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Maintaining Your Computer

When you get stuck, turn to Troubleshooters

By Gordon Black

Learn to use Troubleshooters It is frustrating when, for no obvious reason, your computer screen shows an error that interrupts your work. When this happens, help is at right at your fingertips. You can look to see if the problem you're experiencing is listed under the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the Windows 98 Web site. Or you could talk to the helpful folks at Microsoft Technical Support.

Before you go looking further afield, take a look at the aid that's even closer -- the troubleshooters built right into the Help on your desktop.

Some of the most common snafus have been summarized and accompanied by likely solutions into a series of Troubleshooters in Help. Dozens of possible glitches are detailed in the Troubleshooters, which provide full details to walk you through the solutions in a series of questions that help narrow the problem and offer a way to fix it, if possible.

To use or find the Troubleshooters:

1. From the Start menu, select Help
2. Click the Contents tab
3. Click Troubleshooting
4. Select Windows 98 Troubleshooters
5. Select the area that's giving you trouble.

Below, in the first of two articles about how to solve problems yourself, we've excerpted three items from the Windows 98 Troubleshooting guide.

Computer fails to start properly

Your computer fails to start up properly or gets stuck at the Windows logo after you switch it on.

The problem may be caused by an anti-virus program that detects certain files when you start your computer. This type of software normally operates with a series of prompts from the user. When the Windows logo freezes, it may be because the anti-virus software is awaiting further instructions.

You can easily determine if anti-virus software is causing this by pressing the ESC key. This closes the Windows logo screen. You should now be able to see the anti-virus software menu, if you have it on your computer. Choose the option that allows the program to update any affected files. This prevents the pause from occurring when you start Windows in the future.

If Windows 98 does not start normally, try to start it in Safe mode. Switch on your computer, and press and hold down the CTRL key (below the left Shift key). When the Windows 98 menu appears, choose Safe Mode.

If your computer won't start in safe mode, it may have been infected by a computer virus. Detecting and removing a virus can be complicated and you should enlist help. You'll find information on contacting Microsoft Customer Support in the sidebar.

If anti-virus software is not the issue, and you don't appear to have a virus, visit the Troubleshooter guide for other possible solutions to what's wrong.

Conflict error message

When you plug devices such as printers and scanners into your computer you may receive an error message saying that there is a conflict between the devices.

A conflict usually means that two devices are trying to share the same software resources, which often prevents either from operating. This can sometimes happen after you have installed a new printer or other piece of hardware. Hardware Conflict Troubleshooters have lots of information on how to solve this problem.

Out of memory

When you try to start a program or while a program is running do you receive an Out of Memory error message?

A number of memory-related issues can generate this message, including when temporary files you no longer need are taking up space on your hard drive. However, most problems can be easily remedied by following a Troubleshooter. Check out the options listed under Memory.

Next week, when the network blues get you down, where are you going to turn? Why, Troubleshooters. We'll take a look at three common problems that prevent you from getting on the Internet and sharing network resources.


Gordon Black
wishes there was a troubleshooter guide for household plumbing.

Helpful sites

There are a number of Microsoft Web sites set up specifically to provide aid when you get stuck.

For answers to common questions try the Windows 98 FAQ Web site.

There are many resources at your disposal at The Microsoft Personal Support Center Web site.

When you feel stumped and would like to speak to someone, visit the Microsoft Technical Support for details.

For more about Troubleshooters, be sure to check out Troubleshooters Part Two.