Q: I purchased a Dell Dimension 4600 with a 3. 06 GHz processor and Windows XP Home Edition on eBay a couple of months ago. I have owned a...

Share story

Q: I purchased a Dell Dimension 4600 with a 3.06 GHz processor and Windows XP Home Edition on eBay a couple of months ago. I have owned a pair of the same computers with a 2.8 GHz processor installed. I noticed that the fan seems louder than on the slower units. I attributed it to the faster processor speed, but now I am not so sure.

First, I have added a slide-show program and when it renders it shows that I am using two processors. I don’t think I have more than one. I only have one heat sink. I looked in the system information and it shows that I have only one 3.06 GHz processor, with 3 gigabytes of RAM. However, when I go into Device Manager it shows I have two 3.06 processors, complete with drivers for both.

How do I safely get this system back to normal? Or is it normal now? I checked my one other running 2.8 GHz computer, and it only shows one processor in the information.

Gary S. Silverstein, Olympia

A: If your computer has an Intel Core 2 (or Core Duo) processor, that single chip actually contains two logical processors and that’s what you’ll see in Device Manager and in the performance utility under Task Manager. Similarly, if you have a quad-core processor, you’ll see four different processors.

And just because multiple processors are on one physical chip, don’t think it’s just for show. If the software you’re using is written to take advantage of multiple processors — and the latest versions of Windows are — you should get significantly better performance.

If you’re sure you don’t have a dual-core processor, I’d guess that your computer is set up to employ “hyperthreading,” a process in which software mimics the presence of two processors on a single processor. Pentium 4s, for example, were capable of hyperthreading. Unfortunately, Windows XP doesn’t handle hyperthreading properly. At least not without getting a hotfix. Here’s where you can get that: support.microsoft.com/kb/936235/en-us.

As for your fan, each computer is different. It’s possible you’ve got faulty sensors or a box design that doesn’t disperse heat well.

Q: When I power up my PC and get to my desktop, an error prompt comes up. The error message refers to “szappname: wmiprvse.exe” and several other similar file names. When this happens, my PC becomes very slow as this “executable” takes all my memory. My concern is that this is a virus of some kind. What is causing this?

John Gemar

A: Wmiprvse.exe is a legitimate Windows system file. But that doesn’t mean your problem is unrelated to a virus. In fact, a number of viruses replace wmiprvse.exe with an infected file carrying the same name.

If you don’t have an up-to-date anti-virus program running, you should certainly suspect a virus. If you do have up-to-date anti-virus protection you may want to contact Microsoft for an explanation of the error.

As an alternative, you may want to consider cleaning your system by reformatting your drive and reinstalling Windows. If you go that route, don’t forget to install all updates and make sure to install anti-virus software.

Q: I cleaned up my computer of unused Windows components. The only problem is that every time we start the computer, we get a box saying that Windows needs to install and configure Photo Gallery. We have to cancel out of this three times in order to get it to go away. Very annoying. How can I get rid of this permanently?

Sherry Wysong, Woodinville

A: Did you use the Add/Remove Programs utility in the Control Panel to remove Photo Gallery? Or did you simply delete the directory containing Photo Gallery?

If you just delete directories, Windows still thinks the program is there. That’s because there are references to installed programs in the Windows registry. When Windows doesn’t actually find the program, it responds with an error message.

I’d suggest reinstalling Photo Gallery and then removing it using the Add/Remove Programs utility. If that’s what you did in the first place, it’s time to call Microsoft.

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.