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9. Maintaining a clean installation of Windows 95, and annoyances

(Details at the Win95 Annoyances FAQ)

OK, so you don't want the Net Neighborhood cluttering your desktop because you only have an Internet connection, or your Win95 takes up too much hard drive space, or whatever. Maybe your system runs too slow and you want to speed it up. Maybe you heard about some cool utility that'll speed up your computer. Read about it here.

More important, read the Win95 Annoyances FAQ for more details, if you think I'm missing something. This is where most of this info came from. BE WARNED: I do not recommend Registry hacking via REGEDIT to clean up your system! All my tips here demonstrate methods without using REGEDIT; rather they use Policy Editor. POLEDIT works with stand alone computers to directly edit the Registry, as well as creating policy files.

9.1. How do I remove this desktop item...

If you don't have MS Exchange installed, you can remove this icon by just right-clicking it and selecting "Delete". If you don't use it and you want to get rid of it, run Add/Remove Programs/Windows Setup, and de-select all the MS Exchange and MS Fax components. The next time you re-start the Inbox icon will not be there.

If you want to keep Exchange but still remove the Inbox, you'll have to resort to this Registry Hack.

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If all you use is Internet access and don't use any other Win95 networking, you can run Network Control Panel, and remove all network components but the Dial-up Adapter and TCP/IP. This will remove the Net Neighborhood and all other Win95 clients from your system. NOTE: This will also disable password caching!

If you use Win95 clients as well, you can hide it with Policy Editor in Default User/Shell/Hide Network Neighborhood. You can also hide individual components of Net Hood. NetWare NDS networks have additional Net Hood restrictions you can enforce as well.

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You can't hide the icon itself, because it still points to Control Panel, Printers, and Dial-up networking. You can hide the drives themselves, however, from Policy Editor; Default User/Shell/Hide drives in My Computer.

Apparently according to Annoyances, you can also make up a "blank" icon (using any freeware icon editor) and use MS Plus to change the icon to it. Also, rename the "My Computer" to a single space. The icon's still there, but no one will see it. You might also want to drag this invisible icon to an inconspicuous place on your desktop.

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Right-click on it and hit "Rename".

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This requires a Registry Hack.

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This also requires a Registry Hack but Norton Utilities for Win95 allows you to rename it. Other Recycle Bin hacks (such as Desktop Toilet) do the job as well.

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I would just say Don't Use MSN, but you can right-click on the icon and delete it; it's just it will re-appear whenever you log in to MSN. If you choose not to use MSN (Good for you!) you can remove it from Add/Remove Programs/Windows Setup. The MSN icon won't go away until the next reboot, but it will go away.

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9.2. How do I remove...

The Start Menu (And desktop as well) are just directories with shortcuts inside. You can right-click on the Start Menu and hit Open, then find the startup folder and delete the shortcuts in it. You can also right-click on the Taskbar, get Properties, and in Start Menu Items tab, hit "Remove".

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Some Win 3.1 thinking programmers (like at ATI) put their programs in WIN.INI's load= line in the [boot] section. Don't they trust themselves with the Registry yet? You can run SYSEDIT.EXE and delete the offending load= line from WIN.INI.

Programs that insert themselves in the Registry, using the CurrentVersion\Run key, run before WIN.INI gets touched. You can remove these using Policy Editor; Default Computer/System/Run.

Interesting note: "Run Services" shows programs that run even before you get a log in prompt. Some anti-virus software may insert themselves here (Some viruses could insert themselves here too!)

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I haven't figured Norton Anti-Virus out yet! That's so weird; they aren't in the load=, or in the Registry, or even in AUTOEXEC.BAT; yet the anti-virus monitor can still load! I think they hack into one of the Win95 core system files somehow.

The best bet is to uninstall the offending program with its uninstaller. All "Designed for Win95" programs have an uninstaller.

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9.3. How do I remove Start Menu entries?

Right-click on the Taskbar and get Properties, get Start Menu Programs, and hit "Remove". Then pick and choose.

You can also right-click on the Start button and hit Open. Then pick and choose the shortcuts you want to delete.

Yes I know. Win95's supposed to update the network copy of the shortcuts on log-out, but sometimes they just keep coming back. Delete them from your Home directory or MAIL directory as well to keep them from coming back.

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9.4. How do I de-activate that dumb "Documents" menu?

Normally you can right-click on the Taskbar, hit "Start Menu Programs", and hit "Clear Documents Menu" to clear it. But it will just fill up as you work with Win95.

MS has a Power Toy that clears this folder on exit. Try that before you try any of the hacks below.

There's a Registry Hack that relocates the Documents menu (the RECENT folder) to the Recycle Bin, and if you have "Remove immediately" turned on it will keep that menu clean, but there IS a safer way.

In AUTOEXEC.BAT include this line:


An even more effective way to keep the documents menu clean, and still enjoy its functionality during a single Win95 session, is to insert a command into System Agent, if you have MS Plus! installed. Write a batch file with the above command in it, then add it into System Agent. Schedule it to run "On Startup". This method won't work if you use User Profiles, but there's a work-around for that if you used WINSET to copy the %USERNAME% variable. Use this style of batch file instead:


NOTE: DOS programs run from System Agent should have "Background: Always Suspend" turned OFF! Also, instead of inserting the program itself into System Agent, insert its PIF file instead.

Additional NOTE: You can run PIF files from the Registry, from load= in WIN.INI, or in the startup group as well, in case you don't have System Agent.

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9.5. How do I completely remove...

All the OS components are in Add/Remove Programs/Windows Setup. You can add and remove them from there, and Win95 deletes the required files from your hard disk as well.

Other additional components you add in this requester (like dial-up scripting) are removable from the main Install/Uninstall tab.

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All programs Designed for Win95 have an uninstaller you can access from Add/Remove Programs/Install/Uninstall. If not, complain to the publisher of the program. If that doesn't work, complain to Microsoft, who awarded the logo to them.

A program's uninstaller will remove its components and Registry entries, if properly written.

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Printers are rather conveniently removed; if Explorer realizes you removed a printer and no other printer uses its drivers, it will offer to delete the offending files.

Other hardware drivers will remain, however. So, if you want to remove files used by a given piece of hardware, run Device Manager and bring up that device's properties. Bring up the "Driver" tab, copy this list where the driver files are, and delete them after you remove that device. You have to look BEFORE you remove the device, and not AFTER, or the list disappears with the device entry.

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If you use MS-Plus you need to remove Internet Explorer from Plus' uninstaller. IEXPLORE 2.0 will have its own uninstaller, but the uninstaller will keep the Internet Setup Wizard and its control panel entry in tact. You can always re-run the setup wizard even if you installed a different browser to replace IEXPLORE. It also keeps the Internet Mail client for MS-Exchange installed, which won't disappear unless you remove Exchange.

NOTE: According to Win95 Annoyances, IEXPLORE will keep many pieces of itself in the system after you uninstall it this way. IEXPLORE 2.0 does a better job of uninstalling itself, but it still keeps the Setup Wizard, mail client for Exchange, and auto-dialer in tact. You should keep these really, but you can delete the "Program Files/Plus!/Microsoft Internet" folder afterwards.

To keep the file type registrations in tact, you should re-install your browser of choice after you uninstall Internet Explorer. IEXPLORE's uninstaller will destroy any changes you made to .HTM and .HTML file type entries.

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Remove the BillNet icon from the Desktop, then remove BillNet from Add/Remove Programs/Windows Setup,. This will remove the main MSN control program and the Exchange mail client, but it will install a "Set up the Microsoft Network" installer in its place. You can simply delete the Program Files/The Microsoft Network folder completely afterwards, even though it says "This will impact one or more registered programs." Big deal.

Win95 Annoyances says the BillNet icon's Delete option goes away after you remove it from Add/Remove Programs/Windows Setup. I found, however, that the icon will go away by itself after you re-start.

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Get a decent Designed for Win95 uninstaller if you want the flexibility of removing Win 3.1 apps cleanly.

The only uninstaller which actually works (that I saw, anyway) is CleanSweep 95 from Symantec, but it only works if you install the Win 3.1 program AFTER you install CleanSweep.

To use CleanSweep, just try running any program called "SETUP" or "INSTALL" or any number of variants. The CleanSweep monitor kicks in and asks you if you want to monitor the installation. On occasion, a Setup program might not like this (and crash the install monitor), in which case you can manually start logging (by clicking on the Install Monitor in the Taskbar) before running the setup program, and manually stop it.

Also available now is Remove-IT 95 by Vertisoft. This program does a great job of completely nuking The Microsoft Network, including all Registry entries.

My Boss, Jim Farewell, firmly believes you should use a "Professional Uninstaller" to monitor all app installations, including Designed for Win95 ones. OK, have it your way. Just be prepared.

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Win95 Setup will maintain your old DOS and Windows, if you chose to install on top of your existing Windows setup. Later on, you can remove the old DOS and Windows files from Add/Remove Programs/Install/uninstall.

If you installed Win95 in a different directory, you can also simply delete the old DOS and Windows folders in Explorer. Win95 Setup would've included your old DOS directory in your path, however, so maybe leave that one alone until you decide you don't need the old DOS utilities anymore.

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You can also uninstall Win95 from Add/Remove Programs/Install/uninstall, if you installed on top of your existing Windows. If you installed in a different directory, however...

  1. Re-boot the computer with your old DOS disk
  2. From the DOS prompt, type SYS C: (This restores the original DOS system files)
  4. Re-boot off the hard drive

Then you can remove your Win95 directory, PROGRA~1 directory, and any hidden or system files you don't recognize. The easiest way to do this is run Win 3.1 File Manager, and have "Show Hidden/System Files" turned on in View/File Types".

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9.6. How do I stop the constant hard drive access?

Win95 is always swapping between its RAM and the hard drive's swap file, especially on 8 MB systems or systems with several programs running at once. To ease the swapping:

1. Edit SYSTEM.INI; add this to the [vcache] section:

maxfilecache=1024 (on 16 MB systems, or 512 on 8 MB systems)

2. Right click on My Computer, hit Properties, hit "Performance", and go through these settings:

  • File system/hard disk: read ahead size: 16 KB (Any smaller will make Win95 unstable)
  • File System/CD-ROM caching: reduce to around 250 KB, no less, and pick the "right" type of read-ahead access for your speed of CD-ROM (Making a double-speed drive use a quad-speed read-ahead doesn't always work!)
  • Virtual memory: Let Windows manage VM; it keeps the swap file as %WINDIR%\WIN386.SWP which you can erase in AUTOEXEC.BAT. Remove any swap file-related entries in SYSTEM.INI also.

You will find these settings give the quietest hard drives, even with disk compression used!

NOTE: Norton Navigator will cause additional disk swapping, because it maintains more shortcuts in the Start Menu which will verify that their targets exist.

If you let Win95 manage virtual memory, it will try to grow/shrink the swap file as required. On systems with low disk space this is actually a GOOD thing, because it doesn't instantly eat hard drive space. On systems with large hard drives this will become an annoyance, and the swap file will fragment, slowing down swapping.

Others (many others) suggest letting the swap file grow is a GOOD thing on big systems, because large programs can "Bottom-out" on fixed swap files. If you choose to let Win95 manage virtual memory, include this line somewhere in AUTOEXEC.BAT:


So when your computer re-starts Win95 will re-build the swap file unfragmented. While you're at it, you can kill the contents of the TEMP directory the same way (DELTREE /Y C:\WIN95\TEMP\*.*).

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9.7. Does RAM compression really work? (No.)

Those programs were for Win 3.1 apps that ate ridiculous amounts of GDI memory (System Resources), where they fixed inadequacies in the operating system. Win95 has larger resource limits, and properly written Win32 programs won't use them... as much.

Please save your money and effort, and stay away from this bogus software. If you really need to run 500 programs at once, get Windows NT Workstation.

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9.8. How do I stop the constant floppy drive access?

This is evident of shortcuts and PIF files pointing to files on floppy disks.

When Win95 builds its Start Menu, it checks all the shortcuts to see that they point to something intelligent. This will lead to floppy access when you view the Documents menu, for example.

Whenever you run a DOS program, Win95 builds a PIF file for it. If the program ran from a removable disk (like a floppy or CD-ROM) it will store the PIF in %WINDIR%\PIF.

To stop the constant floppy access from these shortcuts, right-click on the hard drive with Win95 in it and hit "Find...", then in the search space, type "*.lnk;*.pif", then hit the Advanced tab and in the "Containing Text" box, type "A:". Hit Find.

That search should generate a list of shortcuts pointing to drive A, including those in your RECENT, and PIF folders. Delete them from this window. Don't delete any shortcuts in the "SendTo" folder, but you should be able to safely delete the rest. The random floppy access will stop once you do.

To avoid getting this random disk access again, avoid launching documents and programs off floppy disks. Instead, open documents from the program they came from, and run DOS programs by opening a DOS prompt first, then switching to A: and running it from there.

Also see how to Delete the Documents menu on startup.

NOTE: Norton Navigator will cause even more floppy access, because it maintains more shortcuts at a time, especially floppy file shortcuts!

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9.9. How do I stop the constant CD-ROM access when there's no disk in the drive?

Win95's CDFS auto-detects disks when inserted, so Explorer can properly update the drive and folder windows. It also looks for an AutoPlayer on the disk (autoplay.inf) and will launch it. Because of this continuous checking, the CD-ROM drive light will flash. If it's an IDE drive, your HD light will flash along with it.

You could use real mode CD-ROM drivers and MSCDEX instead, but this leads to very pathetic performance. I would say ignore it and don't worry, because this auto-detect takes about 0% processor time. But if you insist on being annoyed by it:

Bring up My Computer/Properties and select Device Manager. Bring up properties for the CD-ROM drive, and turn off "Auto-Insert Notification". This is also advisable for CD-ROM changer owners, otherwise it will scan all of your platters when you insert the cartridge. Maybe turn it on for the first platter and leave it off for the rest; CD-ROM changers show up as multiple drives, because each platter has its own SCSI LUN ID.

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9.10. How do I set up user profiles so I can keep my own desktop clean?

User Profiles go a long way in keeping your computer clean, if you have several users using it.

Go to Passwords Control Panel (which is always there even for non-networked machines) and in the User Profiles tab, select "Each user has their own settings". Also turn on the Custom Desktop and Custom Start Menu.

Read all about it in Page 7 here. You can keep custom settings for every Win32 app, not just for the desktop and start menu. It's also good if you destroy your Registry by accident; at least half of it is saved.

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9.11. What are .gid files? Are they safe to remove?

.GID files are help index files. They include word lists for the matching help file.

Yes they're safe to remove, but when you access the help file next time, WINHLP32 will re-build the .GID file. Also, some Win32 programs require the .GID file be present. To re-build a deleted .GID file, open the help file from Explorer.

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9.12. What are "mscreate.dir" files? Are they safe to remove?

These are directory index files that MS Office "Fast Find" makes when you first access a directory. You can remove these, but FastFind will re-create them when you access the folder again. To keep them from coming back, remove the Fast Find shortcuts in your Startup group.

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9.13. Can I remove the "failsafe.drv" directory?

If you don't use disk compression you can remove this. Otherwise don't. Win95 uses the programs here to undo interrupted compression tasks. The programs in here are actually Win 3.1 programs, that run in the special DOSX environment, to do compressed drive conversions and such.

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9.14. Can I remove the "~mssetup.qt" directory"

I don't know why MS Office 95 leaves this thing there, but yes, you can remove it. It only contains another directory called ~pp.t which is equally useless.

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9.15. Top ten misconceptions about annoying items

10. Microsoft blatantly put them there as ads

9. Microsoft blatantly put them there to take up disk space

8. You have to use REGEDIT to remove them

7. You need a RAM compression program to run Win95 (NOT!)

6. Letting Win95 manage virtual memory is a good thing (heh heh...)

5. Win95 removes competing programs (nonsense! I use WP 6.1 and it doesn't disappear, though Win95 Annoyances claims that programs can disappear)

4. You need third-party uninstallers for Win95 programs (Get the Win95 programs fixed!)

3. You can happily delete DLLs etc not listed in WIN.INI or SYSTEM.INI (But what about the Registry?)

2. You can delete SYSTEM.DAT (Not unless you want to re-install Win95... heh heh)

1. Win95 scans your hard drive and reports its contents to Microsoft (Big Brother is watching you... not)

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Yes, you will probably try one of the registry hacks you read about in Win95 Annoyances. Well, before you do so, boot to "Command prompt only", and do this:


Then you can re-boot and happily tweak away using REGEDIT and POLEDIT. If you do screw up and you can't re-start Win95, then go back into command prompt only and re-copy SYSTEM.DAT and USER.DAT.

SYSTEM.DAT is more critical than USER.DAT; the distinction is more important when you use User Profiles, because each user has their own USER.DAT.

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