Answer Line

SAN FRANCISCO (01/31/2000) - I share my PC with two people but don't want them to access my programs and files. How can I lock them out of selected parts of my system?

Name withheld at reader's request

Because Windows 9x is almost completely lacking in security features, I recommend that you go the shareware route to keep prying eyes out of your files. (If you use Windows NT 4.0 or Linux, your security has been better thought out, and you won't have to search for the right shareware to find peace of mind.)If your only concern is keeping others away from your files, try MegaShock Software's Stealth. You can download the demo version from or (The full working version costs $20.) Stealth creates a virtual drive on your real hard drive that disappears when Stealth isn't running. But launch Stealth and type in your password, and there it is--with all the files you've created on it or moved to it. By the time you read this, a new version may properly encrypt your data.

For a more comprehensive security tool, try SIHS's Safelock. Again there's a free download, from or www.fileworld. com. And though this tool's $36 registration takes a bigger bite than Stealth, you get much more. Safelock lets you keep would-be snoops from files, folders, programs, and sensitive Control Panel settings. You can prevent other users from changing the wallpaper, adding to the desktop, or exiting to DOS (although they can always reach DOS by rebooting). As with Stealth, you can access items you've protected only when Safelock is running, and you can't launch Safelock without the password. One drawback remains: Safelock hides your files, but it doesn't encrypt them; determined hackers can still ferret out what they're looking for.

No More Freezes at Boot-Up

When I turn on my PC, Windows freezes more often than not. I usually have to reboot five or six times before I can get to work. What's going on?

Eric Galley, Ottawa, Ontario

Each PC has a different configuration, so I can't say for sure. Try these suggestions:

Start by booting Windows in Logged mode.This will let you create a text file of the entire boot process, so you can see where it fails. First, bring up the boot menu. In Windows 95, watch the screen as you start up the computer, and press the key as soon as you see the words 'Starting Windows 95'. In Windows 98, hold down the key from the beginning of the boot process until the menu comes up. At the menu, select the option for Logged (\BOOTLOGTXT), and continue with the boot.

Of course, Windows may boot flawlessly in this instance. Keep at it every time you boot until one of the boots fails. After your system has crashed, reboot again without logging. To read the log, select Start*Run, type c:\bootlog.txt, and press . If your system is in such bad shape you can't get into Windows, you can read the log from the DOS prompt by typing c:\windows\command\edit c:\bootlog.txt and pressing .

You'll find a long file, but don't worry. Just go to the end--whatever is causing the problem will be in the last few lines. The line that says 'LoadFail' or 'failure' will tell you what file is the culprit.

If the troublemaker is an irksome DLL, you can try reinstalling Windows or the application that the DLL comes from (you can reinstall these over the current installation without wiping out your configuration). If the problem is a hardware driver, you might try uninstalling and then reinstalling the hardware, or getting an updated driver, or replacing the possibly defective peripheral.

In the worst case, you may need to leave the troublesome device or program uninstalled until such time as its maker devises a solution.

Reset an Internal Modem

I often get a 'modem not responding' message when I try to go online. I could turn an external modem off and on, but with an internal one, I have to reboot the computer. Is there a quicker way?

Norman R. Kay, Tucson, Arizona

There might be. First, try breaking the connection. Reach behind the computer, unplug the modem's phone jack, wait a couple of seconds, and plug it back in.

You can also try sending a reset command to your modem. You may be able to do this through the DOS prompt with a command like echo atz>com1; you'll almost certainly be able to do it with HyperTerminal, a program that comes with Windows. (HyperTerminal won't work if the problem is a mismatch between the modem's and PC's serial port speeds.) If HyperTerminal is already installed, you'll find it at Start*Programs*Accessories*HyperTerminal or Start*Programs*Accessories*Communications*HyperTerminal.

If you need to install HyperTerminal, insert the Windows CD-ROM. From Start*Control Panel, click Add/RemovePrograms. Click the Windows Setup tab.

Double-click Communications. Then check HyperTerminal, and click OK twice.

The next time your modem is unresponsive, open HyperTerminal as noted above, following the sequence for the version of Windows that you're running. In the resulting folder, double-click Hypertrm. If you get a Connection Description box, click Cancel.

Now try typing some commands. Start with atz>comn, where n is the number of your modem's serial port address, such as com1 or com2. If that doesn't work, try at&f1>comn or at&f>comn. After each command, press , select Call*Disconnect, and try using your modem.

If none of these gambits work, grit your teeth, exit Windows, and reboot.

Sometimes it's the only way.

Find Those Outlook Files

I've formatted my hard drive twice, and the biggest pain is reentering Outlook data. Where does Outlook keep my contacts, appointments, and other data so I can back it all up?

Bill Roth, Empire, Michigan

Microsoft Office introduced both Outlook and the wonderful concept of My Documents, a single location for your data files, making them easier to back up and protect. Then Microsoft messed the whole thing up by not putting your Outlook data in My Documents. Outlook keeps your contacts, appointments, and e-mail in a file that's most likely called outlook.pst. What exactly it's called and where you can find it will depend on what version of Outlook you're using, what versions you've used in the past, whether you've ever used Microsoft Exchange, and whether you share or have shared your computer.

No matter where the Outlook data is stored, the files you want will have the extension .pst, so you can find them by searching your hard drive. Select Start*Find*Files or Folders. For the Named field, enter *.pst. For 'Look in', select Local hard drives. Click Find Now.

Backing up data is no good unless you can restore it, and restoring a .pst file is tricky. After reinstalling Outlook, search for a .pst file as described in the previous paragraph. When you find it, copy the old .pst file from the backup over the new one on your hard drive, changing the name if necessary.

Then launch Outlook. If you get a wordy message box starting with 'The location messages are delivered to...', click Yes. You'll find your old information ready to be used again.

If you use Outlook 2000, you may also want to save configuration info like mail rules and toolbar settings. For that, back up the files in your C:\Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder.

Two Programs, One Icon

How can I double-click one icon and have it open several programs?

Nachie Guterman, Staten Island, New YorkThere are twoways to do this. You can use an old-fashioned DOS batch file instead of a shortcut: First, launch Notepad by selecting Start*Programs*Accessories*Notepad.

In Notepad, enter the command to launch one program (such as notepad.exe), press , then enter the command to launch another (say, calc.exe), and so on. If you aren't sure of a command name, right-click a shortcut for the program and select Properties. In the Properties dialog box, check the Shortcut tab's Target field; it will show the name you want. When you finish, enter cls on the very last line in Notepad. Do not press . Select File*Save. In the Save As box, navigate to \Windows\Start Menu, the desktop, or wherever you want the icon. For 'Save as type', select All Files(*.*). Give the file the extension .bat.

Or you can download Winx32, a free program by Don Beusee available at Winx32 doesn't make the job any easier than it is with a batch file (you still have to create a script in Notepad), but it doesn't bring up a DOS box and doesn't need a command like cls.

Find files mentioned here at Send all questions to; we pay $50 for published items. Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes the syndicated column Gigglebytes.

Restore Outlook Express Choice

When I double-click a file attachment in Outlook Express, do you want to be asked if the file should be opened or saved? With some file types, such as Microsoft Word, the file just gets saved. To avoid that default, select View*Options (or View*Folder Options) in any Windows Explorer folder. Click the File Types tab. Select the appropriate file type--Microsoft Word Document, for example. Click Edit. In the Edit File Type dialog box, check Confirm Open After Download, and then click OK twice.

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