Jewish World Review Sept. 8, 2003 / 11 Elul, 5763

Beastly size of 'swap thing' file shrinks, not dies; Is there a directory or list that rates 'Net services?; getting Hotmail to work in Microsoft Outlook 2000

By James Coates | (KRT) Q. For the preparation of a PowerPoint slideshow presentation, I copied a fair number of photographs from a professional magazine's home page onto my hard drive.

After finishing the presentation, I deleted all those files again. I now found out that a big .swp file was left on my computer that cannot be deleted, moved nor opened. I would appreciate some advice as to how to get rid of this leftover.

- Christian Roehr A. You have encountered a bit of the innards of the Windows operating system known as the swap file, thus the .swp ending, and it takes a bit of careful handling to do what you want, Mr. R.

Swap files date back into those dark corners of history (about five years ago) when computers had extremely limited memory and it was common to have a program or the data it held fill up every nook and cranny of random-access memory, thus bringing things to a standstill.

So when the memory chips fill up, the Windows operating system writes the contents of memory to the hard drive, making room for still more data in RAM. The data sent to the hard drive goes into a .swp file. That's why computers used to get so impossibly slow while handling more than one program - the computer was forced to access the swap file repeatedly to do its stuff.

This, by the way, is why computer speed can be far more dependent on having lots of memory than on having a fast Pentium-class microprocessor. That was the case particularly when PCs had 4 or 8 or maybe 16 megabytes of memory and sometimes much less. Now with 64 mb considered bare bones and 128 and even 512 mb of RAM commonplace, swap files are hardly ever needed.

But the process is available just in case, as happened to you that freaky day you jammed the works with photo data while preparing that business presentation in PowerPoint.

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Swap files cannot be deleted, but they can be made smaller, which should be all you need to do. In versions of Windows prior to Windows XP, the commands are in the System Control Panel and can be called up by right-clicking on the My Computer icon and picking Properties and then Performance in the tabs that pop up.

Under Performance, click on Virtual Memory and you get a set of options that includes switching virtual memory off or on, making it - and therefore the swap file - small. A rule of thumb is to set it to twice the amount of memory - 256 mb if you have 128 mb of RAM, or 128 if you have 64 and so on.

In Windows XP, look for the Advanced tab when right-clicking on the My Computer icon. Then click on the Settings button under Performance and pick Advanced in the next display.

Without preset limits, the swap file will just grow like Topsy, as you learned building that PowerPoint.

By the way, that must be some slide show if the artwork alone ate up your computer's entire set of resources during preparation.

Q. We are thinking of changing our Internet server. Is there a directory or list of Internet servers? How are they rated for giving service? Can you please advise or direct us in the right direction?

Andrew Spatafora A. There is, indeed, a list of Internet service providers nationwide. It is called, appropriately enough,, and I urge you to start there, Mr. S.

This huge Web site is run by Jupitermedia Corp., a leading Internet consultancy and provider of services for various networking needs.

The site lets you search by numerous criteria, including all the ISPs in a given state, country or just an area code. Searches can be honed further to find those who offer dial-up connections, DSL lines, cable modems and various wireless schemes.

The site also offers useful links to various services that one needs to conduct business online. In addition to companies that provide Internet access, also includes firms that will find and register domain names for a Web site, companies that will design the site for a fee and many other providers of services that Web page operators need.

This doesn't answer your question about finding comparative ratings based on customer satisfaction or other standards. In that area, I fear the Internet still is pretty much Wild West territory. At least with the list you can always find a new provider to hire after dropping your old one out of frustration.

Q. I've been trying for years to get my Microsoft Hotmail account to work in Microsoft Outlook 2000. Is there anyway to get them to work together, and if so, how?

Cliff Carbaugh

A. I can offer a partial workaround but no real fix, Mr. C.

Some background first:

Microsoft has included a new feature in consumer-oriented Outlook Express that permits users of Microsoft's own Hotmail Web-based e-mail service to send and receive messages using the sophisticated Outlook command set rather than the bulky, speed-challenged routines required when one tries to work with e-mail through the Web browser, as is the case with Hotmail. Sadly, Outlook 2000 does not have this built-in ability to handle what is called HTTP or browser-based e-mail.

I deal with this by creating a special Hotmail folder in Outlook 2000 and then assigning it to my Web page. I can then open Web e-mail, and cut and paste text from messages. I can even save each message as a separate HTML file. Click on File in Outlook, then click New and then New Folder. Call it Hotmail.

Then go to the new Hotmail folder in your folder list and give a right-click. Pick Properties and follow the prompts to point the folder to You can now open that folder to get your Hotmail messages. This is far from perfect, but it works.

Hotmail is pretty unsatisfactory for many users because it is slow and prone to the same kinds of glitches that occur whenever one has problems bringing up Web pages. Every note you read requires you to reload the whole Hotmail site; the same goes every time you send a message. Outlook e-mail is far better, whether it is from Outlook Express or business-strength Outlook proper.

So here's a second possibility:

You can use the Outlook Express that came with your Web browser software to handle that Hotmail account, then import the messages from Outlook Express to Outlook 2000. To do this, you use the import command under File in Outlook 2000. However, you cannot send messages from Outlook 2000 via Hotmail, just read them. But you can use Outlook Express to send stuff, and you will at least have all of your messages archived in Outlook 2000.

To set Outlook Express for Hotmail, click on Tools and then Accounts. Type a screen name and your address and change the settings in the next windows to HTTP instead of POP3 mail. In the next display, select Hotmail from the small pop-down box, and the software will access your Hotmail account and set up Outlook Express folders to use Hotmail in the future.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of rthis column by clicking here.


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