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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Click Tips
Rob Freeman
By Rob Freeman
Click tip-ster

Rob Freeman, Click Online's very own Mr Fixit, troubleshoots your PC problems.

Much as we would like them to be, computers are not infallible, and they sometimes fail. Actually, they have an uncanny knack of failing just at the time you need them the most.

Gary Lowe, from Malsch, Germany, e-mailed us to say:

I've recently acquired a new hard disk drive. I've built it in but every time I try to connect it, I get the error: 'Hard disk failure. Please reboot'. Help! What should I do?

First question is, have you kept your receipt? Back to that in a moment.

You've not told me how computer literate you are, so apologies if I say something too simplistic.

Your HD has two connections, the data cable and the power cable, which is the shorter one. Make sure they are both plugged in properly, and they are both in the correct way.

Normally it is not possible to put them in the wrong way, because they have special mouldings and lugs, but just to be sure - one wire in the data cable will be a different colour, and this should always be the outermost cable.

The second thing to check is whether you can hear the motor inside the drive spinning when you turn the power to your computer on. If you cannot it could indicate a problem with your power cable.

Try using another one you know works, maybe by swapping it with your floppy disk drive power cable.

If you know someone with another computer, try it in that.

Finally, did you keep the receipt? Very occasionally you get a drive which fails. Send it back for a replacement.

Internet speeds are on the up across countries in Europe, and we are starting to get more emails from people considering switching from dial-up internet access to broadband.

Ian Gardner, from the United Kingdom, says:

I am considering going onto Broadband and was wondering which type of Modem would be best. Should I get a USB one or choose the Ethernet road. Which would provide the quickest system?

Neither would be quicker, because they would both run up to the speed of your broadband connection.

Nevertheless, there are other reasons for picking Ethernet over USB. It depends what your future plans are.

USB is good if you are only going to plug it into one computer at a time, but if you plan to share your internet connection among other computers then you might want to take a look at an Ethernet modem.

That way, you can plug other equipment and share things like printers.

If you want to have your own wireless network at some stage in the future, it is much easier to do with an Ethernet modem.

Les Rushbrook, from Stevenage, UK, contacted us asking:

I purchased an external hard drive so I could back up my computer's hard disk before loading XP Service Pack 2, which, I have been told, has a much higher risk of crashing than SP1. Is this true? Which type of format should I use, FAT32 or NTFS?

XP Service Pack 2 did have issues with preventing some software from working, but it is just as stable as the predecessor. Your decision should be about whether you will also be using that drive with other operating systems.

FAT32 and NTFS are just ways of writing data to your hard disc. A new NTFS partition will not be recognised by operating systems before Windows 2000, and some older versions of Windows NT may also have trouble.

If you only intend to run Windows XP, or Windows 2000 on your computer, then there should be no issue with changing.

NTFS can manage much larger disc partitions than FAT, which is limited to 32 GB. NTFS is also much better at recovering from crashes.

However, FAT partitions can sometimes run faster, particularly if you only have small files.

Converting should not damage your data, but it is a good idea to backup anyway. Also bear in mind that you can't go back to the previous system without reformatting the drive. There's more information about this issue under "related internet links" on the right-hand side of this page.

If you have any questions or queries, please visit "Contact us" (link on the top right-hand side of this page) to get in touch.

Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 2030, Sunday at 0430 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. A short version is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0645 and BBC One: Sunday at 0730 . Also BBC World.

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