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By Steve Benedict and Denys Howard

ABSTRACT: Windows 95 includes tools (ScanDisk, Disk Defragmenter, Backup, etc.) for solving problems, and monitoring and tuning system performance. Other tools, available online, allow Windows 95 to integrate with VoiceView modems and other technology. This article describes the new tools, tells where and how to get them, and explains how they can help you. Articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) providing further information are cited along the way. These are available on the TechNet CD, The Microsoft Network, the Microsoft World Wide Web page, and through other electronic information services.

New online components allow Windows 95 to integrate with VoiceView modems, Infrared devices and networks, such as Novell's NetWare 4.0 and 4.1. This article shows where to get the tools on the Microsoft Web page,, and explains how to use these tools to enhance and maintain your machine's performance. The last section discusses Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 and how to use it effectively—especially to automate system tasks.

On This Page

Tools Available Online
Avoiding Common Problems
Tuning your System
Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95

Tools Available Online

Windows 95 was designed to meet the widest possible range of hardware and software. To continue providing the widest possible support for the newest technologies, Microsoft places new components and tools on the Internet. Following is an overview of some of the tools that were available as of February, 1995 on the Microsoft World Wide Web.

Free Software Area

First, there is the Free Software area of the Microsoft Windows 95 Web page at: The tools listed below are available there and on TechNet.

  • The 32-bit Data Link Control (DLC) Protocol for Windows 95 is used primarily to access IBM mainframe and IBM AS/400 computers. The 32-bit DLC protocol software for Windows 95 enables a network administrator to add support for 32-bit and 16-bit DLC programs.

  • Infrared Device Support allows users to transfer files from one computer to another, or to send a document to a printer, without using a physical cable. It implements version 1.0 of a protocol defined by the Infrared Data Association. The software uses virtual serial ports and a virtual parallel ports in the Windows 95 system. Applications such as the Windows 95 Direct Cable Connect or any programs that use a printer simply send their data to these virtual ports and the Infrared Support software handles the data transfer entirely within the Windows 95 operating system. You no longer need to remember to use the right cable, the 9-pin to 25-pin adapter, a null modem cable or adapter, and so on. And you don't even have to launch a special utility. Simply point the computer at the target device and beam the data.

    The Service for NetWare Directory Services (or NDS) is for users who want to use the Windows 95 Client for NetWare Networks to connect to and use the NetWare Directory Services on Novell 4.x networks. Microsoft has developed a Service for NDS that meets the needs of companies using NetWare 4.x by supporting the following feature set for Windows 95 clients:

    • Integrated NDS login with NDS login script support

    • Ability to run 16-bit MS-DOS and Windows programs that are NDS aware.

    • Integrated browsing of NDS resources within the Windows 95 shell

    • Printing to NDS print queues

    • System Policies and User Profiles integration


Another area of the Microsoft WWW site that is frequently updated is for Windows 95 drivers, especially print drivers. These are also available on the MSN site.

To locate these tools on the Microsoft Network, use the MSN Find function. When you are connected to the MSN:

  1. Pull down the Tools menu

  2. Point to Find

  3. Click on The Microsoft Network

  4. Type in Windows 95 Updates

  5. When the BBS appears in the list, press the Enter key or double-click on it. The Service for NDS, the Infrared Driver, and the 32-bit DLC protocol, and any other new components are listed, along with driver updates.

If you come to this area regularly, remember that you can add it to your MSN Favorites simply by clicking on this button.


The Microsoft AnswerStation will be a support tool that utilizes VoiceView-capable modems, which allow both voice and data transmission during a single phone call over an analog phone line. If you have the proper hardware and download AnswerStation, a Microsoft technical support engineer will be able to access your machine via modem to demonstrate a process or to resolve a problem you are having with virtually any Microsoft product.

To see if a modem supports VoiceView, go to the Modems section in Control Panel, find the diagnostics tab and select the COM port on which your modem resides. Click the more info button. Windows 95 sends AT commands to communicate with the modem, including the command AT+FCLASS=? If the response has an 80 at end of the string the modem is VoiceView-capable.

Windows 95 Emergency Recovery

This new utility facilitates backing up system configuration files. It is located on the Windows 95 CD-ROM in the Other\Misc\ERU folder. It backs up:

  • Config.sys

  • Autoexec.bat

  • Win.ini

  • System.ini

  • Protocol.ini

  • User.dat

  • System.dat

  • Io.sys


  • Msdos.sys

See KB article 139437: Windows 95 Emergency Recovery Utility

See KB article 141014: Emergency Recovery Utility Does Not Back Up Files

Avoiding Common Problems

All users are familiar with system crashes and unintentionally deleted files. Two new Windows 95 tools can help prevent these sorts of problems. ScanDisk checks drives for disk, file and folder errors, and identifies and fixes those areas before data loss occurs. Backup saves a copy of your data in a different location, so that you can replace a corrupted or deleted original.

Using ScanDisk

Any program that crashed or simply "misbehaved" could make Windows 3.x unstable. Also, if information was being written to the hard disk when these incidents occur , lost clusters on the disk get created. Lost clusters cause valuable disk space to be taken up by unusable information.

Windows 95's protected environment keeps programs from crashing the system. Microsoft ScanDisk, which comes with Windows 95, allows you to check the disk's surface, files, and folders for lost clusters and correct them if they exist, thus freeing disk space by getting rid of unusable information. Checking for these errors ahead of time can also prevent data loss problems.

Microsoft ScanDisk existed before Windows 95 as an MS-DOS 6.x utility, but it is new to Windows. Windows 95 includes a new Windows version and a new MS-DOS version. The MS-DOS version is used during Windows 95 setup, and you can use it if you need to run ScanDisk in MS-DOS mode (discussed later). The Windows ScanDisk version can be run in the background while other Windows programs are running. ScanDisk offers you two checking options: Standard and Thorough. Standard checks the files and folders on the selected drive or drives for errors. Thorough does the same thing and checks the physical integrity of the disk's surface.

If, for instance, you select the c:\ drive for a standard test, however, ScanDisk does not check:

  • configured CD-ROM drives

  • network drives

  • drives created by the MS-DOS commands ASSIGN, SUBST, JOIN and INTERLNK

ScanDisk does check:

  • local hard drives

  • floppy drives

  • RAM drives and memory cards

  • mounted drives that are compressed with Microsoft DoubleSpace or DriveSpace

The MS-DOS version included in Windows 95 can also check unmounted drives compressed with DoubleSpace or DriveSpace but it cannot check for long file name integrity. As a rule, you should use the Windows version of ScanDisk first and the MS-DOS version if you still need to correct other problems.

When ScanDisk finishes checking, it reports on errors found and summarizes information about the disk, like the MS-DOS CHKDSK utility. If it finds errors, ScanDisk issues a prompt asking if you want to repair the disk area and/or save its information to a file.

Run ScanDisk on a regular basis: it's always a good idea to check for errors and fix them before data loss occurs. One easy way to run it is to place a shortcut in the start-up group and use the following command line parameters to check drives automatically every time you start your computer.

  1. Add the ScanDisk icon to your StartUp folder and use your right mouse button to click the icon.

  2. Click Properties, and then click the Shortcut tab.

  3. After the text in the Target box, specify one or more of the following:

    drive: to specify the drive(s) you want to check

    /a to check all your local, nonremovable hard disks

    /n to start and close ScanDisk automatically

    /p to prevent ScanDisk from correcting any errors it finds


To check drive D and start and close ScanDisk automatically, the text in the Target box should look similar to the following:

c:\windows\scandskw.exe d: /n

To check all nonremovable hard disks but prevent ScanDisk from correcting any errors it finds, the text in the Target box should look similar to the following:

c:\windows\scandskw.exe /a /p

You can also use Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 (discussed in the last section of this article) to schedule ScanDisk.

Using Backup to Prevent Unintentional File Deletion

Come on, admit it: you have deleted a file or a directory by mistake at least once. Everybody has.

Windows 95 has several ways you can make yourself "immune" to this. One is the Recycle Bin. When you delete a file using the Windows 95 interface, the file is moved to the Recycle Bin. If you realize you did not want to delete the file, you can go to the Recycle Bin and undelete it.

However, some types of data deletion cannot be undone, for example, deleting a file with an old MS-DOS program. This is one reasonwhy you should always back up data. MS-DOS 6.x contained a Windows and an MS-DOS version of Backup; Windows 95 contains only a Windows version. It is located in the system tools folder with ScanDisk. Start it from Programs/Accessories/System Tools from the Start button. You can back up to floppy drives, hard disk drives, network drives and, unlike previous versions of Backup, to tape drives.

Windows new tape backup supports most common makes of tape drives that conform to the QIC standard. These drives typically connect to a standard floppy disk controller inside the computer. It does not support SCSI tape drives, parallel-port tape drives, and proprietary tape backup drives, except for portable drives from Colorado Memory Systems. For complete information about tape units supported by Backup, see the "Tape drives that are compatible with Backup" Online Help topic in Backup Help.

See KB article 124730: Tape Backup Units Supported in Windows 95

Backup Issues and Troubleshooting

If backup does not recognize your tape drive:

  1. Check Backup Help to make sure your tape drive is supported by Windows 95 Backup.

  2. Try doing a backup with another backup utility to see if it recognizes the tape backup drive.

If you have trouble restoring a backup:

  1. Make sure the backup was made with Windows 95 backup. Backup sets from previous versions of Microsoft Backup must be restored using the version used to create them.

  2. Make sure the tape drive is clean. Refer to your tape backup drive documentation. Most drives should be cleaned after every 8 hours of operation, or after 20 backup/restores.

  3. Finally, try to restore the files in Windows 95 Safe mode.

Example Backup procedure:

  1. Start Backup and select a folder, for instance "My Documents".

  2. Click Next Step.

  3. Select the tape backup drive.

  4. Save "My Documents".

  5. Click Start Backup.

Alternate Method for Launching Tools

You can launch ScanDisk and Backup using the Start button. Here is an alternate procedure:

  1. Double-click the My Computer icon.

  2. Secondary-click on the C drive, or any other local drive.

  3. Click Properties on the Context menu.

  4. In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab. If you start these tools here, they default to the specific drive you have selected, and Windows tells you how long it has been since they were used on the drive.

See KB article 130946: Troubleshooting Windows 95 Backup

Tuning your System

If system performance declines, there are two tools you can use: Disk Defragmenter to improve your disk access time and System Monitor to report on software performance so that you can determine and solve a system performance issue.

Disk Defragmenter

Disk Defragmenter runs exclusively within the Windows interface. No MS-DOS version is included with Windows 95.

System performance sometimes seems to get slower as time goes on. While this is often caused by adding programs that use more memory, it can also be caused by programs reading from and writing to the disk so often that information becomes fragmented (no longer stored on the disk contiguously). This doesn't cause data loss, but a heavily fragmented disk can affect machine performance because it takes longer to find and piece together fragmented files.

In the Windows 3.x environment, it was sometimes difficult to determine why performance was lagging, but Windows 95's Disk Defragmenter makes it easy to monitor and maintain system performance so that you can identify problem issues and remove them. If system performance starts to drop off, run Disk Defragmenter to see if it helps by reducing disk access time.

Click Start, point to Programs, Accessories, System Tools and click Disk Defragmenter. When it starts, select the drive you want to check.

Like ScanDisk, Disk Defragmenter does not check CD-ROM and network drives, or drives created with the MS-DOS ASSIGN, SUBST, or JOIN commands. Refer to the Windows 95 Resource Kit for a complete listing. You can use Disk Defragmenter on a DriveSpace or DoubleSpace drive, but do not use it on drives compressed with programs other than Microsoft's DriveSpace or DoubleSpace unless their documentation says to: doing so could cause data loss because different compression programs store information differently. Use Disk Defragmenter only on DRV/DBL spaced drives.

When you have selected the drive to defragment, the utility checks the drive for, reports the amount of fragmentation, and suggests whether you should defragment now or wait.

If the amount is sufficient to make defragmentation advisable, Windows 95 recommends that you start the disk defragmentation process. You can use other programs while it runs in the background, but it can be CPU-intensive, causing other programs and Disk Defragmenter to perform slowly. For instance, a program that does a lot of reading and writing to the disk makes Disk Defragmenter start over. Displaying the detail also makes it run slower. When you use Disk Defragmenter, it is best to schedule a time during which you are not using your machine. See the Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 section at the end of this article for more information.

Use the Start button to start Disk Defragmenter, or:

  1. Double-click the My Computer icon.

  2. Secondary-click on the C drive.

  3. Click Properties on the Context menu.

  4. In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab. If you start Disk Defragmenter here it defaults to the specific drive you have selected, and Windows tells you how long it has been since it was used on the drive.

  5. Disk Defragmenter is also located in the System Tools folder with ScanDisk and Backup.

System Monitor

If you run Disk Defragmenter and there is no fragmentation, declining system performance might be caused by a program that requires more RAM than is available or that is processor-intensive. System Monitor can help you find out what's wrong.

Start System Monitor from the System Tools area. You can configure it to report on areas such as Free Memory, Disk Cache Size, Allocated Memory, Swapfile in Use, Swapfile size and Processor Usage, and use the information you obtain to optimize performance.

Dynamic Disk Cache

System Monitor may show that you have less available memory than you might expect, and this discrepancy can be due to Windows 95's new dynamic disk cache, which boosts computer performance by using all available RAM and releasing it as it's needed by other programs.

As you load programs such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access, the disk cache size decreases as the amount of allocated memory increases. As allocated memory grows, so does the swapfile in use and swapfile size values . This happens normally, but if the allocated memory is significantly higher than the amount of memory physically present on the machine there could be a performance issue. When swap file activity is high, programs run slower because Windows 95 is paging memory to the hard disk and the disk cache memory is low since allowcated memory is high. To get optimal performance, the amount of disk cache must be higher and the swapfile size lower. This can be achieved by adding more RAM.

Because Windows 95 dynamically adjusts the disk cache and swap file, you can get acceptable performance with only 8MB of RAM without having to configure settings manually, as was necessary in Windows 3.1.

Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95

Microsoft Plus for Windows 95 is known by the new look it gives Windows 95 with its Desktop themes, screens savers, mouse cursors and the Pinball game. Beyond appearance, however, it offers some effective and important system tools.

DriveSpace2 and DriveSpace3

Windows 95 ships with the first Windows version of DriveSpace, version 2.0. Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 ships version 3.0, better known as DriveSpace3, which has some advantages over version 2.0. It offers:

  • Support for compressed drives up to 2GB where version 2.0 only has support for up to 512MB

  • Multiple levels of compression (including none) on a single compressed DriveSpace3 drive

  • Improvements to Adjust Free Space

  • A scheduling Compression Agent (see below) when a DriveSpace 3 drive is created

DriveSpace3 offers three types of compression:

  • UltraPack

  • HiPack

  • Standard

Standard compression is just what it sounds like: the same compression you get with previous versions of DriveSpace. HiPack and UltraPack are new to DriveSpace3. HiPack is based on Standard compression, but uses a different algorithm which allows for up to 10% better compression than Standard. UltraPack compression uses a different encoding format, and achieves around 25% better compression than standard, but it is slower to decompress than HiPack. It works best on Pentium processors. Microsoft Plus! applies the UltraPack format only through the Compression Agent.

Compression Agent

The Compression Agent (which works exclusively with DriveSpace3) recompresses files using different compression methods based on a set of criteria the user defines. You can start it manually (using the same procedure you use to start Disk Defragmenter or ScanDisk) or schedule it to be run by the System Agent automatically when the system is idle.

The compression agent is the best tool for managing disk compression because it allows you flexibility, takes into account your file use patterns, and helps maximize performance. Suppose, for instance, you have files on a section of your drive that you work on once a month. You can use the Compression Agent to deliver the best combination of compression and performance for the greatest amount of disk space for that drive. You can UltraPack files that you have not used in the last 30 days and HiPack all others, UltraPack them all, or select different types of compression for specific files.

System Agent

To maintain best hard disk performance, you should periodically run ScanDisk, Disk Defragmenter, and the Compression Agent (if you're using DriveSpace 3). Since running these tools can be a chore, Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 comes with a System Agent with which you can schedule the best times to automatically run these system tools.

The System Agent icon is in the status area of the taskbar. Double-click on it to start. The System Agent allows you to schedule events at off-peak times so that you're not adversely affected by the processor-intensive applications such as Disk Defragmenter

ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter are automatically scheduled when you install Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 and include the System Agent. A standard ScanDisk check is scheduled every workday and a thorough one every month. The Compression Agent and Disk Defragmenter are also scheduled. The System Agent also schedules a special program to check your hard disk every hour and notify you if you are running low on disk space. This is another example of Windows 95 design helping you deal with issues before they become problems.

Here is how to schedule a program by scheduling backup:

  1. Start Microsoft Backup.

  2. On the Backup tab, double-click the drive containing the files you want to back up.

  3. To select all the files in a folder for backup, click the check box next to the folder. To select only certain files in a folder, double-click the folder, and then click the check box next to the files you want.

  4. After you select the files and folders you want to back up, click Next Step.

  5. Click the destination for the backup files, and then click Options on the Settings menu.

  6. On the Backup tab, click the "Quit Backup after operation is finished" check box to select it. Select any other options you want, then click OK.

  7. On the File menu, click Save As. Type a name for the file set, then click Save.

  8. On the Settings menu, click Drag And Drop.

  9. Click the Confirm Operation Before Beginning check box to clear it, then click OK.

  10. Quit Microsoft Backup.

After you create the file set, schedule a Backup task in System Agent:

  1. Double-click the System Agent icon on the taskbar.

  2. On the Program menu, click Schedule A New Program.

  3. Type the following line in the Program box c:\progra~1\access~1\backup.exe c:\program files\accessories\<file.set> where <file.set> is the name of the file set you created in Backup.

  4. Schedule the days and time you want the automated backup to occur.

  5. Click OK and close System Agent.


Windows 95 tools make it possible to integrate with new technology (such as infrared data transfer) and to monitor and fine tune system performance. Combining the tools included with Windows 95, Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95, and those available at online sites, the Windows 95 administrator has a kit that makes system support, troubleshooting and maintenance easier and more effective. The monitoring and tuning tools make it possible to resolve issues before they become problems that compromise system performance.

Troubleshooting with Windows 95 System Tools was originally presented as an MSTV broadcast. For more information on MSTV see the Microsoft Home Page on the World Wide Web or call 1-800-597-3200.

Microsoft TechNet

Volume 4, Issue 3
March 1996