Originally created 02/12/99

Computer Guy: Putting new power in old Macs



Q: I read your column here in Idaho and I am sick and tired of you never seeming to mention Macs in your column. Last week you wrote about CPU upgrades. What's available for Macs in this field?

A: Apple has always had a reputation for making durable hardware, so it would make sense that there are thousands of Apple users yearning for more power from their old machines. There are several companies that produce upgrade kits that let you increase the CPU power of Macintosh Power PC systems. Before you go shopping, make sure you know the specific model of the computer you own and make sure it will work with what you buy.

The upgrade kits include: the MaxPower G3 from Newer Technologies www.newertech.com ($549); the G3 Power Jolt from Mactell www.mactell.com ($359); the Vpower G3233 from Vimage www.vimagestore.com ($389); and the Crescendo G3 from Sonnet Technologies www.sonnettech.com ($400).

I've never tested these myself. But I'm sure that trade magazines such as Mac World have reviews and many details about these upgrades.

Before you buy any of these products, however, please remember that many sages believe that the most cost-effective upgrade to a computer is to add memory. Only after you have more than the recommended amount should you consider upgrading your CPU.

Q: My son was installing a game from a CD-ROM and, in the middle of the process, he hit Ctrl-Alt-Del. Windows 95 is completely gone now. How can I get it back?

A: Too bad -- what your son did is like turning the lights off during a juggling act.

It is possible to reinstall Windows 95, although there is no guarantee that everything that was there will be there when you're finished.

First, dig up the floppy diskette that contains the driver software for your machine's CD-ROM drive. You'll need this to make the machine able to recognize that it's got a CD-ROM drive and to use it.

If you haven't followed the number one rule of preventative computing and kept a "boot disk," go to a friend's machine and make one. This is a floppy that contains the basic files a machine needs to start up. I suggest making one by going to My Computer, floppy A:, and format A: with system files. Then, search your friend's machine for a file named mscdex.exe and copy it onto your boot diskette.

Now, turn on your machine with the boot disk in the A: drive. Basic operating system files will load from the disk and the machine will start up. Then take that disk out and put in the disk with the drivers. Start the drivers running and follow the on-screen instructions for installing them. Then turn off the computer and start it up again, with the boot disk in the drive.

You're almost there now. Put in your Windows 95 CD, go to D: (this is the CD-ROM drive) and type "setup" to re-install Windows 95.

And be careful in the future with that Ctrl-Alt-Del.

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John Gilroy of Item Inc. can be reached in care of The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071-5302 or via e-mail at jgilroy@iteminc.com