Q I am having trouble with my HP Mini 311, which is a netbook (a small laptop) that has no DVD drive. Can I load Windows XP from a DVD disk to a USB drive, and then install it on the Mini that way?
JACK BUSH, OTTAWA
A No, you can't copy Windows XP to a flash drive and then install it on another PC. Microsoft prevents Windows from doing this as an anti-piracy measure. That leaves you with two choices.
You can buy an external DVD drive for your HP Mini and load Windows XP that way. Note that if you already have installed your copy of XP on another PC, you won't be able to load it onto the netbook, too. You'd have to buy another copy. And, because Microsoft no longer markets XP, you'd have to buy it from an authorized reseller. Just search online for "Windows XP reseller".)
Or you can download and install an electronic copy of Windows 7 from Microsoft, since you don't need a DVD drive to do that.
But, before you go to the expense of replacing Windows on your netbook, check your computer's behavior against the warning signs that your hard disk drive may be failing. Those signs include PC slow-downs, repetitive clicking sounds or files that won't open or are corrupted (see tinyurl.com/anfddds). If your disk drive is going bad, replace it and then install Windows on the new hard drive using the external DVD drive method above.
Q My PC keeps receiving an error message with the name "0x800cc0d." Is there a utility program to fix this, or is there another way?
LINDA BUSING, NAPLES, FLA.
A That particular error message means your computer can't find an Internet server, and it's typically caused by a problem with your e-mail settings. However, you and I have exchanged e-mail, so that's obviously not your problem. You should contact Comcast, your Internet service provider, and ask why you're receiving a server-related error message.
Q About a year ago, you wrote that it's possible to access another PC over the Internet (see tinyurl.com/bf64h7y). I want to access my work PC from my home PC. Is that possible?
RAKESH GUPTA, DORAL, FLA.
A Maybe. The software I mentioned only works if you can control each PC's firewall software. For security reasons, corporate PCs are typically protected by companywide firewall software that you can't control.
If that's the case, ask if your employer offers a "virtual private network" (VPN) connection. It can link your home and work PCs and still protect the firm's network.
E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@ gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.