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Q. I prefer Firefox over Internet Explorer, but I have been encountering a persistent error in using Firefox. On every website that I log on to, I am inundated with a sizable ad block: “Server cannot be found. Firefox cannot find server”

I am using Windows XP and have Norton and Spy Sweeper for computer protection. Please tell me how I can get rid of this pest.

— Gunther Stieneke

A. It sounds like something is redirecting your Web browsing. That would most likely either be a piece of malware or a malware detector. Try disabling SpySweeper and see what happens. Alternatively, you can try installing the free add-in Redirect Remover for Firefox.

There is no single browser that works well with all anti-malware programs and other accessories, such as ad blockers. So sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find what works well with the browser of your choice.

With that in mind, I have several different browsers installed on my main computer.

Q. I’m having a problem copying a music CD. I have the Sonic Digital Media program. It used to copy OK, but now it says, “That drive is in use by another product.” But it’s not.

I obviously have something turned on. It first started saying that when I tried to copy some pictures from my digital card out of my camera. Also, there were skips on the last CDs I made. I tried communicating with the Sonic site, but none of the troubleshooting questions addressed my problem.

— Mary Davies

A. It’s always tricky when multiple applications can take control of a device, such as your CD/DVD drive.

The first thing I’d do is make sure what applications are running that might be causing the problem. To do so, right-click in the Windows system bar and launch Task Manager. If you click on the Applications tab you can see what programs are running.

Look for any applications — such as Roxio, Nero, Windows Explorer or any software related to your camera — that might be accessing the drive. You should also check the Processes tab to see if any subprograms might be running related to any such programs. Close any suspect applications or processes that you find and see if that resolves your problem.

If the problem remains, I would uninstall and then reinstall Sonic DigitalMedia.

Q. I have an HP computer with Windows XP, purchased in early 2005. It came with Microsoft Works 8.

Works has a calendar function I use a lot. About a month ago, it would not open during boot up. I got the following error message: “MS Works 8 has encountered a problem and needs to close. Send/don’t send error report.”

I always elect to send the error report. I also examined the error report. I have sent some 50 error reports to Microsoft over the past month. I have received no response. I notice activity in my modem when I initiate the send error report function.

I have created backup disks for the OS. I am wondering how to reload Microsoft Works from the backup disks without having to reformat the hard drive. Can you help me?

— Bill Wilkinson

A. The bad news is that Microsoft Works was discontinued long ago, and Microsoft no longer supports the program. The good news is that you can still buy Microsoft Works on the Internet. It’s even available on for about $40.

Just remember to back up your data before doing anything. Then I’d uninstall the existing version of Works. Finally, install your new copy.

Unfortunately, you can’t reinstall applications from data backups. And if you created a copy of your operating system on discs, yes, I’m afraid you’d lose data on the drive when you copy that mirror back to the drive.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to or, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at