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The HelpDesk

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Q: In the olden days of DOS, I had a DOS copy program that would copy all files that had the archive bit turned on. After the copying, it would clear the bit to indicate that the file had been archived. And, of course, DOS would reset the archive bit to catch changes made in a file later.

I'm sure that Windows still maintains the archive bit, but I can't find a simple archive copy program like my old DOS buddy. I know there is a lot more sophisticated archive software available. But I really did like the simplicity of that old DOS copy program. Do you know where I can get something similar that runs under Windows 98?

D.W., Duncanville

A: I looked around at www.download.com, which is Cnet's archive of shareware, freeware and product demos. Look at the Utilities link and follow the link for Backup solutions. You will find 113 programs to try.

You can click each column's header to sort, so I clicked on the Downloads header, which put the most popular solutions at the top of the list. There are too many choices for me to make an educated decision, but the reason they are posted is for you to read about them, then download and try them out.

As for the archive bit, if your right-click on a file and choose Properties from the pop-up menu, there is an archive option with a check box next to it. I always wondered what that option was for - now I know.

Apparently in your DOS program, only files with the archive bit turned on were backed up. Perhaps this is the same in some Windows backup programs as well.

Q: I have a Macintosh Performa 6220CD. Its processor is a Power PC 603 at 75 MHz. It has 64 megabytes of RAM and a 1-gigabyte hard drive. I recently installed Mac OS 9. Now all processing seems incredibly slow. Never before has processing speed annoyed me on this machine, but now it does. Do you know of any way to alleviate this problem?

- T.K., Irving


A: I would look to see if virtual Memory is turned on.

Apple, by default, turns on virtual memory when you install or update an operating system.

Virtual memory is the operating system's way of using empty hard drive space as RAM when there isn't enough RAM for your computing needs.

Apple has always thought virtual memory is a good thing. I haven't always agreed.

Virtual memory should be your last alternative, such as when you need to open a large picture in Adobe Photoshop and you get "Out of Memory" messages.

Accessing the hard drive in place of RAM is about a jillion times slower. It can make your system crawl.

Apple has tweaked the virtual memory portion of the OS over the years, and it has gotten better - to the point of being usable. The key to the usability is faster Macs, with faster data paths on the motherboard, faster processors and faster hard drives. All this combines to make virtual memory a decent experience.

You, on the other hand, have a Mac that's at least 4 years old. It was fast many moons ago. Not that it's exactly ancient. If it works for you, then I say stay with it. But the older hardware might not be playing nice with the new operating system.

Go to the Apple menu and pull down to Control Panels and then to Memory. Click the button to turn virtual memory off, then reboot.

Also, look at the amount of RAM that the operating system is using. From the Apple menu, choose About This Computer and see how much RAM is being used.

It's not uncommon for a system to use more than 40MB for itself, leaving you not much to work with. I'd advise you to increase your RAM to 128MB, if not more.

Also, it might be time to get a bigger, faster hard drive.

But be advised that I looked at Web sites for the two biggest suppliers of Macintosh processor upgrades, Newer Technologies and Sonnet Technologies, and didn't find one for the 6200 series.

Q: I want to do more desktop publishing on a Dell Dimension 400 and need a scanner. The problem is that I want very good color photo quality and the ability to scan text as well. All the film scanners I have seen are totally dedicated to film and, at the high end, do a good job. Do I need two separate scanners for text and photos/slides? If so, is there enough room to plug both in? I don't want to break the bank either but want good quality pictures regardless.

D.C., Austin

A: There are flatbed scanners that)offer the option of transparency, or slide, adapters, but you aren't necessarily getting the best of both worlds. It's a matter of resolution.

When you say you want to do more desktop publishing, you need to think about your final output.

If you output to an inkjet printer, you will need less resolution than if you are having a service bureau output film for a glossy brochure.

Dedicated slide/negative scanners have a high optical resolution, starting at about 2,700 dots per inch all the way up to more than 4,000 dpi. This is because you must significantly enlarge the image you are scanning.

Flatbed scanners, especially those targeted at small-business users, have resolutions of 600 to 1,200 dpi. This limits the size of the scan and the final printed image.

Forget about those sub-$100 scanners you see aimed at home users - they simply don't have a transparency option.

Good flatbed scanners will cost between $200 and $500, depending on brand and resolution. A transparency adapter will add about $200.

Film scanners start at $800 for a model such as the 2,700-dpi Nikon Super CoolScan III.

Higher resolution models begin around $1,500.

As for connections, slide scanners generally use a SCSI (small computer serial interface) port. Flatbed scanners can use parallel, USB or SCSI ports.

SCSI is the fastest option and my personal favorite. A SCSI expansion card for your Dell will cost about $100. The card can connect up to seven devices by daisy chaining.

Buying an $800 slide scanner and a $300 flatbed scanner will set you back about $1,100 - not bad if you intend for them to help you make a living in desktop publishing.

Q: How much space do we need on our hard drive for home use? We use the computer for e-mail and writing letters. We plan to begin using our scanner soon.

- E.S., Enchanted Oaks, Texas

A: You need as much space as you can get. If you have an almost full hard disk, crashes occur more often. I'd be nervous with less than 10 percent of your hard drive free. To see how much free space you have, double-click on My Computer on your desktop, then right-click the C drive icon and choose Properties. You will see a pie chart of your drive.

Scanning is one of the biggest uses of free hard drive space. You will want several hundred free megabytes.

If your disk is almost full, consider adding a second hard drive. For under $200, you could add up to 20 gigabytes of storage. To avoid crashes from a full C drive, make the second drive your start-up disk (C drive) by using a copying utility such as PowerQuest's DriveCopy.
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