By Kenny Williams

I have learned a few tricks over the years that have sped up my computer significantly.  These tricks involve editing system information and are not for the novice but can be done by anyone with enough computer know-how to get them into trouble. Before attempting any of these tricks I strongly recommend backing up the registry and important files. Computer-savvy tuners can directly modify four Startup files on a Windows system: Config.sys, Autoexec .bat, Win.ini, and System.ini. Again, always make backup copies in case you make mistakes or don’t like the results.

To access the Startup files, click Start, then Run. Type sysedit in the Open field and click OK. That will open up a text editor. The Text editor is a great tool for editing these types of files. It will show each of the files ready for editing.

Use Sysedit (the System Editor) to make backup copies of the four main Startup files before making changes to them. To do this Click Start>Run; type sysedit in the Open field; and click OK. Put the cursor in the Autoexec .bat file and, without making any changes, click File and then Save. That saves a copy of your file under the name Autoexec.syd, and you can make changes to the Autoexec .bat file. Each time you save, the previous version is saved to the Autoexec.syd file, and the changes are saved to Autoexec.bat. Rename and save the original Autoexec.bat file as Autoexec.sav so if one unaltered copy is ever needed it. Do the same for the other files, and System Editor saves copies of each with the .syd ending. You will also want to make and test a bootable startup diskette. In the event of a mishap, the bootable diskette will let the boot your operating system to repair any damage.

The computer uses Windows temporary files like you would use a scratch pad when writing a story. They are supposed to automatically purge themselves after use, but they sometimes get stuck. Leftovers will accumulate if your computer locks up or shuts down without using the normal shutdown routine. Re-moving leftovers can speed up the system. Although Windows has utilities to clean up these file bits, the best time to clean up is just before Windows starts up. You can do this cleanup in Autoexec.bat using the System Editor. Open Autoexec.bat, and type IF exist C:\WINDOWS\TEMP\*.* echo y | erase C:\WINDOWS\TEMP\*.* The phrase “IF exist C:\WINDOWS\TEMP\*.* “is saying if there are any files in the TEMP folder, then do the command that follows. The “| erase C:\WINDOWS\TEMP\*.*” command says to erase everything in the TEMP folder, and “echo y” answers the confirmation question, “do you really want to do this? with the “y” for yes.

The Msdos.sys file contains Windows Startup information, but most folks, even DOS veterans, don’t take advantage of it. In the old days, it served a different function, and users couldn’t edit it. And although there are useful things you can do in this file, Sysedit won’t touch it.

In order to modify Msdos.sys, you must first change the attributes. Click Start, select Find, then Files And Folders, type c:\msdos.sys in the Named box, and click Find Now. Then, right-click it, select Properties and uncheck the Hidden and Read-Only attributes. Then open NotePad (click Start>Programs>Accessories>NotePad) and click File. In the Filename box, type c:\msdos.sys and click Open.

Once inside Msdos.sys, you can speed your Startups by losing the Windows logo. Open the file as described above, make a spare copy, and call it Msdos.bad or Msdos.old. Add the line LOGO=0 to the [Options] section and Save the changes. To be safe, go back to the Properties dialog box and set it back to Read-Only. After you restart, the Windows logo should be gone.

The Windows shutdown logos are in the C:\WINDOWS folder. The main one is called Logow.sys, and the one called Logos.sys controls the It’s Now Safe To Turn Off message. Remove or rename either or both for a cleaner, faster shutdown.

While you are here, why not put your own graphic in there for the shutdown. Put any .BMP graphic file in the Windows folder and rename it to logow.sys or logos.sys.

Instead of tuning old files, look instead to the pesky memory-resident programs, utilities, and downloads that accumulate in Windows Startup routines. These programs and files can fill up your system tray and/or eat up your RAM and CPU power, giving little or no utility. There is no reason to have RealPlayer, for example, other than to display its logo.

Without knowing how to edit your Registry, you may not be able to get rid of all of the spurious Startup files. But here are a few final tips: begin by right-clicking icons in the System Tray and closing them. Look in the STARTUP folder (right-click My Computer, click Find, and type Startup in the Named field). Open the folder and delete anything you don’t want to always run. For complete coverage, open Win.ini with Sysedit and search for lines starting with load= or run= and consider deleting them or deactivating them by putting a semicolon (;) in front of them. Old software sometimes puts codes for startups in those files and Win9x systems still honor them. Finally, open Control Panel (click Start, Settings and then Control Panel), and double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon. Select and remove any applications you’re not using. Do this before you defragment your hard drive. (Located by clicking Start>Programs>Accessories>System Tools, the Disk Defragmenter organizes and rewrites scattered pieces of files on your hard drive.)

Although none of these Startup changes is likely to make a speed machine out of a clunker, cumulatively they can create big payoffs in speed, stability, and convenience.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, or are in need of computer lessons, feel free to e-mail me at WebServerColumn@yahoo.com.

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