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AutoPlay, Go Away

Ask the Doctor LogoI have an Acer laptop running Windows XP Professional SP2. When I plug in my USB drive, I get an “access denied” error. Accessing the drive through Windows Explorer doesn’t bring up the error.

—Thuy Tran

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

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Win7 Can't Find X-Fi

Ask the Doctor LogoI have an Intel Core i7-940 coupled with an Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard and 6GB of Super Talent DDR3/1333 memory. My OS is 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium with Creative’s X-Fi XtremeGamer soundcard. I bought an upgrade version of Windows 7 and ran the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor; it said my audio device was not compatible. I downloaded the new Creative drivers and still got the same message. I have looked all over the Internet for a fix and I see a lot of people having the same problems with X-Fi cards.

—William White

Read the Doctor's answer to William's question after the jump.

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Heat Freezes

Ask the Doctor LogoEvery time I play a game, I get the frozen-screen treatment—sometimes right away, sometimes a few hours in. I get a weird checkerboard pattern on the screen and I can’t Alt+F4, Ctrl-Alt-Del, or anything else but a hard restart to get back to Windows. I’m running 32-bit Windows Vista, an AMD Athlon 64 6000+, a Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X, 4GB Kingston Hyper-X RAM, and two 1TB hard drives, all inside an Antec Nine Hundred case. I’ve tried running with the side of the case off and a fan blowing on the card, even though with the case closed I get cool air out of the back, so I doubt heat is the issue. I’ve reinstalled video drivers countless times and the forums don’t seem to be much help since I haven’t seen a thread describing the same error I get.

—Chris

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Did I Miss the Bus?

Ask the Doctor LogoThe maximum supported bus speed on an Intel P55 motherboard is 1,333MHz, right? So I figured it would not be necessary to buy RAM that clocks beyond 1,333MHz. However, if I plan to overclock my memory, is it best to buy RAM rated for higher clock speeds, or does it not matter?

—Dany Nelson

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Power-Not-Good Signal

Ask the Doctor LogoI have been having an issue with the rig I built back in June. Occasionally, usually when I first boot in the morning, nothing happens when I press the power button. I have found that cycling the power strip and power supply, disconnecting and reconnecting the cord, or slapping the side of the case fixes the problem. I have also had some rare instances where the computer unexpectedly shuts down, as if it were unplugged. Since this is a relatively new rig, most of the parts (with the exception of the motherboard, which I purchased as an open-box item) are still under warranty. I just need to know what component might be at fault—I suspect the power supply or the motherboard.

—Scott Odle

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Graphics for Non-Gamers

Ask the Doctor LogoEven though I have absolutely no interest in computer games, I study Maximum PC for the best information on the best computer components. However, I have not been able to identify graphics cards that are best for graphics-editing applications such as Photoshop. The outstanding gaming graphics cards seem to consume too much power and too many dollars without much benefit for non-gaming applications. Can you recommend a good GPU for non-gaming graphics work?

—Wayne Godsey

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Hot Southern Night

Ask the Doctor LogoI recently had a number of issues with my PC. It seemed that my keyboard was sluggish, if not unresponsive. I also experienced some unusually slow hard drive response times now and then, and there have been times when my computer wouldn’t even boot (the BIOS doesn’t even recognize that my RAID 0 stripe is set up when I reboot). However, if I shut down the PC for a few minutes and then reboot, everything works fine.

I decided to give the insides a thorough dusting, and I discovered there was quite a large dust bunny lodged in my south-bridge chip fan, most likely preventing it from spinning. Since I’ve removed that dust bunny, I haven’t noticed any of the previously described issues with my computer. Could my problems really have been caused by the south-bridge fan not spinning? Could an overheated south-bridge chip cause issues like that, and eventually cripple a computer? I want to believe the answer is yes, but am I getting my hopes up? The system is an EVGA 680i LT board with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and 64-bit Windows 7.

—McKenna Spaeth

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Multiplier Math

Ask the Doctor LogoI built a computer a month ago that’s running Windows XP on a 2.6GHz Pentium 4 CPU. For some reason the computer thinks it is 1.3GHz. I’ve tried to change it in the BIOS but it will only let me overclock it to 1.54GHz.

—Daichi Tang

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Microsoft Security: Essential?

Ask the Doctor LogoAfter reading the Ultimate Malware Removal Guide, I have a question: Do you recommend using SuperAntiSpyware, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, and an antivirus program like Norton Internet Security, or is Microsoft Security Essentials a good enough antivirus/spyware/malware solution on its own?

—David Boerner

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Free Backup?

Ask the Doctor LogoI have Windows Vista on my desktop computer and I’m stuck on what to do about backing up my more than 500GB of videos and music. I’ve read that external is the way to go, but I’m a little iffy because of expense and the fact that the backup drive can crash. DVDs are not a bad idea, but it takes forever to back up that much data. I use these files every day and want easy access to them. The most reliable method, plus easiest to access, would be an online site, but that costs a lot of money. Please help me make a decision so I can install Windows 7 worry-free.

—Tony Fugate

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