Readers Questions Part 10

Once again I plan to help local readers out by answering a selection of computer questions that have recently been forwarded to me.

I enjoy your Click article in the Herald every week and have picked up some useful tips.I am not a very competent PC user and I have a question I am sure you can help me with.

When using my scanner the message always comes up “scanning at less than optimal speed” and suggests getting into system BIOS and set the I/O to EPP mode.I have no idea what this means but lately I haven’t been able to scan anything so perhaps it should be done and so I’m hoping you can advise me on the best way to deal with this.

Mrs Karilyn Garnett, Torquay

This is one of those error messages which is less than helpful to the majority of PC users; much like many of the error messages that a computer can pop up at any given time; I think one worst I have encountered to date is when the computer told me it had an ‘unspecified error’ before crashing!

Anyway, the error message in question is referring to the protocol that your Parallel port is using.The Parallel port will be known by many as the slot on the back of your machine that you use to plug your printer into but in your particular case you are also using it in conjunction with a scanner.The scanner software believes that it could work better if you made your parallel port use a different protocol or in layman’s terms if you made the printer port speak a different language so that it could better communicate with your scanner.The protocol that it is suggesting you use, the EPP (Enhanced Parallel Port) protocol was originally developed by a group of companies including Intel as a means to provide a higher performance link between the parallel port and anything you connected to it.With this in mind, it is fairly obvious as to why your scanner would be working slower if you don’t have EPP enabled and thankfully changing it over isn’t too complicated.

To do so, you should restart your computer and when it starts to boot you will see a message along the lines of ‘Press <DEL> to enter setup’ so when it appears you should press whichever key it instructs you to do in order to enter the ‘Setup’ or the ‘BIOS’.If you don’t have time to read it, the most common ones are either <F2>, <DEL> or <CTRL> and ‘S’ simultaneously and if you do miss it then you will have to restart your computer and try again.The next screen that appears will look very different from system to system so I’m going to have to leave you to find the menu option that has your parallel port settings stored which will in most cases be labelled ‘Integrated Peripherals’ but you may need to skip in and out of menus if they are labelled slightly differently.Using the arrow and <ENTER> keys you should go into the correct menu option and look for something along the lines of‘Parallel Port Mode’, set it to EPP and then press escape to get back to the main screen.Once there choose to ‘Save & Exit’ and let your computer restart then try your scanner again and see if anything has changed.Only users with Parallel Port scanners should use this method to try and speed up their scanning as it won’t make any difference to those of you on USB or SCSI connections and always ensure that you make a note of what it was set at originally.

The screen that we’ve just been playing with is called the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) and essentially controls the most fundamental settings of the computer.A properly trained technician can tweak these settings to gain the best performance but haphazardly messing around can cause you problems so bear in mind that you do everything at your own risk and I really wouldn’t recommend it!If you do decide to go against my advice and change any options then make sure you make a note of what they were originally just in case things go wrong.

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.