Windows Me too

Windows Me has some special system protection features that Microsoft is justly proud of. If a new program installation - or a careless tinkerer - deletes or overwrites any crucial system files, Windows Me will automatically restore them. There's also a rollback feature that will restore the system registry to working condition. When you're online, Windows Me will periodically check to see whether there are any system updates and will automatically install them (unless you turn the feature off). But again, other tools have some of these features, too.

Automatic updates

THE WINDOWS ME WAY: By default, Windows Me will automatically update your system when new versions of system components become available. This feature is controlled by a new Control Panel option called, self-evidently, Automatic Updates. If you're leery of such installations being done behind your back, you can click the Control Panel option and elect to confirm any new update before it's installed or you can turn off the automatic update altogether.

THE WINDOWS ME TOO WAY: Windows 98 won't automatically update your system, but it can notify you of any new, critical updates. The program that does this, intuitively called Critical Update Notification, is available at the Product Updates page at Microsoft's site. To download it, select the Start menu's Windows Update option. Click through to the Product Updates page, and check the box next to Windows Critical Update Notification. Click the Download button at the top of the page, and follow the instructions to download the new option. When you've finished, a small program will run in the background, checking for new updates whenever you're online and letting you know when critical ones appear.

Restoring after a damaged configuration

THE WINDOWS ME WAY: You installed a program you shouldn't have, and next thing you know, you can't run your Office software. Windows Me protects crucial DLLs and can help you roll back your Registry with two new features. One, the system file protection tool, is automatic. The other, System Restore, is at Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore.

THE WINDOWS ME TOO WAY: But there's more to a hard disk than a few DLLs and the Registry, so why doesn't Microsoft protect all that other stuff? We'll never know, but there are two commercial programs for Windows 95 and 98 that blow away Windows Me's features and can restore all of the overwritten or deleted files on your hard drive. Adaptec's GoBack 2.2 and PowerQuest's SecondChance have greater powers than Windows Me: They can roll back overwritten data files and even undo damage done by virus software. (Though no software will restore the damage done to your reputation if infected love e-mails are sent to your entire address book.) It's possible to download demos of either product for a trial period (GoBack for 30 days, SecondChance for 15 days), though each sells for around $US50.

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