Computing questions including iTunes, Windows . . . more

With the launch today of the new Windows, it is time to answer some reader mail.

With the launch today of the new Windows, it is time to answer some reader mail.

Q. Is there a great and easy way to back up my iTunes music?

I am scared to death to lose it all.

A. You should be. The best way to back it up of course is to back up your entire hard drive to an external drive. And actually do it regularly.

If you cannot or won’t do that, you can use a product designed for this. I use CopyTrans ( that will back up my library any time I wish.

It has lots of other features that will back up and recover iTunes music including recovering your entire iTunes library if you lose your hard drive and all you have is your iPod. I love this tool. Just use it. All the software in the world won’t save you if you won’t use it.

Q. If I purchase a new laptop for my son with the eye he takes it to college in the fall, is it best to pay extra for the higher resolution screen? Does it make that much difference?

A. Heck yes.

With screen size fixed, the more you can fit on it, the better. I would certainly pay for a one-level upgrade in the screen for sure.

I personally do not like glossy screens but I do like the matte LCD screens in higher resolutions. Make sure you shop around various manufacturers and don’t buy the first thing you see.

Q. I have been having real issues with playing video on my Windows XP computer.

I keep running into codec errors and things that will not play. Is there a better player out there?

A. First thing I would do is download and install the latest Windows Media Player.

Then I would go to Majorgeeks ( and download the full K-Lite Codec kit for Windows. (Type Codec in the search box.) Just be very careful on that site what you download.

The download link is in the middle of the page at the top.

Install the codec pack and you should be all set. If that does not work try an upgrade to your DVD playing software.

Q. Is there any problem with the AC adapters for laptops that are not made by the computer manufacturers instead of the generic ones that are available online from China?

I can save about $80 and I am trying to understand the difference. Have you used them?

A. Yes.

Most of them that I have used are fine.

You can save significant money, often enough to order two and have a spare and still save 50 per cent off the manufacturer price.

Or, you can order a used manufacturer model from eBay and also save significant money.

Either way, I would not hesitate to use the online sales channel for AC adapters.

Q. I dropped my laptop on the edge of one of the sides. When I turn it on, half of the screen shows up and half doesn’t. But it appears to work other than that. I can see the image faintly on the screen that is burned out though. Is it the screen?

A. It is dangerous to diagnose over the Web but you could need a screen, an inverter, a backlight or all three. You may be able to connect an external monitor to your laptop and use it normally, which is a good way to test if the computer is working other than the screen.

Look on eBay for a screen at a reasonable price but you may also need a backlight.

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is

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