David Anders,The Computer Guy, a freelance systems engineer in Seattle, WA.
Resolves computer problems, assists with production issues, designs and installs networks.
. Most applications and system components have a Preference File stored in System Folder: Preferences. This is the file that contains information on the custom settings available in the program or Control Panel.
. Because they are written to, or changed more often, the Preference Files have a higher incidence of corruption than most files. The damage, although crash-generating, can be subtle and difficult to diagnose.
. Almost all Preference Files will be recreated to the original default. This means that the entire Preferences Folder can be removed from the System Folder to diagnose a possible problem. The Preferences Folder will be recreated and most System components and programs will recreate the preferences as needed.
. Some older programs will not startup without a Preference File that is created at installation time.
. Corrupt System Preference Files can cause random or repeatable errors, bombs or freezes.
. Corrupt Application Preference Files can cause random OR repeatable errors, bombs or freezes within the affected application or system-wide.
Common Problem Preferences
. Finder preferences, Apple Menu Options preferences, LaserWriter 8 prefs, Appleshare Prep, File Sharing Folder, Users and Groups, and PC Exchange prefs.
Finding the Damaged File
. Disinfectant v3.71 (ftp://ftp.acns.nwu.edu/pub/disinfectant/ &endash; or online services) (free) is a virus protection utility that might find damaged Preference Files. NOTE: Disinfectant is no longer being updated.
. Other virus utilities may find the damaged file.
When it's not a damaged Preference File
. Having a stuffed (using Stuffit Deluxe) copy of your System Folder, or just specific components like the . Preferences Folder on your harddrive, makes the task of replacement easy. Just unstuff the System Folder or the Preferences Folder copy, move the current version into a different folder and place the unstuffed copies into the System Folder. Restart the computer.
. If you change the defaults of a program, once you get the preferences set, make a backup copy of that preference file. Replacing a damaged file will not require setting up the program to your liking over again.