USB Flash Drive and Windows 98 – Just Say “No”

Yesterday I was duty bound to try to get USB devices, a USB Flash Drive and, if successful with that, a USB printer, to work on Windows 98SE (second edition – the good one!).

First, I tried an older Kingston 512MB drive. I downloaded the driver from Kingston’s website, installed it, rebooted and inserted the USB Flash Drive. I was prompted with the add new hardware wizard which ultimately told me that an adequate driver could not be found. Been there before.

With USB and Windows 98, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Next, I tried a newer Sandisk Micro Cruzer 1GB. Downloaded the driver from the website, then determined that this was a U3 device which is NOT supported under Windows 98.

Since this PC did not have an internet connection, NIC installed, or WinZip, I was transferring the required files with 2 floppies from another computer.

After neither worked, I figured enough time wasted. I told my friend I would be happy to upgrade the box to Windows XP (PIII 800, 256MB) and in the meantime I had taken the hard drive out and slaved it in another machine to backup the data for him.

It had been a while since I had the displeasure of messing around with USB and Windows 98. At this point I can confidently say – Just Say NO!

P.S. – I love USB Flash Drives. Read more here.

Upgrade Hard Drive – Clone it with Acronis True Image

My new Seagate Barracuda ES 250GB hard drive came in and it was time to replace the temporary drive I had setup my new PC with.

Since I eat my own cooking, I chose Acronis True Image to do the job. I added the second hard drive, and with SATA drives, no jumpering is necessary. I booted the PC with the Acronis v8 build 937 CD, a bit old, but it’s what I had handy, using the F8 option on the Asus motherboard bios to choose my boot source as the DVD/RW drive.

Unfortunately, Acronis said it didn’t find and hard drives. I need a later build, or better yet, v9 of the Acronis True Image Workstation or the new v10 of Acronis True Image Home.

Plan B. Boot to XP; Acronis v8 937 was installed on the machine, and it did see the hard drives now. Requires a reboot or two, but the job was done in about the same time. Just tell it how much of the new drive I want partitioned for the configuration of the old drive, keep the old data, and voila!

Up and running on the new drive. Painless, and, even more important, I can save the old drive for a while as a backup. At least until I get a backup image of the new drive anyway (that’s why I told it to “keep data” during the cloning operation).

Learn more about Acronis True Image and you’ll want to start using it for cloning and backup too.

Hard Drive Problems – Disconnect, Reconnect Fixes It

Hard drive problems over the last couple of months have been way high and out of proportion.

What happens is that the computer will start acting up in Windows, the user decides to reboot, and upon booting the system cannot find the hard drive. On occasion, it’s when first powering up the unit in the morning.

The fix is to disconnect power, open up the box, unplug the hard drive cable and then reconnect. This has happened with both IDE and SATA hard drives.

I have asked ASUS tech support if they have ever heard of this and naturally they had not. On some of these systems, it has happened more than once over the course of 6 months.

The fix is easy, but very frustrating. If you have any ideas or info on this, I’m all ears.

Dualview – Buy a Second Monitor and Double Your Desktop

Today I had some people really excited. It wasn’t the new Dell Laptop (see my Laptop Buying Guide), but the Samsung 940n that I set up as a 2nd monitor and configured for nVidia’s Dualview option.

With Dualview, the second monitor is an extension of the desktop. Just grab a (non maximized) window’s title bar and drag it over to the second screen. Then maximize it there if you want, or not. You can even tell nVidia to remember which screen a program was on last and open it there next.

You just can’t imagine what it’s like until you’ve tried it. I set it up for one user today and had 2 others immediately begging for it.

LCD monitors are getting cheap. I bought this one on —-
– under $200 after rebate and free shipping.

Try it, you’ll like it.

Before you choose your dedicated servers over any website hosting company just to be able to put up your web design, make sure if your favorite search engine actually likes that or not.

Bootdisk for Windows

Today we were updating firmware on some Intel Servers and needed to boot via floppy to an MS-Dos prompt. (Ok, head hurts, think!)

That’s right. Both Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 have a check box in the format dialog for “make MS-Dos startup disk”.

But another option is to go to There you will find a wide variety of operating systems represented. Download the executable file, run it, and you will be prompted to put in a floppy disk. I prefer Windows 98SE (second edition); it offers CD-Rom support which can be convenient.

Thankfully, a boot floppy isn’t often needed. But when it is, it’s nice to know where to find one!

Save Your Work – Better than losing it

In the course of my work, I am often at a users workstation with either a problem to fix or software to install.

Naturally, I need the user to exit out of all programs since, anything can go wrong and the probability of that happening increases in direct proportion to how much they have to lose if it does (Murphy’s Law).

In order to cause the least amount of distress to the company, I try to do as much of this type of work as possible when the user is absent from their computer, such as during lunch. The problem, however, is that users leave their workstations for extended periods of time – not only logged in, but with numerous programs and documents open; some not only not saved, but not even named. If it’s just not saved, I can hope they didn’t want to rename it and just save it. If it’s not named, I get to guess and leave them a sticky note.

When I try to track down the user from the lunch room, they whine about having to follow me back to their workstation. Never mind that these are users who have lost work before (due to their own errors and inabilities) and whined about that.

Further, never mind that it is company policy to not only save your work and exit programs AND logoff if leaving for any extended length of time; this is for both safety (of your work) and security purposes.

For some of these people, I have even recommended rebooting their PC before going to lunch, that way if one or more of the poorly written programs they use all day has some memory leaks, the PC is less apt to crash in the afternoon. AND, it guarantees that all programs are closed and the user logged off.

To save and protect your work is pretty simple. Now, just get in the habit of doing it and you’ll be in great shape.

More information can be found at my website on my user behavior page.

Blue Screen of Death – Inaccessible Boot Device

I received a call late yesterday from a client who had been aggressively burning files to CD and deleting. This system was running Windows 2000 Pro and equipped with only 128MB RAM.

Things started acting a bit weird, but she kept going until she received a registry error message. This got her attention, but she wasn’t quite done yet. After receiving a “windows is low on resources” error, she decided to reboot. Good idea, a tad late perhaps.

When the computer started to boot up, she was treated to the infamous “Blue Screen Of Death” or BSOD, with inaccessible boot device.

Since Dell and all other OEM’s don’t see fit to install the command console for you, we needed to boot her PC from the original CD, wait for all of the setup drivers to load, then select Repair via Console.

Fortunately, running ChkDsk fixed the problem.

Now, to help for next time:

I installed the command console: D:\i386\winnt32 /cmdcons


I ran Backup, selected just the system state, and saved to an external USB hard drive. This has the added side effect of updating C:\Winnt\Repair with current copies of the registry hives, which a Windows Repair can use the next time, if needed.

Mission accomplished. And I didn’t even have to break a sweat!

For more info on Computer Backup, head over to the computer backup section of my website.