Get Your PC to Boot Up Faster

SAN FRANCISCO (06/23/2000) - How can I shorten the amount of time that it takes my computer to boot up? I don't want to have to wait so long between turning on the machine and getting down to work.

Jim Albrecht, Naperville, Illinois

One obvious step is to reduce the number of programs that load at boot-up.

These include diagnostics, favorite applications, and unnecessary modules inserted by installation programs.

Deciding which programs to keep is a matter of judgment, for the most part. For example, you want your antivirus program's background autoprotector running at all times, but you don't need to load the whole antivirus program and scan your hard drive every time you boot.

To find start-up programs, select Start*Run, type msconfig, and press .

This takes you to Windows 98's System Configuration Utility. Click the Startup tab. You'll find a list of commands, each with a check box. Uncheck any you think you might not use (you can always go back and recheck them later). Repeat the process in the Autoexec.bat and Config.sys tabs (if they're empty, that's fine). When you're done, click OK, reboot, and then see how much time you've saved.

Not enough? Defragging your hard drive every other week will also help to make your system boot faster.

Finally, your system start may be slowed by a large font collection. To trim the number of fonts loading at boot-up, select Start*Run, type fonts, and press . You can then drag selected fonts to another folder to keep them out of the boot process (they'll still be available should you want them). For more on handling fonts, see "Manage Your Fonts" in the October 1999 Answer Line (

Emptying Temporary Internet Files For RealI recently commanded Internet Explorer to clear out my Temporary Internet Files folder, but afterwards I still had 3873 files taking up 25.6MB. How do I truly empty this folder?

L. Lee Brown Bay Shore, New York

The officially sanctioned way to empty the Temporary Internet Files folder in Internet Explorer is to select Tools* Internet Options and click the Delete Files button on the General tab. This should remove most of the unwanted files, but there's a big one left. It's called index.dat, and it doesn't go away or even shrink as the cache changes --it just gets bigger. What's more, you cannot delete this file from inside Windows.

To get rid of index.dat bloat, select Start*Shut Down. Click Restart in MS-DOS mode, then OK. At the DOS prompt, type del c:\windows\tempor~1\index.dat if you've got Internet Explorer 4.x, or del c:\windows\tempor~1\content.ie5\index.dat if you're using IE 5. Press , then reboot. You'll still have an index.dat file (if Windows doesn't find one, it creates one), but the file will now be much smaller.

On some systems, clicking the Delete Files button doesn't shrink C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files at all. That's because something--probably setting up a network or installing a wayward application--has caused Internet Explorer to change where it stores temporary files. To find out where the real cache is, go to Internet Explorer and select Tools*Internet Options. On the General tab, click Settings. In the Settings dialog box, click View Files to bring up your real cache folder.

While you've got the Settings dialog box up, you can move the cache back to the original location--a safe plan if you're the only one using your computer.

Click Move Folder, then select C:\Windows from the resulting folder tree (Windows puts the cache in a folder called Temporary Internet Files within the one you pick). Click OK twice, then Yes when asked to reboot. After rebooting, you can safely delete the older folders.

Keep Your Cd-Rom Drive In One Place

Repartitioning my hard drive causes my CD-ROM drive to change its drive letter.

Is there some way I can give the CD player a fixed letter from the start that won't change?

Joe Grabowski Oakton, Virginia

To give your CD-ROM drive an unchanging drive letter, right-click My Computer and select Properties. Click the Device Manager tab. In the resulting list of peripherals, double-click CDROM. Below it will appear a description of your particular CD-ROM drive. Double-click that to bring up your CD-ROM drive's properties. Click the Settings tab.

In the 'Reserved drive letters' box, change both the 'Start drive letter' and 'End drive letter' options to your choice of a permanent letter. This letter should be late enough in the alphabet that it won't interfere with Windows' method of naming hard drive partitions; you can consider anything after J: as bound to be safe. Click OK when you're done.

Protect File Associations

Installing and uninstalling applications plays havoc with my file associations.

For instance, when I double-click a .jpg file, I get the last program I installed that thinks it's the right tool for the job, not the program I want to use. Can I prevent programs from changing that association?

Abdel Guettatfi, San Francisco

Most installation routines assume that their program is the only one on your computer. The best way to protect your file associations is to back up the ones that you want to protect. This involves entering the Registry. Here's the proper backup procedure:

Select Start*Run, type regedit, and press . Navigating the left pane as if it were Windows Explorer, go to the folder beneath My Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes for the file extension you want to protect--for instance, My Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\.jpg.

With that folder open, select Registry*Export Registry File. Give the file a name (jpg) and save it. This won't back up the entire Registry--just the part with the .jpg association.

Now, should any newly installed program decide that it's the one in which you want to edit your .jpg files, simply find the file you saved (jpg.reg) and double-click it.

Searching In Archives

How do I find a particular file that I know is in a .zip or .cab archive file, without knowing exactly which .zip or .cab file? For instance, how do I find a particular .inf file that could be in any one of the many .cab files on the Windows CD-ROM? Trying to look through all of them would be a chore I'd prefer to avoid.

Bob Vrooman North East, Pennsylvania

There are two issues here: searching for files by file name, and searching for files by contents. I'll start with the file-name search. Both the .zip and .cab compression formats store file names as plain, uncompressed ASCII text, so you can use any file search program to identify the archive. To use Windows' own File Finder, select Start*Find*Files or Folders. In the 'Named' field under the Name & Location tab, enter *.cab; *.zip. Include the appropriate path in the 'Look in' field. Enter the file name you're looking for in the 'Containing text' field (in Windows 95, you must click the Advanced tab to get to this field). Press or click Find Now. You'll get a list of every archive that contains a file with that name.

Unfortunately, if you don't know the file name, Windows' File Finder is of no use. It simply can't find text in a file that's within another file. Luckily, some utilities can (for .zip files, anyway; I know of none that search within .cab files).

One such utility is BigSpeed Zipper, a $29 shareware program you can download from or It's a basic compression program with one unique feature: Click the Locator button and you get a nice, easy-to-use tool for searching .zip files. Version 3, just out, has several new features.

Find files from this article at Send your questions to Answer Line pays $50 for published items. Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes and performs computer humor. His column Gigglebytes appears in 13 publications in four countries.

Quick, Convenient Defrags

Richard Gobel of Rio Verde Playa, Spain, found a simple way to launch a defrag.

In Windows Explorer, select View*Folder Options (or View*Options). Click the File Types tab and scroll down the list of file types to select Drive. Click Edit, then New. In the Action field, type Quick Defrag. In the Application used to perform action field, type c:\windows\defrag.exe "%1" /noprompt. Click OK, then Close twice. Now, to defrag a drive, simply open My Computer, right-click the drive, and select Quick Defrag.

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