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PERFORMANCE TIPS FOR YOUR COMPUTER

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PERFORMANCE TIPS FOR YOUR COMPUTER
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TERMENI importanti pentru acest document

PERFORMANCE TIPS

1. Use „whole system” performance benchmarks




2. Backing up the registry

To back up the entire registry, open „regedit” (Start/ Run/ regedit) and ensure that „My Computer” is highlighted, then go to „File/ Export”.

In this window, you need to enter a location to save the exported registry (as a single file) and choose the type of file to create. Also, check the „All” button at the bottom of the screen to backup the entire registry.

There are several possible file types, but we will focus on one only, as the „.reg” file type is the easiest to use. A „.reg” backup will copy over all changes made to existing portions of the registry when it is restored, while leaving additions to the registry made since the backup untouched.

Select the „.reg” file type and click „Save”.

Restoring the registry from this „.reg” file is a simple matter of locating the file you created, right clicking it and selecting „Merge”.

All registry related tips in this guide use the „regedit” program which can be accessed from the run command ( Start/ Run) by typing „regedit”.

3. Create a restore point

To create a restore point:

Go to: Start/ All Programs/ Accessories/ System Tools/ System Restore.

Click „Create a restore point”.

Give your restore point a name and click „OK”.

4. Saving your hard drive space from the system restore utility

By default, Windows XP's system restore utility uses a mammoth 12% of each hard drive in your system.

To decrease the amount of space system restore uses:

Right click on „My Computer” and select „Properties” then the „System Restore” tab.

The window below contains each of the hard disks installed on your system. Highlight each one in turn and press the „Settings” key.

Move the slider to adjust the amount of drive space used. I would recommend no more than 2-4% of each drive.

5. Tweak insurance part 3: Restoring BIOS defaults

To clear the CMOS settings:

Locate and switch the CMOS clearing jumper, then press the power button once (nothing should happen, but the BIOS will be restored) before resetting it in its original position and powering your system on.

Or:

Remove the battery with the aid of a flat head screwdriver. Leave it out for about 10 minutes to be safe, then replace it and restart the system.

Or:

Some motherboard makers allow you to load in the BIOS defaults when you boot up, without having to crack open the case and fiddle around with jumpers or batteries. This may not work for every single motherboard, or computer out there, but it is worth a shot.

First power off the PC, then while holding the 'Insert' key down, power the computer back up, and don't let go of that key. If things go as planned, the computer should boot up, and give some little warning about 'BIOS checksums loaded.' From there, you can let go of the key, and go right into the BIOS and reset it completely, or set your own favorite performance settings. Of course if this doesn't work, then go back and follow our directions for how to reset the CMOS as described above.

6. Tweak insurance part 4: Use hardware profiles to experiment with system settings

If you'd like to experiment with disabling various services to increase performance, but are afraid of changing your original configuration too drastically, consider using „Hardware Profiles”

Hardware profiles allow separate configurations of WindowsXP to be chosen at boot up time. This feature is intended for laptop users who will be transporting their system between various hardware and network setups (docking stations, different networks, etc.) and allows devices attached to the system to be activated or deactivated depending on the profile chosen.

Hardware profiles also allow services to be selectively activated or deactivated, so it's an easy matter to create a new hardware profile, reboot into that profile and experiment with services to your heart's content without fear of messing up your starting configuration.

To set up Hardware Profiles on your computer;

Right click on „My Computer” and select „Properties” then choose the „Hardware” tab and hit the „Hardware Profiles” button.

If you have not used profiles before, you should only have ”Profile 1 (current)’’ listed in the window. This is the default profile, or your current settings.

Now click „Copy” to create a duplicate profile and name the new profile as you wish.

Once you have created your profile, highlight it and hit „Properties”. Check the „Always include this profile as an option” box.

Now reboot the PC and you will be prompted to select a profile. Choose your new one.

You can now configure services within your new profile. These changes will take effect only when this profile is loaded.

7. Editing BIOS settings

Edit BIOS settings for maximal performance and system stability.

8. Editing registry settings without restarting

To do this:

Save and close all open files you might be working on. For example, if you are writing a document, you'll need to close this before reloading the registry.

Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to bring up the task manager.

In the 'processes' tab, highlight 'explorer.exe' and click 'end process.' All windows and desktop icons will disappear except for task manager.

Now go to the 'file' menu in task manager and select 'new task (run…).' Type 'explorer' into the text box. This will relaunch explorer and load your new registry settings without restarting.

9. Change memory Latency times

If possible, and the change don’t affect system stability.

10. Set the correct AGP mode

Your AGP graphic card are various speed (2x, 4x, 8x). Chect the motherboard to support one af this value and set correct.

11. Update your BIOS

On the producer sites exist new version of BIOS who fixes some bugs or various problems. Update your BIOS, carefully and respect all the producer indications.

12. Disable unneeded ports

If you don’t use all the ports, disable unnecessary.

13. Disable built-in features on your motherboard.

If you don’t use all the harware included in your motherboard, disable unnecessary.

14. Overclocking the memory/front side bus

If possible, and the change don’t affect system stability.

15. Changing the CPU multiplier

If possible, and the change don’t affect system stability.

16. Modify Processor and memory voltage

If possible, and the change don’t affect system stability. Carefully to burn it!

17. Stop the 'last access update' stamp

This process can be disabled through the registry:

Open „regedit”.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINES/ System/ CurrentControlSet/ Control/ FileSystem.

Create a new DWORD value called „NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate” and set the value to „1”

18. Disable the 8.3 naming convention

Open „regedit”.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ System/ CurrentControlSet/ Control/ FileSystem.

Change the value of the „NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation” key to „1”

19. Keep Windows operating data in main memory

Open „regedit”.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ System/ ControlSet001/ Control/ Session Manager/ Memory Management.

Select the „DisablePagingExecutive” value to „1”

20. Obtain the newest drivers for your hardware

On the producer sites exist new version of drivers who fixes some bugs or various problems. Update your drivers, carefully and respect all the producer indications.

21. Disable performance counters

Like Windows 2000, Windows XP has a performance monitor utility (found in administrative tools) which can track several areas of your PC's performance.

Everything from CPU use to hard drive access can be tracked and graphed. If you have no use for this information, it's a good idea to disable the counters, since they take up system resources. Unfortunately, this is rather hard to do without the use of additional software. Fortunately, Microsoft has made the necessary software freely available on their website.

The 'Extensible Performance Counter List' utility can be used to permanently disable these performance counters.

First download and install the utility, then run the Exctrlst.exe utility, found in „C:/ Program Files/ Resource kit”

Select each line in the „Extensible performance counters” window and clear the „Performance counters enabled” button below. You must do this separately for each counter. When done, just exit the utility.

Now if you load the performance monitor, you will see that it has no information available to it.

22. Move the page file from system drive

To do this in Windows XP:

Right click on „My Computer” and select „Properties”.

Select the „Advanced” tab.

Under „Performance” choose the „Settings” button.

Select the „Advanced” tab again and under „Virtual Memory” select „Change”.

The virtual memory window allows you to select and change the allocation of hard disk space to be used as virtual memory for your system.

For best performance: if you have two physical hard disks of roughly equivalent speed, remove the page file from your system disk (C:) and place it on the other drive!

23. Create a „permanent” page file

Make the minimum size of the page file the same as the maximum size.

Right click on „My computer” and select „Properties”.

Select the „Advanced” tab.

Under „Performance” choose the „Settings” button.

Select the „Advanced” tab again and under „Virtual Memory” select „Change”.

Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the „Initial Size” of the file the same as the „Maximum Size” of the file.

24. Optimize your page file size

Windows XP sizes the page file to about 1.5X the amount of actual physical memory by default. While this is good for systems with smaller amounts of memory (under 512MB) it is unlikely that a typical XP desktop system will ever need 1.5 X 512MB or more of virtual memory. As a simplified guideline. If you have less than 512MB of memory, leave the page file at its default size. If you have 512MB or more, change the ratio to 1:1 page file size to physical memory size.

25. Defrag page file with 'PageDefrag' utility

While defragmenting your hard disks is a great idea, and can restore new life to your aging PC, there are certain files that the built in Windows XP defrag utility cannot access, since they are locked or accessed constantly by the operating system. These files include the page file (the area of the hard disk reserved for use as „Virtual Memory” for use in addition to the system's physical memory), the event logs, the SAM and security files which handle user authentication and passwords, and several others.

Fortunately, there is a free third party utility available which can completely defragment these important files as well, ensuring that your system is as restored as possible. „Sysinternal” are the creators of a great many essential freeware programs for all flavours of Windows, and their 'PageDefrag' utility can reorganize these troublesome files upon reboot.

First download and install the utility.

The window displays the list of reserved files, and how fragmented they have become. Choose „Defragment at next boot” then press „OK”. The next time you restart your computer, „PageDefrag” will defragment the listed files.

26. Set priority for important programs

If you customarily use one program a majority of the time you can „focus” your system on that one particular application by increasing its priority. Priority is the measure that Windows uses to determine the share of processor time that each application receives. By default, most applications are set to the 'normal' priority level, so by changing your favourite app to a higher level, you can boost its performance, especially when you are using other applications at the same time.

To set priority load the program you wish to change the priority for.

Press CTRL+ ALT+ DEL to bring up the „Task Manager”.

Select the applications tab and highlight your program.

Right click the program and select „Go to Process”.

Now right click on the highlighted process and choose „Set Priority”.

The higher you set the priority above normal, the more CPU time the program will steal from other applications when you are multitasking.

27. Check your hard drives with scandisk

Open 'my computer.'

Right click the hard disk you wish to check and select „Properties”

Choose the „Tools” tab and under „Error Checking” select the „Check now…” button.

Check both options. You will need to restart the computer to do the full disk check.

Your disk will be fully checked for errors upon reboot, but be aware that this can take quite a while.

28. Force XP to unload DLL files after closing a program

To do this, first run „regedit”.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ SOFTWARE/ Microsoft/ Windows/ CurrentVersion/ Explorer.

Create a new key named „AlwaysUnloadDLL” and set the default value to equal „1”

29. Thaw out your desktop

Every version of Windows has suffered from occasional „desktop freezing”. You know the symptoms You tell Windows to do something it doesn't like and everything except your mouse pointer slows to a c- r- a- w- l. You can open the start menu but applications won't load or close. Very frustrating.

Fortunately there can be a cure for desktop freeze, at least in Windows 2000 and XP, and it's an easy one. First, save any data you are working on, the press CRTL+ ALT+ DEL to bring up the task manager.

Select the „Processes” tab and highlight „explorer.exe” then click „End Process”.

Without exiting from task manager, click „File/ New Task” and type „explorer.exe”

You should find that your computer has thawed itself out again.

30. Speed up mouse movement, part 1

Windows XP applies an acceleration curve to the mouse by default, meaning that every time you move the pointer, it starts out slowly and accelerates with continual movement. If you like a really fast and precise mouse setting, you may find that even increasing the mouse speed in the 'pointer options' tab of the mouse entry in the control panel does not get you the speed you want. A good partial solution is to uncheck the 'enhance pointer precision' box below the mouse speed setting in the 'pointer options' tab.

While this does not completely remove the acceleration curve, it mostly does, allowing your mouse to reach much higher speeds in normal operation.

31. Speed up mouse movement, part 2

As stated in the previous tip, Windows XP applies an acceleration curve to the mouse which can be disabled for better overall mouse performance, especially during games.

First, open up „regedit” and navigate to „KKEY_CURRENT_USER/ Control Panel/ Mouse”

Change the value of „SmoothMouseXcurve” to the following:

00,a0,00,00,00,00,00,00

Then change the value of „SmoothMouseYCurve” to the following:

66,a6,02,00,00,00,00,00

cd,4c,05,00,00,00,00,00

a0,99,0a,00,00,00,00,00

This should eliminate the acceleration curve of the mouse once and for all.

32. Create a RAID configuration on your system to boost hard disk performance

'Redundance Aray of Inexpensive Disk'

33. Disable the themes service

To do this, right click on „My Computer” and select „Manage”.

In the computer management windows, expand „Services and applications” and select „Services”.

In the right hand window, highlight the „Themes” service. Right click it and select „Properties”.

In the „Startup Type” dropdown box, select „Disabled”.

34. Remove the desktop picture

Right click on an open area of the desktop and select „Properties”.

Select the „Desktop” tab and in the „Background” window, highlight „None”.

Press „OK”.

35. Change to the NTFS file system

To convert your drives to NTFS:

Right click on „My Computer” and select „Manage”.

From the computer management window, expand storage and select „Disk management”.

Using the „File System” column of the upper pane of this window, you can easily check what file system each of your logical drives is using. Make a note of this information.

Now open a command prompt window by going to „Start/ Run” and typing „cmd”

To convert a disk to NTFS, type „Convert (drive letter): /fs:ntfs”

So for example, if you were going to convert your C: drive, you would type „Convert C: /fs:ntfs” at the prompt.

36. Perform a manual Application and Boot file Defrag

Open command prompt („Start/ Run” and type „cmd”).

Type „defrag (drive letter): -b”

The process may take a few minutes to complete.

(Ex: defrag c: -b)

37. Disable the hibernation feature

To disable hibernation:

Go to '”Start/Control Panel/ Performance and Maintenance/ Power Options”.

Go to the „Hibernate” tab and uncheck the „Enable Hibernation” check box.

38. Disable automatic sensing on network cards

Right click on „My Computer” and select the „Hardware” tab.

Open „Device Manager”.

Find and highlight your network card(s). Right click it and Hit „Properties”.

Go to the „Advanced” tab and highlight „Media Type”. In the „Value” drop down box, select the correct speed for your network card. Press „OK”.

39. Use the prefetch switch to load applications faster

Windows XP's media player has a little extra command included in its shortcut, the „prefetch:1” switch. This helps the application load slightly faster. You can try out this possible performance boost on other programs by editing the shortcuts to the program in question.

Right click the shortcut and hit „Properties”.

In the „Target” box, put „/prefetch:1” at the end of the line.

Press „OK”.

Note that this may cause loading errors in some programs. If it does not work, simply remove the „/prefetch:1” entry from the shortcut.

40. Verify DMA mode is set for all drives

In „Device Manager” expand „IDE ATA ATAPI controllers” highlight „Primary IDE channel” and hit the „Properties” button.

Go to the „Advanced Settings” tab, and ensure that the transfer mode is set to „DMA if available”

Repeat the above steps for the secondary IDE channel.

41. Do a Windows repair install

To perform a repair installation:

Boot the system from your XP CD.

Choose the „Press enter to set up Windows XP now” option.

Press „F8” to skip through the EULA.

Now press „R” to begin a repair installation.

Your system will go through the entire XP install process, but will not attempt to replace any of your existing data. It will simply reinstall the vital system files, fixing any that are corrupted or missing.

42. Stop hard disks spinning down

Go to „Start/ Control Panel/ Performance and Maintenance/ Power Options”.

Set the „Turn off Hard Disks” drop down box to „Never”. Click „OK”.

43. Reduce recycling bin reserved space

Right click on the „Recycling Bin” and select „Properties”.

Choose the „Global” tab.

The slider shows the percentage of each drive that is reserved by the „Recycling Bin”. Reduce this to a more appropriate amount, like 2-3% or more depending on the size of your drives.

44. Enable write caching on hard disks

To enable write caching right click on „My Computer” and select „Properties”.

Select the hardware tab, then „Device Manager”. From the „Device Manager” window, expand „Disk drives” and highlight your hard disk. Select „Properties” then the „Policies” tab.

Check the „Enable write caching on the disk” box.

Repeat the above steps for all hard drives in your system.

45. Defragment your hard disk(s)

To access this utility in Windows XP, go to „Start Programs/ Accessories/ System Tools/ Disk Defragmenter”.

46. Turn off the indexing service

To turn off file indexing go to „Control Panel/ Add/ Remove Programs/ Windows Components” and uncheck „Indexing Service”.

47. 3D Game Benchmarks

48. Change your Monitor's refresh rate (CRT monitors only)

To prevent damage of your eyes, adjust refresk rate to values over the 60Hz.

49. Fix the refresh rate for 3D games

To override the DirectX refresh rate with an ATI video card:

Go to „Start/ Control Panel/ Display” and select the „Settings” tab then hit „Advanced”.

Select the ATI tab called „Displays” then click the „Monitor” button below.

Set the „Refresh Rate Override” dropdown box to your preferred refresh rate, or „Same as Desktop”. Hit „OK”.

To override the DirectX refresh rate with an Nvidia video card:

Go to „Start/ Control Panel/ Display” and select the „Settings” tab then hit „Advanced”

Select the tab that has your video card's name on it to go to the Nvidia driver settings.

Select the „Refresh Rate Overrides” setting.

Choose the resolutions that you commonly play games in (800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024) and double click the „Default” to open a drop down box. Select your desired refresh rate for that resolution.

50. Enable AGP Master 1WS Write/Read

This is one of several BIOS AGP settings that can make a difference to graphic performance if your BIOS and your card support them. Usually found in the „Advanced chipset Features” section of the BIOS as two separate settings, one for read and one for write.

Ensure that they are enabled for better performance.

51. Enable AGP Fast Write

The AGP fast write BIOS setting allows the processor to communicate directly with the graphics processor, ignoring the need to send data through the system's memory. This should be enabled to provide a performance boost. You should ensure that your video card supports fast writes before setting this option, however.

Almost all recent video cards do support AGP fast write. This setting is generally found in the „Advanced Chipset Features” section of the BIOS.

52. Set Video Memory Cache Mode

There should be two options for this setting, if it is present in your BIOS. UC (uncacheable) and UCWC (uncacheable speculative write-combining). The UCWC setting allows the video card to buffer information moving between the processor and the video memory, making for more efficient data transfer. The UC setting disables this buffering. If your card supports it, enabling UCWC will provide a performance advantage.

53. Overclocking ATI video cards

To overclock an ATI video card with 'Radlinker”:

Install the program.

Go to „Start/ Control Panel/ Display” and select the „Settings” tab then hit „Advanced”

Select the „Radlinker” tab.

Check the „Enable Clock Rate Change” box. The sliders below are now enabled, allowing you to overclock the memory and processor speed. Click the set button to set the desired rate, then benchmark the card. Watch for visual problems in the benchmarks as you run them, and back off the speed once they are present.

Once you have an acceptable overclock, use the „Use current” button below to apply the changes every time you boot.

54. Overclocking Nvidia Video cards

Nvidia's video driver package has an overclocking component to it, but it is disabled by default and can only be re-enabled by editing the registry manually or with a file.

To activate overclocking in Nvidia cards:

Open „regedit”.

Navigate to „HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ Software/ NVIDIA Corporation/ Global/ NVTweak”

Create a new DWORD value called „Coolbits” and give it a value of „3”.

Reboot.

Known as „Coolbits” due to the name of the registry entry that must be added, this feature creates a „Clock Frequency” page in the Nvidia display software.

From here you can adjust the GPU and memory clock speeds. Before applying the settings you must allow the drivers to test them. Note, this is not a guarantee of successful overclocking, just a test for basic stability. You can also use the „Auto detect” button, which will attempt to determine the recommended level of overclocking. Use of this feature generally results in slightly conservative settings, but it makes a good reference point. Changes will be applied automatically upon pressing „OK”.

Once you have found an optimal level, use the „Apply settings at startup” checkbox so you do not have to reenter the settings after a reboot.

55. Disable VSYNC

VSYNC (wait for vertical synchronization) setting in your card's direct3D and OPENGL settings. The VSYNC setting basically forces the video card to conform to the screen refresh rate of the monitor, meaning that the card will not send new display data to the monitor until the previous data has been fully displayed.

To disable VSYNC on ATI cards:

From advanced display settings, go to the „3D” tab and check the „use custom settings” box for both direct3D and OpenGL. Press the „Custom” button to access the controls for both modes. Turn the „Wait for Vertical Sync” slider all the way to the left.

To disable VSYNC on Nvidia cards:

From advanced display settings, go to the tab that identifies your video card model. The VSYNC settings are located in „More direct3D settings” and „OpenGL settings”.

56. Increase maximum number of simultaneous connection in Internet Explorer

By default, Internet Explorer 6 allows only two simultaneous server connections, which is fine for normal use, but can bog down when you are connecting to web pages with lots of graphical content. By increasing the number of possible connections, you can use your Internet bandwidth more efficiently, and load complex web pages faster.

To increase IE maximum connections:

Start REGEDIT.

Navigate to „HKEY_CURRENT_USER/ Software/ Microsoft/ Windows/ CurrentVersion/ Internet Settings”.

Add the following two DWORD entries:

„MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server” value equals „0000000a”

„MaxConnectionsPerServer” value equals „0000000a”

Exit and reboot.

57. Wifi 802.11b devices slow down 802.11g networks

802.11g wireless devices have recently become extremely affordable, and given their clear speed advantage over the previous generation of 802.11b devices, they are being adopted quickly. 802.11g is also completely backwardly compatible with 802.11b, but this backwards compatibility carries one major disadvantage.

Connecting an 802.11b client to an 802.11g wireless network will drag down the speed of the entire network due to signaling compromises that need to be made to accommodate the older device. Expect average throughput to be about half of what it would be if the network contains only 802.11g devices. So if you are hosting an 802.11g wireless network, consider upgrading your clients to WIFI 'g' devices also.

58. Proprietary modes for wireless networking

59. Closer is better for wireless

60. Enhance your Internet connection

Run 'TCP Optimizer' -> 'Optimal settings'

61. Increase DNS cache size

To increase the size of the DNS cache, open „regedit” and navigate to „HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ System/ CurrentControlSet/ Services/ Dnscache/ Parameters”

Create the following DWORD values:

„CacheHashTableBucketSize” = „1”

„CacheHashTableSize” = „180”

„MaxCacheEntryTtlLimit” = „ff00”

„MaxSOACacheEntryTtlLimit” = „12d”

Exit and restart.

62. Disable DHCP with DSL connections

Assign your network card a manual (static) IP address.

63. Do not cache failed DNS entries

To do this open „regedit” and navigate to: „HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ System/ CurrentControlSet/ Services/ Dnscache/ Parameters”

Create the following DWORD values:

„NegativeCacheTime” = „0”

„NetFailureCacheTime” = „0”

„NegativeSOACacheTime” = „0”

Reboot for the changes to take effect.

64. Use CTRL+ENTER to speed up Internet address entering

A quick little tip to speed up entering addresses in the Internet Explorer address bar. Instead of typing the full address you can simply type in the main subject then press CTRL+ ENTER to fill in the rest. As is, this only works with .com addresses, but it's still a good time saving shortcut.

65. Get a faster network connection to Windows 9x/ME computers

Fortunately, deleting a couple of registry entries will disable this „feature”.

To do this open REGEDIT and navigate to:

„HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ Software/ Microsoft/ Windows/ CurrentVersion/ Explorer/ RemoteComputer/ NameSpace”.

Delete the following sub-keys:

To disable Scheduled Task Checking delete:

„D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF”

To disable Printer Checking delete:

„2227A280-3AEA-1069-A2DE-08002B30309D”

Exit „regedit” and reboot.

66. Remove the QoS Bandwidth Reserve Setting

This one has been subject to several rumours and considerable debate. Windows XP's networking setup includes a QOS (Quality Of Service) provision which allows certain software (anything which has been written to take advantage of QOS in Windows) to reserve up to 20% of the bandwidth of a given network connection.

This does not mean that 20% of bandwidth is withheld by the operating system at all times, as is often stated. What it means is that certain programs can reserve this percentage of bandwidth for themselves when they are running.

If you don't like this idea and wish to disable QOS, ensuring that your Internet bandwidth is strictly „first come, first served”. Here's a registry edit to do just that:

To do this open „regedit” and navigate to:

„HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ Software/ Policies/ Microsoft/ Windows/ Psched”

Create new DWORD value and named „NonBestEffortLimit”

Setting for Value Data: [Enter as a Percentage / Default Value = 20]

Exit „regedit” and reboot

67. Create shortcut keys

To create a keyboard shortcut:

Select the folder or program icon that you wish to use. Create a shortcut for it by right clicking on the item and selecting 'create shortcut' from the menu. Place your newly created shortcut on the desktop by dragging or cut/pasting. Right click the shortcut and select „Properties”.

Next, select the „Shortcut” tab and enter the key combination you wish to use (XP will automatically edit the combination if it is not acceptable. Just entering 'e' for example, will get you an actual key combination of ctrl + alt + e). Click „OK”.

Now you can open the specified shortcut by entering the key combination you designated.

68. Create a custom shortcuts toolbar

If you use a number of programs often and don't wish to clutter your desktop with shortcuts, there is an easy way to pack your favourite shortcuts into a toolbar for quick access.

To do this create a folder on your C: drive called „Programs” or something similar, and copy all the shortcuts you require into this folder.

Right click on an empty area of the toolbar and choose „Toolbars” then „New toolbar”. Navigate to the folder you created and select it.

You now have a new toolbar that contains all your favourite shortcuts. If you'd like to relocate it to another area of the desktop, right click an empty area of the taskbar and uncheck „Lock toolbar”. By clicking and dragging on the dotted area to the left of your new shortcut toolbar, you can move it to another area of the desktop.

Once it is situated where you want it, right click your new toolbar and select „Always on top” and „Auto-hide” to keep it out of the way until needed.

69. Using ALT+TAB to switch between applications

One of the most useful keyboard shortcuts built into all version of Windows is the ALT+TAB combination. Pressing and holding the ALT button while tapping the TAB button brings up a menu box with icons for all your open programs. By tapping the TAB button you can scroll through these icons.

When you get the one you want, release the keys and that program will be restored as the active window. This is especially handy when using full-screen programs like most games, as the ALT+ TAB combination can drop you back to the desktop when needed without (generally) halting your game.

70. Add the address taskbar to desktop

To place the address bar on your desktop:

Right click on the taskbar, select „Toolbars” and place a checkmark next to „Address”.

The address bar will appear on your taskbar. Now right click the taskbar again and remove the checkmark from „Lock the Taskbar”

Select the dotted area immediately to the left of the „Address” toolbar you just added. Drag this to the top of the screen. The address toolbar will appear across the top of the screen. Now right click the toolbar and select „Auto-hide” and „Always on top” The address toolbar will now pop up whenever you move your mouse to the top of the screen.

71. Disable error reporting

To disable error reporting right click on „My computer” and select „Manage”.

Expand „Services and applications” and select „Services” to open the services window.

Highlight the „Error reporting service”, right click it and select „Properties”.

In the „Startup Type” dropdown box, choose „Disabled”.

72. Reduce menu delays

First, open „regedit” and then navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/ Control Panel/ Desktop/

Edit the „MenuShowDelay” value.

The default is 400. Set the value to „200” or „100” – minimal.

73. Restore the Quick launch bar

To re-enable the quicklaunch bar:

Right click on the time display in the lower right corner of the taskbar and select ”Properties”.

Now look for the option entitled „Show Quick Launch”. Enable it.

74. Increase desktop graphic performance

To do this, right click on „My Computer” and select „Properties”.

Choose the „Advanced” tab and under the „Performance” heading, hit „Settings”.

From here you can adjust the graphical settings of the XP interface. Choose „Adjust for best performance” to turn all the non-essential features off, or you can cherry-pick from the window below.

75. Make „My Computer” open faster

Open „My Computer”. Go to „Tools/ Folder Options” Select the view tab and uncheck the „Automatically search for network folders and printers” box. Click „OK”.

„My computer” will now open much faster.

76. Remove the need to enter a password to login to XP (be careful!)

To get rid of the welcome screen, you need to have only a single main user account and have the Guest account deactivated.

Go to „Start/ Run” and type „Control userpasswords2”.

Remove any other user accounts that appear on the welcome screen by highlighting them and using the „Remove” button.

Now go to „Start/ Control Panel/ User accounts” and select your user account.

Choose „Remove Password” and enter your password to strip it from your account. Note the warning. Windows XP should now boot straight up without the welcome screen or a password prompt.

77. Sort out spam

Wading through acres of spam in order to retrieve the few valid emails from your inbox each day can really slow things down. It would be ideal if you could automatically sort out all the junk so you could quickly read your email.

The good news is, with a couple of quick adjustments to Outlook Express or your mail client of choice, and a freeware program called „POPFile” , you can!

Open Outlook Express, go to „Tools/ Message Rules/ Blocked Senders List”

Using POPFile and Outlook Express message rules to filter out spam email

As POPFile is one of the more popular and mature open source mail filtering software packages, we thought we'd give a quick tutorial on setting it up to sort your mail. Note that this tutorial is not intended to replace reading the POPFile manual, and we recommend you do that as well.

POPFile works by analyzing your mail before it reaches your mailbox, then assigning it to a category (bucket) depending on the contents of the message. It needs to be taught by the user to recognize what is or is not spam at first, but it will „learn” from the choices you make and gradually become more efficient and independent.

Note that while POPFile can be set to quarantine certain messages, it will not otherwise interfere with the email reaching your client. It is a sorting program only, so it is good if you are signed up to several newsletters which might otherwise stop being received if they have to be manually authenticated. If you want something specific done with the email than POPFile classifies as spam, for example, you will have to create message rules to do this. Fortunately, POPFile can attach „tags” to the subject line of suspect emails so it is easy to sort them out. Let's take a look at how to do all this

Working with POPfile.

For the purposes of this demonstration, we will be creating a new folder in Outlook Express (or any other mail client, providing it supports creating message rules) called „Spam” then creating a message rule to ensure that anything POPFile classifies as spam is sent to the spam folder and not the inbox.

Open Outlook Express and create a new folder called „SpamCan” by right clicking on „Local Folders” and selecting „New Folder”

Now go to „Tools/ Message Rules/ Mail” and create a new message rule with the condition „where the subject line contains certain words” and the action „move it to the specified folder”. The subject line setting should be [spam] and the folder is „SpamCan”.

Now download and install the 0.20 version of POPFile from Extravalent's website.

You will be prompted to create „buckets” during the install process. A bucket is a category that POPFile uses to classify incoming email based on its contents. You should create the „spam” bucket and at least one more, depending on whether or not you wish POPFile filter your regular email into separate categories. The more buckets you create, the longer it takes to train POPFile correctly.

Once POPFile is installed, have it run in the background. Double click on the octopus icon to bring up the POPFile interface. POPFile will begin filtering your email. Note that until you begin teaching the program what emails constitute spam, it will not attempt to actually sort at all, but simply pass all mail through to Outlook Express.

The history tab is where you do your teaching. POPFile will record all mail from the last few days here. As soon as you receive mail, go to this screen and reclassify the mail into one of your „buckets” using the drop-down box and the „reclassify” button. The program will take note of the contents of the email and how you classified it and use this knowledge to begin the sorting process. It will now attempt to sort all subsequent messages based on this new knowledge.

When POPFile sorts email, it adds the bucket name to the subject line of the email, so a spam message with the subject „make $$$ fast” would appear as „[spam] make $$$ fast” in your inbox. Because of the message rule you created, this email would promptly be dumped in the „SpamCan” folder.

For the first little while, POPFile is going to incorrectly sort a LOT of messages. Be prepared to keep teaching it by using the „Reclassify” button and the drop down boxes in the history tab. The more email it sorts, the better it will get, until your assistance is no longer necessary. The „buckets” tab shows the current success percentage of the program.

POPFile has a few other features which you can find through the manual and attendant forums (the links are at the bottom of the interface page). After using this combination for a week or two, you should find that your spam problems are ironing themselves out nicely.

After using the POPFile method with Outlook Express, as detailed above, 80% of 185 emails have been correctly identified over 2 weeks, starting from scratch. In the last 5 days, accuracy has been more like 90% as POPFile learns what is [spam] and what isn't.

[Update:] After about two months of using POPfile we've come to find it isn't really able to handle email accounts that get lots of mail, as in 1000+ emails a day. With all the correspondence for PCstats, Viruses, and Spam that the half-dozen email address I use get, I've found POPfile tends to crash after about 1500-2000+ emails have been processed in one or two days. This is especially the case if you forget to clean out the list of messages that POPfile uses for categorizing, and is usually indicative of a really long wait getting into the POPfile UI where this is done.

Sadly, while I will miss POPFile sorting out all the Spam I get from the Work emails that come in, I'm going to try another option that can handle a couple thousand emails every few days. POPfile worked really well at sorting through the messages - and in fact achieved 90-95% accuracy, but I think it is better suited to slightly lower email volume than I'm blessed with. Now, for the rest of you - please do us all a favor and update your virus protection software. Do your part to stop the spread of Virusmail.

78. Keyboard shortcuts using the Win Key and (˙)

˙ = Open Start Menu

˙ + D = Restore or minimize all open windows

˙ + E = Start Windows Explorer

˙ + F = Start Find Files/Folders dialog box

˙ + L = Lock computer

˙ + M = Minimize all open windows

˙ + R = Start Run dialog box

˙ + F1 = Start Help Menu and Support Center

˙ + Tab = Cycles through all open programs and taskbar buttons. Press ENTER to select.

˙ + Ctrl + Tab = Cycle through all open apps/games Taskbar buttons, Tray icons, Start Menu and Quick Launch toolbars (press Right or Left arrows to cycle through Toolbar and Tray items)

˙ + Pause/Break = Open 'my computer' properties window.

˙ + Shift + M = Restore all open windows

˙ + Space = Scroll down one page at a time in Internet Explorer

˙ + Back Space = Scroll up one page at a time in Internet Explorer.

79. Disable floppy drive seek

80. Set primary display adaptor

81. Enable quick POST/memory test

Some examples are: „Perform quick memory test”, „Quick boot”, „Quick power on self test”, etc. Enabling these options will cause your system to boot faster.

82. Eliminate unwanted programs from boot up

Go to „Start/ Run” and type „msconfig” to access the utility.

The „Startup” tab in „msconfig” provides access to several other applications that are started at boot up and are running in the background. By examining their Filenames and directories, you should be able to get a feeling for what is necessary and what is not.

Be aware than several viruses and worms have a habit of disguising themselves with authoritative sounding Windows system file names, such as the „Win32.spybot.worm” as „msconfig32.exe”. Leave these for now if you are not sure.

The next place you should go is „Start/ Programs/ Startup” which is a directory Windows XP uses to launch application shortcuts on boot-up. If you remove the shortcuts from this directory, the applications will not load on startup. This directory can also be a repository for various badness such as spyware and virus software, so if there are files here which are not shortcuts and you don't recognize them, you may wish to consider removing them anyways, as Windows will not place critical files in this directory.

83. Scan your PC for spyware and Adware

Use 'Lavasoft Adaware'

84. Disable boot virus detection

On BIOS setup, disable „virus boot detection”.

85. Change boot sequence.

To do this, go to the „Advanced BIOS Features” section of the BIOS and change the „First Boot Device” setting to „Hard Disk 0”

86. Disable the XP loading screen

To speed up your boot process slightly, disable the Windows XP loading screen. This can be accomplished easily by opening the „msconfig” utility („Start/ Run/ msconfig”), selecting the „Boot.ini” tab and checking the „/NOGUIBOOT” option.

When you boot your system, you will see a black screen in between POST and the welcome screen from now on.

87. Eliminate unwanted fonts to increase boot speed

To do this:

Create a new directory called „Font backup” or something similar on your C: drive.

Go to „Start/ Control Panel/ Fonts” and select all fonts (for now, we will be more selective later). Drag and drop all the fonts into the backup folder you just created. Things will get garbled for a moment, never fear. Windows XP will automatically re-install the base fonts that it needs to display text into the fonts folder in a second or two.

Now you have the bare minimum of fonts installed. Go through the backup folder and cherry pick the fonts that you are sure to use (like Times New Roman or Arial).

If you removed a large volume of fonts, your system should now boot faster.

88. Turn off BIOS disk detection

To do this enter your system's BIOS setup screen.

Depending on your motherboard, you may have an IDE drive auto-detection menu. If you do, simply select it to automatically set your drives. If not, configure the drives through the 'standard CMOS settings' menu.

Note that some motherboard chipsets (like Nvidia's Nforce 2) do not allow this auto-detection to be disabled.

89. Use the Bootvis utility

To use 'BootVis' download and install the program, then run it.

Go to the „Trace” menu and select „Next boot and driver delays”.

Bootvis will prompt to reboot. Reboot and wait for Bootvis to start again.

Go to the „Trace” menu and select „Optimize”. Reboot again.

Wait for Bootvis to complete its analysis. Your boot times should now be optimized.

90. Use the 'Intel application accelerator'

If your computer has an older Intel chipset (pre-865) you may benefit from downloading and installing the „Intel Application Accelerator”. This software replaces the Windows XP ATA (hard disk and IDE device) drivers with ones specially designed for Intel chipsets, improving disk performance and boot time.

91. Disable unnecessary services

Windows XP runs many, many services in the background. A lot of these are not actually necessary to the day-to-day operation of your PC, depending of course, on what you use it for.

The simple fact is different people will need different services enabled. To judge for yourself which are necessary, right click on „My Computer” and select „Manage”. From the computer management window, expand „Services and Applications” then click „Services” to open up the window listing all available services.

The ones labeled „Started” are currently running, and the startup type „Automatic” denotes a service which is started by windows each time the operating system loads. By highlighting each service, you can see a description of its properties, and make an informed decision on whether you need it or not.

To stop a service from running, right click on it and select „Properties”, then stop it and make the startup type „Disabled”. If the description indicates that services which depend on the service you are currently examining will fail if it is disabled, you can go to the „Dependencies” tab to see which services will be affected.

Good luck, and use common sense. See our tip below on using hardware profiles if you would like to experiment with disabling services on a large scale.

92. Disable unneeded devices in device manager

To disable unneeded devices in device manager:

Right click on „My Computer” and select „Properties”. From the „Hardware” tab, select „Device Manager”. Expand the various categories to locate unused devices. Right click the devices and select „Disable”.

93. Disable auto detection for empty IDE slots

Right click on „My Computer” and select „Properties”. Go to the „Hardware” tab and select „Device Manager” to open the device management window.

Expand „IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers” and highlight the „primary IDE channel”. Right click the highlighted entry and select „Properties” Go to the „Advanced Settings” tab.



If either IDE slot on the controller is empty, the „Device type” dropdown box will be not grayed out. Set it to „None” to disable auto detection of IDE devices on that particular slot.

Repeat the above steps for the „Secondary IDE controller”.

Note that if you wish to add a new IDE device, you will have to reset the „Device type” setting to „Autodetect” in order for Windows to use the new drive.

94. Reduce wait time after XP boots

If your computer is not attached to a home network:

Right click on „My Computer” and select „Manage”.

Expand „Services and Applications” and select „Services” to open the services window.

Highlight the „Workstation” service, right click and select „Properties”.

Set the „Startup type” dropdown box to „Disabled”. Click „OK”.

Note that you will need to re-enable the workstation service should you wish to network your PC in the future.

If your computer is part of a home network:

Go to „Start/ Control Panel/ Network and Internet Connections/ Network Connections”

Right click your current network connection (should be „Local Area Connection” unless you have more than one network adaptor) and select „Properties”.

Uncheck the „File and Print Sharing” box and press „OK”.

Note that this will disable your computer's ability to share files and printers over the network, though it should not affect your ability to access such resources on another system.

95. Increasing shutdown speed by reducing wait times part 1

Open „regedit” and navigate to „HKEY_CURRENT_USER/ Control Panel/ Desktop”.

Highlight the „WaitToKillAppTimeout” value.

Set it to „1000” (the default should be 20000).

Now highlight the „HungAppTimeout” value.

Set it to „1000” also.

96. Increasing shutdown speed by reducing wait times part 2

Open „regedit” and navigate to „HKEY_USERS/ DEFAULT/ Control Panel/ Desktop”.

Highlight the „WaitToKillAppTimeout” value.

Set it to „1000” (the default should be 20000).

Now highlight the „HungAppTimeout” value.

Set it to „1000” also.

97. Increasing shutdown speed by reducing wait times part 3

Open „regedit” and navigate to „HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ System/ CurrentControlSet/ Control”

Highlight the value „WaitToKillServiceTimeout”.

Change this value to „1000”.

This should help to considerably speed up the time windows XP takes to shut itself down.

98. Disable the Nvidia driver helper service

To disable the Nvidia Driver Helper service:

Right click on „My Computer” and select „Manage”.

Expand „Services and applications” and select „Services” to open the services window.

Locate and highlight the „Nvidia Driver Helper” service. Right click it and select „Properties”.

Set the „Startup type” dropdown box to „Disabled”. Click „OK”.

99. Auto kill tasks on shutdown

To allow Windows XP to close non-responsive applications automatically upon shutdown:

Open „regedit” and navigate to „HKEY_CURRENT_USER/ Control Panel/ Desktop”

Highlight the value „AutoEndTasks”.

Change the value to „1”.

XP will now be able to close hung applications without user input during the shutdown process.

! TECH TIPS !

1. Remove the Frequently Used Programs List From the Start Menu

To do this open Regedit:

Navigate to 'HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPoliciesExplorer'.

Create a new DWORD value called 'NoStartMenuMFUprogramsList' and give it the value '1'.

Reboot or restart the explorer process to enable this tip. Now you have much more start menu space to drag and drop your own shortcuts.

2. Killing ALL windows sounds

control panel/ sound & audio devices/ sounds/ sound scheme: no sounds!

3. Close Multiple Desktop Windows Fast

Simply hold down the SHIFT key as you click on the X button to close the most recent of the windows. This will close all the windows related to the one you clicked on.

4. Add Some Useful Commands to the Right-Click Menu

When navigating and handling files in Windows Explorer, the right click 'context' menu is extremely useful. However it is lacking some options which would make it even more invaluable and save you a fair bit of time. This registry edit will enable you to add the 'move to folder' and 'copy to folder' commands to your right click menu.

Those two useful shortcuts will reduce the time it takes to move files around within the WinXP GUI.

To do this open Regedit and navigate to:

'HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTAllFileSystemObjectsshellexContextMenuHandlers

Create two new keys, 'Copy To' and 'Move To'

Set the value of 'Copy To' to ''

Set the value of 'Move To' to ''

Close Regedit, you now have the 'copy to folder' and 'move to folder' options in your right-click menu.

5. Add More Destinations to the Right-Cick Menu's 'Send To' Command

To add 'send to' destinations go to 'c:documents and settings(your user name)sendto' .

Note that this is a hidden folder by default, and you will have to have enabled the 'show hidden files and folders' option in the 'toolsfolder optionsview' menu of explorer before you can see it.

This folder contains the shortcuts that the 'sendto' command uses for its list of destinations. Simply create a shortcut for the directory or program you want to use and drag-and-drop it into the 'sendto' folder to add that destination.

6. Changing the Number of Open Programs Required to 'Group' on the Taskbar

Open Regedit and navigate to 'HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced' and double click the 'TaskbarGroupSize' subkey.

Change the value to decimal if necessary. The decimal number indicates how many similar windows will trigger the grouping effect.

Change it to the required number, then click 'ok' and restart your system.

7. Show Control Panel as a Menu

To do this Right click on the 'start' button and choose 'properties.' Select the 'customize' button to the right of the 'start menu' option. Choose the 'advanced' tab and then in the 'start menu items' box, find 'control panel' and select the 'display as menu' option.

8. Change the Default Installation Directory

If you like to install your software on a separate drive or partition, you might find this tip handy. It will allow you to change the default installation directory for new programs from 'c:program files' to whatever location you'd like.

To do this open Regedit and Navigate to 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareWindowsCurrentVersion'

Double click the 'ProgramFilesDir' value. Change the value to the directory you wish to be the default installation location for your software.

9. Relocate the 'My Documents' Folder

To change the location of My Documents folder right click the 'my documents' icon on the desktop or the start menu, and select 'properties.'

In the 'target' tab, enter the path to the folder location you wish to use, or press the 'find target' button to browse to the folder. You will be asked if you wish to move all existing data to the new location.

10. Stop 'focus stealing' by background applications and pop-ups

Start Regedit and navigate to 'HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktop.'

Double click the 'ForegroundLockTimeout' key. Change the notation to decimal. This key controls the amount of time that Windows will wait for user input in the currently active window before shifting focus to whatever other window is demanding attention. The default is 200000 milliseconds decimal, or 200 seconds. Change this to a greater millisecond value if you want to prevent Windows XP from stealing the focus while you are occupied.

11. Uncover **** Passwords

Have you ever been in a situation where you've forgotten your Internet connection or email password? It can be extremely frustrating to forget an important password, more so if Windows XP holds it tantalizingly out of reach by covering up with ****.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to reveal asterisk covered passwords in Windows XP using a free third-party utility. Asterisk-Key, available here can remove the veil of secrecy and reveal your passwords.

To use 'Asterisk-Key' open the program, highlight the password box or open the web page containing the covered password and click the 'recover' button. Your password will be displayed in the program windows sans asterisks.

12. Avoid Having to Re-Activate Windows XP After Reinstallation

Normally, when you reinstall Windows XP you need to also reactivate the operating system by phone or Internet in order to use it. This can be avoided by simply copying a single file from your old installation to your new one.

The 'wpa.dbl' file, located in the 'c:windowssystem32' folder, indicated to the operating system whether the current hardware configuration has been activated or not. As long as you have not changed any of the hardware in your PC during the reinstall, you can simply copy the file onto a floppy, CD or USB key and copy it back into Windows after the reinstall to avoid the re-activation procedure.

13. Recovering Deleted Files

So your two year old has just deleted five hours of essential work? So he somehow managed to avoid the recycling bin altogether in the sort of computer anti-miracle that only the very young and the very tech-phobic seem to be able to achieve? Don't panic. Though the recycling bin is present as a safety net against accidental or mistaken file deletion, just because it's not in there doesn't mean your data is gone forever.

Data that is deleted from a hard drive is not actually removed from the disk. It is simply marked by the operating system as having been deleted, and will be treated as empty disk space from then on. Until it is actually written over by new data, the old data remains and is easy to recover.

To get your data back, you should obtain a copy of 'Restoration', a free file recovery utility. This program is small, effective and very easy to use, which is why we like it. To recover accidentally deleted files start Restoration

Choose the drive you wish to scan in the 'drives' drop down box, and click 'search by deleted files.'

A list of deleted files is created. To restore one or more files, highlight them and click 'restore by copying' then choose a target directory.

Undeleting Files in Windows XP Advertisement:

The majority of this article deals with recovering lost data from vanished partitions and accidentally wiped drives. This is all well and good, but what happens if you simply want a couple of files back that you deleted? Gone from the recycling bin? All is not lost. A variety of applications are available that can dig into your hard drives history and recover deleted items.

As you read earlier in this article, a file that is deleted from a Windows drive is not actually erased from the disk. Instead it is marked as having been deleted. The next time Windows is writing data to the disk, it will regard these deleted files as free space that can be copied over. This is why it's important to keep disk operations to a minimum when you are trying to recover data. It's also why you should install and operate your data recovery software on a different partition than the files you are trying to save whenever possible.

Undelete programs simply scan your drive for files marked with the delete symbol and offer you a chance to restore them. Simple and pretty much foolproof as long as too much time has not passed since the original file deletion. You'll likely be surprised at how far back the files you find with these utilities go.

Let's take a look at some freeware file restoration programs:

Restoring deleted files with PC Inspector file recovery:

This versatile freeware program is capable of many recovery tasks, including retrieving deleted files. Let's take a look at how to use it to recover those documents your toddler accidentally wiped out. Note that PC Inspector can only recover files on a FAT file system, and does not work with NTFS formatted drives.

Start PC-Inspector.

Choose the 'recover deleted files' option.

Highlight the logical drive (c:, d:, e:, etc.) that you wish to look for deleted files on and hit 'ok.'

Now expand the 'deleted' entry. The right pane shows a directory tree from the root of the logical drive you are searching. The green files are deleted files that you can attempt to recover, while green folders are deleted folders. Look through until you find what you are looking for, or use the 'find' command in the 'object' menu to search for specific files.

Once you have located the file or files you wish to recover, right click them and choose 'save to.' Enter a location on the disk and the file(s) will be restored to that location.

Restoring deleted files with Restoration:

For a really simple and effective way to recover deleted files, it doesn't get much better than Restoration. This incredibly simple tool will search any NTFS or FAT32 drive and recover a list of deleted files that can be restored. Let's look at how to use it:

Start Restoration.

Choose the drive you wish to scan in the 'drives' drop down box, and click 'search by deleted files.'

A list of deleted files is created. To restore one or more files, highlight them and click 'restore by copying' then choose a target directory.

Note that unlike PC inspector, restore does not sort the deleted files by folder, it simply dumps them all into a single list, which can make it harder to find what you are looking for.

If the file you want is not in the list, try searching again with the 'include used clusters by other files' option checked. This will include files which have been partially overwritten in the list. Note that this may well mean that your file will be corrupted or unreadable.

Commercial Data Recovery Utilities:

There are many excellent commercial recovery packages out there. The majority of these are designed to access the disk through an operating system, in which case you will need to have your affected drive transferred to another computer, or at least have a separate drive with a new OS on your original system.

These programs generally use the 'virtual recovery technique, which involves creating an 'image' of the disk to be restored in memory and then transferring files from that image to an alternate hard disk. Two good examples of this type of program are 'Active File Recovery' and R-TT.com's R-Studio.

I did not comprehensively test any of the listed programs, but when I first lost my data, I used several demo and preview versions of the following software to ascertain that my data was actually still there. One standout was R-Studio, whose demo version allows the recovery of files up to 64K in size, allowing me to move my articles safely off the drive before commencing the recovery in earnest. Highly recommended.

From previous work experience, I can also recommend 'Winternals Disk Commander', though they do not provide a preview of the software. Following is a partial list of commercially available partition/file recovery and undeletion software we suggest you check out if the freeware we have already mentioned hasn't done the trick.

Commercial recovery software list:

R-Studio https://www.r-tt.com

Disk Commander https://www.winternals.com/products/repairandrecovery/diskcommander.asp

File Rescue 2.5 https://www.file-rescue.com

GetDataBack for FAT GetDataBack for NTFS https://www.runtime.org

Norton Utilities/SystemWorks https://www.symantic.com

Undelete  https://www.executive.com/consumer/undelete/undelete.asp

Hard Drive Mechanic https://www.highergroundsoftware.com/6.html

https://www.highergroundsoftware.com/downloads2.htm

Back2Life  https://www.simtel.net/pub/pd/57588.html

DFSee/ https://www.dfsee.com

Fast File Recovery https://savemyfiles.com/fastfile.htm

Undelete 3.0 https://www.pcconnection.com/scripts/productdetail.asp?product_id=309884

Active UNERASER https://www.uneraser.com/undelete.htm

File Scavenge https://www.quetek.com/prod02.htm

File Restore https://www.winternals.com/products/repairandrecovery/filerestore.asp

File Recover 2000 / https://www.filerecover.com

Undelete  https://www.quantumsoft.co.uk/undelete.stm

Fast File Undelete https://www.dtidata.com/products_ff_undelete.asp

Data Recovery https://www.dtidata.com

For NTFS https://www.restorer2000.com/r2k.htm

14. Enhance the Windows calculator

Install and run 'WinCalcPlus'

15. Remove Orphaned Software Applications from Add/Remove Programs

To delete orphaned program entries open Regedit and navigate to:

'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionUninstall'

Look for the offending program entries and delete them. Note that some programs may be listed with a string of letters and numbers. Open the value inside these keys to see the actual name of the program.

16. Troubleshooting Shutdown Issues

Does your PC not shut down automatically, instead stopping at the 'it is now ok to shut down your computer' screen? Here's a couple of quick resolution to the two most common causes of this problem in Windows XP:

Open Device manager (right click on 'my computer' and select 'manage' then 'device manager.'). Go to the 'view' menu and select 'show hidden devices.' Look for the 'APM/NT Legacy Node' entry. If it is disabled, enable it and try to shutdown your PC again.

If this did not help, go to'startcontrol panelpower options' If you have an 'APM' tab, make sure the option 'enable advanced power management support' is checked.

If neither of these steps are applicable, you may wish to try updating your motherboard's BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).

17. Alter Your Windows User Name

If you'd like to change the user name you entered when installing Windows (not your current user name, but the 'owner' name entered for license purposes during the install process), here's a quick registry edit to accomplish just that.

To change your registered user name open Regedit and navigate to:

'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareWindowsNTCurrentVersion'

Double click the 'RegisteredOwner' value and change it as desired. You can also change the company name by editing the 'RegisteredOrganization' value.

18. Prevent Computer Users From Logging on to Windows at Certain Times

If you would like to prevent a member of your household or office from logging into his or her computer at certain times, you can create restrictions on their user account to do this.

To restrict access times for a certain user open the command prompt ('startrun' and type 'cmd'). To restrict a certain user's log in times to Monday - Friday, 5AM to 8PM, type 'net user (username) /time:m-f,5am-8pm

Replace (username) with the required user name. You can change the days using (m,t,w,th,f,s,su) and change times using the same method shown. The user will not be allowed to log in at any other time.

Note that this will not prevent users from using the computer during restricted times if they have already logged in. It only prevents them from booting into Windows.

19. Scan your computer for vulnerabilities with Microsoft's free security scanner

Microsoft provides a tool called the 'Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer' (MBSA) to help network administrators or concerned users check their machines for security vulnerabilities. The software is available here.

Download and run the device to test both your local computer and any PCs on your network (you will need access to an administrative account on all machines you wish to scan). The MBSA creates a security log for each scanned computer which contains easy to read info on any vulnerabilities that may exist and how to correct them.

PCSTATS highly recommends that you use this tool to check your PC for security flaws.

20. Disable USB Storage Device Writing (Service Pack 2)

To make USB mass-storage devices read only:

Open Regedit and navigate to 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEM CurrentControlSetControl key'

Highlight the subkey 'StorageDevicePolicies' If there is no such subkey, create it by right clicking 'control key' and choosing 'newkey'. Once you have the 'StorageDevicePolicies' subkey highlighted, right click it and select 'new DWORD value.' Give the value the name WriteProtect. Double click the new value and give it the value of '1' Exit and restart.

21. Test Your PCs Security with Online Security Probes

Some free online security scanners:

https://grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2

https://www.pcflank.com/scanner1s.htm

https://scan.sygatetech.com/

22. Stupid Disk Tricks for XP Part 1: Dynamic Disks

Windows XP, like Windows 2000 before it, contains support for dynamic disks. Dynamic disk volumes use a database which records information about the partitions on each drive, allowing for several interesting new capabilities which we will cover in the next few tips. Dynamic disks can be expanded within windows, can be extended across physical drives (spanning), form RAID arrays, and can be transported from computer to computer. They do require Windows 2000, 2003 or XP to function though.

Any partition can be converted to a dynamic disk without data loss, but you cannot reverse the process. Converting your drives to dynamic disks allows you access to the next few tips in this article.

To convert your existing drives to 'dynamic disks' go to computer management (right click 'my computer' and select 'manage') then open 'disk management.'

The lower pane on the right contains information about your drives and partitions. Under the heading for each disk (disk 0, disk 1, etc.) is either 'basic disk' or 'dynamic disk' depending on their current type.

To convert the disks from basic to dynamic, right click the grey box on the left that contains the disk names (disk 1, disk 2, etc.) and select 'convert to dynamic disk.'

From the next Window you can check both blank drives and click 'ok' to convert them.

Note that to perform any of the advanced disk management features, your partitions will also need to use the NTFS file system.

23. Stupid Disk Tricks for XP Part 2: Mounting Partitions to Directories

Another neat trick you might not have known that you can do in Windows XP is mount partitions as folders in other partitions. So for instance you could have a C: drive where you use a peer-to-peer sharing program such as Kazaa which may require a lot of disk space. You could purchase a new 80 gigabyte drive and mount it as a folder (c:kazaa files) in C:, then use this to store your downloads. Very simple and organized

To mount disk partitions as folders right click on 'my computer' and select 'properties' then 'manage.' Open 'disk management' from the computer management window. Right click on the partition you wish to mount as a directory in the graphical partition window (lower pane) and select 'change drive letter and paths.'

Remove the current option (if any), then click add. Choose the 'mount in the following empty NTFS folder,' browse to the desired volume and add a directory for your drive. Click 'ok.'

That's it. If you wish to return things back to the way they were, simply repeat the procedure, removing the directory location and choosing a drive letter instead. The data on the drive will be unharmed.

24. Stupid Disk Tricks for XP Part 3: Creating Software RAID 0

RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) zero is another name for the technique known as disk 'striping' in which two disks act as one single hard drive, sharing (or striping) all data between them. This process considerably speeds up drive performance, especially when reading from the drives, since the data stream can come from both disks at once. For more information on other forms of RAID, flip through the pages of PCstats guide on the subject.

Windows XP, like Windows 2000 before it, comes with RAID 0 support built in. If you have two hard drives, you can take advantage of this feature to speed up your computers disk access (which affects nearly every facet of the computing experience). Note that you cannot create a RAID 0 stripe with the partition that holds the Windows operating system.

This means that you will have to have at least two physical hard drives with free space so you can create a pair of new partitions to stripe since you cannot stripe an existing partition with data on it either.

To create a RAID 0 stripe with two identical disks right click on 'my computer' and select 'properties' then 'manage.' Open 'disk management' from the computer management window. Convert both drives to dynamic disks as shown in tip 64 above. Once both disks are listed as dynamic, right click the 'unpartitioned space' of either drive and select 'new volume.' In the 'select volume type' Window, select 'striped.'

Add all disks you wish to use, then decide on the amount of space on both disks you wish to use for the striped volume you are about to create. If you wish, use only part of each disk for the stripe, leaving the rest free for other uses.

Choose a drive letter or folder to use, and the method of formatting, and you are done. The striped array will format and be ready for use.

25. Stupid Disk Tricks for XP Part 4: Extending and Spanning Volumes

If you have blank space on one of your drives and you would like to merge this with an existing partition rather than creating a new partition with a new drive letter, you can do it with dynamic disks.

Extending (enlarging an existing partition to include free space on the same disk) and spanning (enlarging an existing partition to include free space on another disk) are both possible with dynamic disks and the NTFS file system. Note that you cannot span or extend the system volume; the partition in which Windows is installed.

To span or extend an existing partition open Disk Management. Right click the partition you would like to expand and select 'extend volume.'

The extend volume wizard will come up. Press 'ok' to get to the 'select disks' window. Any available space on your dynamic disks will be displayed in the left hand box. Choose the space you'd like to use and click 'add' then 'next' and 'finish.' XP will format the blank space and add it to the current partition, no reboot required.

26. Customize with 'GPEDIT.msc'

Ex.1) Customize Internet Explorer Appearance

You can customize the appearance of Internet Explorer and add bitmaps to toolbars and your own caption to the Internet Explorer window title by going here:

'user configurationwindows settingsInternet Explorer Maintenancebrowser user interface.'

Ex.2) Customize IE Toolbar

This GPEDIT entry allows you to specify which buttons will appear on the standard Internet Explorer toolbar:

'user configurationadministrative templateswindows componentsinternet explorertoolbarsconfigure toolbar buttons'

Ex.3) Remove the File Delete Confirmation Dialog Box

To remove the 'confirm (filename) delete' box that pops up when you attempt to delete a file, go to: 'user configurationadministrative templateswindows componentsexplorerdisplay confirmation dialog when deleting files' and disable the option.

Ex.4) Disable Windows Messenger Easily

If you do not want to use Windows Messenger and you are annoyed by its persistence, turn it off easily with this GPEDIT option:

'user configurationadministrative templateswindows componentswindows messengerdo not allow messenger to be run'

Ex.5) Customize the Start Menu and Taskbar

This section contains a wealth of options for customizing the Windows XP start menu and taskbar, everything from adding a 'log off' button to removing the clock from the system tray is covered here:

'user configurationadministrative templateswindows componentsstart menu and taskbar'

Ex.6) Prevent Users from Running Certain Programs

You can prevent programs you specify from running within Internet Explorer with this GPEDIT option

'user configurationadministrative templateswindows componentssystemdon't run specified windows applications'

You will need to know the name of the application's executable file.

27. Prevent XP From Shutting Down Normally

While we admit this is an odd sort of tip, there may be times when you want to ensure that no one can shut down your PC normally. This can come in handy on a display PC, for example. A quick registry edit ensures that anyone who wants to shut the PC down must go through the task manager first.

To prevent normal XP shutdown: Open Regedit and Navigate to 'HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPolicies|Explorer'

Create a new DWORD value called 'NoClose' and give it a value of '1'. Close Regedit and restart explorer or Windows. To reverse this, delete the 'NoClose' value.

28. Speed up Network Browsing in Windows XP

To do this open Regedit and navigate to 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerRemote ComputerNamespace.

Delete the key ' , if exist. Close Regedit and restart.

29. Fixing the 'Guest Only' Network Access Problem

A fairly common XP networking issue is the 'guest access only' problem. The major symptom is only having the (computername)/Guest account available to you when you attempt to connect to other systems on your network. The cause is generally a misconfigured local security policy.

To fix this annoying networking issue, you will need to go to 'startcontrol panelperformance and maintenanceadministrative tools' and open 'local security policies.'

Expand 'local policies' followed by 'security options,' highlight 'network access: sharing and security model for local accounts and set it to 'classic - local users log in as themselves.'

30. Hiding Your Computer From Other Systems in the Same Network

If you are on a network you do not really trust, and would like to hide your computer from curious eyes while still being able to share files, one simple solution is to conceal your system from the 'network neighborhood' type applications.

Normally in Windows XP, the 'workgroup computers' command executed from the 'my network places' screen will bring up a list of any systems in the same network and workgroup as your system, and allow you to browse any shared resources on these systems. If you would like to stop your system from showing up in this location, bring up the command prompt ('startrun' and type 'cmd') and type 'net config server /hidden:yes.'

31. Share Multiple Folders Quickly in Windows XP

Normally, sharing folders over a network involves right clicking on each folder and setting individual share options for that folder. If you need to share a lot of information, this can get tiresome fast. Fortunately there is a shared files wizard included with XP that can increase the speed of this operation greatly.

To use this wizard, go to 'startrun' and type 'shrpubw.exe.'

From this window, you can type in or browse to the location of the folder you wish to share and enter the share name. You will then be prompted to set permissions.

32. Creating a VPN in Windows XP

Now that we have covered some of the theory behind Virtual Private Networks, let's go about setting one up. The following set of instructions will allow you to set up a Windows XP computer in your home network to accept VPN connections from the internet, allowing you or other users to access your network remotely as if you were on a locally connected computer. Once that is configured we will then go through the procedure to create and dial a VPN from a remote computer.

First some notes about Windows XP and VPN connections Windows XP is designed for only a single user to connect via VPN per interface, up to a maximum of three concurrent connections. In other words, if you have a single connection to the Internet, you can support a single VPN connection through it at any time.

As mentioned earlier in this article, PPTP VPNs, though less secure than their L2TP/IPSec equivalents, are recommended for home users, due to the comparative ease of setup. The difficulty with L2TP is that it is oriented towards use in larger network environments and Windows domains, and by default requires a security certificate to operate.

In theory, a L2TP VPN can be used by setting a preshared key on each system, but hosting a VPN like this within Windows XP is difficult. It can be done, certainly, and there are even methods of generating your own security certificates without the use of a Windows server OS out there (https://www.shininglightpro.com/index.php?treeloc=36 ), but it's labour intensive, and beyond the scope of this article.

We will cover setting up both types of VPNfor client connections, but only PPTP for creating a VPN server. To set up your computer to accept VPN connections go to start/programs/accessories/communication and start the new connection wizard.

Select 'set up an advanced connection.'

Select 'Accept incoming connections.'

Skip the 'devices for incoming connections' screen, as it is only relevant for local computers, not remote ones. Hit 'next.' Select 'allow virtual private connections.'

The next screen allows you to select which current user accounts have access to the computer remotely through a VPN. Please ensure that the account(s) you select have secure passwords set on them. You can also create a new user on this screen by using the 'add' button.

Highlight 'internet protocol (TCP/IP)' and select 'properties.'

Setting up a VPN continued:

When you allow VPN connections, Windows XP creates a Remote Access Server virtual network adaptor (RAS server) to handle the connections and hand out IP addresses to incoming connections. Each connection needs an IP address in the same network range as the one assigned to the RAS server in order to connect successfully. By default, the server is set to give out these addresses automatically as clients dial in.

The following screen allows you to specify the IP address settings that the remote computer will receive for the connection, if any. Using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) to assign addresses (the default) will give the server and any connected VPN clients an address in the 169.254.xxx.xxx automatic private address range. Alternatively, you can specify a range of IP addresses to use. If you choose to do this, be sure to enter more than one address, as the RAS server will automatically take the first available address for itself.

You can also allow remote computers to use their own IP address settings, but this can cause connectivity problems. Note that if you want to allow computers within your local network to access files and folders on a remote computer that has connected via a VPN, as opposed to just allowing the remote computer access to the local computers, you must ensure that the IP address range used for VPN clients is in the same network as your LAN uses. Otherwise, the VPN client will be able to access the network, since the RAS server acts as a gateway for it, but computers within the network will not be able to connect to it.

For example, if your local network uses the 192.168.5.xxx network, you must specify IP addresses in the 192.168.5.xxx range for VPN clients also if you wish them to be accessible from your network.

To set up a remote computer to connect to your network via a VPN, you need a connection to the Internet, obviously, and some form of VPN client software that supports either PPTP or L2TP/Ipsec. Windows 2000/XP computers have this functionality built in, but Windows 98 and ME have PPTP only VPN clients that must be installed from the operating system CD using add/remove programs. Microsoft has free L2TP/IPsecVPN client software available for download that supports NT 4.0 and Windows 98/ME.

Windows 95 is not supported, though there may be third party VPN clients out there that will do the trick. We will describe setting up the connection on a Windows XP client, but the same options and general procedures apply for using the VPN client with other Microsoft operating systems also.

To set up a VPN client in Windows XP:

Go to start/programs/accessories/communication and start the new connection wizard. Select 'connect to the network at my workplace' the choose 'virtual private network connection.' In the current window, you can name the connection if you wish. This will only affect how it appears in the network connection properties window.

The next window governs whether Windows XP will attempt to connect to the Internet when you connect to the VPN. If you have always-on Internet like cable, or if you do not wish WindowsXP to dial your ISP for you, select 'do not dial the initial connection.'

You will now be prompted for the host name or IP address of the computer you are attempting to connect to. If your VPN server computer has DSL Internet, or some other form of dynamic IP connection, it is best to use a dynamic DNS service such as www.no-ip.com and substitute the hostname they will provide you with for the current IP address of your server.

This ends the basic configuration, but there are some more options we can look at which will be covered next.

VPN and Security Options:

Go to start/control panel/network and Internet connections/network connections and select the properties menu of the connection you just created. From here, we have some additional option in the 'security' and 'networking' tabs.

The security tab allows you to specify additional security and authentication settings. Most of these are best left untouched unless you know exactly what you want to do, but note the 'IPSec settings' button.

If you want to use L2TP/IPSec without digital certificates (which to create, you need a copy of Windows 2000 or 2003 server) you need to designate a pre-shared key in order to validate the IPSec connection between the two computers before the VPN can be formed. On the client computer, this is where you specify this key.

The networking tab allows you to specify the type of VPN connection that you wish to create, PPTP or L2TP/IPSec. If you use the 'automatic' (default) setting, a PPTP connection will be attempted first, and L2TP used if this is unsuccessful.

By selecting the properties of 'internet protocol (TCP/IP)' below, you can designate an IP address and other options that the VPN client will use exclusively when it connects to your host network. Note that to use an IP address specified here, you must have the 'allow calling computer to specify its own address' option checked in the TCP/IP properties of the VPN host computer. Open the connection, input the password and click 'connect' to connect to your VPN.

Some useful facts on VPN setup:

If you are using an Internet sharing device such as a home cable/DSL router, you may experience problems connecting to your VPN remotely. Many home routing devices now include some form of VPN pass-through feature which will automatically open the relevant ports, but generally this needs to be configured on the router, so consult your manual.

If you have no luck there, try forwarding TCP port 1723 to your VPN server for a PPTP connection, and UDP ports 500, 1701 and 4500 for L2TP/IPSec. Some routing devices that use Network Address Translation (NAT) may not work with IPSec unless you obtain the NAT-T (NAT Transversal) patch for IPSec, available from Microsoft for Windows XP and 2000. Download it through Windows update. Additional information is available here (https://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;818043 ). Also see some of PCstats other guides for more details.

Once you are connected for all intents and purposes, a remote computer on a VPN is connected directly to your network. You may share drives and folders and transfer files over the link, or run terminal services or another remote desktop package like VNC over the now secured connection.

33. Mount a new hard drive as a folder in your C: drive

Actually, this tip works for any partition of any NTFS formatted drive (except the partition with the Windows system files on it)… Windows XP, like 2000 before it, allows you to 'mount' drives as folders in a pre-existing logical drive. For example, if you had a computer with a 20GB disk formatted into a single partition and volume (drive c:), you could purchase a second drive, partition and format it from disk manager and then instead of giving it its own drive letter, add it to your c: drive as a directory. Any files added to that directory would of course be stored in the new HD.

This can come in extremely handy, as certain applications (databases come to mind) can grow extremely large, but may not support storing data on a (logically) separate drive.

As far as Windows is concerned, a drive mounted as a directory is just a directory, so no extra drive letters are involved. This can also cut down on storage confusion for the average user, and it's easy to do, though it can only be done with NTFS formatted partitions, and obviously the boot partition cannot be used this way, though other partitions can be added to the boot partition.

Also note that shuffling the partition around in this way has no effect on the data stored in it. You can move an NTFS partition from directory to directory, then give it back a drive letter if you choose, while maintaining complete access to the data inside. No reboot is necessary. One other note: If you have installed software on a partition you plan to mount as a directory, it is best to uninstall and reinstall it, since the move may stop the software from working correctly. Windows will warn you about this if you forget my wise words.

To mount a partition as a directory: Open disk manager, the right click on the partition you wish to mount as a directory in the graphical partition window (lower pane). Select 'change drive letter and paths…'

Remove the current option (if any), then click add.

Choose the 'mount in the following empty NTFS folder,' browse to the desired volume and add a directory for your drive. Click 'ok.' That's it.

If you wish to return things back to the way they were, simply repeat the procedure, removing the directory location and choosing a drive letter instead. The data on the drive will be unharmed.

34. Use system restore when you cannot boot your system normally

If your system has failed to the point where you cannot access the Windows GUI either through booting normally or through safe mode, you may still have the chance to use the System Restore feature if you have it enabled, by running it form the command prompt. To do this:

Restart your computer and press F8 after the POST screen to bring up the Windows XP boot menu. Choose 'boot in safe mode with command prompt.'

If your system gets to the command prompt successfully, type '%systemroot%system32restorerstrui.exe' and then press enter. Follow the onscreen instructions to restore your computer to a previous saved point.

35. Stop Windows Messenger from running

If you do not, go to 'startrun' and type 'RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection %windir%INFmsmsgs.inf,BLC.Remove' To remove the program.

36. Disable desktop cleanup wizard

Go to 'startcontrol paneldisplay' and choose the 'desktop' tab. Click the 'customize desktop' button at the bottom. In the 'desktop cleanup' section, clear the 'run desktop cleanup wizard every 60 days' button.

37. Stopping desktop ad popups

To do this: Right click on 'my computer' and select 'manage.' Expand 'services and applications' and click 'services.'

Highlight the 'messenger' service, right click it and select 'properties.'

In the 'general' tab, click the 'stop' button to stop the service, then set the 'startup type' dropdown box to 'disabled.' This will ensure that the messenger service does not load the next time you start your computer. You will no longer get those pop-up messages on your desktop. Enjoy the peace and quiet.

Note that the 'messenger' service has nothing whatsoever to do with Microsoft's 'MSN Messenger' instant messaging program, so don't worry about affecting it with this tip.

38. Locking the desktop

By pressing WINDOWSKEY+L, you password protect your system just as if you had logged out or restarted the computer.

39. Keep Windows operating data in main memory

Open Regedit.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMControlSet001ControlSession ManagerMemory Management.

Select the DisablePagingExecutive value to '1'

40. Clear the Page File (virtual memory) when shutting down XP

Note that enabling this will increase the time it takes your system to shutdown.

Open REGEDIT

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControl Session Manager Memory Management

Modify the ClearPageFileAtShutdown value to '1'

41. Get Rid of XP's annoying balloon tips

Open REGEDIT.

Goto: HKEY_CURRENT_USER Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Explorer Advanced

Add the DWORD value 'EnableBalloonTips' and give it a value of '0'

This will stop all balloon tips from popping up.

42. Adding additional Icons to 'my computer'

Open REGEDIT

Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion

ExplorerMyComputerNameSpace

Add a new key for each icon you wish to add to the 'my computer' window. The key should be named as below:

: Administrative Tools

: Printers and Faxes

: Scheduled Tasks

: Network Connections

: Recycle Bin

: My Network Places

43. Display message on startup

Open REGEDIT.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/ SOFTWARE/ Microsoft/ WindowsNT/ CurrentVersion/ Winlogon

Edit the key 'legalnoticecaption' with the name you wish to call the Window the message pops up in.

Edit the key 'legalnoticetext' with the test you want to put in the message window.

44. Set the default download directory for Internet Explorer

If you would like to change the default download target for Internet Explorer from 'my documents' to some other location on your system, the following quick registry change will do it.

Open REGEDIT

Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftInternet Explorer

Edit the 'download directory' value to the full path of the directory you wish to use.

45. Change the size of thumbnail pictures

Windows XP can be set to display directories full of images as thumbnail pictures in an explorer window. With this handy registry edit, you can change the size of these thumbnails to make them easier to see:

Open REGEDIT

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorer

Create a new DWORD value called 'ThumbnailSize' and give it a value between 32 and 256 with 256 being the largest.

46. Opening a Command Prompt to a Particular Directory from Explorer

One of the annoying features of Windows operating systems in general is that the command prompt is not too well integrated with the desktop. This means that any time you drop to the command prompt, you will have to navigate to the directory you need manually, instead of being able to drop into any folder you want from the desktop interface. Since at some point you will likely find yourself in need of the command prompt to perform some function on your CP system, we thought we'd show you a quick registry hack that will enable you to call up a command prompt from any folder.

Start Regedit.

Navigate to 'HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT Directory shell'

Create a new key called 'Command.'

Edit the default REG_SZ value for this new key with the text you wish to see when you right click a folder to open the command prompt window. Assign it a name that's appropriate, for example: 'open command prompt in this folder' or something similar.

Under the new 'command' key, create another key called 'command.'

Give the default value in this key the value of 'cmd.exe /k 'cd %L''

After you restart your computer, you will be able to right click on any folder and select your new command to instantly open a command prompt window to that specific folder.

47. Disable error reporting on program crash

By default, when a program crashes in Windows XP, A window pop up asking you if you wish to send an error report to Microsoft. This tends to add extra irritation to the already annoying fact of a program crash. To disable this behaviour, a slight registry change is in order:

Open REGEDIT

Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftPCHealthErrorReporting.

Edit the following value:

Value Name: DoReport

Value: 0 to disable the error report prompt.

48. Automatically close non-responsive programs

With a small registry tweak, Windows XP can be set to automatically close any program that 'stops responding' (crashes), eliminating the need for you to use the task manager to close down the offending software manually.

To do this:

Open REGEDIT and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl Panel Desktop

Modify the REG_SZ entry AutoEndTasks with a value of 1

49. Permanently bypass the recycle bin when deleting files

If you would like to permanently delete any file without having to remove it from the recycle bin also, this simple registry tweak sets your Windows XP installation to ignore the recycling bin completely. Note that this means any files you delete will be permanently lost (though still accessible to data recovery software).

Open REGEDIT

Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorer

Create a DWORD value with the following specs:

Value name: NukeOnDelete

Value: 1

If you wish to revert to using the recycle bin, simply enter 0 as the new value.

50. Show administrator account on welcome screen

If you wish the built in administrator account to be available from the welcome screen so you can log in as the administrator easily, there's a registry hack to allow this:

Open REGEDIT

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogonSpecialAccountsUserList

Add the DWORD value 'Administrator' with a value of '1'

51. Enable/Disable Active Window Tracking to Mouse Movements

This interesting registry edit causes the mouse pointer to make windows active simply by moving over them:

Open REGEDIT

Navigate to 'HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelMouse'

Modify the ActiveWindowTracking value to '1'

52. Launch Programs at Login Without Using the Startup Folder

Windows XP also uses the registry to launch programs at startup, and you can too. This tip enables you to specify programs to be launched automatically upon starting Windows:

Open REGEDIT

Navigate to 'HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun'

Create a REG_SZ value named after your program, with the value being the path to the executable file (for example, 'C:myprogrammyprogram.exe').

53. Force windows XP to reboot upon crashing

This registry edit will cause your system to reboot itself automatically upon crashing. This can be useful if you have a reason for keeping your system on 24/7:

Open REGEDIT

Navigate to 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEM

CurrentControlSetControlCrashControl'

Edit the 'AutoReboot' value to '1'

54. Disable admin shares

Windows XP creates a hidden share for every drive on your computer. C$, D$, etc. These shares are accessible only to user accounts with administrative privileges, meaning any account that you created during the installation of windows XP.

Essentially, this means that anyone with a valid username and password from your system can get access to anything on your drives remotely. While this is the number one reason why you should always use good passwords on your Windows user accounts, this feature can be disabled with a little registry tinkering.

To disable the hidden shares:

Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetServiceslanmanserverparameters

Add the Dword value 'AutoShareWks' with a value of '0'

55. Printer Sharing on a Home Network

A quick and easy guide to networking your printer at home without having to buy any extra hardware for the job. - Version 1.2.0

Bookmark this PCstats guide for future reference.

Printers are essential modern conveniences, connecting with your computer to offer you the power of a small copy shop in your living room. However, printers can rapidly become inconvenient if the other members of your household have to transport the files they want to print to a certain computer in order to print them. Wouldn't it be much better if every computer in the house or office could print directly?

In this short but sweet guide, PCstats will look at how to make a printer available over your home network using Windows XP's built-in sharing abilities. Since most of us use USB or parallel connected printers, we are going to assume that this is the same for you. This article assumes that you have a printer correctly installed on a Windows XP computer and a working network connection to at least one other computer. If you need help in setting up your home network, be sure to read PCstats in depth guide to Home Networking and Wireless Networking before getting started here.

Preparing for sharing

First things firstplease make sure you have the latest drivers installed for your particular printer. Check the manufacturer's website for updated versions if you are unsure. Though they may not be necessary, download drivers for all the operating systems present on your network. Place the XP printer drivers in an easy to remember location, or on a disk or CD since you my need them even after you install them.

To set up a printer for sharing we'll first need to share your current printer, meaning we will make it available to the other computers on your home (wired or wireless) ethernet network.

Go to 'start/control panel' and choose 'printers and other hardware' then 'view installed printers or fax printers.'

Right click on the printer you wish to share and select 'sharing…'

Choose the 'share this printer' option and give the printer a share name. Note that this name will be used to locate and identify the printer over the network, so it should have no more than 8 letters and no spaces or characters.

56.Alternate method of locating a printer

If you cannot find the printer by using the 'browse' option as described above, you can find the location directly by using this method. Type (computername)(printername) into the 'network path' or 'connect to this printer' box. Where 'computername' is the name of the system attached to the printer (find this by right clicking on 'my computer,' selecting 'properties' then the 'computer name' tab) and 'printername' is the name you gave the printer when you shared it.

For example, if your printer was 'deskjet' and your computer name was 'mybox,' type myboxdeskjet into the search field. If this method fails, see the troubleshooting section below. Once you have located the printer on the network (and installed any necessary drivers) you are ready to test it. Go into the properties of the printer and print a test page. If everything works, you are done. If not, see our troubleshooting section for some common solutions to problems.

Troubleshooting: Windows XP security configuration

Due to the user-based security of Windows XP, you may run into difficulties accessing your printer from other computers. This can happen when the other systems are using older versions of Windows like 98 or ME, and it can also happen if you have disabled Windows XP's simple file and printer sharing system or the 'guest' user account.

The problem is that Windows XP will not allow access to the printer without a legitimate user account and password. If you are trying to connect to a shared folder over the network, you will get a dialog box which allows you to enter this information, but this will not work for printing. Every system that tries to send documents to your printer will need a user name and password that the XP computer attached to it recognizes.

XP contains a 'guest' account which will allow remote users 'anonymous' access to your shared printer, but on XP professional this account may be disabled. If you are having problems creating the network printer on your systems, or if you have already created the printer, but cannot print to it, follow these steps.

On the Windows XP computer attached to the printer, take the following steps:

1. Ensure that the 'guest' account is active (this is only necessary on XP Professional. The guest account is always active in XP Home):

Right click on 'my computer' and select 'manage.' Expand 'local users and groupsusers.' Right click on the 'guest' account and select 'properties.' Ensure that the 'account is disabled' checkbox is clear.

2. Ensure that simple file sharing is enabled (again, this is only necessary with XP Professional systems):

Open 'my computer.' Select 'toolsfolder options.' Choose the 'view' tab and scroll down until you find the 'use simple file sharing' checkbox. Ensure it is checked.

3. The final solution is to add a user account and password for every system in your network into the XP computer connected to the printer. For example, say you have two additional computers in your home, one running Windows 2000 with the username 'ricky' and the password 'trailer' and the other using Windows 98 with the username 'jim' and no password. You will need to create the user accounts 'ricky' and 'jim' on your Windows XP system, complete with the appropriate password (or lack of password).

When the other computers attempt to access your computer, they will present their current username and password as credentials. Since this will match with the accounts you just created on the XP machine, they will be able to access the printer.






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