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Computer/Technology FAQ

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 7,535 ✭✭✭ irlrobins

    This FAQ will be built up to provide answers to the most commonly asked questions on the Computer/Technology Forum. Please look here for a solution to your problem before posting a new thread. If you post a thread about a problem answered here it will be deleted.

    If you want any additions/deletions or modifications made, please PM one of the forum mods.

    1) Computer/Technology IRC Channel

    The Computers/Technology forum has a channel on IRC, Feel free to pop in and talk tech stuff or look for help.


    You have to download an IRC client like mirc for windows, X-Chat for Linux or Colloquy for Mac in order to join the channel. If you use firefox then the Chatzilla extension is very handy.

    If you have installed IRC, Click [URL="irc://"]here[/URL] or connect to and join

    2) How to I convert a Video/Audio in X format to Y format?

    To be honest there's no point in reinventing the wheel, so if you need help converting a media file from one format to another, your best bet is to go to Simply select the type of conversion you want to do and it will list a number of step by step guides on how to do this, including what software to use. Some guides require commercial software, others just use ones available for free.

    The guides also include how to burn video files to DVD.

    3) I can't play a media file I downloaded. I get sound but no picture or vice versa.

    The media file has probably encoded with a compression format. In order to play it you will need to install the correct codec. You can use aviCodec or GSpot to identify what codec you need. You can then download the codecs individually or download a codec pack that will install every codec you are ever likely to need.

    Alternatively you can install VLC Media Player which will play almost all media files without having to install any codecs separately.

    4) Why is Rambus RAM so expensive?

    RAMBUS Ram (RDRAM) is licensed by the RAMBUS Inc., so no other company manufacturers this type of RAM. It fits into the RIMM slot as opposed to the DIMM slot in most PCs today. RDRAM was brought in to replace SDRAM and to challenge DDR SDRAM. The memory chips themselves put out significantly more heat than SDRAM chips so heatsinks are needed on RIMM devices. It is very complex to manufacture and also costs a good deal more than SDRAM.

    5) Will my SATA II Drive work on my SATA I Motherboard?

    Soon after SATA's introduction, enhancements were made to the standard. A 3Gb/s signalling rate was added, offering up to twice the data throughput. To ensure seamless backward compatibility between older SATA and the newer faster SATA/3Gbs (SATA II) devices, the latter devices are required to support the original 1.5Gb/s (SATA I) rate . In practice, some older SATA systems that do not support SATA speed negotiation require the peripheral drive's speed be manually hardlimited to 150 MB/s with the use of a jumper for a 300 MB/s drive.

    6) How do I backup my DVDs?

    In most countries copyright laws allow the original purchaser/owner of a DVD to legally make one personal backup/copy for their own personal use. would like to stress that it is illegal to backup/copy a movie that you do not own (i.e. personally purchased). It is also illegal to backup/copy your own movie and give copies away.

    Some recommended applications to backup DVDs are:

    DVD Shrink
    Gordian Knot

    Any thread deemed to be asking how to copy/backup DVDs and breaking copyright in the process will be deleted and posters banned at the mods' discretion. This FAQ posting is your final warning.

    7) How do I install/reinstall Windows XP?

    This guide has good step by step instructions on how to install XP on your PC from scratch. Useful if you want to do a clean install.

    8) How do I download/save a YouTube or Google Video?

    If you use Firefox then this extension will save the video for you. (Saves as FLV. VLC Media player will play them back or you can convert. See FAQ No 2.) Otherwise, this prog will save them as avi or mpg. Alternatively this website does the same thing. This application will record Microsoft Streams.

    9) I get "Access Denied" when I try to open a folder

    This often occurs when you reinstall XP and try to access a backed up copy of My Docuements. The solution is to take Ownership of the files and folder. Read this Microsoft KB on how to do this. If you cannot see the Security tab, then you will have to goto Explorer->Tools->Folder Options->View and untick Simple File Sharing, apply and now you should get that tab in XP Pro. For XP Home edition, you will have to boot into safemode and have to login as Administrator to access the Security tab, because in XP Home this tab is not visible to standard users.

    10) How can I securely wipe the hard drive in my old PC before selling it on?

    To wipe your old HD to prevent a third party recovering personal information, you can use DBAN . You can also use Eraser to wipe sensitive data.

    11) I think I've been infected with a virus/malware/spyware. How can I tell for sure?

    HijackThis is a powerful utility that scans your registry and various other files for entries that are similar to
    what a Spyware or Hijacker program would leave behind. You must use extreme caution when having HijackThis fix any problems
    as there are many legitimate programs that will show up in the logfile as being harmful.

    CLICK HERE to download the HijackThis Installer:
    1. Save HJTInstall.exe to your desktop.
    2. Double-click on HJTInstall.exe to run the program.
    3. By default it will install to C:\Program Files\Trend Micro\HijackThis.
    4. Accept the license agreement by clicking the "I Accept" button.
    5. Click on the "Do a system scan and save a log file" button. It will scan and then ask you to save the log.
    6. Click "Save log" to save the log file and then the log will open in Notepad.
    7. Click on "Edit -> Select All" then click on "Edit -> Copy" to copy the entire contents of the log.
    8. Make a topic and paste the log in your post.
    9. Do NOT have HijackThis fix anything yet! Most of what it finds will be harmless or even required.

    Also take a good look at the following suggestions for malware prevention by reading Tony Klein’s article 'How Did I Get Infected In The First Place'

    (Thanks to ActorSeeksJob)

    Further help in relation to Virus and Malware can be found here


  • More and more questions with very little information are getting posted in these forums. Unfortunately, these are very difficult questions to answer without having to ask a lot of questions, when much of the information can be included in the original question.

    Search first
    You might be surprised by how common your problem or query is. Please at least take the time to look and see if your problem has been addressed before, before you ask again. If you do find a thread, and still have questions afterwards, please include a link to the thread you read.

    Help us help you

    In order to give you an accurate answer, we need all the information you can give us e.g. what make computer is it, what model, what operating system are you using, the name of the program running, etc.

    - e.g. I have a Dell Optiplex GX280 running Windows XP Service Pack 2.

    If you built or upgraded the machine yourself, please tell us what the part model is (e.g, it might be a Riva TNT2 if you're having a graphical problem). This will allow us to be able to look in the right places for information, ask better questions if we need more information, or perhaps someone has even had the same problem with the same stuff and can advise you.

    This applies just as much if you're asking about a program, e.g. tell us what the problem is, what the program is, what version you're using, what operating system its running on, etc.

    - e.g. I am having trouble opening PDF documents in Firefox 1.5. I have Acrobat Reader 7 installed.

    If you're talking about something on the screen, be as descriptive as you can. "There is a thing in the thing" is of no use to us. If its a dot, say its a dot. If its a circle, say circle. If you don't know what it is, say what it looks like.

    Report any errors you get

    If you have gotten an error message, please make a note of it and include it in the question. These errors are a very useful way to track down what the problem is.

    Tip: If you're using Windows and the error comes up in one of the standard "Ok"-style message boxes, you can press CTRL+C when the box is foremost on the screen, and it will copy all the text in the box. You can then paste this into the question.

    An example of a good post
    I am getting the following error when I try to log onto my computer: "The specified domain either does not exist or could not be contacted." Does anyone know what this means, and how to fix it? I am running Windows XP Service Pack 2.

    Prevention is the best cure

    Most of the common problem we see here (virii, spyware, etc) can be easily sorted by just taking care of your computer.

    First of all, get a virus scanner. Keep it up to date - preferably get one that will automatically update in the background.

    - Recommended:
    - avast!
    - AVG
    - Anti-Vir

    Second, get a couple of spyware scanners. Unlike virus scanners, it is advisable to get and maintain more than one of these programs. Unfortunatly, few of these applications automatically update, so you will have to be a little more vigilant with this.

    - Recommended:
    - Windows Defender
    - SpyBot
    - AdAware

    Using a firewall will help to make it difficult for programs to connect to your computer - out to another computer from yours - without you knowing about it and being able to stop it. The downside of this is that you will have to authorise programs you want to connect, but most of the time you can tell the program to remember it.

    - Recommended:
    - Kerio
    - SyGate
    - ZoneAlarm

    Next, make sure that your operating system is up to date. Most popular OSes these days come with automatic patching utilities, or at least a web page that you can get the latest updates from. Keeping your system up to date will help to close various holes that malware exploits, so even if you do get infected it will be unable to harm you.

    - Windows Update website | Using Microsoft Update
    - Updating OS X
    - Maintain and Administer your Ubuntu System

    (With thanks to Aidan Walsh)

This discussion has been closed.