We show you how to launch applications faster with Win98's WinAlign utility.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 11, 2003

3 Min Read

Bailing Out
If an application is erratic or doesn't work at all after it's aligned, you'll need to restore the files you modified. Our WMAlign utility keeps a backup of all the files it aligned in an UNALIGN subdirectory, located in the specific app's program files directory. You can just copy the original files over the unsuccessfully aligned ones. Make sure you don't have the app running when you try to copy the files-Windows can't replace a program file that's in use.

The -r option in the Resource Kit's WinAlign utility restores files, but to save disk space it doesn't keep a true copy of the original file. Instead, it keeps some information about the original alignment in Registry keys at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software
\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WinAlign. When you use the -r option, WinAlign tries to restore the previous alignment by modifying the aligned file. In some cases this process won't work, and you'll have to reinstall the application if you didn't back it up beforehand.

What If It's Not Faster?
Once you successfully align a program, don't be surprised if your initial launch times don't improve much. This can happen if you've been using Disk Defragmenter to optimize your disk. When WinAlign and WMAlign align files, they put the files in different locations on the disk. This defeats the optimization that Disk Defragmenter performed, so performance after an alignment might be about the same-or even worse.

The solution, of course, is to optimize your disk again-this will place the newly aligned EXE and DLL files back in an optimized portion of your disk. Unfortunately, this isn't as easy as just defragging your disk right after aligning your apps. Disk Defragmenter uses a program called TaskMon to monitor your application use so that your most frequently launched programs are optimized the most. When WinAlign changes the location of the program file, it invalidates the information that TaskMon has collected, so the data collection has to start from scratch. After aligning, use Win98 and your apps for a few days before you defrag, and then see if your apps seem faster. You won't harm anything if you don't wait and defrag right away, but the defrag won't be as effective.

Well-Adjusted Apps
So, it is possible to speed up Win98, even though it isn't quite automatic. Once vendors catch on to the performance boost they can get by aligning their programs, many will do the alignment step for you before shipping their code. However, there's a lot of old-and even not so old-code on your disk that could benefit from WinAlign in the meantime. (Microsoft's own Windows Media Player, for example, shipped after Win98 was released but is not aligned.) Then, just make sure you defrag every week or so-and you'll be cruising along at top speed.

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