Helpline

HELPLINE

August 05, 2004|By JAMES COATES

Q: I have encountered a curious problem with the sleep or power-save settings on my Pentium 4 computer running Windows XP. If my computer is not used for a period of time (say a couple of hours), it does not boot up when I power it on. It does get power, and you can see the hard-drive light on the CPU go on. But other than to say "Power Saver Mode," the monitor remains dark. Moving the mouse, hitting the Enter key or hitting Control/Alt/Delete also does nothing. I can get it to boot up by doing one of two things: holding in the power button until the machine turns off or using the reset button on the back of the case.

A: I'm not likely to win any awards from the Sierra Club for this, but I advise you to switch off that environment-protecting power-saver feature. Your problem is a common one caused when the power-saving module and another process running in the background try to do the same thing at the same instant. This causes data to be moved to the same place from both programs, creating a so-called register overrun and then, lockup. The conflicts happen because the power-saving module continually checks to see if any keys have been pressed so it can wake up the computer. If something else running in the background accesses the keyboard at the same time, your box goes bye-bye. With so many different background processes, many computers experience this irritation. Right-click on the desktop and select Properties. Then open the screen-saver tab, where you will find the check boxes to disable the power saver. A more elegant but much more difficult fix is to shut down all the processes running in the background and then gradually restore them one by one until you reach the culprit. You can find most -- but not all -- background processes by clicking on Start and then typing "misconfig" in the Run box and tapping Enter. This brings up a display with a tab for Startup. One can open this and obtain a dozen or more processes with check boxes alongside.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Q and A

James Coates of the Chicago Tribune may be reached via e-mail at jcoates @tribune.com.

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