Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Temp files


The post you are about to read (or skip, if you’re just blog hopping through) is on a computer/tech topic. If you find these boring, inane, or otherwise objectionable, feel free to skip today and come back tomorrow.

(That’s kinda like the warning on Karyn’s Blog on her “Freaky Friday” posts. Hers always entices people to read. I wonder if mine will...)

Twice in recent weeks I’ve been harassed by Windows’ propensity to create and save “Temp” files. These little beasts are supposed to help and enhance your computing experience, not hassle you.

What is the definition of “temp,” short for “temporary?” Something like “not permanent,” right? Or maybe, “only needed for a short time, and then disposable.”

Well, why doesn’t Windows clean its own house every now and then instead of making the user do it?

Okay, here are the stories:

1. Before my vacation trip I thought I might need access to a nationwide dial-up ISP in case I couldn’t find wireless access to the internet somewhere. As all you regular readers now know, that was a needless worry because wifi is almost everywhere. (Like the Visa commercial tagline — “It’s everywhere you want to be!”)

Not knowing that, I installed a cheap version of Copper.net on my laptop. The cost was $1.00 for the first 30 days. One dollar! Woo-Hoo! One of the features of Copper.net was “high-speed dial-up.” But what does THAT mean?

Well, it means that Copper.net displays pictures (graphics) from web pages at much lower resolution than they are designed to be displayed at. That means they are not clear, but fuzzy. But I didn’t know that.

All I knew was that pictures of many web sites were now fuzzy and pixellated, even using wifi and broadband (not even CONNECTED through Copper.net!) In fact, I uninstalled the Copper.net software completely, thinking that might be the cause. No change.

I did everything I could think of, including calling Copper.net’s tech support line. They were very nice, but assured me that once I had uninstalled their software it no longer had any influence or effect on my browser.

Long story short — they were wrong! Their software had installed a TEMPORARY FILE (!) in my Internet Explorer Temp folder, and it was still affecting all my browsing. Once I deleted the temp files, the problem was solved.

2. My friend Ruth recently got a new computer with 90 days of trial anti-virus software installed. Once that expired, she bought a copy of 2006 Norton Antivirus. I tried to talk her through the installation.

We had some problems the first attempt because something in the trial software was interfering with Norton. We uninstalled all the trial software and started over. Then Norton seemed to install properly, but it would never open and run!

We uninstalled and re-installed it about a dozen times, but we knew something was wrong because the software never asked for the security key. I gave up and searched the company’s (Symantec) web site.

Guess what I found.

Yup! When the first installation was interrupted by the other software, Norton had nonetheless installed some TEMPORARY FILES that interfered with future attempts to install it. Uninstall efforts had no effect on these temp files. The instructions from Norton explained how to delete all the temp files in the windows folder.

I’ve learned something from all this.

I USED to have a guaranteed fix for MOST computer problems. It was, simply, shut the damn thing off, wait a minute, and then re-boot. And it worked almost every time.

Now I know that the next step, if the first method fails, is to delete all those TEMPORARY FILES that are created (and sometimes corrupted), and then start over.

Hey! It works (most of the time)!


Karyn Lyndon said...

I'm with ya! Windows is like a third child the way you have to clean up after it...

And thanks for the link!

Jodi said...

I skimmed. Someone saying, "Don't read the following," is like me telling you not to think of an elephant. You're going to anyway...

So I skimmed the paragraphs about Windows and came to the last line, "It Works!"

So congrats, whatever you did :-)

Duke_of_Earle said...

Gee, Jodi, I think there's a lesson there for me. Next time I really want people to read a post I'll put a warning on the top that says, "Don't read this!"

Thanks for the tip. You made me laugh with your last line!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for being the ONLY source I could find discussing a fix for the annoying Copper.Net problem. I spent waaay too much time trying to track this down until I came across your post and cleaned it up. BTW even when you unistall Copper, it is still kind enough to leave its name in your Browser title --I had to sweep through the Registry to kill that by hand.