With all the hype and hoopla about Windows XP, it's easy to forget that this next-generation operating system isn't really all that more advanced than the current Windows 2000.
These two operating systems share more than Microsoft might want you to know. Both were built on the same solid base, which means crashes are about as rare in these new operating systems as they are common in earlier versions. But because both new systems trace their ancestry back to Windows NT, they can be unfamiliar territory to home and small-office types used to Windows 95 or 98.
Windows 2000 has a reputation among some home users that it's tough to use. But we at PCWorld.com just think Windows 2000 is misunderstood.
To show you what we mean and to help you get the most out of Windows 2000, we devised 20 of the toughest and most common problems that new users have with the OS, then came up with detailed solutions. We can help you whether you're using Windows 2000 now, thinking about upgrading, or wondering if you should wait for XP. We hope our FAQ will give you a head start in transforming yourself into a world-class Windows 2000 power user.
Basic Info/Before You Install
Can I run both Win 98 and Win 2000?
Should I upgrade to Win 2000 or XP?
Can I play games in Win 2000?
Is DOS dead?
How do I make a boot floppy?
How do I downgrade from Win 2000 to an earlier OS?
Networking and Sharing
Should I log in as Administrator?
How do I share the Internet with other PCs?
How do I set up multiple users on one PC?
How do I keep Win 2000 current?
How do I get balky hardware to work?
Can I uninstall a service pack?
Fix and Maintain
How do I get a broken Win 2000 PC to boot?
How can I run an older Windows program?
How do you fix Add/Remove Programs when it leaves out apps?
How do I clean the Registry?
How can I boost performance without upgrading hardware?
Can I jazz up Win 2000 with themes?
How do I make the whole Start menu appear?
How do I make a program run on a schedule?
Can I Run Both Win 98 and Win 2000?
Q: My office IT department wants to upgrade me to Windows 2000, but I want to try it out first. Can I keep Windows 98 on my PC while I try out Windows 2000?
A: Running two operating systems on the same PC is no problem. All you need to do is set up a dual-boot system so that when you turn on the machine you can fire up either Windows 98 or 2000. It's the safest way we know to test drive Windows 2000 without making a major commitment.
Before you even consider it, though, make sure your hard drive is big enough for both operating systems. Windows 2000 Professional, for instance, needs a minimum 2GB partition on your hard drive, with at least 650MB of free memory. The more business-oriented Server and Advanced Server versions might need a little more space than that, depending on the options you install.
If your system has one large partition, you'll need to carve up the mega-gigabyte C: drive with Windows 98 into two or more smaller partitions. In the end, you'll end up with a C: drive, called the physical drive, and a D: drive, the logical drive. (Each OS must be on its own logical drive.) To divide up your drive, you'll need a high-quality partitioning utility such as PowerQuest's PartitionMagic or Vcom's Partition Commander, which cost $50 and $30, respectively.
The no-cost alternative to buying a partitioning tool isn't a viable option in this case. The FDISK utility that comes with Windows wipes the drive clean, forcing you to reinstall everything.
When you've separated the C: drive into two partitions, you'll have the option to format your new logical drive using the FAT (pre-Win 98), FAT32 (post-Win 98), or NTFS (Windows NT) schemes. If you choose FAT or FAT32, you can easily share files such as Word documents or digital images between the two operating systems.
Once you're ready to install Windows 2000, insert the CD. When the first screen appears, select "Install a new copy of Windows 2000." In the following screens, make sure that you're installing the new OS to the new, empty logical drive you just created (D:, in our example).
After Windows 2000 has installed and you've rebooted, you'll see a new menu at start-up. This DOS-style menu lets you choose which OS to load. If you don't make a choice within 30 seconds, Windows 2000 fires up by default.
The tough part is over, but the job isn't done. Grab all your application installation CDs. To use your apps in Windows 2000, you must reinstall them under the new OS on the new partition. As long as you formatted the drive as FAT or FAT32, you can reinstall them to their current directories (even though that's on another logical drive). In the end you'll have one copy of the application on your hard drive and the correct entries in Windows 2000's Registry. You also save space by installing only one copy of your applications. And of course, you'll need to run Windows Update a few times to download and install the latest service packs and patches.Should I Upgrade to Win 2000 or XP?
Q: Should I upgrade to Windows 2000 or Windows XP?
A: Although both Windows 2000 and XP are built on the same rock-solid operating system kernel, there are differences.
First, and most importantly, Windows 2000 has been around long enough to have generated a pair of service pack releases that crushed the biggest bugs and patched the most troublesome flaws. Windows XP will, like all operating systems, undoubtedly have its share of out-of-the-box troubles. This is one reason why some users refuse to upgrade to a new OS until it's been in the real world for months, or even a year.
Second, the new product-activation utility in Windows XP makes many of our readers nervous. Because of the way the new OS ties codes inside the PC hardware to its own activation key, you may have to nag Microsoft for another product activation key if you change one hardware component too many.
In the end, this question is one that you have to answer yourself.Can I Play Games in Win 2000?
Q: I've gotten mixed signals. Can I play games in Windows 2000?
A: We wouldn't call Windows 2000 a gamer's paradise, but it's not nearly as feeble as some have made it out to be. Our answer: You bet!
Many of the problems that gamers experienced when Windows 2000 was first released have been fixed, and nearly all new titles work with Windows 2000.
Windows 2000 shipped with DirectX 7, but DirectX 8.0a is the current version. Since most games rely on DirectX, you should download and install the latest version.
There are some tricks you can use to get games to play under Windows 2000 and boost gaming performance. For example, the Application Compatibility utility can fool aged games into thinking they're running under older editions of Windows or DirectX.
The best place we've found on the Web to check if a specific game works in Windows 2000 is the Games list on the NT Compatibility Web site. There's no search tool on this site, so you'll need to browse the list. Be warned: Games aren't listed in tight alphabetical order, there are multiple entries for many games, and you'll find scores of entries for Windows NT compatibility when you're probably only looking for Windows 2000. Your best bet is to use the index to locate the section labeled with the game's first letter, then use your browser's Find command (Ctrl-F in Internet Explorer, for instance) to search for the complete name.
Microsoft also released a series of compatibility updates that patch the operating system to permit specific programs to work--or work better--with Windows 2000. The most recent of these patches posted in March 2001. You'll find a list of the games covered by these updates on Microsoft's Web site, where you can also download the latest edition of the Windows 2000 Compatibility Updates file.Is DOS Dead?
Q: Is DOS dead in Windows 2000? Can I run an ancient DOS program or two that I still favor?
A: The demise of DOS, to pinch a pithy line from Mark Twain, has been greatly exaggerated.
The terminology surrounding it has changed, but a form of DOS still exists. Windows 2000 calls it the Command Prompt rather than MS-DOS Prompt, and tucks it into the Start, Programs, Accessories menu. Windows 2000 won't let you reboot to the DOS prompt, as Windows 95 and 98 did, but you can run DOS executable files from within Windows 2000.
To use the Command Prompt, select Start, Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt or hold down the Windows key and press R then type cmd and press Enter at the Run prompt. When you see the venerable C:\> prompt (brings back memories, doesn't it?), type the path and file name of the DOS program and press Enter. Voila!
A slicker way to run DOS programs is to generate shortcuts, then customize the options and settings in each shortcut's Properties window. (This is Windows 2000's replacement for earlier versions of Windows' PIF, or Program Information File, editor.) Windows 2000's Help file includes a succinct description of how to use the Properties tab on a shortcut to customize a DOS program's launching and operational behavior. Open Help (select Start, Help), click the Index tab, then type PIF and press Enter.
If you run into problems you can resort to the MS-DOS Troubleshooter. The Troubleshooter is also in the Windows 2000 Help file: Enter troubleshooters in the Index search field, then click MS-DOS Programs in the right pane. You can also access an online MS-DOS Troubleshooter.How Do I Make a Boot Floppy?
Q: I want to be able to boot my Windows 2000 PC if the hard drive goes south. But I don't see a way to make a Startup Disk, as I could in Windows 98. What's the alternative?
A: There's a good reason why Windows 2000 doesn't let you create a boot disk that starts the computer and drops you into DOS. Unlike Windows 9x (and Windows Me), Windows 2000 can run DOS only as a box within the operating system itself. If you can't boot to Windows 2000, you can't run DOS; it's that simple.
The alternative here may be easier to use than a boot floppy: If you have a problem, just stick your Windows 2000 Setup CD in the drive, then reboot the PC. If your computer's BIOS and CD-ROM drive support bootable CDs, you'll see a message like "To boot from the CD, press any key." Be sure to keep the CD in a safe place to use in emergencies.
Many older PCs, however, won't boot from a CD. So before your machine breaks down, use Windows 2000 to create what Microsoft calls an Emergency Repair Disk, which contains some of the tools that you'll need to fix damaged systems. Pop a floppy into the A: drive, click Start, Run, type NTBACKUP and press Enter. When the Backup utility opens, click the Emergency Repair Disk icon.
To reinstall Windows 2000 if your system won't boot up, you need to create a four-floppy set of Setup disks: Put your Windows 2000 Setup CD in the CD-ROM drive, put the first floppy in its drive, and choose Start, Run and type E:\bootdisk\makeboot a: (where E: is your CD-ROM drive letter). Follow the screen prompts. When you're done, label the floppies and store them in a safe location.
You can create the Setup floppies from any Windows or DOS machine that has a CD-ROM drive--which is good to know if your system won't start and you neglected to create the disks earlier.How Do I Downgrade From Win 2000 to an Earlier OS?
Q: I decided I can't stand Windows 2000. How do I return my PC to the previous operating system without melting my hard drive?
A: Unlike other Windows upgrades, Windows 2000 Professional doesn't provide a rollback feature that lets you return with relative ease to the previously installed OS. The only way to get back to Windows 95 or 98 is to do it manually, and you can't roll back from 2000 to Me. We'll walk you through the complex process in the following steps.
Step 1: Get everything you need. Obtain the installation CDs for the earlier edition of Windows that you want to revert to. If you have only the upgrade version of the installation disc, you'll also need a full installation CD from the version prior to that. For example, if you have Windows 98 Upgrade Edition, you'll also need a CD for the full version of Windows 95.
If your PC doesn't boot from the CD-ROM drive, you'll also need a boot floppy that gets you access to the CD-ROM. You might have created this boot disk earlier; if not, refer to this Microsoft support page for details on how you can build a Windows 98 boot disk now.
Step 2: Prepare the hard drive. Next, you'll need to determine which file system you're using. In Windows Explorer, right-click the icon for the C: drive, select Properties, and read the code next to File System on the General tab. If you see FAT or FAT32 here, go immediately to Step 3. If it says NTFS, you'll need to reformat your drive. Back up your data and make note of such things as program and Internet connection settings, then follow these instructions:
Create a floppy disk start-up set; see "How Do I Make a Boot Floppy?" for a how-to.
Put the first disk of the set into the drive and reboot. When you see the Welcome to Setup screen, press F10. The command-line Recovery Console will appear.
Log in using your Administrator password, type map and press Enter.
Type format C: /fs:fat32 (where C: is the letter of the drive being reformatted).
Type y to begin formatting the drive. When complete, type exit to reboot.
Skip to Step 5.
Step 3: Move your programs aside (temporarily). If the word FAT or FAT32 is next to File System you'll need to rename your Program Files and Windows folders to prevent conflicts once Windows 95 or 98 is reinstalled. Open a Command Prompt window (select Start, Run, then type CMD and press Enter. Type these two lines, pressing Enter at the end of each:
ren c:\progra~1 c:\files.old
ren c:\windows c:\windows.200
You have just renamed your Program Files and Windows folders so they aren't overwritten by the older operating system.
Step 4: Delete Windows 2000-specific files. Start Windows Explorer and select View, Folder Options. On the View tab, click "Show all files" and click OK so you can see all the hidden files that you must manually delete.
In the root folder of the boot drive (probably drive C:), delete the following files: boot.ini, ntbootdd.sys, ntdetect.com, and NTLDR. Remove hiberfil.sys and pagefile.sys from the drive on which Windows 2000 is installed (again, probably the C: drive). Finally, after moving any data files you want to keep to another spot on the drive, delete the Documents and Settings folder.
Step 5: Install the replacement OS. Reboot the PC from the Windows 95/98 Setup CD or from a bootable Windows 98 floppy disk with CD-ROM drivers. At the DOS prompt, type sys D: then press Enter, then type D:\setup.exe (assuming D: is the drive letter for your CD-ROM reader) and press Enter. The installer for the older version of Windows will start up. Once you're back up and running with Windows 95 or 98, you'll need to reinstall your applications.
Once you're all set up, and all your applications are loaded and working, you can delete the windows.200 and the files.old folders to free up disk space.Should I Log In As Administrator?
Q: I'm logging on to my Windows 2000 PC at home as Administrator, but a PC guru told me that's a bad idea. Is he right?
A: Absolutely. Although logging on as Administrator gives you complete control over the computer, it presents a security problem. Any Trojan horses that manage to penetrate your PC will wreak much greater havoc if they sneak into your system while you're logged on as Administrator.
To be safe, assign yourself to the power users group and log on using that user name and password. (This group is also called standard users in the Users and Passwords applet in Control Panel.) Power users can install software, run pre-Windows 2000 programs, finesse hardware, and make substantial changes to the computer.
At times, though, you'll need to access the system as its Administrator. Fortunately, you don't have to waste time logging off, then logging back on as Administrator. Use Windows 2000's Run As command instead.
Using Windows Explorer, the Start menu, or even icons on the desktop, hold down the Shift key and right-click the application or file you want to access as Administrator, choose Run as, check the button beside "Run the program as X/Administrator" (where X is the name of the PC) and click OK.
Let's say you're logged on as Gregg, a power user, but you need to monkey with Add/Remove Programs from the Control Panel. You can pull up that applet, but you won't be able to make any changes like uninstalling an application. To get past that barrier, Shift-right-click the Add/Remove Programs icon, choose Run as, and log on as Administrator--you'll need to provide the Administrator password here.How Do I Share the Internet With Other PCs?
Q: How do I share one Internet connection among several Windows 2000 machines?
A: First you need a physical network--network cards in each machine, cables or a wireless network connecting the PCs, and possibly a small hub. With all that in place, adding Internet connection sharing (ICS in Windows 2000 lingo) is a breeze. Windows has everything needed to put this into play.
At the Windows 2000 machine that is connected to the Internet, select Settings, Control Panel, then start the Network and Dial-Up Connections applet. Right-click the Net connection you want to share and choose Properties. Click the Sharing tab, then check the box "Enable Internet Connection Sharing for this connection." Also check the box "Enable on-demand dialing" so that when another computer on the network accesses the Internet, this PC automatically dials the modem. You can leave this disabled if you're using an always-on digital subscriber line or cable modem connection to the Internet.
On the other PCs in the local-area network you need only verify that they can obtain an Internet Protocol address automatically. This is the default setting for a network connection, but it never hurts to double check. At every PC on the network, first locate the LAN connection by opening My Network Places (or in Windows 9x lingo, Network Neighborhood). Right-click the LAN connection and select Properties. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click the Properties button. Finally, in the General tab, check "Obtain an IP address automatically." Click OK.
You'll also need to reconfigure applications on the PCs that access the Internet. To set up Internet Explorer to use the new shared connection on the LAN, select Tools, Internet Options/Tools, then click the Connections tab. Check "Never dial a connection," then click the LAN Settings button near the bottom of the window. Under the Automatic configuration section, make sure both boxes are clear; also clear the "Use a proxy server" box in the Proxy Server section. Click OK.How Do I Set Up Multiple Users on One PC?
Q: How do I set up my computer so several people can use it, and keep everyone's stuff private? And how do I convert a FAT32-formatted hard disk to NTFS format without wiping the hard drive clean?
A: Since Windows 2000 was created as a business OS from the ground up, it's designed to work in situations where multiple users share one PC.
You need to create a user profile for each person who will use the computer. Select Start, Settings, Control Panel, then open the Users and Passwords applet. Click the Add button, then assign a user name and password using the Add New User wizard. When you reach the wizard's last screen (which begins "What level of access do you want to grant this user?") you have two choices in addition to Administrator:
Although this is the best category to place kids, PC beginners, and careless users, it may not always be a good fit. Restricted users can't access other users' info, and (if the hard drive is formatted with NTFS) can't make changes to the OS or remove installed programs. These users also can't run most programs written for earlier editions of Windows, or legacy applications. A favorite game that was created for Windows 98 but works under Windows 2000 might be unavailable to a Restricted user.
Also known as power users, these folks have considerable privileges, including some potentially risky abilities to make changes to the system through the Control Panel applets. Standard users can run legacy apps.
Anyone who logs on with a user name and password will see their own version of the desktop and have access to their slice of the My Documents folder only. (They can access other folders, just not other users' files in My Documents.) Users can run software they installed, as well as programs the Administrator installed.
Windows 2000 reserves its best internal security, though, for hard disks formatted with NTFS. Only on NTFS volumes can you set by-user privileges for files and folders, making it possible, for instance, to lock the family's copy of Quicken so that only you and your spouse can access it, not the kids (or your nosy Aunt Cookie). If you're sharing a Windows 2000 PC--and you haven't set up the drive for dual booting to another OS, nor do you plan to--convert your drive from FAT32 to NTFS by performing the following steps:
Open a Command Prompt window by selecting Start, Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt.
Type convert C: /fs:ntfs and press Enter. If you're converting a drive other than C:, replace the C: above with the appropriate drive letter.
Press the Y key when you see the message "Would you like to schedule it to be converted the next time the system restarts?"
Restart the PC.
If you want to go further, take a look at this detailed information about locking files and folders on an NTFS-formatted drive.How Do I Keep Win 2000 Current?
Q: How do I keep Windows 2000 current?
A: Windows without a bagful of bugs just wouldn't be Windows, now would it? If you want to keep Windows 2000 operating at maximum efficiency, you need to stay on top of bug fixes, patches, plugs for the inevitable security holes, and other OS tchotchkes. That's where Windows Update comes into play.
Select Windows Update from the Start menu or use your browser to go directly to the Windows Update site. (Unless you've customized Start, Windows Update should top the menu.) An ActiveX component loads, scans your PC, determines which updates you need, and then displays a list customized to your computer. The Critical Updates category is, of course, the most important; generally these are security fixes or massive service pack updates.
Don't blindly take Microsoft's advice to install a bunch of stuff, however: Before you download anything, click the "Read this first" link at the end of the download's description for more information about why you should install a file, how much disk space it requires, and how to uninstall it (if that's even possible).
Once you check the items you want to retrieve and click the Download button, Windows Update takes care of the rest. It automatically downloads and installs each component, then informs you when to restart the PC (if necessary).
You should regularly return to Windows Update to check for new downloads; once a month is ideal. Sometimes a critical download depends on another one being installed first, so you should always revisit the page right after you install a patch to make sure you've got everything you need. Busy users can turn over part of that chore to Windows Critical Update Notification (currently at version 3.0), a tiny utility available from the Windows Update site that notifies you of every addition to the Critical Updates category no later than 24 hours after it's posted on the site.How Do I Get Balky Hardware to Work?
Q: I upgraded from Windows 9x to Windows 2000 Pro, and now some of my peripherals won't work. How do I get all my hardware working with this new OS?
A: Virtually every hardware problem that crops up after you've upgraded to a new OS, Windows 2000 included, is due to old, balky, or just plain bad software drivers. Although Windows 2000 comes with an impressive number of drivers, there's always the chance it's missing the one you need.
Hunting for new drivers isn't brain surgery, but it can be a tedious. Here's our recommended plan of action, in order of priority:
Point your browser to Windows Update, click the Product Update link, then scroll down to the Device Drivers section. Windows Update may have a replacement for the out-of-date driver. Check the box next to the name of your particular driver (listed by the name of the hardware component) and click Download.
Head to the hardware maker's support Web site and look for a Drivers or Downloads link. If you can't find one, search the site by name and/or model number of the peripheral and the phrase "Windows 2000" (if possible).
Surf to a driver-specific download site--DriverGuide is a good place to start--to sniff out unusual peripherals and their Windows 2000 drivers.
As you install the driver, be alert: A message may pop up with the warning that the driver is "unsigned," which may indicate that the driver is obsolete. (Signed drivers have been tested by Microsoft and are known to work with Windows 2000.) If this happens, use one of the techniques above to find a more current driver.Can I Uninstall a Service Pack?
Q: Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 whacked my PC. Is there a way to uninstall a Service Pack and get the PC working properly again?
A: Windows 2000's Service Packs are substantially slicker than NT's. You can roll back either of the two existing packs (SP1, SP2) to the previous version or back to the original, unpatched installation of Windows 2000. Here's how:
Select Start, Settings, Control Panel and open the Add/Remove Programs applet.
Choose Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 or Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 from the list and click the Change/Remove button.
Follow the Wizard's rollback instructions, then reboot the PC at the end of the process.
On another, associated topic, you can free up a ton of hard disk space by deleting the files necessary to do this kind of rollback. That assumes, of course, that you're certain you won't ever want to uninstall a service pack. Here's the scoop:
The files are in a hidden folder that you first must make visible. Choose Start, Settings, Control Panel and open the Folder Options applet.
Click the View tab, then select the "Show hidden files and folders" radio button before clicking OK.
In Windows Explorer, locate and delete the $NtServicePackUninstall$ folder in the WINNT folder.
You'll also want to eradicate the now-superfluous Add/Remove Programs entry. Choose Start, Settings, Control Panel and open Add/Remove Programs. Select "Service Pack" from the list and click the Change/Remove button. You'll see a message that reads "An error occurred while trying to remove Windows 2000 Service Pack X. It may already have been uninstalled. Would you like to remove Windows 2000 Service Pack X from the Add/Remove programs list?" Click Yes.
How Do I Get a Broken Win 2000 PC to Boot?
Q: I can't get Windows 2000 to boot! Am I hosed, or is there something I can do?
A: Unlike its predecessor Windows NT, Windows 2000 includes the Safe Mode familiar from Windows 9x, which gets you access to the hard drive by booting with basic drivers only. Once you've managed to launch into Safe Mode you can make corrective changes, such as deleting a just-installed (and possibly problematic) driver or application.
Before the disaster, you want to have created a set of boot floppies and what Windows calls an Emergency Repair Disk. If the PC won't boot at all, even into Safe Mode, you may be able to use the ERD to repair the operating system and get back into the machine. With the ERD, you can replace system files and a corrupted Registry, and inspect and repair the Windows 2000 start-up process.
To make an ERD, grab a blank floppy disk, stick it in the drive, and select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup. Click the Emergency Repair Disk button, and in the dialog that pops up, check the box "Also back up the Registry to the repair directory." Click OK.
If disaster strikes as you boot up the PC, and you see the message "Starting Windows," press F8 to bring up the Windows 2000 Advanced Options Menu. This menu provides a number of options, including Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Network, and Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Try the simple Safe Mode first. We could fill a book on when and how to use the other boot options, but instead, we'll point you toward the online edition of the Windows 2000 Professional Resource Kit, which discusses Safe Mode start-up strategies.
An even grittier path to the hard drive avoids Windows 2000 entirely: the Recovery Console. Don't bother with this unless you're a power user comfortable with mucking around with such tasks as disabling services, formatting drives, and rooting through data files. But the Recovery Console can be a godsend if you need to copy a file to the hard drive or reconfigure a service to get Windows 2000 to boot, and Safe Mode doesn't cut it.
To access the Recovery Console, put the Windows 2000 setup CD in the CD-ROM drive if it is bootable, or pop in the first of the four-floppy Setup set. (Refer to "How Do I Make a Boot Floppy?" for details on how to create the Setup floppies.)
Once the PC has started up, enter the Windows 2000 Setup and press Enter at the Setup Notification screen. Press R to repair a Windows 2000 installation, and then press C to use the Recovery Console. You'll have limited use of the hard drive and will be able to access specific folders such as the %systemroot% folder (usually C:\WINNT), but not the entire drive.
You're not completely on your own here, though the task isn't for the faint of heart. For help, your best bet is the Recovery Console section of the Windows 2000 Resource Kit.
To use the ERD in case of emergency, boot the computer using the Windows 2000 Setup CD (if the PC's CD-ROM drive is bootable) or the first of the four-floppy Setup series you created earlier. At the Setup Notification screen, press Enter, then press R at the next two screens to begin the repair process. (You'll be asked to pick between Manual and Fast repair; press F for Fast.) Insert the ERD when prompted.How Can I Run an Older Windows Program?
Q: One of my favorite applications won't run now that I've installed Windows 2000. Whenever I try, I get the message "This program requires Windows 98 to run." Anything I can do before I go looking for a replacement?
A: Run the tiny (14KB) Application Compatibility utility, which can fool a program into thinking it's running on Windows 95, 98, or NT instead of 2000. Application Compatibility doesn't modify the software, but only reports to the program that it's "seeing" a different OS than is really the case. This works for some software that balks at running on Windows 2000, but certainly not all.
You can run apcompat.exe from the Windows 2000 installation CD Support folder, or better yet, install the Windows 2000 Support Tools (head to Support/Tools on the CD and double-click Setup) so that you also have Application Compatibility's Help file.
First, close any running applications. Browse the Support folder on the Windows 2000 Setup CD until you locate apcompat.exe, then run it and select the operating system that you want the fidgety program to think is active. Click OK, then launch the problematic application. You may need to fiddle with the OS choice, as well as with the options near the bottom of the Application Compatibility display. Once you've nailed down settings so that the application works, check the "Make the above check box settings permanent" box and click OK. This solidifies the fakery so that you don't have to launch Application Compatibility each time you want to run this program.How Do You Fix Add/Remove Programs When It Leaves Out Apps?
Q: I rely on the Add/Remove Programs control panel to remove unnecessary junk from my hard drive. But I have a bunch of problems with Add/Remove Programs. What's up?
A: Add/Remove can be twitchy. In fact, we've noticed three things that bother the heck out of us.
Problem 1: Windows hides some of its components and won't let us uninstall them.
Solving this one's pretty easy. Although Windows hides the components it doesn't want uninstalled, you can make them visible--and uninstall them--with a couple of quick edits.
Go to the C:\WINNT\inf folder and open sysoc.inf.
Scroll to the [Components] section, and in the entry for the program you want to uninstall, remove the word hide but leave the comma that follows it. For instance, to make it possible to remove the fax component, change Fax=faxocm.dll,FaxOcmSetupProc,faxsetup.inf,hide,7 to Fax=faxocm.dll,FaxOcmSetupProc,faxsetup.inf,,7.
When you next open Add/Remove Programs, once-hidden Windows Components will be visible.
Problem 2: I can't install or uninstall Windows Accessories.
The root of this is also in the sysoc.inf file. Open that file, and look for the following entries, deleting hide from these entries so that the section reads:
Save the file and click Add/Remove Windows Components in the Add/Remove Programs window. You should now see Accessories listed.
Problem 3: Some of the entries in Add/Remove Programs don't work.
On occasion, an application leaves behind its Add/Remove entry even though the program itself is deleted. If tidiness is important to you, you can eliminate these dysfunctional items by digging into the Registry. Of course, it won't do the operating system any harm to leave a stray icon in the Add/Remove Programs list. If you feel ambivalent about diddling with the Registry, by all means don't bother with this process. If you aren't certain that you know what you're doing, please get help from a knowledgeable person before you follow these instructions--a wrong move could break your operating system pretty badly.
Select Start, Run, then type regedit and press Enter. Navigate to the following Registry key in the left pane:
Add/Remove Programs builds its list from the keys in this folder. By deleting a key here in the right pane, you remove the program from the list. Delete only the key for the programs you've already uninstalled, because if you delete any others you'll never be able to use Add/Remove Programs to uninstall them.How Do I Clean the Registry?
Q: How do I clean the Registry in Windows 2000?
A: Whether you're sprucing up the Registry simply to reclaim a few megabytes on your hard drive, or suspect that an application's weird behavior lies in some screwed-up entries, you should know how to maintain this crucial component of Windows 2000.
First, the usual disclaimer: Always back up the Registry before messing with it. The simplest way to do this is to launch Backup by selecting Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup. Then stick a floppy into the PC's drive and click the Emergency Repair Disk button, and check the box "Also back up the Registry to the repair directory." (You're killing two birds with one stone here, since you should have a repair disk handy anyway.)
Commercial maintenance suites like Norton SystemWorks include Registry cleaners, but you can skip the expense and download Microsoft's RegClean instead. The current version (4.1a) works fine with Windows 2000. After you unzip the download, run regclean.exe, wait until it's finished, and click the Fix button. That's it.How Can I Boost Performance Without Upgrading Hardware?
Q: I want my Windows 2000 machine to scream with speed. How can I boost performance without breaking the bank?
A: Some performance enhancing tricks in Windows 2000 aren't any different than what you'd do with other flavors of Windows. You should, for instance, defragment your hard drive on a regular basis for the fastest disk access. To launch Windows 2000's included defrag utility, select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter.
But other tips are specific to Windows 2000, or at least outside the ken of Windows 9x. For instance, in Windows 2000 there is a fast, easy way to reclaim RAM and speed up most computer chores.
Windows 2000 automatically starts a host of services, small programs that support other software as well as hardware. But many of these services may be unnecessary in your situation. Disable the services you don't need, and you reclaim RAM that would have otherwise gone to waste.
To see which services are loading, right-click My Computer and select Manage. In the left pane, expand Services & Applications, then click Services.
The right-hand pane shows the status of all installed services. Automatic means that the service loads into memory when Windows 2000 starts up (some services must be set to Automatic for the OS to work properly). Manual indicates that the service wasn't started at boot, but it can be initiated if necessary.
To change a service's setting from Automatic to Manual, right-click the service and select Properties. In the "Startup type" field, pick Manual from the drop-down list and click OK. When we poked into our PC, we managed to unload services that were grabbing about 2MB of memory at start-up.
Although it's impossible to make blanket statements about services, here is a list of culprits you may be able to do without:
If you're not connected to a network, set Computer Browser to Manual.
If you're not on a network, or don't use an always-on Internet connection such as digital subscriber line or cable, set DCHP Client to Manual.
If you're not connected to a Windows 2000 domain and you're not using the NTFS file system, set Distributed Link Tracking Client to Manual.
If you're not connecting to a specific DNS server on a network, set DNS Client to Manual.
If your PC is not acting as an FTP server, set FTP Publishing Service to Manual.
If your PC is not acting as a Web server, set IIS Admin Service to Manual.
If you're not connected to a Windows 2000 domain or network, set Messenger to Manual.
If you don't need to give a network administrator access to your PC's Registry, set Remote Registry Service to Manual.
If you never use Windows 2000's Task Scheduler to run programs unattended, set Task Scheduler to Manual.
For more information about Windows 2000 services, the functions they serve, and who can do without each one, the best online source we've found is the Windows 2000 Services Tweak Guide.Can I Jazz Up Win 2000 With Themes?
Q: How do I jazz up my Windows 2000 desktop with themes, like I did with Windows 9x? I can't find Desktop Themes in the Control Panel.
A: Windows 2000 supports desktop themes, those collections of wallpaper, icons, pointers, and sounds that millions use to personalize and humanize their analytical, cold-hearted PCs. But sticking with its all-business approach, the OS doesn't go out of its way to advertise the fact that you can slap goofy faces on its GUI.
Dig into the WINNT\System32 folder, find the application file themes.exe, then click to run it. The familiar Desktop Themes interface appears. You can load (and preview) additional themes by clicking the Other button in the Themes: field, then rooting through the hard drive to locate and open a theme file.
But since Windows 2000 comes with only one theme, the oh-so-conventional "Current Windows settings," you'll first need to acquire a theme or two. PCWorld.com's Downloads library offers scads; other sources include Web sites such as ThemeWorld.com.
Older themes that carry the extensions .the or .thm are incompatible with Windows 2000. Fortunately, there's an easy fix: Use Windows Explorer to rename the file so it has a .theme extension instead.How Do I Make the Whole Start Menu Appear?
Q: I can't stand the way Windows 2000 abbreviates the Program menu under Start. OK, so it supposedly lists the apps I use most often, but I'm tired of clicking on the stupid arrow to see the whole thing. Isn't there a way to turn off this function?
A: Sure. In fact, putting an end to Windows 2000's personalized menus is a snap. From the Start menu, select Settings, Taskbar & Start Menu, then clear the Use Personalized Menus check box and click OK.
While you're at it, you might want to explore some of the other Start menu options. Click the Advanced tab, go to the Start Menu Settings section, and select or clear boxes before clicking OK. The options are self-explanatory, but if you need a hint about what each does, select it and press F1 for a short pop-up description.How Do I Make a Program Run on a Schedule?
Q: How do I set up a program to run when I'm not at the keyboard?
A: Use the Windows 2000 Task Scheduler. From the Start menu, choose Settings, Control Panel, then click the Scheduled Tasks icon. Click Add Scheduled Task to open the wizard. The process is straightforward, and in two parts: Pick the application to run, then set the time you want it to launch.
If you don't see the application in the wizard's list, click the Browse button to search your hard drive. You can also use the Browse button find a specific document that you want to open at a scheduled time. Once you've settled on an app or file, click Next.
Choose a frequency for this chore: daily, weekly, monthly, one time only, at start-up, or whenever you log on. Depending on the frequency you pick, the next screen in the wizard lets you fine-tune the time. If you chose weekly, for instance, you can name the days of the week, the time of the day, and how many weeks between occurrences.
You also need to specify a Windows 2000 user and, if necessary, enter that person's password. To access the power scheduling options, check the box labeled "Open advanced properties for this task when I click Finish" on the wizard's final screen. Click the Settings tab of the dialog box that pops up and finesse the task by checking or clearing boxes. For example, you could end the task after it has run for, say, an hour and ten minutes.
Let's put the Task Scheduler to work by automating one of the most tedious chores in Windows 2000: defragmenting the hard disk.
Oops. Actually, you can't, at least not without some help. The geniuses at Microsoft didn't include command-line control of the bundled Disk Defragmenter (it's in Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools), so it won't launch unattended. So grab the freeware AutoDeFrag for Windows 2000 from the Web and stick the small file in the C:\WINNT folder. Now you can schedule Disk Defragmenter:
Open the Schedule Task Wizard, double-click Add Scheduled Task, and click Next.
Click Browse, locate the WINNT folder, then double-click the AutoDeFrag file.
Set when you want the drive to defragment, click Next, then select the start time and date.
Enter your Administrator's user name and password, and click Next.
Finally, check the "Open advance properties..." box, and in the Run field, add the drive you want to defrag with: C:\WINNT\AutoDeFrag.exe C:
Click Finish and you're done!