If there are any old PCs in use around your shop—anything older than a year or two—it’s time to check them for Y2K compliance. Some of those machines will have to be retired because they can’t be upgraded. You’ll never know until you test them, however.

If your shop is like ours, your co-workers are finally getting around to worrying about their home systems, and they’ll be asking you how to check them. Here’s a very low-tech approach you can give them to determine whether a CPU (the brain of the computer) is Y2K compliant. Be sure to remind your co-workers that even if a PC is compliant, the applications they’re running may not be.

It’s old-fashioned but it works
Here’s how to check a PC’s ability to roll over to Jan. 1, 2000:

  1. Click the Start button, choose Programs, and look for MS-DOS Prompt.
  2. When the MS-DOS prompt window opens, it may be so small that it’s hard to read the text. If it is, click the Maximize button (the square box in the top-right corner of the DOS window). The prompt should say something like C:\WINDOWS.
  3. Type the word date and press [Enter].
  4. When the Enter new date prompt appears, type 12/31/1999 and press [Enter].
  5. Now, type the word time and press [Enter]. When the Enter new time prompt appears, type 23:59:59 and press [Enter].
  6. Wait a few seconds, then type date and press [Enter] again. If the system shows the current date is 1/1/2000, your system is okay. If it shows 1980 or 1900, you’ll need to find out how to “patch” or fix your system, if a fix is available from the manufacturer.

Don’t forget to reset
No matter how the test turns out, you must reset the date and time. To do so, just type date, press [Enter], type the current date and press [Enter] again. Then type time, press [Enter], and enter the current time (in military or 24-hour format). To close the MS-DOS prompt window, type exit and press [Enter].
One of the perks of publishing on the Web is being able to update content you’ve posted. I want to take advantage of that capability here to thank the TechRepublic readers who used our Post a Comment feature below and correctly pointed out that I blew it the first time this article posted. I failed to mention that you should reboot the machine to see if the 2000 date “sticks.” Your posts prompted me to go back and revisit the machines I’d previously tested, and I found one on which the date “stuck” as long as the machine was working, but reset to 1980 on reboot. My low-tech fix was to add Date and Time commands to the end of Autoexec.bat so the new date and time could be manually entered on startup.The Microsoft Year 2000 Product Analyzer will analyze a hard drive and generate a report about the status of the installed applications. You can read about how to download and use that product in this article from July 1999 .