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Damaged System Files - How To
David Anders,The Computer Guy, a freelance systems engineer in Seattle, WA.
Resolves computer problems, assists with production issues, designs and installs networks.

The Basics
. System components can become damaged or corrupt. The System File, Finder, Chooser, and their associated preference files are most commonly affected.
. Resources (special capabilities or processes) are installed into the System File (such as a resource for a PCI network card - to enable access to a new port added with a Nubus or PCI card).
. If the hard drive directory is damaged, as a system is reinstalled, the System File, Finder, or other components can be corrupted..
. Some virus detection software can interfere with a system reinstall. The System File, Finder, or other components can be corrupted during install.
 
The Rules
. Keep your System disks or CDs safe - don't loan them out, keep them with your documentation.
. SAFETY FIRST - Before installing, updating, or reinstalling a System, check your hard drive with a utility (if problems are found - run the utility until it reports no problems found - crosscheck with another utility). Startup with a base system or with extensions off (shift key pressed during startup).
 
Symptoms
. Corrupt System Files can cause startup problems, display anomalies, and interupt process such as saving, opening and printing. These errors can be random or repeatable, and manifest as error messages, bombs or freezes.
 
Finding the Damaged File
. Process of Elimination - Start with a different System (on a Zip, CD or HD) if the problem is gone, chances are the System is corrupt.
. Disinfectant v3.71 (ftp://ftp.acns.nwu.edu/pub/disinfectant/ &endash; or online services) (free) is a virus protection utility that can find some damaged System Files. NOTE: Disinfectant is no longer being updated.
. Other virus utilities may find the damaged file.
. Norton Disk Doctor v4.0 (PPC only - v3.53 for 68xxx Macs) (www.symantec.com) ($100) occasionally will find damaged Preference Files.
. Conflict Catcher v8.03 (www.casadyg.com) ($80) has a routine to test System Components and preferences.
. TechTool v1.18 (www.micromat.com) (free) checks System Components.
. TechTool Pro v2.11 (www.micromat.com) ($150) may be able to find damage.
. MacMedic and Help! from Total Recall (www.recallusa.com) ($150) can often find damaged files.
. HINT: Some of the utilities will report a damaged System File when a resource has been added and does not conform to the file information that they use for comparison.
 
When it's not a damaged System File
. Allocate more memory to the problem application.
. Allocate more memory to your System, using Conflict Catcher or one of the freeware/shareware utilities.
. Look for an extensions conflict.
. Delete the affected program's Preference File.
 
Additional NOTES
. Having a stuffed (using Stuffit Deluxe) copy of your System Folder, or just specific components like the . System File, Finder. and Chooser, makes the task of replacement easy. Just unstuff the System Folder or the individual pieces, move the current version into a different folder and place the unstuffed copies into the System Folder. Restart the computer.

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