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Solutions: Can't delete e-mail in Outlook? Try this

I have Windows XP and use Outlook Express. I can no longer delete any mail. I get this message: "Cannot be deleted." What on earth has happened? I have about a week's worth of e-mails. I have them hidden but I want them gone.

Deleted e-mails get sent to a file named Deleted Items.dbx, represented by your Delete folder in Outlook Express. It is probably corrupted. From within Outlook Express click, Tools, Options, Maintenance and click the Store Folder button. Copy that Store Folder location (highlight it and press ctrl-c). Exit Outlook Express. Now click Start, Run and paste (ctrl-p) that folder location into the command line and click OK. That will open the folder, normally hidden, in Windows File Explorer. You will see a .DBX file for each of your Outlook Express folders. Rename the Deleted Items.dbx file to Deleted Items.old (right-click and choose Rename). When you restart Outlook Express, it will see there is no Deleted Items.dbx file, so create a new one. When you are satisfied all is well, return to that location and just delete the corrupted Deleted Items.old file.

I have an older Dell Dimension running Windows XP. My drives do not recognize any discs. I get the message: "Please insert a disc." Device Manager says the drives are working. I can copy discs, but I cannot install anything.

If you can write but not read a CD, my guess would be that there is dust buildup on the CD-ROM drive lens. You can try gently blowing some air into the drive either manually or with a can of compressed air. If you use a can, use short quick sprays and make sure you keep the can level.

My Compaq laptop with Windows XP is getting sluggish. I notice my 60 gigabyte drive has only 12 gigabytes unused. In trying to clean out some programs and content, I notice many upgrades listed. There are 110 entries for Java and about 50 security updates for XP as well as a dozen for Media Player, etc. Can I delete past updates?

They are there only in case you need to roll back to a prior update, which you would do only if the latest update caused some sort of problem. I would keep the last two or three and delete the rest.

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: Can't delete e-mail in Outlook? Try this 01/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 4, 2010 7:28am]
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