Y2K for PCs
LINKS MAY BE OUTDATED
For archival purposes only
OTHER DATES TO CHECK...
Now that it's past January 1, 2000, you should check the "Other" dates
that can cause problems with your computer - bet you thought it was over!
- April 9, 1999 - 99th day of 1999 (?don't ask?)
- August 21, 1999 - "GPS Rollover Week" begins midnight (7pm
EST, 8pm EDT). On August 22, 1999, unless repaired, many GPS receivers
will claim that it is 6 January 1980. Some may give location errors.
- September 9, 1999 - some dufus decided that 9/9/99 was a good
date to use as an invalid date field in old systems!
- January 1, 2000 - the millenium bug may affect any, all, or
none of your computer hardware, operating systems, software applications,
- February 29, 2000 - This is the leap-year bug - really a problem
with programmers who don't know that, although years divisible by 100
are not leap years, years divisible by 400 are leap years!
- 2019 - Some programmers "fixed" the Y2K bug by using the easy
fix - setting dates so that "00" read as 1920; "01" as 1921; and so
on. Of course, in 2019 these systems will have the problem all over
- January 19, 2038 - The Unix operating system date is based
on the number of seconds that have passed since Jan. 1, 1970 using 4
byes (32 bits) of storage. This number hits the maximum on January 19,
2038 - when the date probably rolls over to Jan. 1, 1970, much like
the PC's Y2K bug!
- January 18, 2038 Y2K38 - the 32-bit time bug. Certain operating
systems and hardware may think it's 1970 again. (More
- December 31, 1999 J2K - "And last, but certainly not least,
is a gentle reminder that this new millenium also marks the celebration
of the birth of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. So go to church, phone
your mom, hug your friends, and set off some fireworks!" --Pat D.
Millenium Bug tests for your PC
The Millennium Bug refers to computers (Macs don't have this problem)
that will be unable to cope with the year 2000. It's estimated that over
90% of computers in use will show some problem next January. This is because
many computers and software programs use only two digits to represent
the year and next year could become "00" or 1900! It is reported that
93% of computers built before 1997, and 43% of those built in or after
1997 will have a Year 2000 problem.
I compiled a quick, simple test of your PC for the date problem from
information in several books and magazines. Here are some of your choices
for testing your PC's hardware, operating system, programs and data:
- Buy Y2K compliance testing software.
- Take your systems to a computer service business that provides Y2K
testing and repair.
- Contact the manufacturer for compliance or upgrade information.
- test your PC yourself.
- When you buy any new hardware, software or even appliances, get Y2K
compliance assurance in writing! (Competition Bureau 800-348-5358 handles
false Y2K product claims.)
Y2K Software to Test your System
Automatic BIOS fixes and comprehensive software testing is offered in
these two recommended software products. If you business cannot survive
without working computers, $100 is a good investment.
Free tests and patches:
I've used these tests on both Y2k-complaint and non-compliant computers
and can recommend them both.
Note: Disable scheduling software as it may attempt to
run everything for the next 6 months at once. Disable the scheduler before
- nstl.com/html/nstl_ymark2000.html YMARK2000
- National Software Testing Laroratory (NSTL) offers the free tool to
test computer hardware. Very easy to use - just copy it to a floppy
disk, boot up to the DOS command line (usually by pressing F8 during
startup when you hear a "beep"), and type a:2000 to run the test.
- Test2000 is another good Y2K
compliance test that is a marketing device for their repair software.
- The microsoft.com/y2k/video/video.htm Microsoft Year 2000 Video is available as a free of charge rental at Blockbuster
Stores across the USA and Canada. The video comes with a Microsoft Year 2000 Resource
CD, free of charge.
1. BEFORE TESTING
- BACKUP YOUR FILES! (Look for the Backup utility in your System programs)
If you cannot backup everything, backup only your data files. In the
event of total loss of your system, you can always reinstall the software,
then retrieve the data files from your backup copy.
- Create a system floppy disk (right click on the floppy disk in "My
Computer" and select FORMAT).
- Stop all applications that might affect testing or might cause problems
using your system if testing causes problems (better safe than sorry):
- Disable all passwords used on the system
- Any program in your startup folder: C:\Windows\Start Menu\Startup
- Move these programs into a temporary folder.
- Turn off Screen savers if you use them (Start--Settings--Control Panel--Display)
- Disable schedulers that start applications are a future time.
- Disable or remove TSR's or background programs (look in AUTOEXEC.BAT,
WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, etc.)
- Disable Virus checkers (i.e. VShield)
2. HARDWARE CHECK
Create a system floppy disk (do not add any startup files).
Power up your computer with the basic system disk in the drive (most systems
will boot from a system floppy). You should get a DOS prompt.
2a. Basic Clock Test:
- At the DOS prompt, type "DATE" and change it to "12-31-1999"
- At the DOS prompt, type TIME and change it to "11:59p".
- After a minute, the clock should change to 00:00 on January 1, 2000
- does it?
2b. Power-down Clock Test:
- At the DOS prompt, type "DATE" and change it to "12-31-1999"
- At the DOS prompt, type TIME and change it to "11:58p".
- Power down your computer and wait several minutes for "midnight" to
- Power up again using the system floppy disk and check the date.
(type "DATE" followed with the RETURN key will exit without changing
If the date and time do not say "01-01-2000" and a time like "00:02a",
your computer BIOS has the millenium bug and cannot handle the date rollover.
Unless the manufacturer can supply a fix, the solution is likely a transplant
at your local computer store.
2c. Leap Year Test:
If you so not wish to spend money just yet, repeat the test with date
"02-29-2000" to see if the BIOS can handle the leap year that occurs in
2000. If you can set this date then your computer will report the correct
date and time from this point on, but you may have to leave your computer
powered on all the time.
3. DATA FILES
Testing and repairing data files is not detailed here, but you should
backup all important data files NOW, especially financial data and spreadsheets.
Sharing data with other people and organizations may also be a problem.
4. WINDOWS OPERATING SYSTEM UPDATES
Windows 95 and 98 use four digits to store and calculate years (1999,
2000). You may choose to display the date as 2 digits, but this is quite
independant of the way dates are calculated by your computer. The Y2K
problem only affects programs and systems (and hardware) that use two
digits to store and calculate years. Ignore the email hoaxes floating
around that Windows will fail on January 1, 2000.
There are some minor bugs however. Free Windows patches are listed above
- download them from Microsoft.
To order, free of charge, a Microsoft Year 2000 Resource CD, call 888-MSFT-Y2K
(888-673-8925). Phone 888-287-9755 toll-free to get the updated verson
of your operating system mailed on a CD-ROM for a small fee. You can also
order Windows 98 SE using this number.
- Windows 95 Y2K Fix: support.microsoft.com/download/support/mslfiles/Win95y2k.exe
Microsoft has an update for date problems in the file
- microsoft.com/y2k or microsoft.com/canada/year2k -
This site is now much clearer and easier to find out about Microsoft
updates you can download for many of your programs. Click on the "Microsoft
Year 2000 Guide for Home and Small Business Computers" link on the left-hand
side of the page.
Microsoft Year 2000 Resource Center contains a link to Home and
Small Business Computers, with a tutorial and exploration of hardware,
software, and personal files and helps users create a plan to address
the year 2000 challenge. Millenium countdown screensavers!.
Windows downloads - to get all free Windows updates (all versions)
for service packs, updates, system files, device drivers, and security
updates. The latest version of 98 is called microsoft.com/windows98/highlights/win98sefs.asp - Windows
98 SE (Second Edition)", recommended for Windows 3 and 95 users.
- MS Windows Update
- Download Windows 98 updates including Service Pack SP1 (consumer version
98/12) The Service Pack includes bug fixes for Windows 98 and Internet
Explorer 4.01 (version 5 is out) as well as Year 2000 updates, but does
not include any new features.
"Y2K Product Analyzer v2.0" is a free utility that scans your hard
drive for Microsoft products, compares this inventory to the Microsoft
year 2000 compliance product guides, identifies products (if any) for
which the user should download a free software update, and provides
URLs to enable the user to obtain the updates easily. Be sure to get
this one! ( Microsoft Computing Central information) You can download
Microsoft Product Analyzer v2.0: www.microsoft.com/technet/year2k/pca/y2k_en.exe.
You may also order the Microsoft Year 2000 Resource CD
from MS Computing Central or by calling (888)MSFT-Y2K (1-888-673-8925).
If you ordered the CD several months before January 2000, you should
check out the new version
2.0 database upgrade www.microsoft.com/technet/year2k/pca/pca.htm.
- CNET's Catchup site has an
analyzer for non-Microsoft software products. (I haven't tried this.)
- UPDATES site actually checks
your computer's installed software and recommends new versions that
are available! Simply click on the links to download the update. This
isn't just for Y2K, but it sure is a nice service. I'd recommend backing
up your system before installing updates - just in case, but I've used
it and like its ease of use.
5. SOFTWARE TESTING HELP
- microsoft.com/msoffice/office97/documents/y2k -
Microsoft Office and the Year 2000 Issue. Frequently Asked Questions
- Microsoft TechNet FAQ on Year 2000 www.microsoft.com/technet/topics/year2k/2kfaq/2kfaq01.htm
MY VCR WON'T WORK!!
If your VCR cannot use the programmed advanced recording features next
January, here's a neat trick. Set the year as 1972 instead of 2000 --
the calendar for 1972 is the same as the year 2000. I assume 1973 is the
same as 2001, but don't shoot me if it isn't!
Industry Canada's Y2K service:
Strategis: Canadian business resources.
Year 2000 and You is brochure
from the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
deals with Y2K for older software and programs.
Test your PC clock; Y2K links
International Organization for Standardization has defined the
ISO8601 date format - start using it now! yyyy/mm/dd (1999-02-24)