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Monday, January 22, 2001

Tips & Tricks for Windows

TIPS and tricks in Windows play a major role in helping you use computer optimally in terms of performance, and utility. Normally we do not try and explore either the computer or the operating system for boosting the over all performance. Tips and tricks related to Windows can give improve the performance of the computer.

In the last issue we discussed some Tips and Tricks for Windows. Some more useful tips and tricks are here under:

Normally, people do their best to boost the performance of the hard disk by having appropriate partitions and also by defragging it from time to time. But one does not give due attention to the other storage device present on the computer, i.e. the CD-ROM. The performance of the CD-ROM matters a lot if you use the CD writer or you normally take back-up of your critical data on CD. Otherwise, in all other cases, where you use the CD-ROM for loading programs, accessing data listening music, you need better CD-ROM performance. In all such cases, you need to go beyond the default settings and boost the overall performance of the CD-ROM. Following this procedure can boost the performance of the CD-ROM — In control panel, click on the System icon and then click on Performance. Now select File System and the CD-ROM tab. Move the supplemental cache size slider to the right to allocate more RAM for caching data from the CD-ROM drive, or to the left to allocate less. Multimedia programs perform better with a smaller cache because they seldom reuse data. For reading continuous data, such as AVI files, use a higher setting for optimise access pattern. For reading random data, increase the supplemental cache size and decrease the optimise access pattern.


Another issue related to the CD-ROM is regarding auto-run of the CD. Normally, you will come across many CDs, which have auto-run feature. Thus when you put the CD in the CD-ROM and shut the door, the CD starts running automatically. Though this might be useful in some cases yet in a majority of other cases it results into a lot of inconvenience. For example, if you just want to see the content of a CD, then you can do so, by looking into the contents from Windows Explorer. However, if the CD starts under the auto-run mode, then it creates a lot of problems.
To disable auto-run, right click on My Computer on the computer screen and from the drop-down menu, choose the last option, i.e. Properties. Now from the System Properties dialog, select the Device Manager tab. Now open the CD-ROM branch (double-click on it), and select the entry for the CD-ROM drive. Then click on the properties and select the Settings tab. Here you will find the option of Auto-run. You must uncheck the Auto insert notification check box and then click on Apply or OK as the case may be and then close all windows. This will prompt you to restart your computer. Choose to restart Windows as this feature would be enabled only after the Windows has been restarted again. After restarting, the Auto-run feature of the CD-ROM would get disabled but will allow you start the programs contained in the CD by clicking on the appropriate icon on the CD Drive.

Well! This was something about improving the performance of CD-ROM. There are some Tips, which can improve the overall performance of Windows operating system and thus your computer. The RAM in a computer is an important part, which is critical to the overall performance of the PC. No matter how much RAM you put in the system, unless it is configured to be used optimally, you cannot derive maximum performance. Normally some part of the RAM is blocked in some unproductive resources, which can be freed to boost the overall performance of the computer. For example, when you start your computer, then as a normal routine Windows load a number of other programs also in the background, which are hardly ever used, but use many valuable resources. Some of these programs are FindFast, Office Startup etc. As a part of tuning up the computer, you can disable some of these programs and tune the computer well by freeing up some memory. In order to disable these programs, click Start and Run. Now type ‘msconfig’ in the box and press Enter. Click on the Startup Tab. Here you will find a list of all background programs started when Windows boots up. You can, now, select programs like FindFast and Office Startup and disable them to boost the overall performance of the computer. Remember the minimum number of such programs, will eventually boost the performance of computer. You can also disable other programs, from the menu, which you think are unproductive and are not required by you. However, here you are needed to be extra careful as choosing wrong application may even lead to crashing of your system.

This was regarding boosting the overall performance of the computer. This chapter cannot close unless we also discuss the measures to boost the performance of the Internet. Since the Internet is one of the major usages, measures related to boosting the overall Internet performance are important. Regarding the performance of the Internet, it is important to know that the actual performance of the Internet, both in terms of speed and stability of connection depends a lot on external factors, like line condition and quality of the ISP. All external factors are beyond a person’s control. However, to make the best use of the available resources some internal settings, also known as tips and tricks, help a lot. One such trick is to reduce the Log on time, while connecting to an ISP server. It is normally seen that computers take 10 seconds to over a minute to log on to the Windows, while connecting to the ISP server. This is unproductive time and can be saved by minor settings. Moreover, it will speed up the process of connecting to the Internet. Thus, to reduce the logging on time, open the Dial-Up Networking folder, right-click on the Icon, which represents the connection for your ISP and choose Properties. Now choose Server Type, then select Advanced Options. Uncheck "Log on to network." Under Allowed Network Protocols, uncheck NetBEUI and IPX/SPX Compatible. Leave the network protocols as they are for remote-access connections. However, the check box for TCP/IP should remain check marked. Now click OK and close all Windows. On dialling your ISP, you will find faster connectivity to the ISP server.

Another setting, which is also important for the good performance of the computer and also the Net, is related to putting a cap on the Internet temporary files. Since these files are unproductive and uses a lot of valuable resources, both in terms of hard disk and RAM, thus putting a cap on the overall size of the temp files would also help in getting better performance. You can do this by opening the Internet Explorer and clicking on Tools menu. This will open a drop down list of sub menus. Now click on Internet Options. This will open a new Window by the name on Internet options on the computer screen. Now click on General Tab and then click on settings in the temporary Internet Files section. Now here you will find a slider bar, which restricts the size of temporary Internet files. By default this figure is set as 10 MB. You can reduce this space to any amount you think appropriate by taking into considerations your requirement. Similarly in Netscape Navigator, select Edit/Preferences, click on the Plus sign next to the Advanced item in the left pane, then click on Cache. Adjust the settings for Memory Cache and Disk Cache to suit your needs. Thus, in this way you can save a lot of space on your hard disk.

— Roli


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