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Solutions: What to do about antique Compaq

I have a 9-year-old Compaq laptop with XP Pro installed. A couple of years ago, I put it aside when I purchased a large HP laptop. I want to dispose of the Compaq, but now it won't boot up so I can clean the hard drive and memory. How can I clean it without tearing it to pieces, and are there programs looking for retired PCs?

If the computer won't power on, then you'll need to physically remove and destroy the hard drive (choose your weapon). If it powers but no longer boots from the hard drive, try booting it from a floppy/CD. You can download Darik's Boot And Nuke from, a program that will boot and then wipe the hard drive in one shot. I'm not sure you'll find takers for a 9-year-old PC, but you can't (legally) throw it away. Check and click the Computers link for options for disposal/donation.

I have a Dell Dimension 3000, and it is running on Windows XP Home Version. I have 1 GB of RAM, but Windows is only seeing 256 MB of it. A friend who checked said the Systems CMDS recognizes the 1 GB, but Windows for some reason only sees 256 MB of RAM. Is there a way to fix that short of rebuilding the computer? Also my fonts are jagged on all the programs I use them on. I did the "smooth edges" setting but nothing changed. If I put print on an image it prints all jagged and broken no matter the size of the fonts. It even looks that way on the screen. It is this way with WordArt, Elements, etc. Anyway to fix that?

Some memory may be shared with an onboard video adaptor and could account for small difference, but the disparity you're seeing is way off. And because Windows is only recognizing 256 MB, that could also be the reason your displayed fonts are jagged.

Some oddball applications change the MAXMEM initialization parameter, and I would start by checking your boot.ini file, which is a hidden file in your root directory. You can also check through the System Configuration utility MSCONFIG on the boot.ini tab, Advanced Options button. In either case, make sure it is not checked. Also double check that your motherboard memory specifications match your memory and that they are in the recommended slots based on the number of memory modules you installed.

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

Solutions: What to do about antique Compaq 04/25/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 25, 2010 4:30am]
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