Computer Guide

Windows problems after a fresh re-install

by George Skarbek - 8th May 2007

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Q: I recently helped a friend do a clean reinstallation of Windows XP Home after a HDD problem. The Windows XP disc had SP1. After the disc installation was completed, the OS had failed to load any drivers for the Display Adapter, and Device Manager didn't list a monitor at all. This meant the display used only default settings (screen resolution approx. 600 x 400, with 16 bit colour quality). When I downloaded SP2 from the Microsoft Update site, the problem got worse, with the screen resolution remaining at 600x450, but the colour quality reverting to 4 bits, making the display look quite surreal.
Windows Update also offered an optional hardware update for the Display Adapter (Intel chipset) so I downloaded this and when it was installed, it now offered a normal range of screen resolutions and colour quality up to 32 bits (high quality); the monitor (HP pavilion M70) also now appeared in the Device Manager hardware list.  At this point I thought the problem was fixed, however, Windows refuses to save any adjusted settings, and every time the computer is re-started, it reverts to the low default screen resolution and the 4 bit colour quality.  Is there any way to get Windows to save the adjusted display settings?

Your problems are caused because you must install the motherboard drivers that came with your computer. This should not only fix these problems but will probably improve overall performance. This installation of the motherboard software drivers is normally best done after installing Windows and before adding additional patches.

Opening photos from my camera takes ages

Q: I have a CF card which I put into my small card reader connected to computer. I want to see the thumbnails, it usually takes such a long time to open. Usually a couple of pictures appear or open on the card and then computer as if freezes. Other applications work properly at that time but CF card badly slows down as if having some problem. When it opens fully then only can I open other thumbnails. I got a new video card 128 DDR thought it will work properly and help the CF card to open properly but it also didn’t help. I thought usually this happens due to low video card memory or onboard video adapter. It seems it works same with my other CF cards and even when I connect a different device to read my card like Nikon Camera itself. I am sure there is no problem with the CF cards or reader or graphics. Something is wrong. Card usually takes about 5 minutes to open with 250 pictures. It seems as if it is frozen. Can you make some suggestions?

Such a slow response is certainly not due to the video card in your computer as even the slowest and cheapest cards will display 24 frames per second (fps) in most resolutions while the expensive cards will go way over 100 fps while you are only interested in viewing perhaps one image per second. A probable cause there may be some problem with that particular CF card such as it having faulty sectors and the software is retrying often. If your average image size is a modest 1 MB and you have 250 images then it will take come time to read all the images and then write the hidden database, Thumbs.db which can be several MB in size onto your card.

I suggest that you perform some tests to see how fast you can read and write to your CF card. Copy a large file, say at least 25 MB, several times to and from the CF and use a stopwatch to calculate the transfer speed. To find large files look in the C:\Windows\Installer folder.

A fast USB drive should be able to copy over 10 MB / Sec. My fastest averaged 13.7 MB /Sec. However, I have seen some average as low as 0.7 MB / Sec, or about 20 times slower.  This would reduce the five minutes to 15 seconds.

If your card’s transfer rate is below about 1 or 2 MB / Sec I suggest that you consider purchasing a new fast card. A fast card may cost a little bit more than a slow one, but not always. Even if it is a few dollars more, I still purchase the fast cards as this means my camera is ready to take the next shot much sooner and all transfers to the computer are faster.


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