Understanding Y2K

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Relating to Personal Computers

Y2K is not simple to explain, but it can be summed up easily:

  1. If you have an older computer, an XT, 286, 386, and most early 486’s, that hardware is not Y2K compatible.
  2. If you use an old operating system such as (but not limited to) DOS and or Windows 3.1, it definitely does not know how to handle transition from 1999 to 2000. If you have Windows 95 and have never obtained updates, it too will cause you big trouble. Even Windows 98 needs to receive updates to fix some problems.
  3. If you have old accounting software such as Turbo Tax, Quicken, QuickBooks, One Write, and many others that calculate your finances, they also may not be Y2K compatible.
Your older “Y2K non compliant” computer can still be used to write letters or manage a database, or dial the Internet and surf or get your email. It won’t just stop working. 

What it will not do, is calculate from year to year any financial figures that need to cross between the year 1999 and 2000. Those figures will give wrong information.

Here is what you need to do if you do financial calculations on your computer:

There are 3 issues, all critical to Y2K: the computer, the operating system, and the software that you run.

  1. Make sure your computer system board can handle Y2K. If not, buy a new computer that is!
  2. Make sure your operating system is updated.
  3. Make sure your financial program is Y2K compatible. If not, update it!
Operating system:

Updates are obtained from Microsoft over the Internet for Windows 95 and 98. Consider upgrading to Windows 98 Second Edition. Make sure that your computer is operating smoothly before you upgrade. If there are problems before, there will be more after including possibly crashing while upgrading. According to Microsoft, DOS is dead and unsupported. There is no fix.


You do not need to buy software to test your computer. You can go to the “C Prompt” (NOT in a window) and type date and set in 12-31-1999 and type time and set the time to 23:59:00 Then immediately shut the computer off and wait 1 ½ minutes. Turn the computer back on, stopping it at the “C Prompt” with the F8 key and DOS option. Type date and time again and see if it went to 2000 or 1900 or 1980 or some other year. If you did wait for over a minute and you see 2000 in the date, the computer BIOS will handle Year 2000. This only tests the computer, not the software which is another issue. Remember to reset the date back to the current date and time.


Only the latest program versions seem to carry all the updates needed to fix your software. Contact your software writer. They are still finding problems in software so stay in touch with them.

Your Computer

Although you may be able to find an upgraded BIOS for your computer to fix Y2K, upgrading can be risky (the computer may die on the operating table). This is not recommended. Windows has been reported to go berserk when you upgrade the BIOS. Basically, Windows needs to install or change drivers for the new BIOS features.

You can upgrade the system motherboard (and CPU and memory) which is a better option, but Windows will also go berserk. You may need to reinstall Windows and all your programs and data in both of these options.

If your computer is not Y2K and your operating system is not, your best option IS a new computer.

Bad Fixes

There is software that can temporarily fix the Y2K issue. It is dangerous to use though. It can reside as a dynamic overlay or it can be initialized from the config.sys or autoexec.bat.

This software is supposed to correct the date to 2000 as the computer boots, but it can accidentally be disabled by other software, corrupting your financial data and you would be unaware. This is a very poor option and should not be used.

The Real world

The only problems expected are those created by people, not computers. There may be some shortages caused by people stock-piling food, water, and cash. The rest is “Bull” !

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