Archive for the ‘Tweaking’ Category

Bootvis Application

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The program was designed by Microsoft to enable Windows XP to cold boot in 30 seconds, return from hibernation in 20 seconds, and return from standby in 10 seconds. Bootvis has two extremely useful features. First, it can be used to optimize the boot process on your computer automatically. Second, it can be used to analyze the boot process for specific subsystems that are having difficulty loading. The first process specifically targets the prefetching subsystem, as well as the layout of boot files on the disk. When both of these systems are optimized, it can result in a significant reduction in the time it takes for the computer to boot.

Before attempting to use Bootvis to analyze or optimize the boot performance of your system, make sure that the task scheduler service has been enabled – the program requires the service to run properly. Also, close all open programs as well – using the software requires a reboot.

To use the software to optimize your system startup, first start with a full analysis of a fresh boot. Start Bootvis, go to the Tools menu, and select next boot. Set the Trace Repetition Settings to 2 repetitions, Start at 1, and Reboot automatically. Then set the trace into motion. The system will fully reboot twice, and then reopen bootvis and open the second trace file (should have _2 in the name). Analyze the graphs and make any changes that you think are necessary (this is a great tool for determining which startup programs you want to kill using msconfig). Once you have made your optimizations go to the Trace menu, and select the Optimize System item. This will cause the system to reboot and will then make some changes to the file structure on the hard drive (this includes a defragmentation of boot files and a shifting of their location to the fastest portion of the hard disk, as well as some other optimizations). After this is done, once again run a Trace analysis as above, except change the starting number to 3. Once the system has rebooted both times, compare the charts from the second trace to the charts for the fourth trace to show you the time improvement of the system’s boot up.

The standard defragmenter included with Windows XP will not undo the boot optimizations performed by this application.

Optimizing Startup Programs [msconfig]

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MSConfig, similar to the application included in Win9x of the same name, allows the user to fine tune the applications that are launched at startup without forcing the user to delve deep into the registry. To disable some of the applications launched, load msconfig.exe from the run command line, and go to the Startup tab. From there, un-ticking the checkbox next to a startup item will stop it from launching. There are a few application that you will never want to disable (ctfmon comes to mind), but for the most part the best settings vary greatly from system to system.

As a good rule of thumb, though, it is unlikely that you will want to disable anything in the Windows directory (unless it’s a third-party program that was incorrectly installed into the Windows directory), nor will you want to disable anything directly relating to your system hardware. The only exception to this is when you are dealing with software, which does not give you any added benefits (some OEM dealers load your system up with software you do not need). The nice part of msconfig is that it does not delete any of the settings, it simply disables them, and so you can go back and restart a startup application if you find that you need it. This optimization won’t take effect until after a reboot.

Optimize Boot Files

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[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Dfrg \ BootOptimizeFunction]

Under this key is a text value named Enable. A value of Y for this setting enables the boot files defragmenter. This setting defragments the boot files and may move the boot files to the beginning (fastest) part of the partition, but that last statement is unverified. Reboot after applying this tweak.

Master File Table Zone Reservation

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[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ FileSystem]

Under this key there is a setting called NtfsMftZoneReservation, the default setting of which is 1. The range of this value is from 1 to 4. The default setting reserves one-eighth of the volume for the MFT. A setting of 2 reserves one-quarter of the volume for the MFT. A setting of 3 for NtfsMftZoneReservation reserves three-eighths of the volume for the MFT and setting it to 4 reserves half of the volume for the MFT. Most users will never exceed one-quarter of the volume. I recommend a setting of 2 for most users. This allows for a “moderate number of files” commensurate with the number of small files included in most computer games and applications. Reboot after applying this tweak.

Windows Prefetcher

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[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Session Manager \ Memory Management \ PrefetchParameters]

Under this key there is a setting called EnablePrefetcher, the default setting of which is 3. Increasing this number to 5 gives the prefetcher system more system resources to prefetch application data for faster load times. Depending on the number of boot processes you run on your computer, you may get benefits from settings up to 9. However, I do not have any substantive research data on settings above 5 so I cannot verify the benefits of a higher setting. This setting also may effect the loading times of your most frequently launched applications. This setting will not take effect until after you reboot your system.

Because of the security features built into Windows XP, it is virtually impossible to get back into the system without the password.

You have several options to try and get around this problem.

If you have access to another user account with administrator rights, you can use that account to change the password

of the account that is locked out. You can also use the default Administrator account that is built into Windows XP.

First you need to boot the system into Safe Mode.

1.Restart your system.

2.When you see the blue Dell globe or screen, press the ( F8 ) key about 3 times a second.

3.You should get the Windows startup menu. Use the (Up or Down) arrow keys to highlight (SafeMode)

4.Press (Enter) on (Safe Mode), then press (Enter) on (Windows XP).

5.The system should boot to Safe Mode.

Once you are at the Account Log on Screen, click on the icon

for the user account with administrator rights, or click on the icon

for the administrators account.

Note: For Home the Administrator account isn’t normally shown & in Safe Mode you have to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys twice to show.

For PRO you can do this in normal mode

When the system has booted to the desktop, use the following steps to change the accounts password.

1.Click Start, Control Panel, Administrative Tools.

2.Click Computer Management.

3.Double click Local Users and Groups, double click the folder Users.

4.Right click on the account name that is locked out, and click on Set Password.

5.You may get a warning message about changing the password, simply click proceed.

6.Leave the New Password box blank, also leave the Confirm Password box blank.

7.Click OK, and OK again.

8.Then close all Windows, reboot the system and try to log in.

There are also applications that can recover the password for you.

The following companies provide these applications at a cost.

iOpus® Password Recovery XP here.

Asterisk Password Recovery XP v1.89 here.

If the above information does not help in recovering the password, the only option left is to

format the hard drive then reinstall Windows and the system software.

Follow the following steps

1. Open notepad.exe, type “del c:\windows\prefetch\ntosboot-*.* /q” (without the quotes) & save as “ntosboot.bat” in c:\

2. From the Start menu, select “Run…” & type “gpedit.msc”.

3. Double click “Windows Settings” under “Computer Configuration” and double click again on “Shutdown” in the right window.

4. In the new window, click “add”, “Browse”, locate your “ntosboot.bat” file & click “Open”.

5. Click “OK”, “Apply” & “OK” once again to exit.

6. From the Start menu, select “Run…” & type “devmgmt.msc”.

7. Double click on “IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers”

8. Right click on “Primary IDE Channel” and select “Properties”.

9. Select the “Advanced Settings” tab then on the device or 1 that doesn’t have ‘device type’ greyed out select ‘none’ instead of ‘autodetect’ & click “OK”.

10. Right click on “Secondary IDE channel”, select “Properties” and repeat step 9.

11. Reboot your computer.

Enabling automatic logon in Vista

Posted: September 14, 2009 in Tweaking, Vista
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If you are the primary user of your computer and you do not have any other users, or if everyone in your household uses the same username, you are the perfect candidate for enabling automatic logon. Automatic logon is a great technique that will save you time that is often wasted when your computer is waiting for you to type your password. Even if you do not have a password assigned to your account, you are still required by the logon welcome screen to click your name to sign in. Having to do these tasks yourself is unnecessary and a waste of time if you are a candidate for automatic logon.

Caution: Automatic logon can be a great feature but it can also create a security problem for your computer. If you use your computer for business, if you have data you prefer to keep safe from others, or both, I strongly recommend that you do not enable this feature. If you happen to step out of your office or if your laptop is stolen, you have left the door to your computer wide open. By enabling automatic logon, you are trading convenience for physical access security. However, you are not changing your network security, so your data is still safe from network attackers. The risk of someone remotely connecting to your computer is the same as if you did not have automatic logon enabled.

Enabling automatic logon is a quick and easy Registry hack. Follow these steps to speed up your sign-on with automatic logon:

  1. Click the Start button, type regedit in the Search box, and then press Enter.
  2. After Registry Editor has started, navigate through HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon.
  3. Locate the AutoAdminLogon entry. If the key does not exist, create it by right-clicking the Winlogon folder and selecting New and then Registry String.
  4. Right-click the AutoAdminLogon entry and select Modify. Set the Value to 1, Then press OK to save the new value.
  1. Locate the DefaultUserName entry or create it if it does not exist.
  2. Right-click DefaultUserName and select Modify. Set the value to the username that you primarily use to sign in to Windows. Press OK.
  3. Locate the DefaultPassword entry or create it if it does not exist.
  4. Right-click the DefaultPassword entry and set the Value to your password.
  5. Close Registry Editor and restart your computer.

After you reboot your computer, Windows Vista should automatically sign on to your account. You will notice that your computer will now get to the desktop much quicker than before. If you ever want to disable automatic logon, just go back into Registry Editor and set the AutoAdminLogon entry to 0.

The Send To menu is one of the features of my context menus that I use the most. The ability to right-click any file and have a shortcut of it sent to the desktop is invaluable. How would you like to make it even more useful? It is very easy to add your own items to the Send To menu, such as folders that you can send files to. Do you have a folder that you store all your music in? How about a folder that you store all your digital photos in? Just follow these quick steps to add anything you want to your Send To context menu entry.

Tip :If you do not see any of the folders that are required in this section, you might have Hidden Files turned on. Because these folders are hidden by default, you will have to tell Windows to show all files.
  1. Click the Start button and select Computer.
  2. Click on your Windows drive and browse through Users\ Username \AppData\ Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo.
  3. You will see all the files that appear in the Send To menu. If you want to add an entry to the menu, just copy a shortcut to this folder.
  4. Let’s say that you want to add your Digital Photos folder to your Send To menu. Navigate to your Digital Photos folder, right-click it, and then select Send To desktop. This will create a shortcut to the folder and save it on your desktop. Next, cut and paste the shortcut that was created from your desktop into the SendTo folder.
  5. If you ever want to remove items from the Send To menu, just delete them from the SendTo folder.

It is that simple. You are now finished customizing your Send To menu.

Hacking the Context Menu in Vista

Posted: August 22, 2009 in Tweaking, Vista
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What is the context menu? It’s the menu that pops up when you right-click anywhere on your computer. Over the years, these menus have become more and more useful. However, with the extra entries in the context menu, they can become cluttered with options and features that you just don’t need. These next few sections will shown you how you can get your menus back under control as well as how you can take advantage of the new features to make your own context menu entries.

I will start off by removing items from the context menus and then move on to adding and customizing the components of the menus.

Removing items from the context menu

Over time, your context menus can become cluttered with program entries from old programs that you may not use any more. You might experience programs that take over all of your context menus. Compression apps such as WinZip or Picozip always end up adding program entries to all the context menus. I have Picozip installed on my computer and every time I right-click any file or folder, I see five entries from Picozip giving me different compression options. This can be a convenient feature, but if you don’t compress and extract zip files very often, you might not need the added convenience. Instead, you could remove these entries from your context menu, which will give your system a cleaner interface as well as a small performance boost if you have a lot of extra entries in your context menu.

Removing these programs from your context menus can be a little tricky because they can be spread in different places in the Registry. The only way to remove these types of entries is to edit the Registry directly. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button, type regedit in the Search box, and then press Enter.
  2. When the Registry Editor appears, expand the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT folder. You will now see a list of every file type that is set up on your computer.
  3. If the entry that you want to remove from the context menu appears in all context menus, such as the preceding WinZip example, you will have to expand the * folder. Otherwise, expand the folder with the file extension you want to modify.
  4. After expanding the correct folder, expand the Shellex and ContextMenuHandlers folders. Your registry path should be HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ ContextMenuHandlers.
  5. Look through the list until you find the entry that you want to remove. Right-click the entry and select Delete. You will find that identifying some of the programs is easy. For example, WinZip is labeled WinZip. However, you may run into some items that are listed using their application/class ID or a vague name. If so, do a Registry search of the class ID (Ctrl+F), which is formatted as {XXXXXXXX-XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX}, to find other references that will give you clues to what the ID belongs to. If that does not work, try doing a search on Google to see if that turns up anything.
  6. After you are finished removing all the entries from your context menus, just close Registry Editor and you are finished. Your changes will be in effect immediately.