Just a Bunch of Disks

Ask the Doctor LogoI have a small collection of PATA hard drives: 4.3GB, 15GB, 20GB, 40GB, and 160GB. All still function fine, even the 4.3GB, but I want to use them collectively for backup or as a server.

I use a 500GB hard drive in a single-drive Ximeta Network Direct Attached Storage device as my server (file access for all my networked PCs) and a second single 250GB NDAS for backup of three PCs (three equal partitions).

Do you have any solutions for these small drives? I’m not too familiar with RAID, if that’s an option, but I’m willing to learn about it, or maybe something like FreeNAS. The only conditions are low cost, low noise, and minimal heat output, as whatever is chosen may end up in my bedroom.

—Cassandra M.

Read the Doctor's advice for Cassandra after the jump.


Laptop Proc Upgrade

Ask the Doctor LogoI’m considering upgrading my laptop’s CPU but don’t know what to use as a replacement. My laptop is a Dell Latitude D820 with an Intel Core2 T5500. This CPU does not support virtualization, so I am looking to replace it with a CPU that does. How do I go about figuring out which CPUs go with my laptop motherboard? If I am going to void my (very expensive) warranty doing this, I want to be sure that I have the correct part.

—Anne Richley

Read the Doctor's advice for Anne after the jump.


Mystery Error at Line 544

Ask the Doctor LogoI love my PC, but it has just gone wacko! I keep getting this error on Windows XP: “Parser message: Value creation failed at line 544.”

I put my PC to sleep, but the message pops up repeatedly before it will sleep. Once it returns from sleep, the same message pops up five times, followed by the Classic startup screen. I don’t use the classic theme, but I couldn’t figure out what was going on so I just dismissed the error and kept playing the game I was playing. The next day the error was back. Help!

—Will English

Read the Doctor's advice for Will after the jump.


What's Rundll Running?

Ask the Doctor LogoI have Windows 7 and when I start a game like the Homeworld 2 demo, my processor refuses to go below 50 percent usage. When I look in the Task Manager the process called rundll32.exe is using 50 percent of the CPU cycles. I ran an Avast scan; there is no indication of a virus. I can fix this by suspending the task and the games run fine without the rundll32 task going. Any idea of why this is going on?


Read the Doctor's answer for Ian after the jump.


Reset Laptop BIOS Password

Ask the Doctor LogoI have an HP Pavilion zv5001us laptop that is about six years old. It has a Phoenix BIOS, if I remember correctly. Whenever I try to access the BIOS, the computer prompts me for a password. I forgot the password and don’t know how to get around it. Thanks.

—Vincent Gonzalez

Read the Doctor's advice for Vincent after the jump.


February 2010: How to Build a Crazy-Fast $647 PC

In the PDF archive of the February 2010 issue you can find:

  • Build a $647 PC
  • Closeup Look at Intel's Clarkdale CPU
  • Browser-based Game Roundup
  • Awesome Product Reviews, including the XFX Radeon HD 5970
  • Ask the Doctor
  • Best of the Best
  • How-to: Essential Firefox Tricks
  • And a whole lot more!

Click the "read more" link to download the PDF issue today!


January 2010: Best of 2009

In the PDF archive of the January 2010 issue you can find:

  • Best People, Events, and Products of 2009
  • ATI Videocard Roundup
  • How to Store Everything with FreeNAS
  • Awesome Product Reviews, including Falcon's Northwest Talon
  • Ask the Doctor
  • Best of the Best
  • How-to: Turn Your Laptop into a Wi-Fi Access Point
  • And a whole lot more!

Click the "read more" link to download the PDF issue today!