How to Bring Old Apps to a New Computer

"I'm planning to buy a new computer. I've customized my apps quite a bit over the years. How do I transfer these configurations to my new PC?"

-- Arthur R. Manuel

Ouderkerk aan den Ijssel, Netherlands

Windows programs store configuration information all over the hard drive, making it tricky to find them. I'll give you general advice about moving applications, plus specific instructions for Microsoft Office 97 and 2000.

When you install an updated version of an application onto your new computer, first install the old version (the one on the old computer), follow the steps below, and then upgrade the application on the new computer. If the new version is already on the new computer, upgrade the old computer with it first, then follow the steps below.

Most Windows apps store configuration data in the Registry. Launch the Registry Editor by selecting Start*Run, typing regedit, and pressing . Navigate in the left pane to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software. Find and open the folder for the application's vendor (Microsoft, Lotus or whatever). Within this folder, click the folder for the program--for example, HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office. Now select Registry*Export Registry File. Save the file to a temporary folder or a floppy, naming it after the app you are moving. Be sure to retain the .reg extension.

Windows programs do not invariably store all configurations in the Registry.

Important settings could hide almost anywhere on your hard disk. Let's look at the files and locales that you'd need for Microsoft Office configurations.

Office 97: From C:\Windows, copy user.acl, powerpnt.pcb, and any files with an .xlb or .cag extension. Then copy every .dic file in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office, and all of the files in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates.

Office 2000: The configuration files are stored in C:\Windows\Application Data\Microsoft and its subfolders.

Other applications: After launching an app, change your configuration -- select new options, change a toolbar, create a macro and so forth. When you finish, exit the application. Select Start*Find*Files or Folders. On the Name & Location tab, make sure that your hard drive is selected in the 'Look in' field. Click the Date tab, select during the previous 1 day(s), and then click Find Now. When the search is done, maximize the Find window and click the Modified column header. The files that have been changed in the last few minutes -- with the exceptions of user.dat and system.dat -- are the ones you'll need to back up.

Don't move any installation files to the new computer until the applications are installed onto it. To add an application's old Registry configuration to a new installation, launch Regedit. Select Registry*Import Registry File, and load the .reg file from the floppy disk. For the rest of the configuration, simply copy the files from the old PC into the same location on the new one, copying over any existing files with the same names.

A Monitor Without a Driver

"I have an old monitor with no drivers available. I'm running it with one of Windows' default drivers, but I can't set the refresh rate. How can I set a monitor's refresh rate without a driver for that particular monitor?"

-- Steven Talbott, Plano, Texas

The easiest tool for this job is MultiRes, a free program available from EnTech Taiwan (you can find MultiRes at, or download it from FileWorld). When you launch the program, it puts a resolution-changing icon into your system tray.

To change the refresh rate, click that icon, then select Refresh rate and the desired rate. MultiRes plays it safe: After it changes the setting, the program asks for confirmation. If you don't provide it -- perhaps your monitor is now unreadable -- it returns to the original setting so that your monitor works again. The change remains after you reboot, even if you don't run MultiRes.

Where Does All the Memory Go?

"A benchmark program indicated that with no programs running, Windows is using nearly 70M bytes of my physical memory. How is that possible?"

-- Robert Seyler, Dracut, Massachusetts

You'd be amazed how many programs are actually running when all you've done is boot up Windows (a memory hog in its own right). Every hardware driver, plus every program displayed in your system tray is using memory. What's more, many applications launch unbeknownst to you when Windows starts. In the case of an antivirus program, which must vigilantly guard against incoming infections, this makes sense. But other programs that you don't necessarily need may be running in the background, all taking up memory.

There are some things you can do to increase available RAM. Look at your system tray to see if there's anything you don't need. Most applications have some way to turn off the autoloading modules. And Windows 98 has a central control that lets you specify which programs start with Windows: Select Start*Programs*Accessories*System Tools*System Information. Select Tools*System Configuration Utility. Click the Startup tab and click (or uncheck) next to the applications that you don't wish to load at start-up.

How Many Bad Clusters Are Too Many?

"Both Scandisk and Norton Disk Doctor told me my hard drive was accumulating bad sectors. At one point this drive, which is less than a year old, had 229,376 unusable bytes. I reformatted and got the number down to 57,344 bad bytes. I've heard that every hard drive has bad sectors, but what's an acceptable total?"

-- Kevin Dooley, Morris Plains, New JerseyIf your hard drive is reporting any bad sectors (and I do mean bad sectors, not lost clusters or any other problem), replace it immediately. And if it's under warranty, make sure the manufacturer pays for that replacement.

Yes, all hard drives have bad sectors. But with today's drives, you should never see them. Modern drives are built with spare sectors that it can use to transparently replace the bad ones. If ScanDisk reports a bad sector, it means the drive has so many that it's run out of spares.

But why did the number of bad sectors shrink when you reformatted your drive? A borderline sector could go either way, appearing bad one day and good the next.

When Format found sectors previously marked as bad to be good, it did not do you any favors -- a borderline sector is still a dangerous place to put your data.

Clean Up the Context Menu

"After uninstalling an old antivirus program, I find that it still pops up as an option when I right-click a file. (Of course, the option doesn't actually do anything.) How do I get rid of the option on that menu?"

-- Don Cauble, Portland, Oregon

If an unwanted option appears on the pop-up menu of every file you right-click, you will have to edit the Registry to remove that option. That means you'll have to back up the Registry first: In any folder, select View*Options (or View*Folder Options). Click the View tab. Select Show all files, and then click OK. Open the Windows folder and find the files user.dat and system.dat.

Right-drag these files to another folder, selecting Copy Here on the pop-up menu.

Now launch Regedit. In the left pane, navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers, and click the folder's plus sign to view its folders. Still in the left pane, delete the folder below ContextMenuHandlers that's named for the program you want removed.

A Good Start with Outlook

Do you use Outlook as a calendar or an address book but not as an e-mail program? Then tell it to launch without the Inbox view. To change this setting in Outlook 97, select Tools*Options and click the General tab. In Outlook 98 or 2000, select Tools*Options, click the Other tab, then the Advanced Options button. There you'll find a 'Startup in this folder' pull-down menu from which you can select the start-up view that's best for you. Click OK (twice in 98 or 2000) to return to Outlook.

(Find files from this article at Send your questions to We pay $50 for published items. Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes the syndicated column Gigglebytes.)

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