To format or not to format...

I got a Dell Dimension XPS T600, 600mhz PIII, 256MB SDRAM, 27GB HDD w/ ATA66 controller card.  It runs fast, but I was expecting it to be much faster than it is.  I was considering doing and FDISK, and partition the current one hard drive partition into two, and reformatting the hard drive.  My concern is that after all this trouble and re-loading Win 98 (hopefully Dell included the CD) and all the software that I would use, it may not run much faster.  I have already "cleaned up" and deleted programs I won't use, and have been faithful at running scandisk and the defrag.  Besides partitioning and reformatting the hard drive, what else can I do to enhance system performance?
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dfellerAuthor Commented:
Let me say all this another way...
The computer (as with most computers) came pre-loaded with all kinds of software.  Some of the software I will never use.  The computer runs fast, but is not as fast as I thought it would be.  My question(s):  What can I do to enhance system performance?  Would it be best to FDISK, re-partition and re-format the hard drive - then reload Win 98 and other software?  Can I just delete off what I don't want and do something with some settings somewhere which will achieve optimal performance?  Or will this just leave my hard drive full of file fragments?  
I'm no expert, but any program the loads on the taskbar will slow down your system.  I run as few as possible.  Also I'm told loading a lot of fonts will slow things down.  I'm sure your going to get plenty of better advice.  Although I can't imagine a slow 600mhz system.
Would it be best to FDISK?  I would say generally not unless you have to and I wouldn't expect it to make the system faster.  I think what you might have is a problem with applications loading in the background.  If you hit cntrl+alt+del at the same time you can view all the apps currently running on your system.  All of these apps, whether they are doing anything for you or not, are taking up system resources and likewise slowing things incrementally.  Do this and I'll advise further:

hit cntrl+alt+del all together and post what you see running here.  then we can see how much is running and what you might want to stop.  Typically this is one big reason for less than expected performance.

Also, what kind of virus software do you have?  

what kind of programs do you use?

is it always slower than expected or is it usually while doing one thing, like internet?
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dfellerAuthor Commented:
unfortunately, I am at work right now and can't do the cntrl+alt+del now.  I will do it within the next couple of hours and let you know.  I have McAfee 4.X engine antivirus.  I did delete out some programs from the system start up to try and minimize this. One thing that shows up by the clock is a program for the sound card (Creative SoundBlaster Live!) I haven't deleted that out, because I didn't want to mess with the sound card.  Besides that, it shows the clock, speaker, McAfee virus Shield and the Soundblaster icon.  As far as programs used: MS Office 2000, Quicken 2000 Deluxe, a multitude of games (i.e., Quake II & III, Ultimate Yahtzee), Broderbund PrintShop Deluxe, Microsoft Encarta 2000.  1cell, this is the same guy who was asking about the autorun thing too.
yeah, I recognized that!  lot's of questions today

let's find out what's running and we can probably get things going a little faster that way and then we'll research some other stuff.
dfellerAuthor Commented:
sounds good. do you give customers at your job good customer service too?  A quality rarely seen these days...
I try to but I'm usually too caught up in this site to pay any attention!

If you go to: Start-Run-Msconfig then look under the Startup tab you will some of the things that get loaded at startup. See if you can uncheck some of them, don't remove explorer or systray, but if you have fastfind and some things that you don't need to load at startup uncheck them and see if the performance improves.

You might also try to set your swap file to a set size, instead of letting Windows manage it. Some say they notice improved performance.

You could also invest in Norton CleanSweep. It is a good uninstaller and can get gat rid of a lot junk on your hard drive. Some people don't like Norton products but I've had good luck with it.

Good Luck!!
hey pasci!  that's my toes your steppin on there.  

Let's take these steps one at a time.  First, let's find out what's running and what we can do without.  I would advise just going through startup and removing items randomly.  There are many things in start up you don't want to remove other than systray.  And explorer is not there so you can't remove it!

also, any norton program is going to slow the thing down worse.  

I don't mean to tear up your comment but the questioner needs the right info|
If you have a fast system and you want to slow it down then install Norton (anything) and as sure as water is wet your system will slow to a crawl.

This is not an opinion this is a proven FACT
Ok fine, I humbly retreat. You're right explorer isn't under the startup tab, I don't know what I was thinking, I must be working too hard.

dfellerAuthor Commented:
Ok, did cntrl+alt=del this is what is running (besides IE 5.0):

That's it.  What next?
sorry, Norton makes a great program but they sure kills the speed, I have Norton system works but I don't let nothing load at boot, when I want to use something then I start it and do what I want then close it.
Explorer -  no choice has to be running
Rnaapp - only active during or soon after disconnecting DUN
Directcd - this one you can shut down, only open when you ready to copy CD
Stimon- Unknown what this is?
Mswheel - you can leave this running or shut it down
Systray -leave running
Vsstat - can shut down
Vshwin32 - can shut down
Webscanx -can shut down
Ahqtb - unknown what this is?

Waiting on 1cell now?????????

explorer is not an option to remove

rnapp is something which you just ran and wont come up at startup.

if direct cd is in the start up group, it definately can be removed.

stimon is another one that can be taken from startup

mswheel is for your mouse.  if you like the wheel, you need it running

systray, like explorer is not an option

vssta and vshwin32 is macafees which brings me to an opinion.  I personally do not feel the need to run virus software constantly.  I run it when I am accepting a disk from some one or after I go online.  I run it, I close it.  These are memory hogs.

webscanx I'm not familiar with but I assume it is also aprt of the virus garbage.

ahqtb ---  anyone???


as was mentioned above, go to start | run | and type msconfig.  hit enter
click on the start up tab on the right and look for the items which we know we can remove.  You want to keep the load power profile, systray, scan registry, and task monitor.  Anything is pretty much gravy.

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Can I add some advice??
With a HD that big (27GB) I would recommend you partition it, I would make at least 3 or more partitions, the bigger the partitions the longer the seek time to find a file, I know we are talking miliseconds but everything adds up, plus the time to scan disk or defrag on 27GB is very long time, but if you had partitions then you could do one at a time and spread it ovewr a few days if needed to.

hehe good answer

you didn't say but how much free space do you have??

 I got a 18GB HD and I have mine partitioned into 6 partitions, I use certain ones for certain kinds of programs or files, like music, photos, downloaded programs, ect
Another benifit of multi partitions is when Windows crashes hard and you have to format and reinstall all the other programs are still there, sure you have to reinstall them to get them registered with windows but the data and all saved files are still intact. I myself don't use partitiong bigger then 3GB
Is my typing bad or what??
to expand on rays comments which are true.  if partitions are used correctly, even with FAT32, they can increase your speed.

 I have a 27 gb and 8gb drive partitioned like this.

the 27 GB drive
C:  1GB windows98
D:  7GB applications
E:  7GB games
F:  7GB documents
G:  5GB graphics
*** none of these are close to full so don't ask!***

the 13GB
H:  7GB backup of documents, graphics, and setup files for downloads
I:   1GB windows swap file

here's what this gives me.  first, redundancy of all my documents, graphics and setup files on two drives so if one crashes I can replace the drive and not lose the data.  Second, and here's where the speed comes in, having the swap file on a separate drive ( not just a partition ) where there are not apps being used and the drive is constantly ready, picks up the speed of swap file access ( aka virtual memory ) which is one of the big bottle necks.  You see, your RAM is hopefully around 7 or 8 nanoseconds.  When you run out of free RAM, your system uses your hard drive for RAM.  If anyone can quote a speed from a hard drive ( even SCSI ) you'll see it doesn't even compare and is a major performance hit.  

Anyway, assuming that you only have one drive, the partitions will give you some redundancy but really wont do a lot for speed.  If you're in the mood to buy a 4 GB drive for less than $90 it would help things drastically.

Also, do this:

Right click on My Computer and select properties
Click on Performance
Under "typical role of this machine" select the server option

Also check out the graphics and file system settings in here to see that they are also maxed.  If they aren't max them but if it gets unstable, remember to move them back a little.
Asta CuTechnical consultant & graphic designCommented:
WebscanX is also McAfee related, it caused me quite some grief; never reinstalled it.

on the subject of virus scanners

the best AV program in the world as far as I'm concerned is F-Protect from Datafellows.  Without sounding like a salesman for the company, I have used it for a few years and never missed a thing.  It finds viruses, maliscious files, corrupted files, everything and you can get it absolutely free if you're willing to downlaod the updates every three months or so.  This is something you should be doing anyway.  If anyone wants it, go to : and download the latest .zip file

you'll need winzip

there are three programs in here:
f-prot, DOS based "scan when you want to" type of thing very versatile
f-macrow, same as above but windows based macro virus detector
f-stopw, windows based always on type of thing
I only use f-prot and f-macrow on my system to maintain resources but on my customers' systems, I use f-stopw because you can't count on them to know when and how to scan manually all the time.  

check it out, you'll be happy!
it's kind of cryptic to install after unzipping, if you want, I'll explain what's in the zip file to help.
    Win98 does not NEED autoexec.bat or config.sys, so while you are running MSCONFIG, on the General tab you can click Selective Startup and  clear checks from Process autoexec.bat and Process config.sys.  

     On the Startup tab, I'd get rid of ALL the checked boxes (the Registry probably will put some of them back).  IF YOU FIND YOU REALLY MISS SOMETHING, you can always go back and re-check.

     You are still left with Win.ini, System.ini, and the Registry loading in stuff  you may or may not need or want; editing these gets a bit more hairy.

please don't start this arguement here.  windows98 doesn't need autoexec and config but many, many software and hardware manufacturers use it to run their apps and devices .  I suppose though without a sound card working, software that's not completely functional, etc. things might speed up a bit!  

Tell ya what else!  go ahead and remove ALL the checked boxes from YOUR start up tab and post back here in a month.
Can I add a comment? I know Ray already mentioned to partition the HD into smaller volumes and I want to second that(dont want to step on toes here). As we all know with FAT everytime you open a file the OS has to read the entire table even if it locate the file early in the table and if you have 27GB this probably is a fairly large table. Seconly FAT starts to lose its performance on partitions larger than 2GB so if performance is what you want then I would suggest stay under 2GB per volume.
I think everyone else hit upon other performance issues so good luck.

FAT32 does not lose performance on partitions over 2GB.  I don't know if you're thinking about the limitation with FAT16?...............

anyway, the point of the fat table having to load is true but is not a significant source of a performance hit.  Not that it's not worth it.
Well while we are on the benefits of multi partitions, it is much easier to find a certain file or program if you have them sorted to a partition then it would be to look in the whole HD for a particular file.
For example I have 1619 EXE's on my HD (I just did a search to be sure) if they was all in one partition I would spend alot of time finding the right one I wanted, but since I have everything sorted by type then it narrows it down alot. Sure you could use the find but what if you didn't know the exact file name??

This may speed the computer up some by having the multi partitions but there will be a big improvement in your personal search time.
It seems that performance is lost if you run your os on a partition bigger than a gig or so.  I know that the biggest problem with 95 machines getting slower over time is the fact that fat tabels etc get harder and harder to read.  If you build deep directorys you set up areas for trouble.  We had to change the way we were creating folder structures for clients because of the problems our nt server had reading all this stuff just to open a small text file.  We had files like 20 folders deep all over the place on an 8 gig drive.  When you went to search the drive it would take forever.  You could not ever defrag the drive right because most used files always changed and I could never get a straight answer from seagate on what part of the drive was fastest so I could match up the proper optimizer. not to mention the fact that moveing all this stuff around with this crazy folder structure made for a sketchy situation which turned me on defrag on nt servers all together.

My answer to your first question, yes format the drive.
Set up you partitions just like he said. That is the best way I have seen.
If you can find out the fastest part of your drive put the swap file there.
Use the virus software he said I use it myself, great and no loss of performance.
When you install the drivers next time do not install all the software that goes along with it.  This way you won't have stuff loading at start up time.
When you do install software go through the settings and make sure to tell it not to load at startup. IE real audio.
You can kind of keep track of this stuff by watching msconfig. (START--->>RUN--->>MSCONFIG.EXE)

Time to go on a different track and perhaps annoy because i'm suggesting an overkill.

Wait one week and go buy win2000pro.

It addresses all the problems here.

NTFile System for win2k is self repairing, native file indexing and file compression on 512byte blocks.
It also now has drive defragmentation.

I run both win98 and win2000 on the same machine that has an ata/66 drive controller.
There is a major speed difference in win2k's favour.

win2000 really knows how to use 256meg of ram.
Its actually much more efficient than win98.

The applications you have indicated should work without problem.
I haven't encountered any.
But i must mention that there is currently hardly any software certified to run on win2k, even office2k.
You can bet they all soon will.

Quake 3 goes like a rocket.

(errrrk, what an MS add that was but credit where its due)

Now regarding formatting the drive for win98:
I would only fully format a drive for 4 conditions.
1. An indicated system drive problem.
2. The drive is old (1.5 years)and needs to be resynched.
3. repartition
4. because i was bored

Regarding the points raised about Norton products:
For the most part these products help people that have limited knowledge of configuring pc's to do advanced options of which we as experts learnt the hard way.
The trouble is that the "whats this pretty button with the one line description do" can cause major system disruption. Its only then that the manual gets read and hopefully the problem solved.
Used with prudence these programs can help a dieing system.
Its a con for how much they cost.
Asking questions at E-E is cheaper:-)

Regarding the virus checker issue:
I don't like McAfee
Prefer Norton antivirus 5 or 2k

Most viri's are executables.
Set the virus checker to scan only these and do a full scan at your leisure.


No Microsoft advertising please.  Your comments on Win 2000 speed is interesting though - a fast Microsoft product for once.  Hmm.  Let's wait and see how it fares in the workplace.

"Most virii are executables"  That's debatable.  Most are macro viruses attached to Microsoft documents.

Anyway 1cell and rayt333 have this question well in hand.

Thanks - I had no idea about that msconfig program - useful...

dfellerAuthor Commented:
thanks for all the helpful comments.  In answer to some of them...
My hard drive is currently partioned into just the C: drive.  I still have about 22 GB of free space.  My concern with partioning and re-formatting is that I will lose all the data, and I'm not sure this will enhance the system performance enough to make it worth the trouble.  I have heard that Win98 is far better than Win95 when it comes to managing the swap file, and have been told from another source that having it partitioned into just one drive is not really a problem.  I did go into MSCONFIG this morning and unchecked several of the start up items 1cell and Ray had mentioned.  For some reason, some of these items (mainly McAfee) were on there twice.  After unchecking almost everything (except systray, explorer, mswheel, load power profile, scan registry) Seems to run faster - unfortunately had to leave for work, so I will check it out again this afternoon.
dfellerAuthor Commented:
I checked out the F-Secure AV website.  They do not have a "free" AV program, but a 90 day trial for free, then they want $100 for it.  Just getting my system pretty much put me out of spending $100 for an AV program right now, so I guess McAfee will have to do.
Looking for a good free antivirus program?  There is one that is pretty good:
InoculateT 4.5 from -- not as great as Norton or McAfee, but then free stuff seldom is.
dfeller, the 90day trial is updated at the ftp site I gave above with the update patches.  used for years and haven't spent a dime.
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