Bootdisk.Com Win95/98+ PC Service Tips

First published around Winter 2000.
Reviewed October 2010. 

A personal note to my fans.

Perhaps Microsoft coders read stuff like this as most of it
does not apply to their modern OS's. I particully like how
stout the registry has become in the last few years. 

I'm amazed how long I've been doing this. Kindest regards,
Ed Jablonowski


Is your first thought "You've got to be kidding"?

It's as easy as clicking on Setup.exe right? Well, yes, most of the time
it is that simple and everything goes perfect. However, so many systems
now are running with numerous background processes it's starting to
interfere with the proper installation of many software packages and
downloaded applications.  There are other issues as well. 

I am amazed how many people these days try to install new software
while they are connected to the internet or while they have 29 other
applications running simultaneously.  And then they wonder why they 
get errors. Your antivirus and internet clients are the most important 
apps to close prior to any software install.

It's also a good idea to make sure your computer is in top shape before 
you proceed with installing additional software.  See {PC TuneUp} for 
details.  Running scandisk at the least is recommended prior to installing 
any new app.

Also note that if you are installing the latest Microsoft IE or other 
update you are really "upgrading" your OS, as MS has merged what should 
be separate functions into the operating system.  Be especially sure that 
no background applications are running including the internet before you
proceed with the OS upgrade.

Programs like {EndItAll} or using the Task Manager to close all background
apps wont suffice in such cases as the programs will run on the reboot.  
You have to disable them using msconfig or other StartUp manager to do 
it right. 

Note that re-installing Windows over itself is just like installing new


If you follow the steps below you will decrease the chance of encountering
errors installing new software and minimize the chance of having problems
occur later on.

1. Go into the cmos setup or Control Panel Date/Time and make sure the
year is set correctly.

2. Delete the files and folders in the C:\Windows\Temp folder. This is 
where most applications will unpack and/or store temporary installation 
files.  Also check if you have a C:\Temp and clean that out also.  It's 
nice to have a clean table to lay out the laundry. 

In Windows98 | Programs | Accessories | System Tools there is a utility 
called Disk Cleanup. You can use it to delete temp files in standard 

3. Read the docs, readme.1st, or other help file first if available. There 
may be special considerations or tweaks you have to do in advance for
a particular application. 

4. Use Control Panel Add/Remove and uninstall any app you are no longer
using.  OPTIONAL: You may clean out any bad registry keys using a registry 
cleaner like {EasyCleaner} or similar type program. Beginners should not
use a registry cleaner tho.

5. Backup your registry and system files and know how to restore them if 
the install goes bad. Yes windows 98 and above keep a backup of your 
last 5 registries but it doesn't keep a backup of system.ini, win.ini, 
autoexec.bat and config.sys.  You can use {Cop 2.2} or other system file 
backup utility or you can do it manually. 

If your registry does go bad after a software install any you are using
Windows 98 or higher you can boot to dos and run scanreg /restore to
go back to a previous known working copy of your registry. 

6. Close all background processes as warned during the initial screen on
most new applications. You can press down the Alt-Ctrl keys than press
Del to open up the task manager and select each one and than select 
End Task.  Close everything except Explorer and Systray. This can get 
tedious so another option is to use a utility like {EndItAll} or {KillWin} 
which closes them down all at once.

{EndItAll} ver1 works for Win98 and WinMe. Ver2 may or may not work 
correctly for Window Me.

7. Check your autoexec.bat file it's located in the root directory C: and
make sure some ninny hasn't put a line there that automatically cleans out
c:\windows\temp with every boot.

8. Remember to reboot your computer after each new application you install
even tho the install wizard may not ask you to. Than run the application. 

9. If you are getting a message like "A Previous Program Installation Was 
Never Completed" try renaming your wininit.ini file, reboot, then try again.

10. Special Note for driver upgrades.  Often you have to remove your old
driver before you install the new one.  This seems to be most common for
printer drivers and modems.  Sometimes you have to check with the 
manufacturer on how to completely remove an existing driver. 


1. Uninstall it first using Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs. Reboot.

You may get prompted "This is a shared file do you want to keep it"?
It's best to choose Yes first time around especially if you notice that the
"shared" files are in the Windows folder.  Choose No if you have to go 
through this process again. 

If however, you notice that the "shared" files are in the particular 
application folder [Not the windows folder] than it's safe to allow the
uninstall routine to remove them the first time around. 

2. Clean out the registry using a third party utility like {EasyCleaner}. 
Reboot. This should get rid of most of the registry entries the uninstall
wizard missed. Reboot.

3. If you are having a sticky problem removing it check the website of the
software author it may have a special utility that completely removes the
files and registry entries. 


1. First look in the specific program group of the application you are 
using for an uninstall icon.  If you don't see any listings or icons than 
check Start | Settings | Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs |
Install/Uninstall. Select the program you want to remove and than
click Add/Remove.

Follow the prompts but don't let the Wizard delete any shared files
unless you can see that they are within the specific folder the application 
was initially installed into. On the other hand, If you know for sure that 
the particular program caused a problem on your computer than by all 
means let it remove as much of itself as it can. Reboot

2. If you are getting errors on the reboot regarding files missing etc.
than search system.ini and the registry for them and rem them out 
in system.ini and/or delete the specific key in the registry. Proper
knowledge of how to backup/restore your system files apply of course.

3. If you tried to uninstall the program using Add/Remove and it refused
to run because of some file it couldn't locate, you may actually have to
install the program fresh and reboot in order to run the uninstall routine.

4. Again, some programs are more difficult to remove than others so
before you start manually editing your system files be sure to check the
software makers website as sometimes they have special uninstall
programs that are not included with the original release.

5. Lot's of new software still runs in its own folder and doesn't marry 
Windows or create registry entries. Some programs simply run with a
a single file that doesn't install at all. These you can simply delete.

6. After you've uninstalled the app. you may want to finish up with a
registry cleaning using Easy Cleaner or similar app. 

7. For printers often the easiest way to uninstall them is to actually 
remove the printer from Control Panel | Printers and say yes it's OK
to delete all the files associated with the printer.  For the many other
hardware items that require drivers what you do is boot to Safe Mode
and remove the device using Device Manager.

Have fun and don't get frustrated. A computer is only a tool. Home

Bootdisk.Com Win95/98+ PC Service Tips


This document is designed for folks who are having Major problems 
running scandisk and disk defragmenter the standard way, or if scandisk 
and defrag are having Major problems completing their tasks.

If scandisk or defrag keep restarting then something is writing to
your hard drive. These are called Background Processes.  Hold down 
Alt-Ctrl than press Del which opens up the Task Manager to view most 
of these processes.  

If you only have a few items there, select each item and then End Task. 
You must however let Explorer continue to run. Systray is optional. Then 
set your screen saver to None and try scandisk or defrag again.  

Many folks however, have 10 or 20 or even 35 items in the Task Manager.
In this case it's much easier to boot to Safe Mode, disable the screen 
saver, disable power management, and then runn scandisk or defrag.  

To get to Safe Mode, tap the F8 key IMMEDIATELY after you see Starting 
Windows or hold down the Ctrl Key while booting.  Sometimes you have 
to try both methods at the same time(g) This "should" get you the menu 
you need to boot to Safe Mode.

If you have a USB mouse it will NOT work in Safe Mode. You may need
to invest in a standard ps/2 or serial mouse if just for tweaking purposes
in Safe Mode or even DOS.

If defrag stops with an error message or just stops, then you may have to
run a FULL thorough scandisk first. A bad sector on your drive may need to 
be repaired by scandisk.

Keep in mind that a virus or trojan may also be a background process. 
To eliminate that possibility it's often best to boot with a clean 
bootdisk and run an up-to-date anti-virus from DOS.

A third party utility like {EndItAll} (use ver1 for WinMe) is designed to 
close most of your background processes at once saving you time if you like
to run Scandisk and Defrag in regular mode and need to close down
all the background processes at once. 

Many times your network or @home connection can also cause scandisk 
or defrag to continually restart.  If you have an inhouse network you can 
just pull out the cable from the back of your NIC or the HUB or turn the 
HUB off.  If you have an @home connection then YOU MUST shut the cable 
modem off while your system is also off BEFORE YOU pull out the cable, 
boot up, than close all the background processes as noted above and retry.

REMINDER-Be sure your computer system is off before you unplug or plug 
in any cables or power down your cable modem.

Another tweak which may work to temporarily disable your network traffic
is to go into Device Manager, double click on Network Adapters, select 
your NIC or ethernet card, choose Properties, than tick Disable in this 
hardware profile.  You can untick it after scandisk or defrag completes
and you reboot. 

However, even tho folks do the above they still may have problems 
running scandisk and/or defrag normally and that's the purpose of the
rest of this document. 

Again, the most simple commonly recommended remedy is to boot to 
Safe Mode, disable your screen saver, power management, and then run 
scandisk and/or defrag.  You may have to in advance also disable
power management in the bios also.

There is a possible pitfall to running defrag in Safe Mode however, as
sometimes your desktop icons may get re-arranged. 

Again, remember to turn off your cable modem, printer, and any other
external device if you are having any problem running scandisk or 
defrag the normal or Safe Mode way.



1. The first utility most folks run is scandisk. Scandisk should always
be run before defrag as a matter of good maintenance.  Keep in mind 
however that you can set defrag to scan your disk first just in advance 
of the defrag.

2. You have the option of running scandisk in DOS or Safe Mode. To run
scandisk in DOS boot to Command Prompt Only using the F8 key when you
see Starting Windows 9X on your screen. You have to be very fast. If
you are finding it difficult to get the menu to appear install TweakUI 
first in Windows and set tweakUI for a 3 or 5 second boot menu delay in 
Boot | Boot Menu and check Always show boot menu.

Or, in Windows 98 you can also try holding down the Ctrl key when the
system starts to get to the boot menu tho it's an unsupported switch
and you can't expect it to work on every system.
If your system is not even booting up from your C: drive than use a 
bootdisk with scandisk on it. If you have a drive overlay program than 
you have to insert the bootdisk at the proper time. 

3. Once you are in DOS, type scandisk C: than Enter to start the utility.
Let it finish, than you will be presented with an option to do a surface
scan. Let scandisk perform a full surface scan in which case you have to
babysit it as when it finds any bad clusters you will be prompted as to
what to do. Generally, I choose NOT to save the data and I skip undo as
any data that is in a bad sector is most likely damaged beyond repair
anyway. Your choice may be different its up to you.

Of course if you have other drive letters you need to scan replace C: 
with the Hard Drive letter of your choice.

4. If you want to automate the DOS version of scandisk, type
scandisk /all /autofix /nosave /surface

/all      Scans all hard disks attached to the system
/autofix  Automatically fixes errors
/nosave   Doesn't save any lost clusters
/surface  Performs surface scan on the disk

5. More often then not tho, I find that running scandisk in Safe Mode
to be faster. Again, use F8 to select Safe Mode or if you have installed 
tweakUI the boot menu will appear automatically. Once you boot to 
Safe Mode disable your screen saver first. 

Now configure scandisk. In Type of test tick Thorough. Go to Options, tick
System and data areas and click OK.  Now tick Automatically fix errors.
Next, select Advanced, tick Free in Lost file fragments and tick Delete
in Cross-linked files and click OK. Now click on Start to run the utility.

Again, as a reminder, this is the configuration I use as I find that any
data in bad sectors is useless. If you have data that is irreplaceable
you may want to learn more about scandisk and how to recover data from
a damaged drive or consult a professional service person in advance. 

Some folks will strongly suggest that you should never let scandisk fix
errors automatically. This is a legitimate argument. A boot sector virus
or misconfigured hard drive in the cmos setup can result in the loss of
all your data. Personally, when I run scandisk with autofix, I do so
knowing that the hard drive is setup correctly and its values haven't
been changed and there aren't any viruses that will interfere with the

6. Please note: The downside of marking bad sectors bad is that when you
go and reboot your computer it may not boot at all, or certain apps will
not work, or you will be missing pieces of Windows and have to reinstall.
However, you may discover that your hard drive is on the way out and in
fact running a full surface scan WAS necessary to properly service the
system and discover the real root of your computer problem.

In other words, running scandisk in this manner doesn't create a new
problem, it may simply may bring to light what the real problem is and
most often it's a failing hard drive if new or additional clusters are 
marked bad.


1. Now it's time to prepare your computer to run defrag. There are some
steps to take that will certainly allow it to complete faster as follows:
Remove all temp files in [replace the C: with your actual drive letter]
C:\Windows\Temp and C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files. I do this after
first booting to DOS using COP 2.2 or I delete them manually using Windows 
Explorer. Its quite common to find 3,000 to 15,000 files in those folders 
if you haven't cleaned them out for a while.

If you delete your temp and cache files while in Windows be sure to also
Empty out the recycle bin afterwards. 

Windows 98 users can also use Disk Cleanup which is in Accesssories |
System Tools.  There are many third party automated temp/cache file 
cleaners as well.

There are also other folders which may contain thousands of temp files
including Netscape cache folders for each version of Netscape you have.
You will have to manually find where Netscape is installed tho by default
it's usually in C:\Program Files. Netscape has options to clean temp files
and there are also other third party utilities which make this job easier 
as previously noted.

Also check c:\dos for any *.tmp files as if you are working on an older
system the temp folder may still be set as c:\dos.

2. When you use Explorer to delete temp files, they are not in fact
deleted but go to the recycle bin so you have to empty that afterwards.
To save time deleting files using Explorer, after you select the files
you want to delete you can hold your Shift key down to delete them
which avoids sending them to the recycle bin. 

3. The most important thing to do prior to running defrag is to make
sure there are no background apps running.  There are several ways
to do this. First, you can hold down the  Alt-Ctrl keys than press Del 
which opens Task Manager and close each program individually. Or, 
you can use a utility like EndItAll to close everything but explorer and 
systray.  You also have to remember to shut off your screen saver as well.

4. The third way to help assure there are no background apps running
is to Boot to Safe Mode using the tips noted above in the SCANDISK section. 
Disable your screen saver and run Defrag. It may still restart 
2 to 5 times at 10% but 99% of the time it will now get past that 
and finish.

REMINDER-Make sure you have your most important data backed up 
on another media before using this advice. Make sure you know how
to restore your data. Make sure your backup media is good.  Always 
have at least 2 copies of all your important data.  Kept one copy in
a different room or better yet, a different home or office than your 
computer is in. 

Have fun and don't get frustrated. A computer is only a tool. Home