Yesterday (Catch up). Read yesterday’s Tip of the Day to learn how to check if your system can handle that new program or download you want to install. Just use the scrolldown box to view the newsletter for 11/1/2005.
Before installing software, it’s a good idea to do an extra round of the usual maintenance tasks. Think of it like vacuuming the carpet before moving in a new couch. It’s going to be easier now than afterwards. In this case, it may also prevent some common annoying installation problems.
First, check that your antivirus and antispyware program definitions are current and scan your computer to make sure it’s clean. Following the carpet analogy, cleaning up the mess once the couch is in the room will only take longer. Of course, you’ll want to scan any download for viruses or spyware before opening or installing it.
Second, if you haven’t done so in the last week or so, run ScanDisk  for older Windows versions) and follow it up with Disk Defragment. This will make more disk space available and arrange it in larger, uninterrupted chunks.
Now that you have all the usual cleanup done, you’ll want to set a Restore Point. This way, if something goes wrong during the installation, you can tell your computer to put things back to the way they were in this squeaky clean moment. I wish I could set a “Cleaned up” restore point for my living room, but this is where the couch analogy falls apart.
To set a Restore Point, XP users can go to the Start menu, All Programs. In the Accessories group of programs, go to System Tools, and choose System Restore.
The System Restore Window will open. Choose Create a Restore Point and click Next to follow the Wizard through the process.
Give it a name that you will recognize later on, like preDownload1, replacing “Download1″ with the name of the program you’re installing.
You’re almost ready to start that installation. Power down and reboot your PC, and then turn off all your unnecessary running programs. I mean all of them, including all the programs in your startup menu  (ME and 2000 directions ) and your screensaver. Before removing items from the Startup menu, I’d recommend taking a notepad and writing down the file names of what had been running. This lets you put 1 or 2 of them right back in the starting lineup if you notice problems with other programs after your new installation. (There’s a tool that promises to make this a bit easier coming up in next week’s Download!)
To shut down your screensaver, right-click on your desktop and choose Properties. Under the Screen Saver tab, Choose None. Click Apply, then OK.
Finally, while you’re installing your new program, take the time to read each window of text carefully before clicking OK or making choices. I don’t want to tell you how many calls we get each week about easily-prevented installation problems. Usually, it’s someone who installed the extra demo or trial-period software rather than the official program they bought. Sometimes, they installed both but the intended program won’t open without the installation code for the demo software. So if you’re offered demo software along with a program, I’d suggest you only install the program you bought.
The other big cause for down-the-road problems is not writing down serial numbers or registration info exactly (case-sensitive, dashes or spaces, etc.) as you go. You may need them to re-install that program onto a new PC later, for example.
~ Chris Fisher