much do you understand about your Windows OS? What does it
actually do with your hardware and your Quake game? What are
those nightmare error messages that pop up in the middle of
an intense frag and force you into the three finger salute
(ctrl-alt-del) ? We thought we would take this time to help
unravel some of the mysteries of Windows and give you some
power back. With some understanding, you may be able to become
the boss of your OS and stop yourself from making the mess
There are several ways to know more about what's under the
hood in your computer. And this is an important thing to know
if you are going to be the one in charge. Know what's in there!
Everyone knows about Control Panel, but does it always tell
you what's in there? Sometimes not. For example it may put
your Voodoo 2 card down under Sound and Game controllers instead
of Display Adapters. Or it may put your CD-Rom in the Multimedia
category. You just never know, it all depends on the drivers.
Windows does not actually look at your hardware, it goes by
what clues the drivers give it. So where else would you look?
Start Menu>Programs>Accessories>System Tools>System Information.
Here it will tell you right down to the very driver
what is in your machine. It also has a few troubleshooting
areas if you look through all the options available. This
is an excellent place to get to know what is in your computer.
And, if you are having problems and need to tell someone what
you have and what drivers are there, you can now do so with
complete information. In Hardware Resources you will find
IRQs. This will tell you what is on every IRQ. Very important
to know when troubleshooting hardware failure.
system configuration utility
important feature in System Information is under Tools, Configuration
Utility. Notice the Startup tab? That tells you EVERYTHING
that loads at startup. Sometimes there are unnecessary programs
here. We've told you in the past to not load things at startup
that you could run by clicking on them when you need them.
That is a waste of resources. Check for programs here often,
you never know when a program you recently installed has added
Keeping it Clean
that you know what is in there you need to know some basic
rules about keeping it neat. If you don't then you are in
for the Windows hissy fit -- a.k.a., the blue screen of death.
You've seen it, when your system halts with a bright blue
screen that say "fatal error protection blah blah"
This is one of the many terrifying messages Windows can suddenly
throw in your face. We'll cover those, don't worry. But how
about preventing them? Let's look at what causes them:
Multiple installs of a failed install. In other words you
installed something, it didn't work the first time so you
kept trying to install it over and over.
2. You switched one piece of hardware for another. Such as
upgraded your video card. However, you did not remove all
traces of the old card in Windows.
3. You added something new to the machine and it took the
IRQ of something else.
4. You installed a program and you had no idea it installed
right on top of another program.
1. Before installing programs of any great size, do a scandisk.
Make sure that your file system is clean to begin with. Otherwise
it just gets messier.
2. When removing hardware you intend never to use again, take everything
with it. Don't leave it's software and drivers behind.
3. Check your IRQs before you go crazy trying
to make it work. Sometimes it is necessary to remove peripherals
and install them again one by one so Windows can pick and
choose the IRQs. Not all hardware is truly Plug n' Play. Sometimes
it just won't go. But if you remove that piece of hardware
and try another slot, it will find an IRQ. Further explanation:
you have a modem, soundcard, video card, and a network card
for playing on a LAN. You get cable and now need to remove
the modem and put in another network card. When you install
the new network card it is now on the same IRQ as your soundcard.
Your sound no longer works. First thing to do is to move your
network card to another slot. DO NOT try to make it take another
IRQ manually, that seldom works. Moving it to another slot
will make windows choose another IRQ. If this doesn't work,
remove all of your cards except the video card and start over.
Install the soundcard last. Now all your cards will choose
an IRQ separately (we hope).