. Click the Performance tab and select File System. Click the Floppy Disk tab and uncheck the box that says "Search for new floppy disk drives each time your computer starts." Click OK twice to save your changes, then reboot the system to see the difference.

Q: What is the difference between CD-R and CD-RW drives?

A: CD-R is short for "CD-Recordable". Recordable CDs are WORM (Write Once, Read Multiple) media that work just like standard CDs. The advantage of CD-R over other types of optical media is that you can use the disks with a standard CD player. The disadvantage is that you can't reuse a disk. The other related technology is called CD-Rewritable (CD-RW).  CD-RW allows you to erase discs and reuse them, but the CD-RW media doesn't work in all players. CD-Rewritable drives are able to write both CD-R and CD-RW disks. All CD recorders can read CDs and CD-ROMs, just like a standard CD-ROM drive.

Q: Is there an easy way to find out how big an entire file is with all of its folders and sub-folders?

A: Yes.   Windows Explorer usually denotes files as icons, and you can move, open, or delete those little "objects" with the click of a mouse. The icon view tells you very little about the size, date, and attributes associated with them. If you want to learn more about the files and folders in a directory, click View and then select "Details" in Windows Explorer. The icon view will turn into a detailed list with file sizes, types, and dates. If you need to know the attributes of a file, simply right click the file's name and select Properties from the menu.

Q: How do you stop programs from launching when I start my computer

A: Many programs load into RAM without your knowledge each time Windows 98 starts. This commitment of memory could continue even after you thought you uninstalled the application. To check which software is loading at start time and disable programs you no longer need, use the System Information utility. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and System Information. Then go to Tools, System Configuration Utility, and select the Startup tab. You can now uncheck any program you do not want to launch at startup. Click OK, and the changes will take effect the next time you start Windows

Q: I often find that my hard drive is running low on space. A friend told me that there is a way to get rid of unused files on my computer. How is this accomplished?

A: You may be able to pick up hundreds of MBs by cleaning up the unused and neglected files on your hard drive. Disk Cleanup is a Windows tool for just this purpose. To run Disk Cleanup Click Start>Programs>Accessories> System Tools>Disk Cleanup. The Disk Cleanup tool will start and ask you which drive you need to clean (i.e., the C: drive). Disk Cleanup will scan the drive for several seconds, then report on the Temporary Internet Files, Downloaded Program Files, Recycle Bin files, and Temporary files that can be deleted. Simply click OK to clean the files from the disk.

Q: What is a Cache and how do you clean it?

A:  Each time you open a web page, your browser creates a cache file (that is, a temporary copy) of the page's text and graphics. When you access that page again (or click Back), the page is reloaded from the cache file--this speeds up the browser's performance. Eventually, the cache file will become so large that the browser's performance will start to slow down, so you should periodically clear the cache. To clear the cache in Navigator 4.x, click Edit, Preferences, Advanced, Cache, and then click both the Clear Memory Cache and Clear Disk Cache buttons. To clear the cache in Internet Explorer, click View, Internet Options, then select the General tab. Go to the Temporary Internet files area and click the Delete Files button.

If you need computer help or have any questions, comments, suggestions please feel free to e-mail me at WebServerColumn@yahoo.com

The WebServer is a weekly computer column with a circulation of over 120,000 readers in three different publications. Look for your weekly dose of WebServer in The Caribbean Connection in Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami and in The Observer News in SouthShore.

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