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Issue #55: August 10, 2008

In last week’s issue, I answered Bill B’s question about Windows Picture and Fax Viewer showing seemingly random images from old browser sessions when he opens a picture attached to an e-mail message.  I ran short of room before I could explain how to locate the temporary directory that Windows uses to cache these files.

The directory location is controlled by the operating system, and may not be the same on every computer.  You can navigate to it if you know where it is.  One easy way to discover its location is to e-mail yourself a file that’s associated with a program that has the ability to do a File->Save As… command.  A .txt file that opens with NotePad will work just fine.  Open the file from within your e-mail program (in other words, don’t save it first).  This forces Windows to make a temporary copy of it before it can launch the file’s program.  Once the program launches, choose File->Save As… from the program’s menu.  By default, the program will try to save the file from the location where it was opened, in this case the “secret” directory, whose location is shown in the dialog box that comes up.  You may have to open the “Save In:” dropdown to see the whole path.  Once you know where the files are, you can navigate directly to them in Windows Explorer, and do whatever you like.  Tread lightly!  While most of the files here are cached copies of your own data, there may be things in here you don’t want to lose.  There may also be files that are currently in-use, and therefore locked, so if you plan on mass-deleting the contents, don’t be surprised by an error message or two.

Q:  I use Windows ME on our Dell Dimension 4100 PC.  I know the ME edition is pretty old, but it still works OK for us and, right now, we have no desire to upgrade.  I have a USB hub attached which I use for downloading digital photos.  My question is: can I use plug-in flash drives to store data using the hub.  Also, would the 2.0 versions of flash drives work or would the non-2.0 versions work?

– John B.
Crestview, FL

A: John I could give a litany of reasons to upgrade your old system none of which have to do with whether it works “OK” but your question was about USB, so I’ll confine my answer there.  First of all, USB support has been integral since Win98SE, so your ME should support the hubs and everything attached just fine.  Your computer is probably from a time before USB 2.0, but 2.0 devices automatically fall back to the much slower USB 1.1 speed if necessary.  As for the flash drives, there’s no reason they shouldn’t work on a hub, but remember that the hub splits the USB bandwidth among all the devices connected to it.  In other words, your USB 1.1 speed is only 12 Mbps, but if you have two devices attached, they don’t get 12Mbps each – they share it.  If they’re both reading or writing simultaneously, that could cause you to get less than 6 Mbps throughput.  Compare that to the 480Mbps that you get out of a single device connected to a USB 2.0 port and you’ll see that it could be frustratingly slow.  I have also personally experienced problems with USB memory sticks when using lower-quality (read: CHEAP) USB hubs that you can get for only a few bucks these days.  Mine would shut off unexpectedly, then Windows would complain that I removed the device without stopping it, and when I dismissed the dialog, the device would re-initialize

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