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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Q&A: Choosing 'shut down' or 'log off' option

By Tamara E. Holmes

Q. Is there a difference between shutting down and logging off of a computer?

A. Yes, there is a difference. When you shut down the computer, you log off in the process, but when you log off of the PC, you don't necessarily shut down. The log-off option is most helpful if you share your computer with multiple users. If you finish using your computer but want to keep the machine on and available for another computer user to use, you should log off. That way, the next user won't have access to your personalized desktop, and the computer already will be turned on and ready for its next use. If you're the only person who uses your PC, you should shut down. thus turning the computer off and logging off as well.

Q. I want to download a new version of a software program that I already have installed, but I don't want to overwrite the old version. I want both of the programs to remain on my hard drive simultaneously. Can I do this?

A. The easiest way to make sure you don't overwrite the older version of the software is to save the new version to a different folder than the older one is in. That way, the files for each version will be located in different parts of your hard drive. If in the course of the download, the older version of the software is detected and you're asked whether you want to overwrite it, make sure you say "no." There's also a good chance that you'll be asked during the installation whether you want to install the new version over the older version. Again, you'll want to say "no." However, keep in mind that the new installation might interfere with the operation of the older software, which is why it's generally recommended that you uninstall an old version of a program before installing the new one.

Q. Sometimes if I make a mistake when using my computer, I can "undo" my last few steps by clicking on "Undo" in the Edit menu. Other times, I can't. Why is this?

A. Even the best computer can do only so much to prevent human error, which is why the Undo feature in many software programs can be a very handy tool. But because that function is a capability of individual software programs, the extent to which you can "undo" previous actions depends upon the program you're using. Some programs let you 'undo' the last action you made, while others let you "undo" multiple actions.

Holmes answers questions daily at www.usatoday.com/tech.html.