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Tech 101 | Tech Q&A

A Productive Outlook Can Make for a Fast Forward

March 08, 2001|DAVE WILSON | dave.wilson@latimes.com

Q: Sometimes I want to forward an e-mail I've received to my family by using the single family group I created in my Address Book, which has 10 names. I haven't been able to do this. One function seems to cancel out the other. I called my server, and their tech person said Outlook Express 5 doesn't allow such a function. Is this true?

A: Outlook Express does indeed allow users to set up simple distribution lists for outgoing mail. First, open your Address Book. In the toolbar, click on the New Group button. There's a box for "Group Name." Fill it in with something snappy, then click Select Members and click on a name from the list in the Address Book. Repeat as necessary. Hit the Select button to add selected names to the group. Click OK twice, and you should be set up properly. To look at a list of all your groups without wading through the Address Book listings, hit the View menu and choose Groups List.

If you're reading this and shaking your head because all we've done here is describe what you've been doing, it's possible that you've got some software corruption. Try reinstalling or upgrading Outlook Express.

Q: I have been running the scan disk and defrag maintenance programs for about two years. Lately, when I run the scan disk program, I get this message: "Scan disk has restarted 10 times because Windows or another program has been writing to this drive. Quitting some running programs might enable scan disk to finish sooner. Do you want to continue receiving this message?" I restart the computer and run the scan disk program but receive the same message. My operating system is Windows 95 revision 4.0.

A: For those who don't know what's going on: The hard drive doesn't always store all the data associated with a specific file in one place. Over time, data on a hard drive become diffused throughout the drive, which makes your system run slower and can put a bit more wear and tear on the drive. Defragmenting a hard drive puts data associated with specific files closer together on the hard drive, letting things run more efficiently.

Defragger programs often get confused if they're in the middle of rearranging the bits on a hard drive and a program also running on the computer suddenly looks at data on that drive. In your case, since this behavior started all of a sudden, we suspect that something installed recently is running in the background each time you restart your computer, unbeknownst to you.

The first thing you should do is scan your system with an updated anti-virus program to make sure nothing unsavory has taken up residence on your box without your consent. Assuming you get a clean bill of health, the next step is to check the start-up folder to make sure nothing has polluted it. If there's still no joy, then assume a program is starting up even though it's not in the start-up folder.

Faithful reader Sam Brunstein recently pointed us toward a free utility called Startup Cop, which is quite cool. It'll let you spot what's starting up, and, best of all, keep things from starting up. You can grab a copy at http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/pctech/content/18/08/ut1808.001.html.

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

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