Home Computers and Y2K

Still time to check home computer for Y2K problems

(Everything2000) We’ve heard about it for at least a year, our country has spent 100 billion dollars on it, but most of us home computer users haven't done a thing about Y2K. In fact, a recent poll shows that 45 percent of computer owners would rather clean the bathroom than get their PCs ready for the Year 2000.

Y2K is just days away and have you even thought about updating your computer? Have you at least checked out information about potential Y2K problems? The answer is probably not for most of us. There's good and bad news with that. The bad news is that some people will end up having problems with some part of their computer or possibly their financial programs. The good news, many of us won't need to do a thing to our computer in preparation for Y2K because our home computers will operate just fine when the year 2000 rolls around.

The big problem is figuring out which group you belong in, the ones who should check out their computer or the ones who get to ignore the potential Y2K bug.

There are about 26 million of us that need to prepare and here's a simple way to think about your computer and what may or may not be susceptible to Y2K bugs. Y2K personal computer issues generally can be placed in three categories -- hardware, software and data. Computer viruses not related but expected to be even more of a problem this week than usual, are another issue.

Let's take a look at computer hardware first. Here's some great news the Apple Macintosh operating system doesn't have any Y2K problems. So you are done if own an Apple Macintosh computer, see wasn't that easy.

If you want someone to tell you if your computer has a problem, they will. Checking with the manufacturer is probably the easiest way. Armed with your computer's model and serial numbers, go to the manufacturer's Web site -- often found simply by typing in www. the name of the manufacturer and adding .com at the end -- and look for the company's Y2K page. You can look up your make; model and year of computer and the site should tell you what to do, if anything will need fixing at all. See that wasn't so tough.

The next issue is Software. All sorts of application software -- financial programs like Quicken or Money, database programs like Excel and e-mail programs like Outlook Express -- can have problems. However, the programs most susceptible to Y2K problems are spreadsheet and database programs. Some misinterpret two-digit dates -- 01, for instance -- as 1901.

Some experts say unless you keep your financial records on the computer, do heavy online stock trading or online banking, it's not really a big problem. However, if you do use your computer for those functions you should check out your software this week. . The best way to determine that is to visit the technical support Web sites for all of the software you use regularly.

Finally, taking a look at data, which is anything, you've created on your computer. Documents, e-mail, financial records, photo and game records are all data. This becomes critical for files that are used for calculations or bill paying. It's best to use programs that accept four-digit years in all-important files, and to change existing two-digit years to four digits when you can.

Source: Kansas City Star

DATE: 12/29/99

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