Windows Legacy OS forum


Windows XP won't let me change the screen resolution.

by jdubbjr17 / February 5, 2013 12:05 AM PST

Help! This morning I started up my old Dell desktop that I use for school, which is about eight years old, with a 933 Mhz Pentium 3 processor, and 256mb of ram. So It's really old. Well, when I started it up, I didn't notice anything different, but when it got to the log on screen, everything was larger than normal. I went to the control panel, and it turns out the resolution was automatically set to 800 by 600, almost like it was in safe mode. The issue is, I know it didn't start in safe mode, but it won't let me change the resolution. I've restarted it several times, but it still does the same thing.

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Clarification Request
Request for clarification
by mchainmchain / February 5, 2013 12:41 AM PST

This sounds as if it could be a hardware issue.

So, with that out of the way, where are the hardware specifics such as make model and type of computer? Running XP Home/Pro and what service pack for software?

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by jdubbjr17 / February 5, 2013 3:45 AM PST
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Video card is?
by mchainmchain / February 5, 2013 9:10 AM PST
In reply to: Clarification.

Onboard or in a card slot? If Intel onboard, please do tell what the model is. Your link you kindly provided does not say anything about the video card. Is it in stock/as bought/condition?

If it is a PCI or AGP slot card, please provide the vendor and model series of this card. Video cards (onboard or motherboard slot) do break down; and running this system for 10+ years is a long time for any computer.

Maybe it is time to think about backing up all important personal files on two different medias (if only one media that will remain only a single copy if you decide to toss/donate your system) such as an USB flash/external drive and/or CD/DVD discs.

You could install an older video card in a PCI or AGP slot and disable the Intel onboard card. You will need the correct driver for that new card, tho.

Forthcoming advice will depend on what type of video card is installed and what steps will be recommended after.

Back up first!

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Video Card
by jdubbjr17 / February 6, 2013 12:15 AM PST
In reply to: Video card is?

It has integrated graphics and a 4MB AIMM expansion card, I believe from Dell.

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by mchainmchain / February 7, 2013 6:37 PM PST
In reply to: Video Card

for the nitty-gritty stuff.

Which video card is currently being used? Possibility exists to turn off one or the other video card and reboot and see if things improve.

Sorry to have been away for a couple of days.

Keep in mind this is a dinosaur machine by today's standards. Would not invest a lot of money in such, but would get onto backing up all important files first while still can.

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by jdubbjr17 / February 8, 2013 12:04 AM PST
In reply to: Now

First, I know very little about this kind of stuff, but I'm trying to learn. So where would I find the program files for the cards, and once I do, how would I go about turning one off? Thanks for taking the time to help me out.

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Some info about backing up
by wpgwpg / February 8, 2013 12:24 AM PST
In reply to: Q.

I suggest you get away from the Windows backup program and get yourself a good commercial backup program. I've seen forums fraught with problem reports for the Windows one. I know I was very unimpressed when I tried it. Three I'm familiar with and like are Norton Ghost (which I've been using for 8 years without the 1st problem), Easeus Todo Backup Free, which you can download from and Memeo which has a 30 day free trial and you can buy it for $29.99 - you can download it from . You can get Ghost for next to nothing (like I did) if you watch the sales.
The March 2012 issue of PC World was very high on the FREE program from Easeus and so is CNET. In my experience with a variety of configurations I have to say I'm very impressed. Like Ghost it will back up to a networked drive, and it will create a boot CD for when your PC won't boot. See CNET's review of it at;1#editorsreview .
CNET has a lot of backup program reviews at;sideBar .

Some of these are free (last time I checked there were over 300), some have free trials (over 1000), and some are purchase only (over 200).
External hard drives are best for backup. You can get a 500 GB one for around $60 and a 1 TB one for around $70. You can also buy a 32 GB flash drive for under $15. It's the best insurance you can ever buy!

I hope this helps. Good luck

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Hey thank you.
by jdubbjr17 / February 8, 2013 12:58 AM PST

Hey thanks a lot for the help. Thankfully, backing up this computer isn't much of a problem, because I don't store anything important on this computer. Rather than backing up, could I just important stuff on a Cloud type service? The only thing worth backing up would be the papers I've typed on that computer, so that wouldn't take up much space. I know Amazon has a Cloud service, and they give you five free gigabytes of storage when you get an account.

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Yes you can back up to the cloud
by wpgwpg / February 8, 2013 1:05 AM PST
In reply to: Hey thank you.

If the size of your data isn't too large, you could back up to the cloud. Personally I'd rather back up to a flash drive. You can buy 32 GB ones for under $20. With the cloud it can be very slow to upload, and I worry about security and reliability. I would think something like Amazon's or Microsoft's cloud storage would be reliable, although there've been a number of such services that've gone away for various reasons. That's more of a personal preference though.

Good luck.

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About your video card in use:
by mchainmchain / February 8, 2013 2:04 PM PST
In reply to: Q.

Two possible hardware setups:

If your monitor video cable is connected to the blue square box with the single port in the back, then it is connected to the onboard (motherboard built-in) video card. If that is the case, the only fix is to replace the entire motherboard if it is bad.

If the monitor cable is connected to a similar looking blue port in the upper right hand corner, then you have a slot-based card; you can change it out for a known good one. You cannot change (swap) out an onboard video card. On your machine you have three slot ports available; one may have an additional video card in use and your monitor cable may be attached to that one. If that is the case, then you will see only two slots that look like the link you provided, with the video slot card in the third port.

Another option is to turn off the onboard video card (more on that in next posted reply to your answer here) and use/install a slot-based video card if all three slot ports show no card installed and/or you are not using a slot-based video card already installed there.

Please do not proceed with any changes or repairs until you post back what you see there in the back of your computer. Recommended course of action will be coming forthwith depending on what you say you see.

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