DVDs store large files, but using them for backup isn't so easy

Ask Jim

Plugged In

September 14, 2006|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

I am a computer beginner and have a PC that I fear is going to crash soon.

Is there any way to back up all the icon info that is on my desktop? Can I do this on CDs or DVDs?

-Robert Beal, Las Vegas

Until I thought about it a bit, your question seemed too rudimentary to cover, Mr. B. But then I realized that the fix you describe of simply dragging icons to a CD can vex even technoholics, including the writer of this column.

At first blush it sounds as obvious as a lighthouse that one can just open the My Documents folder and drag and drop the icons for files and folders stored there onto a blank CD and be done with it.

That may have been true once, but with the proliferation of huge music files and even bigger video files, a lot of stuff won't fit on a single CD. Worse still, a lot of computer users have accumulated such a huge amount of files and folders that it can take a very long time to drag them all onto a stack of CDs.

On the other hand, using the far larger blank DVDs for backup isn't nearly as straightforward as using the tiny CDs.

In Windows XP when you insert a blank CD into the drive, a pop-up menu will offer a few options, including using the Windows disc-burning module. Select that option and a special recording folder will appear on the desktop.

You then can open the My Documents folder and drag files and folders to the CD folder. Do that first to quickly save any documents or photographs you most want to preserve in case that breakdown happens.

CDs carry only about 650 megabytes of data each, and with files so numerous or as huge as most of us have, DVDs are best because each holds at least 4.7 gigabytes. This assumes you have a DVD recording drive, of course.

If you own files larger than a single CD can handle, such as a movie or computer-created video, you can go with DVDs or use software to split a huge file into smaller files that can be put on several CDs before reassembling on a new computer.

I prefer the freeware program called HJSplit at Freebyte.com for this digital slice-and-dice operation. You run HJSplit and use it to select a large file; then you stipulate the size of the smaller component files to create for later reassembly.

Finally, if you have a DVD drive, you need to know that the Windows operating systems doesn't burn these discs, so you need to use the software shipped with most drives.

In nearly every case, manufacturers supply either Roxio's Record Now or the Nero Burn programs. If the pop-up box that appears when a DVD is inserted doesn't show a burning option, you can click on Start and All Programs to find and run whichever is available.

I keep getting a message saying three e-mails can't be sent although the addresses are correct. After my e-mail is delivered, the bottom right-hand corner of the screen says "error." How can I get rid of the "cannot be sent" message and clear it off of the screen? I am a greenhorn when it comes to these technicalities.

-Lorraine Zehr, peoplepc.com

Microsoft's Outlook Express e-mail software built into Windows has this annoying way of dealing with e-mail notes that are impossible to send. Such messages may be corrupted or incorrectly addressed in a way that the sending part of the software cannot deal with.

When this happens, the messages are shunted to a special Outbox folder where they will remain and keep generating that error message.

With Outlook Express open, click on the View item in the toolbar at the top and select Layout from the drop-down menu that appears. In the display that pops up, put a check mark in the box next to "Folder List" and select Apply. The display will change to show a pane on the left that includes all of the folders Outlook Express uses to store mail, including one for drafts, one for sent mail and one called Outbox.

Open Outbox with a mouse click and you will see those three offending missives. Give each a right-click to select it and then choose Delete from the drop-down menu. This will clear the Outbox and stop the error messages.

When I turn on my computer I get a box labeled "WJView Error: could not execute Main: The system cannot find the file specified ... ." I do not have any idea what this means. How can I get rid of it?

-Marian Cole, infionline.com

This problem has been around for a few years, and a lot of folks are vexed by this annoyance. The error can come from several sources, including so-called adware.

Annoyingly, the fix is pretty complicated, although if your problem happens to be caused by adware then you can acquire an anti-adware program to perform a fix automatically.

If the cause is not due to ads, you need to remove all references to WJView in the Windows configuration list and then make changes in the system registry.

I'll briefly describe the steps and you can get more extensive instructions from the Microsoft Knowledge base at this address: http:--support.microsoft.com/?kbid=831427

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