Q. When I boot up in Windows 95, I get the message that MRTRATE.DLL could not be found. What is the easiest way to get back this file?
A. Welcome to DLL hell. A DLL is a little bundle of code in the Windows operating system used by programs to trigger certain functions. DLL hell occurs when a Dynamic Link Library is damaged, deleted or somehow misplaced, usually during program installation or removal.
If that message started showing up after you deleted an unneeded program, you may not even need it. If you simply find the message annoying, try reinstalling the program you deleted to see if that resolves the issue. If you decide to uninstall again, make a copy of that DLL before uninstalling so you can slap it back in if the problem reappears. Other options include reinstalling Windows 95 or upgrading to Windows 98 or even Windows ME.
As always, make backups of critical data before attempting any analysis or repairs.
Although we can't recommend it, we've used the following technique in an emergency, and it turned out to be fairly functional. Go to another computer loaded with whatever version of Windows you're using, use the search function to locate the missing DLL on that hard drive, copy it onto a floppy and then insert that DLL into the proper place on your computer using the other computer's setup as a model.
And finally, there are several Web sites out there that help people obtain copies of DLLs via the Internet, including http://dllstar.hypermart.net and http://solo.abac.com/dllarchive/index.html. Some sites offer extensive assortments of various DLLs. Others function mostly as bulletin boards where people can request the DLL needed and other users will provide it.
Q. While attempting to upload Microsoft Word folders to http://www.idrive.com I noticed temp files being sent. When I checked my screen, there were more than 60 temp files loaded. I changed my view so that I could see all my hidden files. Every folder is crawling with these temp files. What gives? Can I delete these without inducing wrath from my system? Is there an easy way to delete them in one clean sweep?
A. Temporary files--which can be recognized by the ending ".tmp"--are created during the normal course of business when you're running a program. As their name implies, they're supposed to vanish when you close the program. Often, they don't.
Sometimes this is because of bad coding, but sometimes it's because the system crashed or the application froze up. In any event, any temporary file that's not in use can be deleted safely, but because the friendly geeks at Q&A labs are belt-and-suspender kind of guys, we recommend you make an extensive backup before doing so.
Here's a quick and dirty way to whack all files that end in ".tmp." First, shut down all programs running on your system; this includes items such as virus scanners and firewalls. Then go to the Start key in the lower left of the desktop and open the Find tool. Do a search for the file name "*.tmp" and give your box a minute to search through your hard disk.
Hit the Ctrl key and the "A" key simultaneously to define every file in the search box. Then press the Shift key and the Delete key simultaneously to send everything to the Recycle Bin.
Dave Wilson is The Times' personal technology columnist. Submit questions to Tech Q&A at firstname.lastname@example.org.