How to defrost your frozen computer

Q: My two year old PC, running Windows XP Professional freezes up several times a day and I have to restart it using the power button.

  • Thursday, June 5, 2008 2:23pm
  • Opinion

Q: My two year old PC, running Windows XP Professional freezes up several times a day and I have to restart it using the power button.

I know this isn’t good for the computer, but it’s the only way to get the computer up and running again.

Interestingly, when it’s not frozen it runs great. Unfortunately, there’s no predictability to when it will freeze. I don’t want to buy a new computer if I don’t have to. Is there anything you can suggest that I can do myself to possibly fix this?

A: It would be remiss of me from a diagnostic perspective to assume a specific cause for the freezing you describe.

This being said, it sounds like you may have a fundamental conflict where two devices or programs are vying for the same resource(s) at the same time, resulting in the freeze. This, of course, is only one possibility.

In a previous Tech Talk column, I described the steps to removing programs from Startup. This is where I would begin. If this doesn’t solve your problem, go to Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel and remove any programs you are not using any longer. If the problem persists, there are several more in-depth approaches to isolating the problem and performing the subsequent repair. In any case, and before you attempt anything, be sure to back up your important data – just in case.

Q: Should I download and install Windows Service Pack 3?

A: Absolutely YES – if you have Windows XP. Microsoft releases updates and Service Packs for a reason. To improve, provide functionality and/or fix a vulnerability in their operating systems. It is our position that any computer running a Windows operating system should always download and install updates and service packs issued by Microsoft. For more information on what Service Pack 3 provides, visit the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/ and do a search for Service Pack 3, which will describe, in detail, what’s included.

Q: I haven’t wanted to upgrade to Vista because I hear so many complaints about it. But, I’d like to be able to use the Alt-Tab page-flipping Vista has. Is that available for my XP computer?

A: Yes. There is a free 3-D Page-Flipping software available through a third-party developer.

However, you should know it’s not exactly the same as Vista’s page-flipping. After downloading and installing the software, called WinFlip, an icon is put into your System Tray at the lower right-hand corner of your Task Bar. It looks like a blue foot. Only by clicking on this will you override the default Alt-Tab control and activate the functionality of the page flipping, but you must click on this icon every time you want to flip between your open programs.

You can find WinFlip at http://tokyodownstairs.blogspot.com/2007/11/winflip.html

Wayne Nelson and Jeremy Self own and operate Wired Northwest, LLC in Redmond. Submit your questions to: techtalk@wired-nw.com. Contact Wired Northwest, LLC at www.wired-nw.com or by phone at (206) 788-7975 or (206) 788-7898.


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