Smashed trash cuts load
by George Skarbek - 22nd November 2005

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Q: How do I really empty deleted stuff? We are a small community agency staffed mainly by volunteers and use Outlook Express as our email program. Even though the Deleted Items folder is empty, when looking at the OE mailboxes, the Deleted Items dbx file is 22 MB. This seems inordinately large for an empty folder. Is there any way we can really empty it? I have looked in Outlook Express but cannot find any helpful information.

A: What you have found is a shortcoming of Outlook Express. The .dbx files represent a database and when you delete information from any folder such as Inbox, Deleted Items etc, only the pointers to the messages within the database are removed. The actual email content is still stored in the database and is not deleted.

To completely remove the data and free up disk space you must compact the folder(s).

This is done via File, Folder, and then to remove wasted space from the other folders as well I suggest that you select All Folders . In one example of how much space can be saved, one of my clients wanted to transfer the Inbox to his new laptop and as he had deleted most of the messages, he was surprised that he could not copy it via a floppy. When I investigated, the Inbox was more than 800 MB! After compacting it was about 0.2 MB. If you have never compacted Outlook Express and have many mailboxes, this process may take 30 minutes or more.

If you have room on your hard disk, I suggest you copy your important, or preferably all, .dbx files to another folder or drive before starting. I have received reports about the occasional problem developing during compacting so back-up by copying these files before attempting to move.


Q: I have been told it is possible to speed up an XP computer by going into the Task Manager and selecting View and then Update Speed. Are there problems with this? I also see that you can select Slow or Pause - why would you?

A: The Update speed refers to the graph of CPU performance and has nothing to do with the actual processing capability of the computer, other than to display the loading on it. It you want to record the CPU usage over a longer time then use the Slow setting, then you will have a longer time period on the screen. It will not slow down the computer. Pause will just halt the display if you need time to examine it.

Q: How do I install and set-up two operating systems on partitioned or dual drives - and also select the program I want to load during bootup? The programs are W98SE and Ubuntu.

A: You need a boot manager because there is nothing in Windows that allows this. There are many such programs including commercial, shareware and freeware. One freeware program called OSL2000 can be downloaded from It has won many awards and received good reviews. I have used this program and it can boot from separate drives or partitions. I have Windows 64 on an IDE drive and Windows XP on a SATA (Serial ATA) drive and this works well. It is easy to use. However, there is some possibility that Ubuntu may have a boot manager.

For new computer users who are not sure what shareware programs are, they are copyrighted programs that are distributed by authors through many outlets, such as the internet. In many cases they can be high quality. Shareware is commercial software that you are encouraged to try out before deciding to keep and pay for it. If you use it regularly, please consider registering it as then more software developers will freely distribute their software and the entire computing community will benefit. In most cases, when you register you will receive the latest version of the software, possibly additional features, or the next release. In many cases the upgrades seem to be guaranteed for life.



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