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Speed up your Win9x/ME machine

Increasing the speed and performance of Windows 98 by butchrecon
Posted: 2 Jun 01

There are many ways of increasing the performance of Windows 98. In this article I will cover some of the Performance variables that do not require third party soft ware. First and foremost ensure your system is updated (Windows and all drivers). Also have the latest Direct X on your system. DX8 is the latest so far. You can get it at: http://www.microsoft.com/directx/

One Very important piece of Knowledge that all Windows 9x user should be aware of is that Windows 9x cannot CACHE more than 320 Meg of RAM. Now don't get that confused with "seeing" RAM. Windows 9x can "see" up to 2GB of physical RAM. The problem Stems from not being able to utilize more than 320 meg at a time. So system performance actually DECREASES if you install more than 320 Meg. (So keep it down for good performance). 256 Meg is IDEAL!

DMA Mode:
In DEVICE MANAGER Open Disk Drives, then you particular Hard Drive(s). Select the Settings tab.

Tick the DMA box to enable DMA support. By default this will be enabled in Windows 98/Millennium if available. In the BIOS you should also ensure you have your hard drive setup correctly to use the fastest transfer mode thatÆs supported on the hard drive.--PIO mode data transfer rates are slower than DMA/UDMA transfer rates & the Swapfile benefits from a faster data transfer rate, assuming the hard drive support it. Remember the Swapfile is located on your hard drive too; the faster the data transfer rates are, the faster your Swapfile is.
Also go to START>RUN and type regedit. add the following to your registry creating a DWORD:

Virtual Cache:
From within the system applet you can also tweak your Hard Disk cache. Click on the File System button and it should default to the Hard Disk Tab. Set the "Typical Role of This Computer" to Network Server (no matter what your system actually is) and set the Read-Ahead Optimization to Full.
Open up System Editor (START>RUN>sysedit) and go to Config.sys. In config.sys add the following line. (Mainly for gamers as this speeds up the underlying kernel of Windows)
Add the following In the system.ini file go to the "386Enh" section (keeping the format):

Under the "vcache" heading add the following (keeping the format):
(for min and maxfilecache use one of the following numbers:
32 meg or less=4096
64 meg=8192
128 + meg=16384)

Swap File:
If you have two Hard Drives put the SWAP FILE on the Fastest (If your System drive is the fastest leave the swap file there) NON-SYSTEM Drive.(The Drive without Windows.) Go to SYSTEM PROPERTIES then PERFORMANCE then VIRTUAL MEMORY. Set the swap file there. I have found Forcing the Minimum and Maximum swap file size to 256 Meg (no matter how much RAM you have) to be an excellent amount.

Video Settings:
Right click MY COMPUTER and go to PROPERTIES. Next go to PERFORMANCE and click on GRAPHICS. Next slide lever to left one notch from FULL. Hit OK, then OK again. (May require restart).
Next right click on desktop and go to properties. Then go to settings and go to colors. Now set the colors to HIGH COLOR (16 BIT). Most people don't need True Color (24 Bit) for most programs don't utilize that may colors.

Freeing some RAM:
Open up Note Pad and put in the following:
FreeMem = Space(120000000) For 256 MEg of RAM or more.
FreeMem = Space(90000000) For 128 meg-196 meg.
FreeMem = Space(48000000) For 64 meg-96 meg.
FreeMem = Space(20000000) For 32 meg-48meg.
Now save as Memory.vbs and then click on it. This will help free some RAM.

Edit the MSDOS.SYS file and add the following (you may need to disable the attributes first by right clicking on the file and going to PROPERTIES, then uncheck any attributes):

System Startup:
To start the System Configuration Utility, click the Start button, choose Run, and type msconfig. (then hit enter)
Click on the STARTUP tab, In this section UNCHECK any NON-SYSTEM essential program from start up. Research each string to determine if it is needed or not. once you are finished and click ok you will be required to reboot.

Initialization string can speed up the dialing time of your modem. I suggest going to 56K.com and look for the one required by your modem.
Ensure you have the latest drivers and updates to your modem.

Also make sure your AUTOEXEC.BAT file is completely empty. Getting rid of all the programs (Unless absolutely needed) can increase performance since Windows 98 does not utilize this file.

Once you have completed the above tweaks Finish up by first running SCANDISK and do a complete scan. Then Run DEFRAG on all drives. Now your system will run better than ever.

As this is a work in progress please feel free to let me know if there is anything else that can be added to this file to help users. I will be testing and adding tweaks as I come across them.

James Collins
Computer Hardware Engineer
email: buthcrecon@skyenet.net

Special thanks to Comtech for his input.

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