Q: We have used a product called GHOST (General Hardware Oriented Software Transfer) from Innovative Software. This product will "clone" a drive with almost any operating system on it - DOS, DOS/Windows 3.11, Windows 95, Windows NT, OS/2, and various flavours of Unix. The only problem we have is that after "GHOSTing" a Windows 95 drive and booting from a new one, the system will not be able to connect to the network.
A: I've received many tips suggesting products such as GHOST or DriveCopy (from PowerQuest, maker of PartitionMagic). Some readers have even managed to copy drives using Windows' XCopy (an imperfect solution because it does not always preserve file attributes).
The problem, as you've discovered, is that copying is not the same as migration. In the absolute best case, you'll need to make some minor adjustments to get running on the new platform. But in most cases, by copying the disk you will plunk down an old, buggy version of the operating system right on top of the newer, tested, supported configuration installed by the new machine's manufacturer.
You'll also bring along settings, Registry entries, and drivers for devices that are no longer present, potentially causing problems with networks, serial ports, sound cards, and modems. (Contrary to what many believe, no utility - including Microsoft's own RegClean - can remove most of this detritus.)Finally, you'll preserve other "junk" that accumulates on Windows systems, which can cause instability, crashes, and poor performance.
True migration preserves the user's data files, applications, and preferences without taking the old OS, and its hardware-specific settings and drivers, along for the ride.
This was relatively easy under DOS, where two files, CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT, were often all that had to be changed. It's also easy on systems that are designed to be multi-user, such as Unix.
By necessity, such operating systems draw a sharp line between system resources, system preferences, application files, user preferences, and user data.
Unfortunately, there's no 100 per cent acceptable or automatic solution to migration. My best advice is to exercise an ounce of prevention long before you have to migrate.
Instead of allowing Windows applications to store data in the C:\Windows directory or letting them write data files to their own program directories, force applications to keep your data and preferences on a separate disk partition or logical drive.
Likewise, install applications to a third logical drive and keep temporary files on a fourth. (Make a separate partition for the system swap file, too, to avoid damage when your machine crashes.) Then, when you migrate, copy only your data. Reinstall as many applications as possible, and use a program such as Quarterdeck's CleanSweep or CyberMedia's forthcoming Uninstaller 5.0 as a last resort to move products for which you do not have original disks. Migrations still won't be trouble-free, but you'll have fewer problems down the road.
Modem casualties from lightening strikesQ: We recently had a severe thunderstorm in our area and suspect that lightning travelled through the phone lines and damaged our modem. A search of the local retail stores failed to locate or identify any kind of software package that included any detailed modem diagnostics. We want to verify, for our insurance company, that (a) the modem is toast; (b) how we determined this; and (c) what tests we ran, complete with supporting reports or graphs. Such information would be more pervasive than saying, "It just don't work!"
A: Unfortunately, the internal workings of nearly all modems are inaccessible to the computer's software, which interacts with the modem via simple commands such as ATDT (dial with tones) and ATH (hang up). So all the computer has to go on is the information that those commands provide. And even if the computer could more thoroughly diagnose the modem, the software would likely be vendor-specific and cost more than the modem itself.
So your best bet is to rely on functional testing. Does the modem's front-panel display seem to work? Does it give an OK response to the basic AT command? (Or, if you're running Windows 95, does it respond to the simple diagnostic test in the Control Panel's "Modems" applet?)Can it make calls?
Can you hear it dialling?
Do you hear a connection being made?
Does the modem answer calls? (This last is the most common problem caused by lightning: themodem will dial out but will not answer.) If your insurer will not settle on the basis of these simple tests, it is probably not worth a claim. The cost of documenting the problem will probably amount to far more than the modem was worth.
Saving your documents where you will
Q: When one selects File Save to save a new document in a Windows program, the default directory is always a directory that the software picks, such as My Documents or the Windows Desktop. I would like to keep data separate from my programs. How can I change the default directory for saving documents?
A: Although the practice is very unprofessional, many applications direct the File Save As command to dump your work into the program directory or, worse, the bloated C:\WINDOWS directory. If you want to change this behaviour, you're at the programmer's mercy: you can make the documents go, by default, to a different place only if the programmer has specifically provided an option.
Sometimes even two programs from the same vendor will not offer consistent options. For example, some Microsoft Office applications use a Registry keyword called Personal or DefaultPath to hold the default directory path for new files and others do not.
Try searching the Registry for your program's name or the name of the directory it chooses by default to see which applications use these keywords. Sometimes there's a setting in an .INI filethat can be changed. (Unfortunately, Windows doesn't have a provision that lets you view a "dictionary" of an application's possible Registry or .INI file entries.)Finally, some programs (for example, Eudora) allow you to change the working directory via command-line parameters. Under Windows 95, using command-line parameters is awkward; you may need to create a DOS batch file to invoke the program and put up with an extra wait each time you start it.
Forcing Explorer to start at home
Q: On our Windows NT 4.0 system, each user has a separate "home" directory, but Windows Explorer shows the files in the root directory of C:. How can I force Explorer to start in the user's home directory?
A: Although it hasn't been documented, you can force Explorer to do this by creating a shortcut that invokes Explorer with the name of the starting directory as a command-line parameter. The magical incantation to use as the command in the shortcut is:explorer %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%.
Cursor keys and command woes
Q: I am a Windows NT user and am having trouble using the cursor keys to call up and edit previous commands on a Windows 95 machine. I am able to recall the most recently issued command, one character at a time, by using the right cursor key. But the Up key doesn't do anything. What's wrong?
A: In Windows 95, these features are not built in, as they are in the NT DOS shell and most Unix shells.
Ironically, although Windows 95 discourages the use of TSR (terminate and stay resident) programs, you must load a TSR called DOSKEY (either from AUTOEXEC.BAT or by typing DOSKEY into the window) to enable full command-line editing.
If your DOS sessions are short on memory, you can load DOSKEY high with the command LH DOSKEY.
Trying to organise files
Q: I've tried to organise my files the way you suggested and can do it under OS/2 and DOS. But Windows NT and Windows 95 seem to assume that you have one huge drive C: and stash stuff there without asking. When I try to put NT applications on drive F: or drive G:, I find that I can't - or the program warns me it may not work.
A: In Windows NT, the C:\WINNT directory is very much like the C:\WINDOWS directory in Windows: it's a catch-all for many files. As in Windows, .DLL files are often thrown into common directories instead of being kept in the program's own directory, and most applications mix up program and data files willy-nilly.
Unix once had a similar problem.
Although Unix has always segregated program and data files (the most important separation that must be made), early implementations mixed enterprise-wide configuration files and machine-specific files in the same directories. The Unix community straightened things out by sorting out the files and using symbolic links to keep legacy software from breaking.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has not yet done anything similar with Windows NT or Windows 95. The best one can do, at present, is to buy applications that are better-behaved - in particular, those that can be installed on any drive - and refrain from placing .DLL files and other data where they do not belong.
Step aside Arnie: it's the spaminator
Q: MindSpring has recently introduced a free service called "The Spaminator", which blocks all e-mail from known spammers and spamming software. The incidence of spam in my mailbox went up at least tenfold when I started posting messages in Internet newsgroups. It went down somewhat once I started posting using a fake e-mail address. But after I signed up for the Spaminator service, I found that I could go back to using my real address in the newsgroups. I still haven't received a single spam!
A: MindSpring's Spaminator service (www.mind spring.com/acct-mgmt/spam.html) has been recommended by more readers than any other service of its kind.
No automated service can get rid of all spam, and there's always a risk that such solutions could spark an escalating war between spammers and Internet service providers.
Another reader, WD Baseley, has written in and emphasised the importance of using a secondary screen name for e-mail on AOL. According to Baseley, every primary AOL screen name has a member profile.
"Although the profile is empty," he reports, "a search for a member profile using that name will return a successful find, with no information."
That means that spammers can look it up. Using a secondary screen name avoids that problem.
Travelling with encryption software
In a previous Help Desk column (see ARN May 28, p60) a reader asked for guidance concerning regulations regarding the import and export of encryption software - in particular, whether one could carry a laptop containing disk-security software abroad. Many readers wrote with their own understanding of travel guidelines, which were often conflicting and outdated.
Even more confusion has been engendered by recent attempts to legislate restrictions on encryption, as well as by a Federal judge's ruling that the Department of State export rules were unconstitutional. Further, shortly before our press deadline, the Department of Commerce granted Microsoft and Netscape exemptions regarding selling encryption tools to US-based financial institutions.
The Department of Commerce posts a few short excerpts from the current regulations at www.bxa.doc.gov/encstart.htm, but this may not be adequate.
I contacted attorney Tom Cooper, of Venable, Daetjer, Howard, and Civiletti, in Washington, who said that, as of June 20, one generally can take a laptop with encryption software out of the US (regardless of the software's origin) under two exemptions: TMP (temporary export and re-import) and BAG (baggage).
Both exemptions let you take the machine as a "tool of the trade" or "personal effect" to most countries as long as you bring it back within one year. (The rules are more restrictive for Iraq, North Korea, and some other countries.) Some countries, such as France, have their own laws prohibiting encryption software. Do your research: call the Department of Commerce and consulates of the countries you plan to visit before you leave.