Q: I'm connected to the Internet and then put the computer to sleep. On awaking, the computer has lost the connection and I have to restart...

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Q: I’m connected to the Internet and then put the computer to sleep. On awaking, the computer has lost the connection and I have to restart. To keep the connection, I skip sleep and leave the computer on. Connection is maintained for a while but eventually after several hours it is lost again and needs a restart. The modem seems to be OK, but I tried reset and the problem continues. Any suggestions to try?

— Bob Cook

A: My guess is that your network adapter is also going to sleep. To avoid this you need to specify that it not go to sleep.

To do so, go to the Control Panel and launch Device Manager. In the dialog box that pops up, select your network adapter and click on Properties. Go to the Power Management tab and make sure the box next to “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” is unchecked. This likely will solve your problem.

Q: I’ve got a Dell Inspiron laptop that is about 4 years old. Rarely do I ever use it unplugged. About a year ago, I began having trouble with the AC adapter cord. The cord had to be bent/positioned “just so” in order to connect and supply power. Enough! So I went to Staples for a replacement; the sales person said, “It’s probably best to get a replacement cord from Dell.” But, being short of time, I bought the non-Dell brand AC adapter from Staples, and have been using it since. It seemed to work fine. The battery was always at 100 percent and charging and when I did unplug, I seemed to get the normal 1 to 2 hours of use running on battery.

But now when I check status on battery icon, it reads “no battery detected.” And if the AC adapter is unplugged, the orange “low-battery” light immediately comes on. Obviously, there a battery issue, but I’m curious about the “no battery detected” message. But the real question is: Do you think the non-Dell AC unit might be the culprit? And would it be wise to buy a new battery and a new AC cord directly from Dell?

— RileD, Plugging In Tech Forum member

A: This has long been one of my pet peeves: Manufacturers still have not gotten together and standardized adapters to bring down the cost!

Anyway, if the adapter you’re using has the same specifications as the Dell adapter you’re probably OK, especially since things worked well for so long.

Laptop batteries can easily lose their ability to hold a charge after a couple of years. There are ways to extend the life of batteries, however.

First fully charge and fully drain the battery. But you only need to do this once or, even better, twice with a new battery. Some experts also advise fully draining the battery once a month. That’s easy to do since all you have to do is leave it on overnight.

Another tip is to store the battery in a plastic bag in the refrigerator when you’re not going to use it for an extended period.

Finally, make sure you don’t overheat the battery. A common cause of overheating is leaving the laptop running on, say, a bed or a pillow.

Q: I’m writing in response to your column of March 19, in which you advised a reader seeking to disable startup programs to use MSCONFIG. While you did say this was the “quick fix,” it is particularly repugnant to those of us who like to keep everything neat and tidy and all loose ends tied up tight. A more complete answer would have recommended one of the many free MSCONFIG cleaner utilities, or even some simple instructions for manually cleaning it — adding, at the beginning, a strong warning to back up the registry first!

I realize that space limitations may have constrained your answer, which was adequate, but certainly not optimum for us purists!

— Cheryl, Tacoma

A: Yes, space is always a concern. And you’re right that if you’re going to edit the Windows registry directly, you should always back it up. But the primary reason I didn’t recommend a free MSCONFIG cleaner utility is that I haven’t found one I like. Free utilities generally come with some sort of advertising or pop-ups that can get very irritating. If you’ve got a utility you like, please let me know what it is so I can check it out.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email 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/