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Q) I'm having a problem with my Compaq PC. What information should I include
in my post that might help others offer possible solutions.
A) Include the following:
1. The model of Compaq PC/notebook in question, i.e., Presario 4090US.
2. Detail the problem. Be specific. Saying "it stopped working" gives us
little to go on.
2. Is it in the original hardware configuration or have upgrades been
installed? If yes, what upgrades?
3. Is the original operating system installed? Which one? If not, what OS
4. What error messages, if any, accompany the problem?
5. Was any hardware or software update installed just prior to the problem
arising? If so, what?
6. Please list any troubleshooting steps you have already taken and what
effect, if any, they had.
Q) How do I enter the BIOS on my Presario?
A) Normally, hitting F10 at the Compaq logo (cursor to upper right corner)
at bootup. If this does not work, it means you have an earlier model, 1996
or earlier, that retains Setup info on a small non-DOS partition at the
front of the hard drive, not in ROM, and this partition is damaged or
missing. Most Commercial desktops/notebooks (DeskPros, Prolineas,
Armadas/Elites, etc.) also have this partition. If this is the case, go
Select your model desktop or notebook and download the Softpaq for Computer
Setup. Run this SoftPaq and it will create a boot floppy from which you can
enter the BIOS. You might want to download the Personal Computer Diagnostics
SoftPaq as well.
Q) Should I update my Presario BIOS?
A) Not unless the BIOS update lists an enhancement or fix that applies to
your system and its current status. Most Compaq flash BIOS updates list the
enhancements/fixes included in the update. If it doesn't mention your model
and a fix or enhancement you need, don't update. In other words, "if it
ain't broke, don't try to fix it." BIOS updating can involve some risk,
even if it is the correct flash update for your model. A power "blip" or
surge can interrupt the flash process, rendering your PC unbootable. This is
one of many reasons that experienced PC users swear by the Uninterruptable
Power Supply or UPS. These are not very expensive (they start at under $100)
and also are far better than most surge protectors.
Q) Can I disable the onboard video/audio on my Presario and install
A) Yes. As for video, installing the new card normally will disable the
onboard video. Sometimes, you may have to reset your video to Standard VGA
in Device Manager in Windows first, then shut down and install the PCI video
card. On Presarios with an AGP slot, this is not necessary. The onboard
audio is disabled in Windows device manager, then shut down and install the
PCI audio card, reboot and install the drivers.
Q) How do I get QuickRestore Discs for my Presario?
A) In the U.S., call 800-841-2761 or use the Link at the front of the FAQ.
Have your model number or serial number (it's usually on a white barcode
sticker on the back or side of the PC).The cost is $10 for the discs.
Outside the U.S., contact Compaq support in your region for more info.
Q) How can I reinstall my audio (or video, modem, etc.) driver or specific
software without doing a full restore?
A) Most newer model Presarios have a Selective Restore Option. Double click
on the Compaq Support desktop icon, or select it from the menu. Select
QuickRestore, then Selective Restore. you can then select which driver(s) or
software you wish to reinstall.
NOTE: If you have upgraded the operating system or if the Compressed Compaq
folders (CPQDRV, etc.) on the System Save partition have been deleted, or if
the Presario model is an older one without Selective Restore, the above may
not apply. In this case, check the website link above to see if the driver
is there for your model and OS. For software, go into the icons directory on
the QuickRestore CD and and open each image. Once you find the image for the
software you wish to reinstall, then the file name is the directory name of
the software install directory.
That said, some of the programs are not separately installable.
Q) Why does my Windows 98/SE/Millenium PC seem to lock up more than my newer
Windows XP Presario?
A) Other than hardware issues or software incompatibilities, the chief cause
of lockups in Win 9X PCs is low system resources. Regardless of the amount
of RAM in your PC, Win 9X allocates a small block of memory (normally 128K)
for system resources. Each application or utility that loads takes a small
chunk of this finite amount. Better written apps will release the resources
when you close them, but not all apps are well-written and do not release
the system resources they were using or release only part of the amount. So,
over the day, Windows system resources slowly dwindle away. When they drop
to around 50%, slowdowns and lockups are far more likely to occur. There are
a couple of steps you can take to help the resource issue. First, make sure
your startup resource level is as high as possible. Out of the box, some
Presarios load so much "junk" at bootup, the startup resource figure is on
the 75% range. Too low. A "clean" setup will start out in the 85-90% range.
With only Explorer, Systray and Task Manager loading at bootup, 94-96% is
possible. To check startup resource levels, right click on My Computer and
select Properties, then the Performance tab. You can see what is loading at
bootup by clicking on Start/Run and type msconfig, then click OK and go to
the startup tab. What items are "musts" and which are unnecessary varies
from PC to PC. You can try unchecking all but Explorer, Systray and Task
Manager, then reboot and see how this affects startup resources. You can
always go back and recheck those items you do want to load. Windows
NT/2000/XP do not have these resource issues, leading to more stable
Q) I've installed a new hard disk (or CD-ROM/DVD drive) in my
Presario/DeskPro etc., and it is not recognized. Why?
A) Compaqs come with Cable Select IDE cables. Any drive attached to them
must be jumpered CS for Cable Select. You will also have to partition (using
FDISK) and format the drive before it will be recognized.
Q) I've installed a new 80 GB hard drive in my older Presario, but only 8
GB is recognized. Where is the other 72GB?
A) Unfortunately, many older Presarios ( Pre-1996) have an 8GB hard drive
size limit in BIOS. There are no BIOS upgrades from Compaq to raise this
limit, however, there are two ways to overcome the limit:
1. The best way is to install a PCI IDE controller card with its own BIOS.
These cards are not expensive, less than $50, and also allow full ATA100/133
transfers as well. Promise and SIIG both offer these cards.
2. the other way is to install BIOS overlay software, available from the
hard drive manufacturer's website. This method will slow down drive
Q) Can I put a different motherboard in my Presario?
A) Yes, but not really. The problems would be many, including:
1. Physical layout. Finding one with the same Input/output connector layout
at the back would be very difficult.
2. Onboard connectors. The front panel wires for the onn/off switch and hard
disk/power LEDs go to a single connector designed to fit the pins on the
current board. So, unless you feel comfortable cracking connectors or
re-splicing wires, don't try it.
3. Power Supply connectors on earlier models may be proprietary.
So, generally speaking for most users, the board is NOT easily upgradeable.
Q) How do I prevent getting Blue Screens or freezeups while using the Compaq
A) Look for a file named SCSI1HLP.VXD(or SCSIHLP.VXD) in the
Windows\system\iosubsys directory. If there, rename it toSCSI1HLP.OLD, then
Q) Is there a different or later BIOS for my Compaq that allows more
A) The only BIOS updates that are safe for your Compaq are those listed for
your specific model on the Compaq/HP website. Occasionally, a BIOS update
from Compaq will provide new settings, but not as a general rule. Installing
any other is risky and may render your Compaq unbootable.
Q) Is my Compaq Compatible with Windows XP?
A) There is a compatibility app on the MS site. It attempts to examine all
installed hardware and software and to let you know if you might have a
problem. It's fairly conservative and may warn about things that might later
prove to be trouble-free.
Also check to see if the Compaq website has XP drivers posted for your
Q) How can i uninstall MSN Messenger on my Windows XP Compaq? It does not
show up in Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs, Windows Components.
A) To make it visible, you first must make a slight change in Sysoc.inf in
the C:\Windows\Inf directory. The line now reads:
make it read:
In other words remove "hide" from the line. Then be sure to save the file,
exit notepad, then go to control panel and it will be visible so you can
uncheck the box to uninstall it, which merely removes the entries for it
from the registry. It does not remove the folder from C:\Program files. You
can always reinstall by going back to Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs,
Windows Components and rechecking the box.
Q) My Presario came with Windows Millenium installed. I tried to upgrade to
XP Pro by booting from the XP install disk. It booted ok and started the
install. It formated the harddrive to fat32, copied files and tried to
reboot to continue the install. But when it tries to boot from the harddrive
it stops with an "NTLDR not found" error. Now what do I do?
A) Try this article link from Microsoft:
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