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  PC-Net's PC News - August 2002
Don Watkins

Maintain Your Disk
It's Good for the Soul

By Don Watkins



May 2000--I am fanatic about disk hygiene. Iíve been pounding the table about this topic since the July 1998 newsletter. I continue to believe that a regular regimen of disk maintenance is good for the system--and good for the soul.

But itís not always as easy as it should be. Sometimes you fire up ScanDisk or Defrag and things donít go smoothly. It runs for a while, and then--wham! You get a "drive contents changing" message and a "restarting" message, and pretty soon youíve burned a lot of time and gotten nowhere.

I didnít do nuttiní
Of course you havenít touched the keyboard, so the condition is a mystery. All your programs have been closed. What could be going on?

The reality is there will always be other programs running, even if you think theyíre closed. After all, Windows itself is a program.

The trick here is to find the bad guy and close him down.

The usual suspect
The most frequent cause is the common screen saver. We donít often think of a screen saver as a program, but more often than not, itís the culprit. Right click on an empty part of your desktop, select "Properties" and the "Screen Saver" tab, and disable any screen saver you have installed.

Detective work
If disabling the screen saver doesnít do it, you have a couple of choices. Perhaps the easiest is to restart in safe mode (Windows Help has information on starting in safe mode). Safe mode doesnít load the programs that a normal start does and will eliminate the program that is causing the problem. It is, however, a less than perfect solution.

Hunting down the cause is a bit more work, but better for your computer and your sanity in the long run. By finding the guilty program, you can eliminate the problem rather than just bypassing it.

Start by pressing the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys at the same time. This brings up the "Close program" window and displays running programs. Systray and Explorer are the only two critical programs that you donít want to close. Nothing terrible will happen if you do close them--youíll just have to restart. But these two programs run on all Windows computers and arenít the source of the problem.

What else might be there? Rnaapp is part of dial-up networking. It shouldnít cause a problem with ScanDisk or Defrag.

If you have a full time antivirus program, it will probably have a couple of programs running. In some cases these may be hard to identify but theyíll be there.

Close anything that is part of the above group, one program at a time. Then, run ScanDisk and if removing that program fixed the problem, then youíre done with your detective work.

Use "Search" or "Find" to locate the file. Then, right click on it, and select "Properties" to view information about what program itís associated with. In the future, close that program before doing disk maintenance, or if itís not a program that you want or need, remove it.

Final tip
Chances are you donít want to remove the program from your system. You just want to keep it from starting automatically. In Windows 98 thereís a utility called MSCONFIG (go to Start, select Run, and type MSCONFIG in the dialog box) that allows you to easily disable programs from the startup group. If you ever want it back, just run MSCONFIG, recheck the box, and the next time you start your PC, itís back in the lineup.

If all else fails
Sometimes, however, none of these steps solve the problem. In that case, drop by the message board, and weíll be glad to walk you through more advanced techniques.

Until next month, best in computing.


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