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Floppy Disk Drives


My floppy disk drive light does not come on when I am trying to open the drive.
What's the problem?

If you have a floppy disk in your drive and attempt to open the drive, the green light on the front of the disk drive should come on, and you'll hear the sound of the disk drive reading the disk. If this light does not come on or you do not hear the drive working when you try to access the files on the disk (which is the same thing as opening the drive), then your drive is not functioning and could be damaged. (It is also possible that the drive's internal connections came loose.) It is best to take your computer to a technician for further diagnosis.


My floppy disk drive has a disk (or some other object) stuck in it.
What should I do?

The risk of little ones (and sometimes even big ones) jamming a disk improperly into the drive, causing the disk to get stuck, happens with alarmingly high frequency. I have personally seen all sorts of objects be placed in the floppy drive (gum is my favorite floppy drive discovery.) If something other than a disk is placed in your floppy disk drive, the drive is most likely damaged and in need of replacement. Luckily, these drives are fairly inexpensive, running about $15 a piece. If a disk is stuck or inserted upside down by mistake, GENTLY try to remove the disk with tweezers or another thin pronged gripping device, making sure that there is no power coming into the computer. If this does not work, DO NOT stick objects, such as knives, into the drive. While this might dislodge the disk, it will do more harm to your drive than good. Contact SBCS Inc. for further assistance.


My floppy disk drive (Zip drive or other removable disk drive) is not recognized by Windows.
What should I do?

If you have attempted to install a Zip or other external removable media drive, and the drive is not recognized, be sure to check that the connection cable between the computer and the new drive is tightly inserted. If this cable is loose, Windows will not recognize the drive, even if the software for the drive is installed. Otherwise, consult the vendor's installation instructions for troubleshooting advice. Often the same types of problems arise for these drives, and the vendor will give specific details on how to fix the problem. After all, it is in the vendor's best interest that you get their product working.


The computer keeps giving me the error "Drive A:\ not accessible" with the options to Retry or Cancel.
What is happening?

This error simply means that you do not have a disk in the floppy drive that you are trying to access. Double check that you have pushed the disk all the way into the drive and click the Retry button. If this does not work, eject the disk and reinsert it. Then try to access the disk again. If it continues to fail, the disk has been damaged and probably needs to be thrown away.


Operating System Errors


Every time that I try to do this one thing (open a program, print a document, etc.),
my computer hangs and I have to reboot it.
Is there anything I can do to fix this?

There are several things that could be causing your computer to do this. The first thing that you should do is run Scandisk on your computer's hard drive (a utility found under System Tools in the Accessories folder in your Start Menu Programs area) and perform disk defragmentation. Performing this sort of disk maintenance will fix the problem if the computer hanging is the result of the files on your hard disk being corrupted. If after you have completed these maintenance tasks you are still having this trouble, it is best to take your computer into a local technician to have the computer serviced.


I have added a new piece of hardware or software and now,
I am having problems getting the computer to work properly.
What should I do?

Adding new hardware to your computer changes the files that Windows uses to run the computer. If the new hardware does not install properly, the changes that the hardware installation process made to the system files might cause Windows to fail.
The best way to resolve this problem is to contact the technical support of the vendor of the product you were trying to install. If the problem is hardware, SBCS Inc. can help you find the phone number or web site of that vendor. Also, the documentation (manuals and help files) that came along with the hardware or software will often have helpful hints and common problems that are encountered during the installation process.


Windows is giving me a strange error message that I can't figure out.
What should I do?

Well, I don't know of one computer user who has not gotten some strange Windows error message that only seems to make matters worse. In Microsoft's defense, it is probably to be expected that an operating system that runs so many programs on so many different types of machines would be prone to errors. This does not help you as the user, however. To solve an unexpected, strange error message, the best thing to do is to write the message on the screen down and exactly WHAT you were doing when you got the error (were you opening a program? trying to print a document?). This will help the technician determine what is going wrong with your machine. Then contact Microsoft's technical support line or visit their web site at to find more information on the error. It is also possible that other software or hardware other than Windows is the root of the problem. If you suspect that this is the case, you should contact the appropriate vendor for a solution. 


Add On Software

The most effective way to troubleshoot add-on software problems is to go directly to the manufacturer of the software itself. If the software came with your computer when you bought it, you can get information on software errors from your computer's vendor.
Installation Errors When there are errors encountered installing software, refer to the installation instructions for the software which will often contain the most common errors that you might experience. If you don't see the error there, write down the error message that you are getting and contact the software vendor. It is most helpful to a telephone technician for you to be as specific as possible with the error you are getting and when it occurs (or occurred). Often you can get a lot of help with a software package from the software maker's web site, so don't overlook that as a free resource for information to resolve your troubles.




All of a sudden my mouse stops working while I am using the computer.
I see the cursor, but the mouse doesn't move the cursor.
What do I do?  Why did it stop working?

This is actually a common problem. The connection at the back of your computer to your mouse might have come loose, or something caused the software driver for the mouse to hang, or stop responding. The best thing to do is to close all of the programs that you are working on using the keyboard and restart the computer. The key combination is the Alt key and the F4 key; simply hold down the Alt key and press F4 to close what you are working on. Then hold down the Ctrl key and press the Esc key to have the Start Menu pop up. Press the U key to get the shutdown command to activate and hit the Enter key to shutdown or restart the machine. Assuming your connection in the back of the computer is tight, then your mouse should work again once you have restarted the computer.


My mouse just isn't working correctly.
It has worked in the past, but now it is not working.

The first question to ask is are there any additional devices that you have added to your computer. Often conflicts with other devices (like joysticks and other input devices) will cause your mouse to stop working. The best way to fix this problem is to go into the Windows Device manager, delete the mouse, then let Windows reinstall it using Plug and Play. To do this,
Click on the Start button on your taskbar. (The Start button is usually located in the bottom left corner of your screen.)
Choose Settings from the Start Menu, then Control Panel.
Double-click the System applet. A System Properties dialog box appears. Click on the Device Manager tab. The Device Manager property sheet appears. Double-click on Mouse to show all of the installed mice (there is normally only one mouse installed.) Select that mouse by clicking once on it (as shown above), then click the Remove button.
Choose OK to confirm you are removing the mouse, then OK again to close the window.
Now, reboot your computer, and when the system starts again, Windows will automatically redetect your mouse. Now it should work correctly.


I just can't get my mouse to work at all. Help!

Be sure to check that you have connected the mouse to the correct port in the back of your computer. The keyboard port and the mouse port are the same, and it is easy to get them confused. Assuming that you have checked that the mouse is connected to the correct port in the back, your mouse not working is probably the sign of a damaged mouse connection or a broken mouse port. Try using another mouse on this computer, and if another mouse works, you know that your original mouse is damaged in some way (probably with its connector.) If another mouse does not work, there is probably something wrong with the mouse port. Have the port checked out by a technician.


Hard Disk Drives


My hard disk is very noisy.
Is this a problem? 

Hard disk drives make a certain amount of noise when programs are trying to get information or read data from the drive. So you might expect to hear a faint, grinding noise when the computer is reading data from the hard drive. However, the noise should not be too loud. An unusually loud noise signals that there might be something wrong with your hard drive, and you should take your computer in to a technician for service, or contact SBCS Inc..

My computer will not boot. I see nothing on the screen.
What should I do?

The first thing that you should try is to use your Windows 95 or 98 startup disk. This floppy disk either came with your computer when you bought it, or you should have made it when you first installed Windows. If you have not made a copy of this disk, then you need to contact your computer vendor for assistance in getting your computer to boot. SBCS Inc. can help you find a technical support number. If you do have a copy of this startup disk, place the floppy disk into your A:\ drive and reboot your computer. The disk will give you options on how to boot your Windows system for recovery and possibly offer to run diagnostics or boot your computer into Safe Mode. If you are able to boot your computer into Safe Mode, uninstall whatever program or undo any change you made to your computer's configuration that caused it not to boot. Then reboot your system again and Windows should initialize without any problems. If you are still unable to boot your system, contact your computer vendor for further assistance or contact SBCS Inc..


My computer will not boot. It stops booting at the Windows splash screen or I can see the desktop,
but I get these messages on the screen telling me there is an error.
What should I do?

You need to reboot your computer and while it is rebooting, hold down the F8 key on your keyboard. Holding down this key while your computer is booting up will give you the option to boot your computer into Safe Mode. After you are able to boot your computer into Safe Mode, uninstall whatever program or undo any change you made to your computer's configuration that caused it not to boot. Then reboot your system again and Windows should initialize without any problems. If you are still unable to boot your system, contact your computer vendor for further assistance or contact SBCS Inc..

I think I have lost all the data saved on my hard drive.
What should I do?

Most importantly, DO NOT PANIC! Although every cell in your body might be urging you to panic because all of your important data files are gone, you would be amazed at the data recovery tools that exist out there and that in the hands of skilled professionals, can recover the data that you think you lost on your hard drive. The best course of action is for you to do nothing else with your computer. Take your computer to a local technician specializing in data recovery. If the shop you contact doesn't perform data recovery, the shop might be able to refer you to a data recovery specialist.





My monitor is hazy.
How do I clear it up?

When your monitor is hazy, it generally is the signal that your monitor is about to go bad and that it needs to be serviced by a qualified technician. The way to test if your hazy monitor needs repair is to try to black out the screen by setting the contrast on your monitor to total black. If the contrast setting is totally black, yet you still see a white haze on your monitor, the monitor has gone bad and needs to be repaired by a technician. If you are able to get the monitor to go to total black, but when you bring the contrast back up the display is still fairly unclear, try adjusting the "sharpness" setting on your monitor. How to adjust this setting varies widely depending on your model of monitor.


The picture is not centered on my monitor.
How can I fix this?

Occasionally the screen is not centered on your monitor. Each monitor has settings that allow the user to adjust the horizontal and vertical placement of the desktop on the monitor display. Generally these adjustments are made by using buttons on the lower edge of the monitor. These buttons are sometimes clearly labeled and other times just marked by obscure symbols. Using these buttons you can change the horizontal and vertical placement of your monitor to center it on the screen. 

The picture does not take up the whole screen space on my monitor.
How can I make the picture take up the whole screen?

If the screen resolution settings for your computer are set too low, the display will not take up the whole screen. This can be very annoying and rob you of precious monitor real estate. To fix this, you must change the resolution properties of your display.

The brightness and contrast on my computer are not right.
How do I adjust these settings?

On most monitors the brightness and contrast for the display are set using dials on the side or underneath the lower edge of the monitor, although these settings can also be changed by buttons on the monitor. Simply adjust the dials or use the buttons to set the brightness and contrast to their desired level.

I see nothing on my monitor, but my computer and the monitor itself are on.
What do I do?

This is often most often the result of having a monitor cable come loose. Check the monitor cable coming from the back of the monitor to make sure that it is set tight, and also check the monitor cable where it goes into the back of the computer to make sure that it is securely in the socket. You might also trying unplugging and plugging in again in the monitor cable to see if it was simply a bad placement. If this does not solve the problem, you should try getting a replacement monitor cable or taking your monitor into a technician for service, or contact SBCS Inc..



Internet Connection


I cannot connect to my online service, even though I can make phone and fax calls from the modem.
What should I do?

The fact that you can make phone and fax calls from your modem means that the problem is not your modem. The problem is most likely the software that your ISP gave you to install. Depending on which ISP you have decided to use, installing and configuring the software varies widely. Contact the toll-free number for your ISP or visit their web site for instructions on how to properly install their custom version of Internet software.

I can connect to my ISP, but I keep getting "dropped" and being disconnected from the service
right in the middle of my session.
Is there anything I can do?

When the telephone lines to your ISP get overloaded with dial-in Internet traffic, connections that are already established have a tendency to be "dropped," causing you to be forcibly disconnected from your ISP. To make matters worse, when you dial in again to your ISP, you often receive a busy signal since everyone is attempting to access your ISP at the same time. This "dropping" activity is a problem with your ISP and not a problem with your computer or your software. You can contact your ISP by calling them and telling them what is happening. The ISP can then give you an update on what the status of the network is (it is being overloaded or there is another problem with the network causing problems) and what your best ways to avoid this are.
* A Note from Rose: Although that problem can be at the ISP, it is far more likely that the problem is with your phone lines. My main task at IBM many years ago was diagnosing TP problems and it is almost always noise on the phone line, especially if the problem is worse during or just after heavy rains or strong winds. Often a person will change ISPs and the problem gets better so the ISP gets the blame when what really happened is that the phone route to the new ISP uses different lines or switch networks than the one to the old ISP. Using the new ISP will help the user, but the old ISP really shouldn't get the blame for the problem. 

I cannot get my ISP browser software and e-mail configured properly.

There is very little more frustrating than not being able to get your Internet browsing software working properly. Unfortunately, there are almost an infinite number of ways that installation and configuration of this software can go wrong. (It is one of Murphy's favorite areas!) Contacting your ISP's technical support line is the fastest way to get your Internet software working. A technician will walk you through step-by-step on how to install and configure the software so you will be online in no time. The only difficulty here is if you only have one phone line, you will have to talk to the technician and won't be able to test your Internet connection at the same time, but it is still worth calling the ISP for assistance.




I can't hear any sound at all. Help!
The sound on my computer has never worked.

The first thing to check is that your speaker wires are plugged into the proper port on the back of your computer. You should see a left speaker wire and a right speaker wire, and they might be connected together into one plug. Make certain that you have placed this plug into the port marked with the speaker symbol. Often the microphone port is located right next to the speaker port, and it is easy to get them confused. If you have checked that the speaker cable is plugged into the back of the computer tightly, then verify that you have power going to your speakers and that the speakers are turned on. Some speaker sets have separate power supplies, while others draw their power from the computer. If the speakers are turned on, turn the volume all the way up so you will know when the sound starts working. If there is a little speaker symbol on the Taskbar near your clock, double-click on that symbol and make sure that the volume control is set high enough and that the "Mute All" or "Mute" is not checked. If these are checked, it will turn the sound off on your system, even if the speakers and other equipment are working just fine. If you are still having a problem with your sound, you should have your computer looked at by a technician, or Contact SBCS Inc..


I can't hear any sound at all now, although I have had my computer's sound working before.

If this is the case, then check the program that is using the sound system. Occasionally there are configuration changes that you need to make for the sound to work properly in a program. If this does not help, follow the steps in the answer to the question above, "I can't hear any sound at all..." Those steps will check for some of the most common reasons for not being able to hear sound on your computer. If you are still having a problem with your sound, you should have your computer looked at by a technician, or contact SBCS Inc..


The sound I hear out of my computer is distorted.

Check the sound control settings on your computer or the audio program that is playing the sound. Often audio settings will be altered on the sound controls, causing certain program sound to be distorted.


The sound plays on my computer, but when I play a CD in my CD-ROM drive, I don't hear anything.

The cause of this problem is that the audio cable inside your computer from your CD-ROM drive to the main computer board has either come loose or was not connected properly. You should have your computer looked at by a technician, or contact SBCS Inc..




I have never had my modem work properly.
What can I do to fix it?

There are two possibilities in this situation. There might be a problem with how the modem is connected inside the computer, or the problem could be with your modem drivers. The best thing to do here is to contact your computer's manufacturer to figure out what the problem is. Often manufacturer sites have detailed information on how to troubleshoot the components of your specific computer. Finally, if these options do not help you, you should contact SBCS Inc. to get service for your computer. A technician can determine what the trouble with your modem is and fix it for you.


I cannot connect to my online service, and I think my modem is the problem.
What should I do?

Not being able to connect to an online service is often the result of the online service software being installed improperly. These software installation programs step you through configuring your modem to dial the service. If the modem configuration is not done properly, it will appear that you can log on to your online service, but after you enter in your password, the modem never connects. The best course of action is to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP), or the company who provides your online service. They can help you with modem configuration, ensuring that you can connect to your online service. Toll-free numbers for your ISP should be available on the ISP's web site.


I am having difficulty with my phone/fax calls using my modem.
I can hear the dial tone, but after I dial, I get nothing.
What should I do?

This problem signals something wrong with your telephony software, or the software that does the dialing for you. Having the dial tone means that your modem is working properly, and that the phone line that you are dialing on is active. The dialing software is not working because the numbers that you dial are not being translated to the modem. This sounds complicated, but it isn't really. Simply refer to the manuals for your dialer software. If this software was already installed on your computer when you bought it, you can contact your computer's manufacturer for more help.


The modem makes this crazy sound when it is trying to connect to my online service.
Is this a problem?
Can I turn this sound off?

I am happy to report to you that this is not a problem at all. In fact, the "noise" is your modem negotiating a connection with the other modem it is attempting to talk to. This is called a "handshake". Once the handshake is established, the computers can begin transferring data between each other. You can turn this sound off if your dialing software has the option for it. The easiest way to get rid of the sound is to turn your speakers down when dialing.


CD-ROM and DVD-ROM Drives


Will regular CDs play in a DVD-ROM drive?

Absolutely! You should have no problem playing regular CDs in a DVD-ROM drive. 

My CD-ROM drive runs very slowly. Is there anything I can do to speed it up?

Unfortunately, no. The speed of your CD-ROM is fixed. Often the speed is indicated on the front of the drive itself, and it is definitely listed in your computer specifications. The only way to speed up your CD-ROM drive is to replace the CD drive itself with a faster drive.

The light on my CD-ROM drive blinks every few seconds.
Is there something wrong with the drive, or is this normal?

This blinking green light is actually normal and good news. It means that there is a CD in your drive, and that the disk is being read by your drive. The light indicates that the CD drive is currently reading information from the disk. If the light is not blinking, then your drive is in an idle state (not reading any information.) This light is similar to the light on your floppy disk drive.


The door on my CD-ROM drive is stuck and the CD will not eject.
How do I get the CD out without damaging it or the drive?
Is there anything I can do?

You should be able to get the CD door to open and eject the disk without damage quite easily. Each CD-ROM drive has a tiny round hole in the front of it, a hole easy to overlook. This is the emergency release for the CD drive. Simply take the end of a paper clip or safety pin and place it into the little hole and at the same time press the normal eject button for the drive. The drive will open and out comes the CD. If the CD has been jammed or caught in the drive, you might have to play with the disk's positioning a little bit to get the disk out.
This emergency release should only be used in an emergency and not as a routine way to open a damaged CD drive. You should contact SBCS Inc. to have the CD drive fixed right away.


My CD-ROM drive "froze" reading this CD.
What can I do?

When a CD-ROM drive locks up, or "freezes", this is often the sign of a damaged CD. If there are scratches or any damage at all to the underside of a CD, then the drive will not be able to read the disk and freeze up. You will need to get a replacement of the CD itself. It is important that you always keep your CDs in their cases and out of direct sunlight. Handling the disks with care will ensure that the data written to them will remain readable by the CD drive.


There is no sound coming from the CD in my CD-ROM drive.
What should I do?

If the CD-ROM works properly other than having no sound - for instance, you are able to read files off of your CDs, just not hear any sound - then the problem is with your CD sound cable. The cable is either defective or the connection has come loose. Take your computer into a computer repair technician for assistance or contact SBCS Inc. who can help you with this hardware problem.


I have a DVD-ROM drive. When I put the DVD disk in to view it, it does not play.
What should I do to fix this?

This problem most likely relates to your DVD-ROM reading software. It is possible that your computer came with a DVD reader installed on it. If a problem develops with this software, it might become impossible to use it to play DVDs. Luckily, most DVD disks come with their own DVD player software. When you first place the DVD into the drive, a screen will pop up, and one of the options will be to install software to play the DVD. Simply install this software, and you should be off!
If you continue to have problems with your DVD, you can further troubleshoot the DVD drive on the computer vendor's web site or contact SBCS Inc. who can help you with this.

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