The nonsense-free step-by-step guide to Y2K
assessment and remediation of the PC desktops
by Igor Sidorkin
Since you are here it is very unlikely that this is the first Y2K page you have visited. I assume you don’t want to read any more lame explanations describing Y2K, Y2K compliance and why are things the way they are. So, let’s get dirty.
Y2K affects all desktop users regardless of platform. The problems most likely to be encountered fall into these four main levels:
There are three more layers - the code layer, the data exchange layer and the legal layer, but they are out of our scope.
In search for better BIOS
It would be a good starting point on your journey to Y2K compliance to visit your manufacturer's web site to check your model's compliance status and the availability of a free BIOS upgrade. (Here and henceforth by saying 'manufacturer' I mean 'computer manufacturer' for brands and 'motherboard manufacturer' for clones.)
Even if your computer is new, even if you have no idea what BIOS is, and regardless of Y2K, you need to apply a new version if one is available. The reason is simple - your computer will work better.
To upgrade your BIOS you will, most likely, have to know your current computer's BIOS version, part number and release date. Usually this information appears at the bottom of your screen after power on, during memory count up. The PAUSE key should work at that point, so you can pause the screen to read the information. The part number also appears at the top of each BIOS Setup screen.
Unfortunately, in some cases, the manufacturer removes that information. If this information does not appear, try Microsoft Diagnostic Utility (MSD).
OK, now, I assume, you are back. You had your computer BIOS flashed, if available, and you know your hardware compliance status according to the manufacturer.
No matter what the manufacturer told you - test your computer yourself. You never know what they mean by saying 'your computer is compliant' because there is no standard definition and they never provide you with enough details. You will see that details matter and a simple 'yes/no' approach is not applicable here.
So, since we are going to start testing, you will need tools. Yes, you really do need these. You may have seen instructions to do it manually. Well, they are all wrong.
See more about that and other 'popular' mistakes and hoaxes you can run into reading about Y2K (coming soon).
OK, how do we get tools and, most importantly, are they trustworthy? Since there are about 100 utilities for Y2K hardware testing, another problem arises - the problem of choice. So, do we care to choose or do we pick the first one? What is the difference?
Apart from buggy ones, they all do the same (well, almost) simple tests - to check what RTC, BIOS and OS report when:
The real difference between testers is how they interpret test results and what kind of reading material they provide. Unfortunately, quite a few of them are full of nonsense at this point. See more about that and other 'popular' mistakes and hoaxes you can run into reading about Y2K (coming soon). BTW, If you want to know more about RTC, BIOS and the Y2K problems related to them, I recommend http://www.phoenix.com/year2000/.
But do not worry, I am not going to leave you with a frustrating page full of links to a couple of dozen applications to choose from. Quite the reverse, for your convenience, I have chosen three decent (and free!) RTC/BIOS testers. See which of them best suits your needs and get any of them here.
Here are short descriptions of each of them.
Rightime's Test2000 is a trustworthy tester and comes with very handy ViewCMOS utility. So, if you want to, you can see what is really happening with your computer's clocks at the most critical moments. Reading material at their site is very informative and support is prompt and knowledgeable. I'd recommend it for all types of users, especially for advanced ones.
Viasoft's Test and Fix is a reliable and free solution for most 'not-so-compliant' PCs. The 'Test' part is well designed and easiest to use of the three reviewed. The documentation is worth reading. The only drawback - it requires Windows 3.1 or better to run the setup program (of course, neither test nor fix part needs Windows but you could not get them without running Windows-based setup).
NSTL's YMARK2000 became, sort of, a standard tool for Y2K hardware testing and this is the main reason it is presented here. YMARK2000 comes from a reliable vendor and is recommended by PCY2000 alliance, so, it is a catch for brand-lovers, but keep this in mind - it comes with no support. On the other hand, one might say this is exactly the tool they want you to use to get fewer complaints, since YMARK2000's results interpretation is not 'aggressive'. I do not share this point of view but would not recommend this utility for general use anyway, because of the following. YMARK2000 can be used on systems which are 'Y2K-OK' (see cases 1 and 2 in 'Test results' section) to ensure Y2K compliance. However, if problem does exist, the utility does not tell you what exactly is going on, and, therefore, you cannot make an intelligent decision what to do. Moreover, the documentation (readme.txt file) is frequently misleading and incorrect.
It probably is hard to believe, considering the source and popularity of this utility, but unfortunately is very typical for desktop related Y2K material. Visit this page, which is about 'popular' mistakes and hoaxes you can run into reading about Y2K (coming soon).
* Some possible solutions are not included. That is because they are not free and do not add any valuable features.
This part is the easiest. Go to my download page and get Y2K and other important updates for your OS.
This may be the most difficult and time-consuming part of Y2K effort. Maybe not!
Y2K tools to deal with applications and data
Register and use McAfee 2000 ToolBox Online for free!
Symantec's Norton 2000 -
$29.95 plus $5.50 UPS Ground shipping (www.buypcsoft.com) or
|Updated: November 18, 1999||[Home]|