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Priority setting change risky

September 18, 2005|By JAMES COATES

Q. I read one of your columns about someone having issues with their CD burner and you suggested increasing the priority setting. I'm starting to have similar problems and can't figure out for the life of me where you told that person to find that setting. Please, one more time.

- J.S. Seiter yahoo.com

A. Even I can see the delicious irony of a mope in the newspaper business like me howling that he was misquoted, but I do want to clarify things a tad.

Changing the priority setting is one of many things that can be done to improve DVD and CD performance but it's also a bit flaky. I don't exactly recommend it, but it's worth a try because you can always restore the default.

Priority settings establish dibs on the central processor resources on an AMD or Pentium chip that run many programs and background applications at the same time. The theory is that by jacking up the priority setting, the CD/DVD drive will work better.

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To change the priority, run your CD/DVD software and then press Control + Alt + Delete and make sure your program is shown under the Applications tab. Then click open the adjoining Processes tab and scroll down to your burner, where you can give the listing a right mouse click.

A Set Priority option appears in the pop-up menu this summons, and you can pick from six priority settings, from low right up through real time.

Most applications are set at normal, which is where they should be because the biggest cause of crashes remains what are called IRQ, or interrupt request, conflicts when different devices seek to access the CPU at the same instant.

At normal settings these requests march along like a troop of Eagle Scouts on Flag Day. Changing the priority of one of them upward can cause both your burner and some other process, like the keyboard or mouse, to write over each other's data. That causes our old pal the buffer overrun error and locks up the computer.

CD/DVD drive problems are common and have many causes from faulty cables to buggy software. Excellent troubleshooting help can be found at the Microsoft Knowledge base at Microsoft.com/support. Type in the article number 324129 as a search term.

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