Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Solutions: No fix is needed if computer runs fine

I own a Gateway PC with Windows Vista Home Premium. It tells me I need to update Driver Detective. Do you recommend doing so?

Driver Detective is software the promises to keep your various software/hardware drivers up to date. Most new PC's come with some sort of utility — for example, HP Support Assistant — that does the same sort of thing.

I suspect your PC is at least 5 years old. Usually, most updated drivers for a particular PC are released in the first few years. I wouldn't expect there to be major updates of consequence for your PC. I would not update Driver Detective and instead remove it from Control Panel Add/Remove Programs.

The most common device driver that may need updating, especially after an operating system version, is the display adaptor. In this case, go to Device Manager, find your Display Adaptor and click the Driver tab. Or do it manually by going to the display adaptor maker's support website to download/install the latest driver for your particular video adaptor. But if things are running fine on your PC, leave it alone. You don't need to install all new updates, as sometimes they address only specific issues that may not affect you. Unless you're having a problem, don't go looking to fix it.

My Dell Inspiron 530 with Windows Vista Home Premium, Service Pack 2, won't start up. Do computer stores sell boot CDs? What are my options?

No, computer stores will not have boot CDs available. If you were able to get to Startup/Repair, then that means the initial Dell factory-installed utilities may be available to you also. These utilities typically allow for a complete factory reinstall or software-only reinstall (which protects your personal data). You should see the option to enter that menu just as you reboot. If this somehow is not functional and you don't have original install media available (DVD Windows install disk), you can get specific boot disks from Dell support. There may be a nominal charge, typically about $15. You will be able to boot from and restore a factory image from these disks.

I have an 8-year-old Dell desktop E310 running Windows XP. With Microsoft ending maintenance of XP, it is time to consider upgrading. I selected Windows 7 Pro because it has an XP mode for my old programs and it is not Windows 8. My processor, Pentium 4, does not seem to meet the upgrade criteria of Windows 7. What do you recommend?

If I were you, I'd buy a new computer, a Windows 8 computer. Yes, I know all about the usability issues, but Windows 8 is a better operating system than Windows 7. It's faster, more secure and will be able to run your Windows XP programs just fine, including ancient versions of Office. The usability issues can be solved with some settings and work-arounds. However, your Windows XP machine may not be ready for the junkyard. If your processor is 1 GHz or more, that's good enough to run Windows 7. And you can always stick with XP. Just because Microsoft is ending maintenance, that doesn't mean it won't continue to work. Just be sure to continue to update the antivirus program. Microsoft Security Essentials will stay current at least into July. If it isn't extended by that date, buy another commercial antivirus.

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

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