Solving Problems in Windows Millennium Edition (Part 2 of 2)

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The information covered in this article is provided by: Microsoft Press.

This article is part 2 of a series of two articles about solving problems in Windows Millennium Edition (Me). This article explains the tasks you will perform to solve problems in Windows Me. To view part 1, click the link to the article:

312930 Solving Problems in Windows Millennium Edition (Part 1 of 2)
This information is an excerpt from the Do It Yourself Microsoft Windows Me book, Chapter 7: "My Computer Ate My Homework: Solving Problems ". Learn More About Do It Yourself Microsoft Windows Me.

More Information

Part 2 covers the following topics:

  • The Tasks You'll Perform to Solve Problems
    • How Do I Back Up My Files?
    • How Do I Create a Windows Me Startup Disk?
    • How Do I Minimize Damage to My Files?
    • How Do I Minimize Hardware Problems?
    • How Do I Minimize Software Problems?
    • How Do I Reboot My Computer?
    • How Do I Recover Lost Files?
    • How Do I Restore My Computer?
    • How Do I Unfreeze My Computer?

The Tasks You'll Perform to Solve Problems

The most important tasks in this chapter are preventative in nature. The best way to deal with a crash is to make sure it never happens. If a problem does occur, most of the time, the other tasks can get you up and running again.

How Do I Back Up My Files?

In other parts of this chapter, I talk about the importance of creating backups for all your files to protect against data loss as a result of a system crash. Trust me, the process of manually backing up each and every file on my computer is both tedious and time-consuming. If I had to back up files manually, I wouldn't get it done as frequently as I should. And I doubt you would either.

Fortunately, Windows Me comes with a backup utility that can look over your files, see which ones need to be backed up, and do it for you with a minimum of muss or fuss. It takes only a few minutes of your time and is well worth the investment.

Picture of the MSBEXP Icon

The backup utility is not part of the Windows Me standard installation, so you'll need to install it yourself. This isn't difficult; just insert the Windows Millennium Edition CD into your CD drive and click the Browse This CD button. In the Windows Explorer window that opens, double-click first the Add-Ons folder and then the MSBackup folder. You'll see the Msbexp icon. Double-click that icon, and the backup utility is installed on your system. You'll need to restart your computer before you can use the backup utility.

Let's Do It

To set your system to back up your files for you.

Picture of the Backup Icon
  1. Once you have the backup utility installed on your computer, click the Start button and click Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Backup. This opens the Microsoft Backup dialog box, as shown in Figure 7-2.

    Picture of the Microsoft Backup dialog box

    Figure 7-2: Use Microsoft Backup to schedule your computer to take care of this task automatically.
  2. If you do not have a tape drive installed in your computer, you'll probably get a message telling you that no backup devices were found. Simple click No to proceed. You'll be able to select a non-tape backup device later. The first screen of the Backup Wizard introduces you to the process and displays three radio buttons you can use to tell it what you want. You can choose to either create a new backup job, open an existing one, or restore backed up files. If you're creating a backup for the first time, select the Create a new backup job option and click OK.
  3. In the second screen of the Backup Wizard, you can choose to either save all the contents of the My Computer folder or back up selected files. Unless you have a writable CD system or are saving to a secondary hard drive (if you have one), you probably don't have the capacity to store all the contents of the My Computer folder, which includes everything on all your hard drives. You would likely go through hundreds of floppies or dozens of Zip disks. Also I don't think most people need to back up their program files unless they've lost the initial installation software. I suggest you click the Back up selected files, folders and drives option, and click Next.
  4. If you chose the Back up selected files, folders and drives option in the previous screen, the third screen of the Backup Wizard lets you select the files or folders that you want to include in this backup. Figure 7-3 shows this window. Use the directory tree on the left to display your drives and folders. Select the check boxes to the left of each folder to mark it and all its contents--including subfolders and their contents--for backup.

    Picture of the Backup Wizard

    Figure 7-3: Use the directory tree to designate the files and folders you want included in the backup. Notice that the organization of this dialog box is similar to Windows Explorer.
  5. The window on the right side of this dialog box displays the contents of any folder that you opened in the left window. This allows you to select individual files or subfolders without selecting the objects around them. You can select as many objects as you need to back up; your only limitation is how much storage space you have available to store your backups. Once you have marked all the folders you want to back up, click Next.
  6. For your first use of the Backup Wizard, you probably want to select the All selected files option in the fourth screen of the Backup Wizard. After that, click the New and changed files radio button instead; the backup will go quicker and save more space. After you've made your selection, click Next.
  7. If you intend to back up to a removable disk, insert that disk now. In the fifth screen, you designate the destination for the copies of your files. Click the Folder button to the right of the lower two text boxes to see the Where To Back Up dialog box. Move through the directory tree to locate the drive where you plan to store the backup. Select that drive, and then click Open.
  8. Once you've returned to the Backup Wizard, click the Next button. In the next screen, make sure that both check boxes are selected. This will cause all the files to be compressed during the backup procedure. Compressing your files saves space. The compare option ensures that the information was successfully backed up. Click Next.
  9. In the final screen of the Backup Wizard, give your backup job a name in the Type a name for this backup job text box. If you've backed up before, you can use the arrow to the right of the box to select the job you want to repeat. When you're finished, click the Start button.

    The Backup Wizard will begin the process of copying, compressing, and transferring your files to their backup location. If the disk or tape you're using for your backup has another set of backup files on it, you will be given the choice to either overwrite the old backup job (and destroy it in the process) or cancel the backup process. Assuming you clicked the Overwrite button, the wizard does its job. Depending on the speed of your system and the size of the job, this could take a few seconds to several minutes. If your backup job is too big for a single disk or tape, you will be prompted to switch to an empty disk or tape as many times as necessary to finish the job.
  10. A message box prompts you when the job is finished. Close all the open screens of the Backup Wizard, remove your disk or tape, and go back to doing whatever it is you would rather be doing.

Be very careful that you don't accidentally overwrite a backup file that you want to keep. You can avoid this by being consistent in labeling the disks or tapes that you use for your backups. I suggest that you organize your backups by their main folders on your system. What the Joneses would do is have a separate backup for each member of the family. I also recommend that you record the date of each backup on the disk or tape label so that you can check the date of your last backup.

That's Not Enough, I Want to Do More

If the worst happens and you lose data off of your hard drive, you can use your backup files to restore your files to their condition when last you backed up. Open the Backup Wizard as usual, but in the first screen, select the Restore backed up files option. Then walk through the procedure to put your backed-up files back where they belong.

How Do I Create a Windows Me Startup Disk?

As I mentioned earlier, the Windows Me Startup Disk is a useful tool you need to keep available in the unlikely event that your computer crashes and Windows Me cannot restart. If you cannot find your original Windows Me Startup Disk, you need to create a new one. Don't worry. It won't take long, and you can get back to work in a few minutes.

Let's Do It

To create a Windows Me Startup Disk:

  1. Close all open programs on your computer. You don't want anything else running during this procedure.
  2. Find a floppy disk, and label it "Windows Millennium Edition Startup Disk." Make sure that the disk doesn't have any files on it that you need, because everything will be erased by the time you're through with this process.
  3. Click the Start button, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  4. When the Control Panel opens, double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon. The Add/Remove Programs Properties dialog box opens.

    Picture of the Add/Remove Programs icon
  5. Click the Startup Disk tab to see the dialog box shown in Figure 7-4.

    Picture of the Add/Remove Programs Properties dialog box

    Figure 7-4: Use the Startup Disk tab of the Add/Remove Programs Properties dialog box to create a startup disk.
  6. Click the Create Disk button.
  7. When prompted, insert the disk into your floppy drive, and click OK. This will take a few moments as Windows Me transfers the necessary files to your floppy disk. When it is finished, your computer simply stops.
  8. Close the dialog box, and put the disk in a safe place.

How Do I Minimize Damage to My Files?

The most important part of any computer system is the data that you put into it. If that data isn't secure, your computer is worthless and you might as well go back to using a typewriter (horrors!). It's important that you learn good computer work habits to minimize the danger to your files and to make sure that they survive any problems your computer might develop. Here is a list of computer work habits you should consider adopting to save your files from computer crashes.

  • Get in the habit of saving your files frequently. Once your file is saved to disk, it is secure from any but the most catastrophic computer crashes. (There are bugs or viruses that can destroy your hard drive, but they are extremely rare.) Remember to click the Save button any time you get up from the computer and at least every half hour as you continue to work.
  • Use programs that have some sort of automatic save system. If they do, even if you haven't saved for a long time when your system crashes, you may be able to recover the file that you had open. These are called TEMP files. Using TEMP files to restore your data is covered in the task "How Do I Recover Lost Files?" later in this article. A prime example of an automatic save function is the Microsoft Word AutoRecover feature. If you use Word, you can confirm that this feature is set by clicking Tools and then clicking Options on the menu bar. Click the Save tab, make sure that the check box labeled Save AutoRecover info every is selected, and confirm that the minutes list box is set to 10 (the default and best setting).
  • Back up your files to a removable disk at least once a month; more often is better. You can use a number of floppy disks. Or if you generate a lot of files, you might want to invest in a Zip drive or other high-capacity removable storage device such as a writable CD drive or tape drive. The more often you back up to an external source, the less data you'll lose in the unlikely event of a hard drive crash. Please check out "How Do I Back Up My Files?" earlier in this article.
  • Keep your backup tapes, floppies, or Zip disks clean and in an enclosed storage container. Also, keep them away from magnets to prevent the magnets from erasing your backup data.
  • Make a hard copy (printed copy) of all your most important documents, and keep them in a safe place. All electronic and magnetic storage devices can be erased or damaged. Having a backup hard copy means that your data won't be lost if something happens to both your computer and your backup disks or tapes.

How Do I Minimize Hardware Problems?

Like all electronic and mechanical equipment, computers eventually wear out and break down. You can lengthen the life of your computer and reduce the probability of hardware-caused crashes if you pay some attention to the material components of your system. Primarily this means controlling the environment where you keep your computer, reducing its contact with contaminating agents, and cleaning it occasionally.
  • Make sure that you have placed your system unit in a location with adequate airflow. (The system unit is the box that holds all of your computer's innards. Everything else is peripheral.)
  • Don't plug your computer directly into a wall outlet. Power surges occasionally happen. Although most of your electrical equipment can deal with a slight power surge (something not powerful enough to trip your circuit breakers), your computer is a bit more fragile. A power surge that wouldn't bother your TV or stereo can disrupt your computer's operation and cause you to lose data or can even destroy some components. I recommend that you invest in a surge suppressor, which looks very much like a power strip. They cost between $15 and $50; the more expensive surge suppressors are well worth the price. Plug your surge suppressor into the wall outlet, and then plug all your computer equipment into the surge suppressor. (Surge suppressors usually have sockets for five or six plugs.)
  • Keep airborne contaminants away from your computer. Because modern PCs are air-cooled, anything that is in the air around the computer can get into the computer. The contaminants can eventually build up on the circuit boards and cause problems. I keep an air filter in my home office to reduce the amount of airborne particles floating around to be sucked into my system unit. This also means: if you smoke, don't do it around your computer. Tar from tobacco smoke will gunk up your system faster than almost anything else.
  • Keep all magnets away from your system unit. Like floppy disks, your hard disk can be erased or damaged by close contact with a magnet.
  • Make sure that all hardware components are correctly installed. Basically, if a component is installed incorrectly, it will communicate poorly with your system unit, which can severely affect your computer's overall performance.

    FYI: Protecting Your Computer From Heat
    Computers run on electricity, which generates heat. Heat can damage delicate computer circuits. Your system unit cools itself with one or more fans to exchange heated air for cooler air. Therefore, when you set up your computer, ensure that the system unit is in a location where the heated air can escape and cooler air can be drawn in. Do not put your system unit in a drawer or other enclosed space. Under or beside your desk is fine if you don't want it taking up workspace. Likewise, don't put anything over or in front of the air vents in your system unit.
  • Clean your system unit regularly. I do it every four to six months. Unless you live in a surgically clean environment, dust, pet hair, and other airborne contaminants are going to get inside your system unit. If you let it build up, you'll eventually have problems.
  • Check that all your components are seated securely. While you have the case off to clean the system unit, make sure that all the adapter cards are seated securely in their sockets. It's OK to wiggle them gently to see if they're secure. If one of the cards seems loose, you should carefully push it back into the socket.
  • Keep food and drink away from your computer. Soda pop is one of the most destructive agents on computer equipment (especially keyboards), but no liquid is good for it. Likewise, food crumbs can drop into little cracks and crannies, eventually impeding your keyboard's performance. If you like to have a beverage with you while you work, make sure that you keep it someplace where an accidental spill won't get into your system.
  • Clean your floppy disk drives regularly. Just as dust and debris can clog up your circuits, they can also get into the disk drive and interfere with storing your data. You can buy disk head cleaners at most computer stores. I try to clean my floppy disk drives every month.

    FYI: Cleaning Your Computer
    If you start having problems with your computer crashing or failing to respond, try cleaning your computer. Simply unplug the system unit from the power outlet and all peripherals and unfasten the screws holding the outer case in place. Remove the case, and use a vacuum hose with a plastic tool attached (no metal vacuum cleaner tools inside the computer, please!) to suck up all the debris that's collected inside. Don't worry, removing the case won't hurt your computer, and it will work more efficiently when you're done. If you notice a buildup of oily, greasy, or tarry material on the circuit boards, use cotton swabs and regular rubbing alcohol to gently clean the surfaces of the circuit boards. Again, please make sure your computer is disconnected from all power sources while you're doing this.
  • Run a thorough ScanDisk regularly. ScanDisk has two settings: Standard and Thorough. The Thorough setting will check the surface of your hard drive for problems and correct those problems if possible. Although this takes a long time, it is well worth the wait. Or, you can schedule ScanDisk to work while you're asleep. I recommend that you have a Thorough ScanDisk sweep at least once a month.
  • Use proper shut-off procedures. Click the Start button, and select Shut Down. In the Shut Down Windows dialog box, select Shut Down from the list box, and then click OK. Use the power button to turn off your computer only if the shut down request is ignored.

How Do I Minimize Software Problems?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the three major causes of software errors are bugs, viruses, and improper installation. There is very little you can do to prevent bugs. Because they are a problem with the software code, they can be fixed only by the software developer. If you find a bug in a Microsoft program, contact Microsoft and tell them about it. Improper installation and viruses are problems that you can take steps to prevent. Here's a list of steps you can take to keep your software running smoothly.

  • Make sure your software is correctly installed. Programs should always be saved onto your primary hard drive (usually drive C:) and should have their own folders. The Add/Remove Programs Wizard knows how to install programs, and you should let it do its job. If a program is constantly experiencing problems, perhaps you need to uninstall and reinstall it.
  • Don't mess with the programs. With the exception of using TEMP files to recover lost data, please stay out of the WINDOWS and Program Files folders, as well as any other folders that are created for special programs. Do not modify, delete, or move anything in those folders because you don't know how changes will affect the way the program operates. If you have done something in those folders, you should remove the program and reinstall it.
  • Don't download files from strangers. Especially not files with an .exe extension. You have to protect your system from infection by viruses. Download only files and programs from people that you trust and only if you specifically requested them. (This applies to files on floppy disks, CDs, or any other removable storage medium as well.)
  • Run frequent virus checks. You would do well to invest in a good virus protection program. Because a virus can spread so quickly over the Internet, make sure that you can upgrade your program online. Once you have the program, I recommend that you set your system to run a virus check every time you turn on your computer (it only takes a few seconds) or at least once a week if you tend to keep your computer running.
  • Update your virus checking software regularly. New viruses are coming out all the time, and you need to keep your virus scan software up to date for it to be effective.
  • Run weekly maintenance checks on your system. This includes tasks such as ScanDisk, Disk Cleanup, and Disk Defragmenter, as well as virus checks. Don't worry. You can set these tasks to occur while you're in bed or away from home, but they need to be done.

How Do I Reboot My Computer?

OK, your computer has crashed, and you can't get it to start again. Perhaps you're seeing a blank screen even though the power is running, or perhaps you've encountered an error message that has the term BIOS in it. BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System. It is a software routine that is essential for Windows Me to run on your computer. All you really need to know is that if you see an error with the term BIOS on your screen, you're in trouble.

This doesn't mean that all is lost. If you've paid any attention to me in this chapter, I hope that you've made a Windows Me Startup Disk. Now is the time to use it.

Let's Do It

To reboot your computer if it won't start on its own:

  1. Turn off your computer. Yes, press the power switch; it won't turn off any other way. If even hitting the power switch doesn't shut it down, turn off the power at the surge suppressor or unplug your computer.
  2. Insert the Windows Me Startup Disk in your floppy drive.
  3. Press the power switch to turn your computer back on. The Windows Me Startup Disk will talk your computer into rebooting so that you see Windows Me again.
If this doesn't work for you, you'll need to take your computer to the service professionals at your computer shop. (If your computer is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer. Having your computer worked on by someone else during the warranty period could void the warranty.)


If Windows Me refuses to start and you can't find your Windows Me Startup Disk, use the Emergency Recovery or the "System Recovery" CD that came with your computer. Be aware that if you installed Windows Me over a previous version of Windows, the original recovery CD will reboot that previous version of Windows.

That's Not Enough, I Want to Do More

Sometimes, even the startup disk won't get Windows Me back. But it should get you to MS-DOS, which is the operating system Windows Me uses. This is not good, and it means that you'll need to reinstall Windows Me. First you need to save your files to floppies or to a Zip disk, which you can do from MS-DOS. Using MS-DOS commands is beyond the scope of this book, and they can be pretty frustrating if you've never used them before. What I want you to do is call a friend with lots of computing experience, or call Microsoft technical support and get them to walk you through the process.

How Do I Recover Lost Files?

Imagine a worst-case scenario: you've worked on a document all day. It has taken all of your attention, so you have forgotten to save your file since this morning. Suddenly, you lose power and your computer shuts down. The lights come back on, and your computer reboots. But what has happened to your file?

This matter is actually dealt with by individual programs. In many cases, the program you were working with will open a recovered file when your system reboots. This file is based on what your program is able to reconstruct from the last time it automatically saved. You should check out each program that you use to find out how its automatic save feature functions and how to set it to maximum effectiveness.

It's nice when the recovered file opens automatically; when it does, you'll bless the autosave feature with all of your being. But sometimes a recovered file doesn't just appear on your screen. What do you do then? There is one procedure that you can try when you want to recover data. Open the TEMP folder and then the temporary file for your document. TEMP files are backups of your files, made by your program as you work. They are stored in a special folder located in your WINDOWS folder.

Now, not every program creates a temporary file in the TEMP folder (which is why I recommend using Microsoft products; nearly all of their programs do). Also, a TEMP file may be empty or even gone if the computer thinks that everything is hunky-dory with the original document. So this doesn't always work. If you use a TEMP file to recover data, you'll probably lose all of the formatting you've given the document, and the file may have a lot of funky characters in it that don't make any sense to you. On the other hand, using a temporary file is a whole lot better than starting from scratch.

Let's Do It

To recover lost data, using a TEMP file:

  1. Close all open programs on your computer. This is especially important for the program that originally created the document you're trying to recover.
  2. Open Windows Explorer. Go to the main drive directory tree (usually drive C:), and then click the WINDOWS folder.
  3. When you open the WINDOWS folder, you might see a message saying: "This folder contains files that keep your system working properly. Please be careful if you modify the contents of this folder." This is true, but this is a special case. Click the View The Entire contents of this folder link to see the WINDOWS folder.
  4. Scroll through the WINDOWS folder until you locate the TEMP folder. Open the TEMP folder, and click Details on the View menu.
  5. On the menu bar again, click View, point to Arrange Icons, and then click by Type. When you're done, you'll see something like what appears in Figure 7-5.

    Picture of the Temp Folder

    Figure 7-5: The TEMP folder is the place where a cached copy of your lost file may be stored. The names of the files that you see on your system will be different from what you see here.
  6. Notice that you don't see a coherent file name here. I wish I could tell you what you should look for, but I'm not an initiate into the arcane secrets of naming TEMP files. What I can tell you is that you want to look for the files labeled TMP File in the Type column. You'll have to check each file with a TMP extension to see if it's the one you're looking for.
  7. Double-click the first TMP file. The Open With dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 7-6.

    Picture of the Temp Folder

    Figure 7-6: Use the Open With dialog box to tell Windows Me what program you want to use to open the TMP file.
  8. This dialog box lets you choose the program you'll use to open the file. I recommend either WordPad or Notepad. Both programs appear at the bottom of the list, so drag the scroll bar down as far as it will go.
  9. Clear the Always use this program to open these files check box, and select either Notepad or WordPad from the list. Click OK when you're finished.
  10. You may have to check several TMP files to find the one you're looking for. Look at the date and time stamp on the files, and at the file sizes. These will help you determine which files to try first.
  11. When you find the TMP file you're looking for, it will look something like what you see in Figure 7-7. You can then copy it to the clipboard and open the original program and paste it there. Depending on the program and how much formatting you used, it may take anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours to restore the file to its former state.

    Picture of the Open With dialog box

    Figure 7-7: Sometimes you'll be able to use a temporary file to recover your document. If so, it will look pretty strange, but you can clean it up and get back to work pretty easily.

If you forget to clear the Always use this program to open these files check box, Windows Me will forever after want to open all files with the TMP extension in the program you selected. You can get around this by selecting the item and clicking Open With on the File menu. Or you can right-click the file name or icon, and then click Open With on the shortcut menu. Either method brings up the Open With dialog box.

How Do I Restore My Computer?

Did something happen to your computer yesterday (or last week, or last month) that has caused problems? Did a program or command stop working? If so, System Restore, a brand new feature in Windows Me, can set the clock back to a point in time prior to when you encountered the problems. Your computer will then be up and running the way it used to. The great thing about System Restore is that it doesn't delete your files, change your Favorites list, or alter the record of your Internet browsing. It just gets your system functioning the way it used to. You can also reverse this process at any time. Pretty cool, huh?

Let's Do It

To restore your computer to its previous trouble-free state:

  1. Close all open programs or files.
  2. Click the Start button, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore to open the System Restore screen.
  3. The first screen of System Restore merely describes what it is, much like what I wrote when I introduced this task. Ensure the Restore My Computer To An Earlier Time option is selected, and then click the Next button to move to the second screen, shown in Figure 7-8 on the following page.
  4. In the calendar shown on this screen, select a date when your system was functioning correctly. You can use the arrows on either side of the name of the month to change what month you view. Note that you can only select from the dates that appear in bold.

    Picture of System Restore Window

    Figure 7-8: Use System Restore to select a date when your computer was functioning properly.
  5. In the box for the date you selected (to the right of the calendar), click the time you want to use as your restore point. No, you can't just choose a random time. System Restore tracks computer events and checks the status of your computer regularly. The time of each event or status check is a marker. These markers are shown in two different ways.
    • By event. In this usage, an event is something that happened to your computer that changed how it functions, such as installing a new program. Your system will be restored to the point just prior to the event-installing the new program, in this example.
    • By system checkpoint. System Restore checks your computer operation at least once a day and records the state of your system at that time. It keeps a record of each checkpoint for two weeks, and you can choose one of those records as your restore point.
    FYI: Recovering from the Ultimate Crash
    Perhaps the most catastrophic type of system failure is a hard drive crash. This means that your hard drive stops working, and you can neither start your computer nor get access to the files stored there. In most cases, you'll need to buy a new hard drive, if not a new computer. But what about your data? I hope you've listened and have been backing up your data all along. But even if you haven't, all is not lost. It is possible for some computer repair shops to recover some or all of the data from your hard drive. This takes time and will cost a lot of money. Whether or not it's worth it depends on how much value you place on the files you've lost. If you suffer a hard drive crash, call around to the computer repair shops in your area. Ask them if they can salvage your data and how much it would cost.
  6. Once you've selected the date and restore point, click the Next button to see System Restore's third screen.
  7. This screen presents a reminder to close all programs. Once you've closed any open programs, click OK.
  8. If you're satisfied with your choice of restore point, click the Next button to continue. If you want to change your restore point, click the Back button and choose a different date or event.

    The final screen of System Restore tells you the date and restore point that you've chosen and displays a progress chart while restoring the system.
System Restore can take a few minutes, so kick back and relax while it does its thing. When it's finished, the program will restart your computer for you. After your computer has been restarted, System Restore appears again, confirming the changes it just made. Click the Close button, and you're done. If you want to choose another restore point, rerun System Restore. This will start the process all over again.


System Restore doesn't do anything inside the My Documents folder, and it doesn't make changes to files with common file extensions such as .doc, .xls, or .eps anywhere on your system. Check your folder to see whether you have any data files with unusual or missing file extensions stored in a folder outside of the My Documents folder (naughty!). If so, move the files to the My Documents folder before you begin System Restore. (Files created with any Microsoft program are safe.)

If you're unhappy with the way your computer works after System Restore is finished, you can go through the procedure again. Adjust the date to either earlier or later than the one you originally chose. If you choose a later date, any programs that had been uninstalled with System Restore will be reinstalled.

How Do I Unfreeze My Computer?

Sometimes your computer will just stop working. Typing on your keyboard will do nothing, and the mouse pointer is stuck somewhere on the screen. What this usually means is that one or more programs have become unresponsive. This is frequently caused by the computer operator (you) asking Windows Me to do too much too fast. I have this problem a lot; I get bored easily. If I ask the computer to do something that takes a while to process (such as opening a complex program), I'll frequently open a game of Spider Solitaire to pass the time. That is a bad habit I need to break, and I suggest that you don't pick up my bad habits. Fortunately, I've learned a trick to recover (most of the time at least) without losing work.

Let's Do It

To unfreeze your computer:

  1. Press the CTRL+ALT+DELETE keys at the same time. This command shouldn't be used lightly.

    Wait a while. Depending on your computer's processing speed, this could be a couple of seconds to almost a minute. While you're waiting, repeat my mantra: "I won't play computer games while I'm opening programs."
  2. After your computer has made you sweat for a while, the Close Program dialog box should appear, as shown in Figure 7-9. At the same time, your computer may start responding again. (You can move the mouse pointer.) If this happens, great! Click the Cancel button, and go back to your game (or whatever).

    Picture of Close Program dialog box

    Figure 7-9: The Close Program dialog box is a tool that lets you force nonresponsive programs to close and, if necessary, it forces your computer to shut down.
  3. If the Close Program dialog box doesn't appear, or if it appears but you still can't move the mouse pointer, your computer is truly frozen. There is only one way out. Press the CTRL+ALT+DELETE keys again. This will reboot your computer, and you will lose any unsaved information in all the programs you had running. Sorry about that; I told you not to pick up my bad habits.

Occasionally even the CTRL+ALT+DELETE keys won't work. If this is the case, you'll have to use the power switch to turn your computer off. Wait at least 30 seconds before turning it back on. You should avoid taking this step as much as possible. Manually turning off your computer like this prevents Windows Me from writing any data still in memory to the hard disk, which can cause data loss or, in the case of program-status information not being written, can cause programs to behave erratically.

Sometimes when you see the Close Program dialog box, one of the programs listed will have the note Not Responding next to it. This means the program has stopped running. At this point, you need to click the name of the program to select it and then click the End Task button, which forces the program to close. If you had unsaved information in files created in that program, check out "How Do I Recover Lost Files?" earlier in this article.


The information in this article is an excerpt from the Do It Yourself Microsoft Windows Me book, published by Microsoft Press.

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For more information about this publication and other Microsoft Press titles, see


ID articol: 312932 - Ultima examinare: 19 iun. 2014 - Revizie: 1