Restore disc does trick for old PC


February 20, 2003|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

How do I get my computer back to its original configuration, or at least to the configuration when I installed Windows 98 about two years ago? The computer runs very sluggishly, even though I perform ScanDisk and defragmenting maintenance regularly. In addition, I believe that I have messed up a number of things when trying to delete programs or functions that I thought were not necessary.

I have a Gateway P5-150 with a 2.37-gigabyte hard drive (1.5 Gb used and 890 megabytes free), 80 Mb of RAM, 32-bit file system and 32-bit virtual memory. I am running Windows 98 and have Office 2000 installed. It might be that I need to get a new computer, but I would like to try to salvage this one.

I play only games originally installed - FreeCell, Scrabble and Bridge - and I do not do "heavy-duty" computing.

You're in luck. You picked Gateway back in the PC world's dinosaur days when people were running 150 mHz wheezers and Gateway led the way in providing system restoration disks for their customers.

You are an excellent example of someone who can get by quite well by simply giving an older computer a brain transplant rather than going out and buying a new machine.

One big reason that PC sales have leveled off so drastically is that businesses realize that workstations powered like yours handle a great deal of office-type work just fine.

That includes heavy-duty word processing, number crunching with spreadsheets and even building respectable databases.

The machines handle e-mail just fine and do pretty well with the Internet unless one gets a hankering for streaming video or listening to live music.

That P-150 is, indeed, clogged by five years of writing and rewriting data scattered across that hard drive.

Your efforts at fixing things have messed up crucial items like libraries and other support files.

Make backup copies of your documents and then pop in the restore CD you will find with the manuals that came in the box, and the machine will delight you as much as it did that shining day you acquired it.

James Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached via e-mail at

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