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Ten Ways to Make Windows 98 Run Better

We all have 'em: favorite tweaks, tricks, and fixes we use to make Win98 work better or faster. Here are ten of the best.
6. Try a High-FAT Diet
Many systems that came with Win98 or were upgraded from Win95 still run the old-style 16-bit File Allocation Table, or FAT16. Win98 also supports FAT32, which is better for several reasons. It makes far more efficient use of large hard drives, so it can span larger partition sizes. It also stores files more efficiently, which can mean an effective 10 to 30 percent increase in free disk space. FAT32 can also ecover from some kinds of damage to the root directory or to other critical data structures on your disk. And it allows Defrag to relocate portions of your applications and their supporting files in the actual order they're called, for the fastest possible loading. If you're still running FAT16, select Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Drive Converter (FAT32) and follow the on-screen directions. If you're not sure which FAT you're using, launch the Drive Converter and click the Next button. For more detail on this topic, see Look Before You Leap into FAT32.

7. Are You Being Served?
Windows retains some internal performance settings carried over from the days when RAM was expensive. Today they're obsolete and even counterproductive. For example, right-click My Computer and choose Properties > Performance > File System. There you'll find that the Typical role is usually "Desktop Computer." If your PC has more than 32MB of RAM it'll operate slightly faster if you select "Network Server," even if it isn't really a server. (The Network Server setting uses a little more RAM for various disk buffers and caches to speed disk operations.) For most systems with abundant RAM, it makes sense to choose this server setting.

8. Redo DUN
By default, Windows' networking protocols are optimized for LAN-based communication. If you connect to the Web via a LAN, you're probably fine. But you're not fine if you use Dial-Up Networking. LANs and the Internet use different packet sizes, so the resulting packet fragmentation slows you down. Other default settings may slow you down as well, but all can be fixed by changing several Registry settings. The freeware application EasyMTU (available at most download sites) can do it all for you in seconds, and get your dial-up sessions operating at top speed. If you prefer the hands-on approach of editing the Registry yourself (as we do), see Winmag.com's Broadband Report. Anyone with a broadband connection should also make these RWIN settings changes.

9. Tweak You Must
Tweak UI lets you improve your PC's responsiveness by setting faster menu speeds, adjusting your mouse's double-click sensitivity, turning off time- and CPU-cycle-wasting animations, and much more. On most Win98 CDs, you'll find Tweak UI in the \Tools\Reskit\Powertoy directory. Right-click the TWEAKUI.INF file and select Install. After it installs, open Control Panel, click the Tweak UI icon and tweak away.

Since newer versions of the Windows 98 CD no longer contain Tweak UI, and because Microsoft has released the much better new Tweak UI 1.33 version, Winmag.com has created the Step-by-Step: Installing Tweak UI 1.33 site. It helps you with downloading, installing, and using this ultra-popular Windows utility.

10. When All Else Fails ...
Sometimes, subtle problems can put the brakes on Windows. Check out Winmag.com's Do It Yourself feature. If that still doesn't help, it's time for a reinstall. But relax, you don't have to do a full reformat. You'll find a safe, easy no-reformat method at this site: What If It Still Won't Work? Reinstalling is the last resort, but it's still the ultimate fix for sluggish Windows. For a full set of instructions on installing Windows 98, see The Essential Guide to Installing Windows 98.


Fred Langa is a senior consulting editor and columnist for Winmag.com. ans InformationWeek.com. Contact Fred at Langa.com.