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One of the readers of my Helpline column sent me this email which describes a novel solution to an age old problem:

14 year old computer “geniuses” and the problems they cause

I have a 14 year old son who believes he is a computer whiz. He is constantly downloading programs from the Internet and tinkering around with system files and hardware. As a result, the computer he uses is always loaded down with viruses and malware. The other day I caught him swapping .dll files in the Windows system directory (he said the versions he needed weren’t there and he was replacing them with files that came from who knows where). Needless to say, his tinkering really messes up this system.

Unfortunately, my wife uses this computer too and she is pulling her hair out. I finally reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled Windows (I’m still using 2000), but within an hour, he was at it again, undoing all my work with downloaded junk. At this point, my wife was ready to go buy another computer for herself; kicking my son off the system is not an option, since there are times when he needs the computer for schoolwork.

I made it clear to all concerned that we weren’t buying another computer. After a bit of pondering, I came up with what looks to be a solution that will keep everyone happy. I pulled out the system disks and started
reformatting again. But this time, I created two equal partitions on the hard drive, then installed W2K on both. I knew you could set up a dual boot system with two different operating systems, but I wasn’t sure you could do
it with the same OS. Just like a dual OS installation, you get a choice of two OSs on bootup, but in this case, they are both Win 2K. I configured one for my wife and the other for my son. Now, he can mess up his partition to his heart’s content while my wife’s partition remains clean and green. I know other people with teenagers who have the same kinds of problems; maybe this is a simple alternative to a second or third computer.

Mark K. Davis

This is a solution that will also work with XP and Vista. And since the operating systems are not running simultaneously, I don’t believe you will need two license keys.

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