Ten Tune-Up Tips for Windows 98 Performance

Ten Tune-up Tips For Windows 98 Performance

Tip 4. Windows 98 Hard Drive Performance.

Although this Tip mainly applies to those of you who may have upgraded an older machine from either Windows 3.x or Windows 95 to Windows 98, we feel it may prove helpful to anyone who chooses to review it. The hard drive, or drives, in your computer rely on a File Allocation Table as a means of handling data. This File Allocation Table is contained in a Partition on your hard drive. Early versions of Windows, such as Windows 3.x and the first two versions of Windows 95, used a 16-bit File Allocation Table referred to as FAT 16. Later versions of Windows 95, principally the OEM (original Equipment Manufacturer) versions, and Windows 98 (all versions), could accommodate either Fat 16 or FAT 32. Follow this link to understand more about the File Allocation Table (FAT). Clicking on the link will open a new window so that you don’t lose your place here.

If your computers hard drive is currently using FAT 16, one way of improving Windows 98 performance is to convert that hard drive partition from FAT 16 to FAT 32. A FAT 32 partition will reduce the cluster size by using a 32-bit file system instead of the 16-bit file system that FAT 16 partitions normally use. Converting to FAT 32 will result in more free disk space, as less space is wasted within individual clusters on the drive, and will also allow you to increase the partition size of the drive beyond 2 GB. Before you convert a partition, however, you should understand that Windows 95 OSR2, Windows 98 and Windows 2000 are the only operating systems that can access FAT 32 partitions. Therefore, if you’re dual booting your computer with another operating system installed on another partition, such as Windows 3.x, the first version of Windows 95 or Windows NT 3.51 or 4.0, then a conversion to FAT 32 may not be a plausible option for you. If you were to convert the boot drive (the drive from which your system boots normally such as drive C:\) to FAT 32, this will most probably make your second operating system completely inaccessible. Think it through before taking the plunge!

If doing the conversion is plausible, then Windows 98 has the tools included to help you do this rather easily. Here are the steps you need to perform.

Converting from FAT 16 to FAT 32:

  1. From the Start menu, select Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Drive Converter (FAT32).
  2. A wizard dialog box will appear. The Details button brings up Windows Help on this topic, explaining the limitations of using FAT32. Click Next to begin the conversion process. You can also select Cancel should you wish to abort the process at this point. Doing so does not affect your hard drive.
  3. The next dialog box that appears is the Drive Selection box. If you have only one drive that is eligible to convert, then no drop-down list appears; only the letter of the drive. Otherwise, select the letter of the drive you want to convert from the drop-down list. Then click Next to continue.
  4. Next, and this is important: if you are installing FAT32 on a computer that utilizes the hibernation power conservation mode, you’ll receive a warning dialog box that states you might lose data if your computer hibernates. You must disable the hibernation mode prior to continuing. If you’re not sure how to do this, you’ll want to contact your vendor or consult your machine’s documentation to find out how to do so. Once you’re sure this step is complete, click OK to proceed.
  5. If you’re using anti-virus protection, then you’ll see the antiviral warning dialog box next. Disable the antiviral software, unless you’re sure it will work with FAT32. Click OK to continue.
  6. Drive Converter checks for any known program conflicts, including disk utilities and antiviral software that are known to cause problems with FAT32. If any programs are found, they are displayed in a list box. You’ll then be able to select from the list, click Details, and find out what known issues exist with regards to the program and FAT32. Click Cancel if you have known program conflicts and deal with these before continuing with the conversion. If you have no known conflicts, click Next to continue.
  7. You’ll now see the Create Backup dialog box. If you haven’t already done this, it’s a good idea. When you select Create Backup, the conversion wizard disappears while the backup is completed. It reappears once you’ve finished the backups. Once it reappears, click Next to continue with the FAT32 conversion.
  8. Now you’ll have one last chance to abort the conversion. Abort and nothing will change. But click Next and your machine restarts in MS-DOS mode and performs the conversion. Know this: Once the conversion starts, it cannot be stopped without causing damage to your hard drive. And it may take several hours to complete depending on the size of your drive and how many files are stored on it.
  9. Should there be any problems with the conversion, you will be given an opportunity to deal with them. If there are no file problems, then Drive Converter will complete and restart your PC to Windows 98. When this happens, you’ll know that FAT32 is installed.
    Important Note: If bad sectors are encountered on your hard drive, Drive Converter will not run—even if you’ve marked them with Disk Defragmenter. In order to get around this, you’ll have to go to MS-DOS mode (shut down and restart in MS-DOS mode) and type the following:

    cvtl x: /cvt32

    Where x: is the drive letter that you want to convert. Once you do this, Drive Converter will run and ignore the bad sectors.

Virus Scanners and the FAT32 Installation/Conversion:

Some anti-virus programs can cause problems with a FAT32 conversion. While Microsoft recommends that you turn these off, some systems will not allow you to do this. Here’s a way to deal with conflicting antiviral software.

  • It’s possible that you’ll receive a message stating that the boot record of your hard drive has been modified. You’ll have the option of preventing the modification or allowing it.
  • You MUST allow the modification. Obviously, FAT 32 is making changes to your drive. Some antiviral software recognizes this as a threat and wants to prevent it. If you abort at this point, you will cause your hard drive to become unusable.
  • Always select Allow Modifications when this warning appears.
  • Sometimes when you restart Windows 98 after the FAT32 conversion, you’ll receive an error message indicating that FAT32 has been damaged. You will have the option to “repair” this damage.
  • DO NOT REPAIR! We repeat, do not repair any “damage” that your antiviral software “detects.” Doing so will make your hard drive unusable.
  • The best thing you can do should you receive these warnings is to remove your current antiviral software. Replace the old antiviral software with FAT32 compatible programs.

Once you’ve converted your drive, open the Drive Property dialog box (from Windows Explorer, right-click the drive icon you want to check, then select Properties) and look at all the new free space on your drive.

Tip 5. Wallpaper, Screen Savers, Tiles and Special Effects.

Through the evolution of the Windows operating system we have seen Microsoft advertise all the neat things you can do with Windows, like add a picture of a significant other, or a daughter, son or just a pleasant scene as your desktop. We’ve watched all the different screen savers emerge, and with them some of the most unusual problems we could imagine. Although its nice having these pretty desktop pictures and the whales jumping through the simulated waves on your screen saver, you should be aware that these things are robbing your system of resources that could be used for running programs. It’s time to strip the walls!

Although the Windows 98 operating system creates a multitasking environment, e.g. the ability to perform a number of tasks simultaneously, using tiles and wallpaper creates a resource hog. As an example, using a large photograph as a desktop picture can slow down the video refresh rates of your screen dramatically. In addition, Windows uses idle processor time to perform various types of system tasks such as disk maintenance etc. A screen saver can slow these tasks measurably or even prevent them from starting at all. Even when a screen saver isn’t active, there is a timer that is running in the background that keeps track of elapsed time since the last time a key was pressed or the mouse was moved in order to start the screen saver. This counter consumes system resources.

Although you may not want to hear about this, remove the wallpaper, the tiles and the screen savers and let Windows Advanced Power Management (APM) shut the monitor off after a given period of time. It’s better for the monitor and your Windows 98 operating system will benefit from the added resources!

The steps to use APM are easy:

  1. Click Start, then Settings, then Control Panel
  2. When the Control Panel opens, double-click on the Power Management icon
  3. This will bring up the Power Management Properties page (See Figure L).
  4. You will have several choices here depending upon the age of your computer. You may want to use the settings as noted in Figure L as a test to see how they work for you.

Figure L:

Tip 6. Remove all of the extra fonts you don’t use.

When Windows 95 was released, and followed soon after by Windows 98, one of the major improvements offered was the way in which these new Windows versions handled memory and system resource issues. For a long time, Windows 3.1 limited users to 250 to 300 installed fonts in a “best case” scenario. With the release of Windows 95 and Windows 98, Microsoft announced that users could increase the number of installed fonts to approximately 1,000. Unfortunately, Microsoft hadn’t anticipated problems from other installed applications, including their own Microsoft Office. As more and more design applications hit the market from Microsoft, Adobe and others, people were collecting font types like postage stamps, quickly filling their computers with a multitude of fonts. It didn’t take long for these fast machines to slow to a crawl, and in some cases, applications would stall when the user attempted to open them or not open at all. In some cases, users were getting error messages, “There Isn’t Enough Memory to open….” or “Unable to Open …..”. As it turns out, Windows 95 and Windows 98 do have a font limitation, and the number is right around 600 installed fonts. If you have any questions at all about the applications, including Windows, that be effected by this, visit the Microsoft Knowledge Base and search on “installed fonts”.

In any event, you can retain all of the fonts you like as long as you don’t install all of them. Just install what you need to handle the tasks you perform every day, and reserve the others in a fonts folder. You can then install them or uninstall them as the need arises. Removing fonts you don’t want or need is easy, and here’s the procedure.

Removing unneeded fonts:

  1. Click Start, then Settings, then Control Panel
  2. Now click on the Fonts applet in Control Panel
  3. You will now see the Fonts Folder (See Figure M)
  4. Now select a font and choose the Delete command from the File menu. See our Caution below though before removing any fonts.
  5. If you want to remove fonts that are similar to one another, you can select the List Fonts By Similarity command from the View menu. This will allow you to select any given font from a drop-down list, and you will be able to see fonts similar to the one that you’ve selected.

Figure M:

Caution:
If you have more than 600 fonts, or you suspect that you have one or more corrupted fonts, or you’re planning to remove excess fonts, only remove a few fonts at a time. Restart Windows after you remove a number of fonts to get below the limit. Repeat the process as necessary.

NOTE: When you start removing fonts, do not remove any of the following:

  • – Arial
  • – Courier New
  • – Symbol
  • – Times New Roman
  • – Tahoma
  • – WingDings

Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, as well as other programs use these fonts as default fonts. Do not delete or remove them.

Now let’s go to work and Take Out The Trash.

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

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