M$ Windoze annoyances

                           XP with service pack 2

Introductory points/caveats:

a) Apart from re-installing Windoze (*) when you get really stuck with some
problem that's recently appeared, don't forget XP's excellent rollback feature.
I have used this occasionally - you'll find it at Accessories -> System tools
-> System restore.  Particularly where a problem has just popped up in the past
day or two after installing one or more new programs, it's often worth a try -
painless, quick, easy to use, and reliable.

b) (*) If you do find if necessary to reinstall Windoze, it's a good idea
to have a recent back up available to save yourself days of work getting
all your programs and setting back.  You'll find the windows backup program
under Accessories -> System tools.  With XP, this creates files with a "BKF"
suffix.  Save these on a spare disc somewhere - but certainly not on drive C!
Better still - burn them onto a DVD as well if you have a burner.

When creating backups, deselect any 'temp' directories and any other similar
rubbish spots you can find to minimise the size, otherwise you may not be
able to fit the .bkf file onto a DVD if you want to do that.  (Backup already
begins quite sensibly by default with any "paging" files de-selected, BTW)

c) The backup programs supplied with Windoze 95 and Windows 98 are INCOMPATIBLE
with the one supplied with Windoze XP.  This is to be expected, of course -
who would ever want to transfer any data to an XP box from an old 95/98 box?

The solution?  Don't decommision any 95/98 box until you've made (eg) a ZIP
file of any drives or directories of interest and burned those to CD/DVD.
The ZIP format doesn't belong to Micro$oft, and like TAR and CPIO archives,
backward/forward compatibility is maintained over time.

If you have a 95/98 backup on CD/DVD and you need to access it, you'll need to
find another 95/98 box and get your data back that way.  Extract it into an
empty directory, then use something like Winzip to make a ZIP archive and
burn that to a new disc so you can access it on XP.  (Or do it over your
network - whatever).

d) Final bit of advice - if possible, install programs and save all your data
somewhere OTHER than drive C.  With or without backups, this minimises the pain
when you do find it necessary to reinstall Windoze and reformat (or replace)
drive C in the process.  DON'T blindly save stuff in idiotic places such as
"My Documents" on drive C.  Some programs have an option for setting the
default "Save" directory (eg: M$ Office - Word, Excel, etc) and other will
often record your last "Save" and/or "Open" location and take you there by
default each time you use them, so it's easy.  Create your own "docs"
directories on NON-C drives (with any handy sub-directories as required)
and use those instead.

Okay - onto the notes ...

1. SYMPTOM: Windoze Explorer starting slowly

Had heard about this but not seen it myself until about 12 months after
loading XP Pro onto the newest home PC.  Found answer at:

Clicking on one particular disc drive caused Windows Explorer to go busy
(hourglass) with lots of disc activity and no results displayed.
Eventually had to use process manager to kill it.  Discovered that if I
clicked on a directory in the left pane after starting Explorer and opened
up a sub-directory first, all seemed okay.


Windoze apparently insists on opening and processing any zip file it finds
in a root directory when a user clicks on that root directory.  I'd just made
a ZIP file of my drive C and had inadvertantly put it in the root directory of
this other drive and it was 6 Gb in size.  Moving this into a sub-directory
fixed the problem.  (So obvious, isn't it, hmmmmm?)

For permanent protection against this braindead design trap for the unwary,
see command at http://www.annoyances.org/exec/show/article03-202 where one
types (into a DOS window) "regsvr32 /u %windir%\system32\zipfldr.dll: (and
click "Okay").  Type the same again if you want to re-enable this "feature").


2. SYMPTOM: Windoze backup program fails on certain directories

I like to make backups of key drives (esp C) and burn them to DVD.  For this,
I just use the builtin M$ backup program in Accessories -> System tools.  When
trying to backup drive C, mine kept failing about 85% of the way in, always in
the Windoze folder.


I managed to improve things (get further) by scheduling a disc check of drive
C (altho I found I had to select all options for the check - the minimal
default wasn't sufficient).

After doing this, the C backup still failed, but now it was always in the same
directory - \Windows\Prefetch, and on some "*.pf" file or other.

I googled on "xp" "\Windows\Prefetch" and found a good answer at
http://www.sanx.org/tipShow.asp?index=279 The whole notion of prefetch seems
to be another M$ braindead scheme, and disabling it entirely fixed the problem.
One needs to carefully change one item in the registry as follows:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters
 and set EnablePrefetcher = 0.  Possible values are:  
0 (Disabled)
1 (Application Launch Prefetch)
2 (Boot Prefetch)
3 (Prefetch All)


3. SYMPTOM: CD/DVD drives don't refresh in Windoze Explorer when discs are


Not sure what the official solution is (use Linux, perhaps?).  Anyway, what
I do now is this:  Click on some other drive, pop the CD/DVD, then go back
and click on the offending CD/DVD drive.  Windoze finally stops dozing and
demands that you "Please insert a disk".  Push the disc back in and wait
the requisite 30 seconds while the system scratches its backside and all
should be well.

(Previously, I popped the disc and closed all Explorer windows and then fired
up another instance of Explorer and clicked on the (empty) drive to provoke
Windoze, but actually closing Explorer really doesn't seem to be necessary.)

Searched all over via Google for this and found no solution, BTW ...


Last update to this file: Wed 19-Dec-2005