YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Tech 101 | Tech Q&A

Slow Computer Clock? Time for New Battery

February 22, 2001|DAVE WILSON |

Q: My clock has always kept correct time until last week, when it became slow. The computer is less than a year old. I have set the correct time on several occasions, but it still falls behind. The machine boots up with no problem.

A: The friendly geeks at Q&A labs normally suspect that a battery is dying when we hear that a computer's clock is suddenly running slow. A computer battery should be good for a couple of years at least, however, so this diagnosis is problematic in your case. But, since our other option is a recent software installation that's interfering with the clock and you didn't mention anything about it, we'll bet that the battery is bad.

Our advice is: Let somebody else fix this for you. Replacing the battery isn't really complicated, but it can leave your box completely hosed if you mess up.

If you want to try this yourself, we'll outline the basics for you. First, make extensive backups. Then unplug the box, and make sure you ground yourself to avoid any static discharge that could damage your components. Then pop the shell off the computer's case; you should see a battery--usually one of those flat, quarter-size jobs--anchored somewhere near the central processing unit.

Do not remove the battery yet!

Make sure the battery is in some sort of holder or is plugged into the board with a wire; if it's not obviously replaceable, contact the computer manufacturer. If the battery can be replaced, note the type of battery so you buy the right replacement.

Before cutting off your box from all power by removing the battery, you'll need to note the computer's settings. When your box starts, you'll probably see a little line on the screen that says something like: "Hit F2 to enter setup." Do so and go through every screen there. Using a pen and paper, write down every setting. This is critical; failure to do so will leave you with a very expensive paperweight.

Once all the settings have been noted, you can replace the battery. After that's done, you need to go back into setup first thing and make sure the configuration matches what you've written down. Make sure to save the settings, then continue with start-up. If everything works great, you're done; otherwise, it's a trip to the repair shop.

Q: How do you get rid of the icons that some programs feel they have the right to put on the lower-right corner of your taskbar?

A: We're going to reinterpret your question as: "How can I keep programs from launching when I start Windows 95?" We've done this because the icons reflect programs running on your system. You need to delete stuff you don't want launching from the start-up file. This can usually be found using the following path: C:WindowsStartMenuProgramsStartup.


Dave Wilson is The Times' personal technology columnist. Submit questions to Tech Q&A at

Los Angeles Times Articles