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Issue #91: April 19, 2009

Q: I removed a 40gb WD Enhanced IDE Hard Drive from an old computer and was wondering if it would be worth turning it into a portable, stand-alone drive.  If so, what would I need to do that and how would I go about doing that.

– Bill H.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: Definitely possible, Bill, but maybe not cost effective for only 40 GB.  (Can you imagine 5 years ago, someone using the term “only 40 GB”?)  If decide this is for you, try a Google search on “External USB enclosure” to see what’s out there, and be sure to buy one that’s EIDE to match your drive, and not SATA.  Also, check eBay for some good deals.

Q: I’m getting pesky messages with “windows – corrupt file” in the heading claiming that something is unreadable.  What I read online all points to going into safe mode or somesuch and selecting C and running “chkdsk\r” which is supposed to fix it.  Before I do, are there any drawbacks, things to look out for?

– Timothy
Destin, Fla

A: The simple answer to your question is “no,” Tim.  There is little danger in running chkdsk, other than it discovering errors that you didn’t know you had.  It won’t try to fix anything that’s not currently having problems, but it might just save your data by restoring broken file links.

One caveat though: What chkdsk does is validate the integrity of the file system on your disk.  It makes sure all the pieces of files that the operating system thinks are there, really ARE there, that they’re connected together in the right order, and that nothing is being included that shouldn’t be.  There are a number of other ways for a file to become “corrupt”, so it’s possible that chkdsk may not be able to fix the problem, but it’s a good place to start.  To learn more before running the command, enter “chkdsk /?” at the command prompt.

Q: For the past week or two, every time I close down Windows, it goes to an automatic update.  It will begin to close windows, gives me a choice of doing the update or closing without it, tells me not to turn off my computer, then does three updates and shuts down.  Is there something going on with Windows, or should I be looking for some kind of parasite?

– Don K.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: I don’t think you have a parasite, Don.  The chances are pretty good that the update is failing to install, so Windows is trying over and over again, and the install fails each time for the same reason.

I suggest you take some steps to determine which updates it is attempting to install, and intervene by installing them manually.  In Internet Explorer go to Tools->Windows Update, and once the site loads, click on “Review your update history”.  The actual solution to your problem will depend on what updates are failing, and why.  When you try to install them manually, make sure you’re running from an account with administrator privileges, and make sure your antivirus software is temporarily disabled.

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