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Fixing the Year 2000 Problem

Our guide to managing the Year 2000 problem simply and economically, small businesses or large.
By Tony French, Forum Manager

There's no shortage of coverage on the infamous Millennium Bug, but little information on how to identify and fix it. How can you tell if your business is at risk without paying for expensive consultants? Follow the simple guide below to safeguard both your hardware and your software.

HARDWARE

If your business uses Macs only, you're safe. All Macs - and virtually all Mac software - handle the rollover to 01/01/00 with aplomb.

New PC owners should also be secure; most PCs manufactured after first quarter 1997 and most Pentium-based PCs are Y2K compliant. It is still a good idea to test each and every desktop and notebook PC in your business, however; you can do this easily by connecting each PC via the Internet to the Year 2000 compliance test sponsored by ZDNet's Virtual Labs.

Alternatively, you can download the free Norton BIOS Test/Fix and install it on each machine in your business. It will check each PC for Y2K compliance and will attempt to correct a problem with a small programme that launches each time the computer is booted. Failing that, the PC's maker may have posted a downloadable fix to the system's BIOS; contact the manufacturer directly or visit their web site.

SOFTWARE

Even if you are in the clear on the hardware front, many Y2K compliant computers house software that may not cope with the big ’00 turnover. Unfortunately, you’ll need to test the software of every computer in your organisation and check the Y2K status of all the software on those machines.

One solution is to visit the web site of each company from whom you use software. Your initial focus should be on date-sensitive software, such as accounting, payroll, and inventory programmes. Most major software makers have Y2K info online detailing their programs' Year 2000 status, along with advice or patches to fix any problems.

An alternative is to purchase software such as Symantec's Norton 2000, which will scan your hard drive(s) and compare found software against a database of known Y2K problems. The programme will tell you which programs are Y2K compliant and which are not, and can point you to fixes and resources for buggy programmes.

There are other vendors of Y2K software, and it won’t hurt to shop around, but if you’re hunting on the Internet, make sure the software you buy includes checks for UK versions of software you run.

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