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Tech Tips

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    PlanetQuake | Features | Tech Tips | 8-10-99
   

Tech Tips
This is where your gaming and hardware needs are met. Be all that you can be or get out of the game! This won't be a forum for techno-geeks to find more ways to impress their non-technical friends, it's for plain folk who need help to better their gaming experience. But don't blame us if you blow your machine sky high; we're offering tips, not the Bible on computers. The mailbag is alive and well - send in those questions to TechTips.
by Love2Play

Streamlining Windows for more gaming power!

Let's get ready to make your Windows system scream! The first thing to consider when optimizing your system is if you want to play Quake or look at your 500 animated icons and wallpaper of a scantily clad Paula Abdul. If your icon tray extends to the start button, become accustomed to low framerates. Our point here? Turn that extra stuff off! If you want all the resources available for your game, settle for the plain old desktop and no wallpaper. bad.jpg (32782 bytes)Changing the color's fine, and if you absolutely feel the necessity to be flamboyant, there are some really annoying patterns available. What about all those "handy" icons on your desktop? Ditch 'em and begin using your start menu.

Tap the old 3-fingered salute (ctrl-alt-del) to take a look in the task manager and see what is running in the background.  An infamous program that causes havoc with gameplay is the "Findfast" utility from Microsoft Office.  How do you get rid of it? Right-click on start, then click on explore and browse down to the start menu. While you're there check for other CPU-eating culprits. Advanced users can run a program called TweakUI, which is included in Windows95 Power Toys By Microsoft, on the Windows98 CDROM, or can be downloaded here. It will show you everything including what you didn't know was running in the background. In Windows98 TweakUI is basically built-in. Go to Start Menu > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Info > Tools > System Configuration Utility. There is what loads during your startup, uncheck what you don’t need. For instance, Diamond's InControl Tools places a desktop manager there that runs all the time to manage your desktop crap for you. Since the control panel is always available, take In Control out of your start up menu. Take anything out that you don’t use on a regular basis (just be careful, as there may be programs Windows needs to run, but you've never heard of before). If you can use it by clicking on it when you need it, great, otherwise it's just a drain on resources. Many times before a game you may find it advantageous to right-click on the various items in your icon tray and close them to unload memory / cpu hogs down there.

Now that you have toned down the fluff, it’s time for a cleaning. Hopefully using Scandisk and Defrag are not new to you. They should be a part of your computer's regular diet. defrag.jpg (14899 bytes)Run them regularly if you want your PC to be in top shape. Defrag should be ran weekly as a minimum, and scandisk no less than monthly. This will help keep all of the corrupted files and clusters from hardening the arteries of your machine, which in turn will raise your blood pressure. Another important item as a gamer is a virus scanner. If you are a frequent flyer on the Internet, don’t leave home without a virus scan (but it would help to turn it off while gaming). The first time it saves your hard drive it becomes the most valuable purchase you ever made. Recommended brands are Symantec’s Norton Antivirus and McAfee. Again, run and update regularly. 

Now for the juicy stuff

These are the ones that Windows always puts up that warning to you that your computer may not run... well, we don’t guarantee it either, but we certainly recommend trying these for better performance.

Before doing ANYTHING, back up the registry. To Backup your Windows 95/98 Registry manually:

1.Open Windows Explorer in Windows 9X, in the View Menu, choose Options and be sure that the box "Show all file types" is checked For Windows 98, in the View Menu, choose Folder Options and click on the View tab, and see that "Show all files" is checked under Hidden Files.
2.Be sure the box "Hide MS-DOS file extensions" is UNchecked in both Windows 95/98 and hit OK.
3.Now, back in Windows Explorer, go to the Windows folder, probably "C:\Windows".
4.Copy system.dat and user.dat to a separate directory, like "C:\Backup" for example.

The quicker fixer upper

1. Right click on "My Computer", choose properties > Performance tab > File system. Under "Hard Disk", "Typical role of this computer", change it to "Network server". Click OK, but do not reboot yet.
2. In "Graphics", if you have an excellent system (with plenty of memory) put the slider at full acceleration. If you have problem with a jerky mouse, move it down one notch. Now click ok and reboot.

Virtual Memory:

Before you change this, it is recommended that you defragment your harddrive first. Windows stores the swap file in one huge chunk of drive real estate, so to make efficient use of your drive it would be good to give it one large contiguous block to write to.

Once again in "My Computer", Properties > Performance > Virtual Memory. The best setting for your virtual memory is twice the amount of RAM you have. For example, If you have 32 megs, set it to 64 (minimum and maximum) Also, if you have more than one harddrive, it is recommended that you choose the harddrive that is the fastest to save the swap file to.
Mine is set to: (128 megs of ram)
minimum 260
maximum 260
Also, the drive you choose here should be the harddrive with the largest available space. The more room to cache into, the better.




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