Question:  What type of media should I use for backups?

Answer: With the prices down, if you are buying a new computer get a re-writeable DVD drive. Speaking from an engineering point, floppy disks, which only hold a little than one megabyte of data) should only be trusted for one year. Technically speaking, this is from the date of manufacture. I personally have had terrible luck with floppy disks here on Maui (probably a combination of salt air and humidity). ZIP disks (which hold from 100 to 250 megabytes of data) are supposedly good for 25 years. We haven't had them for 25 years yet, but that's what they tell us. CD's (which hold 539 to 650 megabytes of data) are supposedly good for 100 years (also see the CD-RW discussion for more info). I prefer to see everyone use either ZIP or CD but if you don't have either and don't want to buy them, at least use the floppy method. Anything is better than nothing at all.  For even more info, click here.  Now that the prices of external hard drives have come down, and the sizes of flash drives have increased, these are preferable alternatives to CD/DVD disks.  I recommend using DVD disks for archiving backups.

Question: I installed a CD-RW drive in my computer but it doesn't work right, what's wrong?

Answer: Assuming it has power and the drawer opens, the ribbon cable is hooked up, the system setup program settings are correct, and the drive is recognized in Windows, right-click on the My Computer icon on the desktop. Left-click on Properties, then click on the Device Manager tab. Find the CDROM icon and click on the plus sign. There should be two CD-ROM drives listed (if you installed the drive as a second drive, otherwise there will only be a listing for the new drive). Click on the re-writeable drive and then click on Properties. Try unchecking the DMA setting, click OK, and close out everything then restart the computer and try it again.

For Windows XP users, go to Control Panel, Performance and Maintenance, Administrative Tools, Computer Management, Disk Management.  This is where the settings can be checked and changed.  It's a little more involved, and you may want to have a consultant help with this one.

Question: My computer gets really dirty, what do you suggest?

Answer: Computer manufacturers have never really addressed the problems with air filtration for computers. You can't restrict air flow into or out of the computer because the processors and other components generate a lot of heat and need a good flow of air through the box. Dirt is a problem, especially in Kihei. My suggestion is try to keep the area the computer is in as clean and smoke free as possible. You can vacuum the power supply air intake and the external air openings. If you're really brave you can remove the side cover and blow with a can of compressed air made for this purpose, but be extremely careful you don't knock any cables or internal jumpers loose. Also look at the fan on the processor and make sure it is clean and works OK. We seem to end up changing a lot of fans, again mainly in Kihei. Symptoms of a bad or clogged fan are the computer works for about 10 minutes or so and then starts acting strange.

Question: Do I really need to make an Emergency Start Up disk?

Answer: (This FAQ only applies to versions prior to Windows XP) This issue is becoming more important, especially since Windows ME. Most times, this disk won't help, but on the rare occasion when you need it, if you don't have it things will be a lot more complicated. To make a Start Up disk, go to the Start button, Settings, and click on Control Panel. Double click on Add/Remove Programs. Click on the Startup Disk tab, then Create Disk button and follow the directions. Also see this FAQ for additional recommendations.

Question: It seems like my inkjet printer cartridge is always running out of ink, what can I do?

Answer: Before you print something out, check it out in print preview mode before printing on paper. The print preview mode will show you exactly what the printed document will look like whereas the screen may not. Also, depending on what you are using the printed document for, try printing in draft mode. It will print much faster and in many cases the result will be fine and you will also save ink. You can also setup an extra printer for draft printing and use it as the default.  Depending on what brand of printer you have, some will print almost as well in draft as in normal and it only uses 1/2 the ink (see the next FAQ).

Question: Is there a way to set different printing options instead of changing settings when I print?

Answer: You can set up a different printer for each, for example a printer for draft printing and a printer for landscape printing. To do this, Click the Start button, select Settings, and then Printers, now Double-click the Add Printer icon and go through the same steps you did when you first set up your printer (adding the same driver, either from the listings or from disk). When the Wizard tells you that a driver for that printer already exists, make sure the radio button in front of "Keep existing driver" is checked and click Next. Click Next in the following window (which is about using the LPT1 port), and then, in the subsequent window, enter a name, such as Draft or Landscape. Click the Finished button. Now right-click the icon for your new printer in the Printers folder, select Properties from the pop-up menu, change the print quality or page orientation, or whatever it is you want changed and click OK. Now when you print from a program go to File, then Print and select the printer you want. Now you don't have to manually change the settings. NOTE: This will not work for all printers since it is dependent on how the drivers work.

Question: Do I need to manually empty the Recycle Bin and delete temporary files?

Answer: Some people seem to get paranoid about these items or they read in an article about performing these tasks. First of all, the Recycle Bin is used to keep deleted files in case you need to get them back later. If you right click on the Recycle Bin icon and left click on Properties, you will see the size, in percent of drive space, the Recycle Bin will hold. If you empty it, it will just start filling up again when you delete files so you will have to keep manually deleting files. If you are going to be worried about drive space being used keeping deleted files, click on Do not move files to the Recycle Bin, but be aware if you delete a file after this, it's gone for good. The Windows Temp directory probably contains some files you can delete. This directory is used to store temporary files while programs are running. If a program, or Windows crashes, these files are left behind and will not get deleted automatically, so normally, this directory should not have files dated earlier than today, and if it does, go ahead and delete them. You can also delete any folders since most programs which create them will do so when you run them again. You can also delete files in the Temporary Internet directory, although these files usually don't total much space and sometimes after deleting them, you may find returning to some web sites requires logging in again. To sum things up, it's OK to check the Windows Temp folder from time to time but instead of being paranoid about deleting files, be paranoid about running Scandisk, Defrag, and backing up your files.  In Windows XP, you can go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and use the Disk Cleanup utility.

Question: Should I use the preview pane in my e-mail program?

Answer: I tend to advise against using the preview pane. The main reason is when you preview a message, you are actually opening the message. If it contains a virus, the virus can activate. Also, some of the basic things like adding the person to your address book or blocking the sender are not available in the preview mode. It is best to show the Inbox and open each message individually.

Please Note: All information provided in The Help Desk web site is in easy to understand terms, in my opinion only, and may not necessarily be the only accepted answers or advice.  I will not be responsible for any problems caused from anyone making any configuration or hardware changes to their computer system resulting from information obtained from this web site.  Please contact me prior to using any content from this web site.