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Posted: September 21, 1999
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Originally Printed in PC Gamer's Ultimate Hardware Bible, an Imagine Media Publication. All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.
Windows 98 Operating System Tweaks
The first, and most important, step to tweaking Windows 98 is to download Internet Explorer 5.0. The original Windows 98 shell is notoriously unstable, but IE 5.0 patches almost all of the problems with it. As you may very well already know, IE is integrated into Windows 98, so updating it is useful even for devout Netscape users, because Windows 98 uses it as its file browser.
After installing IE 5.0, start up Windows Update and download any necessary patches. This ought to stabilize and speed up the system. Just like with earlier versions of IE, make sure that Active Desktop is disabled.
If your computer didn't come with Windows 98 installed, you will need to convert your hard drive to the FAT32 file system. This file system is much faster than the old FAT file system, and also uses hard drives' resources better. Windows 98 comes with the Drive Converter, an automated program to upgrade to the FAT32 file system. The Drive Converter can be found in the Start Menu under the Accessories/System Tools folder.
One of the problems with the Drive Converter is that it won't update partitions of less than 512 Mb. However, I have found a way around this problem. This procedure requires the user to delete the partition on the hard drive, so only advanced users should perform it.
1). Back up all the files on the partition.
2). Restart the Computer in MS-DOS mode.
3). Type Fdisk /fprmt. This will start up fdisk with support for FAT32 for small hard drives.
4). Use Fdisk to delete your small partition.
5). Return to the main menu and create a logical Dos drive using the freed hard disk space. Make sure that the FAT32 file system is selected.
6). Exit to the DOS prompt and type format /[drive:] /Z:512.
This will format the new partition with the FAT32 file system using clusters of 512 bytes (very small clusters). If that setting is not successful, the program will accept any multiple of 512, such as 1024 or 2048.
The Microsoft System Information (Start, Run, msinfo32, "OK") program that comes with Windows 98 is an absolute gem. This program is a must-have for serious tweakers. It allows the user to configure most parts of the Windows 98 boot process, and also contains information and sub-programs that allow the user to tech several serious PC problems.
Begin by running the Registry checker to make sure the registry doesn't contain any errors, then run the System Configuration Utility. Go to the Startup tab and disable everything except Systray, TweakUI, Powertweak (mentioned later), any system utilities you are using (ex: Powerstrip), and possibly your virus scanner (although this will slow the system down considerably).
Well that's it for the first installment of my PC Gamer article. Check back in the next few days for Part 2!