Technology

How to unlock old games to play on Windows 10

Q: I have a new Windows 10 PC that won’t play any of my old games, such as Medal of Honor, Age of Empires or Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator. What can I do?

Rob Godfrey, Minneapolis

A: Windows 10 isn’t compatible with your older games because it can’t unlock their copy protection software.

Most older PC games came on CD disks rather than as downloads. To prevent games from being illegally copied, game creators put copy protection software on each disk. Prior versions of Windows were able to unlock it.

Unfortunately, the unlocking software wasn’t included in Windows 10, reportedly as part of Microsoft’s efforts to make the operating system safer from hackers. By some estimates, thousands of older CD-based PC games are incompatible with Windows 10.

There are a couple of fixes, but they are pretty technical. You could set up your PC to run both Windows 10 and an older version of Windows that can unlock your games (see tinyurl.com/nxvnflh.) Or you could download the missing unlocking software (called “secdrv.sys”, see tinyurl.com/j6obyzs), and a software driver for the copy protection program (see tinyurl.com/h9ge8oj, and at the bottom click “agree”) and follow Solution 5 of the installation directions at tinyurl.com/zfmz4xu. The latter is risky because it could cause PC security problems or make Windows 10 malfunction.

Q: I work for a bank and use the Google Chrome Web browser. I typically have multiple Web pages open at a time, each in its own tab. But when I go back to a tab several minutes later, it automatically refreshes itself, which can lose data entered on a page. What can I do?

Anthony Roque, Jacksonville, Fla.

A: You can disable this Google Chrome feature, and thus prevent Web pages from losing their data when you’re not looking at them.

Why was such a feature created in the first place? So that Chrome would use up less of a PC’s memory. As you noted, Chrome allows you to have more than one Web page open at a time, each in its own tab at the top of the browser. You click a tab to bring that page to the screen.

But each open tab uses up about 50 megabytes of the PC’s random-access memory (RAM). To economize on memory use, Chrome is set to throw away website information when you are not looking at it, then automatically refresh (or reload) the Web page every time you click on its tab. Google calls it “automatic tab discarding,” but it’s a problem for people who don’t want the information they’ve typed into a Web page to disappear when the page is automatically reloaded.

To turn the feature off, open Chrome and in the Web address line type “chrome:flags” (without the quotation marks), then click the Enter key. Then press the CTRL (control) and letter F keys at the same time, which opens a search box on the upper right corner of the screen. Type the word “discard” (without quotation marks) and press the Enter key. You'll see that “automatic tab discarding” is highlighted on the screen; click on the drop-down menu beside the word “default” and choose “disabled.” To make the change permanent, close the browser and reopen it.

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