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Tips and Tricks from the PCstats Forums

Tips and Tricks from the PCstats Forums - PCSTATS
Abstract: First we have the tips which which actually won, then we have the tips we think were pretty good runners up.... and finally a few pages of assorted tips from the contest.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: various Aug 09 2002   C. Sun  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > various


Preview Media Files:

Internet Explorer allow previewing media files (wav, mid, avi, mov, mpg) in Windows Explorer. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to \Windows\Web, and open Folder.htt in Notepad. Look for wantMedia = false and replace this with wantMedia = true. you should now be able to preview media files in folders that you viewed as a web page.

Missing CD-ROM?

Many people, including myself have had this problem!

My email to a friend about the problem:


One of my clients returned a computer to me to have repaired. She said she tried to install new CDrom drivers, and now the two CDrom units are not showing up in my computer. Device manager registers them as error code 39, driver corrupt or missing.

They are:
Liteon 24x cdrw
Liteon 16x DVD

I have tried everything I can think of. Reinstalling 4n1's, removing and reinstalling the cdroms to the device manager, physically removing and reinstalling the cdroms, changing them to another IDE port.

The board is a kt7-raid, not running raid, but a single 40gb hd on ide1, the two cdroms are on ide2 currently.

Anyone offer up other solutions? Did I miss something stupid?

The two cdroms also register fine in bios, winxp seems to be installing them incorrectly.


The fix I came across (everyone should have this!)

Get into regedit (start->"regedit")

Locate the UpperFilters value under the following key in the registry:

On the Edit menu, click Delete , and then click OK .

Locate the LowerFilters value under the same key in the registry:

On the Edit menu, click Delete , and then click OK .

Quit the Registry Editor and reboot. Problem solved!

I spent 2-3 hours fussing with this computer before coming across this simple, yet unknown to many, many a computer expert trick

As more and more people get insane amounts of memory (see my system config in my sig), a swap file becomes less and less useful. However, many people are still running with 256MB of memory or less, and a swap file can increase performance on those systems in many cases. By default, however, Windows insists on managing the swap file on its own. This means that if Windows thinks it needs more space for the swap file, it increases the swap file's size. If data has been saved to the drive that the swap file is on (especially if that drive is running low on free space), it's very possible that the data was saved physically right after the swap file. Therefore, when Windows goes to increase the swap file's size, it's going to have to look elsewhere on the disk to put the expanded portion of the swap file, and thus the swap file becomes fragmented.

Since the swap file is constantly in use, defragmenting will not touch the swap file, so once it gets fragmented, it becomes really hard to unfragment it again. Below, I will explain both how to help keep the swap file from fragmenting, and also how to "reset" the swap file to try and defragment it if it's already defragmented. Note that my instructions are for Windows 2000, and may need to be modified for 98, ME, or XP - if you don't know the equivalent steps in those operating systems, I would strongly advise you against continuing.


1. To try and keep the swap file from fragmenting, right-click "My Computer", choose "Properties", go to the "Advanced" tab, and click "Performance Options". Then click the "Change..." button in the "Virtual Memory" frame to access the virtual memory manager. By default, Windows stores the swap file on the same drive as Windows itself, and sets the minimum size to 1.5x your RAM and the maximum size to 3x your RAM.

2. First of all, if you have multiple partitions, you may be able to make your swap file more efficient by moving it to a drive on a different channel, or even a faster drive (i.e. moving it from a drive on the primary IDE channel to a drive on the secondary IDE channel, or moving it from a 5400rpm 9.5ms drive with a 1MB buffer to a 7200 8ms drive with an 8MB buffer). To do this, choose the drive your swap file is currently on (it will show a size range under the "Paging File Size" column in the drive select box), enter "0" (zero) as both the minimum and maximum sizes, and click the "Set" button.

3. Next, select your fastest drive (according to the examples I gave above), and set the minimum and maximum values to the same value (I've found that on systems with less than 256MB of RAM, 512MB seems to work best. On systems with 256MB-384MB of RAM, 384MB seems to work best, and on systems with more than 384MB but <= 512MB RAM, 256MB seems to work best. On systems with more than 512MB of RAM, a swap file is not recommended - see
this thread for instructions on how to disable it, the instructions work the same on Win2K in this instance).

4. Once you have set the values to your satisfaction, click the OK buttons until it asks you to restart, then click "Yes" (if you have applications open with unsaved data, click "No", then save everything and restart). You may need to manually "tune" the size of your swap file to get the maximum performance out of it. Try different sizes, but in all cases, make sure the minimum and maximum sizes are the same. You might even want to try splitting your swap file across multiple drives (i.e. if Windows is on your primary master drive, and you have 256MB of RAM and two 7200rpm hard drives on your secondary channel, set your swap file on the secondary master drive to 192MB and set your swap file on the secondary slave drive to 192MB). Once you're done tuning your swap file(s), make sure to "reset" your swap file as described below. A highly fragmented swap file is not a good thing when extreme performance is mandatory.

Tuning your Swapfile:


Please note that this process takes a long time, and isn't recommended for systems with less than 192MB RAM. Before proceeding, make sure all programs are closed and anything you were working on has been saved.

1. Right-click "My Computer", choose "Properties", go to the "Advanced" tab, and click "Performance Options". Then click the "Change..." button in the "Virtual Memory" frame to access the virtual memory manager. By default, Windows stores the swap file on the same drive as Windows itself, and sets the minimum size to 1.5x your RAM and the maximum size to 3x your RAM. If you don't follow the "PREVENT FRAGMENTING" instructions above, you may want to take note of the minimum size setting.

2. Set both the minimum size and maximum size on all drives to "0" (zero), and hit the OK buttons until it prompts you to restart, and click "Yes". As soon as your BIOS is done loading, press F8 and start up Windows in Safe Mode. Once Windows has loaded it will complain about the swap file being nonexistent. Dismiss that prompt. Windows will create a temporary swap file of about 20MB to work with. Next, open "My Computer", right-click on the drive you want to put the swap file on, and click "Properties". Go to the "Tools" tab, and click the "Defragment Now..." button. In the defragmenter, just click the "Defragment" button, and let it work. Once it's done, go back into the virtual memory manager (instructions in step 1), choose the drive you defragged, and set the minimum and maximum size values back to either [a. the values you tuned to as mentioned in the "PREVENT FRAGMENTING" instructions] or [b. the minimum size setting you noted in step 1]. Once you've set the values to your liking, click OK until you're prompted to restart, then click "Yes".

3. Go ahead and let Windows start normally. As Windows starts up, it will create the swap file to your specifications, in the now-defragmented free space on the drive you chose. Since the minimum and maximum sizes you specified were the same, Windows will never resize the swap file after recreating it here, so it won't fragment.

Turn on Firewall in XP:

Microsoft included a firewall in Windows XP to keep you safe from hackers while you cruise the Internet. How do you know that the Internet Connection Firewall is on? Go to the Control Panel and double-click the Network Connections icon. In the dial-up, DSL, or cable connection dialog that appears, check the Status column. If your firewall is on, it should say Firewalled. You can turn the firewall off with the check box, but unless you are going to add a third-party firewall for heightened security, it's best to leave it on.
Now that you know that your firewall is on, how do you know that it's doing its job? Test it with ShieldsUp, the free testing service sponsored by Gibson Research. According to our tests, XP's Internet Connection Firewall kept the computer in full stealth mode. Hackers could not break in and couldn't even see the computer online.
But, given the latest security problems with USB 2.0, etc, you should always go to Windows Update to make sure you have the latest patches, no matter what operating system you use.

WinXP Networking:

To enable Internet Connection Sharing on a network connection:
Open Network Connections.
Click the dial-up, local area network, PPPoE, or VPN connection you want to share, and then, under Network Tasks, click Change settings of this connection.
On the Advanced tab, select the Allow other network users to connect through this computer's Internet connection check box.
If you want this connection to dial automatically when another computer on your home or small office network attempts to access external resources, select the Establish a dial-up connection whenever a computer on my network attempts to access the Internet check box.
If you want other network users to enable or disable the shared Internet connection, select the Allow other network users to control or disable the shared Internet connection check box.
Under Internet Connection Sharing, in Home networking connection, select any adapter that connects the computer sharing its Internet connection to the other computers on your network.

Use original Icons in XP:

It’s the case of the missing icons. Many of you may be wondering where all the icons from your desktop are in Windows XP? Well if you're like me, you like to have at least My Computer, My Network Places, and My Documents on the desktop.
To do this:
Right-click on the desktop, and then click Properties.
Click the Desktop tab and then click on Customize Desktop.
Put a check mark in the box next to My Document, My Computer, My Network Places, or Internet Explorer, to add those familiar icons to your desktop.

Optimize DDR:

In order to optimize the performance of DDR, one need to set proper timing for the DDR. Go to the BIOS adjust the DRAM timing to match for your memory stick. Like setting CAS2 or 2.5. You can have system problem, if you set it too fast like CAS2 instead of 2.5.

Improve Cooling:

One easy way to reduce CPU temperature is to increase fan speed (rpm)with existing cooling fan. You can increase the speed by increasing the voltage applying to the fan. Normal fan voltage is 12V. By taping off the voltage from power supply, you can increase the fan voltage as much as 5V (like from 5V to -12V). You can tap it off from an unused power plug or share with other one (like FDD) with a simple adpter used for fan.

Improve Boot Time:

Would you like to shorten your Windows startup time? Here are 3 tips you can do that might help.

1) Tell Windows 98 not to search for your floppy drive when it starts up! You'll still be able to use the drive, but Windows 98 will only search for it when you click the floppy drive icon in My Computer, Windows Explorer, or via DOS.

Here's how to do it:

Right-click My Computer, click the Properties button, and then click the Performance tab.
Click the File System button and then click the Floppy Disk tab.
Clear the option to Search for new floppy disk drives each time your computer starts.

2) When you boot up the machine, Windows will pause for approximately 2 second during boot to allow you to press a start-up key. If you want to boot up quicker, you can easily remove this pause.

To do this:

Locate your MSDOS.SYS file. (Usually in your C:\ directory, might be a silly hidden file)
Open the File.
Locate the [Options] section.
Under [Options], add the line BootDelay=0
Save the file and restart your comp.

3) Having windows auto-detect your hard drives, CD-ROM drives, etc., may make it take more time to boot up your comp. If you don't plan on adding or removing any of your drives frequently, you can go into your bios and tell it what to look for on each IDE cable more specifically, instead of having it just auto-detect for each boot.

Trace Your Connection:

If you want to know how many hops it takes you to get to a website or IP address, go to start>run and type "command". Your DOS prompt will appear. Type in "tracert *" where * is the website or IP address.

Your computer will display the name of each computer it has to go through, and the number of hops it takes in total. Make sure your connected to the internet too.

e.g. tracert www.yahoo.com

Increase Disk Performance:

Go to Start \ Settings \ Control Panel \ System \ Performance \ File System \ Troubleshooting

Check the box "Disable synchronous buffer commits."

This setting manages the function calls to the File-Commit API to return immediately without checking to see if the data was correctly written to the drive. By default, Windows uses synchronous buffer commits. You can change this setting to enable asynchronous buffer commits for programs that may need this functionality. If you experience data loss or program crashes, then re-enable this option.

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Contents of Article: various
 Pg 1.  Tips and Tricks from the PCstats Forums
 Pg 2.  Good Overall Tips
 Pg 3.  Win9X/ME/2k/XP Tips
 Pg 4.  Everything else
 Pg 5.  more.....
 Pg 6.  — more.....
 Pg 7.  more.....
 Pg 8.  more.....

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