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Checking Your PC for Y2K Compliance



The Year 2000 and Your PC



Memory and Your PC



Can Computers Think?



 Checking Your PC for Y2K Compliance
 by Peter Huemer


 How can you make sure that your PC is ready for the
 Year 2000? You can identify and fix many of the
 Year 2000 problems in your PC yourself, or you may
 contact a qualified computer consultant to perform
 a Y2K Evaluation. When you test your PC, try to use
 an isolated system and not one currently used in
 operations. Changing the date on a production
 system could cause problems for date-dependent
 operations and data, such as calendar and e-mail
 functions. Always create separate test files to
 conduct your Year 2000 testing; never use a current
 copy of any file for testing. Backup your data prior
 to doing any testing.


 First, check the hardware. The following simple
 procedure can be used to determine the compliance
 of your PC's Basic Input/Output System (BIOS).

  1. Set the date on your PC to December 31,
  1999 and the time to 23:55hrs (11:55pm).
  Then shut down the computer in the normal
  manner and turn the power off.

  2. Wait at least 5 minutes, and then turn on the

  3. Verify that the date is Saturday, January 1,
  2000, and the time is a few minutes past

  4. If the day of the week, date, or time is
  incorrect, you have a problem with your
  system BIOS. This may require a software
  upgrade to the BIOS or hardware
  replacement. Contact the manufacturer of
  the motherboard or consult your computer

  5. Repeat the same test described above
  without shutting down the machine and
  turning off the power.

 Because many systems will not recognize 2000 as a
 leap year, your PC should also be tested for the
 millennium leap year. You can follow the
 above-described procedure, but set the date on your
 PC to February 28, 2000 at 23:55hrs. Verify that the
 PC rolls over to Tuesday, February 29, 2000 with the
 time a few minutes after midnight.

 If your computer fails the BIOS rollover test, you
 need to investigate your options. Your PC
 manufacturer may have an updated BIOS available.
 If you were using a Compaq Presario 4700 Series,
 for example, you could download a Softpaq flash
 BIOS update. Under many circumstances, however,
 you will be faced with replacing either the
 motherboard or the computer. Today, with $100 and
 new PC's starting at about $600, this is not nearly
 as painful an undertaking as it once was.

 Operating Systems

 The majority of stand-alone PC's utilize a version of
 Microsoft's Windows Operating System. Microsoft
 has categorized the English versions of DOS 5.0a,
 6.0, 6.2, 6.21, 6.22, Windows 3.1, Windows for
 Workgroups, and the various flavors of Windows 95
 as "compliant with minor issues". For these
 operating systems, the operational date range for
 data is through the year 2035. Updates to address
 some of the Y2K issues in these operating systems
 should be downloaded from For Windows
 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups, one can obtain an
 updated version of winfile.exe by downloading
 W31FILUP.EXE or WFWFILUP.EXE. The Windows 95
 patch is WIN95Y2K.EXE. If you are running either
 Windows 95 or Windows 98, make certain that you
 set your short date format (found in the regional
 settings control panel) to use a 4-digit year. For
 additional information on Microsoft products, please
 or call 1-888-MSFT-Y2K

 For a fully-compliant (versus "compliant with minor
 issues") version of the Microsoft's Windows
 operating system, consider upgrading to Windows
 98 or Windows NT Workstation. Note that these
 versions are not compliant out of the box, however.
 Windows NT requires the application of Service
 Pack 4. On December 7, 1998, Microsoft announced
 that it had identified and fixed "minor year 2000
 issues" with Windows 98. According to Microsoft,
 "The issues identified pose no risk of data loss or
 PC damage, and customers would be unlikely to
 encounter the issues during normal daily use of
 their computer." The Windows 98 update is
 available, free of charge, via download from You can
 also order the CD online or get it by calling


  [As mentioned in our last article,] many commonly-used applications have been identified as being non-compliant. Microsoft Office 97, for example, requires the SR-2 patch to address several Y2K issues. You should start by compiling a list of all the applications on your computer, and categorize them as compliant, non-compliant, or unknown. In most cases, the best policy for dealing with non-compliant applications is to either update them with a newer, compliant version or remove them from your PC. If you don't know whether an application is compliant, start by contacting the software vendor. Many vendors have posted Year 2000 compliancy statements about their software on their web sites.

If you're still in doubt, check out


  Just because your hardware, operating system, and  applications are Year 2000 compliant, doesn't mean that  your data is. For example, although Excel 97 SR2 is  reportedlyY2K compliant, a user could easily enter 2-digit  year in a spreadsheet used to calculate amortization.  Depending on how the spreadsheet was designed, post-year 2000 results could wildly inaccurate. It is important to go through your key data files (spreadsheets, databases, etc.) and make sure that date information is entered such that it is properly interpreted after the Year 2000. In most cases, this is a tedious and time-consuming process,  although some vendors have come out with migration packages to assist with the process. For example, Expandable Software, authors of the Expandable accounting application, have a package that can convert hundred of thousands of transactions with a 2-digit year entry to a 4-digit year entry.

  There are several software packages that can be purchased to assist with Year 2000 compliance tests and fixes, including: 2000 Centurion, CDG 200 Inc., Centennial 2000, Check 2000 Client Server, Check 2000 PC, Cochranes Millenium Toolkit, DMXII Inc., DOSCHK, Express 2000 Suite, Fix 2000, Gasp 4.01, Henry Spencer Company, January 2000!, Macola Version 6.2, MFI Flash 2000, Millenium Bug toolkit, NEMYSES, NetInventory, Nuts & Bolts, ACCFix 2000, Datespy, Excelsior, OnMark 2000&Trade: Workbench for Excel&trade, OnMark 2000&Trade: Workbench for Access&trade, Total Access Inspector 2000, Trans Centry Office, Utility 2000.  Both Symantec's Norton 2000 and Mcafee 2000 ToolBox from Network Associates are comprehensive Y2K software packages which boast the ability to check Real Time Clock and BIOS hardware, scan data files (Excel, Access, etc.), and alert you to known issues published by the manufacturers of popular applications found on your system.

  Regardless of how diligent you are to assure that your hardware and software are compliant, other programs used by your vendors and suppliers may expose you to non-compliance. You will want to determine their Y2K status in order to avoid unnecessary problems and to prepare for anticipated problems.

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