Ten Tune-Up Tips for Windows 98 Performance (Cont.)

Ten Tune-up Tips For Windows 98 Performance

Reducing Desktop clutter and the number of programs starting (Cont.)

Quite often the only reference you may find to some of the programs that are starting when Windows starts will be buried within the Windows 98 registry. You can remove these entries easily from the registry, however, we caution you that modifying the Windows registry can dangerous if not done correctly. In those instances where we show you where registry entries are and how to modify them, failure to follow the outlined steps exactly as provided can render your Windows 98 operating system, or one of your programs unusable. Removing registry key references to programs with which may not be familiar can lead to problems with the operating system or with other programs. Remove only those programs that you have identified, and do not make any changes to the registry without first having made a backup of the registry. And yes, we’ll show you how to do that too!

One of the nice things about Windows 98 are all of the neat tools that have been included by Microsoft. One of these tools is the Windows Registry Checker and Scanreg. With this tool, you can scan your registry and repair or restore it if necessary, and you can use it to backup your Windows Registry before working on it just in case you make a mistake. Mistakes happen, we all make them. Many a good Windows technician has damaged a Windows Registry or two, it’s just a matter of knowing how to prepare beforehand and how to fix the problem afterwards. Click on this link to learn more about using the Windows Registry Checker and Scanreg to backup and restore the registry.

Searching and Editing the Windows Registry
Editing the Windows Registry is one of the final steps in preventing a program from starting and running until such time as you need it. If this is your first experience at editing the registry, please make sure you follow the advice above regarding a registry backup! It’s too late after you make a mistake.

Opening the Windows Registry Editor (Regedit)

Don’t go looking for a shortcut icon to open the registry editor, you won’t find one. This is by design to protect the average user from clicking on something and ruining their Windows operating system. Regedit is a Windows command line program. This means that Regedit is started typing in a command line, but unlike DOS, it must be done from within the Windows Graphical User Interface (GUI). In the next few steps, you’ll see how to open Regedit and drill down to the area where programs are started from within Windows. Figure E provides you with an example of what Regedit looks like when opened.

  1. Click Start, then click Run
  2. Type in REGEDIT and click OK
  3. When the Registry Editor opens, drill down to this registry key.

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Run

  4. In this “Registry Key” you will find many of the programs that are started at the same time Windows starts
  5. You may also find similar program keys under


    Note: Be extremely careful with Registry Keys you find here. Should you remove the wrong key, you may disable a program or service that your Windows operating system depends on.

Figure E:

As you can see by reviewing the entries in the right windows of the Registry Editor, there are sixteen (16) programs that are started under the Run Key. The first entry, [Default], doesn’t count as no programs are being started by that entry. You can delete any of the registry keys shown in the right window by Right Clicking on the program name to the immediate right of the key icon and then select Delete. Before you do any deleting though, you may want to look at the Windows System Configuration Utility, as it will enable you to test the effect of deleting one of these registry keys without actually doing so.

Using the Windows System Configuration Utility
As mentioned earlier in this dialogue, Microsoft has added a number of nifty tools that makes maintaining and tuning Windows 98 allot easier than any of its predecessors. One of these tools you may find particularly interesting, the Windows System Configuration Utility. The System Configuration Utility can be used for a number of purposes, such as stopping certain programs from running at startup as we are discussing here. You can also use it to solve problems that certain programs may cause when they do start and then cause problems for Windows. For now, let’s concentrate on our discussion here about stopping unnecessary programs from loading.

To use the Windows System Configuration Utility, follow these steps.

  1. Click Start, then click Run
  2. Now type Msconfig in the box
  3. Next you will see the System Configuration Utility open
  4. Now click on the Startup tab. Here you will see a list of all of the programs that start when Windows 98 begins to start. (See Figure F).
  5. By unchecking any one of the boxes to the left of the program name will prevent that individual program from starting automatically. The obvious benefit of using this utility is that by simply removing a checkmark you are disabling the associated program without actually deleting the respective Registry Key and possibly damaging the Windows registry or a particular program. If you find that you don’t like the effect, you can re-enable the program by opening the System Configuration Utility and re-checking the box.

Note: There are certain programs that should not be removed or disabled in this manner under any circumstances as they are critical to the Windows operating system. They are:

  • Scan Registry
  • Task Monitor
  • System Tray
  • Load Power Profile (There should be two of these – keep both active)

Others not critical to Windows, but necessary, may be your anti-virus program, scanner software etcetera.

Figure F:

Tip 2. Eliminating unnecessary items from your MS-DOS configuration files.

In the previous Tip we discussed programs that start when Windows starts, but there may be programs that start before Windows. These may be a leftover from an upgrade from Windows 3.x that you performed, or may even be from a software program that requires MS-DOS drivers, such as sound card for an older game played entirely in an MS-DOS environment. Additionally, older computers may have hardware items that require certain drivers be loaded in MS-DOS to enable them before Windows starts. Windows 98 was designed to run without the Config.sys or Autoexec.bat files, however these files were retained for backward compatibility so that you can play that old MS-DOS or Windows 3.x game stored up on the shelf. While you can configure Windows 98 to run many of these old games etc. from within Windows, many people do not as some of these old games require a pure MS-DOS environment or are just pure memory gobblers and won’t run within Windows.

Obviously you will need to check carefully to insure that you don’t inadvertently disable something you need, and this is where the Windows System Configuration Utility comes into play again. If you scroll up and look at Figure F again, you’ll see a number of tabs across the top. The configuration utility enables you to do the same things with your Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files as can be done with items starting in the Windows Registry, uncheck a box to disable it and then restart the system to test it. Just click on the Config.sys or Autoexec.bat tab and uncheck all of the items and then restart your computer. If everything appears to be running correctly, leave the boxes unchecked.

Both the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files handle the loading of device drivers for MS-DOS environments and legacy hardware (pre-plug and play) that cannot be accommodated in Windows environment. Any driver loading in either or both of these files will be a 16-bit MS-DOS driver, and may be related to a DOS application you may already be running or providing MS-DOS support and loaded by a hardware manufacturer, such as for a sound card. As an example, the software installer for the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live Platinum sound card installs, by default, both a 16-bit MS-DOS driver by placing entries in the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files, as well as a 32-bit Windows driver.

The Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files are used primarily to load programs that are necessary to enable certain hardware components in an MS-DOS environment. With the maturity of the Windows 9x operating systems, MS-DOS is quite commonly referred to as a legacy environment. As an example, in an MS-DOS environment, you may need to load a mouse driver in order to use a mouse or the MSCDEX.EXE file, which you will need along with a drive specific driver to enable a CD-ROM to be used in MS-DOS. Most of the time, these files are unnecessary in Windows 98, and you may remove them unless you have a specific reason for keeping them such as support for a hardware device that is too old for the Windows environment.

Now let’s take a look at Boosting Windows 98 Performance.

Notice: Windows® 95, Windows® 98, Windows® NT, Windows® 2000
are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation.

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