Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

All things physical, from the computer to the components to the devices that you attach to it.

"Unable to update region settings" - how do I fix that on my DVD drive?

DVD Region Codes are intended to restrict where a DVD can be played. Computer DVD drives can sometimes alter region codes, but only a few times.

Are cheap inkjet cartridges a good deal?

Can I take the hard drive with Windows installed on my Toshiba laptop and have it work on my HP laptop?

This is usually a bad idea. Even when it appears to work, you're never really certain that everything's been fixed up properly.

Can I upgrade my motherboard and CPU and have Windows just reconfigure itself?

Upgrading a motherboard and CPU can be tricky if you need to preserve data and settings. I have one possible suggestion for a work-around.

Can I use a USB RAM stick to increase system memory?

Flash memory is not the same as the type of memory used as your system RAM. They have different characteristics and they're accessed differently.

Can I use my TV as a second monitor?

Your TV can often be used as a second monitor, but unless you have a newer digital TV, the results will likely be very disappointing.

Can I use my old hard drives with a new motherboard?

When replacing a motherboard you can almost certainly use your hard disks, the question is how much additional work and configuration you might need.

Cyclic Redundancy Check: what is it, and how do I get rid of it on my newly burnt CDs and DVDs?

Cyclic Redundancy Check is an error detection mechanism to make sure that your data has been read properly. If a Cyclic Redundancy Check fails, it could mean several things.

Do I need to change any settings when I add memory?

When more memory is added to a computer, most of the system will automatically use it without the need to adjust settings on your machine.

Flashing my BIOS failed, how can I recover?

When flashing your BIOS fails, there typically is only one remedy: replace the chip where the BIOS is stored.

How do I defragment my new hard disk?

Defragmenting is a useful bit of maintenance to keep your hard disks speedy. It's not always needed, though. We'll look at when, and how, to defrag.

How do I disconnect the touch pad on my laptop?

How do I fix a bad sector on my hard drive?

You should try to fix bad sectors on your hard drive before trashing it. Starting with "chkdsk" may help.

How do I get hardware not directly supported by Windows to work?

Windows natively supports a lot of hardware. For hardware not directly or completely supported you'll need to take a couple of additional steps.

How do I get my Bluetooth driver to stop slowing my system startup?

Is it a driver problem? Or hardware? Or what? I go through a few troubleshooting steps to see.

How do I get my computer back to like-new without reformatting?

Reformatting a computer is still the best way to get it back to like-new condition, but there are a few useful habits and software choices that can help keep a system clean.

How do I maximize my battery life?

How do I setup a 'headless' machine?

When setting up a 'headless' machine, you may need to change the BIOS setting to allow it to boot without a keyboard.

How do I stop Windows from re-installing drivers just because I used a different USB port?

Occasionally, something as simple as inserting a device into a different USB port will cause Windows to reinstall drivers again. Or will it?

How do I tell if a blue screen 'CRC Fail' error is coming from my motherboard, hard drive, or RAM?

The place to start is with your hard drive although this error can also come from RAM and the motherboard. But, start with that hard drive...

How do I update the system bios from Windows?

How do I use two computers with only one display, keyboard and mouse?

There are two approaches to sharing a display, keyboard, and mouse with multiple computers. I'll give a brief overview of both.

How should I clean my computer?

A lot of time and thought goes into cleaning your hard disk, applications and so on. But what about the box itself and other attached peripherals?

I get the New Hardware Wizard frequently for no reason. How do I fix that?

Start by unplugging suspected devices and see if you can pinpoint the culprit. Sometimes, it's as easy as replacing a cable.

I reinstalled Windows and now my sound doesn't work - how do I fix it?

After performing a clean install of Windows it's not uncommon for some devices like sound to no longer work. The solution is fairly easy.

I'm only getting speeds of 28.8kbs, why won't it go faster?

28.8kbps is a standard speed for dialup modems, But even if your modem is rated at 56kbps, often 28.8kbps is all you'll get. There's one major factor that causes the actual speed to be lower than advertised.

Is it possible to find out if a bad sector has been allocated to a file?

A bad sector is a physical problem with the hard drive. Copying the file will give you clues to its status.

Must I reformat if I replace my motherboard?

Reinstalling Windows is often recommended when replacing a motherboard with a different model. But there are scenarios where it may not be needed.

My '2' key stopped working. How do get Windows to recognize it again?

Every so often a keyboard stops working or acts up. It's tempting to look everywhere but at the most likely culprit: the keyboard itself.

My CD tray keeps going in and out, how should I proceed?

A CD player that won't stay put may be a sign of hardware failure. Maybe it's time to upgrade.

My computer blue screens when I download pictures from my camera- what do I do?

Digital cameras often include software to download pictures. Good or bad, the big secret is that you may not need software to download pictures at all.

My machine sometimes hangs on boot during the Windows Logo, what do I do?

A machine that fails on boot is hard to diagnose long distance. There are two typical problem areas to look at first.

My machine's suddenly started acting erratically, even after a reinstall. How do I fix it?

A computer acting erratically after a clean install indicates a deeper problem - perhaps static electric or hardware.

My modem connection has suddenly slowed. What should I check?

There are a few hardware-related things that you can check if your modem connection has suddenly slowed.

My mouse is super sensitive and seems to do things on its own. What do I do?

Bizarre actions from your mouse may mean its imminent death, however there are a few less extreme causes of sensitivity and other odd actions.

My power options include an active or passive CPU setting. Which do I want?

It depends so much on how you use your computer and what your own personal preference is for things like heat versus noise.

My upgraded computer keeps shutting down - what should I do?

An upgraded computer may shut down because the existing power supply isn't strong enough. Here's why.

Replacement hard drive: how can I copy files from a failing drive to its replacement?

Replacing a hard drive is not terribly difficult, but if you're worried about losing data, then perhaps replacing the hard drive isn't all you should do.

Should I turn my computer off at night?

Depending on your usage, turning your computer off at night might be appropriate. But is it actually saving energy? In the long run, it's hard to say.

Should I upgrade my DSL modem?

Upgrading equipment is a common way to get better performance or increased capacity. Upgrading a DSL modem, in and of itself, will likely do neither.

What does "check system fan" mean?

Your system fan is an important component of your system. If the fan fails your system could fail or some components could even be damaged.

When I insert a CD or DVD into my DVD ROM the computer freezes. What should I do?

There are a few things to check out if your computer freezes when you insert a CD or DVD into your DVD ROM.

Where can I find drivers for adjusting sleep option, screen brightness and HDMI port?

Missing drivers? Best place to search for drivers is on the manufacturer's website.

Where do I plug in my modem?

Why are one manufacturer's processors faster than another - even at the same GHz?

Why can't I add files to my CD-R?

We'll look at why you might not be able to add files to a CD-R.

Why can't I get The Sims 2 to work on my machine?

The Sims 2 may not work for a number of reasons, but there are a few things to look into to make sure the game is compatible with your computer.

Why did a CD disc explode in my computer?

A CD disc explodes inside a machine! Now, how do you find out how much damage it has done?

Why did the first track of my newly burned audio CD not play properly?

Burning CDs can occasionally be a little touchy. A combination of minor issues with players and records can add up to intermittent problems.

Why do I get 'no dial tone' from my computer even though the phone has a clear dial tone.

If your computer has a clear dial tone but is still showing "no dial tone", check to see if the modem is properly connected to the right places.

Why does my 31 gig drive have only 10gig of space after formatting?

Why does my DSL drop after a few hours?

Sometimes a DSL connection dropping out could be a sign of a faulty telephone wire.

Why does my clock reset on every power-on?

When your computer is turned off or unplugged, a small battery keeps the computer's clock running. If that battery runs out, your clock will reset.

Why does my computer shut down after an hour or two of playing music from my external drive?

A common cause for computers shutting down unexpectedly is overheating. An external drive probably doesn't add heat - but the software drivers might.

Why does my laptop run slower when it's not plugged in?

Power settings in a laptop will be in the Control Panel and also in the BIOS. Changing them requires checking both areas.

Why doesn't my CD-ROM work?

If your CD drive makes a grinding sound, you'll need to replace it. Here's why.

Why doesn't my keyboard work until Windows is running?

Why don't I have an on-screen volume indicator?

On-screen volume indicators are handy, but surprisingly they're not actually part of Windows. We'll look at alternatives.

Why has my computer started freezing, but not in Safe Mode?

Everything indicates this is a hardware related issue. I think you're looking at having a technician take a peak at the hardware.

Why is 640x480 my only resolution option?

Sometimes 640x480 is your only option. We'll look at ways to work with this.

Why is Bluetooth Often so Flakey?

Bluetooth connections, when they work, are pretty darned cool. It would be great it if were a little bit more solid!

Why is my USB device asking for a CD when I attach it?

We'll look at some ideas to try to stop a USB device from asking for a CD.

Why is my USB mouse not detected reliably?

USB device detection normally works well, albeit mysteriously. The mouse is a critical Windows component, so if your USB mouse is not detected, an error results.

Why is my Windows screen sometimes stretched beyond my monitor's borders?

Usually an issue with the monitor, we'll look at ways to adjust your screen.

Why won't Win98 recognize my new hardware?

While Windows 98 itself may to blame, there are a couple reasons why Windows 98 won't recognize new hardware installed on a machine.

Why won't my display turn on?

Your display might not turn on if the computer's not working or the display's not working. However there are other possible causes we'll look at also.

Will a desktop and a laptop of the same specification have the same performance?

Desktop vs. laptop performance is hard to compare because laptops generally have special power-saving hardware installed.

Will my backup hard drive stored in my safe survive the heat of a fire?

Backup hard drives are inexpensive and a great way to save important information. Is storing your backup hard drive in your safe adding any protection?