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Windows XP Tips & Tricks Part XIII


Easily Manage Shared Folders

Many of you have recently gotten brandyfied new computers for Christmas. Because of this, many of our readers are trying their hand at home networking and have been wondering if there is a way to find out if Win XP is really showing all shared folders on your new home networks. Remember, as in anything to do with computers, hocking up a brand new speed burner to that old coffee stained clunker will cause your brand new speed demon to take the lowest common denominator which is your old clunker. This might help shed some light on some of the issues you have been writing me about. At the very least, it is a starting point for trouble shooting.

If you like to share files across your home network but are having trouble finding all of your shared folders, then give this tip a try. If you want to manage all of these folders, all you have to do is go to "Start" then "Run (Windows Shortcut Key is: Windows Key plus R)". In the dialogue box, type or copy and paste the following:


hit enter or click OK, and you will notice a window pop up. This window shows you all of the shared folders on your computer so you can easily add files to, move, or delete them. Go on, see if you're sharing more than you need to or not enough!

With Shared Folders, you can:

Right clinking on the folders will reveal more options. If you get stuck, or are not sure what you can and cannot do with this consol, simply right click on a folder option and choose help from the right click context menu.

Windows XP will not recognize CD-RW or DVD-RW:

Reader Mike writes: One day I went to bed, and my computer was fine; the next morning, my system no longer recognized my DVD-RW and CD-RW. As far as I know, I did nothing to provoke such outrageous behavior. Both drivers load without a problem, and there's power going to both drives. I checked the control panel and got yellow with error 41. What gives? I love burning stuff to CD. I am desperately missing my CD fix. Can you help a fellow out? Running Windows XP. Thanks in advance!

A Word of Warning: This answer and some recommendations suggest you edit your Windows System Registry, MAKE SURE you back up your registry in case you do something wrong and need to revert. If you are unfamiliar with this task, let someone who is experienced in this field perform it. You don't want to accidentally delete or edit a file that is critical to your system--which can and probably will wreak havoc to your computer. So be cautious and know what you are doing before proceeding! Edit and Delete files in the Windows System Registry at your own risk.  For more on the uses of the System Registry Editor, please see Bo's Tweaky Clean Windows

Let's see if we can resolve this for you. I will assume you don't have removable drives since this is typically not a plug-and-play issue. Also, outdated, incorrect, or damaged drivers may in fact load but not operate well enough for your hardware to work correctly. You may need to run Windows Update to make sure your OS is functioning properly with other newer drivers and programs.

The error code 41, with the yellow you are getting, is in fact for drivers that were loaded, but Windows cannot find the non-plug-and-play device. This can happen from a simple update that may have occurred, even if you had no knowledge of it. It can cause a conflict with the drivers that renders your hardware unusable, as in your case.

Check for Viruses:
First of all...Do you have a good anti -virus software, a firewall and Spyware remover? These are things to be considered as you may have a virus or some other type of infected file that may be doing damage to your system drivers amongst other files you don't know about yet. 

The first thing to do would be to click and open My Computer, find Local Disk C: , which is typically your main hard drive and OS (operating system), 

Check for Disk Errors:

  1. Click and open My Computer 
  2. Click Local Disk C: (If your active drive is other then C: choose that) which is typically your main hard drive and OS (operating system), 
  3. Right click properties 
  4. Switch to the tools tab
  5. Click the Check Now under the Error checking. 
    A box will come up and you should put a check in each one, 
  6. Click to checkmark auto fix and attempt recovery of bad sectors. 
  7. Click start. 
    You will be told you cannot run this and asked to do so on next start up, click YES. 
  8. Close all windows and restart the pc. 
  9. It will start the error check on it's own and may take a while to complete. When it is back to the desktop , you can then see if your drives are working as this will sometimes fix errors. This is far from an absolute for your type of problem but it may solve other issues allowing you to better test your problem at hand.

Attempt a System Restore:
The next thing I would like to suggest is a system restore. This can restore your computer to a working state before the problem occurred. If you are sure this issue occurred the morning you woke up, then you would want to restore a day or two, or the closest possible day before the night you went to bed and shut the pc down. 

To do this, 

  1. Click on START | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore... 
  2. You will be asked to restore or create a restore point. choose restore to the nearest date before the trouble. If this does not work we go on to your drivers.

You may also want to check a few other things, 

  1. Click START | Control panel, 
    (switch to classic view) 
  2. Click on Administrative Tools. 
  3. Find Event Viewer and click on it to open. 
  4. To the left , click on "System" and you will find a list to the right. 
  5. Scroll through to the time and date close to when an error has occurred. 
  6. You will see the yellow warning symbol or the red circle error symbol with an X in it. 
  7. You may see the CD-ROM , or something pertaining to it , under the "source" column. You can double click it and a box will come up with an (albeit not always user friendly) description of the problem and a link to Microsoft to help you pinpoint the problem. they do not always have a fix or the one for your issue. 
  8. You should also look in the "application" section above the system and security, and follow the same steps.

Ii would like to touch on the driver issue.
The first thing you should do is 

  1. Right click My Computer |  Properties | Hardware tab | Device Manager | (Shortcut is Windows key Plus Pause|Break button on the keyboard)
    (find DVD\CD-ROM drives 
  2. Click on the "+" in the box next to it to expand it. 
  3. You should see your drives listed, and one should in this case, have a yellow exclamation point.

You may need an updated driver for the device to function correctly with perhaps an update that occurred on your system or something you installed or uninstalled earlier on in the week. You may not realize or remember that it happened. 

  1. Right click the drive
  2. Choose to update the driver. 
  3. Restart the Computer if any changes are made

If this doesn't work and assuming once again, that you have non-plug and play drives you may also 

  1. Click Start | Control panel <switch to classic view on the left upper corner> | Click Add Hardware and follow the instructions. This will help you to troubleshoot and hopefully help you repair this issue.

There is also a possibility that your IDE cable has loosened a bit and is no longer making a proper connection also it is possible that the ribbon cable itself is damaged or your IDE socket on the motherboard is not functioning. This is the extreme of what may be wrong but first, test the connections to see if they are still tight. Note: if you are not sure about this, contact someone who is skilled enough to go into your pc, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Whenever you crack the case on your PC make sure you are grounded to prevent a static charge zapping and killing your motherboard. It is best to wear a static wrist cable but who among us has one of those laying around. It is necessary to touch the Power System Module which is where the electric plug is attached. Make sure you touch that every so often while you are working. Make sure that the power supply is completely disconnected. If the computer starts while you are working on it, there is a distinct chance that your motherboard is going to be fried. This is good for chicken, but death for  your entire system.

This goes without saying, so this is why I am saying it again...and no I am not stuttering: 
You first need to make sure your computer is unplugged from the wall outlet and unplug any peripheral devices. Try to put the pc up on a level elevated surface that is easy to work on and away from other electrical devices or speakers, and a surface that does not promote static. Never work on a computer's innards while standing on a carpet, rug, your cat or dog. You then need to (depending on the type of pc) remove the screws which hold the side cover on the tower itself. Some have slide off sides, some the whole outer casing slides off upwards. There are many different PC's but these are just some of the more common methods. Now, before you touch anything inside the pc, you need either a "grounding wrist strap" or to ground yourself to the chassis of the pc in order to prevent damage from ESD <electro static discharge> This would be like rubbing your feet on carpet and touching discharge a doorknob and zapping a cat's nose, but it's far more than enough to do damage to a pc's component, circuit, or chip , on the motherboard. Try not to stand on a carpet or rug while doing this, it also promotes more ESD.

Now, your IDE cables are long flat cables made up of many small wires in a row that connect to the pins on the motherboard and your Hard drives, cd drives etc...Notice the position of your ROM (Read Only) drives, locate them inside the pc, and make sure the ends of the IDE cables are in well by pushing the connection onto the drive and motherboard, (not too hard though. Cracking the motherboard is never a good thing). Also make sure your power cables on the drives are on securely. They are located to the right of the IDE cable. If you have a lot of vibration where you live as this can cause a cable to loosen. Put the pc back together properly and then hook up you peripherals etc...plug the pc back in and boot it up. If this does not work, we get into your registry...

Now for the System Registry:
This is quite a bit more technical. I suggest if you feel uncomfortable in any way or don't feel you are able to do this, "don't." Making changes to the registry can cause your OS to be rendered completely useless and you should back up your information in any way you can, since your disk drives do not function. That said, we need to try this....

Start the Registry Editor:

  1. Click Start | Run (Shortcut is Windows Key Plus R)
  2. Type or copy and paste the below in the command box and click OK

  3. Look for the Upper filters value under the following key in the registry. We have truncated the link for clarity.

  4. On the edit menu click delete and then click ok... 
  5. Look for the lower filters value under the same key in registry...again truncated for clarity:


  6. On the edit menu click delete, and then click ok.

    NOTE: After you remove the upper filters value and the lower filters value and you have a loss of functions in a certain program, you may need to reinstall the certain program. 
  7. Now you restart your computer..If all went well, your drives will now be detected properly...If not...try this:

The System BIOS <Basic Input/Output System>:
NOTE: This is even worse then the Registry. A mistake here may me a trip to your computer tech...they love that!

  1. Reboot your computer, 
  2. Tap the DEL key every two seconds or so as soon as the computer begins to power up but do not hold it down. This will cause a Keyboard error and a new reboot becomes necessary.
  3. This will take you to your CMOS settings. <CMOS (pronounced "see-moss"), which stands for complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor> I have to stress this point , do not edit anything in CMOS unless you absolutely know what you are doing, as this can cause you startup problems among many other problems. For this situation you will simply browse or use Auto Detect. You will have to use your TAB and ENTER key to get around since the mouse will not function in the CMOS box. 

Good luck with everything!

Enabling Remote Desktop On Remote Computer

Remote Desktop can be enabled remotely by creating a new RDP listening port through the remote computerís registry. You can accomplish this by completing the steps described below:

  1. Open the Registry Editor on your computer.
  2. From the File menu, click Connect Network Registry.
  3. Locate or type in the name of the remote computer. Click OK.
  4. Browse to the following registry key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Terminal Server.
  5. In the right pane, open the value called fDenyTSConnections (REG_DWORD).
  6. Change the value data from 1 to 0. This will enable Remote Desktop on the remote computer.
    1=Disable 0=Enable
  7. Click OK and close the Registry Editor.

The remote computer must be restarted in order for the changes to take effect.

Save Your Remote Desktop Connection Settings

There are many different remote desktop related settings that can be configured. Each time you change the settings, they will be saved to a file called default.rdp. However, you can create your own file for connection specific settings. This way the settings for a particular connection will always be remembered.

From within the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box 

  1. Click Start | All Programs | Accessories | Communications | Remote Desktop Connection
  2. Click the Options button. 
  3. From the General tab, 

Understanding Windows XP's environment variables

Windows XP's environment variables control the behavior of batch files and programs, and also control the way Windows XP and the MS-DOS subsystem appears and works. Check out this list of environment variables, along with their descriptions.

Environment variables are used to control the behavior of batch files and programs in Windows XP; they also control the way Windows XP and the MS-DOS subsystem appears and works. To see a complete list of the environment variables that are active on a Windows XP system, follow these steps:

  1. Open a Command Prompt window.
  2. Type Set and press [Enter].

You'll see a list of the current environment variable settings. While some of them are familiar, such as PATH, and some are easy to figure out, such as COMPUTERNAME, others are more cryptic. Here's a sampling of Windows XP's environment variables:

To examine other variables and system codes, simply type the following and press the enter key:

SET /?

Windows XP Icon Cache

Are you experiencing icon lag, while browsing thru all your Start icons and programs? Do you have a smaller menu delay and your icons need ages to load? No need to give up.

Just refresh the icon cache by deleting the IconCache.db file from your profile directory (usually found in 

 /Documents and Settings/Username/Local Settings/Application Data)

It will be automatically recreated but without the bloat.

Speed up Detailed view in Windows Explorer

If you like to view your files in Windows Explorer using the "Details" view here is a tweak to speed up the listing of file attributes:

Viewing files in Windows Explorer using the "Details" mode shows various attributes associated with each file shown. Some of these must be retrieved from the individual files when you click on the directory for viewing. For a directory with numerous and relatively large files (such as a folder in which one stores media, eg: *.mp3's, *.avi's etc.) Windows Explorer lags as it reads through each one. Here's how to disable viewing of unwanted attributes and speed up file browsing:

1. Open Windows Explorer 
2. Navigate to the folder which you wish to optimize. 
3. In "Details" mode right click the bar at the top which displays the names of the attribute columns. 
4. Uncheck any that are unwanted/unneeded.

Explorer will apply your preferences immediately, and longs lists of unnecessary attributes will not be displayed. Likewise, one may choose to display any information which is regarded as needed, getting more out of Explorer.

Application and Boot file Defrag

This type of defrag pushes all commonly used programs and boot files to the edge of the hard drive for faster access. Windows XP normally schedules this every three days when it is idle, however you can force it to do this by using the b switch anytime.

Note the space between the command defrag d: and the command switch -b

Create a Shortcut to Shut Down Windows-yes, there is more.

Many of our readers are looking for the answer the same as Mark did. Here is Marks question:

Hi Bo, I have seen, somewhere, it might of been on your site, that there is a way to add some kind of switch to a desktop shortcut to Shut down, Restart, or Log off of Windows. Is this possible? If so, how do you create it?

Sure Mark, If you don't like going to the start menu every time you want to shut down, you may want to try this. You can actually create a shortcut that will automatically shut down your PC, log you off, or reboot.

  1. Right-click on the desktop and choose "New-->Shortcut". 
  2. Browse to the file 


  3. Then click Next. 
  4. After this, you have to name the shortcut and click Finish. 
  5. Now right-click on the new shortcut and choose "Properties". 

Obviously you'll need to create a shortcut for each item you want performed. Hey, its all in the wrist.

Web Publishing is a snap with Windows XP

Many of you have turned to the Web as a quick way of sharing your photos and documents with family and friends. Windows XP includes the Web Publishing Wizard that makes posting photos and documents to the Internet much easier. Yup, we have been getting a fair amount of emails regarding this very issue. After all, with the holidays coming up, folks want, more then ever to share stuff with their loved ones though they may not, necessarily, want to share their living space. It could be the old Ben Franklin line, "Fish and house guests smell after three days".

When you select a folder, file, or photo with My Computer, a list of File and Folder Tasks is displayed. One of the available tasks is to Publish this file to the Web. Selecting this task automatically launches the Web Publishing Wizard that will walk you through the process, step-by-step, of publishing the documents and photos to the Web. Share the important stuff in your life without forfeiting your living spaces.

See Also: Connect Your Private Network To The Internet

Windows XP provides you with a quick and simple way of connecting multiple computers on your home or small office network to the Internet using a single Internet connection. Using Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), you configure one computer on your network with an Internet connection and share the connection amongst your other computers. This is a great feature as it eliminates the need to maintain multiple connections. ICS is very simple to enable and can be done using the Advanced tab from the properties window for the Internet connection. Simply check the box to Allow other network users to connect through this computerís Internet connection.

Once ICS is enabled on the public interface, the IP address assigned to the private interface (this is the interface connected to the private network) is changed to In order for computers on the private network to access the Internet through the shared connection, they must be configured to obtain an IP address automatically. Once this is complete, the Internet connection should be available to all computers on your private network.

Setting the Defaults

In Windows XP SP1 and above (as a result of a lawsuit) there is an easy way to set the "default" programs for certain crucial functions; to do this, go to Start -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs -> Set Program Access and Defaults. Here you can set it to "Microsoft" settings, "Non-Microsoft" settings, or "Custom" (combined) settings. For example, you may want to set AIM as your default IM program but IE as your default browser.

The 0x800a0007 Windows Update Error 

ď0x800a0007 Windows update error.Ē An update error is just what you donít want to see on your Windows machine, be it the 0x800a0007 Windows update error, or any other update error.

The 0x800a0007 Windows update error, however, seems to have befuddled quite a few people, and continues to do so even though it peaked earlier this summer. Fortunately, its main causes are fairly harmless, and also fairly readily fixed.

A reader asks, "Can you bypass the Recycle Bin on just one drive"?

A reader asks: 

Hi. I have a question for you. Is there any way to disable the recycle bin in ONE (and only one) drive? (drive D: for example) Hope you can help me. Thanks for all and best regards.

Windows, by its very nature, has many redundancies built into it. This is supposed to make the system more user friendly and aid in getting out of a self inflicted boo boo. Hay, it happens to the best of us.

Microsoft doesn't advise disabling this feature so there is no real way to stop it fully. However, if you are sure that you want the files on a certain drive to stop holding all of those deleted files which pile up and leave tons of wasted space on the hard drive, you can put a halt to it in a couple of simple ways.

First, you can tell Windows to bypass the recycle bin here is how:

If you open the Recycle Bin you will notice that the file is not stored there. It has, been removed from the system, but no file is really ever removed. More on that at the bottom of this email.


Bo Tip:

If you are tired of that nag dialog asking if you really want to delete the file you just told Windows you want to delete, or do you really want to delete this file? or are you sure you really really sure you want to delete this file? Sorry, Windows Really Can't Delete this file.

Try this:


The short answer? No

The long answer? Ever sense Windows 2.0 any file deleted from Windows is not really gone. It is simply hidden and truncated with a "?" (Question mark). The "?" tells Windows that this file may be overwritten if more space on the drive is required. In the computing world, nothing ever really goes away, it simply takes on a whole new life. Kinda like that green glowing substance in the back of your refrigerator which is growing hair and growls at you when you open the door. You know you should really throw it out, but you kinda want to see what it turns into.

There is software which can partially remove a file by simply overwriting it a bunch of times. This doesn't destroy the file it simply makes it all but impossible to repair or recover. If you do not want to pop for this type of software, defragmenting can, and often does, overwrite a file. It has to move the files so that they are contiguous rather then spread all over the hard drive. A deleted file is not treated as simply a truncated file but as free disk space. The Windows defragmenter, and other after market types of defragmenters for that matter, will overwrite the files in the process of making the file system analog. Geek speak for, "It puts all the ducks in a row".

Even then, if the file is overwritten a bunch of times, anyone using forensic disk recovery software will be able to read enough of the file so that they can get a good idea of what was written there. The FBI's Carnivore project does this.

Then to, there is the problem of magnetics. The hard drive leaves behind a magnetic signature of what is on the disk from the day it was first used. Using some other forensic software, the CIA for example, can make an exact copy of a hard drive form it's magnetic signature.

The only real way to destroy sensitive information on ones computer is to use it for target practice with some number 9 buckshot and even then it would be a good idea to store it on top of a powerful magnet for a few days and then burn it.

Happy target shooting. ;-)

Creating a self-extracting installation with iexpress

Windows 2000 and XP include a useful little tool that is almost unknown to most - it's called "iexpress" and is easily accessible at Start | Run | iexpress. 

Iexpress allows you to create a self-extracting Windows-style installation wizard. First, you will need to answer iexpress's questions about the behavior of the installation (most will choose extract and then run); then, you will be bombarded with a series of dialogues requesting attributes; finally, you will need to specify the files to be packaged. This is not the most elegant installation tool out there, but it is free and easily avaliable, so it is highly recommended.

Open With Command has "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file", grayed out or otherwise not working.

Reader Gary writes: Ok I use XP service pac2..when I rename a file a pick or anything, the message changing the file exe this file may become unusable, if I change it then I have to chose a prog.. to open it each time. it want let me check always use this program for the file. what can I do about this

Possible Answer: My first inclination is to suggest that you do a scan for mailware, trackware or other spyware. This sounds very suspicious so we should get this out of the way before doing anything else. If you do not have a spyware scanner we have them on our
Bo's Featured Freeware Site under Disk Security.

Our current favorites are, Spybot Search and Destroy and our second choice is Microsoft Windows Antispyware Beta. They are free so it is wise to download both and install them. Oft times one will catch what the other might have missed for whatever reason.

What ever you decide to do, download the program, install it, then reboot. Once the machine has come back on line, update the program and definitions, also free over the internet and do a full and deep scan fixing any problems found. Because these programs work deep down in your system files, it is best, after any fix, to reboot to lock in any changes made.

Once the system has been cleaned, test your file association again. If it is working, go no further we are done. On the other hand, if it is still grayed out, continue on.

No Open With file Association:

The next instruction contains a Registry Edit. If you have never used the system registry or need a refresher, please see
Bo's Tweaky clean Windows.

 WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Blaisdell's Little Corner of the Web, Bohunky0, nor any of it's affiliates can guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

  1. Open the Registry Editor (Instructions are on the site listed above)
  2. Navigate to the following key:


  3. Check your settings

Fix the Open With Dialog:
This setting allows you to control whether the checkbox to save the "Open With" program is available when an unknown file type is opened.


To enable the checkbox set the (Default) value to "rundll32.exe, shell32.dll, OpenAs_RunDLL %1".
Return to the desktop and press F5 for the change to take effect.

Added note:

Notepad will be used to open the files by default if no association already exists.

Show Programs in the Open With Selection Box
This setting allows you to decide which programs are listed in "Open With" dialog box which is shown when an unknown file type is opened.

  1. Go to Start/Run/Regedit (Windows Key plus R)
  2. navigate to this key: 


  3. To stop a specific application appearing in the "Open With" list select the associated sub-key and create a new empty string value called "NoOpenWith". To allow an application to be shown in the list delete the "NoOpenWith" value. Restart Windows for the change to take effect.
Restore File Associations -
  1. Go to Start/Run/CMD and type in:


    NOTE: This will list the known file types.

    The Syntax follows:
  2. Copy the line for the association you wish to restore.
  3. A Command Prompt window will open.
  4. Right click in this Window and select Paste. Then press Enter.

Error Message: "NTLDR is missing, press any key to restart"

Reader Jerry writes: I ran a registry cleaner then later shutdown my computer, when I restarted it it came up with the following message, NTLDR is missing hit any key to restart. I am having a hard time finding information on this. What is it, how would it delete, can it be replaced and how. I had to reformat my hard drive to get it to work. - Jerry

Most Registry Cleaners have an undo or backup feature Jerry. I'd use that, but there is really more going on here than a simple registry edit. Let me explain:

There are many reasons for this error message Jerry, and none of them are good.

NTLDR is short for NT Loader (A hold over from the old Windows NT days), a program loaded from the hard drive boot sector that displays the Microsoft Windows startup menu and helps Windows load.

Often a user will see the message "NTLDR is Missing" after attempting to install Windows 2000 or Windows XP, or upgrade a Windows 95-based or Windows 98-based computer to Windows 2000 or Windows XP. The message appears after the first reboot. This occurs only if Windows 95 or 98 has been installed on a drive with the FAT32 file system.

Best advise? I'd do a clean install of Windows after making sure that the cables and connections, as well as the BIOS is set up properly and that everything is being recognized. The suggestions in this instruction set are intensive and are meant only as a possible guide for you. Read them carefully and if it seems to much, do a complete and clean install of Windows. A repair install is not going to fix the problem.

Loose or Faulty IDE/EIDE hard disk drive cable

    This issue has been known to be caused by a loose or fault IDE/EIDE cable. Verify the computer hard disk drive cable is firmly connected by disconnected and reconnecting the cable.

    If the issue continues it is also a possibility that the computer has a faulty cable, try replacing the hard disk drive cable with another cable and/or a new cable. If this faials, try one or more of the below fixes or do a complete and fresh install of Windows.

If, on the other hand, your feeling coragous, you can fix this by following one or more of the sugestions below.

Here are some of the causes:

Computer is booting from a non-bootable source

Many times this error is caused when the computer is attempting to boot from a non-bootable floppy disk or CD-ROM. First verify that no floppy diskette is in the computer, unless you are attempting to boot from a diskette.

If you are attempting to boot from a floppy diskette and are receiving this error message it is likely that the diskette does not have all the necessary files and/or is corrupt.

If you are attempting to install Windows XP or Windows 2000 and are receiving this error message as the computer is booting verify that your computer BIOS has the proper boot settings. For example, if you are attempting to run the install from the CD-ROM make sure the CD-ROM is the first boot device, and not the hard disk drive. Second, when the computer is booting you should receive the below prompt. 

Press any key to boot from the CD

When you see this message press any key such as the Enter key immediately, otherwise it will try booting from the hard drive and likely get the NTLDR error again.

Note: If you are not receiving the above message and your BIOS boot options are set properly it's also possible that your CD-ROM drive may not be booting from the CD-ROM properly. Verify the jumpers are set properly on the CD-ROM drive.

When your computer starts, the BIOS attempts to find the primary hard drive's active partition to read the first sector for the MBR (Master Boot Record), it uses that info to load the rest of the OS.  For Windows NT4/2k/XP the NTLDR takes it from there.  If you get the "NTLDR is missing, press any key to restart" what's most likely going on is the BIOS either didn't look for the right drive, didn't find the right partition, it wasn't active, didn't find the MBR, or the MBR didn't list NTLDR in the right place, or the location of NTLDR changed.

If possible, try to change back whatever hardware or software change you just made (this could be as simple as leaving a floppy disk in the drive or you need to recheck the cables)

Computer hard disk drive is not properly setup in BIOS.

Verify that your computer hard disk drive is properly setup in the BIOS / CMOS setup. Improper settings can cause this error.

Corrupt NTLDR and/or NTDETECT.COM file

I'll assume you are using Windows XP, the process is slightly different for W2K:

  1. Insert the Windows XP bootable CD into the computer.
  2. When prompted to press any key to boot from the CD, press any key.
  3. Once in the Windows XP setup menu press the "R" key to repair Windows.
  4. Log into your Windows installation by pressing the "1" key and pressing enter.
  5. You will then be prompted for your administrator password, enter that password.
  6. Copy the below two files to the root ( The highest level in a  directory hierarchy. For example in MS-DOS the root of the primary  hard disk drive would C:\>.) directory of the primary hard disk. In the below example we are copying these files from the CD-ROM drive letter "E". This letter may be different on your computer.

    copy e:\i386\ntldr c:\
    copy e:\i386\ c:\

  7. Once both of these files have been successfully copied, remove the CD from the computer and reboot.

Misconfiguration with the boot.ini file

Edit the boot.ini on the root directory of the hard disk drive and verify that it is pointing to the correct location of your Windows Operating System and that the partitions are properly defined.

Additional information on the boot.ini file:

The "boot.ini" is a Microsoft initialization file found on the Microsoft Windows NT,  Microsoft Windows 2000, and Microsoft Windows XP operating systems. This file is always located on the root directory of the primary hard disk drive. In other words, it is located at "C:\" directory or the "C Drive". This file is used by Microsoft Windows as a method of displaying a menu of operating systems currently on the computer and allowing the user to easily select which operating system to load. In addition, this file is also used to point to the locations of each of the operating systems.

Basic example of the boot.ini file:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partitions(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /fastdetect

In the above example, the boot.ini contains two sections, the "[boot loader]", and "[operating systems]". Within the boot loader section there are two lines. The "timeout" line is used for how long the boot menu time should be displayed, in seconds; we recommend that the timeout be set to at least five if you wish the computer to boot faster and commonly use the default operating systems. The "default" line is the default operating system that the boot.ini will load. If multiple operating systems are in the boot.ini, the default operating system will be automatically selected and used if the user does not specify a different operating system by the time the timeout value expires.

How to modify the boot.ini:

The boot.ini file is a hidden system file located in the root directory of your primary hard disk drive. To edit this file we recommend you follow the below steps.

  1. From Windows, open an MS-DOS prompt by clicking "Start" and then "Run" and typing "cmd" in the text box. If you are not able to get into a MS-DOS prompt to edit the boot.ini file, boot into the recovery console to edit the file.
  2. At the MS-DOS prompt, type:

    c: <press enter>
    cd\ <press enter>
    attrib -r -a -s -h boot.ini <press enter>
    edit boot.ini <press enter>:

How to rebuild the Windows boot.ini:

Users who have a corrupt or missing boot.ini file, are running Microsoft Windows XP, and have a Microsoft Windows XP CD can rebuild the systems boot.ini file by following the below steps.

   1. Insert the Microsoft Windows XP CD into the computer.
Note: If you have a system recovery CD or restore CD these steps will likely not work for your computer.
   2. Reboot the computer with the CD and press any key when prompted to press any key to boot from the CD. 
   3. Once in the Microsoft Setup menu press R to open the recovery console.
   4. Select the operating system you wish to use; if you only have Windows XP on the computer you will only have one prompt.
   5. Once prompted for the password enter the Admin password and press enter. If you have not set the password, leave it blank.
   6. Once at the command prompt type bootcfg /rebuild to start the rebuild process.
   7. The rebuild process will step you through a number of steps depending upon how many operating systems you have on the computer and how the computer is setup. Below is a listing of the common steps you are likely going to encounter.

   8. Once you have completed all the available options in the rebuild and are back at the prompt type exit to reboot the computer.

New hard disk drive being added

    If you are attempting to add a new hard disk drive to the computer make sure that drive is a blank drive. Adding a new hard disk drive to a computer that already has Windows installed on it may cause the NTLDR error to occur.

    If you are unsure if the new drive is blank or not try booting from a bootable diskette and format the new hard disk drive.

Corrupt boot sector / master boot record.

    It's possible your computer's hard disk drive may have a corrupt boot sector and/or master boot record. These can be repaired through the Microsoft Windows Recovery console by running the fixboot and fixmbr commands.

Note: Below are some important things to realize when using the Microsoft Windows recovery console.

  1. You will need to know the Microsoft Windows administrator password.
  2. Before running the Windows recovery console you need to realize you will need to have at least some experience using MS-DOS.
  3. You only have access to root directory and the Microsoft Windows or Winnt directory. This means you cannot open any other directory.
  4. You only have access to read from the floppy disk drive, CD-ROM drive, or other disc drive. This means you cannot copy information from the hard disk drive to another drive for backup. However, you can copy information from the CD-ROM or floppy disk drive to the hard disk drive.

First, to get into the Microsoft Windows recovery console you must have a Microsoft Windows CD, if your computer came with another restore or recovery cd it's possible the below steps my not apply to your CD. Place the Windows CD in your computer and boot from the CD

 Note: If you do not have a standard Microsoft Windows XP CD you can get into the recovery console by using the Windows XP bootable diskettes. 

Create Windows XP Setup diskettes

Microsoft is beginning to phase out bootable floppy diskettes in favor of bootable CD discs and has not included a method of easily creating a bootable floppy diskette in Windows or from the CD. However, Microsoft has created web pages for users who still need to create bootable diskettes to install (not upgrade) Windows XP, below is the link to that site. Be warned however, there are a whopping 11 disks for this.

After getting to the Microsoft Windows recovery console you will need to select the Windows installation you wish to log onto. Therefore press 1 if you wish to edit the primary Windows installation.

After selecting the installation you will be prompted for the administrator password, enter the password exactly as you would in Windows. If you do not know the Windows administrator password you cannot enter the recovery mode.

Finally after you have entered the password you will be at a MS-DOS prompt similar to the MS-DOS shell window you can get through Windows. However, you will also have access to many additional commands not found in standard MS-DOS mode. 

Seriously corrupted version of Windows 2000 or Windows XP

If you have tried each of the above recommendations that apply to your situation and you continue to experience this issue it is possible you may have a seriously corrupted version of Microsoft Windows. Therefore we would recommend you reinstall Microsoft Windows 2000 and/or Windows XP.

If you are encountering this issue during your setup you may wish to completely erase your computer hard disk drive and all of its existing data and then install Microsoft Windows 2000 / Windows XP.

You Cannot View Other Workgroup Computers On The Network
You Cannot View Other Workgroup Computers On The Network Part 2 - Hint, Think Spyware

Consider the following scenario. You are working on a Microsoft Windows XP-based computer for which the following conditions are true:

In this scenario, you cannot view other workgroup computers on the network.

This issue may occur if the computer is configured to use p-node mode for name resolution. To determine whether a computer is configured to use p-node mode, follow these steps:

1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK.
2. At the command prompt, type ipconfig /all, and then press ENTER. View the Node Type section at the start of the output. If the value that appears on the screen is Peer-Peer, the computer is running in p-node mode.

In p-node mode, the computer uses only point-to-point name queries to a Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) server. However, the WINS server is not available for NetBIOS name resolution on a peer-to-peer network.

To resolve this issue you will need to do a System Registry Edit
For more information on the uses of, the methods for activation, and the methods to backing up this all important System File, please see Bo's Tweaky Clean Windows and do not forget to read the below warning.

Warning: Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.

To resolve this issue, follow these steps:

1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
2. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
3. In the right pane of Registry Editor, delete the following values if they are present:
4. NodeType
5. DhcpNodeType
Note: If the NodeType value is present, this value will override the DhcpNodeType value. If neither subkey is present and if no WINS servers are configured for the client, the computer uses b-node mode. If at least one WINS server is configured, the computer uses h-node mode.
6. Quit Registry Editor.
7. Restart the computer.
8. Try to view workgroup computers on the network again.

For more information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

You Cannot View Other Workgroup Computers On The Network Part 2

I recently had this problem. I newly reinstalled Windows XP Pro on my computer and the network was fine. I could see the other two computers; they could see mine. We could exchange files back and forth and I could use the printer connected to one of the other computers. After a few weeks, I could not access the printer from my computer. The other two computers could see mine and access files; I could ping the other two computers by name and address. I spent more time then I should have on troubleshooting! I scoured the net and the Microsoft Knowledge base, and Iíve reinstalled the networks. Nothing helped! I was at witís end!! Bet you didn't know wits had an end did ya? Hey, we are here to instruct you and yes; "We feel your pain".!

One day, I was trying various free spyware and anti-virus programs besides Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy. I must have tried five or six. They each found something that others missed.

A few days later I went to tackle the network problem again but, lo and behold, it was working!

Now, I scan more religiously with multiple programs and haven't had any problems since!

I'd like to add that it's been my experience that many, many problems and general weirdness on a PC are caused by spyware. If a client complains to me about strange behavior of their computer, I look for evidence of spyware first. If I find it, I remove it, and 95% of the time that cures the weirdness that my client was complaining about.

Here is an article from ZDNet that may help you with Spyware, Trackware or Mailware. To my way of thinking (Granted my way of thinking is a little skewed) spyware and their sub-programs are as bad as a virus if not worse.

Spyware victim? Here's how to fight back
Suzi Turner: There is no single answer, but there are many measures that can be taken. Get angry, get armed--and you'll be dangerous to the spyware pushers. (It doesn't have to cost you anything, either.)
Also: Spyware tricks and the damage done

Block the installation of unsigned drivers in Windows XP

Even though it's possible to install unsigned drivers on Windows XP, you may not want your users to have this capability. Discover how you can block the installation of unsigned drivers simply by increasing the Driver Signature Checking tool's verification level.

Microsoft recommends that you only use products that sport the Designed for Microsoft Windows XP logo. That's because these products have been thoroughly tested for compatibility in the Windows Hardware Quality Labs.

As part of this procedure, drivers for hardware products receive a digital signature that indicates to the operating system that the driver is compatible and has not been altered since it passed the tests. When the driver is installed, Windows XP's Driver Signature Checking feature checks the driver for this digital signature.

If it detects an unsigned driver, Windows XP will display a warning dialog box alerting you that the driver has failed the signature check. However, this warning dialog box will also allow you to install the driver anyway. While in some cases an unsigned driver will work as well as a signed driver, that's not always the case.

As an administrator, you may not want your users to be able to install unsigned drivers on your Windows XP systems. Fortunately, you can bump up the Driver Signature Checking tool's verification level so Windows XP will completely block the installation of unsigned drivers.

Follow these steps to set driver verification levels:

1. Press [Windows]Break to display the System Properties dialog box.
2. Select the Hardware tab and click the Driver Signing button in the Drivers panel.
3. Select the Block-Never Install Unsigned Driver Software button. (Verify that the Make This Action The System Default check box is selected.)
4. Click OK twice.

Now you can feel confident that your users aren't installing unsigned drivers on your network.

Change the Default *LOCK Keys

Windows, by default, loads the computer with "NumLock" selected and "CapsLock"/"ScrollLock" unselected. To change this behavior, go to 

Start | Run | regedt32 (For Windows 2000 or regedit for Windows XP) | HKEY_Current_User | Control Panel | Keyboard

and set the value of "InitialKeyboardIndicators" to the sum of the values of the options that you wish to choose: 0 for no default locks, 1 for caps lock, 2 for num lock, and 4 for scroll lock. For example, if you wished to start Windows with the caps lock and the scroll lock key both enabled by default, you would press type in "5" for the value. For the new configuration to take effect you must login to Windows again.

CDROM drive freezes up Windows XP

Reader Tom Writes: Windows usually hangs when a DVD or CD is loaded into the DVD-ROM or CD-ROM drive, AND on startup hangs if there is a disc in any of the optical drives. Then I have to reboot system manually, eject the optical drive quickly and remove the disc in order for Windows to load successfully. After doing this I can insert the disc and it will be read successfully and autorun will execute.

Then when trying to install, for example a CDROM game, the install wizard will successfully launch and the software will start to install. Once you are prompted to insert disc 2, the tray opens and closes successfully, and as soon as the drive attempts to read the new disc (drive busy reading light starts flashing) the entire system locks up and Windows hangs. Pressing ctrl+alt+del buttons twice to restart does not work and I have to actually press the restart button to reboot the system.

My system configuration: Windows XP (SP1) 2.8 Ghz Intel CPU, 512 Mb ram, 300w PSU, PNY 6800GT graphics card, gigabyte motherboard, Aopen DVD-RW, Samsung CD-ROM. This problem occurs with or without Win XP SP1 loaded and I have installed the latest drivers for the DVD-ROM that I've downloaded from Aopen's website. Help!

Possible Answer: This is a tough one! My first reaction was to assume that there's something physically wrong with the drive, but by asking around a bit, I have found that the bad drive analogy is not the all in one answer for your problem Tom.

"I am guessing, but here's what I'd do: take off the CDROM drive and run the computer for a bit to see if the problem goes away. Make sure that all the jumpers on the drive are properly set and that the BIOS reads the devices as "auto". Check IDE cabling too, perhaps something was pinched or frayed? This really doesn't sound like a software error, more like BIOS / Hardware reporting errors."

Here is the second thing I'd try if it were me, which of course it isn't: 

My first guess is that it is time to replace that drive. Sounds like the reader is off just a bit. Could be that the user is just having trouble with burned cd's, but sounds like having trouble with all disks.

User can try a few things before giving up on that drive though.

1. To solve hang on boot

Move the CDROM behind the hard drive on the boot order

2. To solve freezes on drive reads

Update the driver from manufacturer which it sounds like Tom has already tried.


Change the windows read ahead method

But again, sounds like a new CDROM drive is needed.

So there you have it, a couple of different ideas on how to try to debug the problem and a likely solution that we can all agree on: Replace the drive.

Alter Windows XP's most frequently used programs list

If you want to see which programs you use the most, you can find out this information quickly in Windows XP's most frequently used programs list. Find out how you can configure this feature to prevent certain apps from appearing on the list.

The Start menu in Windows XP features the most frequently used programs list, which is designed to provide you with quick access to the programs you use the most.

To configure this feature, XP only provides you with two controls: the ability to completely clear the list and the ability to specify the maximum number of programs that can appear on this list at any one time. However, you may also want to prevent certain applications, such as Calculator and Notepad, from appearing on the list.

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Blaisdell's Little Corner of the Web, Bohunky0, nor any of it's affiliates can guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

The system registry:
What you need to know. Links take you to a Microsoft Site.

Fortunately, you can prevent an application from appearing in the Start menu's most frequently used programs list by adding a special key to the registry. Here's how:

1. Launch the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).
2. Go to 
3. Right-click the Applications key and select New | Key.
4. Name the key the same name as the application's executable file.
5. Right-click your new key and select New | String Value.
6. Name the string value NoStartPage.
7. Close the Registry Editor.
8. Reboot or log off and log back on for the change to take effect.

Note: Since editing the registry is risky, be sure you have a verified backup before saving any changes.

For more information on the uses of the System Registry, please see Bo's Tweaky Clean Windows.

Compress the ServicePackFiles\i386 folder in Windows XP

After installing Windows XP SP2, you'll notice a set of folders inside of the Windows folder called ServicePackFiles\i386 in which the OS keeps copies of all the main OS files replaced by SP2. Check out how you can reduce the disk space this folder occupies from 530MB to 200MB.

When you install SP2 on a Windows XP system, the installation procedure actually creates a set of folders inside of the Windows folder called ServicePackFiles\i386 in which the operating system keeps copies of all the main operating system files replaced by SP2. This folder is then used by Windows File Protection in the event that a crucial system file needs to be replaced. In addition, the operating system uses the ServicePackFiles\i386 folder to store those files that are needed to install optional Windows components that aren't installed by default. The ServicePackFiles\i386 folder occupies around 530MB of disk space.

You can regain some of the disk space if your hard disk is formatted with the NTFS file system by compressing the ServicePackFiles\i386 folder with NTFS compression. In fact, you can expect to regain about 200MB of disk space. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the ServicePackFiles folder and select the Properties command.
  2. In the Attributes section of the General tab, click the Advanced button.
  3. In the Advanced Attributes dialog box, select the Compress Contents To Save Disk Space check box and click OK.
  4. When you return to the Properties dialog box, click OK.
  5. When you see the Confirm Attribute Changes dialog box, select the Apply Changes To This Folder, Subfolders And Files option button and click OK.

(Note: It will take a few minutes for Windows XP to compress the folder.)

Once the folder is compressed, it will take up less space, yet it will still be accessible for Windows File Protection operations and the installation of optional components.

Deleting all of a certain file within a folder

If you wish to delete all of a certain file within a folder and all subfolders, simply go to Start | Run (Same as pressing the Windows Key plus R) and type "cmd." When the command prompt appears, go to the directory that you wish to delete from and then type in 

DEL /F /S [*.type of file extension] 

For example, if I wanted to delete all MP3 files from my PC, I would type in

CD C:\

and then type in 

DEL /F /S *.mp3"

All of the MP3 files on my C: drive would then be deleted. 

Note that if you do not want to delete files within subfolders, don't type the "/S.", switch. To get a list of the switches which will work for any particular command, simply type:

Command, then space, then the switch "/", followed by the switch command, in this case it is a question mark '?"

In our above case, we would type:

Del /?

The result would be;

C:\>del /?
Deletes one or more files.

DEL [/P] [/F] [/S] [/Q] [/A[[:]attributes]] names
ERASE [/P] [/F] [/S] [/Q] [/A[[:]attributes]] names

names Specifies a list of one or more files or directories.
Wildcards may be used to delete multiple files. If a
directory is specified, all files within the directory
will be deleted.

/P Prompts for confirmation before deleting each file.
/F Force deleting of read-only files.
/S Delete specified files from all subdirectories.
/Q Quiet mode, do not ask if ok to delete on global wildcard
/A Selects files to delete based on attributes
attributes R Read-only files S System files
H Hidden files A Files ready for archiving
- Prefix meaning not

If Command Extensions are enabled DEL and ERASE change as follows:

The display semantics of the /S switch are reversed in that it shows
you only the files that are deleted, not the ones it could not find.

Uninstall Microsoft Java VM

There are security exploits out there that take advantage of Microsoftís Java VM. As a result, a few of our readers have asked how this component can be uninstalled from their computer. The steps are very simple and they are outlined below:

  1. Click Start and click Run.
  2. Type in the following command: 
    RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection java.inf,UnInstall
    After clicking OK or pressing Enter, a dialog box will appear.
  3. Click Yes to uninstall Microsoft Java VM.
  4. A dialog box will appear indicating that the component is being uninstalled.

Basic Repair Process In Windows XP
Yeah, we have written about it before, but according to our emails, we need to go over it again.

Performing a repair allows you to try and fix your existing installation of Windows XP. The main advantage of doing this is that you do not have to reinstall any applications, restore any data, or reconfigure your personalized settings. The basic steps for performing a repair are as follows:

  1. Boot your computer using the Windows XP CD.
  2. When prompted press Enter to install Windows XP.
  3. After pressing F8 to accept the End-Use License Agreement, setup should detect your existing Windows installation.
  4. Press R to begin the recovery process.
  5. Setup will copy the necessary files to your hard drive and then reboot.
  6. Do not press any key to boot from the CD-ROM this time. Instead let setup continue.

After the repair is complete, be sure to reinstall the latest service packs and updates since they will have been removed during the repair process.

Changing Default Save-As Image Type in Windows

Rreader Linda Writes:

Q Prior to last week I could just right-click any picture or animation on the web or an email and save it as a jpg or gif. Then my grandson gave me a digital camera and its accompanying software installed ACDSee on my machine. Ever since then, anything I try to save defaults to a bmp. I can convert a bmp to jpg okay, but no matter what I try I cannot return a gif to its animated state. There's probably some default somewhere but I just can't find it. I use gifs a lot - can you help me? ~ Linda

This is quite possibly not the a fault of ACDSee, as this problem is common to Internet Explorer users, as documented by Microsoft in many places, including these three tech support manuals from Microsoft Knowledgebase and Tech Republic 

In a nutshell, though, what may of happened is that a damaged program file such as an ActiveX or Java object has been downloaded, mucking things up.

To fix it you will need to clear your Tempoary Internet files and remove any damaged or unknown files from your Downloaded Program Files folder.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. When using Internet explorer choose Tools | Internet Options
  2. Under "Temporary Internet files", click Delete Files.
  3. Click OK on the next pop up window,
  4. Then select the Settings button next to the Delete Files button
  5. In the following Settings window click the View Objects button
  6. In the next window find the Status column for the list of items Check for any items marked Damaged Or Unknown and delete them by right clicking on them (in the Program file column) and select Remove.
  7. Click Yes when asked whether you're sure.
  8. Close the window and click OK on the remaining windows that you have opened.
  9. Now quit the program, restart it, and try saving a graphic image or two.

Hopefully that should do the trick.

Re-Create the Show Desktop Icon

I got an email question recently about how to re-create the Show Desktop icon after it has been deleted. I couldn't believe I hadn't yet covered it on our tips, so here it is, direct from Microsoft:

1. Use any text editor (such as Notepad) to create a file with the following lines:


2. Save the new file as a file named Show Desktop.scf in the Windows|System or Winnt|System32 folder. 

Note that Notepad may automatically append a .txt extension to the file name. Remove this extension if Notepad adds it. These steps do not work if the file is named Show Desktop.scf.txt.

3. Quit Notepad.

4. Using Windows Explorer or My Computer, right-click the Show Desktop .scf file, and then click Create Shortcut.

5. Copy the new shortcut to the appropriate folder. 

In Microsoft Windows 95 or Windows 98, copy the shortcut to this folder:

Windows|Application Data|Microsoft|Internet Explorer|Quick Launch

In Microsoft Windows NT or Microsoft Windows 2000, copy the shortcut to this folder:


In Microsoft Windows XP, copy the shortcut to the following folder:

WINDOWS|System32|Config|Systemprofile|Application Data|Microsoft|Internet Explorer|Quick Launch

6. Rename the shortcut to Desktop.

Bada bing, Bada Boom the Show Desktop icon automatically appears on the Quick Launch toolbar.

What is rundll32.exe and where did it go?

Reader Allen writes:

Q My question is both simple and complex. It's simple because I can put it to you simply. My computer has lost--that is, "cannot find"--something called a rundll32.exe file. What is it, and where did it go? But it's complex because I've had this thing in a repair shop (twice); they installed (or said they did) what supposedly cannot be found. The machine worked well at the shop. But when I got it home and connected it up, it STILL could not find this thing. It keeps telling me it's needed to open certain e-mail attachments friends send me. This doesn't make any sense to me. Can you speculate/explain? I'm pushing 70, and all my kids are out of the nest--no help there. Please answer in jargon-free English. Running Windows XP.

The answer is not nearly as mysterious as it may seem. Under normal circumstances, most versions of Windows hide protected operating system files. So what's a protected operating system file? It's as it sounds, a file that Windows uses to do its thing and that is protected from view to keep the average nontechincal user from getting into trouble by doing such things as deleting it.

To find it for yourself, open a copy of Windows Explorer. Click Tools | Folder Options. Then click the View tab. On the tab, you should see a list of options you can enable or disable. Look for the Hidden Files/Folders option. Set the option to "Show hidden files and folders" and click OK. You should now be able to find RUNDLL32.EXE using a standard Windows search under most circumstances. However, if you don't, you can go back into Explorer's Folder Options, as we did above, and uncheck the "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)" box, click OK, and try the search again.

At this point, the search should have found the RUNDLL32.EXE file. It should be stored in
C:\Windows\System32 - Windows XP
C:\Winnt\System32 - Windows 2000 or Windows NT
- depending on the version of Windows you've got installed on your machine.

Now then, as to why it works great at the shop and not at home... First, we need to look at what exactly does the RUNDLL32.EXE file do. It's a ''helper'' file that's part of the Windows operating system and it helps programs open libraries (DLLs for example: Run DLL as an App.). It also helps open documents by going into the Windows Registry - which, in simplest terms is a file that contains instructions that tell Windows how to open files, what program(s) to open a given file type with, how to display programs (how big to make the window, what colors to use, etc... et al, ad nauseum...) and finding the associated program and launching it. This is how you can double click on a Word document and have Word start up and open the file.

Your question, as submitted, is lacking some information - such as what specific types of e-mail attachments are you unable to open. Are there any you can open? Can you save the attachment to the desktop and open it manually? If you can't open the file as an attachment but you can open it from say, your desktop, chances are there may be something screwy with the computer's registry and/or you may have caught a virus somewhere along that line and that's changed the settings.

It should be noted that some virus/spyware authors have given their malware names that sound an awful lot like RUNDLL32.EXE - such as RUN32.DLL.EXE, RUNDII32.EXE, etc.. These files masquerade as the genuine article but can cause all manner of problems, freeze-ups, stolen passwords, identity theft, etc... The first thing to do would be to scan your computer for viral infestation and for spyware. Some spyware/viruses also make use of the functions of the RUNDLL32.EXE file to execute.

Now then, if it seems to be working ok at the shop, and then stops working properly when you get it home, it might be a good idea to have someone from that shop come over and inspect the machine in your home. There may be something in the home environment that's causing the file to vanish. Given that you've taken the computer in twice for the same thing, and hopefully, the people who fixed the machine offer some sort of warranty for their service, they should be willing to have someone do that. There may be some other factor that's present at your home that's not present at the shop that's causing this problem.

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