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strange characters appear on dos programs

A client of ours has a windows 98 pc and runs an old dos based accounting system.  There are different modules belonging to the accounts system which are run by selecting the relevant icon from the desktop.  every couple of weeks or so when the user runs a module the dos window displays a load of garbage characters.  You can still just about make out the dos programs interface but the program is pretty unusable.

If I delete the shortcut on the desktop to that particular module and recreate the shortcut it works fine for a few days and then another dos program shortcut will start acting up.

There are no viruses on the PC.  Ansi.sys is loaded.  The same program is run from other win 98 pcs with no problems at all.  All other icons and programs are fine.

Any ideas?


1 Solution
Does it affect all shortcuts or only the dos shortcut?

Cannot Run Shortcuts from the Start Menu or from the Desktop (Q172223)

The information in this article applies to:

Microsoft Windows NT Workstation version 4.0
Microsoft Windows NT Server version 4.0
Microsoft Windows 2000 , Professional
Microsoft Windows 2000 , Server
Microsoft Windows 2000 , Advanced Server


When you double-click on a shortcut or select an item from the Start menu, nothing happens. When you try to run any program or shortcut from Control Panel, the following error messages may appear:

Access to the specified device, path, or file is denied.
This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in My Computer by clicking View and then clicking Options.
Also, when you click Options from the View menu in My Computer, click the File Types tab, and then select Application, the "Open with:" field is blank (instead of displaying (EXECUTABLE)).

The Open and/or Open\Command key(s) in the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Exefile\Shell subkey of the registry have been corrupted, modified, or are missing.

You can use the Emergency Repair Disk to restore the Software Hive.

To manually check and/or restore the Open key you will need to edit the registry. To edit the registry, perform the following steps:

WARNING : Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious, system-wide problems that may require you to reinstall Windows NT to correct them. Microsoft cannot guarantee that any problems resulting from the use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use this tool at your own risk.

Run Registry Editor, (Regedt32.exe) and verify the following registry entries exist.


      Default Value = EditFlags:REG_BINARY:00 00 00 00


      Default Value = <No Name>:REG_SZ:"%1"%*

If these keys do not exist, modify the registry as described in the steps below. If the keys do exist, verify that the information contained in them is correct.

Select the following key:


From the Edit menu, click Add Key.

In the Key Name box, type Open, and then click OK.

Select the new Open key.

From the Edit menu, click Add Value.

In the Value Name box, type EditFlags. Select REG_BINARY for Data Type. Click OK.

In the String box, type 00000000. Choose Hex as the Data Format and then click OK.

From the Edit menu, click Add Key.

In the Key Name box, type Command, and then click OK.

Select the new Command key.

From the Edit menu, click Add Value.

Leave the Value Name box blank. Select REG_SZ for Data Type, and then click OK.

In the String box, type "%1"%*, with quotation marks, and then click OK.

Exit Registry Editor.

All application shortcut and program functionality should now be restored to its default state.

That may help,


Try this:

Select one of the affected icons on the desktop.
Right click and bring up Properties.
Click on the <SCREEN> tab.

IN the SCREEN window Under [PERFORMANCE]
UnCheck the box entitled [fast-ROM-emulation]
Hit {Apply} then {OK}

See if this resolves the issue...

Good luck...
Besides the great advice given so far,
I would also check all the properties of the shortcut on a working and non-working machine.

Have you gotten the newest W98 Service pack and other patches installed ?

                  What have you added recently to the computer ?
                  It sounds to me that some new program/update is causing the problems.

  I would run the Start-windows update to make sure that you have the newest updates.

In addition Cleanup the startup stuff. In win98/Win ME/Win XP -  Do a Start - Run - msconfig, startup Tab , or for win95 , NT or win2k,
Download the Startup COP a free pcmag utility from
 Run it and it will show you everything that is listed in all the possible startup
                        places, and allow you to disable things one at a time until the problem is eliminated.
 A lot of probelms are caused by excess old baggage - programs that have not been properly  un-installed. Startup Cop will eliminate leftovers and un-wanted programs that you no longer want.
Older Antivirus programs and Norton Utilities have been known to cause problems
try disabling them also !

BTW :   Msconfig can also be run on Win95,  just copy the msconfig.exe from a Win98 machine.
You should only need systray and explorer in the startup on a win9x machine.

Update and run 2 good, updated antivirus program- Norton, McAffee etc.
 Then run SFC from the Start-run command, and have it fix any broken files.

ALso check into getting driver updates for ALL of your hardware, BIOS, VGA, motherboard etc.

Do a Defrag from SAFE mode !

Make sure that each partition has at least 15% free space.

Check your swap file settings.

You may try doing a scanreg /fix from a DOS prompt.
Scanreg /opt  also.

I hope this helps !
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   your problem could be related to the meomory on the graphics card. Try or borrow a spare card and see if the problem recurs. If it does try testing your card with different mother boards. Be careful while testing the card.
If possible make it tested with a hardware engineer or technician.
And for the love a god tell us whats happening once inna while...it's been more than a few days here.

a_j_halpinAuthor Commented:
this seems to have worked so far.


Thanks for responding...glad it all worked out.


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