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Solutions: For your mailing lists, try Microsoft Access

I started PC use with a Gateway and Word/Excel 2000. I taught myself mail merge with Excel spreadsheet mailing lists. I ran my organization's newsletter mailer for years until I upgraded to a Dell Dimension loaded with Windows XP and Word/Excel 2003. The old procedure I used blindfolded was useless, and I haven't found anyone to help redirect my approach other than "single label" or an entire sheet of the same. I follow directions reasonably well.

One thing you may want to consider is using Microsoft Access instead of Excel to print your labels. You can use Access' File, Get External Data, Import to read in your Excel data to an Access Table and then use the Label wizard as follows: In the Database window, click Reports, click New on the Database window toolbar and select the Label Wizard. Follow the directions. Ultimately, this will give you much more flexibility in maintaining your labels database.

I have replaced motherboards, RAM and hard drives before in systems, but I am stumped with my Dell Dimension 8200 with 1.5 GB of RAM. Currently I have a 40 GB Maxtor hard drive that came with the unit, and I am quickly running out of space. Usually I would just replace the drive, but I am worried about the size differential and if I will have to update the BIOS to accommodate that larger size. In addition, while I understand that the main difference in hard drive technology now revolves around the cable for SATA and EIDE drives, I am finding it hard to locate a "fast" internal drive without having to purchase a SATA card. I know you cannot suggest specific company drives, but would it be easier to replace the hard drive or purchase an external drive and use it as the start up drive?

Most modern BIOSes will automatically detect the different disc drive geometry. I'm assuming that your motherboard has connections only for the older EIDE and that you'd prefer to buy a SATA hard drive. In this case you would have to use an EIDE-to-SATA adapter card as you already mentioned. But consider this: The difference in drive access times between the two technologies is not as dramatic after you figure in things like disc caching. The good news is that the SATA adapters are relatively inexpensive and work well.

I have both Norton and Windows Defender using XP. Are both necessary or is Defender sufficient for protection?

Some versions of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus, such as the 2008 version, include an antispyware component. In this case it wouldn't hurt to also run Windows Defender, but it is probably not necessary. If your version of NAV includes antispyware, my recommendation would be to disable Windows Defender. But be sure to confirm with Symantec what your version contains.


Last week a reader wrote in to say that his version of AVG Free Anti-Virus would no longer be eligible for updates after June 25. This pertains only to version 7.5. Version 8.0 is the latest version and is free along with its auto updates; however, it will not run on Windows ME or Windows 98.

Send questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: For your mailing lists, try Microsoft Access 07/20/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2008 9:41am]
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