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Chapter 4. What's New and Noteworthy in ... > New Windows 98 System Tools

New Windows 98 System Tools

Windows 98 comes loaded for bear with many new and improved tools for keeping your system running smoothly and efficiently. (This is on top of the performance improvements Microsoft claims have been implemented in Windows 98. See Chapter 9 to learn more about Windows 98 performance.) Here's a quick look at these tools:

Updated FAT32 utilities: All the Windows 98 disk utilities have been redesigned to work with FAT32, including Format, Disk Defragmenter, and ScanDisk (and their DOS counterparts), as well as FDISK. The latter is covered in Chapter 8, “Customizing the Mouse, Keyboard, and Other Input Devices,” and the other utilities are covered throughout Part III, “Unleashing Files, Folders, and Disks.”

Backup: Windows 98's Backup utility is a version of the backup software that comes with Seagate drives. It sports an improved interface, wizards for backing up and restoring, a plethora of new options, and support for SCSI tape drives and many other tape backup devices. And unlike the Windows 95 Backup, this version will also back up Registry files. Using this utility to back up and restore your data is the subject of Chapter 16, “Working with a Net: The Windows 98 Backup Utility.”

System Recovery: In the event of an unrecoverable crash, you can format your hard disk and then use System Recovery to restore your system to its previous state automatically. (You must run a complete backup for this to work, however. See Chapter 17, “Wielding the Windows 98 System Tools,” for the details.)

ScanDisk check on boot: ScanDisk now runs automatically at boot time if the system was shut down improperly (see Chapter 17).

Application Tuning: This feature enhances Disk Defragmenter by optimizing your hard disk in such a way as to place the program files you use most often contiguously on the disk. This, in turn, should reduce application load times.

Disk Cleanup: You use this utility to reduce the wasted hard disk space taken up by the Recycle Bin, stray temporary files, downloaded Internet objects, and so on. See Chapter 9.

Task Scheduler: This feature replaces the System Agent that came with Microsoft Plus!. It enables you to schedule programs and utilities to run at regular intervals. Because this utility will mostly be used to schedule system maintenance tasks, I've included it in Chapter 17 along with the other system tools.

Maintenance Wizard: This wizard takes you through the process of setting up and scheduling automatic system maintenance (ScanDisk, Disk Defragmenter, the deletion of unnecessary files, and more).

System File Checker: This new utility monitors your system files and can be used to restore a previous configuration should any of these files become corrupted, missing, or overwritten. I show you how it works in Chapter 17.

System Troubleshooter: If you're having trouble starting Windows 98, the new System Troubleshooter can help. It enables you to toggle items on and off in startup files such as CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, and WIN.INI. It also provides access to numerous WIN.COM switches and other startup options. See Chapter 17 for the details.

Microsoft System Information utility: This utility acts as a central storage area for all the pertinent information about your system. It gives you access to hardware data, device drivers in use, network resources, running tasks, and much more (see Figure 4.4). You can also use it to invoke utilities such as ScanDisk, System File Checker, and Automatic Skip Driver Agent. Chapter 17 shows you how to wield this tool.

Figure 4.4. The Windows 98 System Information utility.

Automatic Skip Driver Agent: If Windows 98 hangs because of a defective device driver or a device failure, you can use the Automatic Skip Driver Agent utility to tell Windows 98 to bypass the driver or device on subsequent boots. Once again, head for Chapter 17 to get the skinny.

DriveSpace3: Windows 98's version of DriveSpace supports compressed volume files up to 2GB in size. It also includes the Compression Agent for background compression. You find complete coverage of DriveSpace3 in Chapter 15, “Disk Driving: The Windows 98 Disk Utilities.”

Registry Scan: This utility (it comes in both a real-mode flavor and a protected-mode flavor) scans the Registry to look for corruption in the files. If a problem is found, Registry Scan can attempt to fix the problem. The real-mode version of Registry Scan is invoked automatically at startup and creates a backup copy of the Registry files automatically. See Chapter 17 for details.

Improved Dr. Watson: The Dr. Watson utility intercepts software faults and takes a snapshot of your system's state at the time of the fault. The Windows 98 version of the utility has been improved to include more system detail in its reports.



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