I have both Windows Vista and XP installed on my PC. Whenever I boot in XP, Windows runs fine. But when I boot into Vista, the monitor goes blank randomly for a fraction of a second. My hard drive activity light flickers without any program running and its operation is noisy too. Also, my operating system keeps failing every now and then. Is 450W power supply enough if I want to add an additional hard drive and a graphics card? Also, suggest a mid-range graphics card.

Windows normally flashes the display just before it boots into the desktop. It shouldn’t cause any serious problem. The hard drive LED flickering could be because of highly fragmented data. Try defragging the drive some time. If the hard drive is really old, it could be an issue with the drive. Try running a diagnostic tool or use SpeedFan’s internal drive diagnosing feature. The noise and the system instability suggest there’s something wrong with it. Backup your data before things get worse.

The 450W power supply unit will run an additional hard drive easily. Whether it runs the graphics card depends on the kind of card itself. A basic entry-level card won’t be a problem, but a high-end card might lead to more complications. Look for a GeForce 9600GT from Gigabyte, Zotac or Asus.

Speed issues: Overclocking is risky and is not recommended.

For the games you want to play, look for a GeForce 9800GTX+, or a Radeon HD4850 if your budget is under Rs8,000 or so. If you can spend around Rs15,000, look out for the Radeon HD4890 or a GeForce GTX 275. But do this only after you have upgraded your system. Blu-ray writers are difficult to find in India. And even if they are available, they would be very expensive. The price in the US market is somewhere over Rs20,000.

I have a HP DV5-1106ax laptop that came preloaded with Vista Basic. When I try to install Windows XP (SP3 integrated), I only get a blue screen. It has a Hitachi SATA drive and there is no option of switching the SATA mode to IDE in BIOS. I couldn’t find AMD ACHI/RAID 0 drivers anywhere. What should I do to install Windows XP?

Without SATA drivers integrated into your Windows installation disc, there is no way to install Windows on your laptop. Your hard drive won’t be detected by the installer. You have to find drivers for the laptop on the driver disc or the manufacturer’s website.

How can I overclock (tweaking the speed of a computer component, such as its processor, and running it at a specification higher than the one rated by the manufacturer) my computer? Also, is there a limit to which you can overclock it without using any cooling solution?

Keep in mind that the motherboard you are using must support overclocking features in the BIOS. Get into the BIOS by pressing (Del) during boot up. Overclocking is extremely risky and is not recommended. It involves changing the multiplier and FSB of the board in really tiny increments (by 1MHz at a time) till you get a stable overclock where Windows boots and runs flawlessly. Run CPU-intensive games to be sure that the system is stable. There is no set limit to what speeds a processor can be overclocked. If you see that the temperature of the processor is already over 45-50 degrees Celsius, then there is little you can overclock. A separate cooler is recommended.

I have Ubuntu and Windows XP on my PC. I deleted the partition in which Ubuntu was installed using Easus partition manager and when I rebooted my PC, it displayed a message saying “Boot loader missing error". I installed GRUB boot loader again from the Ubuntu CD. Now, it’s working again, but 10GB of my hard disk is used by it. How can I remove it without losing my data?

If you have already deleted the 10GB partition, that should now be available as free space. It’s just not been added to any partition. You can create an empty 10GB partition and use that space. Disk partitioning tools such as Partition Magic will be able to merge two partitions without losing any data.

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