Jewish World Review August 26, 2004 /9 Elul, 5764


Restore option saves disk space, peace of mind; getting computers to automatically play CDs upon inserting; more

By James Coates

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (KRT) Q. I am currently using Windows 98SE with the GoBack Deluxe v3.1 utility installed, which lets me restore my computer if something gets lost. I am getting a new computer with Windows XP Professional, and I was wondering if the System Restore Wizard is as good as GoBack.

GoBack has saved me hours of work over the years, and I am uncertain if I want to abandon it.

A. Ever since Microsoft added that System Restore feature to Windows with Windows ME, GoBack's fortunes have sagged. The software has moved from company to company before landing now at Symantec Corp., maker of Norton AntiVirus and other gold mine software titles designed to fix one shortcoming or another of Windows.

GoBack does a far more comprehensive job of backing up the computer as it was in past states and boasts features that Windows System Restore lacks. The issue is whether you need to go beyond the fairly substantial system restore features now built into Windows.

In broad strokes, GoBack pretty much makes a copy of the entire hard drive, compresses it radically and stores it in its own little corner of the drive. Users can then use the software to create a mirror image of the hard drive as it was at a given point in time.

Microsoft's System Restore confines itself to tracking and backing up all of the changes made in the Windows registry and other key settings so that it can bring the machine back to its exact settings at any time in the past. So if you mess up your Internet connection or corrupt key drivers for peripherals like scanners, printers and cameras, System Restore can restore all that stuff to the way it was the last time it worked.

By confining itself to settings rather than copying the entire hard drive contents, Windows System Restore uses much less hard drive space. That's because GoBack backs up all the files and applications each time it is invoked. The longer the computer is used, the bigger the GoBack archives become.

The trade-off is that GoBack can do things like find and bring back individual files as they were at a point in the past without needing to restore the whole computer. These features, which are called File Recovery and File Revert, require so much hard drive space that it makes a difference even with today's huge capacities. A final feature exclusive with GoBack is an automatic revert feature that parents can use so that the machine automatically goes back to its previous state at the end of a day when children were playing with it, maybe making a computer childproof. That is, of course, unless the little darlings find a way to change GoBack itself during play time.

Also, like all utilities tacked onto Windows, like Norton's antivirus and system tools, GoBack can create problems of its own, such as creating conflicts with the System Restore in Windows XP and causing error messages to appear.

On the upside, for its $40 price tag, GoBack can be used to recover any previous version of a file that one accidentally deletes. There are times when that is worth its weight in gold, but not many times.

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On the downside, saving files onto backup CDs, thumb drives and/or floppies at the end of each day does the same thing with less bother.

The Norton organization has posted details of GoBack at www.symantec.com/goback.

Q. I have a 2.8 gigahertz Dell with Windows XP on it. As soon as I log on to my SBC dial-up Internet service I immediately begin to get Internet "junk files" like pop-up ads. Unless I close them out as soon as they begin to pop up they inhabit my machine and cause havoc. I have set my messenger default field to "manual" for the pop-ups under Administrative services like you described in a recent article.

But for some reason I still get these annoying disturbances. What field or box do I not have checked properly? I'm a current subscriber of McAfee antivirus software, have downloaded Spybot, and use Net Nanny as well.

Craig Miller@wans.net

A. If only there were some magic box to check and eradicate Web pop-ups of all flavors I would be a happy man. Though maybe a happy man out of work as a computer problem solver.

Shutting down the Messenger Service in Windows XP stops a particularly dangerous set of pop-ups that look like messages generated by your own computer, but that step doesn't address messages that are attached to Web sites one calls up.

For this flavor of pop-up ads, one needs yet another tool, which is called a pop-up stopper. Let's do this on the cheap since you've already laid down extra money for McAfee for viruses, Spybot for snooping spyware and Net Nanny to protect children from porn and hate speech.

I use the Google Toolbar as a pop-up stopper, and it's a rare day when I see more than one or two anymore. Competing toolbars from Microsoft and Yahoo also incorporate pop-up stoppers in return for adding the sponsor's search engine to the Internet Explorer toolbar.

Pick one of these: http://toolbar.google.com, http://toolbar.microsoft.com or http://toolbar.yahoo.com.

These browser plug-ins offer other features beyond pop-up stopping, such as automatically filling in routine forms and simplifying searches big time. And they are free.

This will drastically reduce those intrusions, but remember there is a constant battle between pop-up makers and pop-up stoppers and even with all of the shields you now have or will add later on, some stuff will get through. But it will be a fraction of the current deluge with a pop-up stopper.

To recap, to disable the Messenger Service that lets Web pages you don't even visit create official-looking Windows XP messages:

Click on Start and then the Performance and Maintenance icon. Click on Administrative Services and scroll down to the Messenger Service and select the shutdown command in the pane to the left. Right-click on Messenger Service and pick Properties.

Then change the setting that comes up from Automatic to either Manual or Disable.

Q. I need help with getting computers to automatically play CDs when I insert them. On three computers over the past few years, Windows has lost its ability to auto-start a CD. It happened on two drives of a Micron with Windows 95, then one drive of a Dell desktop with Windows ME.

Months later the second drive of the Dell failed to self-start CDs. The same has now happened on my Dell laptop with Windows XP. This has impacted many CDs. I must click Start/Run, browse to the appropriate file and click.

It seems that every CD drive on every computer eventually stops self-starting CDs. Can this problem be fixed? I want my auto-start feature back.

Bill Lane, Las Vegas

A. Windows operating systems always have been vulnerable to this glitch because the software includes modules to let a user turn off that autoplay feature you want, Mr. L.

Furthermore, some kind of gremlin that surfaced right along with Windows 95 makes some computers automatically change those autoplay settings. Some speculate that when softwaremakers try to add autoplay features to their installation discs the process disables the automatic play feature that is a Windows module.

Almost always a fix is as simple as finding the autoplay settling and restoring it. In XP, open the My Computer folder and right-click on the icon for your CD drive and select Properties. The box that appears includes an AutoPlay tab that lets users either restore defaults or change the settings for whether autoplay is invoked for various types of discs such as music, movies and data.

Other versions simply include a check box for switching autoplay on or off.

Should all these steps fail, your problem can be solved by reloading the CD drive's underlying software drivers or updating them. In Windows XP, right-click on the My Computer icon and select the Hardware tab and then go to the Device Manager.

Other versions of Windows have the Device Manager on the My Computer menu.

Scroll down to the listing for CD drives and select the errant drive and right-click and then select Properties. There you will find command buttons to update the drivers and to remove them. Do the update first. If that doesn't work you can remove the drivers and then reboot the computer.

The operating system will sense the CD drive and install the drivers it needs.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of this column by clicking here.

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