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Utility causing, not curing, problems

Q. I downloaded Road Runner Medic and installed it on my machine. Then, for no apparent reason in My Computer, the drive icon for C: has become a Microsoft flag icon. When I left double-click on the icon, it brings up the Road Runner Medic Installation Program. When I right click on it and then left click on Open or Explore, it shows the Folder Tree for the C: drive. I called Road Runner and spent an hour on the phone and no joy. I removed the Medic program from my computer, including the installation file. The MS flag icon remains and when I left or right click the same thing still happens. I tried reinstalling Windows 98 SE, and I get a "not enough conventional memory error." I have 256 megabytes of random access memory.

A. First, be wary of anything that promises to "fix" your system. They almost always cause more problems, as you have found out. Aside from a good antivirus program that you update regularly, be very careful about loading other system-type programs on your PC. I have yet to see one that makes your system better.

Now for the error message: There are several reasons why you would be receiving this message. I'm guessing that the setup program is having trouble initiating the ScanDisk check that normally precedes the Windows installation. Reboot your system to MS-DOS mode and run:

ScanDisk /all

Run Setup again. If Setup still fails, reboot to MS-DOS mode and run:

ScanDisk /all /surface

This will take a little longer because it will check the physical integrity of your hard disks. If Setup still won't continue after running ScanDisk with these options, try:

Setup /is

This will instruct the Windows setup program to bypass the ScanDisk check.

CD-ROM configuration error

Q. I get this message on my computer: "Error _ Missing or corrupted C:DVDROMOAKCDROM.SYS Error-config.sys file on line 6." What does this indicate?

A. OAKCDROM.SYS is the real-mode driver that is loaded from your Config.sys file. This is only necessary if you run programs outside of Windows (from DOS mode). This should not affect your CD from within Windows mode. If you don't run DOS programs (mainly games), then you don't need that line in the Config.sys and you can remove it (edit Config.sys and place a semicolon in front of that line). Otherwise, check the diskettes that came with your system/CD-ROM for a driver installation diskette and reinstall.

Upgrading a home computer

Q. We are home computer users and do not use our computer for business. On July 9, you recommended moving to Windows 2000 or Windows XP. I had been told that unless I had a business use for Windows 2000, it would not be worth my while to change. What is your opinion? If I change, do I uninstall Windows 98 first?

A. My first recommendation to anybody is: If you're happy with the way things are and your current PC setup is serving your computing needs, don't do anything. Who needs the expense and aggravation that comes with any PC change/upgrade?

On the other hand, even Windows Me (the latest and last in a line of Windows 9x operating systems) is partly based on the same Windows code that has made system freezes, crashes and application compatibility problems common occurrences for most Windows users. Windows 2000 and the upcoming Windows XP are modern operating systems that have been built from the ground up around stability, security and driver quality. Of course they feature many usability improvements, but the most important benefit to any PC user will be the vastly improved system stability. Windows XP will come in a home user's version that will be the recommended upgrade path for most people.

As with any operating system, installing from scratch is the best option. However, machines running Windows 98, Me, NT 4.0 or 2000 will be able to upgrade directly to XP. There'll be no need to uninstall first.

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