TECH Q AND A: PC's registry is a dangerous thing to touch
Question: I performed some cleanup and updates on my wife's laptop, and obviously did something very wrong. I must have removed a file link from the PC's registry (a database that contains the settings and options for Windows) and ended up corrup...
Question: I performed some cleanup and updates on my wife's laptop, and obviously did something very wrong. I must have removed a file link from the PC's registry (a database that contains the settings and options for Windows) and ended up corrupting the ActiveX files (which enhance the viewing of some Web sites with Internet Explorer.) After trying to return the PC's settings to an earlier date with System Restore, trying to reload ActiveX and running a registry cleaner program, I gave up. What can I do?
Answer: You should be able to restore ActiveX by downloading a new copy of Internet Explorer 7 (for Windows XP) at tinyurl.com/yyeocc, or of Internet Explorer 8 (for Windows XP or Windows Vista) at tinyurl.com/c3alnl.
As you've discovered, it's risky to work with a PC's registry, because by changing it you can disrupt your PC's operations. In addition, you should know that ActiveX has its own set of benefits and risks. While some legitimate websites provide you with "ActiveX controls" -- blocks of computer code that improve website viewing -- hackers have used ActiveX to download malicious software to PCs. For Microsoft's explanation of the benefits and risks, see tinyurl.com/yb98asu.
Q: After reading your column about adding RAM memory to an older laptop, I wonder if I should upgrade my Toshiba Satellite M35X by adding another 512 MB of RAM. It has two memory slots; one has a 512 MB memory module. Also, my battery life is about 30 minutes with each use; would a replacement battery improve that?
A: Your laptop can be upgraded to a maximum of 2 gigabytes of memory, which would be better than upgrading it to 1 gigabyte considering that new laptops typically come with 3 gigabytes or more.
Upgrading to 2 gigabytes would require purchasing two 1-gigabyte memory modules at a total cost of $106. Alternatively, you could upgrade to 1 gigabyte of memory by adding one 512-megabyte module for $27. See tinyurl.com/yahvdm3. Your battery is wearing out; when new, its life was about four hours. A refurbished battery can be bought online for about $50. See tinyurl.com/y94f98j.
The question you have to answer is whether you'd be better off buying a new basic laptop for less than $400 or upgrading the PC you have for as much as $150. In general, it's difficult to satisfactorily modernize an old computer because, besides lacking RAM, it typically has a slow processor chip and a small-capacity disk drive.