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Windows XP Tips & Tricks Part V

| Windows 98 Tips-n-Tricks I | Windows 98 Tips-n-Tricks II | Windows Me Tips-n-Tricks |
| Windows XP Front Page News | Windows XP Tips-n-Tricks |
Site Updated 02/22/05
| Windows XP Tips I | Windows XP Tips II | Windows XP Tips IIIWindows XP Tips IV | Windows XP VI |

Page Index
Bo's Quick Tip:
Reduce 10 second scandisk wait time
Start MS Dos Prompt (Start run CMD)
CHKNTFS/T:4 where 4 is the amount of wait time in seconds
CHKNTFS/? for more info

One question I get frequently asks, "How do you know what you can safely disable, services-wise, in Windows XP?"
I regularly refer to the Black Viper OS Guides. Black Viper has done a great job of checking out all the services and writing a wonderful set of reports. There are installation guides for Red Hat 8.0 Linux, Windows ME/2000/XP/.NET, and he has also written a services guide for Windows 2000/XP along with a "tweak" guide for Windows XP. You can find all of this on his Web site at Blkviper.com.

Another question I still see a lot of is the question asking for instructions on how to back up your Windows Registry. Well, Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 256986 gives a description of the Windows Registry and contains links to Windows OS-specific articles on how to back up, edit and restore the registry.

The final links I want to bestow upon you are the URLs where you'll find the answer to the question on how to back up and restore your personal settings and data in Outlook. Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 168644 tells you how to do this for Outlook 97 and Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 287070 tells you how to do this for Outlook 2000/XP.


The Mysterious Run Command Dialog and How to Use it

We get some emails on the use of the Run Command Box or Dialog in Windows. To avoid typer's knotted fingers, we decided to give you the skinny so we do not have to type a few thousand emails every month. Yeah, I know, its being lazy but doing nothing is what we do best. Here is what the Run dialog is used for, but be warned, you may become addictited:

The RUN Command Line:

Did you know that the Run command is the Swiss Army knife of Windows' built-in apps? Using it can make your computing time move along more quickly and smoothly.

Available since Windows 3.1, the Run command is often overlooked by users except as an option for installing programs, although techies use it frequently to access various system diagnostics and information.

But, the average computer user should take a closer look at Run for its versatility to start programs and utilities, to open files and folders, to open web sites (when connected to the Internet), and as an alternative to placing shortcuts on the desktop.

To use Run, left click on the Start button. Click on Run. If you hate to take your fingers off the keyboard to access Run, you can avoid using the mouse by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard and the letter "R". Commands are typed into the open box.

For example: In the open Run box, type msconfig to give you quick access to the Startup Configuration tab. Click on the StartUp tab, and check or uncheck boxes of programs you want to run on Startup. (You will be prompted to restart your computer. If you want your custom startup to take effect immediately, click OK.) Msconfig is one of the Run commands you will probably use often.

Following are other Run commands for you to try out. (If you get hooked on Run, you can search Google for “run commands” to find others. There are lots of them! Many will include “switches,” familiar to DOS users, that will allow some of the commands to be customized.)

calc (opens calculator utility)

cdplayer (opens cd player)

charmap (opens character map utility)

clipbrd (opens clipboard utility)

command (opens DOS window at command line)

cmd (opens DOS window at command line for Windows XP)

defrag (opens defrag utility)

drvspace (opens drive space utility to compress drives, etc.)

dxdiag (for DirectX, sound, input devices-joysticks, etc. info)

freecell (opens freecell game)

mplayer2 (opens Windows Media Player 6.4)

msconfig (accesses programs that run on startup)

mshearts (opens hearts game)

msinfo32 (accesses system resources info)

notepad (opens program)

regedit (accesses command to edit the registry)

regedit32: (accesses command to edit the registry in Windows NT & 2000

rsrcmtr (loads resource meter utility in system tray)

scandskw (accesses scan disk utility)

scanregw (registry scan)

sndrec32 (opens sound recorder)

sndvol32 (opens sound volume utility)

sol (opens a solitaire game)

sysedit (accesses the System Configuration Utility)

sysmon (opens system monitor utility)

win.ini (accesses file that loads some Windows components)

winipcfg (displays Internet connection/adapter info)

winver (displays the Windows verson installed on the computer)

wmplayer (opens Windows Media Player)

wordpad (opens program)

wupdmgr (connects to Windows update)

Using the Run box can also give you a jump start on addressing your email messages. Go to Run and type in mailto:<desired email address> and press OK. (Example--mailto:blaisdel@uninets.net) Your e-mail application will open to display a blank new message that already has the email address you typed in the 'To:' field! You can even check websites by typing in a web address in Run. (Ex-ample-http://www.uninets.net/~blaisdel/Index.htm.) When connected to the Internet, you will be whisked to wherever you want to go.

Among the switches you can type in the Run box to customize tasks are attrib, move, and xcopy. DOS command and switches, and instructions on how to use them in conjunction with Windows Run, are at

DOS is down, but not out

http://www.computerhope.com/msdos.htm 

As you type commands in the Run box, a list of your Most Recently Used (MRU) commands--a history of the commands you've used--accumulate. The growing list can come in handy, because you can just click on any command to activate it without retyping it.

On the other hand, you may not want to wade through a long list, or you may not want others to have access to the visible commands. In these cases, you need to clear the MRU commands. Here are two ways you can do that.

1. Right click the start button and go to properties. Click on the radio button next to Start Menu and click on the Customize... button. Then, click on the Advanced tab. Locate the Run box and check the box on the left. Then, click on clear history.
2. You can navigate to 
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer\ RunMRU.

This is where you will find all the commands in the Run history. Delete the ones you don't want. But, backup the registry first! Never used the System Registry? Please see: Bo's Tweaky Clean Windows for more.


Stop XP from attempting to call home

Question: Is there a tweak for Windows XP to stop the auto dial-up box from popping up. My eyes are just about strained out at this point; I've tried searches and had no luck so far.

Answer: By default, Windows XP AutoDial connects your PC to the Internet automatically when a site is accessed on the PC. This is fine for most users, yet if you use the only phone line in the house, you may wish to have manual control over this feature:

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Select "Administrative Tools" and click on "Services." If Administrative Tools is not visible in your Start Menu, then try navigating to Start | Settings | Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Services.
  3. In the window listing, click on "Remote Access Auto Connection Manager."
  4. Click on "Stop" in the upper left of the window to shut down this service.
  5. Right-click on "Remote Access Auto Connection Manager" listing.
  6. Click on "Properties" in the pop-up menu.
  7. Click on the arrow to the right of the drop-down box next to "Startup type:" and select "Disabled."
  8. Click OK.
  9. Exit the "Services" window.

"From now on, your PC will never attempt to dial up an Internet connection unless you initiate the process."


Run that older version DOS game in Windows XP

Reader Josie writes:

Question: Hi there. I want to load a game but it tells me it should be loaded in doss on windows xp, not a clue what they mean, or how you can do it. Hope you can help me.

Answer: Sure Josie,

Well Josie there is one thing that you need to be aware of. Unlike the Windows 9.x kernel Windows XP is not DOS based. It does have DOS Emulation but that is as far as Windows XP will go. What the heck does that mean? It means that some codec, written to DOS, will not work in XP.

That being said, there are some things that you can try but it may not work. It depends largely on rather the author of the DOS game is a stickler for DOS based in coding or not. If all else fails, try to find a Windows XP compatible game like the one written for DOS.

Try forcing Windows XP to run older games by using the Compatibility Mode

Figure 1
Using the Wizard

Using the Compatibility Wizard

What about those old favorite games you just can't do without? The classics such as Civilization or Doom? Most of these will work directly without any intervention. If you find that a game doesn't run immediately, there are two things I recommend trying. First, if it was a game for Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me (as opposed to an MS–DOS–based game), you may get a warning from the game itself that it doesn't work on this version of Windows. To avoid this message, or if the game simply crashes, you can run that game in Compatibility Mode. Right–click the icon for your game's executable (*.exe) in Windows Explorer, click Properties, and then click the Compatibility tab (See Figure 2). In this dialog box, you can choose which version of Windows to emulate while running the game. This feature changes the WINVER response that the application receives when querying the version of the current operating system along with a slew of more subtle differences, so the game can run in the environment it needs.

Run the Program Compatibility Wizard

You should run the Program Compatibility Wizard before you try other ways of updating your programs or drivers because it identifies compatibility fixes written specifically for Windows XP. If the wizard does not solve your problem, you can try other steps listed at the end of this article.

To run the Program Compatibility Wizard (See Figure 2):

1. Click Start, and then click Help and Support.
2. Click Fixing a problem, and then click Application and software problems.
3. Under Fix a problem click Getting older programs to run on Windows XP.
4. Read the instructions and then click the Program Compatibility Wizard.

Note If a compatibility problem prevents you from installing a program on Windows XP, run the Program Compatibility Wizard on the Setup file for the program. The file may be called Setup.exe or something similar, and is probably located on the Installation disc for the program.

The wizard prompts you to test your program in different modes and with various settings. For example, if the program was originally designed to run on Windows 95, set the Compatibility Mode to Windows 95, as shown in Figure 2 below, and try running your program again. 

The wizard also allows you to try different settings, such as switching the display to 256 colors and the screen resolution to 640 x 480 pixels. The wizard will then launch your program with the selected settings, and allow you to test how the program works.

The final page of the wizard enables you to select whether to permanently apply the compatibility settings, abandon the changes, or save them and run the wizard again to apply different settings. You might need to repeat this process a few times, until you find the correct Compatibility Mode.

Second, for even older (MS–DOS–based) games, you should be aware that if they use the Expanded Memory Specification (EMS), you may need to explicitly enable this for the application. The picture shows the settings for one of my old Microprose favorites: Master of Orion, where EMS is being changed from None to Auto. In Windows 98, Auto was the default, but programs such as this 1994 classic are getting a little long in the tooth now.

You can initiate this property box by right clicking, in Windows Explorer, on the initiation file (BAT, COM, or EXE) and choosing properties from the right click context menu.

Figure 2

Set Compatibility Properties Manually

Set Compatibility Properties Manually

Of course there is another problem. I suspect that this is really what you are asking. That is, how do you set up a DOS based game if the install.exe or the setup.exe files are not compatible with Windows XP?

That does present us with a problem. Many of the older DOS programs required an Autoexec.bat file and a Config.sys file which are not supported in XP. The Autoexec and Config files were what both DOS and the Windows 9.x kernel first looked at when Windows or even DOS first booted. They provided the operating system with such things as device drivers for your hardware and any pre-GUI initial strings for certain software including the Operating System itself.

NOTE:
You can attempt to fool the DOS based setup files (Setup.exe or Install.exe) using the techniques I am describing here. If you are not proficient with computers or have a basic knowledge of how things are supposed to work, do not follow the NFTS to FAT conversion outlined below.

These files aren't present in XP so the old DOS program (Game) isn't able to initialize.

Most people get around this problem by setting Windows XP up for multiple OS booting. I suspect that this may be a bit to advanced for you so I hesitate to give examples. You can learn a little more about what that is by reading my short instructions at Dual Booting.

Drivers will be real mode DOS and will *not* work on XP - you would have to boot to a DOS floppy disk.  The inbuilt DOS emulation has sound support, and should have a SET BLASTER line in the windows\system32\autoexec.nt (This is the file that XP uses in DOS emulation. It is a compatible mode set same as Autoexec.bat in Win32) - that file has useful comments in it on setting up SoundBlaster compatibility, which should work with most DOS games.

The DOS Boot DISK
I do not generally advise it, but you may be able to install this game if you have a DOS Boot Disk. If you do not have one, here is a simple way you can get one. Go to Bootdisks.com and download  

If your system is formatted with NFTS Format, you may need to reformat to FAT 32. DOS doesn't recognize NFTS formatted hard drives.

Once you have the correct format on your hard drive, attempt to load the DOS based game again. If Windows XP will now allow it to load, problem solved. If not you will need to boot your system with the DOS formatted bootdisks. Simple put the bootdisk into the A:| drive and reboot your machine. If the BIOS is set to recognize the A: drive as a bootable drive, you should be able to get to the A:\ prompt. Then, simply remove the bootdisk and install your game as you normally would. This assumes that your game is being loaded by way of the A drive.

DosBox
Reader Billy writes: Just an additional suggestion about running dos games in Windows XP, I have quite a few dos games I enjoy from time to time and have found one of the better solutions to running them on XP which gives Hardware Emulation to the dos applications as needed is from a program called DosBox. DosBox has worked very well with the dos games I have ran on it so far.

NOTE: This is a suggested utility from our reader. We have not tested this product nor are we necessarily advising it's uses. However, some DOS programs simply will not play, not even in Compatibility Mode. Heck, the utility is free so what do you have to lose? ~ Bo

Another Related Question Concerning Missing Autoexec.nt file

Reader Tom Writes: I upgraded to Windows XP Service Pack 2 and shortly after that I am unable to play some DOS games which did play before the upgrade. I get a message concerning Autoexec.nt and referring to DOS-based applications appeared, and now I can't run this program.

A quick look at the C:\Windows \System32 folder will reveal that the Autoexec.nt file has totally disappeared. The contents of the file don't necessarily matter, but if it's missing, you'll get a problem. Fortunately, it's easy to replace.

Launch Notepad, enter "@ECHO OFF" (no quotes), press Enter at the end of the line, and save the file as C:\Windows\System32\ Autoexec.nt. When saving, put the filename in quotes; otherwise Notepad may give it the filename Autoexec.nt.txt. Now try the program. If it still doesn't work, reopen the Autoexec.nt file and add the following lines:

lh %SystemRoot%\system32\mscdexnt.exe

lh %SystemRoot%\system32\redir

lh %SystemRoot%\system32\dosx

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 P330 T3

That should do the job.


Registry Key? Could be. Try this:

Question: My Windows XP Home version machine slows to a crawl. I have a 1.7 Hz machine with 256 MB of SDRAM and two hard drives.. I have cleaned Windows, Defraged, and deleted all programs I do not need. I have heard that there is a registry key that once deleted will resolve this issue. Any ideas? Stumped in Alaska.

Answer: Dear Stumped,

Oh, sorry, I am not Dear Abby. Anyway, this is true. Some of our readers have stated that if there are two keys in the Remote Computer registry (Generally they are remote computer name and a shared printer key name) that deleting one will solve allot of problems. Trouble is, if there are two settings in this key, which one do you delete? After attempting to duplicate this problem on our test machine, I have determined that a dual registry key in by the name of {D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF} can, in many cases, be deleted without to much trouble. As is always the case though, you should back up the registry before deleting this key. Anyway, here is the location and the key. Give it a try, but be warned, make sure you back up the key before deleting this.

To backup and delete the key, In the regedt registry editor navigate to the NameSpace key :

  1. Click Start | Run | and type REGEDIT then click okay or hit the enter/return key on your keyboard.
  2. In the Registry Editor navigate to:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
    \RemoteComputer\NameSpace\{D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF}
  3. Right click {D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF}
  4. From the right-click context menu choose Export.
  5. From the Export Registry File dialog box in the File Name text box : Type the filename of your choice as in restoreshare
  6. Click Save
    This saves the file names (in my example), restoreshare.reg to the, in my case C:\RegRestore Files (The Default for this save is My Documents).
  7. Its now safe to delete the key.
  8. Right click {D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF}
  9. Click Delete
  10. Click Yes in the Confirm Key Delete dialog box.

If your system is unstable or weird after deleting this key, you can restore the key. In Explorer, double-click on your reg file. This will restore the deleted registry key.


Recovering from a Corrupted Registry that Prevents WinXP from Starting

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=307545

{WinXP doesn't start} This Knowledge Base article explains how to rescue WinXP that won't start because of a corrupted item in the registry. However, it doesn't guarantee full recovery of the system to its previous state. The procedure should help in recovering the data. Corrupted registry files can cause a variety of different error messages. The associated error messages can be any one of the following:

Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SOFTWARE

Stop: c0000218 {Registry File Failure} The registry cannot load the hive (file):
\SystemRoot\System32\Config\SOFTWARE or its log or alternate

Before trying the procedure, try the normal recovery methods. If those fail, then use an Automatic System Recovery (ASR) backup, if it exists. Also, be sure to replace all five of the registry hives. Replacing one or two can cause problems because software and hardware may have settings in multiple locations in the registry. Follow the four steps in specific order to attempt to return WinXP startup to normal.


Device Manager gone blind on you? Here is a fix!
Blank Device Manager

Question: I am running Windows XP Home Edition and I opened the Device Manager to see a blank window with nothing listed. All the devices are working, so I thought it was a glitch and decided to shut down the computer and then restart it, but the Device Manager still comes up blank. Everything is working fine, but I want to fix this before it becomes a problem. Do you know how I can fix this?

Answer: I have never run into the problem before, but I did do some checking. I came across Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 311504 that gives the answer. This is a problem with Windows XP Professional and Home Edition. If the Plug and Play service is disabled/turned off this can happen. Microsoft says that this is by design? Okay, chalk up another mystery for the Gates familly fortune.

To turn the Plug and Play service back on, do the following:

  1. Click Start | Run, type "services.msc" (sans quotes), and click OK.
  2. Next, double-click Plug and Play. If you receive a configuration manager message then click OK.
  3. Now, switch the Startup Type to Automatic, click OK, and then restart the computer. You should be able to see your devices now listed in the Device Manager.

On a side note, the Microsoft Knowledge Base Article says that this isn't really a problem, but that Windows XP was designed this way because Plug and Play is a core operating system service. Seems to me that is like saying you have a brand new car, but no engine.


Copy User Data to a New Profile in WinXP

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=811151

{Create a new profile without starting from scratch} Why would anyone want to create a new profile with existing user data? Well, perhaps the profile could be corrupted, or maybe you want to create a new profile with all the same information for a new user (or your secret identity). When you copy user data into a new profile, the new profile becomes a close copy of the old profile containing the same preferences, appearance, and documents. When a profile is corrupted, move the files and settings from the corrupt profile to a new profile. There are two parts to making this happen: creating a new user profile and copying files to the new profile.


Make your folder settings behave

Question: Why don't folders remember the settings I selected, even though from Windows Explorer I went to Tools | Folder Options | View | Apply to All Folders?

Answer: This is one of the questions we receive most often. It changed the settings for me even though I completed the same steps you described in Windows XP. What you described is indeed the first thing to try in WinXP, 2000, 98, and ME. Let me repeat the steps starting with the critical first step:

  1. Open a folder.
  2. Configure the sort order, icon size, column widths, and file details to your preference.
  3. In Windows Explorer, select Tools | Folder (for Win98 it's in the View menu), and choose the View tab.
  4. In the View tab, click "Like Current Folder" or "Apply to All Folders."
  5. Click OK.

If, after playing around with it, this stops working, press the Ctrl key down while closing the Windows Explorer. Still a nuisance? Try going to Control Panel | Folders, and set a default for all folders. Using freeware such as Tweak UI for Windows XP (Or, Tweak UI V1.33 for Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 98 or Windows 95 from PcWorld, or try mirror 2 from Microsoft) has worked for some people. This is one of those unexplained mysteries and someone has yet to solve exactly what works and doesn't work.


When Windows Update, Won't!

Question: I have a computer running Windows XP Professional, and I keep running into a problem whenever I run Windows Update, it just stops responding at 0% during the scan. I know this worked about six months ago; am I doing anything wrong?

Answer: As long as your computer is connected to the Internet, then you aren't doing anything wrong; you wouldn't be able to get this far if you weren't connected. Since Windows Update worked six months ago this leads me to ask what programs have been added to your computer in that time frame, as that is your likely culprit. I only know of two programs off the top of my head that cause this type of problem, and they are virus scanners that include Web scanning and so-called Internet accelerator programs. The fix for both is easy: just disable the program before running Windows Update. For most of these programs, you just need to right-click the icon in the system tray (this is the area that includes the clock, in the lower right-hand corner) and choose "Disable." If you are still having trouble, then you may have to go into the Properties of the virus scanner to disable the Internet scanning feature and then restart your computer. Make sure to turn this feature back on after running Windows Update.

In the case of Internet accelerator programs, such as NetSonic Internet Accelerator, which has a known problem with Windows Update regardless of operating system, you may have to resort to drastic measures, such as uninstalling the program to get Windows Update to run. To uninstall a program you need to click Start | Settings | Control Panel. Now double-click Add/Remove Programs, select your Internet accelerator (NetSonic) and click Change/Remove. Follow the instructions and then restart your computer. If you follow these tips then you will be updating your Windows again in no time flat.


Unable to activate Windows XP
This is a Lockergnome Q&A

Question: I'm trying to install Windows XP on my Dell laptop and although I got the operating system installed, I can't activate it. The laptop stops responding whenever the Activate Windows program runs. Do you know how I can fix this?

Answer: Lucky for you, I recently read a Microsoft Knowledge Base article where this same type of problem was happening on a Dell Inspiron 8100 laptop. This fix for this is simple, but first I want you to try restarting your computer and running the Activate Windows program with nothing else open on the computer. Also, go into your Control Panel and make sure your modem is installed.

If all this looks all right, then it may be as simple as a video adapter conflict. The Microsoft Knowledge Base article tells you to do the following:

  1. Start your computer in VGA mode. To do this, go to Start | Run, type "msconfig" (sans quotes), and click OK.
  2. On the BOOT.INI tab, click the checkbox next to /BASEVIDEO, click "Apply," and then restart your computer.
  3. After your computer restarts, click "Cancel" to close the System Configuration Utility dialog box.
  4. Now, start the Activate Windows program by going to Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Activate Windows.

    Once you have "activated" Windows, you need to reopen MSConfig and uncheck the box next to /BASEVIDEO.

Now I have shown you the Microsoft way to resolve this, but I don't think this is the only way to fix this. It may be easier to just navigate to Dell's Web site and download the latest Windows XP-compatible driver. If this is truly an issue of a conflict with a video adapter, then a new driver may be all you need, and it is a good idea to update your system drivers all the same. I hope this helps


You Cannot Delete a File or Folder W2k/XP

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=320081

{Fixing file deletion} This Microsoft Knowledgebase article describes a situation for those who may not be able to delete a file or a folder on an NTFS file system volume. Internally, NTFS treats folders as a special type of file. The word "file" (in this article) indicates either a file or folder. There are six causes (although, in a typo here, Microsoft lists two as #4) and resolutions offered for each in the article:

  1. The file uses an Access Control List (ACL) and you'll need change the permissions on the file. You may have to take ownership of the files to be able to change the permissions.
  2. The file is being used and you need to close the process that has the open handle.
  3. The file system is corrupted, and running the CHKDSK utility on the disk volume will help correct any errors.
  4. There are issues with the file path.
  5. The file name includes a reserved name (for example, "lpt1") in the Win32 name space and needs a non-Win32 program to rename the file. You can use a POSIX tool or any other tool that uses the appropriate internal syntax to use the file.
  6. The file name includes an invalid name (for example, the file name has a trailing space or a trailing period, or the file name consists of a space only).

Lastly, it could be a combination of these causes.


What is the running service svchost.exe and why is it running at 25% to 35%?

Question: How do I find out what is starting a service on my computer? The name of the service is svchost.exe and the user name is Local Service. It starts with the first logon and eats a consistent 25-35% of CPU processing time. I have ended the process using the Windows Task Manager and have not had any problems. Any insight would be appreciated. ~Ted

Aanswer: You don't mention whether you are using Windows XP or Windows 2000, so I will try to give the information for both. Let's examine what the svchost.exe program is used for. From Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 314056: "At startup, Svchost.exe checks the services portion of the registry to construct a list of services that it needs to load. Multiple instances of Svchost.exe can run at the same time and usually does. Each Svchost.exe session can contain a grouping of services, so that separate services can run, depending on how and where Svchost.exe is started. This allows for better control and easier debugging." Geek speak for, it is basically an easy way for your computer to execute a lot of DLL files that are needed at startup. So instead of just ending one of the instances of svchost.exe, we need to find what set of DLLs might be causing your processing problem. For that, we need to do a little detective work

In Windows XP Pro, you can get a list of running services by going to Start | Run | type "CMD" | click OK. Type "tasklist /svc"  and then press Enter. Now you will have a list of every DLL running under each svchost.exe instance. You may need to extract this command parameter from your installation CD in order to use this technique. See this Microsoft support article for more information on this command http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;314056&FR=1&PA=1&SD=HSCH
This command is not available in Windows XP Home edition.

For Windows 2000, you need to extract the Tlist.exe utility from the Support.cab file on your Windows 2000 installation CD. You still need to open a command window, but you will need to navigate to where you extracted the Tlist.exe file to, type "tlist -s" , and then press Enter.

For more information, see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 250320. Svchost.exe groups are identified in the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows NT \ CurrentVersion \ Svchost. Also, each svchost group extracts its service names from the following registry key, whose Parameters key contains a ServiceDLL value: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ System \ CurrentControlSet \ Services \ . Be sure to back up the registry key you are configuring before you make a change. You do this by browsing the desired registry key, and then going to File | Export. Follow the prompts, and you will now have a way to bring back that registry key (if you accidentally damaged it).


Question How can I use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to import my files and settings?

Answer To import your files and settings, perform the following steps:

  1. Click the Start button, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click File and Settings Transfer Wizard.
    Alternatively, you can type migwiz.exe at the command prompt.
  2. On the welcome page, click Next.
  3. Click New computer, and then click Next.
  4. When the wizard gives you the option to create a Wizard Disk that you can use on the old computer to collect the files and settings, click "I don't need the Wizard Disk," and then click Next.
  5. Select the location of your files and settings, and then click Next.
    The wizard will import the information and write over the existing configuration information.
  6. After the wizard has finished importing the information, click Finish.
  7. Log off and log on for all changes to take effect.

Setting Windows Explorer to open in a desired Folder on opening

Question Is there a way to preset what folder Windows Explorer (not IE) opens up to (e.g., "My Documents")?

Answer This solution applies to Win2k/XP. If you want Windows Explorer to open to the folder C:\My Documents, for example, right- click the Windows Explorer shortcut that you use to run the program and choose "Properties." At the Windows Explorer Properties dialog box, click the Shortcut tab. Click in the Target entry box, and then press End. Add to the end of the existing line "/e, c:\My Documents". The complete line in the Target entry box should now be

%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /e, c:\My Documents

The /e switch tells Windows Explorer to open in the two-pane Explorer mode and the c:\ tells it to open in folder C:\. If you wish to have Explorer open the C:\ drive, leave off "My Documents." If you omit the /e switch, Windows Explorer opens in a single-pane view.

For Windows 9x

Here's the solution for Win9x (and possibly ME): Find the shortcut in the Windows Start Menu and change the properties from "C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE /n,/e,C:\" to "C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE /n,/e,C:\foldername". To open to the "My Documents" folder, use: "C:\Windows\Explorer.exe /n, /e, ::{450d8fba-ad25-11d0-98a8-0800361b1103}"

The meaning of the command line switches are as follows:

The default (with no switch) is Open view.

More on the use of Windows Explorer Switches:

Syntax
EXPLORER.EXE [/n][/e][,/root,<object>][[,/select],<sub object>]
Switches

/n: Opens a new window in single-paned (My Computer) view for each item selected, even if the new window duplicates a window that is already open.

/e: Uses Windows Explorer view. Windows Explorer view is most similar to File Manager in Windows version 3.x. Note that the default view is Open view.

/root,<object>: Specifies the root level of the specified view. The default is to use the normal namespace root (the desktop). Whatever is specified is the root for the display.

/select,<sub object>: Specifies the folder to receive the initial focus. If "/select" is used, the parent folder is opened and the specified object is selected.

Examples

* To open a Windows Explorer view to explore only objects on \\<server name>, use the following syntax:

explorer /e,/root,\\<server name>
* To view the C:\WINDOWS folder and select CALC.EXE, use the following syntax:

explorer /select,c:\windows\calc.exe


Have Programs open without typing in your Administrative Password - But.....

Question I have Windows XP, and I realize that I can hold down the Shift key when I click on a program and choose "Run As" to run the program as the Administrator. You have to retype the password each time, and this becomes rather tedious. Is there a way to save the Administrator password for a few programs so that the Limited Users don't have to know or enter the password every time?

Answer But....Well, there is a way to do it, but I will warn you that by doing so, you risk exposing your Administrator password. Open Notepad, which should be in Start | Programs | Accessories or just click Start | Run | And type: notepad, then hit the enter key or click okay.

  1. Type "runas /user:administrator /password:XYZ [program's path]"  Don't forget that you need to keep the quotes around the file directory path to your program. (Typing Password:XYZ where XYZ is your password)  The programs path should be the location of the program you want. For example, if you want to run notepad just type in the following:

    "runas /user:administrator /password:XYZ C:\Windows\Notepad.exe"
  2. Save the file to your desktop.
  3. Right-click the saved text file, choose Rename, and put a ".bat"  on the end of your file name (replace .txt if that is listed)
  4. To activate it just double-click this new batch file to run your selected program as the administrator.
  5. You will need to create a batch file for each program unless you always open the group together, at which time you can just hit Return after your first program and retype the same code with the path to the next program.
  6. Now when you double- click the batch file it will open all the programs you included as the Administrator.

There is a better way:

I warned you that you risk exposing your Administrator password, because any computer-savvy user can just right-click the batch file, choose Edit, and see your Administrator password in plain text. I would recommend that you create a Power User account and give that account the appropriate rights to run these programs. You can still create the batch file listed above, but instead of referencing the Administrator account, you would reference the newly created Power User account. Now you don't have to worry about someone stealing your administrator password.


Slow Bootups

Question Why is it that my new laptop used to boot up to XP real quick (less than a minute) a few weeks ago, but now it is taking so long (up to 5 minutes)? I only have a couple of programs in Startup folder.

Answer There are many things that can be causing this slowdown. I  some people mention that installing the latest Windows XP service pack can cause your computer to startup a little bit slower. The Startup folder isn't the only place where startup programs reside. Many programs, having gotten smarter than this, have started to place references in the run and runonce areas of the Windows XP registry. If you aren't a Registry Tweaker, one way to clean this up is to go to your Start menu, click Run, type MSCONFIG and click OK. You can turn off startup items by unchecking them on the Startup tab; your settings will go into effect after a restart.

I recommend that you go to blkviper.com (That's Black Viper) and check out the Windows XP section under OS Guides. In here you will find ways to tweak your Windows XP machine for maximum performance. Blkviper.com does a great job of mapping out and explaining each of the system services so that you can turn off unnecessary services to increase your startup speed. This Web site also includes some REG files that you can apply directly to your registry to increase your system performance. Also, you may want to run the Disk Defragmenter on your system. You can do this by clicking Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Defragmenter. You can never, Over Defragment, your system.

In past articles I have said that the prefetch feature in Windows XP is the culprit of system slowdowns. Microsoft defines the prefetch feature as "Windows XP monitors the files that are used when the computer starts and when you start applications. By monitoring these files, Windows XP can prefetch them. Prefetching data is the process whereby data that is expected to be requested is read ahead into the cache. Prefetching boot files and applications decreases the time needed to start Windows XP and start applications." I don't think that this feature causes your system to boot slowly, but I do think that you get a performance hit from the extra hard drive space and processing time needed to perform this task. There is a program called Windows XP Prefetch Clean and Control that you can use to clear your prefetch log and control what files are logged. You can find this program at majorgeeks.com. From my tech point of view, I recommend that you follow the instructions on blkviper.com, then download Windows XP Prefetch Clean And Control and set it to only log boot files. After you do all this, then you should run the Disk Defragmenter. If you do all this, then I am sure you will notice an increase in your startup speed.

One additional problem with Prefetch is what happens if a file, meant to be cached, is moved, or somehow becomes corrupted? This can cause all manner of problems and how do you know which file or program is at fault? Well, checking the logs is one way, if you have a rainy Saturday and aren't planning to actual live life. The quickest way to alleviate this type of problem is to simply delete all files in the Prefetch folder under C:\Windows\System\Prefetch. Don't worry, the prefetch folder will fill back up again and you may notices some slight delays in start times for a short period, but the benefit is that you get the prefetch folder back to a good working order again. As for disabling Prefetch? I don't advise it. However, there are times when this make perfect sense. See the below:

Disable the Prefetcher component when troubleshooting startup problems

As you may know, Windows XP has a memory management component called the Prefetcher. By design, this component shortens the amount of time that it takes Windows and the most often used applications to start up.

In order to accomplish this feat, the Prefetcher goes to work during the startup routine. However, this component can get in the way when you're troubleshooting startup problems.

If this happens, you may want to disable the Prefetcher. Follow these steps:

1. Open the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).
2. Navigate to 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\ Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters.
3. Double-click the EnablePrefetcher value.
4. In the Edit DWORD Value dialog box, change the Value Data setting from 3 to 0.
5. Close the Registry Editor, and restart Windows XP for the change to take effect.

When you've finished troubleshooting the startup problem, be sure to go back to the Registry Editor, and change the value of EnablePrefetcher back to 3


Running Both Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger 5.0 in Windows XP

{WinXP instant messaging tip} Windows Messenger is included with Windows XP and is installed when you install the operating system. MSN Messenger 5.0 is included with MSN 8.0 and is also available as a separate download. It is installed on your computer when you install MSN 8.0 or when you run MSN Messenger 5.0 Setup. If you are running Windows Messenger 4.x, and you previously installed the MSN Add-in for Windows Messenger, you may receive a message to install MSN Messenger 5.0. If you did not install the MSN Add-in for Windows Messenger, you are not prompted to install MSN Messenger 5.0. Important notes: You cannot run both Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger 5.0 on non-Windows XP-based computers. You cannot install Windows Messenger on non-Windows XP-based computers. You cannot run both Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger versions earlier than version 5.0 on Windows XP-based computers. You cannot install versions of MSN Messenger earlier than MSN Messenger 5.0 on Windows XP-based computers. The note describes how to run one or both programs. (Now, was it really necessary to create two different programs??)

Go to http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=330117   to get more information on this.


Making Folder and File Lists

Question: Is there a way to make a printable list from the contents of a folder? Example: I have my MP3s in a folder and I would like to print them as a list to give out.

Answer: The following solution works for Win9X/2k/XP:

  1. Click Start | Programs | MS-DOS Prompt (or Command Prompt in Windows NT). (In WinXP, click Start | Run | and enter "command" (without the quotations) to get the MS-DOS prompt.)
  2. At a command prompt, locate the drive that contains the folder whose contents you want to list. For example, if you want to create a text file that contains a list of the contents of a folder on drive C, at the command prompt, type "c:" (no quotes) and then press Enter.
  3. While at the command prompt, locate the folder whose contents you want to list. For example, if you want to create a text file that contains a list of the contents in the Music folder on drive C, type "cd\" and press Enter. Then type "cd music" and press Enter. (Once again, don't type the quotes.)
  4. Now type "dir > filename.txt" where filename is the name of the text file that you are creating. For example, if you want to create a file named mp3list.txt, type "dir > mp3list.txt" and press Enter. The text file that you create is located in the folder that you are in when you follow these steps. In this example, the mp3list.txt file is located in the Music folder.
  5. To close the MS-DOS screen, type "exit" at the command prompt and hit Enter. Use a text editor, such as Notepad or Microsoft Word, to view or print this file. You could do screenshots using the PrtScr key, but if the list scrolls off the screen, it's tedious. Also, the file size will be larger than the text file.

Searches taking to long? Try this tip, its a "ZIP"

Question  I use WinXP Pro. When I open my D:/downloads folder in File Explorer (not IE) by clicking on it in the left panel, only the ZIP files in that folder are listed under the opened folder. The zipped files also show in the right panel along with the rest of the non-zipped files in that folder. What's up with this?

Answer  By default, Windows XP (Pro & Home) treats zipped files like folders, or more specifically, "compressed folders." This was first seen in Windows Me. The zipped files appear in the left-side tree view under the parent folder like any other subfolder. If you have a utility managing your ZIP files, this feature is annoying because Windows searches inside ZIP files when using "Search for Files and Folders." Doing this makes the search take longer, and might display incomplete information in the "In Folder" column of the search results. Just one of a number of little annoyances which takes processing power away from an otherwise fast OS.

You can disable XP's support using regsvr32, a tool that allows you to register or un-register object linking and embedding (OLE) controls. Follow these steps to disable this feature:

  1. Select Run from the Start Menu.
  2. Type "regsvr32 /u %windir%\system32\zipfldr.dll" at the prompt in XP Pro or Home.
  3. Click OK.

The change will take effect immediately, but you may have to restart Windows for all traces of the built-in ZIP support to disappear. After restarting your system, your problem should be solved, but you may need to reassociate your unzipping program (WinZip, etc.) with the files before you can view and open them.

If you want to re-enable Windows XP's built-in ZIP support, just follow these steps:

  1. Select Run from the Start Menu.
  2. Type "regsvr32 /u %windir%\system32\zipfldr.dll" at the prompt in XP Pro or Home.
  3. Click OK.

As with the previous example, the change will take effect immediately, but you may have to restart Windows for all features of the built-in ZIP support to be available


Use Registry Editor to Identify an Unknown PCI Device W9x

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=298837

Use this Microsoft article to identify and locate vendor information for a device that's displayed as "Unknown Device" on the Device Manager tab in the System Properties dialog box. The same steps can be used to identify an unknown display adapter listed as Standard PCI Graphics Adapter (VGA). As always, remember to be careful when use the Registry Editor to avoid potentially serious problems requiring (ick!) reinstalling the operating system. Microsoft provides its standard legal disclaimer that the company "cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk." Gee, thanks, Bill!


Understanding Chkdsk [Check Disk]

Question When I run chkdsk it shows phase 1, phase 2, and etc.,. What does this mean?

Answer Chkdsk is intended to replace the older style Scan Disk found in earlier versions of Windows. Though the program is rather cryptic, it performing allot that isn't really very clear. The need for a change, of course, is a direct result of the use of NTFS (New Technology File System). Lets examine this little program and try to figure out what it does and why it does it.

Understanding What CHKDSK Does

CHKDSK's activity is divided into three major passes, during which CHKDSK examines all the metadata on the volume, and an optional fourth pass.

Metadata is "data about datAnswer" Metadata is the file system "overhead," so to speak, that keeps track of information about all of the files that are stored on the volume. Metadata includes information about what allocation units make up the data for a given file, what allocation units are free, what allocation units contain bad sectors, and so on. The data that the file contains, on the other hand, is termed "user datAnswer" NTFS protects its metadata through the use of a transaction log. User data is not protected in this way.

Phase 1: Checking Files

During its first pass, CHKDSK displays a message that tells you that CHKDSK is verifying files and also displays the percent of verification that is completed, counting from 0 to 100 percent. During this phase, CHKDSK examines each file record segment in the volume's master file table (MFT).

A specific file record segment in the MFT uniquely identifies every file and directory on an NTFS volume. The "percent completed" that CHKDSK displays during this phase is the percentage of the MFT that CHKDSK has verified. During this pass, CHKDSK examines each file record segment for internal consistency and builds two bitmaps, one representing the file record segments that are in use and the other representing the clusters on the volume that are in use.

At the end of this phase, CHKDSK has identified the space that is in use and the space that is available, both within the MFT and on the volume as a whole. NTFS keeps track of this information in bitmaps of its own, which are stored on the disk. CHKDSK compares its results with the bitmaps that NTFS keeps. If there are discrepancies, the discrepancies are noted in the CHKDSK output. For example, if a file record segment that was in use is found to be corrupted, the disk clusters that were associated with that file record segment are marked as "available" in the CHKDSK bitmap but are marked as "in use" in the NTFS bitmap.

Phase 2: Checking Indexes

During its second pass, CHKDSK displays a message that tells you that CHKDSK is verifying indexes and again displays the percent completed, counting from 0 to 100 percent. During this phase, CHKDSK examines each of the indexes on the volume.

Indexes are essentially NTFS directories. The "percent completed" that CHKDSK displays during this phase is the percentage of the total number of the volume's directories that have been checked. During this pass, CHKDSK examines each directory that is on the volume, checking for internal consistency and verifying that every file and directory that is represented by a file record segment in the MFT is referenced by at least one directory. CHKDSK confirms that every file or subdirectory that is referenced in a directory actually exists as a valid file record segment in the MFT and also checks for circular directory references. Finally, CHKDSK confirms that the time stamps and file size information for the files are up-to-date in the directory listings for those files.

At the end of this phase, CHKDSK has made sure that there are no "orphaned" files and that all directory listings are for legitimate files. An orphaned file is a file for which there is a legitimate file record segment but for which there is no listing in any directory. An orphaned file often can be restored to its proper directory if that directory still exists. If the proper directory no longer exists, CHKDSK creates a directory in the root directory and places the file there. If CHKDSK finds directory listings for file record segments that are no longer in use, or for file record segments that are in use but that do not correspond to the file that is listed in the directory, CHKDSK simply removes the directory entry for the file record segment.

Phase 3: Checking Security Descriptors

During its third pass, CHKDSK displays a message that tells you that CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors and, for the third time, displays "percent completed," counting from 0 to 100 percent. During this phase, CHKDSK examines each security descriptor that is associated with files or directories that are on the volume.

Security descriptors contain information about ownership of a file or directory, about NTFS permissions for the file or directory, and about auditing for the file or directory. The "percent completed" that CHKDSK displays during this phase is the percentage of the volume's files and directories that have been checked. CHKDSK verifies that each security descriptor structure is well formed and is internally consistent. CHKDSK does not verify the actual existence of the users or groups that are listed or the appropriateness of the permissions that are granted.

Phase 4: Checking Sectors

If the /R switch is in effect, CHKDSK runs a fourth pass to look for bad sectors in the volume's free space. CHKDSK attempts to read every sector on the volume to confirm that the sector is usable. Even without the /R switch, CHKDSK always reads sectors that are associated with metadatAnswer Sectors that are associated with user data are read during earlier phases of CHKDSK if the /R switch is specified.

When CHKDSK finds an unreadable sector, NTFS adds the cluster that contains that sector to its list of bad clusters. If the bad cluster is in use, CHKDSK allocates a new cluster to do the job of the bad cluster. If you are using a fault-tolerant disk, NTFS recovers the bad cluster's data and writes the data to the newly allocated cluster. Otherwise, the new cluster is filled with a pattern of 0xFF bytes.

If NTFS encounters unreadable sectors during the course of normal operation, NTFS remaps the sectors in the same way that it does when CHKDSK runs. Therefore, using the /R switch is usually not essential. However, using the /R switch is a convenient way to scan the entire volume if you suspect that a disk might have bad sectors.

Understanding CHKDSK Time Requirements

The preceding description of the phases of running CHKDSK gives you only a broad outline of the most important tasks that CHKDSK performs to verify the integrity of an NTFS volume. CHKDSK also makes many additional specific checks during each pass and several quick checks between passes. However, even such a broad outline provides some basis for the following discussion of the variables that affect the amount of time that CHKDSK takes to run and of the impact of the new /C and /I switches that are available in Windows XP.

Variable 1: The "Indexes" Phase

During the first and third phases of running CHKDSK (checking files and checking security descriptors), the progress of the "percent completed" indicator is relatively smooth. Unused file record segments do require less time to process, and large security descriptors do take more time to process, but overall the "percent completed" is a fairly accurate reflection of the actual time that the phase requires.

However, this percentage/time relationship is not necessarily applicable to the second phase, when CHKDSK examines indexes (NTFS directories). The time that it takes to process a directory is closely tied to the number of files and subdirectories that are in that directory, but the "percent completed" during this phase is based only on the number of directories that CHKDSK must examine. There is no adjustment for how long it might take, for example, to process a directory that has an extremely large number of files and subdirectories. Unless the directories on a volume all contain about the same number of files, the "percent completed" that is displayed during this phase does not reliably reflect the actual time that the second phase requires.

To make matters worse if you are caught in the middle of an unexpected CHKDSK procedure, the second phase of CHKDSK is the one that typically takes the longest to run.

Variable 2: The Condition of the Volume

Many factors that concern the state of a volume play a role in how long CHKDSK takes to run. A formula for predicting the time that is required to run CHKDSK on a given volume would have to include such variables as the number of files and directories, the degree of fragmentation of the volume in general and of the MTF in particular, the format of file names (long names, 8.3-formatted names, or a mixture), and the amount of actual damage that CHKDSK must repair.

Variable 3: Hardware Issues

Hardware issues also affect how long it takes for CHKDSK to run. The variables include the amount of available memory, CPU speed, disk speed, and so on.

Variable 4: The CHKDSK Settings

If you do not use the /R switch, the biggest time concern on a given hardware platform is the number of files and directories that are on the volume, rather than the absolute size of the volume.

For example, without the /R switch, a 50-gigabyte (GB) volume that has only one or two large database files might take only seconds for CHKDSK to run. If you use the /R switch, CHKDSK has to read and verify every sector on the volume, which adds significantly to the time that is required for large volumes. On the other hand, running CHKDSK on even a relatively small volume might require hours if the volume has hundreds of thousands or even millions of small files--regardless of whether you specify the /R switch.

Predicting CHKDSK Time Requirements

As you can see, running CHKDSK can take anywhere from a few seconds to several days, depending on your specific situation. The best way to predict how long CHKDSK will take to run on a given volume is to actually do a trial run in read-only mode during a period of low system usage.

However, you must use this technique with great care, for the following reasons:

Introducing the /C and /I Switches

The /C Switch

The /C switch directs CHKDSK to skip the checks that detect cycles in the directory structure. Cycles are a very rare form of corruption in which a subdirectory has itself for an "ancestor."

Using the /C switch can speed up CHKDSK by about 1 to 2 percent, but using this switch can also leave directory "loops" on an NTFS volume. Such loops might be inaccessible from the rest of the directory tree, and some files might be orphaned in the sense that Win32 programs, including backup programs, cannot see the files.

The /I Switch

The /I switch directs CHKDSK to skip the checks that compare directory entries to their corresponding file record segments. With this switch in effect, directory entries are still checked for internal consistency, but the directory entries are not necessarily consistent with the data that is stored in the corresponding file record segments.

How much time you will save by using the /I switch is difficult to predict. Typically, the /I switch lowers CHKDSK times by 50 to 70 percent, depending on factors such as the ratio of files to directories and the speed of disk I/O relative to CPU speed.

Using the /I switch has these limitations:

The Value of the /C and /I Switches

When disk corruption is detected on a volume, there are three basic options for response.

The first option is to take no action. On a mission-critical server that is expected to be online 24 hours a day, this is often the choice of necessity. The drawback is that relatively minor corruption can snowball into major corruption. Therefore, consider this option only if keeping the server online is more important than guarding the integrity of the data that is stored on the corrupted volume. All data on the corrupted volume should be considered "at risk" until you run CHKDSK. The second option is to run a full CHKDSK operation to repair all file system data and restore all of the user data that can be recovered by means of an automated process. However, running a full CHKDSK operation can cost you several hours of downtime for a mission-critical server at an inopportune time. Your third option is to run an abbreviated CHKDSK operation by using one or both of the /C and /I switches, to repair the kinds of corruption that can snowball into bigger problems in much less time than a full CHKDSK requires.

Note however that running an abbreviated CHKDSK does not repair all of the corruption that might exist. You still need to run a full CHKDSK at some future time to guarantee that all recoverable data has in fact been recovered.

Note also that NTFS does not guarantee the integrity of user data after an instance of disk corruption, even if you immediately run a full CHKDSK operation. There might be files that CHKDSK cannot recover, and files that CHKDSK does recover might still be internally corrupted. It remains vitally important that you protect mission-critical data by performing periodic backups or by using some other robust method of data recovery.


What Size is that Folder Anyway?

Question I can get the size of a file by detail view in Windows Explorer. How do I get the folder size? My burring ROM shows folder size, why can't Windows?

Answer There are two ways to do this: right-click on the folder and select Properties from the drop-down next to "Size," or put the mouse pointer over the folder and wait for a tool tip to appear and magically give you the folder size. There is a catch to this however. Look out for subfolders, they will be displayed in the parent folder as part of the folder size, which, of course, they are.

Microsoft loves to make their products upgradable. In this way they can sell you a license for a product today, then two or three months down the road, when customers start complaining that a feature should have been made available in the product, they show their empathy for their customers by magically releasing a service pack. Fortunately, third party vendors and programers are able to sap their mystic abilities by supplying the needed advisement. In this case, there is a freeware item called, "Folder Size Shell Extension 3.2 shell extension that displays folder sizes". It works with most versions of Windows and partially works with WindowsXP and W2K.

Folder Size Shell Extension 3.2
shell extension that displays folder sizes

click for full size

Folder Size Shell Extension is a handy shell extension that adds a new tab to the Properties dialog that displays a folder's or drive's size. This new page allows you see the folders and sub folders sizes (in a hierarchical tree). To access to the options (units, sort, etc.) a contextual menu is provided.  Supports Windows versions: Win 95 |  Win 98 |  Win NT  |  Win 2K |  Win XP 

Download Here


How to Disable System Restore

Several emails have asked how to disable system restore in Windows Millennium and Windows XP. This, of course, begs the question....Why? Well, some anti-virus software can not clean a system file which is protected in this manner. In that light, and you should only disable this feature if you need to clean an infected syst4em, here is how to disable System Restore while you run your anti-virus software for the purpose of cleaning.

WindowsME

1. Right click the My Computer icon on the Desktop and click on Properties.
2. Click on the Performance tab.
3. Click on the File System button.
4. Click on the Troubleshooting tab.
5. Put a check mark next to 'Disable System Restore'.


6. Click the 'OK' button.
7. You will be prompted to restart the computer. Click Yes.

Note: To re-enable the Restore Utility, follow steps one to seven and on step five remove the check mark next to 'Disable System Restore'.

WindowsXP

Disabling the System Restore Utility (Windows XP Users)

1. Right click the My Computer icon on the Desktop and click on Properties.
2. Click on the System Restore tab.
3. Put a check mark next to 'Turn off System Restore on All Drives'.


4. Click the 'OK' button.
5. You will be prompted to restart the computer. Click Yes.

Note: To re-enable the Restore Utility, follow steps one to five and on step three remove the check mark next to 'Turn off System Restore on All Drives'.


Question I have a small problem. I dual boot Windows XP and Windows ME on the same partition and I get an error message that basically says OLEDB32AnswerDLL failed to load whenever I open Windows Media Player 7. Can I fix this, or do I have to reformat and set up the computer again?

Answer You don't have to format the machine, but I will tell you that this error is probably caused because Windows ME and Windows XP share a Program Files folder. All you really need to do is download and install the latest Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC Version 2.6 or later). YOu can get the latest patch and componants here .Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) 2.7 Refresh and MDAC (Microsoft Data Access Components) 2.7 Patch: QFE Q319243    This should fix your DLL file problem. I would suggest that if you DO ever need to format your machine that you install the two operating systems on different partitions, or - ideally - different hard drives. This will help you have a system directory structure that is specific and quarantined to the operating system you're using. That way, you can install the NTFS file system on the Windows XP partition and take advantage of the benefits NTFS has to offer. You can still copy files between the two operating systems via a shared drive using the FAT32 operating system (Windows Me will not recognize the drive containing the NTFS file format but you can easily transfer files from XP to Me), but I will reserve that topic for another time. I don't want you to think that you need to set up your computer this way, but it would have prevented this problem in the first place. That's just something for you to think about... in the meantime, just install the latest version of MDAC and your Windows Media Player will work just fine


Easy Way to Adjust LargeSystemCache

Normally, the tweak I've seen asks you to go into HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management and change the value to either O or 1 to the adjustment the
LargeSystemCache.

However, in Windows XP, all you have to do is:

1. Right click My Computer
2. Select Properties
3. Click Advanced
4. Choose Performance
5. Click Advanced again
6. Select either Programs or System Cache under Memory Usage.

Programs = 0 for the registry tweak equilavent
System Cache = 1 for the registry tweak equilavent

From arstechnicAnswercom:
On NT Server (in this case XP), the Large System Cache option is enabled, but disabled on Workstation. The two different settings effect how the cache manager allocates free memory. If the Large Cache option is on, the manager marks all the free memory, which isn't being used by the system and/or applications, as freely available for disk caching. On the flip-side (with a small cache), the manager instead only sets aside 4MB of memory for disk caching in an attempt to accelerate the launch of applications. Or in a more technical approach, if enabled the system will favor system-cache working sets over process working sets (with a working set basically being the memory used by components of a process).


Ten Second Performance Boost

There are allot f Windows XP's features that are, well, eye candy. If you can live without a few simple shadows or windows animations, this tweak will do the trick. Try it, if the performance boost isn't to your liking, just put everything back.

1: Start | Right Click on My Computer | select properties. (Or, just right click on the My Computer Icon on your desktop.
2: Click on the "Advanced" tab
3: See the "Perfomance" section? Click "Settings"
4: Disable the following:

Fade or slide menus into view
Fade or slide ToolTips into view
Fade out menu items after clicking
Show Shadows under menus
Slide open combo boxes
Slide taskbar buttons
Use a background image for each folder type
Use common tasks in folders

There, now Windows will still look nice and perform faster.


Correcting System Hang at Startup

If your system hangs about 2 or 3 minutes at startup, where you can't access the Start button or the Taskbar, it may be due to one specific service (Background Intelligent Transfer) running in the background. Microsoft put out a patch for this but it didn't work for some of our readers. Here's what you do:

1. Click on Start/Run, type 'msconfig', then click 'OK'.
2. Go to the 'Services' tab, find the 'Background Intelligent Transfer' service, disable it, apply the changes & reboot.


Kill Un-Needed Services to Free Up System Resources

Services are programs that run when the computer starts up and continue to run as they aid the operating system in functionality.  There are many services that load and are not needed which take up memory space and CPU time.  Disabling these services will free up system resources which will speed up your overall computer experience.  I  recommend that you sort through the list and read the descriptions to decide if you need that service depending on what you want to do with your computer.  Remember, you can always turn the service back on if you find that you need it in the future. Below is the procedure to turn off a service.

  1. Click the start button.
  2. Select run from the bottom of the right column.
  3. Then type services.msc in the box and click ok.
  4. Once the services window has loaded we are ready to turn off unneeded services.
  5. For instructional purposes we are going to turn off the Portable Media Serial Number service.
  6. Find this service in the list and select it with the mouse.
  7. Right click and select Properties.
  8. Once the properties windows has loaded locate the Start up type drop down box and select disable.
  9. Then just click ok and the next time the computer starts the service will not be loaded.

Microsoft Speed-Up-Boot Tool

Microsoft has designed a tool to help in monitoring the boot up process of your computer. The tool has many cool features that allow you to find out how long each program running at start up is taking to load and when they load. For more information, visit the website by clicking here.


Shutdown Problems - Power Down Shutdown Solution

Many people have been having problems with their system not automatically closing down when they 'turn off' their PC. This is because of the APM setting which is not enabled. To enable it, right click on my computer goto properties select hardware and click device mangager.
Click view and then on show hidden devices. You should see the NT ATM / Legacy Interface mode with a red cross on it. Double click it and on the screen that appears at the bottom choose enable from the drop down menu.

Your PC should now automatically switch off completely on shutdown.


Look out, the Disk Monitor is watching

You can disable the disk monitoring alone, by running this command which will make it stop monitoring after next boot.

DISKPERF -N

To turn it on again run this command

DISKPERF -YD

It is also said that all this Performance monitoring is mostly done when logged in as Administrator. If one changed the default login to example a Power User, the monitoring should be lowered automaticly.


You work hard, why should your computer Dose while your trying to get it done?

If you don't plan to use the 'hibernate' function, and if you're running a desktop. You can reclaim a number of megabytes equal to your RAM on the hard drive:

Go to the following.........

*Control Panel  |  Power Options  |  Hibernate

*Deselect 'Enable hibernation' and click OK.


Delete Prefetch Automatically in Windows XP
Here's an easy way to delete your prefetch -- Automatically!!

1. Go into My Computer and go into your hard drive.
2. Right-click anywhere that a file is not and select the 'New' submenu and click 'Text Document'
3. Name it "deleteprefetch"
4. Double-click on the text file you just created.
5. Type "del C:\Windows\Prefetch\*.*" (without the quotes).
6. Go to File > Save As... and choose "All Files" from the "Save as Type" box and save it as "deleteprefetch.bat"
7. You just created a batch file that will automatically delete all the files in your Prefetch folder. Congrats.

Note: It will prompt for you to delete the files (all, not one by one, luckily) so if you schedule for it to be done, make sure you'll be on the comp at the time of it's execution.


AutoLogon In Windows XP Home Edition
If you share your computer but primarily use it for yourself, you may want to automatically log on when Windows starts.

Question I recently bought a new machine with Windows XP Home edition installed. When I set it up I decided that it might be nice if my daughter (She is in College) had her own desktop. The problem is, though I still want to keep the desktop, she only uses the computer on weekends and I would like Windows to logon in my account automatically. Is this even possible with two users for the same machine?

Answer Sure, but you are going to have to make a Registry edit to accomplish this. (You can also do this much easier if you download Windows XP  Powertoys Tweak UI for XP (Click here, I'll Explain). It also works with the older version TweakUI version 1.33 for Windows 9x). Editing the system registry, or any system file should be done with the utmost care as the registry stores not only your user information but also your systems settings and program/file locations. Take a minute to check out Bo's Tweaky Clean Windows for advise on how to backup the registry and how to edit it. Be sure to read the warning and then the instructions for backing up the registry before you attempt to perform this task.

If you share your computer but primarily use it for yourself, you may want to automatically log on when Windows starts.

In order to turn this option on, you must edit the registry. (Warning: Incorrectly editing the registry can cause damage to your system. Back up any important files before continuing).

1.. Click start, and then click Run.

2.. In the box that pops up, type regedit.

3.. In the left panel of the registry editor, browse to

HKEY LOCAL MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

4.. In the right panel, you should see a value called DefaultUsername. If it does not contain your user name, change it to yours.

5.. Right click on the right panel and choose New | String Value string and name it

AutoAdminLogon

Then double click on it and enter 1 in the value data field.

6.. Make another string value called

DefaultPassword

and enter your password in it.

Note: This will make your password available to anyone who looks in this part of the registry and could pose a security hazard.

7.. Close the registry editor. Next time you turn on your computer Windows should automatically log you on. If you need to switch users or log off, you may do it in the normal manner.

To disable automatic logon, simply delete the AutoAdminLogon and DefaultPassword registry entries.

Note: If you enter the incorrect username or password, windows may appear to freeze when it boots up at the Windows is starting up. screen.

To fix this, press ALT+ENTER and click Ok in the dialog box, then log on in the normal manner. When you log on, you should fix the password or disable automatic logon.

Using Tweak UI for Windows XP part of Windows XP Power Toys:

Download Tweak UI from the Microsoft Website Click here I'll take you there. Microsoft Power Toys are not supported by Microsoft, wink, wink. They are constructed after the fact by the Windows XP programmers, nudge, nudge.

When you install Tweak UI scroll down the list of actions in the left hand pane until you reach Logon. Click on the "+" symbol to expand the tree. Click on Auto Logon and in the right hand pane and click on the check box to place an X in the section Logon Automatically at system startup. You will need to type in the primary user name by which you wish to be logged on. You will need to know the Computer's name (Domain Name) and if you log on with a password, you will need to click on the set password button and type in your password otherwise do not click on the password button if you do not use any passwords to logon Once your system restarts, Windows will automatically log onto your desktop with all of your user settings intact and ready for use.

Want to learn more about Microsoft Power Toys? Click here.


Question How can I stop Windows from caching a .dll file after I close the program that was accessing it?

Answer Windows caches .dll files to speed disk I/O. However, even after you close the calling program, the .dll file remains cached. To stop Windows from caching .dll files after you've closed the calling program, perform the following steps:

  1. Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
  2. Navigate to the

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

    registry subkey.

  3. From the Edit menu, select New, DWORD Value.
  4. Enter the name

    AlwaysUnloadDLL

    and then press Enter.

  5. Double-click the new value, set it to 1, and then click OK.
  6. Close the registry editor, and then reboot the machine for the change to take effect.

Windows XP Slows to a Crawl or Halts

Question Sometimes when I am using Windows XP it will slow to a crawl. I am not able to check for running processes as it takes forever for it to load. The system is only cured by a cold shutdown and restart. What is causing this problem?

Answer 1 - The Hard Drive
Answer 2 - Standard Windows Tools
Answer 3 - Get down and dirty with the Prefetch Folder - What is the Prefetch?
Answer 4 - System Restore may be at fault
Answer 5 - It may very well be a piece of thrid party software - let me explain

A1. First, check to be certain that your Hard drive is running in DMA and not in PIO (Program Input/Output) here is how:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Click the Hardware Tab
  5. Click Device Manager
  6. Select; Ide ATA/ATAPI Controllers and click the "+" to expand the tree
  7. Click Apply
  8. Click Okay
  9. Exit Device Manager
  10. Reboot

A2. Several things can cause this problem. Defragmenting may help, running Chkdsk with the /R switch may also help in some instances (CHKDSK /R). Not all problems are created equal but some have said that they have discovered that the system is using more than 95% of the CPU when Netscape is run.

Doing a little digging, I have found that this type of behavior may occur in the Winsock32.dll file which is supposed to be in Win XP's protected files system. Somehow, this file gets corrupted at the drop of a hat. No, dumping Netscape, any version or running a virus engine is going to help in this case. What is needed is a little known tool in XP which was very handy and prevalent in Windows 98. What could that be? Remember the little utility, System File Checker or SFC? It had the ability to scan the system files and determine when one or more were either corrupted or out of date. You could also use it to extract files from the installation CD. Very handy tool.

Guess what! It is alive and, maybe not so well in Windows XP. Now, it doesn't have some of the old Extract commands (See Bo Explains the Windows Extract command. By the way, the Extract Command does work in Windows XP's DOSEM as well) but it still has the ability to check for booboobed files and in most cases, like your slow down phenomena, can repair the damaged of corrupted files as well as System Protected Files.

Here is how to use the tool. You will need your Windows XP installation CD. The extract command is automatic in this XP version of System File Checker.

  1. Insert your Windows XP Installation CD
  2. In order to use SFC you are going to have to run it in DOS Emulation mode. There are several ways to activate DOSEM but the simplest way is to Click Start Button | Run | Type....COMMAND  then hit the enter key or click okay.
  3. You have several switches you can use with SFC. Those switches are:

    Scans all protected system files and replaces incorrect versions with correct Microsoft Versions.

    SFC [/SCANNOW] [/SCANONCE] [/SCANBOOT] [/REVERT] [/PURGECACHE] [/CACHESIZE=x]


    /SCANNOW Scans all protected system files immediately.
    /SCANONCE Scans all protected system files once at the next boot.
    /SCANBOOT Scans all protected system files at every boot.
    /REVERT Return scan to default setting.
    /PURGECACHE Purges the file cache.
    /CACHESIZE=x Sets the file cache size.

  4. Remove your Windows XP Installation CD from the drive otherwise you will be faced with the Recovery Console which we aren't using right now. If the system grinds to a halt as soon as Windows XP loads, it is a good idea to scan the boot sector for root causes of the slowdown problem coupled with the /SCANONCE switch. It should look like this:

    SFC /SCANONCE /SCANBOOT

  5. Loading for Windows XP will be interrupted and the scans will take over control of the system. Yes, this is going to take a considerable amount time, less than re-installing Windows XP but longer than a normal bootup of the system.
  6. If your system runs fine at startup but bogs down later on in the session, then simply enter the DOSEM as explained in Steps 1 & 2 above.
  7. Once you are in the DOSEM type the following and be prepared to install the Windows XP Installation Disk when prompted to do so.

    SFC /SCANNOW

  8. Allow the scan to run, uninterrupted. You may be tempted to halt the process, but do not stop it.
  9. You will see a new dialog opened which will have a process bar in it. This will tell you how the scan is progressing and on some machines, this may take a long time. It depends on how many files are corrupted or otherwise damaged and what your CPU and other hardware are.
  10. Once finished, go ahead and reboot the system, rather the SFC says to or not.
  11. When Windows XP reboots to its normal mode, try the software which was giving you the problem. You most likely will find the problem is repaired. Rebooting should clear the file cache containing the bad file so there is no real need to run SFC with the command switch /PURGECACHE to purge the cache file. We could go into further detail on why and how the system is acting this way but there are just to many unknowns in your question for that.

    Surfice it to say, this little utility cures a number of ills and it is always at your finger tips when those occasions arise that you aren't quite sure what is going on.

A3. If your system has slowed to a point that it takes forever for Windows XP to bootup and it isn't a problem when you run Win XP in Safe Mode, there is a chance that the Prefetch systems may be corrupted. If that is the case, it may be time to dump Prefetch. Here is how:

  1. Before you make this leap, try this freeware Prefetch cleaner click here first
  2. Empty your recycle bin. (This is a safety measure so that if something goes horribly wrong, we don't except it to but I always err on the side of caution. In this way we can put everything back if there is a problem...again, there shouldn't be a problem)
  3. Open Windows Explorer (Explorer.exe)
  4. Scroll down to your Windows XP installation, by default it is C:\Windows
  5. Scroll down to C:\WINDOWS\Prefetch
  6. Delete everything in the right hand pane, (Click on any file in the right hand pane and press Ctrl+A so that all files are selected)
  7. Reboot, Windows will refill the Prefetch folder over a period of time as things are added or needed.

What is the Prefetch?

Windows XP monitors the files that are used when the computer starts and when you start applications. By monitoring these files, Windows XP can prefetch them. Prefetching data is the process whereby data that is expected to be requested is read ahead into the cache. Prefetching boot files and applications decreases the time needed to start Windows XP and start applications.

This information is logged and stored on your hard drive taking up space and requiring a process to be kept running monitoring which applications are being run. This has a performance impact on your PC. Disabling the Prefetch function or at least only enabling it for the Boot Files will allow you to free up some system resources and preserve some disk space.

Here is a nifty little piece of freeware:
Tool for flushing the Prefetch log and controlling the Prefetch Parameters.
Author: Jester2K Software | License:Freeware | Size: 28 Kb | Requirments:Win XP   | Preview:Screenshot |
Download From:
Author
Planet Mirror
BTN

Answer 4 - System Restore may be at fault

Some have reported that their CPU usage jumps to 100% and stays there for long periods of time bringing XP to it vurtual knees. If this is the case, try the following:

  1. Start Task Manager (Press Ctrl+Alt+Del once)
  2. When Task Manager starts, click on the Processes tab
  3. When the CPU usage jumps to 100% check to see which service is hogging system resources
  4. I am going to guess that you will discover that system process are lighting up Task Manager like a Christmas tree
  5. If this is the case, then it may be wise to shut down the System Restore process

    System Restore is one of those things that sounds good on paper but in actual fact, is a real system hog and some of our readers have reported that when using the restore points, the system returns far from healthy. In fact, most of the time you will need to reinstall Windows itself. If this is happening to you, dump System Restore. The benefit is that you will recover a ton of system processes and kill a program that is far from perfect. Here is how:

Answer 5 - It may very well be a piece of third party software - let me explain

Running on that line we can also use Task Manager to discover other services that might be hogging your systems resources and bringing Windows XP to a crawl or even a halt.

  1. Hold down on Ctrl+Alt and hit the delete key once
  2. The Task Manger will open
  3. Select the Processes Tab
  4. Look through the list to determine if there is a program or service that is running and running and, you get the idea
  5. Highlight the service by clicking on it once
  6. Now click the end processes button
  7. If it is not a vital Windows process it will shut down
  8. The system should now be responding much better if so:

The Remote Desktop

Setting it up:

Have you ever wished that your uncle who is computer litterate could always be on hand when he is needed? Well, With Windows XP's Remote Desktop he is as close as a mouse click away, even if he lives a half world away from you. This is a feature that is new to Windows XP, although it is based on the Terminal Services technology used in Windows NT/2000 servers in the past. You can use the Remote Desktop feature with any two Windows XP Professional computers that can be connected via Local Area Network (LAN), dial-up, or the Internet.

The computer that is being accessed is called the Remote computer, while the computer that is doing the connecting is called the Client computer. XP Home Edition computers can be the client computer, but cannot be the remote computer. Sorry XP Homers. In fact, the Remote Desktop software can be installed from the XP Professional CD to turn any version of Windows since Win95 into the client.  This, of course, has lead some to worry about hackers having an easy job of taking control of your machine...which isn't an idle worry.

In order to use Remote Desktop, you must first set up the Remote computer to be able to host a connection from the client. You must be logged on as an administrative user in order to configure the Remote computer:

Here is how:

  1. In Control Panel, open Performance & Maintenance
  2. System (or press Windows-break) to open the System Properties window.
  3. Click the Remote tab.
  4. For a Windows XP client computer, you can now connect using Remote Desktop under

When the Remote Desktop Connection appears, simply enter the name or IP address of the Remote computer, and the screen of the Remote computer will soon be displayed. From that point on, keystrokes, mouse movements, etc. that you make on the Client computer will transmitted to the Remote computer, and the results will be displayed on your screen.

To install the Remote Desktop client software on a pre-Windows XP computer, simply run msrdpcli.exe from the \support\tools folder of the Windows XP Professional installation CD.

The Options:

Once you have Remote Desktop Connection installed, all you need to do is start it from the Start Menu.
Click Start | Programs | Accessories | Communications | Remote Desktop Connection

In many cases, the default settings will work just fine. Simply entering a computer name and clicking the Connect button will connect you to your remote computer (one with Windows XP configured for Remote Desktop, or to a Windows 2000 Server configured for Terminal Services). There are some options you may use to optimize your connection, and customize it to suit your needs.

To view these options, click the Options button, and the Remote Desktop Connection dialogue box will expand to show you five tabs.

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Windows XP -

A 64 bit upgrade to a 32-bit patch for a 16-bit GUI shell running on top of an 8-bit operating system written for a 4-bit processor by a 2-bit company who cannot stand 1 bit of competition (but it's better than a Mac)!

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Version Dec 7 Copyright © 2001 Larry Blaisdell