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101 Tips & Tricks To PC Performance

This is the second-oldest article on this site. I have left it herefor old times' sake. If you use Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000 or Windows XP, you may find this article useful.

  1. Choice of CPU: Buy an AMD or Via CPU; not an Intel. When you buy Intel, you help a company that is already a near monopoly. Several times in the past, Intel has abused both the customer (forcing expensive technolgies such as RD-RAM) and the market (threatening OEMs and pursuing other anti-competitive marketing practices). At one point, they forced Hewlett Packard not to take free delivery of over a hundred thousand CPUs from AMD. When you buy a non-Intel processor, you help competition and your own interest in the long term. Competition ultimately leads to lower prices. Without competition, Intel CPUs would be more expensive than they are now.
  2. Choice of Motherboard: Thanks to the HyperTransport technology developed by AMD, motherboards of their CPUs are at a level higher than than Intel motherboards. Intel motherboard still use the obsolete front-side bus (FSB) technology to provide a connection between the CPU and the RAM (memory) modules. In the AMD platform, the CPU has an integrated memory controller which directly accesses the memory modules. Hence, memory operations are not bottlenecked by the FSB. Also, motherboard chipsets for AMD processors are being made by many third-party vendors (like VIA, nVidia, and ATI) who add their own expertise and performance increments to the motherboards. Intel jealously guards the chipset market for their CPUs and hence all innovations have to come from Intel.
  3. IDE Drives Setup: Most motherboards have to IDE connectors allowing you to connect up to four IDE devices (hard disks and CD/DVD drives). Each connector can connect to two IDE devices in a master/slave combination. If you have just two devices, say a hard disk and a CD drive, connect them separately to the two IDE connectors. If you have a CD drive and CD-RW drive, connect them both to an IDE connection with the CD writer as the master and the CD drive as the slave.
  4. Autostart CDs: To prevent a CD from autostarting when it is inserted, hold down the Shift key until Windows Explorer recognises the disk. Use Xteq X-Setup or TweakUI to permanently disable autostart behavior for CD/DVD drives.
  5. Power Supply and Cabinet: PC components like the CPU and the graphic card consume a lot of power. So, make sure your PC cabinet has a power supply rated at a minimum of 350W. Also, make sure the cabinet has provisions for two extra fans (one in the front and one in the back). The power supply comes with a fan, which also tries to takes some hot air off the CPU through a grill placed just above the CPU. This grill needs to properly spaced out, be big enough and ideally located to provide effective cooling. Almost all PC cabinets today support the ATX standard, which will allow software to shut the PC down. In Windows 9x/Me/2000/XP, select Enable hibernation under the Hibernate tab of the Power Options applet in Control Panel. A new Hibernate option will now be available in the Shutdown Windows menu.
  6. COM Ports: If you use a serial mouse, then connect it to the COM1 port as this is the first port that the OS checks when it is looking for a mouse. You can connect your dialup modem to COM2.
  7. CNR Port: This port (known as Audio Modem Riser or AMR in older motherboards) can be used to add a specially made low-cost peripheral replacement. The replacement is far cheaper than a separate sound card or modem.
  8. Fans: If your cabinet allows it, install additional fans for extra cooling.
  9. Dust: Remove dust regularly from the insides of your cabinet and prevent them from forming a coating over the motherboard and other parts.
  10. Driver updates: Manufacturers of PC components release new driver updates to fix problems associated with their products. Check their websites for these releases and keep your machine updated.
  11. BIOS Backup: Sometimes the BIOS program on your motherboard can become corrupt and your PC will not function properly. So, you need to always keep a backup of a good version of the BIOS on a floppy disc. If something ever goes wrong with the BIOS, you can flash (overwrite) it with your backup. The software used to backup or flash the BIOS is usually available on the motherboard driver CD or on the motherboard/BIOS manufacturer's website. Refer the motherboard manual for step-by-step instructions on using the BIOS flash software.
  12. Do not Detect Absent Devices: When a PC is started, the BOIS checks all available ports/connectors on the motherboard to identify devices attached to them. Usually, not all of these ports/connectors have devices attached to them and bootup time gets unnecessarily prolonged. For example, even if you have only one IDE drive on your PC, the BIOS will still check the other three IDE connectors. To avoid this delay, enter the BIOS Setup program and change the settings to Disabled or None for these ports/connectors. However, when you add new hardware components, make sure to change their BIOS setting to Auto so that they get properly detected.
  13. Supervisor Password: To prevent your BIOS settings from being changed by anyone else, set a Supervisor password in the BIOS and do not set the user password.
  14. User password: If you want to prevent access to anyone else, then set the User password.
  15. Remote access: If you often travel with a laptop PC, you might have felt the need to connect to your desktop PC at home. All you need to remotely access your home PC is a telephone connection. In the power settings section of the BIOS, set the PC to wake up on external modem act. When you leave home, keep the modem powered on, the PC switched off, and the power line connected. Use your laptop to dial your home number. When your modem at home receives the call, the PC will switch itself on. You can then use software-based networking to retrieve files from your machine. You can also use the same principle to send faxes to your PC and make it work like a fax machine. To shut down your the desktop PC remotely, you can simply rely on OS power schemes or use a remote access software.
  16. Boot sequence: After you have installed your OS, set your hard disk first in the boot-up sequence with the CD drive and the floppy following it in that order.
  17. Quick Power On Self Test: Keep this enabled and save on boot-up time.
  18. Boot Up Floppy Seek: Keep this disabled.
  19. PCI Expansion Cards: PCI add-on cards will not work properly if there is IRQ sharing conflict. Refer the motherboard manual for an IRQ number that has been designated as for PCI IRQ Steering. Set this number as the IRQ for the devices in the BIOS setup. Many devices will happily share their IRQ with other devices. However, some devices like graphic cards and TV tuner cards have heavy performance requirements and will not work with a shared IRQ. Provide these cards with a dedicated IRQ.
  20. Primary Partitions, Extended Partitions and Logical Partitions: A hard disk can have a maximum of only 4 partitions, which are called PRIMARY PARTITIONS. In the early days of the PC, this four-partition limit was deemed sufficient. To go beyond this limit, a special kind of primary partition called EXTENDED PARTITION was invented. A hard disk could have ONLY ONE extended partition but this particular partition could have any number of smaller partitions called LOGICAL PARTITIONS housed inside it.
  21. Multiple OS and Partitions: Some people have more than one OS installed on their PCs. It is not possible to have more than one OS on a single partition. So, you need to dedicated a partition for each OS. It is preferrable to install Linux on a primary partition. Windows 2000/XP will work on kind of partition. Windows 95/98/Me installs in the first partition on the hard disk. Perhaps you would like to read my writeup How To Multiboot Operating Systems for more information.
  22. My recommendation is to have three primary partitions - two ordinary primary partitions (one for Win 9x/Me and one for Linux) and one extended partition.
  23. Partitioning tool: Windows 9x/Me supplies a partition tool called FDISK. It does not recognize partitions created by Linux installations. So, you might want to use something like Ranish Partition Manager. In Windows 2000/XP, the disk management tool in the Computer Management console will allow you to partition your hard disk.
  24. Boot Loader: If you have multiple operating systems, you might want to use a GUI-based boot loader such as Extended Operating System Loader (XOSL). UPDATE: Linux bootloaders and OS instalers have become very intelligent and do not require the need for a separate boot loader like XOSL.
  25. Console-based OSs like DOS have only modest memory requirements. GUI-based operating systems like Windows needs lot of memory, much larger than the RAM that is usually installed on PCs. So, they use something called virtual memory. Here, a large file on the hard disk is used in conjunction with the RAM, which greatly expands the memory available to the OS. Only the data that is required at the given moment is loaded on the RAM; the rest is cached on the swap file. Just like any other file on a disk, the swap file can also get fragmented over time and OS might seem to slow down. To prevent the swap from breaking up, you can place it on a dedicated partition (just like in Linux). Set the size of this partition at about 2.5 times the size of your installed RAM and format it. Next, you need to make sure that the OS does not reserve space on this partition for deleted files because this partition is going to have only one file - the swap file. From the Recycle Bin context menu, choose Properties » Configure drives independently. Select the partition's tab and select the Do not move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted option.
    • In Windows 9x/Me: Right-click on My Computer, click on Properties, choose the Performance tab, and click on Virtual Memory. Here, check the Let me specify my own virtual memory settings and chose the new partition. Set the Minimum and maximum size to something below the total size of the partition.
    • In Windows 2000/XP: Right-click on My Computer, click on Properties, click on the Advanced tab, click on Performance Options, and click on Change. Here, choose the drive where the swap currently resides and remove the settings (set them to 0) in the Initial Size and Maximum Size boxes. Now, choose your swap partition and set the initial and maximum sizes to the new partition's full capacity minus say 20 MB.
    Use the Microsoft TweakUI utility to hide this partition so that you don't save ordinary files on it inadvertantly. If you plan to run heavy-duty applications such as Oracle Database, you may need a swap partition as big as 1.5 GB, just to run the installer. In these cases, do not create a swap partition.
  26. If you have two hard disks, then the swap partition could be created on the first partition on the second disk, preferrably connected to the secondary IDE channel. When the OS load gets shared on two hard disks, there is a perceivable increase in performance.
  27. Keyboard shortcuts: There may have been times when your mouse was not detected and you had a hard time getting around the device manager. Here are the navigation keys with Device Manager. If you are in the desktop, press the TAB key repeatedly until My Computer is selected. Then press the CONTEXT MENU key, which is between the left Ctrl key and the Windows Key. This opens up the context menu for the My Computer. Now select Properties from this menu. Now you see the System Properties window. This has several tabs, one of which is the Device Manager. Press Ctrl+TAB repeatedly to move to Device Manager. Now you see all the devices listed. Press TAB to move to them. To open up any particular device, press the RIGHT ARROW and to shrink it up press LEFT ARROW. To open up the properties of any particular device, press ALT+ENTER or the CONTEXT MENU key.
  28. DMA: Direct Memory Access (DMA) technology enables high-speed transfers from hard disk and reduces the load on the CPU in making correct data reads and writes. Make sure this option is checked in the Disk Drive Properties. Otherwise, your disk operations will be slow.
  29. Ports: If you have a 56 kbps modem, then set its port speed to 1,15,200. This can be done from the Communication Port Properties
  30. Modem: Most Indian modems use American-made chipsets, they do not dial tones on Indian telephone lines. So, set the modem to blind dial by choosing the Do not wait for dial tone setting or using the modem initializing string ATX3. Refer your modem manual for the list of AT commands you can use with your modem.
  31. In Windows 9x/Me, the system cache setting is not always optimised. A software called Cacheman will do this for you. In Windows 2000/XP, try changing the I/O lock page size. To do this, you can use Xteq Systems X-Setup. Choose the appropriate setting under System » Memory. UPDATE: The people who made X-Setup closed up and made the last version free. The key to activate this version is XSA092-11TA9R-8K12YT.
  32. Clear the startup programs: Startup programs get loaded along with Windows. This causes a delay before the desktop becomes active. Most of these programs do nothing but hog precious memory. See if you can use the programs' settings to prevent them loading with Windows. If that is not possible, use Mike Lin's Startup Control Panel to do that. After you install this program, you can access it from the Control Panel.
  33. RAM: A PC might start running faster simply by adding an extra module of RAM. See if this works for you. If you think you have more than adequate ram but the PC seems sluggish, then use RamBooster to proactively free up unused RAM at regular intervals.
  34. Task Manager: Task Manager (taskmgr.exe) in Windows 2000/XP will list of programs in memory. For detailed information, use TaskInfo. These programs are useful if you are trying to weed out unwanted programs that get loaded on to the memory.
  35. Increasing the Performance of Individual Programs: You can increase the speed of a program, by setting the process priority of the program to either High or Realtime in Task Manager. Do not go overboard on this or your system will become unresponsive.
  36. Active Desktop: Unless you run stock market price tickers on your desktop, deactivate Active Desktop to save memory. If you have enabled Active Desktop just to enable a GIF or JPEG file as the background, then convert the file to a BMP file and set that as the wallpaper without Active Desktop.
  37. Plain Desktop: Remove the desktop background image and set it None. This will save some memory.
  38. Screen Resolution: Set your screen resolution to 15 bit or 16 bit for both speed and saving memory. Set a higher level only when playing games and other such special programs that require higher resolutions.
  39. Clean the Desktop: Remove all unwanted icons from the desktop and shortcuts from the desktop and the quick launch bar. If you have shortcuts for CD drives, windows will check for their contents every time it loads up and cause a delay before the Desktop becomes active.
  40. Remove sound events: If you remove the desktop theme sounds, your operations will get faster. To do so, go to Control Panel » Sounds and Multimedia » Schemes and then choose No Sounds.
  41. Keyboard and mouse shortcuts:
    • Open any folder and press F3. This will bring up the Find Files dialog box for that folder.
    • Press Start+TAB key combination just once. Now, pressing TAB repeatedly will allow you to jump between various areas of the desktop, such as the desktop proper, taskbar, system tray, quicklaunch toolbar, and Start button.
    • When you drag a file with the right mouse button, you will be presented with an option to move or copy the file when you drop it elsewhere.
    • If you drag a file from some location and hover it over a folder that is minimized on the desktop without dropping it, then that folder will spring open allowing you to drop the file there.
    • If you drag a shortcut and place it over the Start button without dropping it, then the Start menu will spring open and you can navigate to your special program groups and drop it there.
    • Sometimes, when you have many programs open and you use the Alt+TAB combination to switch to another program, it does not switch. In this situation, press the Start button twice.
    • Press Alt+F4, to close a program. If no program is open, then it functions like a Shutdown command.
    • Pressing Alt+Enter after selecting an item will bring up its properties box.
    • Pressing Start+Pause will bring up the System Properties of your computer.
  42. Add Extra the Send To Menu Options: Open the SendTo folder create shortcuts to the programs and folders that you commonly use. My suggestion is to have shortcuts for the Desktop, My Documents, IrfanView, and Subhash VCDPlayer. When you use the Send To menu option on a file, it will be opened by the relevant program or copied to the relevant folder.
  43. Adding Extra Context Menu Options: Usually, a certain file type can be opened with many programs. However, the file type's right-click menu may have option for just one or two programs. So, why not add some new options for other programs? Here is how you create a context menu option for the MP3 file type so that their files can be opened by Subhash VCDPlayer. Go to Folder Options. Click on File Types tab. From the list under Registered File Types, search for and select MP3 Format Sound. Now click on Advanced. In the Edit File Type window, click on New. In the New Action window, enter Open with Subhash VCDPlayer in the text box under Action and "C:\Program Files\Subhash VCDPlayer" "%1" (including the quotation marks) in the Application used to perform action. Here, the ampersand symbol '&' is placed before the 'S' in Subhash VCDPlayer so that 's' becomes the hot key in the context menu. Use the Edit button to modify any existing settings. Exercise caution with the choice of the program. If the program and the file type are incompatible, results can be unpredictable.
  44. Resize Explorer Columns: Press Ctrl+Plus to resize columns to best fit the contents. Do not use this trick in the Temporary Internet Files folder though; super-bad news if you frequent this folder to manually pick out files.
  45. Folder Options: Customizing the Windows Explorer is done via the Folder Options. To access this,
    • In Windows Me/2000: From the menu, choose Tools » Folder Options.
    • In Windows 9x: From the menu, choose View » Folder Options
    To move between the different tabs, press the Ctrl+TAB key combination or just use the mouse.
  46. Setting the default view: There are five types of views available
    • Large Icons
    • Small Icons
    • List
    • Details
    • Thumbnails
    You can have the same view for all Explorer windows. Open any folder and choose the type of view that you want from the toolbar. If you were to choose the Details view, then adjust the column sizes. Then, go to Folder Options and in the View tab, click on the Like Current Folder.
  47. Single-Click To Run Applications: Normally, to select a file you single-click and to run you double-click. You can change this to hover for select and single-click to run. Go to Folder Options. Here, in the Click items as follows section, check the Single-click to open an item and Underline items only when I point at them.
  48. Expanding and Collapsing Folder Tree Branches: On the folder pane, you can expand a branch by pressing the * (asterisk) key. To collapse a branch, press the - (minus) key.
  49. Customized Links Toolbar: The Links toolbar has shortcuts to several Internet sites that you will never visit. Why not replace them with shortcuts to folders or files in your hard disk or your own choice of Internet sites? Display the Favorites menu, right click on Links, and select Open. In the Links folder that opens, remove the shortcuts that Microsoft has provided and create some shortcuts to your own files and folders in your hard disk or network.
  50. Open Links in the Same Window: When you click on a folder shortcut in the Links toolbar, a new Explorer window is opened. To open the folder in the same window, right click on the shortcut and select Open from the context menu.
  51. Removing the Links toolbar: If you want to remove toolbar from showing up at all, then right click on the Links toolbar, and click on the Links option in the context menu.
  52. Favorites: Rather than having links to Internet websites alone, you can also have links to folder in your disk drives or network in the Favorites menu. Just open these folders and select the Add to Favorites from the Favorites menu. Now, you do not have to dig deep into My Computer or My Network Places. Just selecting the location from the Favorites menu will take you to the folder.
  53. Using Favorites in Other Programs: The above tip can come to good use not just in Explorer windows, but also in other programs such as Word or Excel when you want to open or save files. Just click on the Favorites icon on the left of the Open or Save As dialog boxes.
  54. Customising the Toolbar: In Windows Me/2000/XP, you can customise the toolbar with your own choice of buttons. For this, right click on the toolbar and select Customize from the context menu.
  55. Suggested toolbar buttons: My suggestion for buttons for the customized toolbar is
    • Back
    • Forward
    • Separator
    • Refresh
    • Separator
    • Cut
    • Copy
    • Paste
    • Separator
    • Copy To
    • Move To
    • Separator
    • Delete
    • Separator
    • Undo
    • Separator
    • Properties
    • Folder Options
    • Views
    • Separator
    • Up
  56. Opera is one of the lightest and fastest browsers available. It was also the first one to provide tabbed browsing. It has numerous customisable features and is a treat to use.
  57. Internet Explorer (IE) has the biggest share among Internet browsers and is the most standards-compliant one. Hence, many websites prefer to work with IE and some of them will not even work with other browsers. As an unfortunate result of its popularity, IE is also a favourite target for hackers, spyware and viruses. IE then becomes a security hole in your computer. So many people have migrated to other browsers like Mozilla Firefox. Firefox has been developed to closely resemble IE and has support for tabbed browsing. But because it lacks support for ActiveX controls and VBScript, it has largely escaped many browser-based attacks. If you like Firefox, feel free to use it in place of IE but remember that Firefox by itself is not an inherently safe product. New Firefox vulnerabilities are being discovered and as the new browsers gains in popularity, it will suffer the same fate as IE.
  58. ...
  59. You can send messages to computer running the Messenger service (Windows 2000/XP) by using the command net send <address> message from the MS-DOS prompt. To send a message to yourself, type net send hello in the Run dialog box.
  60. IE loads up pretty fast because parts of it is loaded by Windows.

  61. Disable the Links toolbar to provide more space for webpages. Close the History/Search pane for the same reason.
  62. Customize the toolbar via View » Toolbars » Customize. My suggestion for toolbar buttons includes
    • Back
    • Forward
    • Separator
    • Stop
    • Separator
    • Refresh
    • Media
    • Separator
    • Search
    • Favorites
    • History
    • Separator
    • Edit
    • Separator
    • Full Screen
  63. Blank home page: Set your home page to a blank one so that it loads up faster. This is done via Tools » Internet Options » General » Use Blank. When your browser is infected with spyware, you will find that no matter how many times you set the home page, it always changes to something else. Use anti-spyware software like Ad-Aware to root out such annoyances.
  64. Offline browsing: You do not have to be online to revisit a webpage. You can access it from the browser cache. Select Work Offline from the File menu. Open the History pane by pressing Ctrl+H or clicking the History toolbar button and select the page from the list. You check the latest version on the Net however by clicking on the Refresh toolbar button or pressing the F5 key.
  65. Search Pane: The search pane (press F3) is a feature of Internet Explorer that allows you to use MSN Search to search the Internet. When you install the Yahoo! toolbar, it will modify IE so that Yahoo! Search is used inside their search pane. However, you are still limited to using just one search engine. So, I created a search pane tweak called "Search Heaven", which will allow you to access all popular search engines plus other resources like dictionaries and thesaruses from the search pane. UPDATE: With https search sites blocking the use of frames, Search Heaven has been retired.
  66. Context Menu Extensions For IE: IE allows you to copy the address of a link with just two clicks. But to copy the address of an image on a webpage, you have make at least 5 clicks. To make things like this more easier, you can create your own context menu extensions. For this, some new keys will have to be added to the registry. These keys will refer to Javascript or VBScript functions placed in some special HTML files. For a sample, download the Extract the HTM files to C:\. Extract the Install CMES.reg and double click on it. The keys will be merged into the registry. Your IE context menu will have new options - "Copy All Hyperlink Address" (default), "Copy All Image Addresses" (default), "Copy Image Address" (on images), "Set Text Size To Medium" (on selected text), "Copy HTML Code" (on selected text), "Open Frame In New Window" (default), "Highlight Text" (on selected text) and "Open Link In Same Window" (on hyperlink).
  67. Computer Security: Some websites carry misleading ads and wrong tactics to sell computer security products. Do not download or install these software. Be careful about installing ActiveX controls. The only ActiveX controls or plugins that ordinary people can safely install are that of Macromedia Flash, Real Player, QuickTime and Windows Media Player. All others like Gator or Bonzi are likely to be spyware of some sort. Many spware products are released along with dialers, screensavers, and programs like MP3 Dancer. They are almost impossible to uninstall. Even if you run their uninstall programs, they will continue to hide in your computer without your knowledge. So, be careful about installing software.
  68. Paranoia 1: IE's autocomplete feature may throw up some web addresses at the address bar, which you may not want others to see. So, clear the history. This is done by Internet Options » Clear History. If otherwise you want to selectively remove history items, then delete the appropriate folders inside the History folder. In Windows 9x/Me, the History folder is inside the Windows folder. In Windows 2000/XP, it will be inside the Documents and Settings\«User name»\Local Settings\ folder. A list of web addresses that you have typed in the Address bar is saved in the registry. Run regedit.exe, do a search for "TypedURLs" keys and delete any values you find on the right-side pane.
  69. Paranoia 2: Deleting the files in the Temporary Internet Files folder can remove only part of your tracks. Cookies stored by websites usually remain in this folder with their full web address. So, that is a security violation. To remove them, choose Internet Options » Temporary Internet Folder » Delete Cookies.
  70. Paranoia 3: There is a file named index.dat inside the the Temporary Internet Files or the Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5 folder. This contains a list URLs you have visited. If you delete this file, Windows will automatically generate an empty index.dat. However, this file can refuse to go away easily. If this is the case, then go close all windows, start Task Manager (taskmgr.exe) and end the last remaining explorer process. Your taskbar and desktop will disapear but this is okay. Now, go to the File » New Task (Run...) menu option. Type cmd to start an MS-DOS window. Use the cd command to navigate to the folder containing the index.dat file and give the del command to delete the file. Type exit to close the command prompt window. Now, switch back to Task Manager, go the File » New Task (Run...) menu option and type explorer to get back your desktop and taksbar.
  71. Paranoia 4: When the Autocomplete feature is enabled, all your personal information including passwords are stored on the computer, which is available for others to misuse. So, when you are done with browsing at your office or an Internet cafe, follow the above three steps and clear the saved data by choosing Internet Options » Content » AutoComplete » Clear Forms and Clear Passwords. Sometimes, the Internet Options menu option might be disabled in your office or web cafe. So, delete the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\IntelliForms key from the registry. If you want to steal or backup passwords, export this key and import it on a different machine or installation. You will also have to copy the {username}.pwl file and cookies to the new machine/installation. Sometimes, there are ActiveX programs that sit silently recording everything. You can check them out at Internet Options » Temporary Internet Files » Settings » View Objects. This will open the Downloaded Program Files folder in the windows folder. By right-clicking the contents, you can either remove them or check out their properties.
  72. Paranoia 5: In many Internet cafes, some people leave keylogger software installed on the PCs. These record everything that is typed on the keyboard, including your usernames and passwords. So, when you visit a Internet browsing centre, run Task Manager and kill all suspicious-looking programs you find. Some sophisticated keyloggers do not even appear in the Task Manager. To be safe, do not type the characters in the your password in the usual order. Jumble them up. Use your mouse to position the cursor so that the characters are in their proper positions. Few keyloggers are smart enough to detect mouse clicks. For example, if the password is "rNDmPsSwRD$221", you do not type it in that order.
  73. Dialer: When you click on a link, IE starts the dialer program, which can be very annoying. So, disable this via Internet Options » Connection » Never dial a connection. When you want dial a connection, go to the Dial-Up Networking.
  74. Savings on Telephone Bills: You can make optimum use of your online time by opening the links in new windows rather than in just a single window. Take for example your Yahoo! Inbox. Right click on each message and open new windows. By the time, you finish reading the web page in one window, all the other windows would have downloaded their messages.
  75. Downloading Recalcitrant Files: Download managers can download files faster by using more than one connection to the download server. However, they may not be able to catch the URL of some files. In such cases, open the source code of the web page via View » Source and do a search for the download file. Usually, the full url of the file will be found here. Copy this and paste it in the download manager. Some websites prevents you from right-clicking so that you are unable to save images from their website. But you can look inside the Temporary Internet Files folder and you will find that the image has been already downloaded there. All you need to do is maka a copy.
  76. IE Toolbars & Desktop Tickers: Add the Googe Toolbar to IE. With this toolbar, you will get to the results without having to visit Google's home page first. If you have to keep in touch with the latest news, then get the Reuters Desktop Ticker. Reuters is the world's leading news provider and almost every newspaper and TV station in the world gets feeds from it. Once connected to the Net, headlines flash across the ticker and you can click on the headlines to read the news stories in a browser window. UPDATE: Google has become Spyware Incorporated. For search, use instead. Reuters ticker have been retired.
  77. ESCAPE: Many people do not know this. If a page is being downloaded and you want to stop it, then pressing the Escape key will do that. Also, pressing Backspace key will take you to the previous page.
  78. Saving web pages: IE allows saving a web page in a single file along with it images and other embedded content. To do this, choose Save As from the File menu. In the Save as type, choose Web Archive, single file (*.mht). Sometimes, MHT files may not show anything even though its thumbnail does show something. If you disable Javascript, you will be able to see the saved content.
  79. Outlook Express is a free e-mail client that comes bundled with IE.

  80. OE has a lot of GUI clutter and you can reduct this. Go to View » Layout and uncheck Contact, Outlook Bar, and View Bar in the Window Layout Properties window. This is chosen by selecting Layout from the View menu.
  81. Customize the toolbar from Window Layout Properties. My suggestion for buttons is
    • Send/Recv
    • Separator
    • Create Mail
    • Separator
    • Reply
    • Separator
    • Delete
    • Separator
    • Copy To
    • Separator
    • Preview
    • Separator
    • Offline
    The New Message window has a separate set of toolbar buttons. Customize this with
    • Send
    • Separator
    • Undo
    • Separator
    • Spelling
    • Separator
    • Attachment
    • Separator
    • Insert Signature
    • Separator
    • Offline
    Messages that are already in the various folders have a different toolbar. Customize this with
    • Reply
    • Separator
    • Previous
    • Separator
    • Next
    • Separator
    The columns that are viewed inside a folder can be customized via View » Columns. My suggestion for columns is
    • Size
    • Attachment
    • Mark for Offline
    • Sent
    • From
    • To
    • Subject
    The Outbox has a different set of columns so modify that separately.
  82. Implementing Spam Filters For POP Accounts: Create two folders in your mail client - Filtered Inbox and Spam. Create the following four Message Rules in Outlook Express (Tools » Message Rules » Mail). Use your old messages as a guide while picking the words for your filters. Check the Spam folder once in a while for any false-positives. If you find any spam among the flagged messages in the Filtered Inbox, then update the filters in the third rule with new words.
    Mail Rule #1: Mail From Known Contacts
    Where the From line contains 'friendname' or ''
    Move it to the Filtered Inbox folder
        and Stop processing more rules
    Mail Rule #2: Mail Not Addressed To Me
    Where the To or CC line does not contain ''
    Move it to the Spam folder
        and Stop processing more rules
    Mail Rule #3: Word filters on From, To, & Subject lines
    Where the From line contains 'debt' or 'enlargement' or 'teens' or 'viagra'
        or Where the Subject line contains 'debt' or 'enlargement' or 'teens' or 'viagra'
        or Where the To line contains 'debt' or 'enlargement' or 'teens' or 'viagra'
    Move it to the Spam folder
        and Stop processing more rules
    Mail Rule #4: Suspect Mail
    For all messages
    Move it to the Filtered Inbox folder
        and Flag it
        and Stop processing more rules
  83. Integrating HotMAIL: You can integrate your HotMAIL account with Outlook Express. Just go about as you would do with adding a POP account. After you enter your HotMAIL address, OE will automatically identify it as a HotMAIL account and pre-fill the E-mail Server Names details. Click Next enter the userid and password. When you are done, OE will ask if you want to download folders for that account. Here, choose Yes. After the folders have been downloaded, you can use it like you would use a POP mail account except that you will not be able to use the Message Rules (available under the Tools menu) on this account.
  84. Protecting Your E-mail Address: Junk mail seems inevitable but there are a few things you can do about it. Do not give your office e-mail address or personal POP address to any website or service. Just to make sure your contacts use your e-mail address responsibly, add the following to your e-mail signature (Tools » Options » Signatures).
    1. When you send a joke to many contacts, put all e-mail addresses in the bcc (blind carbon copy) box. (None of the recipients will know who the other recipients were.)
    2. If you do have to forward a joke, delete all names and e-mail addresses from the message before sending it. Respect others' privacy.
    3. Never send a mail asking the recipient to forward it to everyone he/she knows. (Chain mail accumulate many e-mail addresses over time & spammers thank the Lord when they receive one.)
    4. Never send virus warnings to anyone. (It may be a hoax and your contacts may end up damaging their machine or losing useful data. Making regular updates to the OS, firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware and other software is enough.)
    5. Never use another person's e-mail address without his/her permission on any website. (Spammers harvest e-mail addresses by providing some free service.)
  85. Handling Bulk Mailers:
    • Use an e-mail address from a free e-mail provider like Hotmail or Gmail. They have better junk mail filters than you can possibly create on your own.
    • If you want to stay one step ahead of junk mailers, then use disposable email addresses provided by Yahoo! Mail's AddressGuard service.
    • If a website requires that you provide an e-mail address before you can use their services, then use temporary e-mail addresses provided by
    • After you add your HotMAIL account to Outlook Express, right click on individual folders and select Synchronization Settings » Headers Only. This will ensure that only the message headers are downloaded when you send/receive message. After identifying useful message, you can double-click them and have their entire content downloaded. Now, you can choose to delete other messages that you think are junk without having to download them.
    • It is very easy to forge the the From addresses of e-mail messages. Almost all bulk messages have forged From addresses. So, there is no point in complaining to the owners of the domain used in the From address. You need to look at the message headers (select the message, right-click, select Properties » Details) to identify the ISP used by the bulk mailer. The Received: header identifies the ISP used by the spammer as (Road Runner). To complain to an ISP, you need to "abuse@" to the ISP's domain name. In this case, the e-mail address to use will be "" In your message, add a copy mail headers of the junk message you had received. Without the mail headers, the ISP will not be able to take any action on the culprit.
  86. Archiving E-mail Messages: Your e-mail messages are kept in a message store folder. The store folder's location can be found by going to Options » Maintenance » Store Folder. Copy the location of the store folder and paste it in the address bar of Explorer. Make a backup of this folder at regular intervals. When you want to move your old messages to another PC or a different installation of Windows, simply import messages (File » Import » Microsoft Outlook Express 6 » Import mail from an OE6 store directory » Browse) from the backup of your original message folder.
  87. Options: To change the various settings of OE, choose Options in the Tools menu. If you have a dial-up account, then under the General tab, uncheck all the check boxes. Under the Send tab, uncheck the Send messages immediately. Under the Compose tab, under Font Settings choose the Verdana 9pt font or anything else that you might fancy. Under the Signatures tab, create different signatures for different accounts or one for all accounts. If you are in India, then setting the dictionary to English (United Kingdom) in the Language section of the Spelling tab will prevent conflicts with American spelling.
  88. Blind Carbon Copy (bcc): Not many people know how to send e-mail messages using bcc (blind carbon copy). Choose View » All headers in the New Message window.
  89. Xteq X-Setup is a great utility to tweak your system. It has different settings for Win 9x/Me/NT/2000.

  90. To create a DOS box with current folder as its default directory, go to Appearance » Explorer » Context Menu » Context Menu Options and check on Enable 'DOS Prompt here' command for directories.
  91. To hide certain drives, go to Appearance » Explorer » Options » Hide drives. For settings on shortcuts, go to Appearance » Explorer » Shortcuts.
  92. To set up your own customized OEM logo on the Device Manager, go to Appearance » OEM information. Set the outer portions of the BMP file to the color of the 3D object (in your color scheme) before that.
  93. To speed up your modem, choose the port in Hardware » Modem » COM Port Speed.
  94. To prevent others from changing the screensaver or background, go to Appearance » Control Panel » Other Settings » Visible Pages in 'Display'.
  95. With faxing software, if you cannot locate the recommended initialization string for your particular modem, try fax class 1 in combination with the generic initialization string: AT&F&C1&D2&K3S7=55 If this doesn’t work, try fax class 2 in combination with the generic initialization string: AT&F&C1&D2&K4S7=55
  96. Windows 9x/Me might sometimes throw up error message that some system file has gone corrupt. You can restore things using System File Checker from Start » Programs » Accessories » System Tools » System Information » Tools.
  97. To show the correct speed with which your modem connects to the ISP, enter the initialization string ATW2
  98. Of all free antivirus programs, Comodo is the best and the lightest.
  99. Run your antivirus program's complete checkup every week. Also, defrag your hard disk every week. Use Disk Cleanup every now and then to clear your hard disk of junk files.
  100. When Windows throws up a lot of errors and refuses to stop them even after a reinstall, a clean install of Windows is in order. This process can be done more safely and easily if your data files reside in a drive other than the one where Windows sits on. This way you don't have to do time-consuming backups. So, after the first time you install Windows, follow these steps.
    • Your My Documents would typically be in C:\My Documents or C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\My Documents. If you have space on drive D, why not keep your documents in it? If anything goes wrong with your C drive, your documents will be safe in the D drive. For this, right-click on your My Documents and select Properties » Move. Now, select a folder in the D drive. Now, your My Documents will be available from this folder.
    • Change the store folder of your Outlook Express email messages as mentioned above, to a folder in another drive.
    • It also helps to backup email account settings too. Select Tools » Accounts » Mail. Select the email account and click on Export. This will create a file with the extension .iaf. Whenever you want to re-create the email account, click on the Import button and select this .iaf file.
    Most people format their Windows drive before doing a clean install. This is not necessary. If you have more than one OS, it will delete the boot files of the other OSs too. Just delete the Program Files folder and the Windows folder from MS-DOS or from another OS and go ahead with the install. After that is done, import your email messages from the folder you had created previously. Now, delete any files in that folder. Next, change the message store back to that folder. Also, change the My Documents back to the folder you had created earlier.
  101. Use a download manager to manage your downloads. Second-generation download managers allow for the files to be downloaded in pieces simultaneously by more than one thread, and combine them together after download is over.
  102. If you keep a lot of programs installed, your program menu can get very long. So, divide them into sections such as Multimedia, Internet, System Tools, Utilities, etc., by creating appropriately named folders inside the c:\windows\Start Menu\Programs folder and making appropriate choices during installation.
  103. Quicklaunch Toolbar: Keep the Show Desktop icon in it. If you had deleted it for some reason, then do a search for *.scf in the drive and if you find the Show Desktop.scf file, copy it to the Quicklaunch folder. If you do not find it, then create a new folder. Open Notepad and type the following
    Choose Save as from the File menu. In the dialog box, change Save as type to All files. Give the filename as Show Desktop.scf. Make sure you save it in the folder you had created just then. Now, right click the taskbar and choose Toolbar»New Toolbar. Here choose the folder where you had put the Show Desktop.scf file.

    Keep shortcuts in your Quicklaunch bar for your drives. Create a shortcut with the target as c:\windows\rundll32.exe user.exe,exitwindows. Clicking on this icon will shut down Windows in a snap. However, this command works for Windows 9x/Me only. For Windows NT/2000/XP, you need something more sophisticated. I suggest you download Wizmo (Windows Gizmo - 37 KB). Create shortcuts to this small program using appropriate parameters for logoff, shutdown, restart, hibernate, reboot, and several other functions.
  104. Explore and try to find new ways of doing things.