HELP DESK: Spool print jobs to other drives

HELP DESK: Spool print jobs to other drives

Q Can I make Windows 95 spool print jobs on a disk other than C:? I am running out of space on my C: drive and would like to tell Windows to spool to D:. There's no documen-tation on how to do this, so if you can uncover this dark secret, please share it.

A According to a Microsoft technician, there's a method that's been spread by word of mouth but is not officially supported. First, create a spool directory. Then, under the Registry key My Computer \HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\System\ Control\Print\Printers, create a string value called Default SpoolDirectory. Enter the path of the desired spool directory as the value. Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q123747 (access-ible on Microsoft's Web site) gives more detail. The article says it is only applicable to Windows NT 3.5x, but it will work in Windows 95.

Q We have a network in which three Windows 95 machines use Microsoft Access to share a common database. Some-times the computers lock up with an error when users attempt to enter or change a date field. The change to the date field is not recorded and an error message comes up. What might be wrong?

AI suspect that you've encountered the error described in Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q96897. This problem crops up whenever an indexed field in an attached SQL database is set to contain either a floating point number or a date. The fix is rather involved, and requires some knowledge of SQL administration. Consult for full information.

Q I would like to back up my Windows NT 4.0 server to an Iomega Jaz drive each night. Unlike Windows 95, NT does not have a SysAgent that will allow me to schedule programs (eg defragmenters and backup programs) to run at regular intervals. Do you know of a third-party utility that will allow me to schedule a program to run?

ANT has an "at" command that can set the system to run a program at a scheduled time. (If you use it, remember to turn on the Schedule service via the Server applet on the Control Panel, or it won't work.) Unfortunately, the "at" command's capabilities are somewhat limited. It's difficult to use it to schedule regular backups.

Unix, by contrast, has always had a very powerful built-in program, or "daemon", that is designed to run any number of maintenance programs at regular intervals. It's called "cron" or "crond", and it uses a file format that's flexible enough to accommodate almost any scheduling scheme you can come up with. (For example, it's easy to set a program to run at one time Monday to Friday, and at a different time on weekends.) Several resourceful programmers have ported the Unix program to NT.

I've found two ports in the Virtual Software Library at the OAK repository. To find them, go to, select "MS-WindowsNT" as the category and search on the keyword "cron".

Q I just read one of your previous columns in which a reader complained about fuzziness in an NEC monitor. When my monitor became fuzzy, it was fixed not by degaussing but by adjusting the focus on the flyback transformer.

AFocus problems are another possible cause. Unfortunately, adjusting the focus is tricky: it involves getting close to extremely high-voltage components. It's best to leave this delicate operation to a trained technician.

Q When I connect to an ISP using Windows 95's dial-up networking, the window displays a connect speed of 115,200 baud for any connection above 28.8Kbit/sec. With my Courier X2 modem, I don't know if I've connected at 31.6Kbit/sec or 53Kbit/sec. Is there a fix?

AWhen the connect speed returned by the modem isn't on a list defined by the modem driver, Windows displays the baud rate of the serial port, which is usually much faster than the connection. What's more, Windows can't tell if the modem "falls back" to a lower speed, so even the initial speed reported by the modem can be misleading. Your best bet is to watch the lights on the modem (if it's external) or use the manufacturer's software monitoring utility (if it's internal).

Brett Glass' Help Desk answers business computing questions. To submit a query send e-mail to

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