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Solutions: Suffering browser errors? Troubleshoot add-ons

I have an HP 2700 using Windows XP. The computer was very slow, so I upgraded from 512 MB to 2 GB of RAM. It started running a lot faster, which was good. But since then popups come on and shut me down when I get on Internet Explorer, checking e-mail on Yahoo or on Outlook Express. These three popups appear and I click "Don't Send Report" and I can continue working:

• Generic Host Process for Win 32 Services has encountered a problem and needs to close.

• Windows Service Pack has encountered a problem and needs to close.

• Dr. Watson Postmortem Debugger has encountered a problem and needs to close.

The following popup appears and we can't do anything except close the popup and it takes us back to the desktop:

• Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close.

I had a computer person install my RAM upgrade, and he told me it could be a hardware problem, but he is now telling me it could be a software problem and I should reformat my computer. What is your suggestion?

My first suggestion is that in the future, avoid paying money to anyone who suggests such a radical solution such as reformatting before attempting other, more sensible troubleshooting. If it were a hardware issue, I would suspect that you wouldn't just be seeing problems with Internet Explorer, so I agree that it sounds like a software issue. And my first suspicion would be one of the Internet Explorer add-ons such as Shockwave or a third-party toolbar. But first try deleting your temporary cache files: From within Internet Explorer click Tools, Options and then on the General tab, click the Delete button under Browsing History. Restart Internet Explorer and see if the problems persists. If so, move on to disabling the add-ons. Start with the Adobe Shockwave add-ons. Click Tools, Manage Add-Ons, Enable or Disable Add-ons. Click an add-on to select it and then under Settings, click the Disable option. Restart Internet Explorer and again see if the issues persist. Keep repeating this process until you go through all the add-ons or until you find the problem. If the issue does turn out to be a bad add-on, try reinstalling the program by getting the latest release from the vendor's Web site. Internet Explorer also has an option to completely reset settings while deleting all cache files in one step. This should be used when you've exhausted all other troubleshooting options. Click Tools, Internet Options, click the Advanced tab and then the Reset button.

I believe taking entries out of the MSCONFIG STARTUP list prevents RAM from being wasted on programs you are not going to use. However, if I don't have a program such as AOL in the startup list and I call it at a later time, and then I exit when I'm done, does the RAM get freed up or is it necessary to reboot?

When a program terminates under normal conditions, its memory pages return to the free page pool to be used again. There is also a component of memory management referred to as "garbage collection" that kicks in when the system is under pressure that "cleans up" pages no longer in use and returns them to the free page memory pool.

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

Solutions: Suffering browser errors? Troubleshoot add-ons 07/06/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 9, 2008 11:36am]
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