Answer Line

SAN FRANCISCO (03/03/2000) - I often need to free up room on my hard drive.

Could you provide me with a list of file types that I can delete without asking for trouble?

Peter Cortland, Wallingford, ConnecticutIn a word, yes. Because many deletable files are hidden, you must ferret them out by going to any open folder in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Explorer and selecting View*Options (or View*Folder Options or Tools*Folder Options). On the View tab, select Show all files, then click OK. Now use the Find tool (or Search Bar in Windows 2000) to begin your spring cleaning. To delete all the .bak files for example, select Start*Find*Files or Folders (or Start*Search*For Files or Folders), and in the Named (or 'Search for files named') field, type the extension exactly as you see it in Figure 1: *.bak. Click Find Now (or Search Now) and watch the deadbeats gather in the bottom pane. When the search is complete, click inside the file list pane, press -A (for Select All), then . All gone.

But before you start large-scale sweeping operations, here's some general advice about cleaning up your hard drive.

Leave new files alone: Even temporary files serve a purpose. Don't delete files dated today. Or, if you don't turn off your system each day, avoid deleting any temporary files created since you last booted up. They may still be in use.

Play it safe: If you're not sure whether it's safe to remove a file, move it to another folder or drive, or compress it into a .zip file. If you haven't missed it after three months, then delete it.

Uninstall unwanted programs: In Windows 9x, select Start*Settings*Control Panel. Double-click Add/Remove Programs. On the Install/Uninstall tab (or on the main pane in Win 2000), look for programs you no longer use. When you find one, select it and click Add/Remove (Remove in Win 2000). If you've upgraded Windows and are happy with the new version, go ahead and remove Old Windows 3.x and MS-DOS System Files and/or Delete Windows 98 Uninstall Information. Click the Windows Setup tab and then the Add/Remove Windows Components button, and uncheck any Windows features you don't want.

Clean out Internet files: It's astonishing how much garbage you pick up surfing the Web. In Internet Explorer, select Tools* Internet Options. On the General tab, click the Delete Files and Clear History buttons. In Navigator, open the Cache folder in your Netscape folder and delete all the icons in it. Note that when you delete cached files (as well as History archives), you may sacrifice some productivity, as some sites may take longer to load once the cached version has been zapped.

Use software to simplify the cleaning job:

I recommend Symantec's CleanSweep, which is available by itself or as part of Norton SystemWorks, a very comprehensive collection of utilities.

CleanSweep's Fast & Safe Cleanup feature is an excellent tool for finding the files you don't need. By default, it does not look for all the file types in my list, but you can click the Settings button to add them.

AUTOMATICALLY CHANGE YOUR SCREEN

WE HAVE A number of children's games on our computer. Each requires different resolutions and color settings, and I have to change them every time I start up the games. Can I set up my computer so that it changes the display settings before launching a program and returns to my standard settings afterwards?

Mark Leugner, Regina, Saskatchewan

You can set this up with MultiRes, a free program from EnTech Taiwan that you can download from FileWorld or from www.entechtaiwan.com.

MultiRes is similar to Microsoft's free PowerToy utility, QuickRes. It sits in the system tray, letting you quickly and easily change resolution and color depth on the fly without a system reboot. But MultiRes 1.14 or higher has some features QuickRes lacks, including command-line parameters that let you create shortcuts and batch files for setting a particular resolution or color depth.

The best solution for you, though, is a batch file that lets you run a program in one resolution and then return to the existing one. To create such a file, select Start*Programs*Accessories*Notepad. Once notepad is up, enter the following lines:start /w multires.exe /640,480,8start /w [Program you wish to launch]multires.exe /800,600,24clsThis sequence assumes that you want to run the program in 640 by 480 resolution with 256 colors, and that you normally work in 800 by 600 with 24-bit full color. Replace the text [Program you wish to launch] with the path and file name of the program you want to run in that mode, such as c:\disney\poohrtr\zpooh.exe. Make sure nothing, not even a return, follows cls.

Save this file with the .bat extension: pooh.bat, for example. Put it in a convenient place, like the desktop or a subfolder of C:\Windows\Start Menu.

Now, when you want to play the game, double-click on the batch file rather than on a shortcut.

But what about games that you start by inserting a CD-ROM? There's no way to automate those, but a variation on the batch file solution will help. Simply replace the second line with pause. Then you can run the batch file to change the resolution before inserting the CD-ROM and starting the game. When you're done playing, return to the DOS window running the batch file, press any key, and your default resolution returns.

MUST HAVE THAT DLL

I RECENTLY downloaded and tried to run a shareware program, but it gave me an error message stating that 'a required .DLL file, MSVBVM60.DLL was not found'.

How do I fix this?

Peter Tomasulo, via the Internet

A DLL file, or dynamic linked library, contains code that one or more programs may need to do their job. That message sometimes occurs when a DLL has been corrupted or accidentally deleted.

Try reinstalling the app or Windows again to see if that fixes the problem.

Relax--I'm not talking about wiping out your hard disk and reinstalling Windows anew, just installing Windows over itself, so corrupted files can be overwritten.

But in your case, the scenario isn't even that serious. The msvbvm60.dll file is the Visual Basic 6.0 runtime. You must have this file on your hard drive, preferably in the \Windows\System folder, to run any any program written in Visual Basic (and many shareware programs are).

Other versions of Visual Basic have their own runtimes, and depending on your shareware collection, you may need to install their specific DLLs. These include msvbvm50.dll (for Visual Basic 5), vb40016. dll or vb40032.dll (VB4), and vbrun300.dll (VB3).

These runtimes are all free. You can download them, complete with their installation programs, from FileWorld or from support.microsoft.com/support/ vbasic/runtime.asp.

You can find additional tips and files from this article at www.fileworld.com.

Send your questions to answer@pcworld.com. We pay $50 for published items.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes the syndicated humor column Gigglebytes.

CleanSweep

$40 list; 800/441-7234; www.symantec.comNorton SystemWorks(includes CleanSweep) $60 list; 800/441-7234; www.symantec.comPRODUCT INFO NO. 624Throw Away the Windows CDALTHOUGH YOUR Windows CD-ROM seems literally indispensable, there's no need to hold on to it. With a little preparation and the sacrifice of some hard drive space, you'll never need to hunt for this disc again. Just pop the CD-ROM into your drive for the last time and copy the \win98 (or \win95) folder to your hard drive. The next time that an installation tells you it can't find the Windows CD-ROM, click the Browse button and point to x:\WIN98 (where x: equals the drive on which you saved the Windows files).

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