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by Ray DeCosta

Q. My computer's clock seems to be continuously losing time and I have to reset it every several days. How to I keep this from happening?

A. This isn't a particularly serious problem, but you will want to fix it at your earliest opportunity. Having your computer clock lose (or gain) time is usually a symptom of a run-down CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor) battery. This battery is used to maintain low-level computer system settings and as it quits, you will start to receive serious-sounding error messages, such as "Checksum Error" or "BIOS Error".

An odd condition will eventually develop in that, unknown to you, all your emails will be dated "01-01-2000" This virtually ensures that no one will ever see them because they will be down at the bottom of your recipient's date-sorted In box! While your computer will probably continue to run, you really should do something before the battery fails completely.

Fortunately, most desktops use the same small battery for powering the memory - it's a CR2032, almost the size of a quarter and is readily available at many drugstores, office supply stores, etc. It's accessible by opening up your computer and looking on the main board for the battery retained by a small clip. But make sure to check your computer's documentation for additional instructions and specifications.

None of this information applies to laptops. Their CMOS batteries are more likely to be proprietary and difficult to access. Unless you know what you're doing, call in one of your geek friends for help.

Published: Courier 11/6/11 - Page 5C