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Solutions: Recovery tools help reclaim lost e-mail

Q. I lost a month's worth of messages — 150 were unread — everything that was in the in-box from Feb. 21 back to Jan. 21. I believe it happened when a message came in asking if I wanted messages in my in-box compressed. I hit OK and later noticed that a whole section of time was missing. Messages were not in my delete or waste can. Any ideas or are they just gone?

A. Not sure what happened or if the compression was part of the problem. You may want to check out one of the Outlook Express recovery tools available. One with a trial version can be found at, or search for others by searching for "outlook express repair."

Q. I have a need to free up space on my main hard drive. I am running Windows XP SP2 and have all my personal files backed up on an external drive. My 7-year-old Sony computer operates fine but only has a 20 GB drive. I delete my temporary Internet files regularly. My free space is at 1 GB and I have found two files that together are over 6 GB. They are the "TEMP" file in document and settings (1.39 GB) and a file named "WINDOWS" (4.73 GB). In both files, some creation dates go back to 2001. Most of the files have modified and accessed dates in past years. Can you suggest a method that is safe to delete these files and get back this space?

A. Is it really only 20 GB? That seems unusually small, even for a 7-year-old computer. There is no way for me to tell what those files are. The file extensions would be important information. Chances are you have the "Hide extensions" option on, which is one of the worst default settings in Windows. It makes no sense, confuses people and is potentially dangerous. To turn it off, open My Computer, click Tools, click Folder Options, click the View tab and uncheck "Hide extensions for known file types." Then click OK. Now go and check those files again. Maybe now you can determine what they are. I would recommend running the Disk Cleanup Tool. Click Start, Run and type cleanmgr then click OK. You can view options and then click OK to proceed with the cleanup. This should buy you a little more breathing room. However, 20 GB is just not practical today. If your 7-year-old PC is still useful, consider upgrading the hard drive to one that's at least 100 GB.

Q. I am running Windows 98 SE and needed to reformat (after many years of accumulating who knows what) so I copied My Documents onto a CD using Nero. The reformat was successful, as was copying back the My Documents folder. However, I discovered that all the files in My Documents are now Read Only. The popup indicates that I simply need to change the file name, which works, but I have many, many files. How can I get back to where I was with all files being "normal"?

A. There are two levels at which you can do this. Right-click the top folder under which all your read-only files reside and choose Properties, then uncheck the "Read Only" box and click Apply. Or, enter the folder with all your files, and from the keyboard press the Control and the A key at the same time. This is a Windows shortcut for selecting all files in a folder. Then right-click, choose Properties and uncheck the "Read Only" box.

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

Solutions: Recovery tools help reclaim lost e-mail 03/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2008 5:15pm]
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