Windows 2000 Tweak Guide
Posted: May 29, 2000
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan

Introduction

So, you've decided to take the plunge into the vast world of Windows 2000, but you aren't sure where to start the tweaking process. Even though the operating system is superficially very similar to Win9x, when you get down into the guts of it the similarities end very quickly. Hopefully, this will be the answer to (some of) your prayers or whatnot. This is not, however, your standard tweak guide. This guide is more a menagerie than the other guides we have up about Windows 2000. All of the other Win2K tweak guides are limited by some kind of hardware focus. This guide, however, will hold anything else that doesn't have it's own guide devoted to it, or even just extra stuff that would fit in another guide but isn't big enough to justify its own update. This includes random performance tweaks, and - for the time being anyway - shell customization information.

Just for your information, several of these tweaks won't 'take' and will be set back to the default by the system if you aren't running in Administrator mode - so do it already, would you?

PS/2 Mouse Sample Rate

In Windows 9x, you had to download a copy of PS/2 rate to change the sampling rate of your PS/2 mouse. However, in Windows 2000, they have made the process much simpler by adding the property to the mouse's entry in the device manager. To get to the feature, go into the device manager, right click on the mouse entry, and enter its properties. Click on the Advanced Settings tab and from there you can change two settings - Sample Rate and Input Buffer Length. I would recommend setting the Sample rate to 100 Hz (maximum setting - still inferior to PS/2 Rate but better than nothing) and upping the buffer length to about 400 to avoid a buffer overrun from the higher sampling speed.

TweakUI for Win2K

Someone sent me a URL of another Windows 2000 guide shortly after I posted up the Hard Drive/Memory Tweak Guide, and while it didnít have much in the way to offer as far as tweaks (they basically had all the ones I already had posted/knew about, and didnít do a great job explaining them to boot), it did have one novelty Ė a beta version of TweakUI for Windows 2000. I have uploaded a copy of it to our servers so that you can download it locally here. Keep in mind that it is a beta, and as such might have a few bugs in it. However, Iíve been playing with it for a while and havenít found any as so far. If you are uncomfortable with the thought of installing a beta, however, you can always download and use the Windows 98 version (itís compatible, believe it or not!) but it doesnít have all the cool little features I will be discussing here in a moment.

Before we continue with the TweakUI tweaks, I would like to point out that it is my personal preference to turn off all of the extra crap in my OS that I don't need. Other than colors and icons (which I have no choice but to have), the only other customizing feature that I leave enabled is that sometimes I have something other than a solid color for a background. All of my sounds are disabled, and all of Windows "neat effects" are disabled as well. If you like some of those things, feel free to leave them enabled, but remember that they are at least slightly detrimental to performance.





TweakUI Continued...

- Mouse Tab

There are several tweaks that can be done under the mouse tab. The first that I would recommend would have to be that you set the menu speed to the far left, which puts it to its fastest setting. There is no point in adding extra lag to an already lumbering OS, no matter how much better it is than Win9x. I would also recommend that you set both of the settings underneath mouse sensitivity to as low as you feel comfortable. Personally, I leave double-click at 2 (I'm a lazy clicker) and drag to one. You can also enable/disable your mouse's wheel from this panel - if you have one, leave it enabled, otherwise disable it. The only other settings under this tab are the ones that have to deal with X-Mouse. Unless you are an old X Window user, I recommend leaving that feature disabled as it eats up a bit of resources.

- General Tab


Under the general tab, there is a whole list of 'effects' that can be used by the operating system. Some of them are quite cool looking, but they hog system resources - and as such I recommend that you disable all of them. The only other setting in this panel is the prevent focus stealing setting. I really like this feature and I recommend that anyone who hates it when your email client (or whatever other popup program you have) takes over your screen when you are typing (causing you to either lose focus or even occasionally ok something you didn't want it to) to enable it.

- Explorer Tab


Under the explorer tab, there are a few usability settings, but nothing that has any real effect on your system. The only thing I would recommend doing while in this tab would be to disable the "Manipulate connected files as a unit" setting - it could really mess you up in the long run if you start deleting stuff that is linked to something else.

- Internet Explorer (IE) Tab


Setting up this section is pretty complicated because it is just a long list of configurable settings, and many of them, once again, are personal preferences and not anything that could affect the speed of your OS. There are, however, two settings which you should consider changing. I would definitely recommend that you enable the "detect accidental double-clicks" setting - it can save you some trouble in the long run, and I would also consider disabling the "Shell Enhancements" setting to free up some memory. The latter setting deals mostly with the quick launch menu on your Taskbar.

- CMD Tab


This tab allows for filename and directory completion from the command line. If you don't use the command line very often, or just don't feel you need to mess around with this UNIX-like setting, leave it alone. However, I have been told that it can be very useful for hardcore system administrators that want as much control as possible over the system.

- Desktop Tab


You can use this tab to set up special file desktop options rather than the default dynamic ones. Personally, I have found this section pretty worthless except for when the computer won't let me get rid of Network Neighborhood (now called My Network Places) when I'm not on a network.





Even More TweakUI...

- My Computer Tab

The only really useful setting on this panel would have to be the ability to change the location of some of the systems "special folders," which can be useful if you are dual booting a computer and want the system to read the same Documents folder for both OSes.

- Control Panel Tab


You can use this tab to make some of your control panel applets invisible. Useful if you have another user on the system that shouldn't be messing with them, but otherwise not a lot to this tab.

- Logon Tab


From this tab you can set up your computer to automatically log on for you if you haven't figured out how to set this using the Users and Passwords applet. Other than that, there is not a lot here.

- New Tab


You can use this tab to configure the New submenu when you right click on something.

- Repair Tab


If you are having random incidents of not being able to open programs that you could before, your hotkeys doing weird things, etc - you can fix some of those problems with this tab.

- Paranoia Tab


Most of the settings in this panel don't really have a lot to do with tweaking, but you can disable audio and data CD autoplay in here - which is a really good thing to do if you switch CDs for browsing and not their autorun screens.

Encryption

Download 128-bit encryption as fast as you can. And, believe it or not, for the time being anyway, people outside the US can get it. How's that, you might ask? Well, the Superior Court of California declared that the encryption export restrictions were an illegal form of prior restraint. Yippie! After you download the update, though, make sure you grab the patch for it too (Windows Update).

WindowsUpdate

Definitely go to this site and download all of the applicable updates for your system. Even though there aren't as many bugs in Win2k as there are in Win9x, there still are a lot - so check this site out often. If you have problems with it, or are uncomfortable downloading updates in this manner, you can also grab 'most' of the updates from [http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/default.asp].

Removing POSIX and OS2 Support

POSIX is a government standard that is required of all operating systems that are sold to, well, the government. However, seeing that 99.999% of Win2K users will never need this, we can disable it and free up a seemingly miniscule amount of system memory. To disable it, go into your winnt/system32 directory and rename OS2.exe, OS2SRV.exe, PSXSS.EXE, OS2SS.exe, and POSIX.exe to OS2.xxx, OS2SRV.xxx, PSXSS.xxx, OS2SS.xxx, and POSIX.xxx respectively.

Just to let you know, by disabling this feature you will not be able to run any programs that require POSIX and/or OS2 support. I have not had any trouble with it personally, but I have been told that a few of the tools on the Resource Kit CD require it. However, because Microsoft did such a shoddy job of supporting POSIX/OS2 support anyway, it shouldn't matter much.





Disabling System Sounds

I know, for a lot of you, this is a novelty that makes your computer feel 'special.' But for those of us that spend a great deal of time at the computer, they get redundant very fast, and they take up quite a few system resources. To disable them in Windows 2000, go into the Sounds and Multimedia Properties applet. On the sounds tab, there is a 'schemes' setting. Instead of manually removing each sound, you can use the default "No Sounds" scheme to remove all of the sounds on your system.

Disabling Visual Effects

If you aren't using TweakUI, you should take note that you can disable several of the visual effects using the display properties applet. As a matter of fact, I'd recommend checking here after using TweakUI anyway, just in case some of them didn't get disabled. Under the Effects tab of the Display applet, you are going to want to disable Use Transition Effects, Smooth Edges of Screen Fonts, Use Large Icons (unless you need them), and Show Window Contents while Dragging.

Changing your Shell

Changing your shell in Windows 2000 isn't nearly as important as it was in Win9x due to the fact that the version of Explorer included in Win2k is actually stable, but you can still shave off a couple of MB of system overhead by switching to another shell. For Win2k, at this point, you really only have two options that are stable enough to work - the Task Manager (included in Win2k, although it is much different from the Win9x equivalent) and GeOShell. In here, I will cover how to set up the task manager - setting up GeOShell is just about the same.

You have two options after you have decided to use the Task Manager as a shell - you have the option to use the Win9x version or the Win2k version. What? Yes, the Win9x version will also work with Win2k, and has a much smaller footprint. However, I think you will find that the Win2k version is more user friendly. Either way it is up to you.

There is a registry value you will need to change to set the shell to the task manager, and it is as follows:

HKLM\software\microsoft\windows nt\currentversion\winlogon - Shell value

If you are going to use the Win2k version of the program, the path is C:\winnt\system32\taskmgr.exe, and if you decide to use the Win9x version of the program, the path is C:\windows\taskmgr.exe. You will need to reboot for the change to take effect.

Removing Extraneous Windows Components

A kind reader sent in this tweak that was originally posted on a French Windows 2000 website called Planetenews.com. The tweak is as follows - it allows you more flexibility in the Windows Components section of the Add/Remove programs applet. To perform the tweak, you need to open the file sysoc.inf (which is located in the winnt/inf folder) in notepad. In the file there are several 'HIDE' commands, which need to be removed. Delete the word hide and the appropriate extra comma on all of the lines that have the command and then save the file. When you go back and open up the windows components in the Add/Remove programs applet, you should have several more features to choose from, and remove if you like.

Miscellaneous Hard Drive Tweaking

This tweak really should have made it into the last revision of the Win2k Hard Drive and Memory Tweak Guide, but I overlooked it in my notes so I will share it with you now. By default, Windows 2000 logs the I/O traffic of your hard drive. While this is a very useful setting for servers, for workstations it doesn't do anything except use up system resources. To disable it, go to the run menu and type diskperf -n to disable the logging.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you found this guide to be of some help in your quest to tweak out of Win2k. As always, feel free to email me with your comments/suggestions - oh, and tweaks too. ;)

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