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Updated: 01.12.2016


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I am mainly running the Windows XP Professional SP2 operating system (Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation), but I use also Windows 98 Second Edition occasionally, mainly because of the "bundled" indispensable "Disk Operating System" a.k.a MS-DOS dinosaur (mostly for recovery reasons), and also because of a few "legacy" programs that refuse to work in Windows XP (yeah, I've tried the "Compatibility Mode"), and because of its much faster scandisk; beside few other things that appears to be faster and more reliable compare to the NT-kernel based operating systems. Though it is true, NTs are generally considered and actually are much more advanced operating systems. Then on Windows XP, I also use Cygwin in a command prompt, which is a emulator of the Unix environment and contains the most crucial Linux's programs for Windows (merely can be said, it is a "real" OS), and I use it mainly to practice Linux commands as often as I can. I also have always one installation of "pure" Linux somewhere on hard-disk, particularly the Slackware (Zipslack) distribution, which is a very basic Linux system, i.e. there are no XWindow and KDE desktop environments in the default configuration (though one could add them if one would want to), and therefore one needs to know how to work in Linux OS only with its shell command-prompt (it's bash in Zipslack of course), and you need to know the basic commands, the general sintax etc. And note that all the mentioned OSs are on single home "one-user" machine. So yeah, I have the most experiences with the said three operating systems. But it is true that although I am an "advocate" of open-source software in general, I do prefer Win32-based systems, because more games are written for them, they have more users (and therefire bugs are quickly discovered etc.), but above all, they are much more user-friendly, at least in my opinion. Then there is a short list in no particular order (well, some might be sorted by date of creation, but mostly they're unsorted) with a few threads' titles/links that contain my "theoretical questions" and which I've opened on "Ars Technica" forums so far. As first there is the thread titled Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon A theoretical question on screen colours/contrast, Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon A XML related confusion; a theoretical question once again ..., next Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon Registry naming-related theoretical question, then Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon Theoretical question about updating things (drivers) to solve the problem, then the following is Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon A "theoretical" question - how to handle/set non-setup apps' directories ?/fixed, then Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon Another theoretical question from me; in regard to the so-called "Start Path", then there are also Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon Theoretical question regarding DC-projects and 100% CPU usage, Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon A theoretical question about web-browsers' "previous page" function, next is Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon Theoretical question about disk fragmentation (future writes), then follows Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon Log and config files locations - another theoretical question from my side, and finally Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon Theoretical question about the variable location information. Bbut please note that these are not all the threads that I've opened/created on "Ars Technica" forum with theoretical types of questions; I've included here only those threads that have this particular phrase (i.e. "theoretical question") in their titles.





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THE BEST PLACEMENT OF XP'S PAGEFILE


Always remeber that the general "pagefile placement" related rule is the following one: you should put the pagefile on the most-used partition of your least-used drive (that is a hard-disk drive, not drive as in partition) on your least-used IDE channel. The "most-used partition" because the head will be spending a lot of time there (if there are multiple partitions on the drive), thus minimizing seek distances, while for the "least-used drive and channel", it's hopefully pretty obvious why. In my case it's also the first partition of the three, so it's closed to the beginning of the hard-disk, except at power-down.

Here are the links to Microsoft's recommendation about pagefile placementArs Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/99609816/m/338005384931/inc/1 and Any advantage in having two pagefiles??!Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/99609816/m/481001595831 threads that I've opened on "Ars OpenForum" forum and in which it's stressed many times (by ther members) that Windows automatically writes data to the most-used partition on the least-used disk (see above paragraph fore explanations), therefore again, remember that you want to have your pagefile located on the most-used partition of your least-used drive. Of couse, this all applies to a configuration with more than one hard-disk; if you only have one hard-disk you really don't have a choice, but always remember (again, in a one hard-disk scenario) that is recommended against putting a pagefile on the same drive as, but a different partition from, system files. This is because the one containing system files (i.e. operating-system, Windows and other programs) is obviously the most-used one. While also it is the assumption that the system partition will be the first one on the disk, so the pagefile will be closer to the resting point of the drive heads, which will reduce seek times, although later it was said in one thread on "Ars OpenForum" forum that there is no "resting point" (i.e. after an I/O occurs the heads just stay where they were for that I/O until the next operation comes along) to which the heads return.

And finally also don't forget that the pagefile usually doesn't get fragmented enough to cause noticable performance issues, except maybe in "pathological" cases since it is accessed randomly (no more than 64 KB at a time), and the chances that the next access will be to a region adjacent to the previous access are just about nil. Therefore the next access will need a head movement anyway. If you're paging to the pagefile a lot, chances are you are paging in from code files and paging for the file cache as well; these I/O will be interleaved with pagefile accesses as well.






IS DRIVE-PARTITIONING WORTHY AT ALL


Well, the answer to this question is a bit ambiguous, but generally it's best to have one big partition (i.e. no extra partitioning) extending through the whole hard-disk. I mean, most people over at "Ars OpenForum" forum say that partitioning is useless these days (considering the cheap hard-disk's prices, and various disk-imaging tools available), and not only useless but even recommended against because of perfomance issues. You see, the general idea is that partitioning the hard-disk to partitions results in more seeks when heads are moving around the platter, thus slowering the hard-disk's perfomance. Unfortunately I don't remember any of the (numerous) threads there at the moment to provide a link to it, but here are a few that I've found in my backup "bookmarks.html" files, and there's a chance that you'll find these opinions in them.

As first there is the To Partition or Not to Partition? Also: Page File thread: Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon http://episteme.arstechnica.com/groupee/forums/a/tpc/f/99609816/m/412003268831 (that's also a bit related to the above article about pagefile placement), then there is the A question about pagefile being on more than one partition thread: Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon http://episteme.arstechnica.com/groupee/forums/a/tpc/f/99609816/m/279007807731 (this was created/opened by me), then the Do I want a primary partition or an extended partition... thread: Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon http://episteme.arstechnica.com/groupee/forums/a/tpc/f/99609816/m/925008928631 one, and finally the Multiple versus single large partition thread: Ars Technica 12 x 12 pixels icon http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/99609816/m/944001657931 one. If you'll read them (especially the last one) you'll see that by placing data into a different physical location on the hard-disk you reduce performance by increasing disk seeks since then the drive-heads move between the partitions. Consider this scenario: you have a 500 GB hard-disk to store your 50 GB of data. You partition the drive into two equally sized partitions: 250 GB for Windows/page file/applications and 250 GB for data. This forces the disk heads to move, on average, halfway across the disk as it seeks between the two partitions. If the data were all contained within a single partition it's very unlikely that the disk would have to seek, on average, halfway across the disk. The OS, application, and data files would most likely be stored in close proximity. Assuming 10 GB for the OS, 2 GB for pagefile, 30 GB for the applications, and the aforementioned data size of 50GB everything would be stored in the first 1/5th of the disk. So the seek time would be significantly reduced since seeking between 1/5th of the disk takes less time than seeking between 1/2 of it.

However, there are a few exceptions (i.e. very specific situations/configurations) to this rule. One is of course dual-booting systems, where one needs to have each OS residing on its own partition, not to mention that if this includes Unix systems, that partition needs to be FAT-formatted. And secondly, in some cases it's easier to have hard-disk partitioned in a way that OS/programs partition is separated from your data-partition (i.e. a partition containing pictures, documents, mp3s, videos etc.), because in case of a need to re-install the OS your data-partition is left intact. Consider this scenatio: let's say that you have a 500 GB hard-disk. You then decide to make your primary partition 50 to 75 GB and keep OS, programs, and all your critical data in this partition. Then when you backup (or make an image for that matter), you only have to backup a mere 50-75 GB partition rather than a whole hard-disk drive. Secondly, since this small partition is kept at the beginning of your drive, it means that it is on the outer tracks of your hard-disk (which are the fastest tracks in terms of sustained throughput), while with the remainder of the drive, make one large partition and store all your non-critical data (see above) that typically take a lot of space, but don't change much and don't perform any faster by being on the outer tracks of your hard-disk. You can then schedule this partition to be backed up on an infrequent basis.






COMPUTER-IDENTIFICATION ON THE NET


The Internet uses a protocol called Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) developed in the 1970s by network engineers at Stanford University and others. Basically, it breaks down large files into small packets of about 1500 bytes, each carrying the address of the sender and the recipient. The sending computer transmits a packet, waits for a signal from the recipient that acknowledges its safe arrival, and then sends the next packet. If no receipt comes back, the sender transmits the same packet at half the speed of the previous one, and repeats the process, getting slower each time, until it succeeds; this means that even minor glitches on the line can make a connection sluggish.

Further, billions of computers are connected to the Internet and the web information is located on the Internet, stored as sites/pages, each with a unique name called a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) When you enter a Web address in the browser address bar or click a link in your Web browser to move to a new Web site, you are giving your browser the URL of the page that you want to view. For example, www.symantec.com is a typical URL. Each URL maps to the IP address of the computer that stores the Web page. URLs are used because they are easier to remember and type than IP addresses. Before your browser requests a page, it asks a DNS server for the IP address of the Web site. IP addresses are 32-bit numbers expressed as four decimal numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255 and separated by periods, for instance: 110.202.255.255. Every computer on the Internet has a unique IP address. So-called "Subnet masks" are always used in conjunction with a base IP address. Like for example: Base IP address: 10.0.0.1, Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0.

When you are trying to identify computers, it is easier to work with groups of computers rather than having to identify each one individually. Subnet masks provide a way to identify a group of related computers, such as those on your local network. A typical subnet mask looks like this: 255.255.255.0. At its simplest, each 255 indicates parts of the IP address that are the same for all computers within the subnet, while the 0s indicate parts of the IP address that are different. There is one particular URL that identifies your computer to itself, and that is localhost. The IP address that corresponds to localhost is 127.0.0.1 (also known as "home IP" or "loopback" or simply "this computer"), so for example if you have a Web server on your computer, you can type http://localhost; compare to 0.0.0.0 IP address which means "no IP" (or unknown/any host or simply "anywhere and everywhere"), and therefore you can see your web-page, of course, if it exist at all.

Further, every device connected to the internet must have a unique IP; however, there're two types of them: "static" and "dynamic". But there is also an option that lets multiple computers share a single IP address called a router. Static IP addresses are exactly what their name implies, i.e. they are static or unchanging. They are assigned by network administrators or ISPs, and one has to configure the computer or other internet device manually to respond to that specific address. But mostly this is not needed because using the "DHCP" or "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol" (which is the default for Windows TCP/IP connections), the computer broadcasts a special request for an IP address to the network. Another device, commonly belonging to an ISP, responds with an IP address that the computer then configures to use. Routers are devices that allow multiple computers to "share" a single IP address; the device that is connected to the internet is the router and it has a unique IP address.






STRATEGIES ON COPING WITH A BSOD


Stop Errors or STOP Messages, also referred to as BSODs (Blue Screen Of Death, i.e. called BSOD by its blue background) occur when Windows XP Professional stops responding. Stop error messages can be caused by hardware (a bad driver, or faulty or incompatible hardware) or faulty software, i.e. malfunctions, incompatibility and/or conflicts. But what is a driver anyway? Well, a driver is a sort of a program, that controls a device. Every device, whether it be a printer, disk drive, or keyboard, must have a driver program. Many drivers, such as the keyboard driver, come with the operating system. For other devices, you may need to load a new driver when you connect the device to your computer. In DOS systems, drivers are files with a ".sys" extension, while in Windows environments, drivers often have a ".drv" extension. A driver acts like a translator between the device and programs that use the device. Each device has its own set of specialized commands that only its driver knows. In contrast, most programs access devices by using generic commands. The driver, therefore, accepts generic commands from a program and then translates them into specialized commands for the device.

Troubleshooting RAM-related errors

If the error occurred immediately after RAM was added to the computer, the paging file might be corrupted or the new RAM might be either faulty or incompatible. In this case, delete the Pagefile.sys file, and return the system to the original RAM configuration. Additionally run hardware diagnostics supplied by the hardware manufacturer, especially the memory checks.

Troubleshooting file system errors

If you’re using a small computer system interface (SCSI) adapter, obtain the latest Windows XP Professional driver from the hardware vendor, disable the sync negotiation for the SCSI device, verify that the SCSI chain is correctly terminated, and check the SCSI IDs of the devices. If you’re unsure how to do any of these steps, refer to the instructions for the device. If you’re using integrated device electronics (IDE) devices, define the on-board IDE port as Primary only. Check the Master/Slave/Only settings for the IDE devices. Remove all IDE devices except the hard disk. If you’re unsure how to do any of these steps, refer to the instructions for your hardware. Run Chkdsk /f to determine if the file system is corrupt. If Windows XP Professional can’t run Chkdsk, move the drive to another computer running Windows XP Professional, and run the Chkdsk command on the drive from that computer.

Troubleshooting device driver errors

Check that the devices on your computer have drivers that are signed and certified by Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). If you’ve installed new drivers just before the problem appeared, try rolling them back to the older ones. Open the box and make sure all hardware is correctly installed, well seated, and solidly connected. Check the Microsoft Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) to verify and confirm that all of your hardware is on the Hardware Compatibility List and therefore compatible with Windows XP Professional, if some of it isn’t, then examine this non-HCL hardware. Check the devices on your computer (especially the one that appears in the stop message) if they have drivers that are driver signed, certified and identified by Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). Run Sigverif.exe to check for unsigned drivers. If you have a video driver not supplied with Windows XP Professional, try switching to the standard VGA driver or to a compatible driver supplied with Windows XP. Uninstall any software that uses filter drivers for example, antivirus, disk defragmentation, remote control, firewall, or backup programs.

An advice if you can start Windows XP

First off restart your computer (if it wasn't restarted automatically), and if you are able to start Windows normally, then first check the System Log in Event Viewer for additional error messages that might help identify the device or driver causing the problem. To view the System Log launch EventVwr.msc from a Run box or from Start Menu -- Administrative Tools, i.e. click Start and then click Control Panel. Click Performance and Maintenance, and then click Administrative Tools. Double–click Event Viewer to open it and then System Log to view. Especially examine the "System" and "Application" logs in Event Viewer for recent errors that might give you further clues. To do this, launch EventVwr.msc from a Run box; or open "Administrative Tools" in the Control Panel then launch Event Viewer. If you’ve recently added new hardware, remove it and retest. Uninstall any non–critical hardware and software to help isolate the item that may be causing the problem. Using a current version of your antivirus software, check your hard-disk for viruses and trojans. If the test finds a virus, perform the steps required to eliminate it from your computer. Verify that your computer has the latest Service Pack installed. For a list of service packs and instructions for downloading them, go to the Windows Update Web site. Search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for "Windows XP Professional" and the number associated with the stop error you received. For example, if the message "Stop: 0x0000000A" appears, search for "0x0000000A", for more information on this, go to Help and Support Center and type "Safe Mode Options" in the Search box. If you have access to the Internet, visit the Microsoft Support site.

An advice if you can't start Windows XP

Same as above, restart your computer, and if you are unable to log on again, press F8 when the list of available operating systems appears, on the Advanced Options screen select Last Known Good Configuration and press ENTER. Unplug each new hardware device, one at a time, to see if this resolves the error. Run Recovery Console, and allow the system to repair any errors that it detects. Try to start your computer in safe mode, and then investigate your hardware-related software (drivers etc.), and make sure any newly installed/added hardware or software is properly installed (RAM, adapters, hard-disks, modems, drivers, programs and so on), and then remove or at least disable it/them. To start your computer in safe mode, restart your computer and same as above, when you see the list of available operating systems press F8 and on the "Advanced Options" screen select Safe Mode, and press ENTER. Verify that your hardware device drivers up-to-date and your system BIOS is the latest available version. Check and try disabling advanced BIOS memory options such as caching or Video BIOS Shadowing. Run Recovery Console, and allow the system to repair any errors that it detects.



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