Q. I have Windows XP running on a Gateway Profile system, and a year ago I received an e-mail from a trusted friend. The message indicated that...

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I have Windows XP running on a Gateway Profile system, and a year ago I received an e-mail from a trusted friend. The message indicated that a virus was spreading and that the above Microsoft file (Jdbgmgr) needed to be deleted to avoid being infected. I did, and my friend called the next day and indicated that the message was false and I may have done some damage. I moved the file and still have it in my documents. I don’t know how to put it back where it belongs or if I need to. I have not had any problems since then. I use Norton Antivirus and update it often. Can you help?

— Ed

The bad news is that e-mail about Jdbgmgr is a hoax. The good news is that it is relatively harmless. Most users who deleted the Jdbgmgr.exe file will never notice it is gone, because it is used only by developers working with Microsoft Visual J++ to create Java programs. If you do want to replace the file, you can find instructions at support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;322993.

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I use Outlook Express and Hotmail for my e-mail. Recently, I’ve found that I am unable to left click on a link or URL contained in the body of the message. After the problem occurred, I downloaded Windows XP Service Pack 2. The problem is still there. I have used various spyware- and Trojan horse-removal programs to no avail. I am sure it is a worm of some sort, but I do not know enough to search the registry to locate any bugs. Any suggestions before I completely clean the drive and reload all my programs?

— Donald Ottum

Some antivirus and Internet security packages disable hot links with exactly the result you are experiencing. If you recently have installed any such software, check the documentation for whatever package you’re using for “links” or “URLs” and see how it handles them. That may save you from having to do drastic cleaning.

We have a Compaq Presario FS740 and Windows XP Home Edition. While playing games or being online, the computer often freezes for a few seconds. At times, the freezes are more often and over longer periods. Could my problem come from our Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) update? That’s when the problem started.

— lilogerd @earthlink.net

Updating to SP2 might have triggered the problem, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s to blame for the problem. In most cases, if you’re able to successfully complete the service-pack update procedure, there should not be any problems after that.

All I can say for sure is that there apparently is some conflict in your system. Whether it’s brought on by a device driver, your graphics adapter, a virus or some application, I couldn’t begin to guess. Troubleshooting to find the specific cause can be a real pain.

I’d be inclined first to clean up the computer by reformatting the drive, reinstalling Windows XP and updating to SP2 before reinstalling your other applications and drivers. I’d also make sure you have the most recent drivers for the graphics adapter.

In a recent column you advised a reader on how to bypass the logon screen in Windows XP. I am having the same problem with my Windows 98 computer. When I boot up the Windows 98 computer it always stops at the logon box and waits for user name and password input. I then cancel the box, and the computer continues to boot. I edited the registry as you described, but it did not eliminate the problem. The computer still stops for input.

— John Oakwood

Windows 98 and Windows XP are different operating systems, and different steps are required to eliminate the logon.

With Windows 98, do the following: Go to the control panel and double click on the network utility. Click on the configuration tab, then click Windows logon in the primary network logon box. Next, when prompted to restart your computer, select no.

Now go to the control panel again and select the passwords utility. Click on the change passwords tab, then select change Windows password. In the dialog box that appears, type your current password in the old password field. Leave the new password fields empty.

Now go to the user profiles tab and make sure that “All users of this PC use the same preferences and desktop settings” box is checked.

The final step is use Windows Explorer to search for all files ending in .pwl. You’ll want to rename all the files you find with another extension and save them. Then shut down and restart your computer.

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.