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  1. #1
    iNET Interactive
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    TOP STORY

    Preparing Windows XP for the long haul


    By Fred Langa

    Microsoft's support for Windows XP may be fading, but a loyal horde of XP users plans to stick with this venerable OS for as long as possible.

    If that's your long-term goal, there are a number of steps you can take now to ensure a finely tuned XP system for months — possibly years — to come.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/08/12/01 (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by revia; 2011-01-19 at 15:40.

  2. #2
    New Lounger
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    One thing that I always do with any of my systems is to make sure that programs and data are on different drives, either by installing two physical drives or by partitioning. I do this because I can then restrict the C drive to files needed by the operating system or by application programs. Apart from making OS file maintenance and data backup much simpler, it also means that when the inevitable system crash happens, I'm much less likely to use data that I've created.

    One other personal preference: I don't use Outlook or Outlook Express. I've used Pegasus Mail for more than ten years and I keep the application and all the e mails on a single USB flash drive. I do this because I can then access e mail from any machine, even those of third parties, although I wouldn't recommend such a practice. I've just checked my e mail folder - it's about 8GB on a 16GB flash drive in total and the oldest e mail was created in February 1999.

  3. #3
    New Lounger
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    I must add my comment on the info regarding Active@ DiskMonitorFree choice of free HDD monitoring utility. I tried for several days to get the free version, and came to the conclusion that the vendor deliberately misleads the community. Version 2.02 is NOT free, it is 14 days trial version. Any references to the free version with links to the vendor site are incorrect for the following reason: vendor named version 2.02 as DiskMonitorFree.exe, so it is gives impression that is it free program. However, this is still trialware, not free.
    ========================
    I had a short exchange with the support dept, which is pasted below with my email removed:

    PLEASE DO NOT REPLY ON THIS EMAIL. IT IS JUST A NOTIFICATION.

    Dear Alex ,

    Below is the answer to your support request for Active@ Hard Disk Monitor.
    You can also check the status of the request and post additional question online in your profile:
    https://secure.lsoft.net/clients/
    Your login is: XXXX
    Your password is: XXXX


    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hello, this is the reply on your email reply to me - pasted below,

    I can understand that cnet.com may have misrepresented the license pricing for the HDD Monitor. But the file name is

    DiskMonitorFree.exe

    this name is not assigned by cnet site. And it says 'free'. This is confusing...

    Below is pasted email text:

    PLEASE DO NOT REPLY ON THIS EMAIL. IT IS JUST A NOTIFICATION.

    Dear Alex ,

    Below is the answer to your support request for Active@ Hard Disk Monitor.
    You can also check the status of the request and post additional question online in your profile:
    https://secure.lsoft.net/clients/
    Your login is: XXXX
    Your password is: XXXX


    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hello,

    I found your Active@ Hard Disk Monitor Freeware on CNET website, where it is announced as free program. License is described as free, and the filename is DiskMonitorFree.exe.
    I downloaded and installed and discovered it is a 14 days trialware.
    Why such a difference in licensing policy?

    I hope you can help me to understand that.

    Thank you.

    Alex

    --------------------------

    Support [8/9/2010 12:39:16 PM]

    Version 1 was freeware, version 2 is not. I do not think we have any control over what cnet says on its website,. Here is our site where the program is not described as free.
    http://www.lsoft.net/diskmon.aspx

    ======================

    Now, just few days later, I see Fred Langa includes the same link into his article read by so many readers (no fault of Fred, but due to vendor's deception), and wanted to let know all the readers about this twist at the vendor marketing effort

  4. #4
    New Lounger
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    In the article Fred mentions BootItNG is his "personal favorite for non-Win7 systems". Is there an issue with BootItNG and Windows 7? Vendor's web site says Windows 7 is supported. I've been a longtime user of BootItNG (I purchased it due to Fred's recommendation years ago) but haven't used it with Windows 7 yet.

    Thanks,

    -Dean

  5. #5
    New Lounger
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    This is one of the best writeups on Windows XP ongoing maintenance that I have seen. Additional points come to mind:

    1. If you have not already done so, switch from Windows Update (OS only) to Microsoft Update (includes other Microsoft products like Office). Go to Windows update and follow the link. After switching, be ready for many more updates to appear.

    2. I'm just a little hazy on this one: If your machine is not yet at Windows XP SP3, I think it's best to manually install SP1 and SP2 (as needed) to get to SP3, then go to Windows Update. I've seen different descriptions of Microsoft support on this, but basically if you're downlevel on Service Packs, I find it's more efficient to download the redistributable for your system and run it. If you download to an external device like a flash drive or external hard drive or CD/DVD, you won't need to be connected to the Internet while hours and hours of update-reboot cycles take place. See http://windows.micro...t-service-packs and http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322389

    3. From time to time, check Windows Update (Microsoft Update) manually. Do this repeatedly until there are no more required updates. New updates turn up, sometimes the following day. Optional updates require some creative reading to understand which ones to apply. Once this has settled down, I check once a month or whenever I forget when it was the last time I checked. <grin>

    4. Do something to prevent Autoplay from running when you connect a flash drive or external hard drive. For Windows XP, I use TweakUI (http://download.microsoft.com/downlo...ertoySetup.exe).

    5. I love CCleaner. However, be careful. The cleaner ("brush") tool will, by default, wipe out cookies (including saved website passwords -- not a good practice but deleting them can be disruptive if you rely on them), MRU's (Most Recently Used lists of files, such as in Word and Excel), recently-typed URLs, among other things. Make sure to check the "applications" tab, which lists other browsers.

    --Bob Stromberg, Saratoga Springs, NY

  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    Active@ DiskMonitorFree definitely taking advantage of free publicity. No 14 day trial for me. Good luck to them!

  7. #7
    New Lounger
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    It seems that no amount of housekeeping can root out all of the accreted junk that XP accumulates under regular use. I suggest that users ensure that they have an XP install disc handy (preferably SP3, as the service pack is a monstrous download) and carry out a clean installation every few years, with an occasional re-formatting as well. Legit full-install discs (and semi-legit OEM discs) are $50-$80 on eBay these days, and I see nothing wrong with using an OEM disc if you already own a legit OEM installation. You'd be amazed at how many gigabytes magically appear on your hard drive after a reformat and clean install. (I had run just about every registry cleaner and housekeeping program known to man, then did a re-install that freed up ~8 GB!) It's a big job, taking the better part of a day to re-load your software and install all of the accumulated updates, drivers, etc., but I think it's well worth the time. You can be confident that the OS is free of rootkits and malware, and it may run noticeably more quickly. You might want to image the drive immediately on completion of the job, so you can return to this "virgin" state more easily in the future.

  8. #8
    New Lounger
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    "Start by deleting old $NtUninstall{xxx}$ files from XP's C:\Windows folder; "

    Yesterday I deleted all the above files dated 2009. To day I was greeted by the fact that my registry now contained 100 errors. So you will need to run a registry check as well after deletion.

  9. #9
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    For backing up drivers I have seen both of these sources for suggested freeware to simplify the task. (I have not yet tried any of them.)

    http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-windows-driver-backup.htm

    Info Packets Freeware of the Day

  10. #10
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    "► Correct driver errors now, while you can. Just as Microsoft is providing less support for XP, third-party vendors are withdrawing support for older hardware. Someday soon, you may discover that the drivers you need are no longer available. Fix problems now!

    Boot XP and right-click My Computer. Select Properties, Hardware, then Device Manager. (Or, click Control Panel/System/Hardware/Device Manager.) Click View and select Show hidden devices to make sure you're seeing everything."



    I'm sure Fred knows that you must create an environmental variable, "devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1" in order to see all hidden devices, including devices that may have been removed.

  11. #11
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webguy View Post
    For backing up drivers I have seen both of these sources for suggested freeware to simplify the task. (I have not yet tried any of them.)

    http://www.techsuppo...iver-backup.htm

    Info Packets Freeware of the Day

    Add to that info my favorite driver backup freeware program, Driver Max . (My link is to a CNet Review, so folks can read about the program before deciding to download it.) I especially like the way Driver Max puts all saved drivers into one Folder, then reloads them in a single operation. All drivers, even ones which appear to be incomplete, hidden, or the hardware has been removed, can be backed up. Or, you can select which drivers to restore. Either way, they are all in one place. The backup folder can be copied to an external drive or burned to a DVD for safety.
    -- Bob Primak --

  12. #12
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    I've just reinstalled by desktop PC with Windows XP Service Pack 3. In fact most of the important files now exist on a newly installed 500GB drive I installed that is separate of the drive the operating system is installed. Since I perform maintenance on my stuff, I've kept the system running silky. I am still getting updates from Windows although I am running Service Pack 3. I would also highly suggest that if you've been meaning to install a new hard drive in your older system that you do it now! EIDE PATA drives are getting harder and harder to find, especially big ones! In a year or so, these drives will no longer be available. I have found that in both my Windows 7 laptop and my XP desktop I run the Auslogics Registry Cleaner and I run it once weekly. That file is the one most likely to cause problems with your machine and I suggest you run it frequently. It is amazing how short of a period of time it takes to get errors in that file! My approach to this problem of an outdated system is that I have the original install disks and the Service Pack 3 saved as the original install program. I am hoping all of the updates remain tucked away somewhere on a Microsoft website on the backwaters of the Internet somewhere. I may image my system but for now I depend on backed up original install programs in the event I have to reinstall my system some years in the future.

    I do not think Microsoft can abandon XP. In spite of how great Windows 7 is, XP is the most used operating system in the world and is still intensely popular! It is very efficient in use of resources and it can run modern programs just fine, in fact better than Vista can! This operating system will still be viable 5-years down the line. So Microsoft will just have to accept this and reinstate support. Better upgrade your older system to a bigger hard drive though because EIDE drives are almost gone!

  13. #13
    New Lounger
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    Excelent article. It also reminded me to do certain tasks that I had disregarded. I recovered over 490 Mb by deleting the $NtUninstall{xxx}$ files. What a great tip. Thank you very much.

    There is a major space hog in which I also need help. Although I can still increase the size of the C partition, I would like to know if there is a better alternative.

    Documents & Settings on my HP laptop is 18.4 Gb and has five User Accounts: 'Administrator', 'All Users', 'Owner', 'rem Default User' and 'rem Guest' (I did 'rem' the last two). My Dell desktop, which I use daily but less intensely only has 1.09 Gb and three user accounts: 'All Users', 'Owner' and 'Guest'. I am the only user of these computers; my wife has her own.

    All programs that I can redirect are stored in an external drive and most of my data is in a third external drive.

    Windows MCE XP XP3 in the laptop is 4.59 Gb and Windows HE XP SP3 is 3.73 Gb in the desktop.

    Any valuable hints on this subject would be very helpful. Thanks again.

  14. #14
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alvaro Mera View Post
    Excelent article. It also reminded me to do certain tasks that I had disregarded. I recovered over 490 Mb by deleting the $NtUninstall{xxx}$ files. What a great tip. Thank you very much.

    There is a major space hog in which I also need help. Although I can still increase the size of the C partition, I would like to know if there is a better alternative.

    Documents & Settings on my HP laptop is 18.4 Gb and has five User Accounts: 'Administrator', 'All Users', 'Owner', 'rem Default User' and 'rem Guest' (I did 'rem' the last two). My Dell desktop, which I use daily but less intensely only has 1.09 Gb and three user accounts: 'All Users', 'Owner' and 'Guest'. I am the only user of these computers; my wife has her own.

    All programs that I can redirect are stored in an external drive and most of my data is in a third external drive.

    Windows MCE XP XP3 in the laptop is 4.59 Gb and Windows HE XP SP3 is 3.73 Gb in the desktop.

    Any valuable hints on this subject would be very helpful. Thanks again.
    Actually, for a computer with so many accounts, and the Media Center Edition, your space usages all look pretty good. Not much at variance from my own six-year old Windows XP Pro laptop. You are in good shape, unless you really want to get rid of any unused User Accounts.
    -- Bob Primak --

  15. #15
    Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Lodzinski View Post
    In the article Fred mentions BootItNG is his "personal favorite for non-Win7 systems". Is there an issue with BootItNG and Windows 7? Vendor's web site says Windows 7 is supported. I've been a longtime user of BootItNG (I purchased it due to Fred's recommendation years ago) but haven't used it with Windows 7 yet.

    Thanks,

    -Dean
    Perhaps Fred said "for non-Win7 Systems" because BootItNG may not be required on Win 7 systems because Win 7 has its own capability to create images. At least that's what Fred said. I wasn't aware of that.

    Regardless of Fred's rationale for that qualification, rest assured that BootItNG works fine with Win 7.

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