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


Various issues relating to programs that come with Microsoft Windows, or run under it.

A failed install is taking up a lot of disk space and I can't uninstall. What can I do?

A failed install can leave things behind. Usually it's benign, but when a failed install takes up a lot of disk space, it's time to recover.

Are third party utilities better than what's already in Windows?

When choosing third-party software to replace functionality in Windows, you'll need to compare tool to tool; some of them are better, some are worse, and some altogether unnecessary.

Can I copy a multi-floppy install to a single CD and have it work?

An old program on floppy disks may be formatted to expect only floppy disks, or even to expect a certain number of disks. But there are a few things you can try.

Can I delete lsass.exe? svchost.exe?

Lsass.exe and svchost.exe are required system files for Windows NT, 2000 and XP. If you delete them without care your system may become unbootable.

Can I install a program to an external hard disk and have it be portable?

Most programs need to install on a computer in order run and cannot be burnt to a portable disc or thumbdrive.

Can I monitor who's using my machine?

Windows XP includes a useful utility to monitor exactly what programs are being run on your machine. It's easy to enable, and easy to see the results.

Can I move a program from one computer to another?

Most programs need to go through an installation process to run properly on your machine. That's why it's important to keep any kind of installation media.

Do you have any tips for writing batch files in Windows?

Batch files or scripts are sequences of commands written in text files that run as small programs. Windows has its own scripting language in the form of the Windows Command Prompt commands.

How can I access my Windows XP Machine Remotely?

Windows XP Pro includes functionality to access the computer's desktop across a network. Remote Desktop must be enabled and configured properly.

How can I connect using remote desktop to someone that has XP Home if I have XP Pro?

Unfortunately you cannot connect to someone via Remote Desktop with XP Home if you have XP Pro. But there are other products that you can use instead.

How can I tell what's running on my machine?

You might be running many different programs on your computer and not even know it. Finding out what's running is easy using tools in Windows.

How do I get SFC to work if it calls for my original CD which I don't have?

System File Checker needs an original installation media of some sort to do its job. Fortunately, there are alternatives to having the original CD.

How do I get Windows Explorer to sort in the correct order?

Windows Explorer sort order can be set by clicking on the column headers. It works the same in application's Open and Save dialog boxes.

How do I get Windows Picture and Fax Viewer in Windows Vista?

Windows Picture and Fax Viewer seems to have disappeared from Windows Vista. It's still there with a different name and look.

How do I install programs on a drive other than C:?

Many, but not all programs allow you to specify their install location. In some, however, that ability is somewhat hidden in the install process.

How do I remove Windows Media Player from being the default media player?

There are lots of media players with varying capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Even if you don't like Windows Media Player you'll need something.

How do I remove a program from the Add/Remove programs list?

Removing a program from the Add/Remove programs can be done by accessing your Control Panel.

How do I schedule Disk Defragmenter to run with the Windows Task Scheduler?

You want to defragment your hard disk periodically. Task Scheduler runs programs periodically. Put those together to defragment your disk regularly.

How do I tell what programs are starting up on my machine?

Process Monitor, a free tool from Microsoft, can be used to find out exactly what's happening on your machine, including which programs are starting.

How do I uninstall Windows programs that I never use?

There are several Windows components that don't show up on the common Add/Remove programs list. Some show up elsewhere and can still be removed.

I found what appears to be a crash report for MsMpEngine, what should I do?

There probably isn't any kind of a lasting problem. As long as Microsoft Security Essentials is running and running properly, I think you're fine.

Is it safe to delete duplicate files?

Programs that identify identical files can be useful, but simply deleting the duplicates found can cause more harm that good.

Is there a quick way to find a particular file out of many without having to open each one?

Windows includes a utility that will search through a collection of files for a specified string. That's often a quick way to find the file you want.

Is there a site where I can get old versions of software such as MSN Messenger 5.x?

After releasing a new version of software manufacturers often make older versions difficult to find. What if you really do need an old version?

Just what is the Malicious Software Removal Tool that I keep getting in Windows Updates?

Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool is downloaded and updated periodically by Windows Update. It's not an complete anti-malware solution.

MSSTDFMT.DLL is missing. Where do I get it?

It's unclear where MSSTDFMT.DLL comes from, but if a "memory optimization" program is asking for it, I'm very skeptical.

What are all these other pictures when I view emailed photos?

When viewing photos emailed as attachments your image viewer may also show you lots of other images as well. It's all about where things are on disk.

What do I do when a program reports a DLL is missing?

DLLs can go missing for several reasons from accidental deletion to corruption or more. We'll look at some of the common causes and steps to take.

What is Tasklist.exe, and why don't I have it?

Tasklist.exe is a utility to examine your system's running programs. It's not on every version of Windows but a more powerful alternative is available.

What is the Event Viewer, and should I care?

Many Windows components log messages and the Event Viewer displays those messages. Unfortunately, those messages are often cryptic and inconsistent.

What media players do I need?

Unfortunately, the media player landscape is confusing. Which media player you need often differs based on what media you're playing.

What's the best media player?

Video playback is a confusing mess. For most people the player to be used is defined not by personal preference, but by the type of file.

What's this program running on my machine?

There may be many programs running on your machine. It's not always obvious exactly what they are or why they're running. We'll look for some clues.

When I select "help and support" I get a warning: marscore.dll not found. What should I do?

Marscore.dll appears in some error scenarios. Aside from running the system file checker, what to do isn't clear.

Why are there so many errors and warnings in Event Viewer?

Don't be fooled by errors in Event Viewer or by those who try to get you to pay for a cure! It doesn't mean your computer is dying.

Why do I get "The XML page cannot be displayed" after running a Microsoft Troubleshooter?

"The XML page cannot be displayed" is an error indicating that something is wrong with your Windows installation. There are several directions to go to look for a fix.

Why does the defrag program crash on my machine?

Defrag organizes the data on your disk for faster and more optimal access. If it crashes it's probably a problem with the disk's data.

Why would the defragger tell me I still need to defrag after it's done?

Occasionally, the disk defragmenter will tell you that you still need to defrag even after having just done so. We'll look at why, and what to do.

Will deleting programs from my computer make it faster?

Deleting programs can be as simple as removing files which won't have much impact on performance. Occasionally, though, it's nowhere near that simple.

Windows Media Player keeps crashing, what do I do?

Uninstalling and reinstalling often solves these kind of problems. You will want to make sure you do it thoroughly.