Sunday, June 5, 2011

XP Changes

Disable Windows XP's splash screen
 
The Windows XP splash screen is designed to hide all of the behind the scenes boot information that is ordinarily never needed to view. However, if you need to troubleshoot a startup problem, it may be necessary to view this information to determine the trouble. To find out, you can disable the splash screen by making a small change to the Boot.ini file. Follow the steps below:
  1. Press [Windows+Break key] to open the System Properties dialog box.
  2. On the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup And Recovery section.
  3. In the Startup And Recovery dialog box, select the Edit button in the System Startup section.
  4. The Boot.ini file will open in Notepad; locate the line that ends with the /fastdetect switch.
  5. Position your cursor right after the parameter, press the spacebar, and add the /SOS switch.
  6. Save the Boot.ini file, and close Notepad.
  7. Click Cancel to close both the Startup And Recovery dialog box and the System Properties dialog box.
  8. Restart the system.
When the system restarts, the splash screen will no longer appear. You can observe some of the operations that Windows XP performs during the startup stage.
To revive the splash screen, simply repeat the above steps to edit the Boot.ini file and remove the /SOS switch.

Break out of a continuous reboot loop
 
If your system is stuck on a continuous reboot, you can disable the automatic restart behavior. Follow these steps:
  1. Press [Windows][Break] to open the System Properties dialog box.
  2. On the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup And Recovery section.
  3. In the System Failure section, deselect the Automatically Restart check box, and click OK.
  4. To enable the changes, click OK in the System Properties dialog box.
This change configures the system to halt after encountering a system failure error, which allows you to investigate the problem error in more detail. You'll then have to manually restart the system.
Keep in mind that you'll have to work fast in order to make the change before the system reboots. You may have better luck making the change if you launch the system in Safe Mode.

Create an XP Start Disk
To create an XP Start Disk:
  1. Place a blank floppy diskette into your floppy drive.
  2. Open Windows Explorer.
  3. Right click on the floppy drive icon.
  4. Select "Format..." from the resulting menu options.
  5. Tick the box that states "Create an MS-DOS Startup Disk".
  6. Select "Start".
Windows will start creating your disk.  This should only take a minute or so. Be sure to label it before putting it away.

Add Safe Mode to Boot Menu
 
Safe Mode is most commonly used for troubleshooting purposes. If you find yourself booting to safe mode often. You may find it helpful to include the option for safe mode in your boot menu. Below, is a method you can use to save yourself from having to press F8 during startup to access Safe Mode:
  1. Right click My Computer and click Properties.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. Under Start Up and Recovery, click the Settings button.
  4. Click Edit. The boot.ini file will open in Notepad.
  5. Copy the line that reads as follows: multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect.
  6. Paste the line you just copied after the original one.
  7. Change the copied line from "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" to "Windows XP Safe Mode" or something similar.
  8. At the end of this line add the following: /safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog.
  9. Save the boot.ini file by clicking File then Save.
  10. Restart your computer and Safe Mode should be available at the boot menu.
Note: Your actual Boot.INI may vary to a small degree.  The above is an example only.  Be sure to copy your boot.ini file prior to making any changes to it.

Delete invalid entries from MSCONFIG Startup Menu

MSCONFIG is a commonly used program used to manage the programs installed on your system. As you've probably noticed, you cannot delete entries from the list. Even if you have completely removed a program from your system, it still may show up in MSCONFIG's startup list. To delete invalid entries from here, you will need either a 3rd party program or edit the Windows Registry. Prior to deleting entries in the Windows Registry, please make a backup copy. Follow the instructions below to remove the invalid entries:

1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
2. Navigate to the following registry keys:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\Startupreg

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\Startupfolder

3. Expand the "Startupreg" entry by clicking the "+" symbol. You will now notice all of the disabled items below. Do the same for the "Startupfolder" entry.
4. Once you have located the invalid entry(s), right click and delete.


Icon Spacing on Desktop

Icons displayed on the desktop are spaced according to values defined in the display properties. To change these values, perform the following steps: 
  1. Start the Display Control Panel applet (go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, and click Display). 
  2. Select the Appearance tab. 
  3. Under Item, select Icon Spacing (Horizontal) and modify the size. 
  4. Select Icon Spacing (Vertical) and modify the size.
  5. Click OK to close all dialog boxes. 
Note: For the change to take effect, you need to unselect Auto Arrange from the Arrange Icons context menu that displays when you right-click the desktop.

Create a Personal Screensaver

If you would like to create a personal screensaver, here's how:
  1. Right click an empty spot on the desktop
  2. Select Properties>> Screensaver tab.
  3. From the screensaver dropdown list, select 'My Pictures Slideshow'.
  4. Click Settings to adjust picture size, display speed and transition effects.
Pictures are randomly displayed from the My Pictures folder located in My Documents.

Clearing the Page File on Shutdown

To save on Random Access Memory (RAM), Windows uses your Page File as a sort of cache. This can slow down your PC's overall performance. To remedy this situation, Windows XP has an option that allows users to clear the Page File when you shut down Windows. While this tweak tends to lengthen the shutdown time, it does have its performance benefits.
To set the computer to clear the page file without directly editing the registry is:
  1. Click on the Start button
  2. Go to the Control Panel
  3. Administrative Tools
  4. Local Security Policy
  5. Local Policies
  6. Click on Security Options
  7. Right hand menu - right click on "Shutdown: Clear Virtual Memory Pagefile"
  8. Select "Enable"
  9. Reboot
To clear the page file using the Windows Registry:
Be sure to make a backup copy of your registry prior to making any changes to it.
1.       Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
2.       Navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management
3.       Click once on the entry titled: "Memory Management". Its contents will now appear in the right pane.
4.       In the right pane. Locate an entry titled: "ClearPageFileAtShutdown". Right click this entry and select "Modify".
5.       Chance the Value to "1". This will enable this feature.
6.       Exit the Windows Registry and reboot your system when prompted.

Enable/Disable Error Reporting in Windows XP

In an effort to make Windows XP a better and more stable operating system, Microsoft has included Error Reporting in the latest release. Whenever an application has to close because of an error, it asks that a report be sent to Microsoft for study and evaluation. Sending the report is optional, but users can benefit from the error log that is generated if they wish to study it or print a hard copy. If you find error reporting objectionable and want it disabled, here's how:
By default, WindowsXP will request to report application errors to Microsoft. To turn this off:
  1. Right click on the My Computer icon on the desktop 
  2. Select Properties / Advanced 
  3. Click on the Error Reporting tab 
  4. Check Disable error reporting
Disabling the Indexing Service
 
Speed Up Windows XP by Disabling the Indexing Service:

The Indexing service can create an index of all the files and the content of many of those files in order to make finding things much faster. While Windows XP's heart is in the right place, this sounds better than it is in practice. The Indexing service is more effective in its ability to slow down your computer than its ability to speed file searches. Here's how to disable the Indexing service:
  1. Click Start and click the Run command.
  2. In the Open text box, type services.msc and click OK. 
  3. In the right pane of the Services console, find the Indexing Service. A quick way to get there is to click on the first entry in the right pane and then press the "I" key on the keyboard.
  4. Double click on the Indexing Service entry.
  5. In the Indexing Service Properties dialog box, click the down arrow in the Start type drop down list box and select Manual.
  6. If the service is started, you can stop it now by clicking the Stop button.
You don't need to restart the computer. The next time the computer starts, the Indexing service will not run automatically.

Remove Unwanted Entries in Startup (MSCONFIG)
 
Start >> Run. Type in : regedit  [Enter]
Navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\services
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupfolder
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\shared Tools\MSConfig\startupreg

Warning: Improper use of the Windows registry can cause severe problems within your operating system. Be sure to back up the registry prior to making any changes.

Clear Corrupt Event Log Files

A handy Administrative tool for troubleshooting is the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). When viewing your event logs in the Event Viewer, you may come across one or more corrupt log files. Here is how you can clear these corrupt log files:
  1. Go to Start>> Administrative Tools>> Event Viewer
  2. With the Event Viewer open, locate the corrupt log file.
  3. Right click the corrupt log file and select Properties.
  4. Click the "Clear" button.
Note: It is not possible to rename or delete log files while the Event Log service is running.

Speed up the Start Menu

The tweak below requires making a change in the Windows Registry. Be sure to make a backup copy of the registry prior to making any changes.
  1. Click Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
  2. In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
  3. Single left click the "Desktop" entry to empty its contents in to the right pane.
  4. Scroll the right pane to locate an entry titled: MenuShowDelay
  5. Double click MenuShowDelay.
  6. Change the "value data" number. The default delay value for the start menu is 400. Select a lesser number to speed this process. I've got mine set to 0.
  7. Click OK and exit the Registry Editor.
Repair Option on a Local Area Network or High-Speed Internet Connection

In the latest versions of Windows, you are given a repair option when you right-click a network connection in the Network Connections window. Below, you will find exactly what Windows does, in order, when you tell it to repair a network connection:
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) lease is renewed (ipconfig /renew)
  • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) cache is flushed (arp -d *)
  • Reload of the NetBIOS name cache (nbtstat -R)
  • NetBIOS name update is sent (nbtstat -RR)
  • Domain Name System (DNS) cache is flushed (ipconfig /flushdns)
  • DNS name registration (ipconfig /registerdns)
  • IEEE 802.1X Authentication Restart (WinXP SP1 or later)
Note: The bit in parenthesis is the actual command that is issued, which you can perform yourself from a command prompt. 

How to Easily Create a Partition on Your Hard Disk with XP

If you've moved up from Windows 95 or 98 to Windows XP, one big thing you'll notice is that creating new partitions doesn't have to be done from the command line any more. Windows XP makes it easy to create a new partition using the graphical disk management tool. Here's how: 
  1. Turn off your computer and install your new hard disk. It's unlikely that you have any unpartitioned space on which to create a new partition on the drive already in the machine, so you'll need to add a new drive. New drives typically don't come preformatted, so you'll need to create your own partitions and format them. 
  2. Start your computer and logon as an administrator. Click Start and then click the Run command. In the Open text box type: diskmgmt.msc and click OK. 
  3. A Wizard will appear when the Disk Management console opens. Go through the Wizard's steps and allow it to initialize the new disk, but do not allow the Wizard to convert the disk from basic to dynamic. 
  4. You will see, on the left side of the console, disk icons that represent "Disk 0", "Disk 1," etc. Your new disk should be the one with the highest number. The size of the disk should be listed, and the word "Unallocated" should be just under the size. Right click where it shows the size of the disk and click the New Partition command. 
  5. Click Next on the New Partition Wizard Welcome page. 
  6. On the Select Partition Type page, click on both of the options and read the Descriptions. We'll assume here you're creating a primary partition. Select Primary partition and click Next. 
  7. On the Specify Partition Size page, type in the size of the partition. Depending on what you want to use the disk for, you might want to create more than one partition. Type in the size of the new partition in the Partition size in MB text box and click Next. 
  8. On the Assign Drive Letter or Path page, you can bind the partition to a drive letter or mount it in an empty NTFS folder. In this example, you'll do it the old fashioned way and assign the partition a new drive letter. Select the drive letter and click Next. 
  9. You need to format the partition to use it. Always use NTFS unless you need to allow other operating systems on the same machine to access the drive. You can use the defaults, or customize the Allocation unit size based on the types of applications you want to run on the disk. Click Next. 
  10. Click Finish. 
Note: You'll see the drive being formatted. You can use the partition after the formatting is complete. You don't even need to restart.

Reinstall Internet Explorer
To Reinstall Internet Explorer 6:

1) Insert the Windows XP CD

2) Open Start / Run and type: rundll32.exe 

Repairing IE / OE In Windows XP

If you are having any of the following problems, you may find that repairing your Internet Explorer / Outlook Express application may help.
  1. If you click a hyperlink in an email message:
  • A blank page opens
  • The hyperlink does not function at all
  • You receive an error message
  1. Unable to type in text boxes in a search engine or website.
  2. Address bar search does not work.
  3. Or, if you encounter various error messages while browsing.
To fix most problems concerning IE/OE:

Go to Start>> Run. Type in:

rundll32.exe setupapi,InstallHinfSection DefaultInstall 132 %windir%\inf\ie.inf  [Enter]

(for accuracy, it is best to copy and paste the entire above command)

Or, you can repair IE/OE manually:

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x Repair for Windows XP:
  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: sfc /scannow [Enter]
(Notice the space between sfc and /scannow)
  1. Follow the onscreen prompts during the System File Checker process.
  2. Reboot your machine when completed.
Recover your XP Password

If you have forgotten your XP password, there is a small utility that will recover it for you:

http://www.lostpassword.com/windows-xp-2000-nt.htm

CD/DVD Drive Not Detected

Before Windows can see your Drive, it first has to appear in the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). When getting error messages from Windows that state the CD or DVD drive is not detected, check to make sure it appears in the BIOS. Here's how:
  1. Boot up your PC.
  2. At the first logo screen, press F1 repeatedly until you see the BIOS setup screen.
  3. Using the left and right arrows to navigate, select Main (usually at the top left).
  4. The CD or DVD Drive name should be listed next to Primary Slave, Secondary Slave or Secondary Master.
  5. Navigate to Exit and exit without saving changes.
If it is listed in the BIOS but the CD/DVD Drive no longer functions, then a ribbon cable could have come loose. If that is not the case either, try uninstalling the device in Device Manager. Here's how:
  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> System>> Hardware tab>> Device Manager button.
  2. In Device Manager, locate and expand the entry titled "DVD/CD-ROM drives".
  3. Right click the appropriate drive and select "Uninstall" from the resulting menu.
  4. When prompted, confirm that you would like to remove the selected device.
  5. At the "Action" menu, select "Scan for hardware changes".
  6. Click out of the Device Manager and the Control Panel.
If none of the above has worked, it is likely that your CD or DVD Drive no longer functions. Replace the drive with a compatible drive. See your manufactures web site for details.

Using Remote Desktop 
 
Windows XP Professional has a feature that will allow you to create your own virtual private network connection by remotely connecting two Windows XP Pro computers, and you can do this without installing any software.

To use the remote desktop feature, follow these steps:
  1. HOST: On the host computer, right click My Computer>> Remote>> Check the checkbox "Allow users to connect remotely to this computer"
  2. CLIENT: If you use Windows XP, the client software is already pre-installed. Go to Start Menu>> All Applications>> Accessories>> Communications >> Remote Desktop Connection.
  3. CLIENT: If you use a pre-Windows XP system, you have to run msrdpcli.exe from the \support\tools folder of the Windows XP Professional installation CD.
  4. CLIENT: When the Remote Desktop Connection box appears, enter the IP address of the HOST and click "Connect".
Off-Line Web Browsing

Here is a feature that I have personally never used, but I have always had a reliable Internet connection. If you are not so lucky, then you may find this feature useful at times. To configure IE for offline browsing:
  1. Open up the web site of choice and click the Favorites button. 
  2. Select Add to Favorites...
  3. Tick the box that reads; "Make available offline" 
Note: If you would like to be able view even linked pages of this selected web site, you can click the "Customize" button and follow the Offline Favorite Wizard to help you determine how much content you would like to make available offline.
  1. Select a favorites folder to place it in
  2. Click OK
To remove a web page from offline browsing:
  1. Select Tools>> Synchronize...
  2. De-select the check box next to the web page you would like to remove
  3. Click Close
The de-selected web page will no longer show in this menu when re-entered.

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