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Site Updated 11/13/05


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Windows XP Tips & Tricks Part XII


The dirty bit of it, Windows boots into Scan Disk at each and every bootup
Works for XP Home as well as XP Pro.

Reader Summie writes: 

Recently I have noticed that each time I boot my system, the operating system (Windows XP Pro SP2) runs ScanDisk on my D: drive, stating that the computer did not shut down properly, which is not true. The system then runs a full ScanDisk on drive D: and gives an error-free report. Then after that, each time I boot, it runs ScanDisk on my D: drive all over again, finds no errors. Kindly suggest how to get rid of this annoyance. (Intel P4 1.4GHz, 256MB RD-RAM, 40GB Seagate Barracuda with equal partition, C: and D:, C: being the primary drive). Thanks in anticipation.

Well Summie, what you're experiencing is what Windows refers to as "setting the dirty bit" and what you have to do is unset that bit. Every time Windows XP starts, autochk.exe is called by the kernel to scan all volumes to check if the volume dirty bit is set. If the dirty bit is set, autochk performs an immediate chkdsk /f on that volume. Chkdsk /f verifies file system integrity and attempts to fix any problems with the volume. It is usually caused by a hard shut down or a power loss during a read-right operation on that particular drive.

How do I fix it, you ask?

Well, that's easy. First click Start | Run | and bring up a command prompt by typing in 

CMD

 and then type 

fsutil dirty query d: 

To see the other commands for fsutil type fsutil plus /? or just type fsutil alone. Here is what you will see:

fsutil
---- Commands Supported ----

behavior       Control file system behavior
dirty    Manage volume dirty bit
file  File specific commands
fsinfo  File system information
hardlink  Hardlink management
objectid  Object ID management
quota  Quota management
reparsepoint  Reparse point management
sparse  Sparse file control
usn  USN management
volume  Volume management

This queries the drive, and more than likely it will tell you that it is dirty. Next, type 

CHKNTFS /X D:

The X tells Windows to NOT check that particular drive on the next reboot. At this time, manually reboot your computer, it should not do a Chkdsk and take you directly to Windows.

Once Windows has fully loaded, bring up another CMD prompt and type and now you want to do a Chkdsk manually by typing 

Chkdsk /f /r d

 This should take you through 5 stages of the scan and will unset that dirty bit. Finally, type 

fsutil dirty query d:

and Windows will confirm that the dirty bit is not set on that drive. It will give you this message:

Volume - d: is NOT Dirty

From here we are back to some sense of normalcy

Good luck!


Decrease Application Timeout Setting

When you shut down your computer, Windows will attempt to stop all tasks that are running. Windows includes an application timeout setting that tells your computer how long to wait for an unresponsive task to end, before forcing it to end. If you are experiencing long delays when shutting down your computer, you can decrease the application timeout setting that tells your computer how long to wait for an unresponsive task to end, before forcing it to end. If you are experiencing long delays when shutting down your computer, you can decrease the application timeout setting.

1. Click Start and click Run. 
(To learn more about the System Registry Editor, see Bo's Tweaky Clean Windows)
2. Type regedit and click OK. 
3. Expand HKEY_CURRENT_USE | Control Panel | Desktop
4. Double click the value in the right pane called WaitToKillAppTimeout.

The value for this option is in milliseconds. The minimum value is 1 millisecond and the default is 20000 or 20 seconds. This means that your computer will wait 20 seconds for an unresponsive task to end before forcing it to close. When configuring the value, it is generally recommended that you do not use anything less than 2000 milliseconds or 2 seconds.

You can also configure a similar setting for services. 

Expand HEKY_LOCAL_MACHINE | SYSTEM | CurrentControlSet | Control

Locate the WaitToKillServiceTimeout option to specify how long Windows should wait to force an unresponsive application to end.

When finished making your changes, reboot your system.


Troubleshooting drivers with XP's hidden Driver Verifier Manager

The next time you need to identify the cause of a driver problem, turn to Windows XP's little-known troubleshooting tool called the Driver Verifier Manager. By going through a few short steps, you'll be able to determine whether the drivers you choose to diagnose are causing the problem.


Microsoft provided Windows XP with several high-profile tools for troubleshooting potential problems with drivers, namely File Signature Verification and Device Manager. However, Windows XP also includes the tool called the Driver Verifier Manager, which is mainly designed for developers but it can provide you with useful information during a troubleshooting operation.

Here's how to use it to troubleshoot a driver problem:

1. Access the Run dialog box by pressing the [Windows]-R keyboard shortcut.
2. In the Open text box, type the command Verifier.
3. On the Select A Task page, leave the default Create Standard Settings as-is.
4. On the next page, choose the Select Driver Name From A List.
5. Select the check boxes next to the driver files that you want to verify.
6. Click Finish and then reboot the system.

If the driver(s) that you selected are causing a problem, the system will halt and display a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) along with an error message. If the selected drivers aren't the cause of the problem, the system will start up normally.

Keep in mind that once you enable the Driver Verifier Manager it stays active until you disable it. To do so, follow these steps:

1. Access the Run dialog box by pressing the [Windows]-R keyboard shortcut.
2. In the Open text box, type the command Verifier /reset.

Note: For more detailed information about using the Driver Verifier Manager, read the Knowledge Base article Q244617.


Instantly create Restore Points in Windows XP

The System Restore utility automatically creates a Restore Point if it senses a change to the system, or even some application, files. If you'd like to instantly create a Restore Point, read this Windows XP tip to find out how all it takes is two lines of VBScript.

Windows XP's System Restore utility continuously monitors your system looking for changes to the system files, and even some application files. This utility will automatically create a Restore Point if it senses a change.

If you wish to manually create a Restore Point, you can launch the System Restore utility by clicking Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore and then following the steps in the wizard. You can simplify the launching process by copying the System Restore shortcut to your desktop, but you still have to walk through the wizard.

However, there's a great method for creating a Restore Point with just the click of your mouse. All you have to do is create a simple two line VBScript file that uses the WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) moniker to access the SystemRestore class and create a Restore Point. Here's how:

1. Launch Notepad.
2. Type these two lines:

Set IRP = getobject("winmgmts:\\.\root\default:Systemrestore")

MYRP = IRP.createrestorepoint ("My Restore Point", 0, 100)

3. Save the file as InstantRestorePoint.vbs.

Now, when you're ready to create an instant Restore Point, all you have to do is launch the script. When you do, System Restore will run in the background without displaying its interface, and it will create a restore point called My Restore Point.

Note: Keep in mind that in order to use this script, you must have Administrator privileges.


Get more control over the Windows Firewall with "Netsh Firewall"

Command the Windows Firewall from the Command Line

The graphical user interface for configuring the Windows Firewall in Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 is incomplete and inconvenient. But there is a little-known command line interface which is informative and powerful.

The "netsh firewall" command provides complete control over the firewall. Enter "netsh firewall /?" for more syntax. Some of the functions that may be executed from the command line (and batch files or other scripts) are:

An instructive example is "netsh firewall show config". This command shows you a variety of settings, including port and program settings, in both local and domain profiles.

Other switches include:

The following commands are available:

Commands in this context:

? - Displays a list of commands.
add - Adds firewall configuration.
delete - Deletes firewall configuration.
dump - Displays a configuration script.
help - Displays a list of commands.
reset - Resets firewall configuration to default.
set - Sets firewall configuration.
show - Shows firewall configuration.

To view help for a command, type the command, followed by a space, and then type ?.

See also Troubleshoot network problems with Windows XP's Netsh Diag commands on this page.


Opening Data Files from CD in Certain Programs

This one is more of an informational heads-up than a tip. I have seen several times people make a backup file from a program such as Quickbooks and then try to open the backup file from the CD to test it. Sometimes they will use the backup utility included with the program...other times they will simply copy and paste the data file(s) from their hard drive to a CD. When they open the data file, they are suprised that they get an error. The reason this is occuring is because once the CD is written, it cannot be re-written. When these programs open up and they open your data file, they are actually calling on that data file to read from and write to it. Well, the writing side of this equation is impossible because its on a CD. Therefore, you will get an error because the program cannot write to the data file.

The solution here is to copy the data file from the CD back to the hard drive, and then you can open it.

NOTE: If that doesn't work, right click on the file and choose properties from the right click context menu and on the General tab, uncheck read only and checkmark Archive.


Creating an alternative New Folder command for Windows XP

Since Windows Explorer toolbar doesn't contain the handy Create New Folder button, you may want to consider adding the New Folder command to Windows XP's context menu. We provide you with the necessary step-by-step instructions.

When you access the Open or Save dialog box in any application, you know that the toolbar contains the Create New Folder button. However, Microsoft has never put such a handy button on the toolbar in Windows Explorer. (The Make A New Folder command in the Tasks Explorer Bar is a step in the right direction, but it isn't quite as convenient as a toolbar button.)

Fortunately, you can add a New Folder command to Windows XP's context menu. Here's how:

1. Launch Windows Explorer and select Tools | Folder Options. 
2. In the Folder Options dialog box, select the File Types tab. 
3. In the Registered File Types list, select Folder, and click the Advanced button. 
4. In the Edit File Type dialog box, click the New button. 
5. In the New Action dialog box, type New Folder in the Action text box and CMD.EXE /C MD "%1\New Folder" in the Application Used To Perform Action text box. 
6. Click OK twice and then click Close to close the three dialog boxes.

Now, whenever you want to create a new folder in Windows Explorer, simply right-click on the folder in which you want to create the folder and select the New Folder command from the context menu. Keep in mind that when you do so, you'll momentarily see a Command Prompt window and there will be a slight delay before you actually see the new folder.

To remove the New Folder command, you have to edit the registry. Here's how:

1. Launch the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe). 
2. Go to HKEY_CLASSES_Root\Folder\Shell key and expand the subtree. 
3. Locate and right-click the New_Foldersubkey and select Delete.

Note: Editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before saving any changes.


Make XP Enter Safe Mode With USB Keyboards

Safe mode, as we've addressed before, is a barebones mode of Windows which is useful for troubleshooting purposes. Typically, one gets into safe mode by restarting and either holding the CTRL key down or by pressing the F8 button at the right time. This would give a menu with boot options, of which safe mode is one of them. However, if you use a USB keyboard, this isn't an option for you because the USB drivers are not loaded in the DOS environment. For you, you need to tell Windows to load up in safe mode on its next reboot when in regular Windows. To do this, go to the start menu, Run, and enter "msconfig" to launch the System Configuration Utility. Click on the BOOT.INI tab and check the box which says "/SAFEBOOT". Now, when you reboot, it will enter safe mode automatically, and will continue to do so until you go back into this program and uncheck that box (which you can do from safe mode).


Restore Missing System Files

Every once in awhile, an essential system file of Windows disappears or gets corrupted. No, you don't need to re-install Windows. You can simply restore the file. To do so, put your Windows CD into the CD-ROM, then select Search from the Start menu. Search the CD for the file you are missing, leaving the last character of the filename as an underscore (for example, calc.exe would be calc.ex_). If it is found, open up a command prompt (Windows Key plus R to bring up the Run Dialog) and then type "expand" followed by the full path to this file, a space, then the path where you want it to be sent. 

For example:

EXPAND D:\ (For the file on CD) Calc.ex_ C:\Windows

If either of these paths has a space in it, surround the path in quotes.

For example f you are copying to the Program files folder:

EXPAND D:\ (For the file on CD) Calc.ex "C:\Program Files\"

If the file cannot be found, its probably because the file is located in a CAB file. CAB files are like folders in that they contain a bunch of smaller files. You can configure Windows Search to look into Archived Files. Here is how:

  1. Open the Search Engine
  2. Click, in the left pane, All Files and Folders
  3. Under Type of file, type, "the name of the file you are looking for. No extension required here or just type the filename.EX_",, into the type of file looking for box.
  4. Click the down arrow to more advanced options
  5. Under the type of file to look for, type *.CAB*
  6. Checkmark:

Just open the CAB file in Explorer, find the file you need and drag it to the location you need it.


Windows XP Takes Forever to Shut Down

We have been getting a ton of these types of questions lately, Why does Windows take so long to shut down?

There are many reasons as to why this might be happening Here are some of the causes:

When Windows shuts down all running programs are requested to release resources and shut down as well Programs such as Antivirus programs, some third party resource monitors, firewalls, internet connections or some unruly programs refuse to do this. Thus they time out and Windows has to wait until they do. Also if you have a large number of startup programs running it can take Windows a long time to save your current settings before it will shut down. The best way to control how many programs are running at startup is to check the Task Manager (Press Ctrl+Alt+Del once to bring it up) and click on the Processes tab. This shows all of the processes that Windows is currently running. If your system is loaded, this list may be very long indeed. You can easily see why Windows is having such a hard time in shutting every thing down.

Take Control of Startup Programs
Best advise for controlling system resource and startup programs is to remove those that you really do not need. Start with Those in the System Taskbar next to the clock. Right click on them one at a time and check to see if they have an option which will prevent them from running at system startup. If they do, disable it. If they do not and you really want them gone, do the following:

  1. Press the Windows Key plus R to bring yup the run dialog
  2. In the command line type or copy and paste the following

    MSCONFIG
  3. The Microsoft System Configuration Utility opens
  4. Switch to the startup tab
  5. Uncheck any programs you are sure that you will not need. Be careful not to shut down vital system programs.
  6. Once finished, click apply and reboot
  7. When the system comes back on, you will see a dialog that tells you that Windows is in Diagnostic mode. Check mark the box that says, "Do not show this dialog again", and press OK. Your system is now a leaner and meaner machine and the benefits far out way the loss of a few unnecessary programs running.

The Startup Folder:
The next thing to see if the Startup folder. In this folder (You can get to it by clicking Start | All Programs | Startup) If there are programs listed here, that are not necessary, right click on them and choose delete from the options.

Profile Unloaders Won't:
Another problem is the Profile files. Sometimes these may become bloated or even corrupted. See this Microsoft Knowledgebase Article for more on that and what you can do about it.

See: Troubleshooting profile unload issues

Anonymous Logons:
Also in some cases (e.g. using anonymous logons) you may find that you cannot log on if the profile cannot be unloaded.
Microsoft has provided a tool to assist with this. It can be found on their Web site.


Repairing Windows XP's Restore

Reader Jim writes: I have used system restore on countless occasions. Now all of a sudden I get the error message, "The system cannot restore, no changes have been made to your computer."  I've tried other restore points with the same problem. I followed Microsoft's suggestions by going to compmgmt.msc in the control panel (also CMD, net start), checked the view logs in the event viewer, and so on. Nothing has helped. I have more than enough sufficient disk space. Any ideas on how to resolve this issue?

Answer: The most likely culprit is that the System Restore folder has been corrupted somehow. Aside from just a simple Microsoft XP glitch, this can happen when the system is shut down (example: power outage, or turning off the power switch) while it's in the process of making a system restore point in the background. Windows creates new restore points periodically or whenever a new program or device is installed. If you installed a new program or device and the system hung, requiring you to forcibly restart the computer, this could have caused this problem. Of course, knowing how it might have happened just lays that question to rest; you still have to fix it. You already mentioned that you'd tried Microsoft's recommended first solution (see How to troubleshoot the System Restore tool in Windows XP) and it didn't work, so here's the fix:

1. I'm assuming you have no other problems with the computer other than an inability to use System Restore.
2. I'm also assuming you are using XP SP1 or XP SP2. The original non-SP version of XP had several issues with System Restore that were fixed in SP1. If you aren't running SP1 or SP2, please download and install SP2 from the Windows Update site. Also check to see if you have automatic updates enabled for any future critical patches and security updates.
3. On the assumption that your System Restore folder has been corrupted, do the following (note that you will lose all previous restore points by using this method.)

a. Right click My Computer - Properties, then click on the System Restore tab.
b. Check the box that says "Disable Restore on all drives"
c. Click "Apply" then reboot your PC. (you will be prompted to reboot)
d. After the system fully reboots, go back to the System Restore tab again and uncheck the "Disable Restore on all drives" box.
e. [optional, but recommended] Reboot once more.
f. After the second reboot, go to Start - Accessories - System Tools - Restore and choose "Create a Restore Point"
g. Name the restore point whatever you wish (Date and time will be automatically added)
h. After the restore point has been created (assuming without error), go back to Start> Accessories>System Tools> Restore and choose "Restore my computer to an earlier date and time". Select the restore point you created.

4. If all goes well, you should receive a message that the system has been successfully restored.


Creating a Suspend mode shortcut for Windows XP

If you're looking for new approaches for putting your Windows XP machine in Suspend mode, then check out how you can create a standard shortcut on your desktop or on the Quick Launch bar.

On the Advanced tab of the Power Options dialog box, Windows XP provides you with several built-in shortcuts for putting your computer in Suspend modeóeither Standby or Hibernation. These shortcuts allow you to reconfigure the operation performed when pressing either the Power or Sleep buttons. (If you've enabled the Hibernation feature, using these shortcuts will put your computer into hibernation mode. If you haven't, using these shortcuts will put your computer into standby mode.)

However, if you wish to expand your alternatives, you can create a standard shortcut that will put your computer in Suspend mode. You can the put the shortcut on your desktop or place it on the Quick Launch bar, where you can easily put your computer in a suspended state with a click of your mouse.

Here's how:

  1. Right-click the desktop and select New | Shortcut.
  2. When the Create Shortcut wizardís location text box appears, type
    rundll32.exe PowrProf.dll, SetSuspendState
  3. Give the shortcut a name like Suspend Now!

Troubleshoot Hardware and Driver Problems in Windows XP Home

Check Third-Party Software or Drivers
If you installed any third-party software or drivers, try removing them or disabling them so that they do not load. Then, restart the computer to see whether that software or driver is causing the issue. If that software or driver is causing the issue, report the problem to the manufacturer of the software or driver.

If you cannot start Windows XP after you install the software or drivers, use one of the following methods to restore Windows:

Check New Hardware
If you added any new hardware after you installed Windows, try removing the new device to see whether you stop receiving the "Stop 0x0A" error message. If removing the new device resolves the problem, try any or all of the following procedures:

1. Turn off any antivirus program and BIOS-level antivirus protection. For help, see the appropriate software manual or online Help.
2. Make sure that the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive is the first priority startup device in your computer's BIOS settings. See your computer's documentation for information about how to do this.
3. Insert the Windows XP CD-ROM in the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, and then restart your computer.
4. When the "Press any key to boot from CD" prompt appears, press a key so that your computer starts from the Windows XP CD-ROM.
5. When the computer starts from the CD-ROM, your hardware is checked, and then you are prompted to select an option. Press ENTER.
6. Press F8 to accept the Licensing Agreement.
7. Your current Windows XP installation is listed, and then you are prompted to select an option. Press R to start the automatic repair process. After Windows XP is repaired, you may have to reactivate Windows XP if you changed some hardware.


Troubleshooting drivers with XP's hidden Driver Verifier Manager

Microsoft provided Windows XP with several high-profile tools for troubleshooting potential problems with drivers, namely File Signature Verification and Device Manager. However, Windows XP also includes the tool called the Driver Verifier Manager, which is mainly designed for developers but it can provide you with useful information during a troubleshooting operation.

Here's how to use it to troubleshoot a driver problem:

1. Access the Run dialog box by pressing the [Windows]-R keyboard shortcut.
2. In the Open text box, type the command Verifier.
3. On the Select A Task page, leave the default Create Standard Settings as-is.
4. On the next page, choose the Select Driver Name From A List.
5. Select the check boxes next to the driver files that you want to verify.
6. Click Finish and then reboot the system.

If the driver(s) that you selected are causing a problem, the system will halt and display a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) along with an error message. If the selected drivers aren't the cause of the problem, the system will start up normally.

Keep in mind that once you enable the Driver Verifier Manager it stays active until you disable it. To do so, follow these steps:

1. Access the Run dialog box by pressing the [Windows]-R keyboard shortcut.
2. In the Open text box, type the command Verifier /reset.

Note: For more detailed information about using the Driver Verifier Manager, read the Knowledge Base article Q244617.


Examining a Blue Screen of Death error with the Watchdog Event Log

Troubleshooting Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) errors, or as Microsoft calls them, Stop messages, can be extremely frustrating due to the fact that, by default, Windows XP automatically restarts the computer as soon as a BSoD error occurs. There's not enough time for you to analyze, let alone read, the error code before the message disappears.

You could disable the Automatically Restart option in the Startup And Recovery dialog box, but doing so might lock your system into an unrecoverable error situation. As such, that's not an advisable solution. See also Troubleshoot Device Driver Problems

Fortunately, Windows XP keeps a special log of all BSoD errors, called a Watchdog Event Log. Unlike a memory dump, whose creation is the result of a BSoD error, a Watchdog Event Log is a straight text file that is easier to read and understand.

Here's how you access a Watchdog Event Log:

1. Use Windows Explorer to access the C:\Windows\LogFiles\Watchdog folder.
2. Locate and right-click the most recently dated .WDL file.
3. Select the Open command from the context menu.
4. In the Windows dialog box, choose the Select The Program From A List option and click OK.
5. When you see the Open With dialog box, select Notepad and click OK.

Sure, that is fine, but what if the normal Window mode will not start?

Try starting in Safe Mode:

  1. At system pre-test, press the F8 key a bunch of times. Do not, however, hold the key down r you will receive a keyboard error. Just tap it.
  2. A DOS Emulation menu appears
  3. Using the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard, select and highlight, "Start Windows in Safe Mode"
  4. This may take some time depending on your system and the amount of driver's Windows needs to start
  5. Do not be alarmed when the screen only shows a 256 color scheme and a 440 X 680 screen resolution. Windows is starting with only the drivers necessary. No bells and whistles in this mode
  6. Follow steps 1-5 above

See also:


Shoot the Messenger
From Author Steve Gibson

"Windows NT, 2000, and XP hide an hidden Internet server that is running by default. It receives and accepts, among other things, unsolicited network messages that cause pop-up dialog boxes to appear on the desktop. Internet Spammers have discovered this and are spraying pop-up Spam across the Internet. The Windows Messenger server should never have been running by default, and Microsoft has finally fixed that in Windows 2003, but users of previous Windows need to take responsibility for this themselves."

This is from grc.com as a description for their free utility called Shoot the Messenger. It is a very small utility that simply disables or enables the Windows Messenger service. Even if you don't use Windows Messenger, many times it is running anyway. It is unnecessary and does open up a potential security hole. Simply download this tiny EXE file, run it and click the button to disable the service.

www.grc.com/stm/ShootTheMessenger.htm


"Run DLL as App has encountered a problem" error when starting Windows XP System Restore

If you've recently replaced your hard drive and used the drive manufacturer's software to transfer data from the old to the new drive, it's likely that Windows System Restore won't start. This Solution Base article explains how to fix that problem.

When trying to start Windows System Restore, the following error message appears:

"Run a DLL as an App has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience."

Possible Reason:
This error may occur if the primary hard drive or boot partition has been changed/upgraded/replaced and software from the hard drive vendor (such as MaxBlast from Maxtor or Data Lifeguard from Western Digital) has been used to move the data from the old to the new drive.

The Fix:

1. Click Start | Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Services.
2. Right-click System Restore Service and click Properties.
3. From the Startup Type drop-down, select Disabled.
4. Click OK.
5. Close the Services and Administrative Tools windows.
6. Right-click My Computer, click Properties, and click the System Restore tab. The System Restore tab should now display properly; however, the System Restore service will be disabled.
7. Enable System Restore and click Apply.

Note: All previous restore points will be removed


Troubleshoot network problems with Windows XP's Netsh Diag commands

Windows XP comes with a seldom used command-line scripting utility called Netsh, which allows you to display, analyze, or modify the network configuration. Find out how Netsh command's Diag context can provide you with valuable information when you're troubleshooting network problems.

When it comes to troubleshooting network problems, it's good to have a hefty arsenal of tools at your disposal. As such, in addition to using mainstays such as Ping, Tracert, and IPConfig, you should become familiar with the Netsh command-line scripting utility, which allows you to display, analyze, or modify the network configuration.

Netsh is unique in that it interacts with other operating system components by using dynamic-link library (DLL) files. Each of these DLLs provides the Netsh command with an extensive set of features called a context, which essentially is a group of commands specific to a networking component. These contexts extend the functionality of the Netsh command by providing configuration and monitoring support for one or more services, utilities, or protocols. There are literally hundreds of ways that you can use the Netsh command.

The Netsh command's Diag context allows you to perform a number of network operations that can be very useful in troubleshooting. The main commands in the Diag context include:

To access the Netsh command's Diag context:

1. Open a Command Prompt.
2. Type Netsh and press [Enter].
3. Type Diag and press [Enter].
4. Type any one of the main commands and you'll see a complete list of all the sub commands that fall under the main command.

For example, type Show All to see a complete list of all the network objects defined on the computer.


Hard Drive is Hard at Work When the system is Supposed to be Idle

Reader Pachco writes: I'm running a P4 2GHz PC Windows XP system with 256MB of RAM. Periodically while the system is not being used, I notice the hard drive light flashing and it sounds like some sort of intensive file read/write is going on. I open the Windows Task Manager Processes window to find out what is running, and the only service that is consuming the CPU is the system idle process, very high around 95 to 98 percent. Also, as soon as I open this window, the hard drive stops acting busy. I have Norton AntiVirus, Spybot, and the ZoneAlarm firewall installed and running, but these don't appear to be what's keeping my CPU busy. There are no open applications on my taskbar either. What else could it be?

Answer: What you are witnessing, if you have not scheduled any other background tasks to run while the system is idle, is the XP Indexer at work. The dead giveaway is the fact that your Hard Drive stops the activity as soon as you start another program or move the mouse or strike a key. It kicks in periodically only when your processor is otherwise idle. 

The purpose of the Indexer is to speed up your file operations. If you have a large number of data files, say hundreds, having their location indexed by the system could be beneficial, at least in theory. If you don't have a large number of files in your My Documents folder or other data files, you might consider turning the indexing off. 

Here is how:

  1. Click the Start button or press the Windows Key plus R to bring up the Run dialog. 
  2. Select Run. 
  3. Type, in the open command line, or copy and paste the following:

    services.msc 

  4. Click OK. 
  5. Select "Indexing Services". (Highlight any service and press the " I " key to bring you to all services that begin with the letter " I ").
  6. Change Startup Type to Disabled. 
  7. Close the Services Window.

Eliminate the step of Compressing Files altogether with Disk Cleanup

Reader Joe writes:
A while back I learned how to eliminate the [compress old files] process in the disk clean up utility using "regedit" It was a matter of finding the string in the registry and either decreasing its value to nothing or deleting it all together

My problem is I restored to a point before I had customized that utility and I misplaced my copy of "the winter special issue of maximum pc" That I got it out of in the first place Can you help?

I do not receive the publication of which you speak but see the below if that is what you are discussing here.

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Blaisdell's Little Corner of the Web, Bohunky0, nor any of it's affiliates can guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

For more on the uses of the System Registry Editor and how to backup and recover from a bad Registry Edit, please see:
Bo's Tweaky Clean Windows

Note: This edit will  eliminate the step of Compressing Files altogether

1. Type Regedit in Start - Run or press the Windows key plus R
2. Navigate to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion
\Explorer\Volume Caches\Compress Old Files

3. In the right hand pane. 
4. Delete all files in this folder
5. Reboot
6. Run Disk Cleanup


Track down details about Event IDs in Windows XP

The Event ID descriptions in Windows XP's Event Viewer are often very cryptic. Discover two methods for getting more detailed information about Event IDs. To launch Event Viewer you can click on it in Administrative Tools which you can activate by doing the following:

Note: Neither the Event Viewer, nor the Administrative Tools are loaded by default in Windows XP. Why? I have no idea.

Putting administrative Tools onto the All Programs Menu:

  1. Right click on any empty part of the Task Bar and choose Properties
  2. Click the Start Menu Tab
  3. Click Customize
  4. Click Advanced
  5. Scroll down to System Administrative Tools
  6. Click to enable the "Display on All Programs Menu", radio button
  7. Click OK
  8. Click Apply
  9. Click OK
  10. Click Start | All Programs and you will see a new menu titled, "Administrative Tools". The event view is there

You can also launch the Event Viewer by pressing the Windows Key plus R to bring up the Run dialog and typing the Open command line, "eventvwr.msc /s" without the quotes, then press OK.

the Event Viewer:
If you're troubleshooting a problem in Windows XP, you can turn to the Event Viewer to gather information about hardware, software, and system problems. By default, Event Viewer provides you with three kinds of logs: Application, Security, and System. In each of these logs, you'll find any of the following types of events: Error, Warning, Information, Success Audit, and Failure Audit.

When you open an event, youíll see a dialog box that contains basic information about the event such as the date and time on which it occurred, the source of the problem, and the Event ID. In the description field, youíll find additional information about the event. Unfortunately, the Event ID descriptions are often very cryptic--especially those related to the Error and Warning events.

One way to get more detailed information about the Event ID is to click the link in the description field that goes to the Microsoft Online Help and Support Center. Many users are wary about using this link because information is reported across the Internet to Microsoft. However, thereís nothing to fear.

When you click the Microsoft Online Help and Support Center link, youíll see a dialog box that shows you exactly what information will be sent and prompts you to confirm. Once you click the OK button, the information is sent to a database and a special Help And Support Center window appears that contains more detailed information about the Event ID. In many cases, youíll find links to related information in the Knowledge Base.

If you still donít like the idea of reporting to a Microsoft database, once you're armed with the Source and the Event ID, you can get the same information that you would if you clicked the Microsoft Online Help and Support Center link by visiting the Events and Errors Message Center on the Microsoft TechNet Web site.


Three Different Ways to Open Task Manager

As you no doubt have noticed, with Windows products, there are redundancy's built into the system. This of course means that there are always several different ways of accomplishing the same task.

Windows Task Manager (WTM) is no exception. Here are the three most used methods:

1. You can press CTRL + ALT + DEL and click Task Manager from the Windows Security dialog box.
2. You can right click on the Task Bar and click Task Manager.
3. You can press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC and Task Manager will open automatically.


Creating a quick Windows XP SP2 slipstream CD

After installing Service Pack 2 (SP2), you may wonder what you should do if you decide to rebuild the system from scratch using a reformat-reinstall operation. In order to avoid having to reinstall SP2, you can create a quick Windows XP SP2 slipstream CD using your original XP CD, the network installation version of SP2, and a special command. Here's how:

  1. Create two folders in the root directory on your hard disk: one called WXP-SP2 and the other called D-SP2.
  2. Use drag-and-drop to copy the entire contents of the original XP CD to the WXP-SP2 folder.
  3. Download the network installation version of SP2 and copy it to the D-SP2 folder.
  4. Rename the WindowsXP-KB835935-SP2-ENU.exe file to Wxpsp2.exe.
  5. Open a command prompt window and at the prompt type CD \D-SP2 and press [Enter].
  6. At the prompt, type Wxpsp2.exe /integrate:C:\WXP-SP2 and press [Enter].
  7. When the extraction and integration operation is complete, you can use drag-and-drop to copy the entire contents of the C:\WXP-SP2 to your CD-RW drive and burn the files to a CD.

Note: This quick procedure doesn't create a bootable Windows XP SP2 slipstream CD. Creating a bootable CD is a more detailed operation that involves a shareware tool called IsoBuster and a full featured CD-ROM burning application such as those from Nero or Roxio.


Displaying the Security Tab in Windows XP Home Edition
Drive Formatted with NTFS

Displaying the security tab in XP Pro can be achieved by disabling simple file sharing. You can accomplish this by opening the Folder Options applet in the Control Panel. Click the View tab and remove the check beside the Use simple file sharing (recommended) option.

However, if you are running XP Home Edition, the process is slightly different. With this edition of XP, Simple File Sharing cannot be disabled. Assuming that your hard drive has been formatted with NTFS, you can display the Security tab by booting into Safe Mode and logging in with the Administrator account.

If you frequently require access to the Security tab and do not want to boot into Safe Mode to access it, you can download the Security Configuration Manager (Intel Version) from Microsoft. Double click SCESP4I.EXE and extract the files to a location on your computer. Right click the Setup.inf file (this will be located in the location where you extracted the contents) and click Install. You will need to restart your computer once you are complete.


Stop Saving Settings at System Logoff

When you log off of Windows XP Home Edition Windows saves your settings before shutting down. 

Windows will normally save all your settings. This includes your desktop configuration, icon placement, and so on. Most people find this useful so that they do not have to reconfigure the desktop each time they log on.

However, for security purposes, some users may not want settings to be saved when logging off. You can prevent changes from being saved using the steps outlined below.

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Blaisdell's Little Corner of the Web, Bohunky0, nor any of it's affiliates can guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

For more on how to use the System Registry Editor, please see: Bo's Tweaky clean Windows

1. Click Start and click Run.
2. Type regedit and Click OK.
3. Expand the following registry key: 
HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer
4. Double click the NoSaveSettings value. If the value does not exist, click Edit, point to New, and click DWORD Value. Type in NoSaveSettings and Click OK.
5. Set the value to 0.
6. Click OK
7. Close the Registry Editor.