Q: I have just finished installing a second hard drive. Do I have to partition and format the hard drive and, if so, how do I do it? — — Calvin LaMalchi...

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Q: I have just finished installing a second hard drive. Do I have to partition and format the hard drive and, if so, how do I do it?

— Calvin LaMalchi

A: Yes, a second drive needs to be partitioned and formatted before it can be used. Different operating systems use different file formats. Early versions of Windows, for example, recognize only the FAT format, while later versions can work with either FAT or NTFS formats.

You don’t mention which version of Windows you’re using, but if you’re using Windows XP, you can find detailed information on how to do this at the following URL: support.microsoft.com/?kbid=313348. If you’re using another version, you can search Microsoft’s support database at support.microsoft.com.

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It’s possible that your drive has been either partitioned or fully formatted by the manufacturer. Check and see if Windows recognizes the drive by going to Windows Explorer and seeing if it shows up. If so, you can finish formatting the drive by using the built-in Windows Format tool. Just right-click on the drive and select Format. You’ll find information on the Microsoft site for deciding which specific drive format you’ll want to choose.

If the drive does not show up in Windows Explorer, it has not been partitioned. You can partition the drive by using the FDisk utility provided with Windows or a third-party tool such as PartitionMagic. The location of the Windows utility depends upon the version of Windows you’re using.

Q: Internet Explorer has a tempting button to “Delete Cookies” right next to my often-used “Delete Files” button. (This button is found under the Internet Options selection on the Tools menu.) Would it be wise to occasionally delete all stored cookies? Cookies have become a functional reality for users who wish to fully take advantage of Internet and Web site services and resources. However, I suspect that many (most?) cookies resident on my hard drive are probably not wanted. If I deleted all of them wouldn’t the cookies I want simply be reinserted next time I chose to go to a particular Web site? Yes, you can look at all of your stored cookies and then selectively delete them; but it is difficult to recognize the cookies you want from those that you don’t. Any advice?

— Dan Pickard, Seattle

A: Most users probably will not notice any ill effects at all if they occasionally resort to the Delete Cookies button. For others, deleting cookies may mean having to log in to a site again before you can navigate it. For example, if you’ve registered to use The New York Times on the Web and you delete its cookie, you’ll have to log in again before you can call up a story. Other sites use cookies to remember other preferences, such as which pages on the site you want to have available.

Is it “wise” to occasionally delete cookies? Cookies are relatively harmless. The only threat to privacy I’m aware of is that if someone sits at your computer, they can tell something about what Web sites you’ve visited by looking at your cookies.

Q: I would like to stop my computer from automatically filling in address, accounts, etc. It stops at passwords but anything else it never forgets. I’m using Windows XP.

— Noel Naranjo

A: I assume you’re talking about the AutoComplete feature in Internet Explorer. This tool detects when you’re entering Web addresses, user names, passwords or other information on forms and, as you enter data, it offers to complete the entry when it finds a potential match in its database of your previous entries. You can activate this tool so it just does user names and passwords, just Web addresses or just form data. To do so, go to the Tools menu and select Internet Options. Click on the Content tab in the dialog box that appears and click on the AutoComplete button.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.