Fast Forward's Help File
Q How can I keep track of updates for the programs that I've added to my computer?
ASome applications are smart enough to check online for new versions, but most aren't. As a result, it's too easy to wind up with a hard drive full of obsolete add-on software.
To remedy that problem in Windows, try the FileHippo Update Checker ( http:/
Update Checker requires Microsoft's .Net Framework 2.0 to run. It's still classified as beta, but it has not caused any problems on either of two Windows XP machines or one Windows Vista computer.
If you have a Mac running Tiger, the latest version of OS X, try a free Dashboard widget called App Update ( http:/
Both programs require that you run each installer they download, and they can miss updates to a few programs. But they still greatly reduce the amount of effort spent babysitting your computer's software collection.
Do I need to keep AOL's software around just to keep an AOL mail account?
Not at all. The easiest way to check your AOL mail is to log into AOL's Web site. You can also set up any standard mail program -- such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple's Mail, or Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express -- to do this job by following the instructions at http:/
Once you've made this switch, uninstall AOL's software. You may find that your machine runs a little faster without that aging application.
Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 email@example.com.