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Reformatting will let you load an earlier Windows version

Q. I have read your advice on hard drive reformatting but still have one question. The system has Windows 98, but the registry is corrupt. I have a purchased copy of Windows 98. My purchased copy is an earlier version than what is installed on this used system. Will I be able to reinstall my earlier version of Windows 98 after reformatting?

A. Yes. Reformatting will wipe out everything on the hard drive (including any registry remnants), so there should be no problem reinstalling from your Windows 98 media. One thing to check is that if the Windows 98 version you have is an upgrade only, you will need proof you have a prior Windows operating system, such as a CD or floppy disks.

A corrupt plugin

Q. I'd like to know what is causing a window to pop up saying, "Plugin found but unable to initiate properly." It seems to occur when I'm trying to download a restaurant menu or government form. It was fine last year. Internet Explorer 5 is the browser, AOL 8.0 is the provider and I have Adobe Acrobat 5 and Windows 98 SE.

A. I'm sure this is the Adobe PDF reader plugin. Since you say that it is installed, I'm guessing that it has gotten corrupted. The best thing to do would be to uninstall Adobe, then download and install the latest version on Adobe's Web site (

Doing a double pane

Q. I'm having trouble viewing a split pane in Windows Explorer. I usually drag and drop my files and folders in the left pane for backing up. Now, if I can get a split screen, the left side is grayed out with only an X in the upper right hand corner. I don't believe I did anything different; I certainly didn't change the settings.

A. Try this: Instead of double-clicking the drives and folders while navigating in Windows Explorer, right-click and select Explore. This should open up a Windows Explorer window with the double pane.

Editing Autoexec, Config.sys

Q. Somehow I lost a file called WINDOW.HLP. I decided to reinstall Microsoft 98 but it failed. The message read: "Run configuration program that came with your computer. To disable virus detection running on your computer, you may need to remove the lines that start the program from your Autoexec.bat or Config.sys files. After you have disabled the virus detection, restart your computer, and then run Setup again." I found Autoexec.bat and Config.sys in Start-Run but have no courage to make changes there. By the way, I have a second computer with the same problem, except that it has WINDOW.HLP.

A. I'm not sure of what you are seeing exactly, but don't worry about editing those ancient Autoexec and Config.sys files. Make copies of them and simply edit them by putting REM in front of any line referring to the antivirus application. Do the same in the Config.sys, this time using a semicolon in front of lines you want to remove.

Fiddling with Nero

Q. I am unable to write CDs. When I open Nero, I get this message: "The Win ASP file cannot be found therefore you can currently select only image recorder. The missing file was part of Windows 98 error 15 mismatch." It was working fine before. The drive still burns off MusicMatch software, but it won't burn off Nero. It's like Nero doesn't see the drive.

A. This sounds like a known problem with Nero software. According to its Web site support, this is how to correct the problem: Download the file WNASPI32.DLL from this address: Copy this file in the Nero folder.