IT question and answers

OPTIMIZING

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF ICONS IN YOUR SYSTEM TRAY (NEXT TO YOUR CLOCK)?

As you install programs now a days, they all seem to want to be running in the system tray, as well as in the "quick launch taskbar". There is a little something you can do and I think you will be quite amazed at the results. All those little icons are actually slowing your performance of the computer. Try this:

First restart your computer and do not start anything.. simply RIGHT CLICK on MY COMPUTER and select PROPERTIES now click on the PERFORMANCE tab and read what it says for "available resources" For example, it will tell you that you have 64mb of ram, if that is what you have, and then the percentage of available resources. Now you say you have a lot of icons so I am going to guess you are running around 80% This means 20 percent of the RAM on your computer is being used... and you haven't even started to use your computer yet!!

The solution is to remove the icons (closing the program from running), that you don't need running all the time.

First, starting with the Quick Launch Tray. These are the ones that have been added with the built in Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and Show Desktop Icon. Depending on your version of windows 98, you might also have a "channels" icon.    These are the default icons and you don't want to remove them (other then the channels one) if you have the channels one you can RIGHT CLICK on it and select DELETE. Microsoft has since done away with the channel "push technology" as it is more of a pain then anything.

Next, any other icons you have in the quick launch don't need to be running in the quick launch, and can simply be placed the desktop .. Click on each icon from the quick launch taskbar that you want to remove from there and by clicking and holding on, drag it to the desktop. Chances are it will prompt you stating there is already an icon there (with possibly fewer bytes) however, no matter, just say "yes" to the overwrite. Now you have successfully removed the icons from the quick launch and the only ones that should be there are the three originals (internet explorer, outlook express, and show desktop).

Next are the ones running in the system tray (next to your clock). These you will have to do a little more then simply right click on and choose "exit".. because that will usually only close that instance of the program and when you restart your computer they will return. What you have to do in most of these cases, is open the program or sometimes you have the "options" available by RIGHT clicking on the icon. If you see preferences or options, go in to that and then look for an option that reads something like "start in system tray on start up" or "start program on windows start".. if you see this, de-select that.

Now you should be able to close that program. This tells the program not to be placed in the start up or system tray when windows first loads. In the case of Real Audio Player for example, it is called "start centre" and can be found in the preferences. Forget the warnings it will tell you if you turn off the start centre.. they are going to warn you that the program can not be updated when it is not running.. but what they are referring to are the advertisements and information that is viewed when you start your real audio player.. These are obviously not things that need to be run all the time.

Next, after you have gone through all the icons you want to eventually remove from the system tray, you will want to go to the start menu/programs/start up folder and then right click on each item found in here and delete it. Remember, this is simply a shortcut to the actual program so it is safe to delete this icon in the start up folder. You will probably find some things that don't even have an icon on the system tray, such as "Microsoft find fast" or "Microsoft office".. among possible "reminders" if you have these, they can safely be removed. What find fast is, is Microsoft's way of "speeding up" the operation of their program. Because it is a very big program (Microsoft office), and since it has been around since the slow age of computers (486's and low end Pentiums), they thought by having the program half started already, when you go to use the program it will load that much faster, however nowadays, this is not needed. As well, the find fast will always be running in the background, constantly updating the index to your hard drive. So, after you have deleted all the icons from the start up folder that you do not want started at windows boot up, then you can go to the control panel (in the case of find fast only), here, you will find a FIND FAST icon and if you click on it, it will probably show you the c drive is being indexed. click on it once so that it is highlighted and then click on 'FILE' and delete the index. Again, it will prompt you "are you sure".. say yes to this. now click on file and choose "close and stop".

now when your computer starts up, it will no longer go through and index your hard drive for Microsoft office files.

At this point you should have only the icons on your system tray that you want. Things like your speaker (volume control), an antivirus program (hopefully you do have an antivirus program  running all the time), and then possibly an icon to change display settings (in the case of ATI video cards for example), If you also have a CD BURNER, then you will have some sort of disk-detect software running which is also necessary.

Finally, you will want to go "deep" in to the windows operating system to where windows reads the files while booting up. You are aware of the time it takes to start windows. What it is doing is loading all the different device drivers for the hardware you have installed, as well, it is starting any programs that run "before" windows is loaded. These are the antivirus, the power profile for your screen saver and power management, etc.

To access this area you will click on the start menu and then on RUN and type msconfig and then press ok.

Here you will now see a windows diagnostic menu. While you are at the first "general" tab, depending on your version of windows 98, you should either see it right there, a check box that reads "fast shutdown". De-select this. If you don't see it on the general window, click on the ADVANCED button, and it should be there. Note this will not be there on win98se I don't believe. You want to disable the fast shutdown because it will interfere with your antivirus program among other programs, and where you will find this effective are on those times when you click "restart your computer" and it goes to the windows 98 splash screen and hangs.. not shutting down all the way. This was because the fast shutdown was on and when you choose to shut down, windows turns off the drivers, however your antivirus program is usually set to do a quick scan when shutting down. (this brings me to another area of your antivirus program.. getting a little off the topic, but you can also go in to your antivirus options and find where it scans your floppy disks 1.upon access and 2.when windows shuts down. de-select the later, as you only need it to scan your floppy drive when you go to use it), this affects this "fast shutdown" and so by disabling the fast shutdown and by removing the virus scan on floppy drives when exiting, you will not have any more windows hang-ups..

Now, after you have made those changes, (still in the diagnostic window), click on the START UP tab. Here you will see a large list of files/programs that are to be run while windows is loading. To the right of the program is the path to the program, incase you don't understand what the program is, by following the path, you can usually tell what the program is.

All you do here is de-select the check box on each program you do not want to run. Now because some (or most) you may not be sure of, go for the obvious ones first.. the "bill reminders" or anything that says "reminder" These were created by programs like ms works calendar, or ms greetings. You may also have programs like msn messenger running on your desktop, well now you can get rid of that as well, by deselecting it in here.

If you are unsure, remember you can always "de-select" everything, but whatever you do choose, when you click on {OK) it will prompt you to restart your computer. YOU MUST DO THIS NOW otherwise whatever changes you made in the diagnostic window will not be saved! This is where it can be quite time consuming because if you are unsure of what programs to de-select each time you make a change and click on OK you have to restart. I might suggest going for the obvious ones first.. then click on OK and restart your computer. Give it time as it will take a while for all the program to completely load. When the hard drive light has stopped flashing and/or your mouse pointer is no longer busy, once again RIGHT CLICK on MY COMPUTER and select PROPERTIES, and then PERFORMANCE and note the new performance.. I would think you should have gained at least 10% !

Next look at your system tray and see what other programs are still running. If you see the program you don't want, then go back in to msconfig and the start up tab and find that specific program..

Remember you can safely de-select whatever you want, but if you are unsure of what it does, I would suggest leaving it, because there are some that will help with the system maintenance and should be running in the background all the time. These items however, will NOT have icons being displayed on the taskbar, these are programs like "power profile" .. leave them alone, even if there are more then one.

Another way to get your system running faster is to choose less colours for display. Based on the type and memory size of your video card, you can find your system runs faster by using 16bit or even 256 colours.  NOTE:  16bit (16 millions colours) is enough, even if you can go to 24bit or 32bit, for the average computer system UNLESS you are in to the 3D GAMING at which point you will want to follow the guidelines of the game. To select your colour and resolution options RIGHT CLICK on any empty place on your DESKTOP and select customize my desktop.  Now click on SETTINGS and then ADVANCED. Now select the option which allows you to make changes without prompting to restart your computer.  Next press APPLY and then OK. Now go back to the SETTINGS and change your colours from the drop-down window. You should have at least 2, 16 and probably 256 if everything is working properly.  Depending on your resolution, you might also have 16bit, 24bit or 32bit.  You will notice if you change the resolution from 640 x 480 to 800 x 600 and your colours were set to 32bit, that might have changed to a lower colour pallet because of the limitations of your video card.  Finally, what should you be using?  Typically the average computer surfing the net, doing emails and playing "solitaire" can quite easily be at 16bit colours with 800 x 600 resolution.  The size (resolution) of your screen will be dependent of the size of your monitor and just how large you want to view your material.  Most Websites are built at 800 x 600 or higher resolution so if you find you are constantly having to scroll left to right on a website it is because your display is set to 640 x 480