reformat question

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  #1  
Old 10-01-02, 06:08 AM
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Smile reformat question

I've been reading on reformatting a hard drive. There seem to be several ways preferred to do this.

My question is: do you need to reformat from dos, or can you reformat from the install disk?

I have learned, the hard way, to not reinstall Windows over Windows.

I haven't had trouble with popping in my installation (recover) disk and reformatting from there. Usually my problems come from upgrading browsers, or trying new browsers and messing up my IExplorer, etc. Or, am I wrong to think those are the problems? Is it because I'm trying to reformat from the install disk?

I am running an eMachines, 98se, no idea what Pentium I have (says intel celeron processor) so I am figuring a Pentium1.

I have discovered that I have better luck defraging the drive in safe mode. I would have problems after defraging in windows even after disabling everything running except for explorer before starting.

I would like to not have to reformat as much. I can't imagine that I'm such a careless user that I corrupt this thing as much as it wants me to think I do.

Kay
 
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  #2  
Old 10-01-02, 06:40 AM
Gary Tait
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I'd fdisk and re-format from dos.

A Celeron, is a budget Pentium II or III.
 
  #3  
Old 10-04-02, 07:44 PM
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Are you using the recovery CD that came with the PC or a standard 98 installation CD?
 
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Old 10-04-02, 07:48 PM
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The restore disk that came with the pc, emachines.

Kay
 
  #5  
Old 10-04-02, 10:06 PM
logjam
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Angry Damn, I HATE posting timeouts!

*sigh* Ok, I'll try again... you'd think I would know better by now.
Edit: blah, fixed scandisk/defrag switcharoo /rude timeout

1. What exactly is your computer doing that makes you think you need to reformat Kay?

2. What are you installing/upgrading before the problems start?

3. How do you think you are "messing up" your Internet Exploder?


Tips for running defrag...
- boot up your machine as normal (i.e. not to safe mode)
- exit from any programs you have running
- disable your screensaver
- see those little icons next to the clock in your taskbar? right-click on each one in turn and if the menu has an 'Exit' option, select it.
- what you just did was close down anything that might access your hard drive on it's own and thus confuse defrag
- now run scandisk (lives in the same place on your Start menu as defrag) with default options... you do not need to do a surface scan (it'll take forever)
- if scandisk isn't happy, let it run/rerun it until it is
- then close that and run defrag
- when defrag is finished, you can re-enable your screensaver and reboot your computer. it should now be happy, if not then you have other problems.
- Note that interrupting defrag is possible, but not recommended
 
  #6  
Old 10-05-02, 06:12 AM
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I think the biggest problem that happened to my machine was that I installed AOL to help another poster with some font adjustments. Come to find out, I had to make the adjustment to the AOL screen fonts through IE? I then uninstalled AOL. You don't have too much control over that do you?

IE started the 'buggy' stuff that I had updated to resolve (ex: back button causing freezes, etc). I tried repairing IE, that didn't solve any problems. I tried updating again, that didn't help since (duh) I didn't think about the fact the little folder on my computer called windows updates would tell MS that I already had the updates.

I have learned the IE6 is not for me. To go higher than 5.5 doesn't run well on my machine and there are too many problems. I am also learning that it is best to uninstall before reinstalling.

Some of my problems may be that my cpu fan was going out. I didn't realize this until I started getting those blue screens of death. I got a new one, and haven't had that particular problem again.

I defrag in safe mode simply because my cable modem is bad to kick itself back on during defrag. I close out everything in the taskbar, hit ctrl-alt-del just to make sure that nothing but explorer is running, yet on occassion the modem will kick itself back on and I forget to unplug it.

I have notice also that after my kids go to that stupid MTV.com deal to check posts, or that my one kids goes to this Dark Angel forum that my computer starts some strange behavior. When I left click on items showing in my quick start on the taskbar, it open the dialog box as though I've right clicked it. This only happens on the ones that are showing. I have the toolboar with no names, and pushed as far to the left as possible so that to access the icons not showing I have to click on the double arrows. Those left click perfectly. If I pull the taskbar (quick launch) out where all the icons are showing and try to left click one of them, then the dialog box shows up again. Also at this point, I cannot access my desktop, which is also a toolbar. It will open up, but when I run the mouse over anything there it freezes up. Eventually it will let go, but if I try again, same thing. I reboot, and then it solves the problem. At least until one of the kids goes to either of those two sites. I also run panicware and find at least two 'cookies' that are on my machine, and found 8 registry keys at one point that I removed. This forum board that my daughter goes to (Dark Angel I believe) leaves folders in my temporary internet folder that will not delete out using the disk clean-up utility. I have to manually delete these, and not by the regular means either. I cannot open these folders and see any files, even if I use the folder option of 'show all files'. I can get to them and delete them, but it is time consuming.

I do run PandaSoftware antivirus. It updates automatically every day. I run full virus scans once a week, and do my system maintenance (scan disk, disk cleanup, defrag), too.

One thing that I have a huge question on is: what would cause not a blue screen of death, but a black screen with dots spaced evenly one the screen. Looks like a piece of grid paper without the lines, only dots where they would intersect. That was a new one for me. What scared me is that it looks similar to the dot pattern of the (please excuse me since I do not know the names of these parts) piece that my cpu fan butts up to when I clip it on. Surely that is just a coincidence.

About a year after I purchased this machine (its now 3 yrs old), I blew a fuse in the power supply. Being an eMachine, the power supply is smaller and not available in stock at most computer stores (I mean the actually computer stores, not bestbuy or whatever and to ship it to eMachines would cost the shipping both ways, plus $50 repair fee). The shop told me they could order one for it, but it would be less expensive for me to purchase a new tower which included the supply ($50 for tower, better power supply, more bays). I did this, they measured everything carefully, and I swapped out the insides into the new case. The point of this statement is that they were surprised that the motherboard hadn't gone out. That the most common repair to an eMachine in their shop was due to the motherboard failing. I was told this at the first shop I went to, which then referred me to this second shop.

Could I simply be having motherboard problems, or even hard drive failure in the making? I'm not losing data until I reformat, and reinstall windows (I forget to do regular backups).

Sorry so long, thanks for the help!

Kay
 
  #7  
Old 10-05-02, 07:50 AM
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The recovery CD should give you the option to reformat the drive when you boot from it.
 
  #8  
Old 10-05-02, 11:24 AM
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*LoL* Could you post some more info please Kay, you weren't quite detailed enough.

Ok, where to begin....

AOHell is the spawn of Beelzebub and should be banished to the foul pits of the Netherworld whence it came. That's just my personal opinion of course.

It may not have uninstalled cleanly. You could go check the directory where it installed to and make sure it's all gone, the only other thing you could to would be search the registry for any AOHell droppings but I wouldn't recommend that.

You don't have to install Internet Exploder through Windows update, you can do it manually by going to Microsoft's website, downloading the executable for the version you want and running it. (the .exe is a self-extracting zip) Note that I don't advocate downloading .exe files except from a manufacturer's site or some other site you trust. (Even then a virus scan before running it can't hurt)

"I have learned the IE6 is not for me. To go higher than 5.5 doesn't run well on my machine and there are too many problems. I am also learning that it is best to uninstall before reinstalling."

Sage advice.

Your cable modem (or any kind of modem) should not interrupt defrag. This is worrying and at the risk of being paranoid, it almost sounds as if either someone else is accessing your machine or you have inadvertently installed a trojan horse. Cable Networks are notorious for being insecure and breeding grounds for zombie bots - programs that install via a trojan and can then use your machine to generate network traffic for nefarious purposes.

I've never heard of your anti-virus software before, but I would make sure that both the software is up to date as well as the virus definitions (McAfee for example updates both scan engine and defs) and run it on all your hard drives/partitions, telling it to check every single file - if it can't do that, ditch it and get one that can. You don't need to be quite that thorough normally - gonna take a long time to complete - but once in a while it doesn't hurt.

Next thing you should do is install a firewall - a piece of software that sits on your network connection and stops any traffic that you don't tell it to let through. I would recommend Zone Alarm... www.zonelabs.com There's a free version you can download and use indefinately. The only difference between that and the full version is that you can't tweak things manually - not a big deal for you.

ZoneAlarm works like this... When first installed, it assumes that no network traffic is allowed through. When a program it hasn't seen before tries to communicate across the Network, Zonealarm pops up a window telling you what it is and asking if that is okay this time, all the time or never. After spending a while training it, ZoneAlarm will run quite happily in the background, blocking unwanted traffic to and from your computer and only informing you when it encounters something new and isn't sure how to deal with it.

By the sound of it, you may want to keep an even closer eye on what your kids are doing online... The good thing about the internet is that it's full of every kind of information you can imagine... the bad thing about the internet is that it's full of every kind of information you can imagine. Y'dig?

Could be that they're hitting sites that are a bit less reputable &/or downloading files that could do funky things to your PC or simply changing settings they shouldn't. A little computer education from mom would probably serve well - in a few years, they'll be educating you. Meantime, having the computer in an open, family area is probably the best move you could make. You don't have to look over their shoulder, just the possibility that somebody could be watching them will make them think twice about going places that maybe they shouldn't.

I don't know what would cause a black screen, but I suspect foul play. Windows critical errors are always blue screen, with a description of the problem (which is of course useless to the average user). Black screen with dots... not good. Do that full system virus scan - every file, including compressed ones.. if you're virus software wont do that, it aint worth squat - and install a firewall. I wouldn't be surprised if you turned up something unpleasent.

I have to say, I am not an advocate of buying name brand computers...
- They use the same components as everyone else
- Except where they take shortcuts
- The build quality is not guaranteed to be any better at your local store and may even be worse (You can't drive down there and yell at the guy who assembled it and he knows that)
- If you do have problems, you have to ship it off to god knows where for god knows how long
- It isn't any cheaper than a good local store (often more expensive.. they have a lot of overhead and investors to please)
- That vaunted tech support may be okay, but I've heard too many horror stories. Again, bribe a friendly nerd with home cooking and he'll be in your back pocket.
- The best advice I can give anyone who's going to buy a PC is talk to a friendly computer nerd, bribe him with home cooking and get him to help you specify a machine and buy it from a local store. (the store can assemble it, you don't need to have him do that)

The PSU can take the motherboard with it when it blows but not necessarily. It's impossible to say whether you're having motherboard problems without trying another board in it's place. I had a scratch built P233 a few years back... it would run just fine until I got into playing a game, at which point it would reboot seemingly at random. Drove me NUTS. Turned out the problem was that the cache ram was unstable, but didn't really get exercised unless I was doing CPU intensive stuff like.. playing games.

If the thorough virus scan and firewall install don't solve your problems, I would suspect the motherboard.

On the subject of reformatting, you should always have a way to back up your data. There are several options available...
- Floppy disks are not viable these days
- 120Mb floppy drives would work (assuming they still make em.. haven't seen one in a while)
- Zip drives and their descendents/cousins/third uncles twice removed work
- CDR/W drives work
- My personal prefernce though is a second hard drive. Even an older (read smaller) hard drive allows you to create a copy of your data files at will and the chance of both drives dying at the same time is pretty darn slim.

Whatever your method, the one thing that will do most to make your task easier is keeping all of your data files in one place. I habitually keep everything under c:\data\... a throwback to my DOS6/Win3.x days. Since Windows95, Microsoft has given you a place to do that, 'My Documents' (c:\My Documents). If you save everything under there (e.g. c:\My Documents\Word, c:\My Documents\Artwork, C:\My Documents\Letters to aunt Hilda etc), all you have to back up is that directory. Everything else can be reconstructed after wiping and reinstalling. You can get smarter still by saving downloaded software and patches under another directory and backing up those also, but you could always re-download those.

Hope that helps.
 
  #9  
Old 10-05-02, 12:41 PM
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I will definitely try the approach of using my documents folder to its fullest extent. I am very disorganized on the computer. The only folder I keep up with is one called Downloads. Its on my desktop, and I've tried to be good to create a folder for each program I download, with a text file describing what the program is, and why on earth I downloaded it.

I currently have gotten off track and have my website that I'm building in 3 or 4 different places on the computer. Makes it hard when changing things around! I've spent the last couple of evenings trying to gather and organize it all.

I downloaded zonealarm. I had it before, and never reinstalled it. I don't know why, it came in handy before.

Kay
 
  #10  
Old 10-06-02, 06:32 AM
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You know that problem I had with those cookies in my temp internet files that I couldn't delete or see by normal means (I have my desktop in my taskbar so I can manuever through to windows and see everything)? Well, I just remember something {2000} posted for me awhile back and it worked!

He explained that there are some files that can only be removed from dos. You simply shell to DOS from windows and type the following commands, one at a time, type next command after the previous one is completed (will show prompt again):

deltree /y c:\windows\history
deltree /y c:\windows\tempor~1
deltree /y c:\windows\cookies
exit

All done. So simple and cleans them off.

Thanks again everyone and {{{{2000}}}} wherever you're hiding right now!

Kay
 
  #11  
Old 10-06-02, 10:59 AM
logjam
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Hmmm, well that works, but I wouldn't recommend using DOS commands, particularly 'deltree', without understanding exactly what they do.

'deltree /y c:\windows\history ' says delete everything in the c:\windows\history directory and everything below that and don't bother to ask me for confirmation (that's the '/y').
i.e. if you had a c:\windows\history\temp directory, that and everything in it would also be gone.

If you were to type 'deltree /y c:\windows' by mistake, you would wipe the operating system from your hard drive. You would only be able to boot from a floppy disk, try to backup your data and then reinstall Windows.

If all you want to do is delete cookies and temporary internet files, simply fire up Internet Explorer, go to 'Tools'->'Internet Options...' and on the |General| tab there is a section 'Temporary Internet Files' with two buttons [Delete Files...] (guess what that does ) and [Settings...] Below that is another section 'History' with a [Clear History] button.
 
  #12  
Old 10-06-02, 03:17 PM
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I tried to delete those cookies using the 'normal' method, the way you described above and it didn't work. {2000} did warn me to be extremely careful when doing this, and since the type user I am he felt that it was safe to use this method on my computer. I'm not a power user, and most of what I lose when I forget to backup is emails.

I keep the 'good' stuff (my records regarding the family) on the notebook which doesn't go online, nor does it crash like this one.

Another factor that I always have to consider is that I have too many cats at the moment. Momma had kittens before I could get her spayed and now I can't find homes for them. Lots of fur around here. I vaccuum and dust more than I care to mention but I realize with my tower sitting low in the desk that it is sucking it up as we speak. They don't chew on the cords (already had to do the replacements) since they are a little older now, and they rarely get behind the desk but...

Kay
 
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Old 10-06-02, 06:33 PM
logjam
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Yeah, you're right, that method deletes everything but the cookies. /rude Microsoft

You can change settings in explorer so that it shows you cookies... thing is, it will also show you other system files into the bargain and if you have little hands and inquiring minds that might delete those, you probably don't want to do that. I suppose you could change the setting, go delete cookies, then change it back again. It's not hard.

Of course you can also go on using the deltree command, I just wouldn't recommend showing that to less confident users... too easy to mess up a system.

"I keep the 'good' stuff (my records regarding the family) on the notebook which doesn't go online, nor does it crash like this one."

Oooh, you sneakeeee.

Just make sure you do have regular backups though, Notebooks tend to be more finicky than desktops and are harder to repair.

A lot of dust and cat hair will get sucked into the case and no, it isn't real good for it, but it would take a lot of accumulation to explain your problems I think* and it sounds like you're on top of it anyways.

* Most people never clean inside and their machines run for years, despite looking like the inside of vacuum cleaner.
 
  #14  
Old 10-06-02, 07:48 PM
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The solution to DOS input errors is provide a simple conditional batch file, and maybe a helpful hint.

Deltree deletes IE cache files as well as individual files. Mircosoft offers the same solution for corrupt cache files in Win98 online support.

Does "what if" input errors apply to creation of LNKs and PIFs, and the Run command box also or is the warning strictly a DOS command line thing.

I agree that understanding..., is better than being lead to a conclusion or an act, and that deltree is a destructive command. But the dire DOS warnings are really getting old. Especially when Win9xes, by design, are comprised of both DOS, (agreed, not the DOS of old), and Win tools.
 
  #15  
Old 10-06-02, 09:40 PM
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I guess I should have mentioned that you did have me create a batch file for this job so there would be minimal chance of error.


Kay
 
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Old 10-06-02, 10:16 PM
logjam
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"Does "what if" input errors apply to creation of LNKs and PIFs, and the Run command box also or is the warning strictly a DOS command line thing."

You asking me? Not sure off the top of my head, but Windows creates a DOS shell for DOS based programs, so presumably anything that would require user input at a DOS prompt would also require it if executed in a shell.
 
  #17  
Old 10-07-02, 05:08 AM
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Lnk is the extension of a shortcut to an executable, correct? What is a PIF? I vaguely remember something like that when I was learning to write 'mini' programs in DOS. An extension to make a dos program work in windows? Maybe windows to shell to dos so you could run it...?

Also, is the cpu fan suppose to run all the time? My power supply fan does, but I don't always notice the cpu fan running.

Kay
 

Last edited by kaybyrd; 10-07-02 at 05:26 AM.
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Old 10-07-02, 08:37 PM
logjam
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.lnk is the extension given to any 'Shortcut' that does NOT point to a DOS program... could be to an executable, could equally be to a text or graphics file.

The .lnk extension is hidden within Windows, unless you check the properties on the file, which is why I didn't recognize it right off the bat.

.pif is the extension given to any shortbut that DOES point to a DOS program. It contains additional configuration telling Windows how to handle the DOS program.

"Also, is the cpu fan suppose to run all the time? My power supply fan does, but I don't always notice the cpu fan running."

YES!!! If your CPU fan isn't running all the time, your CPU will very likely overheat, leading to funky lockups and reboots which is what you are experiencing. This is very bad and can lead to CPU damage over time. Check the connection to the fan is secure, if that doesn't do it, buy a new fan ASAP - they're dirt cheap ($10-20) - and by ASAP, I mean leave the machine turned off until you do.
 
  #19  
Old 10-08-02, 06:50 AM
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Some new machines will have a "smart" fan control, which means it will only turn on the CPU and sytem fan when needed. Sony and some HP machines come to mind. It doesn't really work on an Athlon, but it will work on a Pentium CPU as they are a bit better at consuming power.
 
  #20  
Old 10-08-02, 06:58 AM
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I just replaced the cpu fan last week. I purchased a better one this time. It connected up to the motherboard the same way the original one did, however, the fan before this hooked in to one of the power supply wiring sets.

As we know, there are many factors to problems on a computer and its hard to determine except through deductions. Yesterday, while vaccuuming I noticed that when I fired up the vac, the tv display flickered. Not just flickered, but you could tell that the vac sucked enough juice that it took away from the tv's source. Point of this: my computer is on the same run.

This brings to mind that the problems with the system occur mainly in the evening. This is when the kids and hubby are home. I have 3 wall runs in the whole house. It is becoming painfully obvious that I need to visit the electrical forums and work on lightening the load throughout the house. Possibly even running a dedicated line solely for the computer.

More than likely my system's power supply is fine, just not enough juice running to it all the time. It just can't compete with the tv. This makes sense because I didn't have this problem until I moved the computer from one room to this one - different run. Right now nothing but two alarm clocks and my system are running full force on it right now. I'm sure if I cranked the tv, vcr, dvd player and/or stereo I would not hear the cpu fan. What do you guys think? There are a mulititude of other things plugged in this run at the moment and they are pulling some power even though they're off.

I will work on this problem and post back as to what happens when I make the changes.

Kay
 
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Old 10-08-02, 09:58 PM
logjam
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"Some new machines will have a "smart" fan control, which means it will only turn on the CPU and sytem fan when needed."

Good point trinto, my lil' Athalon 800 doesn't have such luxuries, so I didn't think of that.

She said her CPU was a Celeron though... I wouldn't have thought anyone would put a smart fan on a Celeron.

"Yesterday, while vaccuuming I noticed that when I fired up the vac, the tv display flickered. Not just flickered, but you could tell that the vac sucked enough juice that it took away from the tv's source. Point of this: my computer is on the same run."

Oh suuuure, now you tell us.

The power drain could be a problem Kay.

I used to have a P166 that I overloaded - 2 HDDs and 2 CD-ROMs was a bit much for it's poor 230W PSU - and it ran just fine. In fact I didn't even realize it was overloaded until I took one of the CD-ROM drives out one day and it sounded.. healthier. Not quite the same situation I know, just an anecdote.

"I will work on this problem and post back as to what happens when I make the changes."

Good luck.
 
  #22  
Old 10-09-02, 05:42 AM
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I didn't mention the tv deal before because I never noticed it do that to the tv until I replaced the 19" with the 25" Monday afternoon.

I didn't think too much was on this run though. Not everything is running in here all the time. I will have to check and see what the current load is on the line. Will have to visit the electrical forum to figure that one out. No blown fuses, etc.

The CPU fan is running all the time now. I believe its constant since its always run since I've gotten the machine (until I had to replace it this time). The time before it had gotten loud and making funny noises so I replaced it, this time it just quit.

Kay
 
  #23  
Old 10-09-02, 07:09 AM
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As a possible solution you could use a UPS unit, the battery on the thing will regulate and provide a constant voltage to the computer. A dipping voltage will cause strange problems with PCs, especially if the unit's PS is already overloaded, or too small to begin with. A lower voltage means the unit needs more current to provide the same power, and if more current is not available, the output voltage will drop, which will cause errors, mainly with RAM and the CPU. That's why I always recommend the office (or the room where the computer is) to be on a dedicated breaker (20A). You'd be surprised how much power a system uses when you count the 3 cooling fans, the internal radiator called the Athlon, the 17" monitor, the 300W sound system, the DSL or cable modem, the router and a few other things.
 
  #24  
Old 10-09-02, 07:59 AM
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I was talking to my husband about calling an electricial out to run a dedicated line for the system. I know how to do the wiring, except at the box...and with the addition from the previous owners I'm not sure how to get the sucker from the box to the main part of the house.

Until I am sure we can afford it/do it, I will just have to find a place with a much lighter load, or maybe invest in the UPS unit.

Thanks guys!

Kay
 
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