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Enhancing Computer Speed When Running

W95/W98

THIS DOCUMENT DOES NOT REPRESENT A POSITION OF SEATTLE COMMUNITY NETWORK. This is personal opinion of the author, and SCN doesn't even take a position as to its accuracy! The official SCN help page is linked above.

This document was written to augment Setting Maximum Modem Speed. It contains information on:

  1. Increasing operational speed of computers running W95/98;
  2. Setting up an on-disk cache swap file;
  3. Get rid of disk noise which results from Windows swap file management;
  4. Preparing a computer for multiple operating systems, including Linux;
  5. Partitioning the disk drive.
  6. Getting rid of NetBEUI on a peer-peer network

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list for fine tuning Windows. There are several sites for speeding Windows, including Windows Annoyances, www.creativelement.com/win95ann/. Things not covered include:



Fixed Swap File

For some reason, Windows has a swap file manager which seems to continuously adjust the swap file. This makes no sense, and is sort of like using Windows to manage the swap file (:
It would make more sense to

  1. Determine the optimum swap file size
  2. Set the swap file to that size. Period, full stop.

Okay, here's what you need. According to someone who wrote a Linux HOWTO on the subject, the optimum W95/98 swap file is twice the memory size of your 'puter. Thus if you have a 'puter with 64 Meg of ram (not including cache), you set the swap file to 128 Meg. It is also recommended that this swap file be placed on a separate partitioned drive. Technically, you're setting up a LRU swap file.

That's it.

I don't know if having a 4x swap file is more or less beneficial, but the above works and I never bothered to benchmark a 4x swap file, but it does seem slower on the one box we have set up that way. Maybe I'll have someone running a CAD program benchmark it.

The Windows Annoyances people suggest a swap file of 2.5x memory but I disagree with them. It may work just as well because of the way Windows handles replacement in the swap file. Nevertheless there is a difference in opinion here:

How to do it a simple way with only one drive:

  1. In 'My Computer', click 'Properties'.
  2. The first tab will list the size of RAM memory under the heading 'Computer'
  3. Click on last tab ('Performance')
  4. Click on 'Virtual Memory' button.
  5. In 'Virtual Memory', select 'Let me select my own virtual memory settings.'
  6. Select as the minimum and maximum a size equal to twice the size of your RAM memory.
  7. When you click 'okay', Windows will warn you that this will blow up your computer. Ignore this warning and live dangerously.
  8. If you know how, defrag the swap file. Information is at Windows Annoyances, www.creativelement.com/win95ann/

How to do it an improved way with only one drive:

  1. In 'My Computer', click 'Properties'.
  2. The first tab will list the size of RAM memory under the heading 'Computer'
  3. Click on last tab ('Performance')
  4. Click on 'Virtual Memory' button.
  5. Select 'Disable virtual memory (not recommended)'. This is only temporary. CAUTION: W98 may not start without the swap file. I don't know if it is possible to work around this problem.
  6. Defrag your disk.
  7. Defrag your disk again. This should be quick the second time around.
  8. Now you're ready to set up a swap file which will have a minimum of fragmentation. It will have a fixed size and therefore should not fragment.
  9. In 'Virtual Memory', select 'Let me select my own virtual memory settings.'
  10. Select as the minimum and maximum a size equal to twice the size of your RAM memory.
  11. When you click 'okay', Windows will warn you that this will blow up your computer. Ignore this warning and live dangerously.
  12. Reboot your computer before working with your files.

How to do it right:

  1. Partition a logical (or extended) drive which is one increment above your maximum anticipated RAM memory. If you have 32 MB of memory, but may go to 128 Meg, then your swap file drive should be twice 128 Meg +1, or 257 Meg. The reason for the '+1' is that W95/98 allocates some space for disk management. If you run low on disk space, the extra space on the 'swap file' drive can still be used for data.
  2. In 'Recycle Bin', click 'Properties'.
  3. Select 'Configure Drives Independently'.
  4. Click on the drive you selected for the swap file.
  5. Select 'Do not move files to Recycle Bin'.
  6. Reboot computer for this change to take effect. You may have to reboot more than once to clear out the Recycle Bin.
  7. (and now set up a fixed swap file ...)
  8. In 'My Computer', click 'Properties'.
  9. Click on last tab ('Performance')
  10. Click on 'Virtual Memory' button.
  11. In 'Virtual Memory', select 'Let me select my own virtual memory settings.'
  12. In 'Hard Disk', select your swap drive.
  13. Select as the minimum and maximum a size equal to twice the size of your RAM memory. Select the maximum size of your present memory, since you can always increase the size of the swap file later if you add more RAM.
  14. When you click 'okay', Windows will warn you that this will blow up your computer. Ignore this warning and live dangerously.

Yet Another Way if you are Stuck with One Drive:

  1. follow the instructions under How to do it a simple way with only one drive, above.
  2. Go to Windows Annoyances, www.creativelement.com/win95ann/ and follow their instructions on defragging the swap file.

Oh yes, the above will get rid of the annoying disk seek clicking that's characteristic of W95/98.

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Partitioning Your Drive - Fresh Drive Without Data

If you have a new computer, or otherwise are ready to reload everything, just use FDISK at the command prompt. Making changes will trash data on that disk, but you'll get warnings from FDISK. FDISK/? and other commands can be executed fairly safely.

A Microsoft W95/98 manual will explain maximum disk sizes and the use of FAT32 formatting. The Windows manual also gives maximum partition sizes for small block sizes and efficient disk usage. Linux now can read FAT32, so you can go with FAT32 or stick with FAT16. I personally do not believe there is an advantage to running FAT32.

As I understand it, each physical drive can be configured to have one primary and one extended partition. The extended partition can have a limited number of logical partitions. You can have only one extended partition when running DOS FDISK (used by Windows).

The drive letters default to, in order starting with "C:":

Primary Partition of first physical hard drive
Primary Partition of next physical hard drive, etc.
Subsequent Partitions of first physical hard drive
Subsequent Partitions of second physical hard drive
etc.
CD-ROM
network drives
BUT there are variations.

The FDISK procedure is as follows:

  1. Go to command prompt. Usually <F8> during reboot.
  2. Type FDISK
  3. Delete existing partitions.
  4. Configure a primary partition. I prefer to avoid FAT32 and use FAT16 instead.
  5. Make the primary partition active. You can probably get away with making an extended or logical partition active but you must make at least one partition active, or you will not be able to boot from the disk. (The error is "Operating system not found." If you get this error, just go back into FDISK and define the active partition.)
  6. Configure an extended partition of the remaining diskspace.
  7. Configure logical partitions within the extended partition.
  8. You need to format the partitions before using them, and load the "system" onto the primary partition. The system is loaded with the DOS command "format /s C" or by the separate command "sys C:" (for C: drive)
  9. Reload OS (Windows)


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Partitioning Your Drive - Data on Drive

You will need a partition management program like FIPS. FIPS is freeware, and is accessible by searching for "FIPS AND partition" or "FIPS AND Linux" (not the email program by the same name). PartitionMagic is a commercial program which performs this function.

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NetBEUI

This gem is a holdover from "Chicago", which is the beta version of Windows95. NetBEUI was a communications protocol used by Windows3.1 for workgroups. In order for a computer with "Chicago" to talk with the Win3.1 computers in a peer-to-peer setting, it had to accept NetBEUI. All would have been well if NetBEUI was not a default.

The disadvantage of NetBEUI is that it has difficulty when another host is rebooted or otherwise goes off-line. TCP/IP and IPX/SPX is generally more robust. IPX/SPX requires a network server such as Novell.

If you don't have any Windows3.1 computers, then delete NetBEUI. I believe this must be done with all computers on the network or the remaining NetBEUI computers will not find the computers which don't have the NetBEUI protocol.

On Dialup Internet Connections, uncheck "NetBEUI" and "IPS". These are used for LAN (network) connections. The internet uses TCP/IP only. Also uncheck "logon to network" and disable file compression if your primary purpose is to browse. This is because most files except the HTML text and email are already compressed.

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Preparing a computer for multiple operating systems, including Linux

This is covered above, under Partitioning Your Drive - Fresh Drive Without Data.


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