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General computing


When I went online to update my PC to Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), I switched on Automatic Updates. The Intel 82945G Express Chipset Family update was installed. Ever since, I've had ‘No signal' displayed on my monitor.

I've tried switching off Automatic Updates and uninstalling the Intel update. I've also tried updating monitor drivers and adjusting the resolution and refresh rate. If I upgrade to a separate graphics card, will this help? Peter Reid

This sounds very much like a case of a Windows update breaking the very device it was there to update. There are two things you can do: first, roll back the driver by selecting the adaptor in Device Manager, selecting Properties, Driver, ‘Roll back driver'; second, download the latest driver from Intel.

A separate graphics card will help boost your system performance. Prices start at around £40 for a reasonable low-end card. Check the reviews section on our website for more details.


I own a Pentium III Optiplex PC that hasn't been used for a year or so, although the diagnostics disc that came with the PC shows no errors. I've installed two hard drives - 12GB and 32GB - and I'd like to load Windows 2000 on to the former.

I correctly set up the slave/master settings, set the boot sequence to CD-ROM and inserted the Windows 2000 disc. Some time after the process began, Windows prompted me to reboot. However, doing so restarts the process from the beginning. Hugh Walker

This sounds like a failing component, Hugh. However, you should also check the other components, since both the RAM and the motherboard are fairly old. Start by disconnecting the 32GB drive to narrow down where the problem might lie.

Now set your computer to boot from CD-HDD-FD. Boot from CD and completely wipe all partitions from the hard drive. Format it as NT File System (NTFS).

Install Windows on the single partition.

If, when rebooting, it offers to boot from CD, do nothing and wait for the prompt to disappear and installation to continue. If Windows begins to reinstall from scratch, you should shut down and swap the 12GB drive for the 32GB drive.

Repeat the steps from the beginning. If all goes well, the 12GB drive has probably reached the end of its life and should be scrapped. If the installation fails again, try swapping the CD and hard-drive IDE cables to ensure that neither are at fault.

If you're still experiencing problems, it's possible your RAM or motherboard is faulty. Download Ultimate Boot CD and run its diagnostic tools to pin down the fault.


I'm trying to install Fix-It Utilities 7.0 Express, which came on the September cover DVD. When I choose online registration and submit the form, no number appears. I've also tried using another PC and electing to register later. Eric Rowley

You'll be able to register your copy of Fix-It at avanquest.co.uk/idg/fixit/register, Eric. For all other PC Advisor cover disc issues, please visit pcadvisor.co.uk/cd/faq.

NEXT PAGE: Windows tips

PC Advisor tackles more of your PC hardware and software problems. For free IT support 24 hours a day, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.



I'd like to reformat my Dell Dimension 9100 and install a fresh copy of Windows. However, when I get to the screen that gives options to Repair, Reinstall or Cancel, there's no response from my wireless keyboard and I can go no further. I've tried using a USB keyboard, but the same problem arises. Russell Ellis

You'll need to go into the Bios and ensure that such options as ‘USB keyboard' and ‘Use legacy USB devices' are enabled. This is because the wireless keyboard is classed as a USB device. This will then allow you to use either keyboard through all stages of the installation process.


When I attempt to download Microsoft updates I get the error code ‘0x80240030'. I've tried everything, but I'm still unable to download the updates. Rob McClemont

This problem has been discussed in the PC Advisor forums. It appears to be due to one of several conflicts between Internet Explorer and third-party firewalls. The proxy settings may contain an invalid or misspelt character; a firewall or proxy server may be misconfigured; or the problem may arise as a result of working in a virtual private network (VPN) or company environment. A complete list of solutions can be found here.


Before the Windows XP login screen appears, I'm told that ‘The file system on drive D is being checked' and that this can be stopped by pressing any key within nine seconds. How can I stop this happening every time I start up the computer? Brian Merris

It may well be that Windows has picked up an error on the drive and really does need to check it. This shouldn't take too long, and you may find that it cures the problem.

If you're still seeing this message at Startup, however, try entering the following commands to confirm that the disk and file system are both healthy. Click Start, Run. Type CMD and press Enter. In the Command prompt window that appears, type fsutil dirty query d: and press Enter.
If Windows reports a ‘dirty' verdict, type chkntfs /d and press Enter. This will force a disk check on reboot and return the disk to its default state, hopefully putting an end to the constant disk checks.

NEXT PAGE: more Windows tips - insomnia, and seeking USB recognition

PC Advisor tackles more of your PC hardware and software problems. For free IT support 24 hours a day, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.


My Dell Inspiron 9400 laptop won't shut down. Instead, it displays a blue screen with the error message: ‘Driver Power State Failure'.

This screen provides some technical details, but these are different each time. References to my problem on the web point to varying solutions - reinstalling Vista, replacing the power supply and removing Roxio, to give a few examples. Jordan Smith

My best bet is that this is indeed a driver problem, as the error message states. You should download the latest chipset drivers for your laptop from the Dell support site and update to the latest Bios version. This should fix the problem.


My Windows XP PC no longer recognises USB devices, stating: ‘An error occurred during installation of the device. The data is invalid'. Alternatively, it says: ‘A problem occurred and the device will not work'. Roger Vincent

I suspect that certain permissions have become corrupted or have been changed, Roger. However, an easy fix is available by following the instructions contained in this Knowledgebase article.

NEXT PAGE: Windows Vista tips

PC Advisor tackles more of your PC hardware and software problems. For free IT support 24 hours a day, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.

Windows Vista


My six-month-old Mesh PC is unable to install Vista SP1 via Automatic Updates. First the machine downloads the update (KB936330), then it claims to be ‘installing one of three updates'. It gets to 98 percent complete for the first update before reporting: ‘Updates have failed, removing updates, reverting'. My PC has no trouble downloading other updates using the service. Ken Holt

Download Vista SP1 as a single entity direct from Microsoft and try to install this instead. This will stop your PC from having to download it each time.

If this doesn't work, follow the advice contained in this Knowledgebase article for failed SP 1 installations.


My PC, which runs Vista Home Premium, has two hard disks. Drive C contains both system and user files, but I'd like to move the latter to drive D and force the Start menu to find folders such as Documents and Pictures in their new home. Is this a straightforward process? Peter Smith

You must leave your system data folders in the C:\Users\%username% folder, Peter, but documents, photos, music and videos can all be moved to a separate drive. Considering how much storage space these files require, this makes a lot of sense.

Create a folder on drive D called Files, then create subfolders within for pictures, music, video and documents. Now enter your user profile folders by clicking on your username at the top of the Start menu.

Right-click the folder you wish to relocate and click Properties, Location, Move. Select the folder you wish to move it to and click ok.

NEXT PAGE: applications

PC Advisor tackles more of your PC hardware and software problems. For free IT support 24 hours a day, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.



Is it possible to load Office XP on to a machine with Office 2007 installed? Paul R Tempest

No. You can run only one instance of Office on any PC. However, you can run a second virtual operating system using Microsoft's free Virtual PC software and install the second version of Office there. Another alternative is to run OpenOffice alongside Office 2007.


Your September 08 print issue referred to a fix for Norton PCs crippled by XP SP3. Although I don't use the specific Symantec product mentioned, I've been unable to run XP SP3 since it produces the same symptoms when I load it. However, I was unable to identify the hotfix you mentioned by searching Microsoft's website. Paul Watson-Lamb

There's a page on the Symantec support site that offers fixes for almost all scenarios that may arise when trying to install XP SP3.


My ageing PC has finally come to the end of its life and my new machine has Vista Home installed. Would I be able to install my Office 2000 upgrade and Office 97 suite? Rod East

While there's no technical reason why you couldn't do so, it may not be the wisest course of action. Neither Office 97 nor Office 2000 is supported by Microsoft. While this wouldn't normally deter us from advising you to use older software, we've read many reports that Office 97 and 2000 can behave erratically under Vista.

Click here for a list of all compatible Office versions, which ends with Office 2000. Alternatively, you could simply install OpenOffice, which is far more advanced than Office 2000 and fully supported online.

NEXT PAGE: security

PC Advisor tackles more of your PC hardware and software problems. For free IT support 24 hours a day, get live help in the PC Advisor Helproom Forum.



My PC, which runs Windows XP, appears to have been infected by a Trojan, and I can no longer use Internet Explorer (IE). When I launch the browser, a message appears: ‘Attention, Dave Collings! Some dangerous Trojan horses detected in your system. Microsoft Windows XP files corrupted. This may lead to the destruction of important files in C:\Windows. Download protection software now. Click ok to download antispyware (Recommended)'.

If I click Continue, ie-av.exe begins to download. I've entered the name of this program into a Google search and it appears to be a known fake that actually installs a virus on your machine. I've tried running Avast and deleting the messages, but IE is still non-operational - I'm having to use Firefox to get online. David Collings

What you seem to have here is a typical example of a bad malware/adware infection. These usually make you go off and install a product that completes a quick scan of your PC then claims that the world is ending - and that you should purchase the full version to cure everything.
Don't be fooled. Simply install the free Spybot Search & Destroy, ensure it has updated itself and let it do a full scan of your computer. Tell it to fix any infections it finds.

If the problem recurs, try buying a professional antispyware/adware scanner such as PC Tools Spyware Doctor.

If the problem still persists, it may be time to back up your documents and reinstall from scratch - some of these adware infections can go quite deep.