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Issue #460: May 15–21, 2016

Q: Using Windows 7, is there any way to absolutely know when a restart is complete? Sometimes, well always, it’s maddening if you try to do something before it’s done.

– Dave F.
Destin, Florida

A:  To be clear, I’m going to change your word “restart” to “boot”, since for all intents and purposes it doesn’t make a difference in this context if the system is starting or restarting.  The problem with the question though, is that there is no definitive point at which the boot process “completes” and hands-off 100% of the system’s CPU, I/O access, and network bandwidth to you, the user.  On any given boot, there are countless things that might need to be done after Windows completes booting.  For example, many PCs have a dozen or more applications that have nothing whatsoever to do with Windows that load when Windows loads.  These include things like your virus scanner, and all the little icons that live in the notification area near your clock, and any “helper” programs such as updaters for software from Google, Apple, Adobe, HP, etc.  Many of these processes silently go out to the Internet and check the vendor’s site, and if an update is available, download and install it.  To the user, it appears that Windows is taking forever to boot, when what is probably actually happening is that Windows doing what it needs to do, and is now dutifully running all the software that you, the user, asked it to run each time it boots.

You can see what programs are running when your system boots by using the System Configuration utility that’s built-in to Windows.  Launch it clicking “Start” and typing “MSConfig” in the search box.  Double-click it in the search results to run it.  Visit the “Startup” tab to see what automatically runs.  My advice once you get here is that if you don’t know what something is, you probably shouldn’t mess around with it.

As for your original question, the best way to tell when the system is available to you is to watch the hard drive access light, which almost all PCs have.  When it shows that the hard drive is no longer constantly accessing, that’s a pretty good indication that Windows is loaded.  Other than that, just be patient, and don’t try to split the second between when the boot completes and you start using the PC.  You will drive yourself mad trying to do that.

• • •

Q: For fun, I began writing a story with my granddaughter in the Microsoft Works program which came with my computer. I never bought Word software as I had no use for it. I only use my computer to store photos and do email. The story got bigger than expected at 75 pages, which I saved every time I exited the program. All was well until I tried to burn the document to a CD. The label still appears in Works, but the content disappeared. When I open my computer it tells me I have files to burn, with my label, but it shows 0 bytes. If I click on it in Works, I get a window that says “File may be in use by another application, file format may not be supported by any of the installed converters, or the file may be corrupt”. I noticed that after this happened the name of my document now has a .wps behind it. If I go into my computer system it shows me the date I first started the document and the date of the last modification which is the day it disappeared as if it is still out there. I tried to go back and use the reset system to the day before I lost it, but that didn’t help. Is there any hope of recovering this document? Thank you for your help.

– Linda K.
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

A: For simple documents such as you described, Works is adequate to the task, so I see no reason you should spend money to purchase Word.  I feel bad for you, since after a first read-through of your e-mail it does sound like you may have accidentally wiped out your own file somehow.  However, your tale is a little tough to follow, so I can’t be sure. 

Here are some things for you to consider:  The native file extension for Works is .wps, so if the filename is showing that now, what did it show before?  Have you looked in the Recycle Bin to see if your file wound up there?  Have you searched the drive, to see if it was accidentally moved somewhere else?  If you tried to burn it to a CD, is it possible it’s on the CD?

I know this isn’t much help.  Once small solace I can offer is that if it is indeed gone, you can spend more happy hours with your granddaughter recreating it, or dreaming up a whole new one.  Good luck!

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