Microsoft has had many different operating systems for the home over the years. There was Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98 (Rev 1 and 2), Windows Millennium, Windows 2000 (mostly used commercially) and now Windows XP Home and Windows XP Pro. In Windows Millennium we saw a feature called 'Restore'. This feature enabled a person to set the computer back to the state it was in on a previous date. This was handy, when it worked, for solving problems. This feature was improved and enhanced in Windows XP. To use it click on the Start Menu and go to Programs, Accessories, System Tools and you will see System Restore. If you feel that your computer is running perfectly you can create a restore point that you will be able to go back to if your computer starts to give you problems. On the other hand, if you are having problems you can go to 'Restore my computer to an earlier time' and pick a date were it was running correctly and go back to it. Microsoft states that you will not lose any recent work or documents.
What happened to the backup facility on Windows XP Home Edition? It
is still there and I will tell you how to use it but this WILL
DISABLE your Restore accessory. You can activate the backup
utility in the following manner:
2. Double-click the Ntbackup.msi file to start the wizard that installs Backup
3. When the wizard is complete, click Finish.
Windows XP stores information differently than it predecessors. A lot of settings are put into C:/Documents and Settings. Why don't you go there and take a glimpse at the folders available and look into them. I like to be able to see all my files so I made all the hidden files visible. This is easy to do, just go the Tool menu at the top of the open folder and click on 'Folder Options'. Next click on the 'View Tab'. Drop down to 'Hidden files and folders' and select 'Show hidden files and folders' and then click on 'Apply to All Folders' at the top left of the Folder Options window. Now click on 'Apply'. That's all there is to it. I also prefer the Classic Look for the folders. You can change to that by clicking on the 'General Tab' in the same Folder Options Window and under 'Tasks' at the top select 'Use Windows classic folders'. Doing this does away with the listed tasks on the left side of every window, something I find extremely annoying. Lets jump back to the 'View' Tab for a second. There are many items under the 'Advanced settings' that will allow you to customize the way your folders display files, it is worth a look.
Folder Display Options
Another item that may be of help for you is the Control Panel. Open the Start Menu, Settings and select the Control Panel. The Control Panel has a lot to it but for now lets pretend that one of our devices is not working properly. To see if it is having a problem that we can fix through software we click on 'System' in the Control Panel. Next we select the 'Hardware' Tab. The next step is to go to the Device Manager in the middle of the page and select the 'Device Manager' Button. The Device Manager Window will open, and any device that is having a problem will display a yellow question mark. If you click on the device a status window will open. If there is a problem you might be able to fix it by updating or changing a driver. To do this click on the 'Driver' Tab. You are now presented with several buttons that will allow you to do various driver tasks. Remember that before you can upgrade a driver, you must have copy of it on a disk or hard drive. Warning - sometimes it is required that you first uninstall your old driver and reset the computer before installing a new driver. If you click on the 'System Restore' Tab in the System Proprieties window you can customize your System Restore by selecting which drives it should work on. This is handy in another way. There are some Viruses called Trojans that put themselves into the 'System Volume Information Folder' and this is a folder which Microsoft has made inaccessible to us common folk so the virus can not be erased from there even by the best Anti Virus programs. But you can get rid of them by using this little trick. Click the box that says 'Turn off System Restore on all drives'. Now reset the computer and it will empty the System Restore Folder of all data including the virus. Don't forget to go back to System Proprieties and turn system restore back on by clicking the Settings button on the System Restore window and following the instructions. (This tip alone is worth reading this article for, many people have gone crazy trying to delete this type of virus).
Another useful program contained in the Control Panel is 'Add or Remove Programs'. For our purposes think of it as a program that allows you to get rid of programs you no longer want or which do not function correctly. Highlight the program to delete and click on the Change/Remove button and the program is gone. You can also customize the task bar and start menu by selecting 'Taskbar and Start Menu' in the Control Panel and selecting your desired options.
Now lets say you have an older program that you want to run on Windows XP but it won't work correctly, is there a way of getting it to run correctly? Maybe you can. Go to the program location and find the file with the .exe after it. If there is more than one in the folder see if you can find the .exe file with the name of the program. If you do, then using the left mouse button click on it. A Properties window will open. Click on the 'Compatibility' Tab and now make your selection. You will notice that you can select older operating system modes to run the program in as well as fewer colors. If you can't find an .exe with the name of the program in the folder then you will have to experiment with the .exe files you do find in there.
You will notice that on your start menu there is something called 'run'. This program will run just about anything. An example of this is you can type in 'msconfig' and it will run your MS Configuration file allowing you to change some items. Using the programs browse facility I have found many small programs to run.
There are many programs out there that are called tweaks. Supposedly these programs make your Windows XP run better. Beware of these programs unless you know what you are doing. It is true that some of them can be really useful but they can also cause you grief if you change something without knowing what you are doing. One of the most annoying things that can happen is that you computer begins to run very slow. So stay clear of tweaking programs unless you understand the setting changes you are making so they can be reversed if necessary.