Ditch dial-ups for DSL or cable

HELPLINE

February 12, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I have had it with America Online. What Internet service providers might you recommend as a replacement? Earthlink, perhaps? I am looking for a pretty bare-bones provider.

I urge you to give serious thought to paying roughly twice as much as the $22 AOL fee and get a digital subscriber line or a cable modem.

You soon will wonder how you managed to live without lightning-fast Web screen displays, nearly instant downloads and the joy of never again listening to a telephone modem bleeping and buzzing until you get a carrier tone.

DSL/cable tends to cost in the $50 range, but if you can grant yourself a single luxury, this is the ticket.

All that said, you can get the information you need about either a new dial-up like Earthlink or whatever high-speed service can reach your home at the superb Web site www.thelist.com, an encyclopedic resource of every Internet service provider, every Web-hosting vendor and a great many other Internet-related services.

You search by area code and dialing prefix and can be guaranteed to find the closest, fastest, most convenient way to get online.

My PC will crash, lock up and turn itself off whenever it desires. I defrag at least two times per week, and the PC will also "off" itself during this process. I'm running Windows 98, with no games and lots of space on the drive.

Your PC goes into crash-burn-die mode courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, the EPA's well-meaning Energy Star feature, designed to save power by switching off the monitor and "parking" hard drives (stopping hard drives from spinning), often kicks in only to be followed by a general lockup in the computer.

This only happens in a fraction of cases, but you need to disable the EPA feature, power grid or no power grid. Right-click on the desktop and pick Properties from the display that pops up. Pick Screen Saver in the next display. Look in the next window for the Energy Star logo and click on the Settings command.

In the next display you will get tools called Turn Off Monitor and Turn Off Hard Disks. Set monitor to Never. Set hard disks to After 2 Hours, and in the future you will be spared from those glitches where your computer crashed.

I have a custom-built 600 MHz PC that did not come with a recovery disk. I was trying to make my own recovery disk by backing up my entire drive and then transferring the backup into a blank CD through my CD-R/RW drive. My CD-R drive told me that I did not have enough capacity on the CD.

It appears that the backup copy has over 850 MB, and the capacity on the CD is 700. Is there any way that I can load that backup copy into two CDs?

For years I have used hard drive cloning systems from Orem, Utah-based PowerQuest to create images of hard drives, removable media like Zip disks and, lately, CD-RWs. The software handles the compression you need to squeeze enough data on burnable CDs to restore the computer to its exact state at the time the backup is made.

Check out PowerQuest's Drive Image software at www.power quest.com. In my reviews, this system proved easy to use by offering a series of wizard-type prompts to lead users through the backup process.

Most important, I never have had a failure when restoring computers backed up with Drive Image, and I go through a lot of recoveries in the process of evaluating buggy software and cranky new hardware products on an almost daily basis.

Send e-mail to jcoates@tribune. com.

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