SAN MATEO (05/01/2000) - This week, I report on some tips that readers have sent in response to previous columns. I wrote a series about "Windows arthritis" in three columns published on June 21, June 28 and July 5, 1999 (see www.infoworld.com/printlinks). This is a problem in which Windows 9x appears to become slower and slower as it's used over a period of several months.
Some people reformat their hard disk and reinstall Windows every six months for better performance.
To avoid this time-consuming process, I instead recommended a set of steps to clean up disk fragmentation and other gunk that Windows develops.
Reader Brian Chamberlin noticed a similar problem with Windows NT. He writes:
"Every time I used a File Open dialog box, or when I tried to create a new directory, NT would freeze for a few seconds." Chamberlin found a fix that corrected this problem.
What's happening is that NT refreshes the "last update" time stamp on files. If there are a lot of files, NT's log file can become full and slow down normal access.
If you have NT 3.51 (Workstation or Server), you need to first apply the latest Service Pack before using the fix. To get the Service Pack, go to search.support.microsoft.com/kb/c.asp and search for article Q128465.
If you have NT 4.0, you can use this fix immediately.
Step 1. Run the Registry Editor, regedt32.exe.
Step 2. Select the following subkey:
Step 3. Pull down the Edit menu and click Add Value. Insert the name NtfsDisableLast AccessUpdate with a REG_DWORD value of 1.
Step 4. Exit regedt32.exe and restart NT.
For more information, go to search.support.microsoft.com/kb/c.asp and search for article Q150355.
Tips that are readers' Favorites
I wrote in my April 17, 2000, column about a suggestion by reader Lindsay Notwell. He moves Windows 9x's Favorites folder so it's in a location that's frequently backed up.
Reader Barry Wallis notes that you can move this folder using a Microsoft utility called TweakUI. For true customizers, TweakUI also moves the Desktop, Programs, and other folders that might interest you.
I didn't mention TweakUI because it isn't installed automatically when you set up Windows.
On the Windows 98 CD, you'll find TweakUI in the \Tools\Reskit\Powertoy folder.
Open the Readme.txt file to see how to install the utility properly.
Carol Anne Ogdin described how she uses Notwell's technique to synchronize her desktop and laptop.
"On my desktop, I point Favorites at a shared file on my file server. (In a peer-to-peer network, it could be on an exposed drive/directory on any computer.) I do the same for my Cookies. On my laptop, I point Favorites and Cookies at my Briefcase.
"The first time, I copy the desktop's Favorites and Cookies directories and drop them on the laptop's Briefcase. After that, before I go on the road, I do an Update All for the laptop's Briefcase. Briefcase may be a dog, but this is an easy way to share Favorites and Cookies."
Chamberlin, Wallis, and Ogdin will receive a free copy of Windows 2000 Secrets for being the first to send in tips I printed.
Is there is a Don Quixote in the house?
Microsoft is expected to release its latest update to Windows 98 in the "second half of this year." This consumer product is formally entitled Windows Millennium Edition. But it's being promoted under the cutesy name of Windows Me.
Personally, I think Microsoft will suffer from endless bad jokes if it sticks with this marketing-inspired name. ("Windows Me?! You hardly know me!")Therefore, I'm giving Windows Millennium a new name. Henceforth, it shall be called Microsoft Windmill.
Windmill won't be a major upgrade from Windows 98.
But it is expected to add a few interesting features.
For example, Windows Update will now automatically look for operating system upgrades at Microsoft's Web site once a day, and install them if you agree.
Microsoft will also include Image Acquisition for digital cameras, Movie Maker for video editing, and a new version of Media Player for streaming audio and video.
I'm working with Davis Straub, my co-author of Windows 98 Secrets, to uncover the secrets hidden within Windmill.
If you know of any less-than-obvious tips, send me e-mail as soon as possible.
Brian Livingston's most recent book is Windows 2000 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. He regrets he cannot answer individual questions.