Tips & Tricks

Line Noise & Modem Connections

If you're using a 56k or 33.6k modem and are having difficulty connecting or constantly losing your connection, the problem may be line noise.  The following is a fairly simple test for determining the quality of your connection...

  • Open up a terminal window.

    • Click the Start button and choose Programs, Accessories, Hyperterminal. Double-click on Hypertrm.exe. 
    • When the program comes up, type in TEST for the name and hit the Enter key. 
    • In the next window, type in 1234 for the phone number and make sure your modem is selected as the device to "Connect Using." Then hit Enter. 
    • On the third window, click on Cancel. 
    • You should now be at a blank terminal window. 


  • In the terminal window, type in ATZ and hit Enter, even if you don't see it appear on the screen. It should respond with OK. 
  • Now type the command ATDT XXX-XXXX (where XXX-XXXX is the phone number to your ISP) and hit Enter.
  • The modem should dial and connect to your ISP. You will either see a "Login" or "Password" prompt. Type +++ The modem should respond OK.
  • Type AT&V1 and hit Enter. The modem will respond with a list of information concerning the connection. You should write down the value listed as Line Quality.

  • Type ATH and hit Enter. This will generally disconnect the modem from your ISP. If it does not click on "Call/Disconnect" in the menu bar.

  • Repeat steps 3 through 6 at least 5 times. This will give you an average value for the Line Quality.

Line Quality values greater than 25 generally indicate that the modem is detectng excessive line noise. If this is the case,while there is usually not much that you can do to decrease the noise, you may want to contact the phone company to determine whether they may be able to clean up the line to enhance the line quality.

Installing Updated AMD 750 Bus Master Drivers

If you are trying to update AMD's Bus Master drivers for an AMD 750-based Athlon mainboard and  you keep getting the following error...

You should, first of all, check to see if you can remove the old drivers via the "Add/Remove Programs" applet in the Control Panel.  If you previously installed a version of the Bus Master driver prior to v.1.21, you may be in for some troubles as there is very often no reference to them, and therefore no means for you to remove the drivers using the Control Panel applet.

Here is a method that works:

Go to the Device Manager by right-clicking the My Computer icon on the desktop and choose properties.  In the System Properties window choose the Device Manager tab. Click the "+" sign next to " Hard disk controllers" to expand.  Highlight  "AMD-756 Bus Master IDE Controller" and hit the properties button at the bottom of the window.  In the AMD-756 Bus Master IDE Controller Properties window, select the "Drivers" tab, then hit the "Update Drivers" button.  This should bring up the Update Device Driver Wizard.  Hit "Next".  In the next screen select the "Display a List of..." option and hit "Next".  Select the "Standard Dual PCI IDE Controller" and hit next and follow the propts until you re-boot using the generic IDE driver.  The next step is to open the "C:\Windows\System\Iosubsys\" folder and look for a file named Amdeide.mpd.  Rename this to Amdold.mpd, making sure to type in the .mpd file extension.  Now, close everything up and run the new updated Bus Master driver installer program.  It should now install normally but this doesn't mean you're out of the woods yet.  You'll have to re-boot to finish installing the driver, and when you do you are likely to run into problems. The AMD-756 Bus Master IDE Controller driver will load correctly but then the system will look for a new hardware namely the Primary and Secondary Bus Master IDE Controllers.  After it installs the software for the Primary Bus Master IDE Controller, you are likely to get a blue screen telling you that errors occurred in VXD AFVXD and the screen will say hit any key to continue.  Do this.  When you do you may just get a black screen.  If you do, hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and choose the Shut Down option.  Once the PC shuts down, restart and then the process will likely start again when the Secondary Bus Master IDE Controller software gets loaded.  Again, don't hit reset but rather Ctrl-Alt-Delete and shut down.  This time when you re-start the drivers should all be correctly loaded and there will even be a reference in the "Add/Remove Programs" applet in the Control Panel.  You can now go back and delete the Amdold.mpd file you renamed in C:\Windows\System\Iosubsys\.

Troubles With Removing A Floppy Drive?

I've had reports from a few of you that you are experiencing difficulties after having removed a standard 1.44MB floppy drive and replacing it with either a ZIP or LS-120 drive.  Even after removing it from "Standard CMOS Setup" in the BIOS, your Win9x operating system still lists a floppy drive but you know it isn't there.

Here's a hint...

In the "Advanced BIOS Features" on most systems, you'll find a setting labeled - "REPORT NO FDD FOR WIN95".  The default value for this setting is generally "NO" and in that state, assigns IRQ 6 to the floppy device.  If you change the setting to "YES", the floppy device will have to detect IRQ 6 for itself.  If there is no floppy device, not only will it free-up IRQ 6 but let your operating system know that there is indeed NO floppy device.

This is an undocumented BUG in Windows 98 (retail/OEM releases). In order to FIX it, it requires you to modify 2 system .INF files: MSHDC.INF and DISKDRV.INF, these will be found in your C:\Windows\Inf folder (default).
BACK THEM UP FIRST!  You should also BACKUP your Registry files: SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT, found in your Windows folder, BEFORE MAKING ANY CHANGES!
You need a Pentium class (or better) chipset and motherboard Bus Master IDE/EIDE controller that support IDE drive transfers at least for DMA Mode 1 (PIO Mode 4 at 16 MB/sec) or better, DMA Mode 3 (PIO Mode 5, UltraDMA at 33 MB/sec) for this fix to work properly!
Check your hardware specs and your BIOS/CMOS settings to see which standards are supported by your machine.

If you have enabled your HDD's or ATAPI CD-ROM DMA check box, and don't notice an increase in access speed, or the DMA check box is grayed out (unavailable), apply the FIX detailed below.

The DMA/UDMA disk setting makes a difference mainly when you perform certain tasks on your system, like accessing large files, or create/copy/move/delete large files on the same hard disk/partition or between different hard drives/partitions.  The DMA (Direct Memory Access) controller on your motherboard takes over the handling of hard disk reads and writes, relieving the processor of these time consuming tasks, which would require extra CPU cycles, so your processor can proceed with other operations at the same time, thus making multitasking work smoother and speed up disk access noticeably.

Apply the following changes -
Edit the MSHDC.INF and the DISKDRV.INF files, found by default in your C:\Windows\Inf folder, using Notepad. (NOTE: C:\Windows\Inf is a hidden folder, so it is "invisible" to Explorer, if you don't check the "Show all files" box under: Explorer } View } Folder Options } View tab } Hidden files list } Show all files box.)
Now scroll down to the MSHDC.INF's [ESDI_AddReg] section, and modify (or create if not present) the 2 lines below to read as listed below:


Now edit your DISKDRV.INF file and scroll down to the [DiskReg] section. Add/change the same 2 lines above.

This applies to systems with 2 hard drives (or 1 hard drive and 1 IDE/ATAPI internal cd-rom drive) installed. If you have 3 or 4 IDE/EIDE hard drives in your computer, and/or an IDE/ATAPI compliant cd-rom drive (the motherboard IDE controller supports a maximum of 4 IDE/EIDE drives), add 2 more lines under the same headers shown above, in both MSHDC.INF and DISKDRV.INF:


NOTE: Do NOT delete or modify ANYTHING else in these files!

Now save these files in a different folder, and then open Control Panel } System } Device Manager } Disk drives and remove ALL items under "Hard disk controllers" AND all hard drives under "Disk drives" (ONLY the hard drives, NOT the floppy/removable drives). Reboot your system ONLY after removing ALL above items. When Win98 starts again, the Add Hardware Wizard will find the new hardware devices and prompt you to install the apropriate drivers. Browse to the location of your modified .INF files (NOT to the C:\Windows\Inf folder, which is invisible to your system at this point anyway). The existing disk drive controllers specified in your modified MSHDC.INF will be installed. Insert your Win98 setup cd-rom in your cd-rom drive, and then browse to the \Win98 folder on the cd-rom for driver extraction (if prompted to do so). Restart your machine again when prompted so the changes can take effect.
Now Defrag your hard drives/partitions with the "Rearrange program files so my programs start faster" option enabled.

For More Tips & Tricks check AXCEL216's MAX SPEED

Speed Up Disk I/O
You might own certain applications that may need the asynchronous buffer commit function enabled in Windows 98/95 to operate properly. This feature was first introduced with the release of Windows 3.11, and was enabled there by default, thus speeding disk access. But you can also do this in Windows 9x, and speed up disk intensive applications noticeably.
In asynchronous mode, the Windows 9x 32-bit file system starts the next disk operation without checking if the data from the last operation was written correctly to disk, thus decreasing (by 10% in most cases) the time it takes to perform an I/O (Input/Output) read/write disk function.
A few programs specify if this is recommended or necessary in their documentation, but most don't.
Changing the default might prove unsafe if the hard disk presents surface defects/lost clusters, which errors can be easily corrected by running ScanDisk with the "Thorough" (performs Standard test and scans disk surface for errors)" option turned on. Also, some disk intensive applications might not function correctly in asynchronous mode, and will issue warning messages. The worst case scenario occurs in a sudden power surge, when the information stored into the memory cache buffer cannot be written properly back to disk, resulting in data loss.
Therefore you may need to return to the default mode: synchronous buffer commit, which allows the file system to always check the data to be correctly written to disk from the memory buffer.
Then open Regedit and go to:

In the right hand pane you should see the "AsyncFileCommit" DWORD Value.
Create it if not present: right-click -> select New -> DWORD Value -> name it "AsyncFileCommit" (no quotes). Now double-click on "AsyncFileCommit" -> check the Decimal box -> type 0 (for asynchronous mode), or 1 (for synchronous mode).
Close Regedit and restart Windows.
From now on notice any weird error messages generated by your programs while in asynchronous mode. If you DO get any, reset back to synchronous mode (default), as described above.
This can be also achieved the easy way [but that's no fun :)] by running Control Panel -> System -> Performance tab -> File System button -> Troubleshooting tab -> place (asynchronous mode) or remove (synchronous mode) the check mark from the "Disable synchronous buffer commit" box.
Note that Microsoft suggests altering this setting ONLY for troubleshooting purposes.

For More Tips & Tricks check AXCEL216's MAX SPEED

When using Safe Mode for troubleshooting system problems, you can get access to your CD-ROM drive if you know the secret. Restart your PC and hold down the Ctrl key to get to the Startup menu. Choose Command Prompt Only, type win /d:m at the prompt and press Enter; Windows will start in Safe Mode with the CD-ROM drivers. Note: If you still can't access your CD-ROM drive, it means your real-mode CD-ROM drivers aren't installed.

Create a shortcut to the Device Manager: Right-click on the Desktop and choose New/Shortcut. Enter C:\WINDOWS\CONTROL.EXE SYSDM.CPL,,1 in the Command Line box and click on Next. Name it Device Manager, then click on the Finish button. Assign a new icon to it and you're ready to go....

Are you using the latest AGP drivers? 

Just to make sure, why not check out your chipset's manufacturer website and update if necessary.  ALI Aladdin V - Via MVP3 and don't forget to remove the old AGP driver using the Add/Remove Programs icon in the control panel.  (Note - you can also find the currently installed version identification there in the control panel as well)
Partition for Superior Performance
You should partition your drive for larger capacity and better performance. Partitioning is the method of dividing an area on a disk into smaller portions of lesser capacities that can be recognized by the operating system. Partitioning allows you to achieve greater efficiency and functionality from high-capacity disks (2.1GB or greater). You can create partitions by using FDISK on a system running in MS-DOS mode or by using a third-party disk utility. Remember, partitioning will destroy any information on the drive, so back up any data first. Tired of always having to look for that Windows 95/98 Installation disk whenever you change drivers?  If your HDD is big enough why not copy the Win95 or Win98 directory right on to your HDD?  The Win98 directory is only 170MB (smaller than many games) and you'll never have to look for that disk again.  Whenever you are asked for the installation disk simply click ok and then either type in the directory's address or browse to the directory and click ok again...

Many of you that have large HDDs have partitioned it to many logical drives. Starting Windows Explorer you can see only the contents of drive C: in the left panel. How about viewing all drives, like "My Computer". How can you do this? Right click Start button and select Explore command, search for your Windows Explorer shortcut in Programs and holding [Alt] key double click on the shortcut. Select the Shortcut Tab and at the Target text box type after the /e switch the /select switch, which it should look like this: C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE /n,/e, /select, C:\ Click OK and that was it! Now when you open Windows Explorer you will see all the drives in left panel an the drive C: will be selected

Another tip from our good friend Bohdi

A tip for making file maintenance easier. Create one location for as many of your temp files as possible.

I suggest creating a directory, C:\temp. Into this directory create a subdirectory for each application for which you can redirect temp files.
For example, if you use ICQ (if you don't you should, it has become the defacto standard for Internet communication and messaging as well as file transfer), create a subdirectory called C:\Temp\TempICQ. Back in the ICQ window, click on the ICQ label in the lower left pane until it meows (cute huh?) and select Preferences, then the tab Accept. Where it says File Transfer, Default Incoming File(s) Path, browse your way to the subdirectory just created. It's that easy in ICQ.
For Internet Explorer 4.x, create a subdirectory C:\Temp\TempIE. Then open the Internet Explorer window and after a page has loaded,(even a blank Navigation Canceled will do if you are not online), and go to View, Internet Options, General. The second section, Temporary Internet files, has a Settings button, select it and then Move Folder will take you to a directory tree to browse your way down to the newly created sub directory after a Warning! message. Find it and click OK. You will get a window with a "Reboot" titlebar and a message "You must restart Windows before these changes will take effect. Until Windows is restarted, the old directory will be used." Click OK, and while the Settings window is open you may wish to adjust the size of your cache. If you dump your cache frequently and have a larger drive you may wish to adjust the size of your Temporary files folder. It is important to note the Current folder indicated here at this time. Before the reboot you will want to copy Index.dat from this folder to the new subdirectory. IE4 will create four new strangely named Subdirectories of its own in the C:\Temp\TempIE directory, and by copying the Index.dat, you will have preserved your internet cookies. I am unsure if the copying of files from the four old Temp subdirectories into the new ones created after rebooting and opening IE4 and surfing a few sites will preserve your cache or not, it is worth a try if your anything in your cache is for some reason worth the trouble. Now you can safely delete the original temp Internet Explorer directory.
For Netscape Communicator 4.x, create a sub directory C:\Temp\TempNetscape. Inside this new directory, create another folder, calling the new subdirectory C:\Temp\TempNetscape\Mail. Repeat this for a subdirectory C:\TempTemp\Netscape\News, in the proper parent folder of course. Then open Communicator and in your browser, select Edit, Preferences, and in the Category pane, Advanced, Cache. You will see a section with the name of your cache directory. Make a note of the location and using the choose folder button, drill down the file tree to the new temp subdirectory you have just created. I recommend this method rather than merely typing in the directory path, as it is impossible to mistype the path this way! Now going back to the Category pane, select Mail and Newsgroups, Mail Servers, and you will find a place to Choose your newly created C:\Temp\TempNetscape\Mail directory. Now back to the Category pane, Newsgroups Servers. Here you will repeat the last process for the newly created C:\Temp\TempNetscape\News. Close the Preferences Windows and open your file manager and copy the original directory's contents in to the newly created directories. Now you can safely delete the original directories.
For Microsoft Outlook, you can create a C:\Temp\TempOutlook\Archive directory to save your old items in. Then open Outlook and go to Tools, Options, Properties, Other, and under the AutoArchive... button, AutoArchive, check "Auto archive every_ days", and select a timeframe, and check ,and then check "Delete expired items when AutoArchiving (e-mail folders only) " and under Default archive file: Browse for the newly created C:\Temp\TempOutlook\Archive directory.
For CuteFTP, create a subdirectory C:\Temp\TempCuteFTP. Opening your CuteFTP window, select FTP, and then Options, General, and change the Default Download directory to the newly created C:\Temp\Temp\CuteFTP directory. Its that simple.
For Forte's Agent, you can create a directory C:\Temp\TempAgent to hold the message bodies you choose to save, but message headers and unsaved message bodies are saved in the directory where Agent finds agent.ini. I have not had luck changing the location of this without resultant problems, and short of reinstalling Agent into the C:\Temp\TempAgent Directory, I was unable to reassign where those other files are kept. Any input into this please email me @
For Getright, the file resume program from Headlight Software, Create a subdirectory C:\Temp\TempGetRight. Start Getright and right click on the tooltray icon. Select Configuration , and in the resultant Configure Getright windows, go to the Save To tab, and click the 'radio button' for "One default directory for all downloads", and use the browse button to drill down to your newly created C:\Temp\TempGetRight directory. Its that simple.
For the Opera browser and the Copernic98 Meta searcher I have yet to determine how to reconfigure their cache directories. If you have other programs, usually a check of the help files will suffice to direct as to how to change the default directories.

Anyway, the benefits of this are really terrific as it not only makes finding downloaded files easier, but it gives one location to manage the incoming files to your drive. This makes screening and viral checking of files a "one stop shop" and it makes monitoring of the overall size of your temp files a simple one right click operation and check the folder properties operation. This is one of those tips that one says after implementing them, "How did I ever live without this before!"

This tip as well as the last came from Bohdi (a good friend of S7HG):

An addition to your section on heat sinks and cooling or a tip o the day can be that Radio Shack offers a very cool 65 cfm 4" fan quiet and perfect for case chillin! its 120 volt, so some soldering to the hot leads inside the power supply may be in order. but it really does move that hot air out of the case at an unbelievable rate.. and its wide mouth seems to collect less dust. All that radiated heat from the heat sinks has to go somewhere... $18!

Save a little real estate on your hard drive by reducing the size of your recycle bin.  The recycle bin's default size is 10% of the drive.   This can mean 600MB's of wasted space on a 6G. hard drive.  Simply left click on the recycle bin and choose properties.  Use the slider to reduce the size to a more realistic level and click OK.  That's all there is to it.  Now fill up all that newly gained space with something cool.

After having so much difficulty trying to apply nVidia's AMDTweak.exe (a program designed to enhance Graphics card performance with 3DNow! specific drivers I had pretty much screwed up some of my file associations in Windows 98.  Here is what I did to fix the problems I created:


If you accidentally associate a particular file extension with the wrong application, don't try to fix it from within the Windows Explorer File types dialog box-there's no way to remove a single extension from a registered file type without deleting the entire entry and starting over. Instead, use the Windows 95 version of the Windows 3.x File Manager, which you can launch from the Run dialog box by typing winfile and pressing [Enter]. Once File Manager opens, pull down the File menu and select the Associate... command. When the Associate dialog box appears, type the extension that you want to get rid of in the Files with Extension text box. When you do, you'll see the errant file association appear in the Associate With text box. To remove the file association, scroll to the top of the list of file types, select (None), and then click OK.

How to tell your Applications where to look for and save files to:

Here's how to tell any application where to look for documents and where to save them by default: Find the shortcut to the application on your Desktop or Start menu (for Start menu shortcuts, right-click on the Start button and choose open, then find your way to the shortcut). Right-click on the shortcut and select Properties. Click on the Shortcut tab. Now type the path to the folder of your choice in the Start In box (like My Documents, My Work, Temp, or any folder you choose).

Boot Up Faster

Win95 pauses for about two seconds during boot-up to give you the opportunity to press a start-up key such as F8. To remove the pause and make boot-up faster, open the MSDOS.SYS file in Notepad and add the entry BootDelay=0 to the [Options] section.

You can achieve a slight performance boost by identifying your computer as a network server to Windows 95/98, rather than a desktop computer.  Right click on My Computer and choose properties - click the performance tab and the hard disk dialog should come up.   Where it says typical role of this computer; choose Network Server from the drop down list.  That's all there is to it.  Now just reboot and you are ready to go.   Setting the typical role to "Network Server" optimizes the disk caching properties of the computer.

If your system has an Intel flash ROM, on a mainboard with a non-Intel chipset you may see an error message while you update your BIOS. This is not serious, it is due to the special architecture of Intel Flash ROMs. Intel Flash ROMs have a bootblock protection that can not be disabled through software. In other words, the FLASH program is unable to program the bootblock and will give an error message. However, the bootblock does need not to be upgraded (it is a basic routine that does not change), so after the rest of the BIOS is upgraded you can restart your system and the upgrade will be complete, please ignore the error message.

Tired of long boot sequences???
Here are a few little tweaks to try...
  1. Disable Floppy drive Seek. When your computer turns on, the BIOS automatically accesses the floppy drive, even when there isn't a disk in it. Disabling this feature may speed up the process by a few seconds.

  2. Remove the Boot Delay. Many (especially proprietary) PC's have the option to delay booting for set period. This is done to give the hard drive time to spin-up before the BIOS needs it. You can remove it to speed things up, but depending on your hard drive you may discover that you need it after all.

  3. Enable "Quickboot" option in BIOS. Many new computers come with a BIOS feature called Quickboot or Quick POST. Enabling this option causes the system to bypass some of the tests it would normally perform during the POST (power on self test). Although it makes booting faster, it increases the likelihood of a hardware problem going undetected because the system doesn't catch it at the start.

  4. If you use Win 95 clean up the registry. Over time installing and un-installing software your Windows 95 registry contains entries that are no longer needed. This bloated registry is loaded each and every time the system is started. Many software titles out there are able to scan the registry, detect orphaned entries, and remove them. A streamlined registry loads much faster than a bloated one. You can download RegClean 4.1 for free off of many sites on the web.

  5. Clean out your StartUp folder. Make sure that there is nothing there that is unnecessary. It may be that Windows is loading up programs that you no longer need, this is a waste of time. To fix this, go to the Start Menu, Settings, TaskBar. Click the start Menu tab, click Remove, browse down to the StartUp folder, expand it, and then remove any program from that folder which are no longer needed.

  6. Change the boot sequence in the BIOS. The default order is A:, then C:. The computer always checks the floppy drive first then proceeds to boot off the hard drive. Simply reverse this order (most BIOS will allow you to do this). You may have to change it back to run a program off of a disk that calls for a clean boot, but if this is something you don't do often changing the boot sequence can shave a few seconds off of the boot time.

When using Cyrix / IBM processors make sure that you Linear Burst Enabled in the Chipset Features in the BIOS.  You also may want to check your motherboards jumper settings to see if they include a CPU to SRAM Data Transacting Mode Selection configuration.  Failure to correctly configure these settings will result in poor performance.

When configuring your new motherboard it is a good idea to enable USB support in the BIOS setup even if you don't have any USB peripherals. In Windows 95 OSR2 and above it is required for the AGP port. It is especially important to do so for MVP3 chipset (rev "CD") owners who may want to use i740 or G-200 based AGP video cards as the flash BIOS upgrade necessary to use these devices properly can prevent enabling USB support after installation. Have your Win 95/98 cd handy to install the drivers for the USB controller and PCI to USB bridge.


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