Running MS Windows 98 - Chapter 16

Archived content. No warranty is made as to technical accuracy. Content may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.

By Craig Stinson

ISBN: 1-57231-681-0

Chapter 16 and the Table of Contents of Running Microsoft Windows 98 reprinted with permission from Microsoft Press.

On This Page

Table of Contents
Chapter 16: Optimizing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting

Table of Contents


Part I Getting Started with Windows

Chapter 1 Introducing Windows 98

Starting Windows
Logging On for Networked Users
Logging On for Non-Networked Users
What to Do If You Forget Your Password
A Quick Tour
The Start Button and Start Menu
Task Buttons
The Notification Area
My Computer
My Documents
Internet Explorer
Network Neighborhood
The Recycle Bin
Shortcut Icons
Program, Folder, and Document Icons
Active Desktop Objects
Working with Windows
Sizing and Moving Windows
Switching Between Windows
Arranging Windows on the Screen
Keeping Windows on Top
Window Panes
Working with Document Windows
Working with Folders
Working with Menus and Dialog Boxes
The Control Menu and the Menu Bar
Choosing Commands with the Mouse
Choosing Commands with the Keyboard
Context ("Right-Click") Menus Gray Commands, Checks, and Cascading Menus
Using Dialog Boxes
Using Scroll Bars
Working with Outlines
Entering and Editing Text in Documents
The Insertion Point
The I-Beam
The Selection
Positioning the Insertion Point
Selecting Text
Deleting Characters
Deleting Blocks of Text
Undoing a Deletion
Copying and Moving Text
Getting Help
Getting Help in Dialog Boxes
Ending a Windows Session
Shutting Down If You Have Shared Resources

Chapter 2 Using and Customizing the Start Menu

Taking Advantage of User Profiles
Changing the Overall Appearance of the Start Menu
Organization and Structure of the Start Menu
The Top of the Menu and the Programs Menu
The Favorites Menu
The Documents Menu
The Settings Menu, Find Menu, and Help Command
The Run Command
The Log Off Command and Shut Down Command
Customizing the Start Menu
Adding Items to the Menu
Removing Items from the Start Menu
Moving and Copying Items from One Part of the Menu to Another
Moving and Copying Items from the Menu to Other Locations
Renaming Menu Items
Assigning a Keyboard Shortcut to a Menu Item
Specifying the Type of Window a Menu Item Opens
Changing a Menu Item's Icon
Reorganizing the Programs Menu

Chapter 3 Using and Customizing the Desktop

Maintaining Individual Settings with User Profiles
Activating the Active Desktop
To Click or Double-Click?
Selecting Items in Single-Click and Double-Click Modes
Turning Off the Underlining in Single-Click Mode
To View or Not to View as a Web Page?
Bringing the Internet to Your Active Desktop
Displaying the Channel Bar
Adding "Non-Gallery" Internet Objects to Your Desktop
Moving and Sizing Internet Objects
Changing an Object's Update Schedule
Getting Rid of an Internet Desktop Object
Personalizing the Taskbar
Other Ways to Make More Room on the Taskbar
If the Taskbar Gets in Your Way
Using Toolbars
Installing and Removing Toolbars
Sizing and Positioning Toolbars
Customizing Toolbar Contents
Customizing the Appearance of a Toolbar
Creating a New Toolbar
Opening and Refreshing Toolbars
Adding Shortcuts to Your Desktop
Creating a Shortcut
Renaming a Shortcut
Assigning Other Properties to a Shortcut
Repositioning Shortcuts on the Desktop
Deleting a Shortcut
Changing Your Desktop's Display Properties
Changing Display Resolution
Changing Color Depth
Changing Colors, Fonts, and Sizes
Modifying the Supplied Appearance Schemes
Saving an Appearance Scheme
Using Wallpaper
Using a Background Pattern
Editing an Existing Pattern
Creating a New Pattern
Using a Screen Saver
Changing Icon Appearance
Controlling Menu Animations, Font Smoothing, and Window-Drag Display

Chapter 4 Using and Customizing Windows Explorer

Is It Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer?
The Basic Layout
"Open View" Versus "Explore View"
Navigating Through Folders
Running Programs and Opening Documents
Folder Display Options
Options That Can Be Applied to the Current Folder or All Folders
Options That Can Be Applied Only to the Current Folder
Options That Can Be Applied Only to All Folders
Refreshing the Contents of a Windows Explorer Window
Working with Folders, Files, and Shortcuts in Windows Explorer
Selecting Folders and Files in a Windows Explorer Window
Inspecting Folder and File Properties
Creating New Folders
Moving or Copying Folders, Files, and Shortcuts
Renaming Folders, Files, and Shortcuts
Reversing Moves, Copies, and Name Changes with the Undo Command
Deleting Folders, Files, and Shortcuts
Restoring Deleted Folders, Files, and Shortcuts
Setting Attributes for Folders, Files, and Shortcuts
Working with the File Types List
Decoding Document Icons
Changing a File Type's Icon
Adding or Removing Quick-View Capability
Changing the Registered Name of a File Type
Specifying Display of Extensions
Removing a File Type from the Registry
Modifying a File Type's Context Menu
Creating New File Types
Formatting Disks
Copying Floppy Disks
Using Command Lines to Open Windows Explorer

Part II Further Explorations

Chapter 5 Using and Sharing Files on the Network

Using Network Neighborhood to Find Network Files
Connecting to a Network Server
Access Rights
Connecting to a Server from the Common Dialog Boxes
Mapping a Network Folder to a Drive Letter
"Unmapping" a Mapped Network Folder
Using Path Specifications to Open Network Folders
Sharing Folders with Other Users
Assigning Access Rights with Share-Level Access Control
Assigning Access Rights with User-Level Access Control
Changing Access Right Assignments
Monitoring the Use of Shared Resources
Using Net Watcher to Monitor Use of Remote Resources
Allowing Remote Administration of Your System

Chapter 6 Using the Find Command

Finding the Find Command
Finding Files and Folders
Telling Find Where to Search
Telling Find What to Search For
Saving Search Results
Finding a Network Server
Working with Search Results
Finding People

Chapter 7 Installing, Configuring, and Using Your Printers

Goodbye Print Manager, Hello Printers Folder
How Do I Print Thee? (Let Me Count the Ways)
Printing from a Program
Drag-and-Drop Printing
Printing with the Send To Command
Printing from MS-DOS–Based Programs
Printing to a Network Printer
Installing a Local Copy of a Network Printer Driver
Inspecting and Managing a Print Queue
Pausing and Resuming the Print Queue
Pausing a Particular Document
Removing a Document from the Queue
Removing All Documents from the Queue
Installing a New Printer
Installing a Plug and Play Printer
Installing a Non–Plug and Play Printer
Inspecting and Setting Printer Properties
Providing a Comment
Using Separator Pages
Changing the Port
Changing Drivers
Changing Timeout Settings
Sharing a Printer
Changing the Default Paper Size, Paper Source, Orientation, and Number of Copies
Changing Default Resolution, Dithering Options, and Intensity
Specifying Font Cartridges
Printing TrueType Fonts as Graphics
Specifying the Amount of Memory in Your Printer

Chapter 8 Installing and Using Fonts

Font Size
Style and Weight
Serif and Sans Serif Fonts
Monospaced and Proportionally Spaced Fonts
Scalable and Nonscalable Fonts
Fonts Supplied with Windows
Your Printer's Own Font Resources
Viewing and Printing Font Samples
Viewing Options in the Fonts Folder
Adding Fonts
To Copy or Not to Copy?
Deleting Fonts
Using Fonts in Documents
Embedding TrueType Fonts
Fonts and Character Sets
Using Character Map

Chapter 9 Exchanging Information Using the Clipboard and OLE

Data Exchange: A Symphony with Three Movements
What the Cut, Copy, Paste, and Paste Special Commands Do
The Clipboard, Windows' Invisible Transfer Agent
Controlling the Outcome with Paste Special
To Embed, to Link, or Merely to Paste?
How to Embed
Embedding a New Object
How to Link
Two Linking Hazards to Avoid
Embedding or Linking a File
Working with Embedded Objects
Playing an Embedded Sound or Video Object
Modifying the Properties of an Embedded Object
Working with Links
Another Linking Hazard
Breaking a Link
What to Do If the Source Document Is Moved or Renamed
Creating Scrap Files
Sharing and Using OLE Objects Across the Network

Chapter 10 Customizing Windows with Control Panel

How to Get to Control Panel
Resetting the Date, Time, and Time Zone
Applying Desktop Themes
Creating and Modifying Desktop Themes
Extending Your Desktop Across Two or More Monitors
Installing, Configuring, and Testing a Game Controller
Adjusting Keyboard Repeat Parameters
Installing Language Support and Using Keyboard Layouts
Installing a New Language
Switching Keyboard Layouts
Installing, Configuring, and Testing a Modem
Setting Up Dialing Locations
Adjusting Mouse Behavior
Changing Mouse Pointer Shapes
Changing Network Settings
Changing Your Computer's Network ID
Switching Between Share-Level and User-Level Access Control
Changing Passwords
Allowing Remote Administration
Enabling User Profiles
Specifying Regional (International) Settings
Setting Up New User Profiles

Chapter 11 Running MS-DOS–Based Programs

Launching an MS-DOS–Based Program
Of PIFs and Properties
Terminating an MS-DOS Session
Full Screen or Window?
Full Screen Advantages
Window Advantages
Switching Between a Full Screen and a Window
Using the Toolbar
Font Options in a Window
Mouse Options in a Window
Using Copy and Paste
Copying from an MS-DOS–Based Program
Pasting into an MS-DOS–Based Program
Working with Program Properties
Options on the Program Tab
Options on the Font Tab
Options on the Memory Tab
Options on the Screen Tab
Options on the Misc Tab
Entering Commands at the MS-DOS Prompt
The MS-DOS Prompt Versus the Run Command
MS-DOS in Windows 98 Versus MS-DOS in Windows 3.x
Running Programs with the Start Command

Chapter 12 Using the Accessibility Features

Getting to the Accessibility Features
Setting Keyboard Options
Facilitating Entry of Keystroke Combinations with StickyKeys
Controlling the Keyboard Repeat Rate with BounceKeys (FilterKeys)
Using ToggleKeys to Indicate Keyboard Status Changes
Setting Sound Options
Setting Display Options
Using Microsoft Magnifier
Using the Keyboard Instead of the Mouse
Making the Mouse Pointer Easier to See
Setting Administrative Options
Installing Support for SerialKey Devices

Part III Maintaining Your Windows System

Chapter 13 Installing and Uninstalling Software and Hardware

Adding or Removing Parts of Windows 98
Installing Programs
Uninstalling Programs
Moving Programs
Plug and Play: The End of the Hardware Blues?
Installing a Plug and Play Peripheral
Installing a Legacy Peripheral
Alternative Ways to Install Certain Legacy Devices
Uninstalling a Legacy Peripheral

Chapter 14 Protecting Your Data with Microsoft Backup

Backup Types and Strategies
What Should You Back Up?
Creating a Backup Job
Choosing a Full or Partial Backup Type
Marking Disks, Folders, and Files for Backup
Specifying Where to Back Up
Telling Backup How to Back Up
Saving the Backup Job
Creating a Backup Job with the Backup Wizard
Executing a Backup
Viewing and Printing the Backup Report
Restoring Files
Setting Restore Options
Overwrite Options
Report Options
Restore the Registry?
Insuring Your System Against a Catastrophic Failure
Running the System Recovery Utility

Chapter 15 Understanding the Registry

One Database, Two (or Three) Files
How Windows Backs Up the Registry
Restoring Registry Backups Manually
Other Ways to Back Up and Restore the Registry
Backing Up with MS-DOS Commands
Backing Up with Microsoft Backup
Backing Up with Configuration Backup and Emergency Recovery Utility
Introducing Registry Editor
Precautions to Take When Using Registry Editor
Registry Editor's Export and Import Commands
Hkeys and Keys
A Few Useful Registry Modifications
Changing the Registered Owner and Registered Organization
Changing the Source Path Used by the Windows Setup Program
Pruning the Run MRU
Adding an Open With Command for Every File Type

Chapter 16 Optimizing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting

Getting Optimal Performance from Windows 98
Freeing Up Hard Disk Space
Optimizing Disk Performance with Disk Defragmenter
Other Optimizing Steps
Routine Maintenance for Your System
Ensuring Disk Integrity with ScanDisk
Being Prepared with Startup Disks and Backup Tapes
Automating Maintenance with the Maintenance Wizard
Backing Up and Restoring System Files with System Configuration Utility
What To Do When Things Go Awry
Using the Help File's Troubleshooters
Using the Windows Knowledge Base and Other Online Resources
If a Program Stops Running
Verifying that System Files Have Not Changed
Using Device Manager and Microsoft System Information to Track Hardware Conflicts
Starting Windows in Safe Mode
Diagnostic Startups

Part IV Using the Windows Accessories

Chapter 17 Writing with WordPad

Starting WordPad
Creating a WordPad Document
Inserting the Date or Time
Starting a New Document
Editing Text
Navigating in a Document
Selecting Text
Undoing Mistakes
Copying and Moving Text
Finding Text
Starting a Search
Repeating a Search
Replacing Text
Telling WordPad What to Replace
Replacing What You Want to Replace
Changing Your Document's Appearance
Changing Fonts
Adding Bullets
Indenting Text
Aligning Text
Setting and Using Tab Stops
Setting Margins
Using the Ruler
Putting Pictures in WordPad Documents
Sizing or Moving a Picture
Using Data from Other Programs
Controlling a Pasted Object's Format
Moving and Sizing Embedded or Linked Objects
Activating, Playing, and Editing Embedded or Linked Objects
Embedding with the Insert Object Command
Modifying Links with the Links Command
Saving and Retrieving Documents
Choosing a File Type
Changing View Options
Putting It on Paper
Saving Paper with Print Preview

Chapter 18 Drawing with Paint

Starting Paint
Painting 101
Saving and Opening Paint Documents
Quick Fixes: The Undo and Repeat Commands
Using the Undo Command
Using the Repeat Command
Setting Up for a New Picture
Choosing a Background Color or Pattern
Establishing the Size and Shape of Your Picture
Choosing Color or Black and White
Seeing the Larger Picture
Using the View Bitmap Command
Removing the Tool Box, Color Box, and Status Bar
Navigating on a Large Canvas
Precise Pointer Positioning
What the Pointer Shapes Mean
Exploring the Tool Box
Using Paint's Drawing Tools
Using Paint's Editing Tools
Working with Cutouts
Cutting or Copying a Cutout to the Clipboard
Copying a Cutout to a Disk File
Pasting a Cutout from the Clipboard
Pasting from a Disk File
Moving a Cutout
Copying a Cutout Within a Picture
Sweeping a Cutout
Resizing a Cutout
Stretching and Skewing a Cutout
Flipping or Rotating a Cutout
Reversing the Colors of a Cutout
Erasing a Cutout
Fine Tuning Your Image with Zoom
Editing Colors
Choosing Predefined Colors
Adding Custom Colors
Printing Your Paint Image
Changing Page Settings
Making Wallpaper

Chapter 19 Making Connections with Phone Dialer and HyperTerminal

Using Phone Dialer
Setting Up the Speed-Dial Numbers
Making a Call
Viewing a Log of Your Calls
Changing the Dialing Properties
Why HyperTerminal?
A Typical HyperTerminal Session
Starting HyperTerminal
Making New Connections
Opening Existing Connections
Modifying Connection Settings
Transferring Files
Sending a Text File
Sending a Binary File
Receiving a Binary File
Creating a Transcript of Your Communications Session

Chapter 20 Using the Multimedia Accessories

Playing Audio CDs with CD Player
Creating a Play List for an Audio CD
Playing DVD Disks
Playing Sounds, Video, and Animation with Media Player
Changing Media Options
Linking and Embedding Media Files
Controlling Sound Volume
Recording Sounds with Sound Recorder
Controlling Input Levels for Recording
Editing Sound Files

Chapter 21 Playing Games with Windows

What Windows 98 Brings to the Gaming Table
Games That Come with Windows 98
Playing Minesweeper
Customizing Minesweeper's Levels of Play
Keeping Score
Strategies for Successful Minesweeping
Playing Hearts
Rules of the Game
Hearts Options
Strategies for Successful Hearts Play
Playing Solitaire
Rules of the Game
Changing Game Options
Strategy Tips
Playing FreeCell
Rules of the Game
Strategy Tips
Changing Game Options
Running MS-DOS–Based Games Under Windows 98

Chapter 22 Using WebTV for Windows and WaveTop

Running WebTV for the First Time
Watching TV
Using the Program Guide
Searching for Programs
Watching Interactive TV
Using WaveTop
The WaveTop User Interface
Selecting WaveTop Content

Chapter 23 Using Imaging

File Types Supported by Imaging
Basic Options
Toolbar Options
Opening and Scanning Files
Setting Compression Options
Transfer Mode Options
Selecting a View
Changing Thumbnail Dimensions
Navigating in a Multipage Document
Rotating and Zooming
Zooming to a Selected Area
Adding Pages to a Document
Getting and Setting Page Properties
Annotating Images
Creating and Changing Rubber Stamps
Working with Annotations
Creating a New Document
Printing and Faxing

Part V Sharing Information and Communicating

Chapter 24 Windows to Go: Special Features for Mobile Computing

Monitoring and Conserving Power
Setting Power-Management Parameters
Setting Dialing Properties
Using Dial-Up Networking
Setting Up a Dial-Up Networking Connection
Connecting to a Remote-Access Server
Reconnecting to a Remote Folder or File
Allowing Others to Connect to Your Computer via Dial-Up Networking
Synchronizing Files with Briefcase
Using Briefcase with a Network or Direct Cable Connection
Using Briefcase with Floppy Disks
Getting Status Information About Briefcase Files
Updating Files
Divorcing a Briefcase File from Its Sync Copy
Creating New Files While Traveling
Using Deferred Printing While You're Away from the Office
Transferring Files with Direct Cable Connection
What Kind of Cable to Use
Setting Up Direct Cable Connection

Chapter 25 Using Internet Explorer

Getting Started with the Internet Connection Wizard
Creating a New ISP Account
Reconnecting to an Existing ISP Account
Connecting or Reconnecting to a Proxy Server
Modifying an Existing Dial-Up Networking Connection
Starting and Ending an Internet Explorer Session
Working Offline
Understanding the Internet Explorer User Interface
Using Full Screen View
Displaying and Hiding Explorer Bars
Understanding the Status Bar
Navigating on the World Wide Web
Using Links to Get to Other Pages
Going to a Specific Web Page
Using Back and Forward
Revisiting the Past with History
Keeping Track of Your Favorite Pages
Using Search to Find New Sites
Using Subscriptions and Channels
The Mechanics of Subscribing
Changing Subscription Settings
Updating Subscriptions Manually
Canceling a Subscription
Finding Channels
Working with Web Pages
Printing a Web Page
Saving a Web Page to Disk
Creating Shortcuts to Web Pages
Sending Web Pages to Others
Turning a Web Image into Wallpaper
Finding Text on a Web Page
Editing a Web Page
Downloading Files from the Internet
Trusting Software Publishers
Connecting to FTP, Gopher, and Telnet Sites
Using Security and Privacy Features
Working with Secure Sites
Security Zones and Security Levels
Blocking Cookies
Blocking Pornography and Other Objectionable Content
Using Profile Assistant
Using Microsoft Wallet
Customizing Internet Explorer
Changing the Home Page
Customizing the Toolbars
Selecting Colors
Selecting Fonts
Controlling the Cache
Setting Advanced Options

Chapter 26 Using Outlook Express

Installing and Running Outlook Express
How Outlook Express Is Organized
Navigating in Outlook Express
Mail Folders
News Folders
Setting Up Mail and News Accounts
Viewing and Changing Account Properties
Receiving and Sending Mail
Setting Up an Automatic Download Schedule
Manually Downloading New Mail from Your Mail Server
Reading Messages
Replying to a Message
Creating a New Message
Managing Your Address Book
Working with Address Book
Adding and Changing Address Book Entries
Working with Groups
Importing Information from Other Programs
Importing Addresses from Internet Directory Services
Importing Names from a Business Card List
Exporting Information to Another Program
Organizing Your Mail
Creating and Using Folders
Moving, Copying, and Deleting Messages
Using the Inbox Assistant
Searching for a Message
Security Zones
Working with Encryption
Working with Internet Newsgroups
How Internet News Is Organized
Selecting a Newsgroup
Viewing Newsgroup Articles
Reading News Offline
Marking an Article for Download
Forwarding an Article
Replying to an Article
Posting a New Article
Composing an Article
Using Newsgroup Filters
Changing the Appearance of Outlook Express
Changing the Toolbar
Viewing or Hiding the Preview Pane
Customizing the Message List
Reducing Wasted Disk Space
How Outlook Express Relates to Internet Explorer
Making Outlook Express Your Default Mail and News Program

Chapter 27 Using NetMeeting

Getting Started with NetMeeting
The NetMeeting User Interface
Working with the Directory Listings
Placing a Call
Calling by SpeedDial
Calling from History View
Answering a Call
Accepting Calls Automatically
Running NetMeeting Automatically at Startup
Putting Out the Do Not Disturb Sign
Sending and Receiving Sound
Sending and Receiving Video
Using Chat
Using Whiteboard
Other Whiteboard Features
Sending and Receiving Files
Sharing a Program

Chapter 28 Using Chat

Comic Strip View Versus Plain Text View
Getting Started with Chat
Entering Personal Information
Choosing a Comic Strip Character
Choosing a Background for Your Character
Connecting to a Server and Entering a Chat Room
Conversing in the Chat Room
Automatic Gestures in Comic Strip View
Creating Message Macros
Giving Someone the Cold Shoulder
Saving, Opening, and Printing a Chat Session
Meeting Members Outside the Chat Room
Hosting Your Own Chat Room
Ejecting Unruly Participants from Your Room
Limiting Access to Unsavory Chat Rooms

Chapter 29 Publishing with Personal Web Server and FrontPage Express

The World Wide Web and Web Servers
Using Personal Web Server
Installing Personal Web Server
Starting Personal Web Server
Setting Up Your First Web Site
Using Personal Web Manager
Using FrontPage Express
Exploring the FrontPage Express Window
Using FrontPage Express to Customize Existing Web Pages
Creating a Hyperlink
Creating a Table
Viewing the HTML for a Page
Publishing a New Page

Chapter 16: Optimizing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting

This chapter takes up three interrelated topics: how to get your system running as well as it can, how to perform routine maintenance on your system so that it always hums along happily, and what to do when things go awry. Windows 98 provides several new or improved tools to help you keep your system in good order. If you have adequate hardware to begin with and you use these maintenance tools regularly, the odds are good that you'll never have serious problems. In case you do run into trouble, however, Windows 98 also provides direct links to Microsoft's Internet-based support services, as well as better diagnostic information to assist support personnel.

Getting Optimal Performance from Windows 98

Aside from the speed of your microprocessor, the elements of your system that have the most bearing on Windows' performance are memory (RAM) and available hard disk space. Windows loves memory. No matter what you run, but particularly if you run large, computation-intensive programs such as graphics editors and computer-aided design programs, you can scarcely have too much RAM on board. In any event, you shouldn't even try to run Windows 98 with less than 16 MB (megabytes), and if you're getting unsatisfactory performance on a system with less than 64 MB, one of the first things to consider is plugging in some additional memory.

Windows uses your hard disk as "virtual memory"—that is, as an extension of main memory. When things get overloaded in memory, Windows automatically writes some data from memory to a "swap file" on your disk—a process called paging. When Windows needs that information again, it reads it back from the swap file, at the same time (if necessary) swapping something else out.

Because disk access is far slower than memory access, paging impedes performance. Increasing the amount of memory on your system improves performance by minimizing paging.

In earlier versions of Windows (prior to Windows 95), users could choose between a permanent swap file and a temporary one. The permanent swap file provided faster access, but walled off a sizable block of disk space that could no longer be used for program and document storage. A temporary swap file provided flexibility at the cost of slower paging.

The permanent/temporary tradeoff is no longer available in Windows, and indeed is no longer necessary. Windows normally manages the paging process in the most efficient manner, without requiring you to make any decisions or intervene in any way.

The only time it might make sense to get involved in setting paging parameters is if you have two or more hard disks and one of them is significantly faster than the one on which Windows is installed. Windows normally pages to the drive on which it's installed, and if you think you can gain performance by pointing it to a different drive, you can do so as follows:

  1. Right-click My Computer and choose Properties from the context menu. (Alternatively, launch System in Control Panel.)

  2. Click the Performance tab, and then click the Virtual Memory button.

  3. In the Virtual Memory dialog box (see Figure 16-1), select the Let Me Specify My Own Virtual Memory Settings option button, and then select the disk where you want paging to occur. Then click OK.


Figure 16-1: You can use this dialog box to override Windows' default paging parameters, but usually there's no reason to do so.

A better solution, if you happen to have a drive that's dramatically faster than the one where Windows installed, is to reinstall Windows on the faster drive.

The dialog box shown in Figure 16-1 also lets you specify a minimum and a maximum size for your swap file. Unless your hard disk space is severely limited, there's no good reason to change these parameters. And if your disk space is severely limited, it's far better to address the disk-space problem than to constrain Windows' page file.

Freeing Up Hard Disk Space

If available hard-disk space falls too low, you will begin seeing error messages from programs and from Windows itself. You may see these even when you have 100 MB or so of free space, simply because Windows is running out of room to page. Here are some ways to reduce the population density of your hard disk:

  • Uninstall programs that you don't need.

  • Uninstall Windows components that you don't need.

  • Delete or move documents that you don't need.

  • Switch to the FAT32 file system, if you aren't already using it.

  • Use DriveSpace 3 to compress your disk (an option not available on drives that are already using FAT32).

  • Use third-party compression tools to compress particular files.

Cleaning Up with Disk Cleanup

The easiest way to take most of these steps is to run Disk Cleanup, a utility program supplied with Windows. Figure 16-2 shows a sample of the work that Disk Cleanup can do. The program lists several categories of potentially expendable disk files and shows you how much space you could recover by deleting each category. The More Options tab, meanwhile, provides access to the Windows Setup program (so you can delete unneeded components of Windows), Add/Remove Programs (so you can get rid of programs you aren't using), and the FAT32 Drive Converter (if your disk isn't already using the FAT32 file system).

To run Disk Cleanup, open the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup. Disk Cleanup begins by asking which drive you want to clean up. Select a drive and click OK.

Tip A Faster Way to Launch Disk Cleanup. In a Windows Explorer window, right-click the icon for the drive you want to clean up and choose Properties. On the General tab in the properties dialog box, click Disk Cleanup.


Figure 16-2: The easiest way to recover disk space is to use Disk Cleanup, a utility supplied with Windows.

Uninstalling Unneeded Programs and Windows Components

To see a list of programs that can easily be uninstalled, launch Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel. To uninstall a program, select its name and click the Add/Remove button.

To uninstall Windows components that you don't need, launch Add/Remove Programs and click the Windows Setup tab. You can uninstall a whole category of components (Desktop Themes, for example) by deselecting the associated check box. Or you can uninstall some of a category's elements by selecting the category name and then clicking Details. In the Details display, deselect the check boxes for any items you want to uninstall.

You might also want to consider uninstalling unneeded components of some of your programs. Perhaps you don't need 3000 clip-art images, a French dictionary (assuming you don't write in French), or the help files for a programming language in which you don't program. Try launching Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel and running the uninstall routine for your largest programs. Many uninstall programs let you remove particular components without getting rid of the entire program. If your program doesn't have this capability, you can simply back out of the uninstaller without removing anything.

Deleting or Moving Unneeded Documents

When looking around for document files that are good candidates for deletion, be sure to include the following:

  • The contents of your Recycle Bin

  • Old files with the extension .TMP

  • Files with the extension .CHK

Tip The Maintenance Wizard can help you get rid of files that you don't need. (See "Automating Maintenance with the Maintenance Wizard.")

To get rid of everything in your Recycle Bin, right-click the Recycle Bin icon and choose Empty Recycle Bin. To remove items selectively, launch Recycle Bin. If necessary, choose Details from Explorer's View menu to see the date on which each file was deleted. Click the Date Deleted column heading twice to sort the files by deletion date, with the oldest files at the top. These oldest files are probably your best candidates for removal.

See Also For more information about the Recycle Bin, see "Restoring Deleted Folders, Files, and Shortcuts."

Note: When you delete files from your Recycle Bin, they're gone for good, and they can't be easily or reliably recovered.

Many programs create temporary files while you work. These files, which commonly have the extension .TMP, are normally deleted when you quit the program. If you have any kind of irregular shutdown, however (for example, if the program crashes, or if you turn off your computer without going through the normal shutdown procedure), the temporary files linger until you ferret them out and remove them by hand.

The Start menu's Find command can help you do the ferreting. If Find turns up .TMP files whose creation dates lie before your most recent system shutdown (see Figure 16-3), you can be reasonably sure that it's safe to delete those files.


Figure 16-3: On August 28, a search of local hard drives for files with extension .TMP produced this list. The first five items are good candidates for deletion.

Files with the extension .CHK are sometimes created by the ScanDisk utility, described later in this chapter. After you verify that that your .CHK files don't include any data that you want to salvage, it's safe to delete these files.

Tip Hold down the Shift key while you delete .TMP and .CHK files. Otherwise, those files will merely move to the Recycle Bin, and your deletion won't free up any disk space.

After deleting unneeded Recycle Bin contents, .TMP files, and .CHK files, wander through your hard disk and see if you can find ordinary documents that can safely be archived onto removable media or a server. This will give your system a little room to breathe, allowing more efficient paging and forestalling the day when you have to face those low-disk-space error messages again.

Switching to the FAT32 File System

FAT32 (the letters stand for File Allocation Table) is an improved version of the file system that's been around since the first version of MS-DOS. From the standpoint of disk-space conservation, FAT32's principal advantage over FAT (the old system) is that it can use smaller "allocation units" on large disks. An allocation unit, also known as a cluster, is the smallest amount of disk space that the operating system can allocate to a file. If you create a 100-byte file on a disk whose allocation units are 32,768 bytes, that file will consume 32,768 bytes, of which 32,668 bytes will be wasted. On such a disk, you'll also waste a huge amount of space if you create a file that's 32,868 bytes long, because the operating system will have to give that file two entire allocation units. In short, large allocation units almost invariably waste large amounts of disk space. By switching from FAT to FAT32, you can usually increase the effective capacity of a disk by a significant amount.

The disadvantages and limitations of FAT32 are as follows:

  • You can't access a FAT32 disk from operating systems that do not use FAT32, including older versions of Windows and Windows NT.

  • You can't use DriveSpace 3 compression on a FAT32 disk.

  • Some disk-utility programs written for FAT drives won't work with FAT32 disks.

  • You can't use FAT32 on disks smaller than 512 MB.

The first point applies only to systems that "dual boot" Windows 98 and another, pre-FAT32 operating system. If, for example, you have both Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 on the same computer, Windows NT will not be able to access your FAT32 disk. Note that the inaccessibility of FAT32 drives to older operating systems does not mean that you cannot access your FAT32 disks across a network from an older operating system. You can still get to your FAT32 files from other computers on your network, regardless of which version of which operating system those other computers are running.

As for the inability to apply DriveSpace compression to a FAT32 disk, the increased storage efficiency of FAT32 means that you may not miss DriveSpace.

To find out whether a hard disk is currently using FAT32, launch My Computer, right-click the entry for the disk in question, and choose Properties from the ensuing context menu. Near the top of the General tab in the disk's properties dialog box, you'll see either FAT or FAT32.

To convert a FAT disk to FAT32, run Drive Converter (FAT32). If your Start menu hasn't been dramatically rearranged, you'll probably find that item by choosing Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

Note: If Drive Converter (FAT32) has not been set up on your system, launch Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, click the Windows Setup tab, select System Tools, and click the Details button. Select Drive Converter (FAT32) and click OK.

The Drive Converter (FAT32) wizard first asks you to save all open documents and close all running programs so that it can reboot your system in MS-DOS mode. Before it does that, it scans your system for any programs that appear to be incompatible with FAT32. If it finds any, it gives you the opportunity to decide whether or not to go ahead with the conversion. The wizard also invites you to back up your disk before you proceed. This is an optional step, of course, but a last-minute backup will probably enhance your comfort level. Finally, after completing the conversion (which takes only a few minutes), the wizard offers to defragment your new FAT32 disk. This step, too, is optional—but in most cases extremely time-consuming. The defragmentation process is described later in this chapter.

Using DriveSpace 3 to Compress a FAT Disk

DriveSpace 3 is a program that increases the effective capacity of hard and floppy disks. It does this by creating a "compressed volume file" (CVF) on a disk. When you save a file to a CVF, DriveSpace compresses the file on the fly—that is, without requiring any special action by you. When you read a file from a compressed disk, the file is automatically expanded. The net result is that, while you continue to work with your files the way you always have, your disk has much more room than it ever had before.

How much extra room you get depends on what kind of data your files hold. DriveSpace achieves its compression by identifying patterns in your data. Files that are highly structured—for example, a bitmap graphics file, in which certain pixel patterns appear over and over—can be compressed more than files whose contents are essentially random. Executable files and DLLs are usually less compressible than documents. In the typical case in which both executable files and documents are involved, you can expect the effective size of your disk to nearly double.

What about performance? Your computer's processor has to do extra work when reading files from or saving files to a CVF. On the other hand, the smaller size of your compressed files means that your system has to perform fewer disk reads. Because the hard disk is a relatively slow component of your system, you may experience no performance penalty at all when using DriveSpace. And if your uncompressed disk doesn't have room for an adequate swap file, you'll undoubtedly get better performance by using DriveSpace.

The important tradeoff for using DriveSpace is not performance but data security. When DriveSpace compresses a disk, it combines all the compressed files on that disk into a single file. Under ordinary circumstances you never see that file, because DriveSpace gives it hidden and system attributes. What you see instead is a virtualized disk that looks exactly the same as your disk looked before you ran DriveSpace, except that it's much larger.

For example, suppose your C drive has a capacity of 400 MB and you currently have files filling all but 60 MB of that space. After running DriveSpace on this disk, you'll still have a C drive, and your files will have the same size properties that they had before. That is, Windows will still report that drive C contains 340 MB of data. But drive C will now appear to be an 800-MB drive (or something close to 800 MB).

DriveSpace 3, DriveSpace, and DoubleSpace

DriveSpace 3 is an improved version of DriveSpace, which was introduced with Windows 95. DriveSpace, in turn, was an improved version of an MS-DOS–based tool called DoubleSpace. DriveSpace 3 can compress larger disks than DriveSpace could, and it offers a choice of two compression methods. One method gives you higher compression than the other, at a small performance cost.

With DriveSpace 3, you also get Compression Agent, a utility that can change the compression method applied to particular files, or even decompress particular files.

If you've installed Windows 98 on a system that has one or more drives compressed with the original DriveSpace or DoubleSpace, you don't need to recompress those drives with DriveSpace 3—but you can if you want to.

To achieve the illusion that your files are the same size as before but your disk has ingested a packet of growth hormone, DriveSpace creates a new (uncompressed) "host" drive on your disk. It assigns this drive an unused drive letter, such as H. Then it compresses all your files and combines them into a single file on the host drive. That single file is your CVF. When you read or save a document, you're actually interacting with some piece of the CVF, but DriveSpace deploys its smoke and mirrors to make it look as if you're working with ordinary files on the original drive.

The only hazard in all of this is that corruption or accidental deletion of the CVF can wipe out a whole disk's worth of data. Because the CVF does not ordinarily show up in Explorer windows, or in directory listings generated at the MS-DOS prompt, it's unlikely that you would ever delete it accidentally. But the consequences would be severe if you did. Therefore, if you use DriveSpace, it's more important than ever that you back up your data regularly.

Compressing a Disk

Compressing a hard disk with DriveSpace may take several hours, depending on the size of your disk. During this time, you will not be able to use your computer for any other purpose. You might therefore want to begin the compression process at the end of a work day.

To compress a disk, open the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools. On the System Tools menu, choose DriveSpace.

Note: If you don't find DriveSpace there, launch Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, click the Windows Setup tab, select System Tools, and click the Details button. Select Disk Compression Tools and click OK. (If Disk Compression Tools doesn't appear in the Disk Tools list, DriveSpace has already been installed. Unlike most Windows components, once installed you can't remove DriveSpace, so it doesn't appear in the list. In this case, use the Find command to locate and run a program named Drvspace.exe.)

DriveSpace's initial display lists the drives on your system, including any that you have already compressed. Before applying one of DriveSpace's commands, select the drive that you want the command to affect.

Tip: As a quicker alternative for compressing a particular drive, you can right-click the drive's icon in a Windows Explorer window. Choose Properties from the context menu and then click the Compression tab. (This tab appears only on uncompressed drives.)

Before starting the compression process, be sure to visit the Settings command on DriveSpace's Advanced menu. (See Figure 16-4.) Here you can select from the following compression options:

  • HiPack compression. This option gives you the highest compression ratio, thereby giving you the maximum possible disk space. As a tradeoff, you have to put up with slower disk reads and writes. As the dialog box says, this one is not a good choice on 486-based machines.

  • Standard compression. This option gives you less effective disk space than HiPack but provides faster access to your files.

  • No compression, unless… This means that files written to your disk remain uncompressed, unless your hard disk reaches a capacity threshold that you set. At that point, DriveSpace begins compressing anything you save.

  • No compression. This option allows you to save new files uncompressed to a drive that has previously been compressed. (Old files on this drive remain compressed.) The new files will probably take up less space on the DriveSpace disk than they would on an ordinary disk, even though they're not compressed. That's because, as part of the CVF, they don't have to occupy integral multiples of the disk's allocation unit size.


Figure 16-4: The Settings command on DriveSpace's Advanced menu lets you choose the degree of compression you want.

Note: Compression Agent, described below, offers an even higher-compression option called UltraPack. After you've compressed a disk with DriveSpace, you can run Compression Agent to increase the compression of particular files or all files.

After choosing a compression option, click OK and then choose Compress from the Drive menu. In the Compress A Drive dialog box, DriveSpace displays before-and-after pie charts showing you how much additional disk space you can expect to achieve by compressing this disk, as shown in Figure 16-5.

If the uncompressed size of your drive is larger than 1 GB (gigabyte), the Compress A Drive dialog box also presents a message to this effect. DriveSpace 3 has a maximum CVF size of a little over 1 GB. When you run DriveSpace on a large disk, therefore, the system compresses only as much of your original disk as it can. Then it moves the remainder of the disk, uncompressed, to the newly created host drive. The host drive, in this case, remains visible in Windows Explorer windows.


Figure 16-5: These diagrams illustrate the estimated effect of running DriveSpace on a 503-MB hard disk.

When you're ready, click Start to begin the compression process. If you're compressing a hard disk, DriveSpace first suggests that you create a Windows startup disk (a good idea). Then it checks your drive for errors. After getting a clean bill of disk health, it suggests you perform a backup (a splendid idea). Finally, it restarts Windows in a special mode and goes to work on your disk. If you're compressing a floppy disk, DriveSpace goes about its business in Windows' normal operating mode, but it slows down your system so dramatically that you won't want to try to work until it's finished.

Compressing Only the Free Space on a Disk

As an alternative to compressing an entire disk, you can ask DriveSpace to compress only the space that's currently unused. DriveSpace turns this free space into a new compressed drive and assigns that drive an unused drive letter.

To compress the free space only, select the drive whose free space you want to compress, and then choose Create Empty from the Advanced menu. You'll see a dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure 16-6.

This dialog box reports the drive letter that DriveSpace plans to use, the amount of space that will be compressed, the estimated capacity of the new compressed volume, and the amount of free space that will remain on your uncompressed volume. (The program leaves a small amount so that your uncompressed files have room to grow.) You can change any of these settings before beginning the compression process.


Figure 16-6: As an alternative to compressing an entire disk, you can compress just the free space that remains on the disk.

Compressing Floppy Disks

You can use the Compress command to compress an entire floppy disk. You cannot, however, compress only the free space on a floppy.

Compressed floppy disks are "mounted" by default. That simply means they're made available to the system as soon as you've finished compressing them or whenever you insert such a disk in the drive. DriveSpace includes an Unmount command (on the Advanced menu) that lets you make a floppy's CVF unavailable, but there's no particular reason to use this command.

Formatting a Compressed Floppy Disk

To format a compressed floppy disk, select the disk in DriveSpace's main dialog box. Then choose Format from the Drive menu. Note that the disk must be compressed before you can use this command and that you cannot use the standard Format command with a compressed disk. (To turn a compressed disk back into an uncompressed one, use the Uncompress command, discussed next.)

Decompressing a Compressed Volume

If you no longer want a drive to use DriveSpace's compression services, you can "uncompress" it—provided enough room remains to accommodate all the files in their uncompressed state. If the drive does not have enough room, you'll first need to move some of its files from the compressed volume to another drive.

To restore a compressed drive to its normal state, select the drive in DriveSpace's main window. Then choose Uncompress from the Drive menu.

Using Compression Agent to Change the Compression Parameters of a DriveSpace Disk

Once you've compressed a disk with DriveSpace, you can use a program called Compression Agent to modify the way in which some or all of that disk's files are compressed. Compression Agent lets you balance speed with performance in an optimal way by applying high-compression techniques to particular files. Compression Agent can squeeze your files using either the HiPack method or an ultra-high-compression algorithm called UltraPack. (You can also use Compression Agent to remove compression from particular files.) You can tell Compression Agent to use its UltraPack method only on files meeting a particular description, such as files that you haven't worked with during the most recent 30 days.

See Also For information about scheduling ScanDisk to run automatically, see "Automating Maintenance with the Maintenance Wizard."

To run Compression Agent, open the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools. If you don't find Compression Agent on the System Tools menu, use the Find command to locate and launch a program named Cmpagent.exe.

You can work while Compression Agent is active, but you probably won't want to. To automate Compression Agent, so that it works while you don't, use Scheduled Tasks.

See Also For information about Scheduled Tasks, see "Starting Programs on Schedule."

Using Third-Party Compression Tools to Compress Particular Files

If applying DriveSpace to an entire disk seems like a drastic solution to a storage problem, you might want to consider using a third-party compression tool such as Niko Mak Computing's WinZip. These tools are somewhat less convenient than DriveSpace, because they don't compress and expand files on the fly. Their advantages are that they can easily be applied to particular files (files that you don't use often, for example) and they don't radically alter the structure of your disk.

Optimizing Disk Performance with Disk Defragmenter

When you store files on a freshly formatted disk, Windows writes each file's data in a set of adjacent disk clusters. One file might use clusters 3 through 24, for example, the next 25 through 31, a third 32 through 34, and so on. As soon as you begin deleting files, however, this neat pattern is likely to be broken.

For example, if you delete the file that occupies clusters 25 through 31, and then create a new file 20 clusters in length, Windows stores the new file's first 7 clusters in 25 through 31 and the remaining 13 somewhere else. This new file, in other words, would be fragmented; it would occupy at least two noncontiguous blocks of clusters. As time went on and you added and deleted more files, the odds are good that more and more of your files would become fragmented.

Fragmentation does not affect data integrity, but it does reduce the efficiency of your hard disk. Fragmented files take longer to read and write than contiguous ones.

You can eliminate disk fragmentation and enhance Windows' performance by using the Disk Defragmenter program that's included with Windows 98. This program rearranges files, storing each file in a block of contiguous sectors. Disk Defragmenter can also move the programs that you use most often to a disk location that minimizes access time, thereby making your programs launch more quickly.

You can use Disk Defragmenter with any uncompressed local hard disk (including FAT32 drives) or floppy disk, or with any local disk that has been compressed with DoubleSpace, DriveSpace, or DriveSpace 3. You cannot use Disk Defragmenter with network drives, disks that have been compressed with programs other than DriveSpace and DoubleSpace, read-only disks, or locked drives.

It's a good idea to use Disk Defragmenter regularly. The Maintenance Wizard, described later in this chapter, can automatically run Disk Defragmenter at prescribed times.

To run Disk Defragmenter, open the Start menu, and then choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter. If you don't find Disk Defragmenter there, use the Find command to locate and run a program named Defrag.exe.

See Also For information about scheduling Compression Agent to run automatically, see "Automating Maintenance with the Maintenance Wizard."

Tip: You can also run Disk Defragmenter for a particular disk by right-clicking that disk's icon in a Windows Explorer window. Choose Properties from the disk's context menu, and then click the Tools tab in the disk's properties dialog box. Finally, click Defragment Now. This method does not let you change defragmentation settings, however.

Disk Defragmenter begins by displaying the Select Drive dialog box, asking you to choose the drive you want to optimize. Make your selection in the drop-down list and then click the Settings button. In the Settings dialog box, you'll find two check boxes. With the first, you can tell Disk Defragmenter to rearrange your program files so that your programs start more quickly. With the second, you can have your disk checked for errors before the defragmenting begins. It's a good idea to vote yes on both these propositions.

Tip: While Disk Defragmenter is working, you can click a Show Details button to see a real-time diagram of the program's progress. It's a pretty display, but it slows down the defragmentation process. To get the fastest performance from Disk Defragmenter, skip the details display and don't use the disk that's being defragmented.

Other Optimizing Steps

Once you've ensured that your system has enough memory and an ample, defragmented hard disk, here are some additional optimizing steps to consider:

  • Eliminate real-mode (MS-DOS compatibility) drivers.

  • Disable background processing of MS-DOS–based programs.

  • Watch out for MS-DOS–based programs that hog extended memory.

  • Evaluate printing performance tradeoffs.

  • Evaluate video performance tradeoffs.

Eliminate Real-Mode (MS-DOS Compatibility) Drivers

Windows 98 supplies 32-bit drivers that run in your computer's protected mode. These drivers provide better performance and security than the 16-bit, real-mode drivers that were used by Windows 3.x and MS-DOS. If you have installed Windows 98 on a system that previously used an earlier operating system, however, it is possible that Windows is continuing to use some of your earlier drivers. You can find out whether this is the case by doing the following:

  1. Right-click My Computer and choose Properties from the context menu. (Alternatively, launch System in Control Panel.)

  2. Click the Performance tab.

If your system is using any real-mode drivers, you will see some indication of that fact on the Performance tab in the System Properties dialog box. Figure 16-7, for example, depicts a system whose performance is impaired by the presence of a real-mode driver for several CD-ROM drives.


Figure 16-7: Check the Performance tab in the System Properties dialog box to see if your system is using any real-mode drivers.

If you see the words "compatibility mode" anywhere on this tab, your system is not giving you optimal performance. You can learn more about what's going on by selecting each item in the list box in turn and then clicking the Details button. If your system requires a real-mode driver for some reason, you might need to live with less than ideal performance. In many cases, however, real-mode drivers can easily be eliminated. In the system shown in Figure 16-7, for example, a single statement in the Autoexec.bat file was slowing down all activity of the hard disks. Removing that statement restored the system to optimal performance.

Tip: To inspect or edit your Autoexec.bat or Config.sys file, use the Start menu's Run command and run SysEdit.

Disable Background Processing of MS-DOS–Based Programs

When you run an MS-DOS–based program and then switch away to a different program, Windows continues to allocate some of your computer's processing time to that MS-DOS–based program, even though it's no longer running in the foreground. Letting an MS-DOS–based program run in the background may degrade your system's overall performance unnecessarily. Unless you really need background processing, it's a good idea to turn it off. You can do that as follows:

  1. Right-click the icon for the MS-DOS–based program, and then choose Properties from the context menu.

  2. Click the Misc tab.

  3. Select the Always Suspend check box.

Certain MS-DOS–based programs—for example, communications programs—might not function reliably without background processing. And with some programs (language compilers, for example), background processing provides a benefit that compensates for any performance degradation it may cause. You'll need to decide on a case-by-case basis whether it makes sense to leave background processing on. But, as a rule, if you don't need it, don't use it.

Watch Out for MS-DOS–Based Programs That Hog Extended Memory

The default extended-memory setting for an MS-DOS–based program is "Auto," which means that Windows imposes no limit on the amount of extended memory the program can have. Generally, that works out fine. Windows allocates as much extended memory to the MS-DOS–based program as it thinks it needs, subject to overall system constraints. But a few ill-behaved programs, when offered a large helping of extended memory, take every byte and hoard it, whether they need a large amount or none at all. If you find your system slowing down markedly whenever a particular MS-DOS–based program is running, try limiting the amount of extended memory that program may use, as follows:

  1. Right-click the icon for the MS-DOS–based program, and then choose Properties from the context menu.

  2. Click the Memory tab.

  3. Open the Extended (XMS) Memory drop-down list and choose an amount other than "Auto."

See Also For more information about memory settings for MS-DOS–based programs, see "Options on the Memory Tab."

Evaluate Printing Performance Tradeoffs

When you send a document to a non-PostScript printer, Windows first creates an intermediate disk file, called a spool file or enhanced metafile (EMF). While the EMF is being created, you cannot work in the program that's printing the document. (During this time, the program normally displays a dialog box that monitors the progress of the printing process.) As soon as Windows has finished creating the EMF, you can go on working in your program. At that point, if the print job is at the head of its print queue, Windows despools the EMF. That is, it converts the EMF to language specific for your printer and sends the printer-specific commands to the printer.

Exactly where each of the steps takes place depends on whether the printer is attached to your computer, to a server running Windows 95 or Windows 98, or to a server running another operating system (such as Novell NetWare or Windows NT).

If the printer is attached to a server running Windows 95 or Windows 98, the conversion of the EMF to your printer's language takes place on the server. If the printer is attached locally or to a server running another operating system, the EMF-to-printer-language conversion occurs on your own computer. This process takes place in the background but still has some temporary effect on the overall performance on your system. Therefore, all other things being equal, you might want to give preference to printers attached to servers that are running Windows 95 or Windows 98.

Assuming a print job does not have to wait behind other jobs in a print queue, Windows normally begins despooling it as soon as the first page has been rendered into EMF form. Windows continues despooling pages as they become EMF-ready. This overlapping of the EMF-building and despooling processes gives you the shortest possible time from when you click OK until the last page drops into the tray. It also minimizes the size of the temporary disk files that Windows has to use. But it makes you wait a little longer until you can resume working in your program.

If you want to be able to get to work more quickly, you can tell Windows not to despool until the entire EMF has been created. To do this:

  1. Open the Start menu, choose Settings, and then choose Printers.

  2. Right-click the printer you're going to use, and then choose Properties from the context menu.

  3. Click the Details tab.

  4. Click Spool Settings.

  5. Select the option button labeled "Start printing after last page is spooled."

Note that this option requires Windows to create a larger temporary disk file and produces a somewhat later finish time for the entire print job.

See Also For information about changing the resolution, see "Changing Display Resolution." For information about changing color depth, see "Changing Color Depth."

Evaluate Video Performance Tradeoffs

High screen resolutions and high color depths make your processor work harder than low screen resolutions and low color depths. If you work primarily with text, or if your video system is less snappy than you'd like, consider switching to a lower resolution or color depth. (Of the two factors, color depth has the greater impact on performance.)

Routine Maintenance for Your System

Just as you perform regularly scheduled maintenance on your car, so should you take some simple maintenance steps at regular intervals to keep your Windows system running smoothly. In particular, it's wise to run ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter regularly. ScanDisk, described below, finds and corrects any damage to the logical structure of your disks. If you want, you can also have it check the integrity of your disk media. Disk Defragmenter, described earlier in this chapter, keeps your files in contiguous blocks and moves your programs to locations from which they can be launched most quickly.

In addition to ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter, you might want to run Windows Update periodically. Assuming you have an Internet connection, the Windows Update command takes you to, a Web page where you can determine whether newer drivers are available for any component of your system. If your system isn't using the latest available drivers, this Web site can download and install them for you. The Windows Setup program normally adds the Windows Update command to the top section of your Start menu.

An important part of a routine maintenance schedule is backing up your data, and having the necessary tools on hand to restore your data if the worst should happen. One of these tools is a startup disk.

You can use Scheduled Tasks to automate a maintenance routine. Or you can use the Maintenance Wizard, described later in this chapter.

See Also For information about Scheduled Tasks, see "Starting Programs on Schedule"

Ensuring Disk Integrity with ScanDisk

ScanDisk can be used with any hard disk or floppy disk, including disks compressed with DriveSpace or DoubleSpace. ScanDisk cannot be used with CD-ROM disks. The program finds and fixes the following kinds of logical errors (errors involving the organization of files and other data structures):

  • Problems with the file allocation table (FAT)

  • Problems involving long filenames

  • Lost clusters

  • Cross-linked files

  • Problems involving the directory structure

  • On disks compressed with DriveSpace or DoubleSpace, problems involving the volume header, volume file structure, compression structure, or volume signature

(The file allocation table is a data structure that keeps track of the physical location and file ownership of each cluster on a disk. A cluster, also known as an allocation unit, is the smallest group of sectors that the operating system can allocate to a file. A lost cluster is one that's not used by any file but that the FAT hasn't marked as available for new data. A cross-linked file is a file containing clusters that have been erroneously allocated to more than one file.)

ScanDisk can also be used to find physical disk errors (bad sectors). The program doesn't physically repair your media, but it moves data away from any bad sectors it finds.

To run ScanDisk, open the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, ScanDisk. If you don't find ScanDisk there, use the Find command to locate and launch a program named Scandskw.exe.

In the ScanDisk dialog box (see Figure 16-8), select the disk you want to check. (You can select more than one disk for checking by holding down the Ctrl key as you click each disk name.) To perform only a logical test, choose the Standard option button. To check the media as well as the logical structure, choose Thorough. If you want errors fixed automatically, select the Automatically Fix Errors check box. (After it finishes, ScanDisk can display a message indicating whether it found any errors. It can also create a log file on disk, detailing the errors it found and the steps it took to correct them.) If you want to decide, case-by-case, whether ScanDisk should fix errors, deselect this check box. ScanDisk will then stop and display a dialog box each time it finds an error. (See Figure 16-9.) Click Start when you're ready to begin the test.

See Also For information about scheduling Disk Defragmenter to run automatically, see "Automating Maintenance with the Maintenance Wizard."

Testing the physical integrity of every disk cluster takes time, particularly with large disks. While ScanDisk is testing, you can continue to work, but you may find your system rather sluggish, and if any data is written to the disk that's being tested, ScanDisk must start over. You can simplify the thorough test somewhat by clicking the Options button in the dialog box shown in Figure 16-8. As Figure 16-10 shows, your options include restricting the test to the system or data area and eliminating write-testing. (When testing thoroughly, ScanDisk normally reads each disk sector and then writes the same data back into the sector. If you skip the write-testing, ScanDisk still finds sectors whose data cannot be read, but it won't find any problems that might arise only during the writing process.)


Figure 16-8: . Choose Standard if you want ScanDisk to check logical structures only. Choose Thorough if you also want to check for bad sectors.


Figure 16-9: . When ScanDisk finds an error, it displays a dialog box that explains the error and, in some cases, offers choices about correcting the problem.


Figure 16-10: . The thorough test takes awhile. You can make it quicker—if somewhat less thorough—by eliminating write-testing.

You can also use the Options dialog box (see Figure 16-10) to restrict ScanDisk's test to the system area of your hard disk. This makes the test go much more quickly because the system data structures occupy a relatively small portion of any disk. A system-only test also turns up the most disastrous kinds of media errors—those that involve the boot sector, the partition table, or the file allocation table.

Warning: If you use copy-protected software, don't let ScanDisk repair bad sectors in hidden and system files. ScanDisk "repairs" bad sectors by relocating data to good sectors. Some copy-protected programs record the absolute physical location of particular hidden or system files. If they find such files in new locations, they assume your program has been illegally copied. To prevent this from happening, select the check box labeled "Do not repair bad sectors in hidden and system files," in the dialog box shown in Figure 16-10.

Other ScanDisk Options

The Advanced button in ScanDisk's dialog box provides additional options, as shown in Figure 16-11.


Figure 16-11: Among other things, ScanDisk's "advanced" options let you tell it what to do with lost clusters and cross-linked files.

By default, ScanDisk finishes its work by displaying its findings on screen and recording them in a log file called Scandisk.log. The log file is stored in the top-level folder (root directory) of the tested disk and, by default, replaces the log file from any previous test. You can override all these defaults by using the Display Summary and Log File option-button groups.

If ScanDisk finds any cross-linked clusters, its default procedure is to create a new copy of the cross-linked data in each affected file and, in the process, eliminate the cross-links from your file allocation table. In most cases, the cross-linked data belongs to only one of the affected files. After ScanDisk has done its work, you may be able to use ordinary editing procedures to eliminate the data from the file to which it does not belong. Thus, the Make Copies option button in the Advanced Options dialog box is usually the appropriate setting. But if you'd rather, you can have ScanDisk simply delete or ignore cross-linked data.

By default, ScanDisk organizes any chains of lost clusters it finds into new disk files, storing the files in the top-level folder (root directory) of the disk on which the lost clusters were located and giving them names such as File0000.chk. If ScanDisk's summary report indicates that lost clusters were found, you can then open the top-level folder and read the lost-cluster files with Notepad or another editor. If you find anything you want to keep, you can copy and save it. Otherwise, you'll probably want to send the whole file to the Recycle Bin. If you'd rather skip this process and have ScanDisk simply free up any lost clusters it finds, select the Free option button in the Advanced Options dialog box.

By default, ScanDisk ensures that files have valid filenames, but it doesn't bother checking for valid dates and times. That's because an invalid filename is a serious error and may prevent a program from opening the affected file. An invalid date or time may affect file-sorting operations or the operation of backup programs, but it does not prevent you from using the file. To override either default setting, use the check boxes in the Check Files For section of the Advanced Options dialog box.

Finally, when testing disks compressed via DoubleSpace or DriveSpace, ScanDisk normally checks the host drive first. That's because apparent errors in a compressed volume can result from errors in the host drive. There's probably no good reason to change this default, but ScanDisk will let you change it if you want. (Deselect the Check Host Drive First check box.)

Being Prepared with Startup Disks and Backup Tapes

As part of your routine maintenance, you should always keep a startup disk and a recent full-system backup handy. A startup disk is a floppy disk that you can use to boot your system if you're unable to start Windows. As described in Chapter 14, a startup disk in conjunction with a full-system backup and the Windows 98 system recovery utility (on your Windows 98 CD) can be used to restore a system after a catastrophic failure.

See Also For information about system recovery, see "Running the System Recovery Utility."

The startup disk also provides generic support for IDE and SCSI CD-ROM drives. Most users therefore will be able to access their CD-ROM drives after booting with the startup disk. You will probably not need to load real-mode drivers for your CD-ROM.

The startup disk also creates a 2-MB RAM drive (a portion of memory made to act like a disk drive) and copies useful diagnostic programs and files to this RAM drive. Table 16-1 lists these files and their functions. To learn more about any of these programs, at the command prompt, type the command name followed by a space and /?.

Table 16-1 RAM Disk Files Created by a Startup Disk




A simple tool for testing disk integrity


A tool that lets you read and change file attributes


A tool for debugging programs

The real-mode MS-DOS editor, which is good for viewing and changing Autoexec.bat, Config.sys, and other text files


A tool for extracting files from Windows .CAB files

A tool for formatting disks


Microsoft CD-ROM extension for MS-DOS


A more complex tool for testing disk integrity


A configuration file used by Scandisk.exe

A command for transferring MS-DOS system files to disks, making disks bootable


A tool for removing Windows 98

To create a startup disk, launch Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel. Click the Startup Disk tab, and then click Create Disk.

Automating Maintenance with the Maintenance Wizard

The Maintenance Wizard provides a simple means of scheduling four kinds of maintenance tasks:

  • Running Compression Agent (if you have one or more DriveSpace volumes)

  • Running Disk Defragmenter

  • Running ScanDisk

  • Running Disk Cleanup

In addition to scheduling these maintenance tasks, the Maintenance Wizard can remove any programs it finds in the Startup section of your Programs menu, thereby making Windows start more quickly. If you opt to remove programs from your Startup menu, you can still run those programs, of course, but they won't start automatically when you begin a Windows session. (The Maintenance Wizard also maintains a list of the programs it removes from the Startup menu, making it easy for you to put them back in the Startup menu.)

To activate the Maintenance Wizard, open the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Maintenance Wizard. If you don't find this item on the System Tools menu, use the Find command to locate and launch a program named Tuneup.exe.

Note: Be aware that the option described by the Maintenance Wizard as "Optimize Hard Disk" invokes Compression Agent, not Disk Defragmenter. The option called "Speed Up Programs" is the one that schedules Disk Defragmenter.

The first time you run it, the wizard offers a choice between an Express mode and a Custom mode. The Express mode uses default settings. To see your full range of choices, select Custom mode.

Next the wizard asks what time of day you want maintenance activities to occur, proposing midnight to 3:00 A.M. as a default. After you make your decision here, subsequent screens will still give you the opportunity to alter the schedule for particular activities.

For each of its scheduled maintenance options (that is, all of its options except for removal of Startup-menu items, which is a one-time, rather than scheduled, event), the wizard proposes an initial run time and a repeat interval. For example, it might offer to run Disk Defragmenter at 11 P.M. on "every Tuesday of every week" (not just some of the Tuesdays of every week), beginning on August 11, 1998. You can express your own scheduling preferences by clicking the Reschedule button. This summons a simple dialog box that provides a wealth of scheduling options. Be sure to click the Advanced button in the Reschedule dialog box to see all the options at your disposal.

For each scheduled activity, you'll be able to click a Settings button and set options. For example, by clicking Settings on the "Speed Up Programs" screen, you'll be able to tell the wizard which of your disks you want it to optimize and whether you want it to move program files to optimal locations.

Once you've given marching orders to the Maintenance Wizard, the wizard passes your instructions to the Scheduled Tasks facility. You can examine or modify the maintenance schedule by revisiting the Maintenance Wizard or by opening your Scheduled Tasks folder.

See Also For information about Scheduled Tasks, see "Starting Programs on Schedule."

Backing Up and Restoring System Files with System Configuration Utility

Windows 98 includes a handy System Configuration Utility that you can use to make backups of your Config.sys, Autoexec.bat, System.ini, and Win.ini files. You can also use this utility to restore the most recent backups of these files. To run System Configuration Utility, choose Run from the Start menu and type msconfig. You'll find the Create Backup and Restore Backup buttons on the program's General tab.

What To Do When Things Go Awry

Given the complexity of Windows, the ambitious scope of current programs, and the multitude of potentially conflicting hardware devices that Windows has to support, it's almost inevitable that some component of your system, at some time, will not work exactly the way you expect or intend. When that moment of perplexity arrives, you'll need to know a few basic troubleshooting procedures.

Using the Help File's Troubleshooters

The help text supplied with Windows 98 includes troubleshooters for a number of common problems, including problems with networks, modems, printers, and memory. To see what troubleshooters are available, choose Help from the Start menu. Click the Contents tab in the main help document that appears, click the book icon next to the word Troubleshooting, and then click the book icon next to Windows 98 Troubleshooters.

Each of the help file's troubleshooters presents a branching series of questions about your current problem. At each step in the process, the troubleshooter suggests a remedy you can try. If the suggested remedy doesn't solve your problem, the troubleshooter asks another question or offers another suggestion.

The troubleshooters won't solve every problem that might arise, but they are a good place to start your search for help.

Using the Windows Knowledge Base and Other Online Resources

If your cry for help isn't answered by the help file's troubleshooters or other local help documents, the next place to shout is online. Choosing Help from the Start menu and then clicking the Web Help button displays a page that describes Windows Update Technical Support. Clicking the link on this page activates your browser and takes you to Microsoft's WindowsUpdate Web site. Here you will find, among many other resources, additional troubleshooters and a huge problem-solving database called the Knowledge Base. The Knowledge Base, compiled and frequently updated by Microsoft support personnel, provides a simple interface for building a query about your problem, as shown in Figure 16-12. Help is returned in the form of articles that you can print or download. The Knowledge Base covers all Microsoft operating systems and programs.


Figure 16-12: The Microsoft Knowledge Base is an encyclopedia of current technical support information regarding all Microsoft products. To get there, choose Help from the Start menu, and then click Web Help.

If your problem concerns a specific non-Microsoft program, you should also consult your program vendor's Web site. In most cases, that Web site's URL consists simply of www followed by a period, the vendor's name, another period, and com.

If a Program Stops Running

If your immediate problem is that a program appears to have hung—that is, it no longer responds to anything you do—you'll want to "kill" that program (metaphorically speaking) so that you can either try running it again or get on with something else. Windows provides a "local reboot" mechanism that lets you "terminate" an errant program without affecting other running programs or Windows itself. To remove a hung program, hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys and then press Delete. Windows responds with the Close Program dialog box, which list all current processes. (See Figure 16-13.)

Figure 16-13: This dialog box, which appears when you press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, gives you a safe way to close a misbehaving program.

Figure 16-13: This dialog box, which appears when you press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, gives you a safe way to close a misbehaving program.

The programs that you've been working with most recently appear at the top of this list. To close a misbehaving program safely, simply select it in this list and then click the End Task button. Be aware that the terminated program will not go through its usual shutdown maneuvers; that is, you will not be given the opportunity to save any work in progress.

If a Program Crashes Sporadically

If your program crashes every time you run it, no matter what else is running, and particularly if it always crashes in the same way (for example, any time you take a particular action), you almost certainly have a defective program or program component. Try reinstalling the program. If that doesn't help, you will probably want to discuss the problem with your software vendor.

If, however, the program crashes only when several other programs are also running, the trouble may be due to insufficient RAM or system resources. You can see how much memory Windows thinks your system has by right-clicking My Computer and choosing Properties from the context menu. Near the bottom of the General tab in the properties dialog box, you'll find the amount of your computer's installed memory (RAM). If the number is less than 16 MB, adding memory might solve your problem. If the number reported in the dialog box appears to be incorrect, consult the Memory troubleshooter in the Windows help text.

Even if you have plenty of main memory, your problem may be caused by a shortage of a particular kind of memory, called system resources. Windows reserves two small regions of memory for particular purposes. Because these regions are limited in size, they can get used up, even if a huge amount of general-purpose memory is still available. To check the status of your system resources, right-click My Computer, choose Properties from the context menu, and then click the Performance tab. Near the top of the dialog box, you'll find your available system resources, reported as a percentage. If that percentage figure is less than 50, your program might be crashing because of inadequate resources. The system-resource shortage could be caused by any program currently running (or a combination of programs), not just the one that happens to be crashing.

If you suspect a system-resource shortage, it's a good idea to try to find out which program is eating all the resources. Resource Meter, a utility included with Windows 98, can help. To run Resource Meter, open the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Resource Meter.

Note: If Resource Meter has not been set up on your system, launch Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, click the Windows Setup tab, select System Tools, and click the Details button. Select System Resource Meter and click OK.

Resource Meter sits in your notification area and shows two color-coded bars in an iconic beaker. Those bars represent the two kinds of system resources. As Figure 16-14 shows, double-clicking the Resource Meter icon reveals separate percentages for each type of resource as well as a third gauge ("System Resources") that simply reports the lower of the two other figures.

Figure 16-14: When you suspect a shortage of system resources, the Resource Meter can help you pinpoint the problem.

Figure 16-14: When you suspect a shortage of system resources, the Resource Meter can help you pinpoint the problem.

Ideally, both bars in your Resource Meter icon should remain green. If either turns red, you have a problem. Keeping Resource Meter running all the time may slow your system down slightly, but it can flag a resource shortage as soon as it occurs and help you figure what process is causing the problem.

Verifying that System Files Have Not Changed

If a system that has been functioning flawlessly suddenly begins to misbehave, it's possible that one or more of your system's essential files have either been corrupted somehow or have been overwritten by an out-of-date version. The latter misfortune can sometimes occur when an older program is installed.

System File Checker, a utility supplied with Windows 98, can record a snapshot of all your system files and subsequently tell you if any of those files have been changed or deleted. It does this by creating a "verification data file" containing checksum information about each critical file that it inspects as part of its initial snapshot. On subsequent runs, then, it compares current data against the verification data file, and adds information about any new system files. System File Checker also can restore the original copy of a corrupted or modified system file.

Windows does not create a Start-menu item to launch System File Checker directly. To launch it, open the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information. In the System Information window, open the Tools menu and choose System File Checker. Alternatively, use the Find command to locate and launch a program named SFC.exe.

When you run System File Checker the first time, click the Settings button in the program's initial dialog box. You'll see a dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure 16-15.


Figure 16-15: Use the System File Checker Settings dialog box to set log-file and backup parameters, as well as to tell System File Checker what kinds of files it should check.

On the Settings tab in this dialog box, you can tell the utility whether and where to back up any system files that you choose to restore from the Windows 98 CD. It's a very good idea to select one of the first two option buttons here. That way, if you change your mind after overwriting a changed file with its original version, you'll still have the modified copy. In the lower part of this dialog box you can tell System File Checker whether and how it should keep a log file recording its activities. Here, too, it's wise to select one of the first two option buttons.

On the Search Criteria tab, you can tell System File Checker what kinds of files it should check and where it should look for them. The defaults here are dandy, but you can add file types to the checklist if you want. Finally, on the Advanced tab, you can create a new verification data file or restore the settings in the verification data file to the original ones that came with Windows.

If System File Checker finds a file that has changed, it displays a dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure 16-16. If you're not sure whether you should restore the original version of the file, it's best to select the Ignore option button. Then find the file in an Explorer window, right-click it, and look at its properties dialog box. By looking at the Created date on the General tab in the properties dialog box, you can determine when this file was installed on your system. This information might help you Figure out why and by whom it was installed, so you can inquire about whether the change was necessary and whether it's likely to cause any problems. Also, if the properties dialog box has a Version tab, you might be able to use that to determine the company that supplied the new file.


Figure 16-16: If System File Checker finds a changed file, it notifies you with a dialog box like this one.

The remaining options in this dialog box are probably self-explanatory. Choose the first option if you're sure you want to keep the modified file and you want that to be the standard against which System File Checker checks in the future. Choose the second option if you're positive you want to restore the original version (but don't neglect to back up before restoring), and choose the fourth option if you don't want to be bothered with further change notifications during this run of System File Checker.

Using Device Manager and Microsoft System Information to Track Hardware Conflicts

If two hardware devices are both trying to make use of the same I/O address, DMA channel, or IRQ level, odds are one of those devices isn't going to work. If you suspect that a resource conflict of this kind is causing some component of your system to malfunction, you can follow up on your suspicion with the help of Device Manager or Microsoft System Information.

To run Device Manager, right-click My Computer, choose Properties from the context menu, and then click the Device Manager tab. As Figure 16-17 shows, Device Manager displays an exclamation point next to any device that isn't working properly.


Figure 16-17: The Device Manager flags problem devices with exclamation points.

To learn more about a device problem, select its entry in the Device Manager list, and then click the Properties button. The Device Status box in your device's properties dialog box might tell you everything you need to know. (See Figure 16-18.) If the problem involves a resource conflict, click the Resources tab in the device's properties dialog box to see what resources—interrupt request (IRQ) lines or direct memory access (DMA) channels, for example—your device is using.


Figure 16-18: To learn more about a device problem, select the device name, click the Properties button, and read the device's properties dialog box.

Tip: For a complete summary of the devices in your system and the resources they use, right-click My Computer, choose Properties, click the Device Manager tab, click the Print button, and then choose the All Devices And System Summary option. The resulting report summarizes IRQ and DMA commitments; shows what I/O addresses are in use and what devices are using them; lists drivers by filename, size, and version number; and more.

Microsoft System Information provides the same information as Device Manager, plus a good deal more. To run it, open the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information. Alternatively, use the Find command to locate and launch a program named MSInfo32.exe.

To pinpoint resource conflicts, open the Hardware Resources heading in Microsoft System Information's outline pane. Then click the Conflicts/Sharing subheading. Information about conflicts will appear in the right pane.

Unless you're an expert at working with hardware resource conflicts, it's best to use Device Manager and Microsoft System Information as diagnostic tools. Leave the conflict resolution to someone in your company who gets paid for doing that sort of thing, or call your hardware vendor to get instructions on how to proceed. Be aware that careless changes in Device Manager have the potential to bring down your whole system.

Using Microsoft System Information to Check Your Registry

You can use Microsoft System Information to determine whether your registry has been corrupted. To do this, choose Registry Checker from System Information's Tools menu. You can also use this command to back up an intact registry.

Starting Windows in Safe Mode

Some circumstances—a resource conflict between peripherals, a problem with network settings, or a problem with display settings—may prevent Windows from starting in its normal mode. You may, however, be able to start Windows in Safe Mode. In Safe Mode, the operating system disables the network and peripherals and starts up in a 640*480 16-color display. You can then open Control Panel, change display settings, check Device Manager for resource conflicts, and so on. After making changes of this sort, you can try again to start Windows normally.

To start Windows in Safe Mode, turn off your machine. Then turn it back on, and, after your system has performed its initial self-check, press F8. From the menu that appears, choose option 3, Safe Mode.

Diagnostic Startups

If you suspect that a "bad apple" in one of your startup files—Config.sys, Autoexec.bat, Win.ini, System.ini, or Winstart.bat—is preventing Windows from starting normally, you can try a logged startup. When you do this, Windows creates a file, C:\Bootlog.txt, that records the name of every process involved in the startup, along with a notation about whether or not that process was carried out successfully. After you've started Windows (or attempted to start Windows) in this manner, you can use a text editor (such as Notepad or MS-DOS Editor) to read the log file. To see where problems were encountered, use the editor's search command to look for the word Failed.

To create a log file at startup, turn off your machine. Then turn it back on, and, after the system has performed its initial self-check, press F8. From the menu that appears, choose option 2, Logged.

It's also possible to try starting Windows without some of its normal startup components. To do this, press F8 after your system has performed its initial self-check, and then choose option 4 (Step-By-Step Confirmation) from the menu that appears. You'll get a confirmation prompt for each instruction in your Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files, as well as for each component that Windows normally loads on startup. You can then bypass any element that you suspect is causing trouble.

If Windows is already running in some fashion, you can use the System Configuration Utility to order a diagnostic restart. Choose Run from the Start menu, and type msconfig. On System Configuration Utility's General tab, choose Diagnostic Startup to restart with confirmation for each startup component. Select Selective Startup and use the check boxes to have Windows restart without processing a particular startup file, such as Autoexec.bat or Config.sys.