Troubleshooting MS Windows 98

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Joe Casad and Joseph Phillips

Chapter 8 from MCSE Training Guide : Windows 98, Exam 70-098, published by New Riders Publishing

On This Page

Study Strategies
General Troubleshooting Guidelines
Diagnosing and Resolving Installation Failures
Troubleshooting General Setup Issues
Version Conflict Manager
Microsoft System Information Utility
Diagnosing and Resolving Boot Process Failures
Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems
Diagnosing and Resolving Printing Problems
Diagnosing and Resolving File System Problems
Diagnosing and Resolving Resource Access Problems
Troubleshooting Application Problems
Diagnosing and Resolving Hardware and Hardware Driver Problems with ScanReg and ScanRegW
Case Study: Arizona Belt And Leather Company
Chapter Summary
Apply Your Knowledge
Answers to Review Questions


This chapter helps you prepare for the Microsoft exam by covering the following objectives within the "Troubleshooting" category:

Diagnose and resolve installation failures. Tasks include the following:

Resolving file and driver version conflicts by using Version Conflict Manager and the Microsoft System Information Utility.

Your ability to solve installation failures will be tested on the Microsoft exam. You should have a working knowledge of the Version Conflict Manager and the Microsoft System Information Utility.

Diagnose and resolve boot process failures. Tasks include the following:

Editing configuration files by using System Configuration Utility.

System Configuration Utility will allow you to quickly edit and update your system files. A working knowledge of this new tool is essential to passing the Windows 98 exam.

Diagnose and resolve connectivity problems in a Microsoft environment and a mixed Microsoft and NetWare environment. Tools include the following:


Net Watcher



Troubleshooting Microsoft and NetWare networks is an important element in the Windows 98 exam. Know how and why to use the connectivity tools included with Windows 98.

Diagnose and resolve printing problems in a Microsoft environment or a mixed Microsoft and NetWare environment.

Diagnosing and resolving network printing problems for Windows 98 can be tedious. Having experience with network printers in a Microsoft and NetWare environment will help you.

Diagnose and resolve file system problems.

File systems on Windows 98 include FAT and FAT32 file systems. Know the attributes of each and know the inner workings of each file system to prep for this objective.

Diagnose and resolve resource access problems in a Microsoft environment or a mixed Microsoft and NetWare environment.

The ability to get to network resources on either a Microsoft network or with NetWare servers is key to this element. There are many components to accessing network resources; know how to create the resources so you can know what problems are likely within accessing resources on Windows 98.

Diagnose and resolve hardware device and device driver problems. Tasks include the following:

Checking for corrupt Registry files by using ScanReg and ScanRegW

ScanReg and ScanRegW allow for backups of the Registry files for safe keeping and to guarantee access to the operating system.

Study Strategies

To adequately prepare for this section of the exam, invest your time in troubleshooting problems arising from installation failures. Use the Version Conflict Manager and explore the Microsoft System Information Utility to retrieve information about different Windows 98 computers. Experiment with the System Configuration Utility to edit your startup and system files. Delve into the networking components of Windows 98 to understand how these work and what troubles can arise from incorrect configurations. These troubles can stem from failed resource access to incorrect protocol information. In short, know it all.


In a complex operating system environment, troubleshooting technical problems or optimizing for performance is never an exact science. Although the number of possible hardware and software combinations (and resulting conflicts and configuration issues) on any given computer is virtually limitless, you can narrow the scope of any problems that may arise and, with luck, isolate the offending component(s), whether internal or external. Often the problems are a combination of both internal and external factors. Troubleshooting is your bread and butter as a network administrator, or as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. Your users or clients are not really interested in how many tests you have passed, or how many trade journals you read. They want to know, "Can you fix my computer—NOW?!" To this end (and to prepare you to pass the Windows 98 exam), this chapter takes a close look at troubleshooting.

This chapter examines the following main topics:

  1. General troubleshooting guidelines

  2. Installation failures

  3. Boot process failures

  4. Connectivity problems

  5. Printing problems

  6. File system problems

  7. Resource access problems

  8. Application problems

  9. Hardware and hardware driver problems

General Troubleshooting Guidelines

You can follow a number of steps when attempting to isolate technical problems. Some are specific to Windows 98; others are just part of a logical approach to any problem:

  1. Determine whether the problem occurs with regularity. If the problem is regular, your next step is to look for patterns and what factors are common to each occurrence of the problem. If the problem occurs randomly, it becomes more difficult to diagnose. You should note that, although a problem seems to occur randomly, it often is in fact occurring regularly—but the factors linking each occurrence may be very obscure. It is rare for computers to behave erratically for no reason, except in the case of intermittent hardware failures.

  2. Determine whether the problem began after a particular change was made to the configuration of the operating system, such as a driver update, the addition of a new modem, or a new video resolution setting. If this is the case, try to determine how the new configuration and the problem may be related.

  3. Use binary logic to isolate one variable at a time in your search for the failing component. If the operating system is suspect, for example, turn off all its advanced features simultaneously. If the problem goes away, refine your search, turning the features back on one at a time until the problem reoccurs. If turning off all the features does not solve the problem, you can likely look elsewhere (see step 4).

  4. Determine as precisely as possible whether the problem seems to be clearly internal to Windows 98 or includes external software/hardware. Generally, installing Windows 98 on a new computer will not cause many problems, unless those problems are related to hardware incompatibilities. The situation always becomes more complex when an existing system's software and hardware are migrated to Windows 98. Windows 98 is then likely to inherit any existing problems with the computer as well as some potential new problems (such as Windows 3.1 applications that do not work properly under Windows 98). The best example of this methodology is booting into Safe mode, because this disables many if not all special features, drivers, and software of the operating system. If the problem goes away in Safe mode, the problem probably is limited to a few key configuration parameters.

  5. Determine whether sequence is important to the problem. Is it a matter of the order in which things happen in the operating system? This can point out conflicts between different applications, for example. Does one application fail only after another particular application has loaded?

  6. Is this a known or common problem? Does it occur on other computers, or is it an isolated event? To find known problems, consult your available technical resources to learn potential solutions or to determine whether a known solution exists. Obviously, this is much easier to do if you can produce the problem on demand.

Although you cannot anticipate every potential problem that a system may encounter when Windows 98 is installed, certain courses of action are recommended for particular troubleshooting scenarios. Because every technical problem is in many ways unique to its operating environment, these suggestions neither are exhaustive nor guaranteed to work in a given situation. Table 8.1 shows some possible solutions for common problems. These solutions are intended to provide examples of applicable methodologies.

Table 8.1 Troubleshooting Examples


Possible Solution

Cannot print to a local printer.

Verify that the correct driver is installed, ensure that the printer's buffer is clear, and try printing directly to the LPT port from a DOS prompt.

Cannot print to a network printer.

Ensure that File and Printer Sharing is enabled at the remote computer; verify that you have correct network protocols configured.

Print jobs are not spooling properly.

Disable spooling in the Properties sheet of the printer, which will indicate whether spooling is in fact the problem; verify that enough disk space is available to hold the spooled print jobs.

Print jobs are garbled.

Disable EMF spooling; check whether Windows 3.1 printer drivers are being used.

Fatal Exception errors and GPFs.

Try Safe Mode; try a standard VGA driver; run ScanDisk with a full surface scan to check for corrupted files.

Message that communications port is already in use when attempting to use a terminal program.

Verify that no fax manager software is running in the backgroun, waiting for calls because this tipes up the communications port.

A newly installed ISA devise is not functioning.

Check the Device Manager for conflicts with existing devies (designated by a yellow exclamation mark).

CD-ROM drive is not listed as a drive in the Explorer or the Device Manager.

Most likely not a support brand; install Real-mode driver support.

A device is malfunctioning; but when it is removed from Device Manager and redetected, the problem persists.

Edit the Registry, delete the associated key under HKLM\Enum\Root\, restart the computer, and run hardware detection again.

Diagnosing and Resolving Installation Failures

Diagnose and resolve installation failures.

Windows 98 installation is usually successful; but on occasion problems do arise. These problems are often traceable to legacy hardware or poorly documented off-brand equipment. This section is directed toward helping you troubleshoot Windows 98 Setup. Your best weapon when troubleshooting Setup is a thorough understanding of the different phases of the Setup program. You may want to review some of the material covered in Chapter 2, "Installing Windows 98," before you study this chapter.

As Chapter 2 mentions, Windows 98 Setup includes a Safe Recovery feature that helps you recover from failed installations. If Setup fails before hardware detection, when you restart, you'll be asked whether you want to use Safe Recovery to resume the installation. If you opt to use Safe Detection, Setup will inspect the log file setuplog.txt to determine where the installation terminated. Setup will then skip the step that caused the failure and resume the installation. If you choose not to use Safe Recovery, Setup will start over with the installation.

If Setup fails during hardware detection, a log file called detcrash.log will be created (as discussed later in this section). detcrash.log gives Setup the information it needs to resume the hardware detection and bypass the step that caused the failure. If detcrash.log is present in the root directory of the boot partition, Setup will automatically switch to Safe mode. As you'll learn later in this section, a text-file equivalent of detcrash.log called detlog.txt is also created so that users can review hardware detection information.

Given Setup's elaborate recovery mechanisms, the best thing to do if Setup fails is to restart your system and let Setup try to work around the problem. As Chapter 2 mentioned, Microsoft recommends the following action (in this order) if Setup stops unexpectedly:

  1. Press F3 or click on the Exit button.

  2. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del.

  3. Turn off your computer, wait 15 seconds, then restart.

If Safe Recovery does not solve your Setup problems, you can use Setup's log files to guide your troubleshooting. The Windows 98 Setup program creates the log files setuplog.txt and detlog.txt (if Setup fails during hardware detection). Another pair of files (netlog.txt and bootlog.txt) is created as Windows 98 starts up the first time. The following list looks at each of the log files in detail:

  1. setuplog.txt. setuplog.txt is an ASCII text file that contains a log of the installation process. As Windows 98 installation progresses, entries are written into setuplog.txt for each step in sequence. This file is used by Windows 98's Safe Recovery feature in case of setup failure, and you can use it to look for the source of Setup errors.

    setuplog.txt is stored as a hidden file on the computer's root directory. Because new entries are added to setuplog.txt chronologically, start at the end of the file if you're trying to determine what caused the Windows 98 Setup program to fail.

  2. detcrash.log. detcrash.log is a binary file containing information on Windows 98 Setup's hardware detection process. When Setup fails during hardware detection, detcrash.log is created as a hidden file in the root directory of the installation drive. When you reboot, Setup will use the information in detcrash.log to restart the installation. An ASCII equivalent of detcrash.log, called detlog.txt, is also created.

  3. detlog.txt. This is an ASCII text file that contains a record of all devices found during the hardware detection phase of installation. If a device is found, the detected parameters are identified and recorded.

    Do not confuse this with detcrash.log! If the hardware detection phase should cause the computer to stall or lock up, a binary file named detcrash.log is created. (See the discussion of detcrash.log earlier in this section.) Although detlog.txt is an ASCII file for you to read, the Windows 98 Setup program reads the binary information in detcrash.log to determine what steps were successfully completed.

    detlog.txt is stored as a hidden file on the computer's root directory. Information is added to this file in the same order as the hardware detection phase. If you need to determine what caused the Windows 98 Setup program to fail or lock up, refer to the entries at the bottom of this file before restarting the system.

  4. netlog.txt. This is an ASCII text file that contains a record of all detected network components found during installation. The network detection phase consists of four parts. These correspond with the four class types of network configuration: network clients, network protocols, network adapters, and network services (such as file and print sharing).

    netlog.txt is stored as a non-hidden file on the computer's root directory. Information is added to this file in the same order as the network detection phase. If you need to determine what caused the Windows 98 Setup program's failure to communicate across the network, refer to the entries in this file. You will see where Windows 98 found the network adapter and identified which protocols, clients, and services to bind to the card. At the end of each line, you should see OK. If you see a line such as Couldn't determine..., or some other failure notice, you have found your problem.

  5. bootlog.txt. This is an ASCII text file that contains a record of the current startup process when starting Windows 98. When Windows 98 is started for the first time, bootlog.txt is created automatically. For subsequent reboots, you can create a bootlog.txt file by pressing F8 at startup (to invoke the Boot menu) and choosing the Boot menu option Logged (\bootlog.txt). You can also create a Boot log by running from the command line and including the /b switch.

    bootlog.txt records the Windows 98 components and drivers as they are loaded and initialized, and records the status of each step. The information in bootlog.txt is written in sequence during startup. You might need to examine the information closely to determine which error occurred. The Windows 98 Resource Kit has a good description of the sections within this file.

    bootlog.txt is stored as a hidden file on the computer's root directory. Information is added to this file during the Windows 98 startup process. If you need to determine what caused Windows 98 to fail or lock up, refer to the entries within this file before restarting again. bootlog.txt seems to write everything twice. The first line will read something like Loading VXD=..., and the next line will read something like LoadSuccess VXD=.... In troubleshooting, it is important to see what loaded successfully, as well as what loaded unsuccessfully. bootlog.txt provides that information.

The following sections discuss some other topics related to installation troubleshooting. The next section discusses some general Setup troubleshooting issues. After that, you'll learn about a pair of tools that Microsoft specifically mentions in the installation troubleshooting exam objective: Version Conflict Manager and Microsoft System Information Utility.

Troubleshooting General Setup Issues

The first step in troubleshooting Windows 98 setup issues is to get back to the basics. When installation fails early in the setup process, it is often related to one or more of the following issues:

  1. Is a disk management utility installed? If it is, can you safely remove it? This might entail a BIOS upgrade (if available) and quite possibly require using FDISK and repartitioning the drive. If this is the case, do you have a good backup?

  2. Is the disk compressed with a third-party utility? If so, can you safely uncompress the drive?

  3. Does Setup hang during the ScanDisk phase of installation? (An application is considered to be hung if it is still running, but not responding to any messages from the system.) If Setup does hang during the ScanDisk phase, you can manually run ScanDisk, and force a thorough inspection of the drive prior to Windows 98 installation.

  4. Have you disabled virus protection? Remember, it may be loading automatically from your previous OS, or it may be enabled in the computer's BIOS. Some anti-virus programs prevent writing to the boot sector of the hard disk. If this is the case, Windows 98 Setup will either fail to install, or will not load correctly. To correct this situation, you must disable the virus protection. After Windows 98 is properly installed, you can re-enable virus protection.

  5. Have you turned off power management? At times power management can cause problems (particularly if your computer decides to take a nap during some long-winded phase of Windows 98 Setup).

  6. Have you made certain that your computer does not have a virus? Run a current anti-virus program and check for viruses after booting from a known clean disk. (Don't forget to disable virus protection before restarting Setup.)

  7. SmartDrive can cause problems with some SCSI hard disks. By default, during Windows 98 Setup, Smart Drive is loaded, but double-buffering is turned off. To work around this situation, simply use the /c switch to run Setup without SmartDrive.

    What is being loaded from the autoexec.bat and config.sys? To see if autoexec.bat or config.sys may be causing the problem, perform the following steps:

    1. Rename autoexec.bat by typing the following from the command line: ren c:\autoexec.bat

    2. Rename config.sys by typing the following from the command line: ren c:\config.sys

    3. Restart the computer and run Windows 98 Setup again.

Version Conflict Manager

Windows 95 and Windows 98 both include vast collections of supporting files and drivers, some created by Microsoft and some distributed to Microsoft by vendors of specific devices. These files and drivers are constantly being updated, and at times several versions of a file or driver may be in simultaneous circulation. It isn't uncommon for Windows 98 Setup to discover that the version of a file already present on the computer is newer than the version that Setup is attempting to install. Compatibility, however, is also an important consideration. The files on the Windows 98 CD were developed and tested to function together, and the most reliable system is generally one with the fewest disruptions to the system of files that Windows 98 Setup is attempting to install. Setup is, therefore, occasionally faced with the situation of removing a newer version of a file in order to install the version included on the Windows 98 CD.

Rather than just deleting the newer (existing) version of the file that has caused a version conflict, Setup backs up the file to the Windows\VCM directory, and provides a tool called Version Conflict Manager to help you manage VCM directory files.

Windows 98's default strategy of replacing the newer (existing) version of the file with an older version present on the Windows 98 CD does not always circumvent version conflict problems, and in fact, it sometimes causes version conflict problems. If your Windows 98 installation experiences problems, or if an application or device doesn't run properly after you install Windows 98, the problem may be that Windows 98 Setup has replaced a file or driver with an older, incompatible version. Version Conflict Manager lets you restore a backed-up version of the file that was present before you installed Windows 98.

To start Version Conflict Manager, perform the tasks outlined in Step by Step 8.1.


8.1 Starting Version Conflict Manager

  1. Click on the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

  2. Choose System Information from the System Tools group. This will open the Microsoft System Information utility, discussed in the next section.

  3. From the Microsoft System Information Utility Tools menu, select Version Conflict Manager. The screen shown in Figure

  4. 1 appears.


    Figure 8.1: Version Conflict Manager lets you manage files that were replaced during installation even though they are more recent than the version on the Windows 98 CD.

From the main screen in Version Conflict Manager, you can select a file that was backed up because the version was more recent than the version of the file installed with Windows 98. Note that the Version Conflict Manager displays the backup date and the version numbers of the backed-up and current version of the file. Click the button labeled Restore Selected Files to restore the file(s) you select. When you restore a file, the current version of the file (the version you are replacing—the Windows 98 version) will be backed up in the Windows\VCM directory so you can restore it later if necessary.

Microsoft System Information Utility

Windows 98's setup and startup components can usually assign resources to all devices without conflicts. Sometimes, however, resource conflicts appear. One or more devices may be jumpered to the same resource settings, or a device may not be fully compatible with Windows 98 Plug and Play. Windows 98's Microsoft System Information Utility is a useful utility that provides a summary of system resources and how they're assigned. You can view information on hardware resources, Windows components, and various aspects of the software environment, such as drivers, 16- or 32-bit modules, running tasks, or OLE registration. You can use System Information Utility to find version conflicts.

To start Microsoft System Information Utility, click on the Start button and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information. The Microsoft System Information Utility main screen appears (see Figure 8.2). System Information Utility is primarily a tool for displaying information, although the System Information Utility Tools menu lets you link to several of Windows 98's troubleshooting and configuration tools.

The settings displayed in System Information Utility appear in a tree-like format reminiscent of Explorer or Registry Editor. Figure 8.2 shows the Hardware Resources categories. Each category displays information relevant to the category's title. For instance, the IRQs category displays the interrupt request channel (IRQ) setting for each installed device. The Conflicts/Sharing category shows any hardware resources that are presently shared among multiple devices. If you are experiencing problems with a device, the Conflicts/Sharing view will show whether that device is sharing a resource with another device.

System Information Utility's Components tree (see Figure 8.3) shows system resources listed by component. You can view information on hardware resources, drivers, and Registry keys for various system components, such as display, multimedia, modems, ports, and storage devices.


Figure 8.2: Microsoft System Information Utility provides a view of how hardware resources are allocated.


Figure 8.3: Microsoft System Information Utility's Components tree shows system resources listed by component.

The Software Environment tree (see Figure 8.4) shows information on drivers, modules, running tasks, startup programs, and OLE registration.

System Information Utility is primarily an aid for troubleshooting, and Microsoft has conveniently linked System Information Utility to other troubleshooting utilities. The Tools menu provides a list of tools that you can launch directly from System Information Utility. Many of these tools are discussed elsewhere in this book. The following tools are included:

  1. Windows Report Tool. Takes a snapshot of your system configuration and lets you submit a report (along with system information) to technicians at Microsoft.

  2. Update Wizard Uninstall. Lets you uninstall packages installed through the Windows Update Wizard (refer to Chapter 7, "Monitoring and Optimization").

  3. System File Checker. (Refer to Chapter 7.)

  4. Signature Verification Tool. (Refer to Chapter 7.)

  5. Registry Checker. (Discussed later in this chapter.)

  6. Automatic Skip Driver Agent. Tracks device driver load failures during startup. Disables devices whose driver(s) fail to load.

  7. Dr. Watson. (Discussed later in this chapter.)

  8. System Configuration Utility. (Discussed later in this chapter.)

  9. ScanDisk. (Refer to Chapter 7.)

  10. Version Conflict Manager. (Discussed earlier in this chapter.)

Microsoft System Information Utility provides a good first stop for system troubleshooting. You can check for conflicts and verify that drivers are assigned to devices. You can also use the Export option in the File menu to create a text file with a complete report of system settings that a remote troubleshooter can use to analyze your system.


Figure 8.4:

Microsoft System Information Utility's Software Environment tree provides information on drivers, modules, running tasks, OLE registrations, and other important settings.

Learn the New Utilities Windows 98 includes several new configuration, management, and trouble-shooting utilities, including the utilities discussed in this chapter and some discussed in Chapter 7. It is a good idea to learn the names of these utilities and learn what they are used for.

General Troubleshooting

The preceding sections introduced some general troubleshooting guidelines and described some tools and strategies for addressing installation failures and version conflict problems. You won't be tested on the general troubleshooting guidelines for the Windows 98 exam, but these guidelines provide some insight about the troubleshooting process. Troubleshooting scenarios starts with the symptom, and you have to work backwards to the cause. Applying a consistent methodology will increase your effectiveness.

You will likely be tested on Version Conflict Manager and System Information Utility, however. Be sure you know how to use these tools.

Diagnosing and Resolving Boot Process Failures

Diagnose and resolve boot process failures.

A large majority of the technical problems that arise under Windows 98 can be traced back to the configuration files and how these files control the boot process. Especially in upgrade situations, many settings that were necessary and that worked properly in a Windows 3.1 environment are either redundant or incompatible in a Windows 98 environment. Isolating which of these settings are redundant or incompatible with Windows 98 can be difficult. Windows 98 includes a number of features that will help you restart your system after a boot failure and find the source of the problem:

  1. The Startup menu

  2. The Startup disk

  3. switches

  4. System Configuration Utility

System Configuration Utility is a powerful new tool included with Windows 98 that acts as an interface to legacy Windows startup files such as autoexec.bat. and config.sys. Note that Microsoft calls special attention to System Configuration Utility in the Windows 98 MCSE exam objectives.

The Startup Menu

Pressing the Ctrl key when you boot your Windows 98 computer invokes the Windows 98 Startup menu, which provides a number of different modes in which Windows 98 can be booted. If the system fails to start normally, you may still be able to reboot into one of these alternative modes in order to troubleshoot the problem. The Startup menu options depend in part on the parameters specified in the msdos.sys file, but generally consist of the following:

  1. Normal mode

  2. Logged mode

  3. Safe mode

  4. Step-by-Step Confirmation mode

  5. Command-Prompt-Only mode

  6. Safe Mode Command-Prompt-Only mode

  7. Previous Version of MS-DOS

Normal Mode

This is the normal operation mode of Windows 98. If you boot to the Startup menu but then decide to complete the boot process and start Windows 98 under normal conditions, select this mode.

Logged Mode

When you select Logged mode, the entire boot process is logged to a file called bootlog.txt, which catalogs VxD initializations, driver loads, and various other boot-related events. bootlog.txt was described earlier in this chapter. You can use the boot log to determine where the boot failure occurs and what the system is doing at the time. Aside from the logging, the Logged mode performs a normal boot procedure (of course it will be a bit slower because it writes to the bootlog.txt file). bootlog.txt will normally be found in the root directory. You can load bootlog.txt into a text editor such as Notepad to examine the contents.

Safe Mode

Safe mode is likely the single most important troubleshooting tool available in Windows 98. In this mode, a number of key Windows 98 components and settings are disabled, including the following:

  1. config.sys and autoexec.bat

  2. The [Boot] and [386Enh] sections of system.ini

  3. The Load= and Run= parameters of win.ini

  4. The Startup program group

  5. The Registry

  6. All device drivers except the keyboard, mouse, and standard VGA video drivers

Disabling these items allows the separation of fundamental operating system problems from those caused by a combination of software factors. In a situation in which the display is not functioning properly in Normal mode, for example, if the problem does not appear in Safe mode, the problem probably is video driver-related and is not due to a defective video card.

Similarly, you can use Safe mode to troubleshoot scenarios such as the following:

  1. GPFs (General Protection Faults)

  2. Application hangs

  3. A hang during the boot process

  4. A blank screen at boot time

The inis and Windows 98 win.ini and system.ini are Windows 3.x configuration files that Windows 98 uses for compatibility with some Win16 applications.

Step-by-Step Confirmation Mode

This boot mode is similar to the F8 function of previous versions of MS-DOS; it permits the user to step through the various stages of the boot process and specify whether each should or should not be completed. This mode can be very useful when you are trying to isolate boot stages to determine which may be causing a given problem. You can also use it to view system responses to various parameters in config.sys and autoexec.bat, which otherwise are displayed far too quickly to read.

Command-Prompt-Only Mode

Command-Prompt-Only boot mode is similar to a normal boot of MS-DOS. Only config.sys, autoexec.bat,, and the Registry are processed (along with any necessary disk compression drivers). This mode is useful in troubleshooting problems running MS-DOS applications in a VM under Windows 98. If the application functions in this mode but not inside Windows 98, the problem is likely due to a compatibility issue. If the application does not function in Command-Prompt-Only mode, the problem is likely a configuration problem in config.sys or autoexec.bat, or the application may be corrupt.

Safe Mode Command-Prompt-Only Mode

Safe Mode Command-Prompt-Only mode is similar to a Safe mode, except that is processed. Also, Startup does not load himem.sys or ifshlp.sys and does not execute to start the Windows interface. This mode is useful if your computer fails to boot properly in Safe mode. Safe Mode Command-Prompt-Only mode offers slightly different options from Safe mode, so you can use it for slightly different situations. For instance, you can use this mode if you don't want Windows to process or himem.sys.

Previous Version of MS-DOS

Although the Previous Version of MS-DOS boot mode is not intended for troubleshooting, it can be used in situations in which particular MS-DOS–related functions worked in previous versions of MS-DOS but do not seem to function properly under Windows 98. Of course, you can boot to a previous version only if you upgraded the computer from a previous version.

The Startup Disk

You can create the Startup disk at installation time or later through the Startup Disk tab of the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel (see Figure 8.5).

The disk serves as an emergency boot disk should the operating system fail to load. In addition to the boot files necessary to start Window 98 in Command-Prompt-Only mode, the Startup disk contains several tools you can use to troubleshoot boot problems. Some of those tools are as follows:

  1.*. Text editor. Makes changes to configuration files such as autoexec.bat and config.sys.

  2. chkdsk.exe*. Checks a disk drive and provides status information.

  3. ext.exe*. Extracts files.

  4.*. Reformats a disk.

  5. fdisk.exe. Disk partition utility. (Refer to Chapter 5, "Managing Resources in Windows 98.")

  6. scandisk.exe*. Checks for disk errors. (Refer to Chapter 7.)

  7. Transfers system files from one drive to another.

  8. uninstall.exe*. Uninstalls Windows 98 and restores previous system files (if you elected to save the system files at installation). (Refer to Chapter 2.)

The Windows 98 Startup disk also contains several real-mode CD-ROM drivers to enable support for a number of common CD-ROM drives.

If you can boot to the Windows 98 Startup disk, you can navigate through your hard drive to find a file that is interfering with the boot process. You can also troubleshoot your hard drive using ScanDisk, or even reformat and repartition your hard drive (start over) using format and fdisk. The CD-ROM drivers on the Startup disk will provide you with access to the Windows 98 installation CD, in case you'd like to reinstall Windows 98 or copy files that are located on the CD.


Figure 8.5:

A Windows 98 Startup disk can be created at any time using the Startup Disk tab of the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel. Files marked with an asterisk in the list in the right column are actually stored in compressed form in the file on the Windows 98 Startup disk and then expanded during startup. also contains other files you can use for configuring and troubleshooting.

The venerable utility, which originated in the days of MS-DOS, is still a very useful troubleshooting tool. transfers the system files io.sys, msdos.sys, and from a source drive to a destination drive. These system files make a disk bootable. If one of these system files is deleted or corrupted on your hard drive, you can boot to the Windows 98 startup disk and transfer the system files from the Startup disk to the hard drive. For instance, you could boot to the Startup disk and type the following:

sys a: c:

a: is your floppy drive and c: is the active partition of your hard disk. Microsoft points out that if your hard drive is compressed, you need to transfer the system files to your host drive when using the sys command. Refer to Chapter 5 for more information about host drives on compressed partitions.

One very important point to remember, for general administration as well as for the Windows 98 MCSE exam, is that because of changes to the Windows 98 kernel to accommodate FAT32, many Windows 95 Startup disks are not usable in Windows 98. You should not bypass the Startup disk in Windows 98 installation (and fail to create one later) because you have a Windows 95 disk sitting around and you think it will still work. You should create a Windows 98 Startup disk when you upgrade to Windows 98. It is also a good idea to test the Startup disk before you need it. Place your Windows 98 Startup disk in the floppy drive and reboot your PC to ensure that the disk is operational. Switches includes support for a number of error-isolation switches. Although some are available from within Windows 98, you may have to specify them from the command prompt in situations in which Windows 98 fails to load. These switches are specified in the following format:

win /d:[f] [m] [n] [s] [v] [x]

The switches function as follows:




-Disables 32-bit file system drivers


Starts Windows 98 in Safe mode


Starts Safe mode with networking


-Excludes the ROM address space between FOOO and 1MB from use by Windows 98


-Tells Windows 98 that the ROM routine should handle disk interrupts


-Excludes the adapter area from the area that Windows 98 scans when looking for unused disk space

You can use these switches independently or together as part of a single command.

If Windows 98 won't start normally, you may be able to boot to a system disk and run using one or more of these switches to isolate the problem.

System Configuration Utility

Boot failures are often caused by drivers or settings invoked through one of the Windows Startup configuration files.

System Configuration Utility is an ingenious tool that lets you turn off or turn on specific entries in the Startup files autoexec.bat, config.sys, system.ini, or win.ini. You can also make other changes to the startup process that may help with diagnosing startup problems. The System Configuration Utility General tab is shown in Figure 8.6.

Note that, in addition to a normal startup, you can choose Diagnostic startup, or you can choose to selectively disable files. The tabs named for the Startup files (autoexec.bat, config.sys, system.ini, and win.ini) let you enable or disable specific statements within the file (see Figure 8.7).

You can also change the order of the statements within the file by using the Move Up and Move Down buttons. Or, you can add a new statement to the file or edit a statement by using the New and Edit buttons. The Startup tab (see Figure 8.8) lets you decide whether to load certain items at startup.


Figure 8.6: The System Configuration Utility's General tab lets you decide which Startup files you wish to execute.


Figure 8.7: System Configuration Utility lets you selectively enable or disable specific statements within a Startup file.

The Windows 95/98 Registry has largely eliminated the need for startup files such as autoexec.bat, config.sys, system.ini, and win.ini. In Windows 98, these files are primarily maintained for backward compatibility with older devices and applications. Nevertheless, the Startup files are still an occasional source of boot problems. System Configuration Utility provides a convenient interface for doing what was a standard troubleshooting procedure in earlier versions of Windows—selectively disabling specific statements in the Startup files to zero in on the source of a startup problem.

Boot Process Failures

Windows 98 system problems often occur at startup. These problems are, of course, impossible to troubleshoot if you can't start your system. Windows 98 includes several methods for starting Windows that may help you diagnose a problem, or at least, start the system so you can pursue other troubleshooting remedies. The preceding sections discussed some of these options. The first step is usually to boot your system using the option boot modes of the Startup menu such as Safe mode or Step-by-Step Confirmation mode. The switches are usually for subtler problems. System Configuration Utility is often useful for troubleshooting startup problems related to older devices and applications.


Figure 8.8: System Configuration Utility's Startup tab lets you decide whether to launch certain items at startup.

Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems

Diagnose and resolve connectivity problems in a Microsoft environment and a mixed Microsoft and NetWare environment.

Connectivity problems can be some of the more vexatious issues to resolve in Windows 98. Part of the difficulty lies in trying to determine where a problem is occurring. Fortunately, Windows 98 has some good built-in tools to aid you in isolating and troubleshooting connectivity problems.

Using WinIPCfg

The TCP/IP protocol (refer to Chapter 3, "Windows 98 Networking") is an important and widely used networking protocol that is quickly becoming the standard for routed networks. Because TCP/IP is the protocol of the Internet, it is becoming nearly unavoidable—every network administrator or system engineer must at some point become familiar with configuring and troubleshooting TCP/IP. TCP/IP is relatively more difficult to configure than other common protocols, but TCP/IP also comes with a number of tools that will assist with configuring and verifying TCP/IP settings.

Windows 98's WinIPCfg utility (see Figure 8.9) is a Windows-based tool that provides a summary of TCP/IP information. To reach WinIPCfg, click Start, Run and enter winipcfg in the Run dialog box. You can use WinIPCfg to check your TCP/IP configuration settings. As shown in Figure 8.9, the initial IP Configuration window provides basic settings such as the adapter's MAC address, the IP address, the subnet mask, and the default gateway. (Refer to Chapter 3 for more information about these important TCP/IP settings.) The More Info button reveals additional settings, such as DHCP, WINS, and DNS server addresses, and settings for NetBIOS name resolution and IP routing.

If your TCP/IP connection is not working properly, you can use WinIPCfg to quickly check your TCP/IP settings. For instance, notice in Figure 8.9 that the setting for Default Gateway is blank. If the user of this PC could not connect to a computer on a different subnet, a glance at WinIPCfg would quickly reveal the missing

Know TCP/IP TCP/IP is becoming very important to Microsoft, as well as the rest of the computer industry. The Windows 98 exam includes many, many questions on TCP/IP. Be sure you have a solid understanding of TCP/IP concepts when you take the Windows 98 MCSE exam. You'll need to understand the TCP/IP utilities discussed in this chapter (WinIPCfg, Ping, and Tracert) and also the TCP/IP configuration concepts discussed in Chapter 3.


Figure 8.9: The compact view of WinIPCfg reveals your IP address and subnet mask at a glance.

Default Gateway setting as a probable cause of the problem. If your IP address is assigned by a DHCP server, the first item to check is whether an IP address has in fact been assigned to the machine. If the IP address box has listed, you have not obtained an address and consequently cannot communicate with any other machine by using TCP/IP.

The Renew and Release buttons (refer to Figure 8.9) help you manage dynamic IP addresses assigned by a DHCP server on the network. See Chapter 3 for more on dynamic IP address assignment through DHCP. A DHCP server leases an IP address and accompanying IP settings to a DHCP client (such as a Windows 98 computer) for a predefined period. You can elect to renew or release the leased IP address using WinIPCfg's Renew and Release buttons.

Note that the drop-down box at the WinIPCfg's IP Configuration window provides the name of a network adapter. A fundamental concept of TCP/IP addressing is that an IP address is assigned to an adapter, not to a computer. If your computer has multiple network adapters, make sure the adapter for the connection you wish to troubleshoot is showing in the dropdown menu. It is possible for a computer to have more than one network adapter card. Each card would need its own IP address information. It is even more common for a PC to have one network card and also a modem that supports a connection to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). In that case, also, the computer would need two IP addresses. The modem address (which you may find under the heading PPP Adapter in WinIPCfg) would most likely be dynamically assigned, so if you aren't connected to the Internet when you check the address in WinIPCfg, you may see zeros for the IP address and subnet mask.

The following list describes some other settings available through WinIPCfg.exe (these TCP/IP settings are described in greater detail in Chapter 3):

  1. The first drop-down box lists the adapters configured in the machine. The adapter might be an Ethernet adapter, modem, or other device with an IP address bound to it.

  2. The adapter address in the case of an Ethernet card is a string of unique hexadecimal numbers that are hard coded into the device by the manufacturer. The adapter address is usually called the physical address or MAC address. If the adapter is a You Must "Refresh" WinIPCfg is not dynamically updated while it You Must "Refresh" WinIPCfg is not dynamically updated while it is on your screen. If you wish to see current information, you must click on the OK button to close the box, and then run the WinIPCfg utility again.

  3. modem, a bogus number will be displayed in this box because a modem does not have such a number assigned to it.

  4. The IP address is a set of four decimal-separated values bound to the preceding adapter to enable communication between machines using this protocol. This number was either statically assigned to the machine when the protocol was configured, or it was dynamically allocated when the computer connected to the network.

  5. The subnet mask is also either statically assigned when you manually configure TCP/IP or it is dynamically obtained when you connect to a network with the computer. A subnet mask tells the computer whether the address of another machine is on the same local network, or whether it is on a remote network. Every computer configured with TCP/IP must have a subnet mask assigned.

  6. The default gateway tells the computer where to go to gain access to a remote network.

By clicking on the More Info button in WinIPCfg, you gain access to additional settings (see Figure 8.10).

These settings are explored in the following list:

  1. The host name is the name that identifies your computer in TCP/IP's native HOSTS file or DNS system. The host name is configured under Network Properties in Control Panel. This name must be unique to avoid conflict on the network.

  2. The DNS Server entry is the IP address of the server that provides name resolution for your machine. This server keeps a list of IP addresses and domain names for the network. A DNS server enables you to send message traffic to, for example, instead of having to type in the IP address for it. If you can connect to a machine by typing in the IP address, but not by typing in the domain name, you might take a look at your DNS Server settings.

  3. The Node Type setting describes the method this computer will use for NetBIOS name resolution. Refer to Chapter 3 for more information about NetBIOS name resolution in Windows 98. The NetBIOS Scope ID is a common identifier for a group of computers on a larger Internetwork that will communicate with each other using NetBIOS over TCP/IP.


    Figure 8.10: The expanded view of WinIPCfg enables you to release and to renew your IP address.
  4. The boxes for IP Routing, NetBIOS Resolution Uses DNS, and WINS proxy reveal whether these settings are enabled for the TCP/IP connection. Refer to Chapter 3 for more on routing, WINS proxy, and NetBIOS resolution with DNS.

  5. The WINS Server entries provide the IP addresses of the primary and secondary WINS servers. A WINS server translates NetBIOS computer names into IP addresses. It maintains a database of computer names and maps them to IP addresses. If you can connect to a machine by typing in the IP address, but not by typing in the computer name, you might take a look at your WINS Server settings.

  6. If your IP address is handed out dynamically from a DHCP server, you will have lease information displayed in the two boxes near the bottom of the IP Configuration dialog box. When the server grants you an IP address for your machine, it also sets an expiration time for the address. This allows a greater number of computers to share a limited number of IP addresses. When one computer leaves the network, the address is still reserved for it until it is either released by the computer or expires due to age. It must be renewed prior to expiration; otherwise, the PC will drop off the network. If you are experiencing sporadic connectivity problems using TCP/IP, it might be due to the settings for lease expiration. The lease duration might need to be adjusted on the server, depending on your particular situation.

  7. The Release, Renew, Release All, Renew All buttons (refer to Figure 8.9) are helpful in troubleshooting IP address leasing problems. You can release the address, reboot the machine, and see whether it picks it back up. Also, you can attempt to renew the address and see whether you can obtain a renewal of your lease.

Verifying TCP/IP Connectivity with Ping

Ping is an important TCP/IP utility that bounces a signal to a specified network adapter, receives a reply from that adapter, and displays information on the reply. Ping is used on all TCP/IP networks to verify connectivity. When a computer is first added to the network, the network administrator uses Ping to ensure that the TCP/IP connection with other network computers is working. Later, if an application or process fails to complete a network connection, the network administrator can use Ping to test whether the failure was due to the network.

Ping is a command-prompt utility. To use Ping, you just need to go to the command prompt and type the following:

Ping IPaddress

IPaddress is the dotted decimal IP address of the computer you want to ping (for example, On networks that use DNS or NetBIOS name resolution, you can enter a host name or a NetBIOS name instead of an IP address.

A typical Ping reply is shown in Figure 8.11. Note that one ping command sends multiple signals and receives multiple replies. (The default in Windows 98 is four replies.)

You can use a special address called the loopback address to test whether TCP/IP is installed and running properly on the local computer. The loopback address is Pinging the loopback address will verify that TCP/IP is operational on your computer:



Figure 8.11: In Windows 98, the ping command results in four replies from the remote computer you just pinged.

A common routine for isolating connectivity problems and verifying connectivity on a TCP/IP network is as follows:

  1. Ping the loopback address ( to ensure that TCP/IP is operating properly on your system.

  2. Ping the IP address of the local (your PC's) network adapter card. This will ensure that TCP/IP is bound to the adapter and will provide a check for duplicate IP addresses.

  3. Ping the default gateway on your network. This verifies that the local subnet is functioning and that packets addressed to other subnets will reach the default gateway.

  4. Ping a computer beyond the default gateway, to ensure that packets will be delivered to remote networks.

Depending on the problem, network administrators sometimes execute these steps sequentially, and they sometimes execute the steps in reverse order. (If step 4 works, for example, you have a pretty good idea steps 1–3 will work also.)

Verifying Internetworks with Tracert

Tracert is Microsoft's version of the standard UNIX TCP/IP utility traceroute. Tracert uses Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo packets to reveal the path that a packet would take from the source PC to a remote destination. The purpose of Tracert is to show the series of routers that forward a data packet to a particular destination. The number of router hops required to deliver the packet is a major factor in determining the speed of the connection. If your network experiences a slowdown, you can use Tracert to check whether the slowdown is caused by inefficient routing (which may be caused by a downed router somewhere).

The format for the Tracert command is as follows:

Tracert IPaddress

IPaddress is the IP address of the destination PC. On networks with name resolution, you can use a host name or NetBIOS name instead of an IP address.

You can use Tracert to verify the complete path from the source to a specified remote destination. A typical Tracert output is shown in

Everybody Pings TCP/IP utilities such as Ping are not limited to use with other Microsoft products. Ping is a very common utility on all TCP/IP networking systems, and it is possible to ping any TCP/IP host that supports Ping, including UNIX and Linux systems as well as NetWare, Macintosh, and other systems that are using TCP/IP.


Figure 8.12: Tracert shows the path an ICMP echo packet takes through a series of routers.

Note that Tracert shows the host name and IP address of each router along the path.

The Tracert output displays the round-trip time in milliseconds required to reach a node at each hop. If the time exceeds the maximum Time To Live (TTL) for the packet, an asterisk appears, showing that the packet has timed out.

Microsoft points out that the Ping utility (described earlier in this chapter) rarely works over PPTP network connections. Another use of Tracert is to verify connectivity over PPTP connections.

Using Net Watcher

You can use the Net Watcher utility (refer to Chapter 7) to create or delete shared resources on remote computers, or monitor access to those resources. Remember, however, that Net Watcher is also an important tool for anyone troubleshooting connectivity problems in a networked environment.

By using Net Watcher, you can see at a glance who can connect to a Windows 98 machine, and who cannot. You can see what shares are created, and who is utilizing what files. The following factors are important when considering remote administration using Net Watcher:

  1. The remote computer must have File and Printer Sharing enabled.

  2. You can access only those remote systems that use the same security model you are using on your computer. (Share-level security computers cannot access user-level security computers, for example.)

  3. You can connect only to remote systems that use the same type of File and Printer Sharing (Microsoft or NetWare).

Net Watcher provides a quick means of correlating resources with users and computers. If a user is experiencing network problems, you can use Net Watcher to immediately determine which shares, or which files within a share, the user is connected to, and you can systematically remove shares or disconnects users to isolate the source of the problem. Refer to Chapter 7 for more information about Net Watcher.

Dial-Up Networking Problems

To troubleshoot Dial-Up Networking problems, the first places to start looking for the problem are in the Network Properties sheets for the Dial-Up Adapter, the Dial-Up Networking connection, the modem, and the application you want to use over the connection. This isolates your troubleshooting to the client computer. You then can start looking at problems that may be affecting the phone-line connection, such as a busy signal on the other end, a dead phone line, or the connection to the outgoing phone line. Finally, you can isolate the problem to the server-side computer. In this case, you may not have physical access to that computer and may need to rely on someone local to that computer to diagnose and fix any problems on the server.

Some of the problems you may encounter with Dial-Up Networking (DUN) occur with the following:

  1. Modems. Be sure your modem is installed properly to work with Windows 98. If the modem is external, make sure it is turned on. Also, be sure it is plugged in to the phone line.

  2. Phone numbers. Double-check the phone number you are dialing to be sure your modem is correctly dialing that number. If you need to enter a number for an outside line, be sure to enter it. If you have call waiting on your phone line, disable it. If you need to dial a long-distance number, be sure the entire number, including 1 + area code, is being dialed. Also, make sure the number you are dialing is for a modem or fax modem.

  3. Protocols. Make sure the Dial-Up Adapter is configured to use the same line protocol as the server-side computer. If, for example, you use DUN to connect one Windows 98 computer to another using the Dial-Up Networking Server software, and you are using PPP on one computer, make sure the other computer is also using PPP. Also, be sure both computers are using the same networking protocol, such as NetBEUI or IPX/SPX. If you use TCP/IP to connect to the Internet, make sure your TCP/IP settings, such as IP address, host names, and other configuration settings are correct.

  4. Access permissions. If you can connect to a remote server but cannot access user resources on that site, you may not have proper access privileges. Make sure you enter the correct password and that the server side is set up to allow you access to it.

  5. Servers. A common problem with the Dial-Up Networking Server is that it is not enabled. Enable it by opening the Dial-Up Networking folder and choosing Connections, Dial-Up Server. Choose the Allow Caller Access option.

  6. Applications. If your application does not function properly over Dial-Up Networking, you may have a slow connection or a bad connection, or your application may not be intended to function as remote-access software. Read the application's documentation to make sure it can operate as remote software, or contact its manufacturer for specific steps for making it work with Windows 98. One way to determine whether there is an application problem is to use the Windows 98 applet Hyper-Terminal. HyperTerminal is a bare-bones, no-frills communication program that seems to be able to connect when no other program can. If you can connect with HyperTerminal, chances are you have a configuration problem with your application.

Diagnosing and Resolving Printing Problems

Diagnose and resolve printing problems in a Microsoft environment or a mixed Microsoft and NetWare environment.

Chapter 5 discussed how to configure and manage printers in Windows 98. One of the best ways to prepare to troubleshoot printing problems is to study the printing process and understand all the

Grabbing the Line When you attempt to use an application that does not work with Windows 98 TAPI architecture and you have the Dial-Up Server enabled, your application will not be able to call out. If, for example, you use CompuServe WinCIM 2.01 or earlier software to dial CompuServe, you receive a Cannot Initialize Port message when Dial-Up Server is running. When this happens, just disable the Dial-Up Server until you are finished using the application.

features of printing configuration. When you're faced with a printing problem, be prepared to work from the symptoms through the various elements of the printing process to an acceptable remedy.

Aside from the common low-tech printer problems discussed later in this section (out of paper, not connected, not plugged in), one of the most common printer problems—and one you're likely to see on the Windows 98 MCSE exam—concerns the spool data format. Windows 98 includes built-in support for the following data formats:

  1. Enhanced Metafile Format (EMF). An intermediate data format used by Windows 95/98 and Windows NT 4.0 computers.

  2. RAW. Raw printer data.

According to Microsoft, by default, all output to non-PostScript printers spools in EMF format. Output to Postscript printers spools in RAW format. The reality, though, may not be that simple. If you are having trouble printing to a PostScript printer, check the Spool data format to see if you could try setting the format to RAW. If you have trouble printing to a non-PostScript printer, you could also change the data format to RAW to see whether the problem relates to EMF file spooling. Microsoft contends that printing can take up to twice as much time using RAW format.

To check the Spool Data format, perform the tasks outlined in Step by Step 8.2.

Step by Step

A. Checking the Spool Data Format

  1. Right-click on the printer icon in the Printers folder and choose Properties.

  2. In the Printer Properties dialog box, select the Details tab.

  3. In the Details tab, click on the Spool Settings button. The Spool Settings dialog box appears (see Figure 8.13).

  4. Click the down arrow beside the Spool Data Format box and select a different data format.


Figure 8.13:

Another source of potential printing problems is MS-DOS applications. MS-DOS applications are typically designed to print directly to the printer, without print spooling and other components of Windows 98's modular printer architecture. Microsoft has devoted considerable attention to supporting printing from MS-DOS applications, and the way that DOS documents print in Windows 98 bears little resemblance to the way they printed in DOS. Each DOS application runs in a virtual machine, and each DOS application can print to a virtual printer port. The MS-DOS application thus thinks it is printing directly to the printer, but it is instead spooling print jobs directly to Windows 98's 32-bit print spooler. In most cases, this means faster printing and faster return of control to the DOS application. In some cases, however, if you are experiencing problems printing to MS-DOS applications, you may wish to disable spooling for MS-DOS print jobs.

To disable MS-DOS spooling, perform the tasks outlined in Step by Step 8.3.

Step by Step

8.3 Disabling MS-DOS Spooling

  1. Right-click on the Printer icon in the Printers folder and choose Properties.

  2. In the Printer Properties dialog box, choose the Details tab.

  3. In the Details tab, click on Port Settings.

  4. In the Configure LPT Port dialog box (see Figure 8.14), uncheck Spool MS-DOS Print Jobs.

    Figure 8.14:

    Figure 8.14:

In spite of Windows 98's virtual printer features, some MS-DOS applications that expect to print to a local LPT port may still have trouble printing to a network printer. Windows 98's Capture Printer Port feature (handed down from Windows 95) lets you map a local printer port to a network printer. (This is yet another way of tricking an MS-DOS application into thinking it is printing to a local printer port.)

To map a local port to a network printer, perform the tasks outlined in Step by Step 8.4.

Step by Step

8.4 Mapping a Local Port to a Network Printer

  1. Right-click on the printer icon in the Printers folder and choose Properties.

  2. In the Printer Properties dialog box, choose the Details tab.

  3. Click on the button labeled Capture Printer Port.

  4. In the Capture Printer Port dialog box (see Figure 8.15), choose a device name (LPT1, LPT2, and so on) and enter the UNC path to the network printer. Click on OK.

Another consideration in print performance is how quickly control is returned to the user after a print job is submitted. You can configure the print subsystem of Windows 98 to return control to the user after the first page of a print job is spooled or after the last page is spooled. This parameter can be configured from the Spool Settings dialog box (refer to Figure 8.13—click on the Spool Settings button on the Details tab of the Properties sheet for the printer in question). Choosing to return control after the first page shortens wait time but increases printing time and consumes more disk space; the inverse is true if control is returned after the last page is spooled. The Spool Settings dialog box also lets you turn off spooling altogether and print directly to the printer. Printing directly to the printer generally leads to less efficient performance than the spooling options, but this option can be an important troubleshooting tool if you suspect the problem may be related to spooling.

One way to remedy a printing problem is to use the Print Troubleshooter, which is available from the Windows 98 Help utility (search the index for printing; troubleshooting). You also can use the following guidelines to help clear up printer problems:

  1. Make sure the printer is turned on, full of paper, and is online.

  2. Check the printer cable and parallel port to make sure the printer is connected to the computer.


    Figure 8.15: The Capture Printer Port dialog box lets you map a network printer to a local printer port.
  3. Open the Printers folder, right-click on the printer, and choose Properties. Make sure the settings are correct for your printer.

  4. Turn off Metafile Spooling. It may not work properly for all printers.

  5. Make sure you have the latest printer driver installed. Sometimes reinstalling the same printer driver fixes the problem. Contact the printer manufacturer to obtain a new printer driver for Windows 98, if available.

  6. Download a PostScript error handler to the printer if the problem is with a PostScript printer.

  7. View your resources, such as free disk space and free memory. For each print job, you need some free disk space for temporary files to be stored. Likewise, free memory address space is needed to process the print job. Close an idle application to free up some memory, if necessary.

  8. Attempt to print to the printer from another application. A quick test is to open Notepad, create a line of text, and print the file. If this works, the original application that failed to print may need to be configured for printing. If this does not work, you may need to reinstall the printer.

  9. Print to a file, then copy the file to a printer port to see whether the file prints to the printer. If this works, the problem is due to spooler or data transmission problems. If this does not work, the program or printer driver is at fault. Similarly, you can print a test page using the Print Test Page button in the General tab of the computer's Properties dialog box to test whether the problem is due to an application or the printer itself.

  10. Shut down and restart Windows 98. Similarly, turn the printer off for 15 seconds or so, and then turn it back on. Sometimes this clears memory buffers that at times get clogged with downloaded fonts on the computer and printer.

  11. If you cannot print a complex document, try removing some of the graphic elements in the document.

As you learned in Chapter 5, a network printer looks like a local printer in the Windows 98 Printers folder, but it is, in fact, a very different and requires a different form of troubleshooting. On Microsoft networks, a network printer is almost always a local printer somewhere else. The first question is whether the network printer works locally on the print server machine. Also, make sure that file and print sharing is configured on the print server machine and that the printer is shared. If the printer is properly configured, make sure the network connection from the workstation to the print server computer is functioning.

A good habit to develop is to document printer problems and distribute copies of the document to other users in your company or organization. Because most end users send a job to the printer sooner or later, the rate at which they experience a printer problem far outweighs many other problems they encounter. Having a document that end users can refer to might decrease the number of support calls you get for printer problems.

Diagnosing and Resolving File System Problems

Diagnose and resolve file system problems.

The first step to resolving file system problems is to ensure the computer is fully optimized and is using the proper drivers.

One of the main ways in which you can enhance performance and reliability in Windows 98 is by using 32-bit protected-mode device drivers. These drivers are designed to work faster and more efficiently in relaying data than older 16-bit drivers. A Windows 3.1 driver or MS-DOS–based driver should be used only if no 32-bit driver is available.

A number of ways exist to maximize the use of 32-bit drivers:

  1. Verify that the Performance tab in the System Control Panel shows all 32-bit components for the file system and for virtual memory (see Figure 8.16).

  2. If you are using non-Microsoft disk compression, the compression may be operating in Real mode. Make sure your disk compression software uses a 32-bit driver; obtain an update if necessary.

  3. Ensure that disk-partitioning software is not being used. If a local hard drive employs nonstandard or software-based partitioning, it likely will not be able to function with the 32-bit file system drivers of Windows 98.

The following sections discuss some other topics related to file system troubleshooting:

  1. Optimizing file system and disk performance

  2. Troubleshooting file system properties

  3. Understanding file system compatibility

For more information about Windows 98 file systems and disk management, refer to Chapter 1, "Planning," and Chapter 5.

Optimizing the File System for Desktop Performance

To ensure the highest file system performance, you can take a number of actions, including the following:

  1. Remove share.exe and smartdrv.exe from the autoexec.bat because these files are not needed in Windows 98 and take up memory needlessly.


    Figure 8.16: The Performance tab of System Properties provides a convenient summary of crucial information.
  2. If the Performance tab of the My Computer Properties sheet indicates that the file system is not using 32-bit drivers, check the ios.log to find the filename of the real-mode driver that may be preventing the use of 32-bit file system drivers.

  3. Use ScanDisk, Disk Cleanup, and Disk Defragmenter regularly (refer to Chapter 7).

Troubleshooting File System Properties

The center for configuring file system properties is the File System Properties dialog box. To access the File System Properties dialog box, select the Performance tab in the System Control Panel and click on the button labeled File System (refer to Figure 8.16). You can also reach the Performance tab by right-clicking on My Computer and choosing Properties. The File System Properties dialog box is shown in Figure 8.17.

For purposes of troubleshooting, the most important tabs are as follows:

  1. Hard Disk. The Hard Disk tab lets you define a role for your computer. You can also set read-ahead optimization to optimize reads from the hard disk.

  2. Troubleshooting. The Troubleshooting tab lets you enable and disable certain options that will help you discover the source of a file system problem.


    Figure 8.17: The File System Properties dialog box lets you configure some important file system settings.

The options provided by these important file system tabs are discussed in the following subsections.

Configuring the File System for Different Roles

Because computers can be optimized for different roles, including network performance, Windows 98 configures certain performance-related file system parameters according to the role the computer is expected to play. You can improve the performance of your computer (and therefore troubleshoot poor system performance) by ensuring that the computer is configured for a role that is consistent with its actual use. You can define the computer's role in the Hard Disk tab of the File System Properties dialog box (refer to Figure 8.17). The three possible configurations available under File System Properties are as follows:

  1. Desktop computer

  2. Mobile or docking system

  3. Network server

You'll find Registry settings relevant to file system role in the Registry key HKEYLOCALMACHINE \Software \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \FS Templates. The following parameters are important to the file system role configuration:

  1. PathCache. The size of the cache VFAT uses to track most recently accessed folders. This affects performance by limiting the number of times the file system accesses the file allocation table to search for directory paths. The setting is 32 paths for a desktop, 16 for a laptop, and 64 for the server profile.

  2. NameCache. Stores the most recently accessed filenames. The setting is 8KB (or about 677 filenames) for a desktop, 4KB (or about 337 names) for a mobile system, and 16KB (or about 2,729 names) for a server profile.

The settings are calculated based on each configuration's needs. In the case of a network server, for example, due to its intensive file processing needs, both the listed settings would be at their maximum to increase efficiency in retrieving files. It is important to note

Optimizing Is Troubleshooting

Optimizing or troubleshooting? In the case of hard disks and file systems, the concepts of optimizing and troubleshooting are difficult to separate. One of the most common "troubles" you'll find with a hard disk is slow performance, so optimizing the disk is an important form of troubleshooting.

that the PathCache and the NameCache settings use memory from the general system heap. Also, if you have a low-memory machine that is lightly utilized, you may consider using the mobile settings. Conversely, if you have a powerful machine and are heavily hitting the hard drive, you should consider using the network server profile.

Disabling File System Features

If you encounter difficulty with any applications and you suspect the file system might be involved, you can disable a number of file system features using the Troubleshooting tab in the File System Properties dialog box to isolate the problem (see Figure 8.18).

Disabling any of the file system features will result in performance degradation. You can, however, disable the following features:

  1. File sharing

  2. Long filename preservation for old programs

  3. Protected-mode hard disk interrupt handling

  4. Synchronous buffer commits

  5. 32-bit protected-mode disk drivers

  6. Write-behind caching

The following subsections discuss these troubleshooting options.


Figure 8.18: You can configure certain advanced file system features using the File System Properties Troubleshooting tab.

Disabling File Sharing

You can disable file sharing for applications that are incompatible with the way Windows 98 typically implements file sharing (use SHARE.EXE until the application is updated to support Windows 98 file sharing).

Disabling Long Filename Preservation for Old Programs

If an application requires the directory space used by LFNs in Windows 98, you might have to disable this support for older applications. However, if you turn this off here, you turn off the tunneling feature that preserves Long File Names for all old programs.

Disabling Protected-Mode Hard Disk Interrupt Handling

The Disable Protected-Mode Hard Disk Interrupt Handling option disables Windows 98 normal practice of intercepting all MS-DOS–level disk I/O requests and handling them with a 32-bit protected-mode driver. Disk performance is degraded, but compatibility with older applications is enhanced.

Disabling Synchronous Buffer Commits

If you disable the Synchronous Buffer Commits, the Commit File API initiates a write of dirty (uncommitted) buffers to disk. However, it does not wait for the write to complete. This means the data may not be on the disk when the API returns.

It almost sounds as though you could get some extra performance by using this option, but that is not the case for most programs and in fact may cause file integrity problems for any programs that expect data to be committed to disk. You should use this option only when you are troubleshooting. It is also a good idea to check with tech support before using this option.

Disabling All 32-Bit Protected-Mode Disk Drivers

If a hard drive is experiencing problems reading or writing information while Windows 98 is running, you can disable all 32-bit disk drivers to enhance compatibility with older applications. Once again, however, disk performance is degraded.

Disabling Write-Behind Caching

The Disable Write-Behind Caching for All Drives option is useful when data integrity is crucial and you cannot risk losing data in the write-behind cache when a power failure occurs. Write-behind caching causes Windows to wait until idle time to write disk changes, which may be too late if a power failure occurs and all cache items are lost. When write-behind is disabled, all write operations are performed immediately. Yet again, performance likely will be degraded.

Understanding File System Compatibility

Chapter 1 described the differences between Windows 98's native file systems FAT16 (also called just FAT) and FAT32, and also mentions the native Windows NT file system NTFS. If these file systems are used in the wrong situations, especially in a dual-boot scenario, you may not be able to access your file resources. Some important facts to remember are as follows:

  1. FAT32 is compatible with Windows 98 and some late versions of Windows 95, but it isn't compatible with Windows NT, MS-DOS, or Windows 3.x. If you dual-boot from NT, 4.0 or earlier, or Windows 3.x, you won't be able to access FAT32 partitions.

  2. Windows NT's NTFS file system is not supported by Windows 98. If you dual-boot Windows NT and Windows 98, Windows 98 will not be able to access Windows NT partitions.

  3. Disk utilities designed for FAT16 do not work under FAT32. Windows 98's DriveSpace 3 compression utility does not work on FAT32 partitions.

  4. FAT32 does not support partitions smaller than 512MB.

  5. The active partition for a Windows NT/Windows 98 dual-boot must be a FAT16 partition.

Refer to Chapters 1 and 5 for more information about configuring, managing, and accessing FAT16 and FAT32 partitions in Windows 98.

Know Dual-Boot Configuration Rules

Be sure you know the rules for dual-boot configurations: Windows NT can't access FAT32, and Windows 98 can't access NTFS.

Diagnosing and Resolving Resource Access Problems

Diagnose and resolve resource access problems in a Microsoft environment or a mixed Microsoft and NetWare environment.

A clear understanding of Windows 98 architecture is needed when troubleshooting resource allocation and access problems. In addition to this general architecture coverage, the following sections provide an overview of virtual machines, multitasking, process, and threads in Windows 98. You also learn about how WIN16-based applications multitask under Windows 98, and more.

Multitasking: Preemptive and Cooperative

Windows 98 uses two types of multitasking, depending on the type of application:

  1. Preemptive multitasking

  2. Cooperative multitasking

Preemptive multitasking involves dividing the processor's capacity into time slices that are allocated according to the priority of the processes requiring them. Thus, one application processes for x number of milliseconds, and then may be interrupted by a process with a higher priority. However, periodically, all processes will get a bump up in priority to preclude them from becoming compute bound.

Cooperative multitasking also divides the processors time into slices, but is different in that it allows a given process to engage the processor until it voluntarily cedes its control to another process. The disadvantage of this type of multitasking is that a misbehaving application can monopolize the processor's time and effectively stop other processes from executing. Recognizing multitasking problems when they occur can save you from hours of frustration. If the computer seems to hang, for instance, you might suspect a hardware problem or a device conflict. But if you identify the misbehaving application,

WIN16 Uses Cooperative Multitasking WIN16 Windows applications—the applications typically associated with the Windows 3.1 environment—use cooperative multitasking.

You might find a multitasking problem. If you are lucky, the software vendor will release an update to fix the problem you just diagnosed.


Multithreading is the capability of a process to create multiple threads, each having access to the memory space inhabited by its parent process. In this manner, the application can have two separate execution processes multitasked by the processor, creating the impression that the application is itself performing two tasks simultaneously. Word can repaginate a document and allow the user to type at the same time, for example. All multitasking is done at a thread level, with applications submitting either single or multiple threads, depending on the application type.

Virtual Machines

Windows 98 is capable of running three types of applications:

  1. MS-DOS 16-bit applications

  2. Windows 3.1 16-bit applications (also known as WIN16 applications)

  3. 32-bit Windows applications (also known as WIN32 applications; includes most Windows 95/98 and Windows NT software)

Windows 98 can run these varying applications because of a number of architectural design factors, the most important being the idea of virtual machines (VMs). A VM is a virtual environment that appears to the application as a separate computer. In a single-tasking, single-threaded environment such as MS-DOS, in which only one application at a time is requesting the operating system's resources, managing those resources is much easier. In an environment such as Windows 98, which is intended to manage multiple applications that might be operating simultaneously, a much greater need for careful management of the system's resources exists. The computer remains primarily a single-task machine (one processor equals one task at a time, no matter how fast it performs those tasks). In this single-task environment, two processes requesting the use of a device at the exact same moment would be very problematic. Clearly, a procedure in place to arbitrate such requests is necessary.

Windows 98 implements this procedure through virtual machines. One VM (called the System VM) is home to all system processes, including Win32 applications and Win16 applications. Within the system VM are other VMs. Each 32-bit application runs in its own virtual machine, and all 16-bit Windows applications (because WIN16 applications are designed for cooperative multitasking) run in a single virtual machine. Each MS-DOS application runs in its own virtual machine.

Hardware Virtualization

Another important component in the creation of VMs is hardware virtualization. Old legacy MS-DOS, and (to a lesser extent) Windows 3.1 applications, often require direct access to the system hardware. This is something Windows 98 generally does not allow, which results in greater stability. To provide backward compatibility, the concept of hardware virtualization was created. By simulating the hardware environment in which the application is accustomed to running, all the devices are available when needed. This is implemented through software drivers called VxDs (Virtual Device Drivers). These VxDs are responsible for arbitrating requests (often simultaneous) from running processes and queuing them so they do not conflict with each other or cause the device in question to fail because it is trying to do two things at once.

Internal Messaging

A message is generated each time a key is pressed or the mouse is clicked, effectively asking an application to do something. In a single-tasking environment, there is no question which application the keyboard or mouse input is intended for. In a multitasking environment, however, a more complex system of determination and delivery is required. Because you can have multiple applications onscreen simultaneously, where the mouse is clicked or what window is active when a key is pressed determines which application the message is intended for. After the intended application is targeted, the message is placed in the appropriate message queue to be processed.

16-Bit Applications' Resource Usage

  1. WIN16 applications generally are those created for Windows 3.1. If possible, upgrade the application to a 32-bit version. If this is not feasible, however, you need to remember the following when troubleshooting WIN16 applications:

  2. Windows applications (including WIN32 applications) exist in the System Virtual Machine, which is a special VM designed to provide one hardware virtualization layer for all Windows software.

  3. Within this VM, WIN16 applications share a common address space. (This is necessary to maintain backward compatibility with the way Windows 3.1 applications are designed to interact.)

  4. WIN16 applications operate on a cooperative multitasking basis. (This also is due to the way applications were designed for Windows 3.1, which did not support preemptive multitasking.)

  5. A single message queue is used for all WIN16 applications.

  6. All WIN16 applications are single-threaded, because Windows 3.1 does not support multithreading.

  7. WIN16 applications generally load themselves into the virtualized space between 3GB and 4GB, and some also use a space between 0MB and 4MB to be able to share data with other WIN16 applications.

  8. WIN16 applications do not access the Registry because they are designed to use .ini files for their stored settings. However, Windows 98 can migrate certain settings from the .ini files into the Registry. The WIN16 applications can continue to access and modify the .ini files, and these modifications then can be migrated to the Registry.

  9. 16-bit applications are not designed to recognize or use LFNs because LFNs are not implemented in Windows 3.1.

  10. Whereas under Windows 3.1 system resource stacks are 64KB, these have been converted to 32-bit stacks in Windows 98, dramatically decreasing the likelihood of running out of system resources.

32-Bit Applications' Resource Usage

Windows 98 is designed to support and interact with 32-bit applications specifically designed for Windows 95/98 or Windows NT. These applications are best suited to take advantage of the architectural design features of Windows 95/98. These design features include the following:

  1. The capability to take advantage of Windows 98 flat 32-bit, 4GB memory address space. (WIN32 applications typically load into the 4MB to 2GB range of memory.)

  2. The capability to pass more information in a single 32-bit programming call than is possible with a single 16-bit programming call, thus increasing processing performance.

  3. The capability to submit multiple simultaneous threads for processing, allowing greater user productivity within the 32-bit application because the user does not need to wait for one task to finish to start another.

  4. The capability to take advantage of Windows 95/98 preemptive multitasking, which is more efficient and runs more smoothly than Windows 3.1 cooperative multitasking.

  5. More comprehensive protection from other applications because each WIN32 application is assigned its own separate address space that is not visible to other applications.

  6. A separate message queue for each thread in a WIN32 application, which prevents other applications from interfering with the receipt or processing of system messages.

  7. The capability to use the Registry to store all application settings on a generic or per-user basis.

  8. The capability of the application to uninstall itself more easily than previous application types, because all changes to the Registry can be tracked and rolled back in the case of uninstallation.

Troubleshooting Application Problems

Although applications should normally run without interruption, situations do arise when, due to either programming errors or incompatibilities, applications cease to function properly. Though not addressed directly within Microsoft's list of objectives for the Windows 98 exam, knowing how to handle application problems is important in being able to administer the operating system properly. The two main problems that occur with applications are General Protection Faults (GPFs) and application hangs.

Recognize General Protection Faults and How They Are Caused

A General Protection Fault (GPF) typically is caused by an application that attempts to violate system integrity in one of a number of ways:

  1. By making a request to read or write to a memory address space owned by another application.

  2. By attempting to access the system hardware directly.

  3. By attempting to interact with a failing hardware driver. (Drivers operate at Ring 0, and so can seriously impact the operating system.)

The GPF is generated when the operating system shuts down an offending application to prevent a system integrity violation. How the offending application is specifically handled depends on its application type.

Because MS-DOS applications reside in their own VM and have their own message queue, if they cause a GPF, a message is displayed and the application is terminated without impacting the rest of the operating system.

In the case of WIN16 applications, the procedure is somewhat more complex. Because WIN16 applications share both a common address space and a common message queue, when one application creates a GPF, all others are suspended until the offending application is terminated. After this is done, the remaining applications resume processing.

Finally, with 32-bit applications, the procedure is quite straightforward. Because 32-bit applications exist in their own separate address space, and each has a separate message queue, a GPF in one 32-bit application in no way affects any other 16- or 32-bit programs. Only the offending program is terminated.

Troubleshooting Application Faults with Dr. Watson

Dr. Watson is a utility that tabulates information about the system at the time of an application fault. In order to tabulate this system information, Dr. Watson must be running at the time of the fault. If you know how to trigger the fault (for instance, if the fault always occurs when you open a specific application), start the Dr. Watson application, then trigger the fault. Dr. Watson will record the state of the software environment at the time of the failure. After the fault, the Details button in the error message dialog box will provide the information collected by Dr. Watson.

To start Dr. Watson, perform the tasks outlined in Step by Step 8.5.

Step by Step

Starting Dr. Watson

  1. Click on the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

  2. Choose System Information from the System Tools menu.

  3. In Microsoft System Information Utility, pull down the Tools menu and choose Dr. Watson.

Dr. Watson will start minimized in the system tray (next to the clock). When you click on the Dr. Watson icon, it will generate a snapshot of your system. After Dr. Watson records the system information, the Dr. Watson main window appears on your screen (see Figure 8.19). The default view is the standard view shown in this figure, showing the Diagnosis tab, which provides relevant diagnostic information based on the state of the system at the time the snapshot was recorded.

Note that the Diagnosis tab includes a space for the user to write a note to the support technician describing what was happening at the time of the failure. For additional information on the state of the system at the time of the snapshot, choose Advanced View in the View menu. Dr. Watson's Advanced view provides several tabs describing different aspects of the system at the time of the snapshot (see Figure 8.20).

When an application fault occurs, Dr. Watson saves the logged information to a file called watsonxx.wlg in the \Windows\Drwatson directory. xx (in watsonxx.wlg) is an incremented number. You can also save a snapshot to a file using the Save and Save As options in the Dr. Watson File menu. You can view the contents of a Dr. Watson log file by opening it using the Open Log File option in the Dr. Watson File menu. You can also open a Dr. Watson in Microsoft System Information Utility.

Add a Shortcut to Dr. Watson If you know an application fault will occur again but you don't know how to reproduce it, Microsoft suggests that you add a shortcut to Dr. Watson to the Start, Programs, Startup folder for your computer or user profile. Putting a shortcut to Dr. Watson in the Startup folder will cause Dr. Watson to start automatically when the system starts.


Figure 8.19: Dr. Watson's standard view shows the Diagnosis tab, which provides diagnostic information.


Figure 8.20: Dr. Watson's Advanced view provides additional tabs, showing the state of various components at the time of the snapshot.

Choose the Appropriate Course of Action When an Application Fails

Windows 98 lets you terminate a specific application without affecting other currently running processes. To terminate an application, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete, which opens a Close Program dialog box. Listed in this dialog box are all currently running tasks (including system processes not otherwise listed on the taskbar). You must then select a process (Not Responding usually is indicated in brackets next to the process name) and click on the End Task button. The operating system then attempts to terminate the process (which might take several seconds). Depending on the reason why the application is hung, you also might be presented with the option to wait a few seconds for the application to respond, and then to terminate the application if no response is received.

The following sections describe some considerations for when an application hangs, based on the application type:

  1. MS-DOS

  2. Windows 16-bit subsystem (WIN16)

  3. Windows 32-bit subsystem (WIN32)

MS-DOS Application

Ctrl + Alt + Del should work on an MS-DOS session because the MS-DOS application exists in its own VM and has its own message queue—a hung MS-DOS session does not affect the operation of any other process. An MS-DOS session also can be terminated from the Properties sheet of the session if the session is in a window.

16-Bit Windows Subsystem

As stated earlier, because WIN16 applications share a common memory address space and a common message queue, if a WIN16 process hangs while in the foreground, all other WIN16 processes cease to receive messages from the operating system and also appear hung.

This is due to a flag that is set for WIN16 processes, known as the WIN16 mutex (mutually exclusive). Because 16-bit code is considered non-reentrant (it cannot be used by more than one process at a time), a system must be in place to ensure that no two processes attempt to use the same piece of 16-bit code simultaneously. Under Windows 98, this is done by enforcing the rule that only the process that currently owns the rights to the WIN16 mutex can make requests to 16-bit API functions. When the given process is finished using the 16-bit code, it hands the mutex to the next process.

If an application hangs while it owns the WIN16 mutex, no other application can access 16-bit API functions. Thus, all 16-bit applications appear to hang. In addition, any 32-bit application that requires the use of a 16-bit API function (such as writing to the screen) also appears to hang. The application is still running but cannot make any updates to the screen, and thus appears to be inactive or unresponsive.

To remedy this situation, the 16-bit application that currently holds the mutex must be terminated through the means described previously. After this is done, the mutex should be reset and available for use by other processes.

32-Bit Windows Subsystem

Just testing to see whether you have been paying attention. A 32-bit application will not hang the system, because it will be preemptively multitasked. In other words, control will be taken away from a misbehaving WIN32 application even if does not want to relinquish control.

Diagnosing and Resolving Hardware and Hardware Driver Problems with ScanReg and ScanRegW

Diagnose and resolve hardware device and device driver problems.

Windows 98 includes a utility called Registry Checker that helps you back up, check, and maintain the Windows 98 Registry. Microsoft mentions ScanReg and ScanRegW in the objective on hardware device and device driver problems. Some types of devices depend on configuration information in the Registry. If the Registry is corrupt or misconfigured, the device might not function properly. Similarly, if you add a device or a driver that writes to the Registry incorrectly, you may compromise the Registry configuration. Registry Checker checks the Registry for problems and can restore the Registry if necessary. The Registry Checker utility is actually comprised of two parts:

  1. ScanReg.exe. An MS-DOS–based, real-mode utility.

  2. ScanRegW.exe. A Windows–based, protected-mode utility.

ScanRegW.exe attempts to back up the Registry once per day during a system startup. When Windows 98 restarts, ScanRegW.exe scans Registry files and configuration files (user.dat, system.dat, win.ini, and system.ini) to look for corruption. If no corruption is found, ScanRegW.exe backs up the Registry and configuration files to a CAB file in the Windows\Sysbackup folder. If ScanRegW.exe detects a problem, it prompts you to restart your system.

When your system restarts, the MS-DOS–based utility ScanReg.exe takes charge. First, ScanReg.exe attempts to replace the corrupt Registry or configuration file with a working version from a previous backup. If ScanReg.exe can't find a suitable backup copy, it will attempt to repair the Registry. ScanReg.exe can also perform optimization on the Registry if ScanRegW.exe detected a need for optimization during the last scan.

You can force a check of the Registry files by starting ScanRegW.exe directly. To start ScanRegW.exe, perform the tasks outlined in Step by Step 8.6.

Step by Step

Starting ScanRegW.exe

  1. Click on the Start menu and choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

  2. Choose System Information in the System Tools group.

  3. In Microsoft System Information Utility, pull down the Tools menu and select Registry Checker.

You can also start ScanRegW.exe by entering scanregw in the Start Menu's Run dialog box.

Refer to Chapter 5 for more information about saving, restoring, and configuring the Windows 98 Registry.

ScanReg and the Twin in the Window You may consider it strange the Registry Checker's duties are divided among the utilities ScanReg.exe and ScanRegW.exe. When you think about it, though, you'll realize why Microsoft chose not to use a program running within Windows (ScanRegW.exe) to restore and repair a damaged Windows Registry. The philosophy seems to be to do as much of the routine business as possible within Windows, and then to use the MS-DOS–based ScanReg.exe (operating outside of Windows) to repair and restore the Registry itself. ScanReg.exe is also capable of performing some of the scanning and backup functions performed by ScanRegW.exe.

Case Study: Arizona Belt And Leather Company

Essence of the Case

Here are the essential elements in this case:

  1. There are 13 users, all using Windows 98.

  2. There is no centralized server, so all users are using share-level security for file and resource access.

  3. Most users are telemarketers and are not familiar with the inner workings of Windows 98.

  4. Users are having difficulty sharing out their data folders so that Mangers can access them.

  5. Some tool must be used to make shares easier to create and manage.


Rachael, the Chief Information Officer for the Arizona Belt and Leather Company, would like to simplify how users share their data within their Windows 98 workgroup.


Net Watcher should be implemented so that Rachael can create and monitor shares throughout the entire network. Because share-level security is used, Rachael can assign and manage all passwords to the shared resources. Users will be monitored as to what share they are accessing through Net Watcher.

Chapter Summary

This chapter discussed troubleshooting in Windows 98. You learned about some tools and strategies for troubleshooting Windows 98 PCs, and you learned about some common problems associated with Windows 98 computers. Specifically, this chapter looked at troubleshooting the following types of problems:

  1. Installation problems

  2. Boot process problems

  3. Network connectivity problems

  4. Printing problems

  5. File system problems

  6. Resource access problems

  7. Application problems

  8. Hardware device and device driver problems

When you take the Windows 98 exam, you may find that it isn't always apparent which questions are the troubleshooting questions. Troubleshooting draws from all your knowledge of configuring and managing Windows 98. So when you prepare for the troubleshooting portion of the Windows 98 exam, don't just think about this chapter—think about everything you've learned in this book and be prepared to apply it to solve problems in real situations.

Key Terms

  1. cooperative multitasking

  2. Enhanced Metafile Format (EMF)

  3. General Protection Fault (GPF)

  4. hardware virtualization

  5. IRQ

  6. Logged mode

  7. multitasking

  8. physical address (MAC address)

  9. Ping

  10. preemptive multitasking

  11. RAW data format

  12. Safe mode

  13. Safe Recovery

  14. Spool Data format

  15. spooler

  16. Startup disk

  17. Startup menu

  18. Step-by-Step Confirmation mode

  19. version conflict

  20. Virtual machine

  21. write-behind caching

Apply Your Knowledge


8.1 Exploring System Information Utility

This exercise will allow you to retrieve information about your system through System Information Utility. This information can be used to troubleshoot hardware conflicts, to help you to make decisions on hardware upgrades, and as a starting point when doing various types of troubleshooting on Windows 98 systems.

Estimated Time: 25 minutes

  1. Click on the Start button and point to Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

  2. From System Tools, click System Information. The Microsoft System Information Utility dialog box appears.

  3. From the System Information Utility dialog box, note the processor type of your system and the amount of RAM on your system.

  4. Click the plus sign (+) next to Hardware Resources. A list of categories appears. Click on Conflicts/Sharing.

  5. Note any IRQs conflicting with other devices or being shared between devices.

  6. Click on DMA. Note any DMA resources being used and any that are free.

  7. Click on I/O. Note the I/O addresses for your computer's Floppy Disk Controller and keyboard.

  8. Click on IRQ. Note what IRQ 4 is being used for. Also note the IRQ of your system's Printer Port.

  9. Click on Memory. Note the memory range for your computer's video adapter.

  10. Click the plus sign (+) next to Components.

  11. Click on Input. Note the devices listed in this category.

  12. Click on System.

  13. Across the top of the system information, choose the option button for History. Note when the system board was originally configured according to the information displayed. Also note whether your system has a Plug and Play BIOS.

  14. Click the plus sign (+) by Software Environment.

  15. Click the plus sign (+) by the subcategory Drivers.

  16. Click on the category Kernel Drivers. Note what VMM is responsible for.

  17. Click on the category Running Tasks. Note the first program listed.

  18. Click on the plus sign (+) next to the category labeled OLE Registration.

  19. Click on INI File. Note the information displayed there.

  20. Click on the Registry. Note the type of information displayed there.

  21. Review why System Information Utility is useful for Windows 98 administrators, or help desk operators.

  22. Keep Microsoft System Information Tool open for the next exercise.

8.2 Using Version Conflict Manager

This exercise will build the foundation for working with Microsoft's Version Conflict Manager. During installation, existing files that are replaced by older versions on the Windows 98 CD will be backed up. Version Conflict Manager is a way to restore these backed up files. Take caution; incorrect usage of this tool can override newer files with these older files.

Estimated Time: 10 minutes

  1. If you have the Microsoft System Information Tool open from the last exercise, proceed with step 2. If not, open the System Information Utility through Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

  2. Click the Tools menu, and the click Version Conflict Manager.

  3. Version Conflict Manager will report a list of files that had a more recent version number before Windows 98 was installed. Note the oldest Backup Date of a file on your system.

  4. Review why Version Conflict Manager is useful to administrators of Windows 98 and how this tool be dangerous to Windows 98.

  5. Close out of Version Conflict Manger, but keep Microsoft System Information Utility open for the next exercise.

8.3 Troubleshooting the Boot Process Through Systems Configuration Utility

This exercise will allow you to manage and troubleshoot the boot process on a Windows 98 machine through System Configuration Utility. This utility allows you to interact with the boot process to see how the operating system is loaded. This tool can be used to inspect your startup environment and deduce what files may be causing problems.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

  1. If you have Microsoft System Information Tool open from the last exercise, proceed with step 2. If not, open System Information Utility through Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

  2. Click the Tools menu and choose System Configuration Utility. The utility is displayed.

  3. On the General tab, choose Diagnostic Startup and then click OK.

  4. You are prompted to restart your machine to begin the diagnostics. Choose Yes to continue.

  5. As Windows 98 restarts, the boot menu will be displayed. You must choose option 4, a step-by-step confirmation.

  6. Each step of the startup is offered for you to accept the value or skip over the value for this boot up. Why would this be valuable for troubleshooting?

  7. Accept all values and open System Configuration Utility again.

  8. Choose Normal Startup and then click on the Config.sys tab.

  9. From the Config.sys tab, you can select the variables in your config.sys file that should be processed on your machine, and in what order. In addition, you can add to the config.sys file or edit an existing line.

  10. Click on the Autoexec.bat tab. Its choices are similar to those on the Config.sys tab.

  11. Click on the System.ini tab. From here, note that there are different categories for each startup component, both system and hardware.

  12. Click on the Win.ini tab and note the categories and the controls for each category.

  13. Click the Startup tab and note the items that are selected to launch at startup time.

  14. Exit System Configuration Utility and the Microsoft System Information Utility.

8.4 Diagnose and Resolve Connectivity Problems Using WinIPCfg

This exercise will explore the TCP/IP information utility, WinIPCfg. WinIPCfg allows you to retrieve your IP information for your computer. Often you'll need this information to troubleshoot connectivity problems to remote hosts. Of course, TCP/IP must be installed on your machine to complete this exercise.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

  1. Click on Start and choose Run.

  2. Type in WinIPCfg and press Enter.

  3. The IP Configuration is displayed for your first network adapter. Click the down arrow and select the network adapter card for your local network. If your first network adapter card is your modem or PPP adapter, you will most likely receive all zeros while your modem is offline. This is because your modem uses an IP address only when connecting to a dial-up server that dynamically assigns your modem an IP address. You may want to dial into your Internet connection if you are only working a modem adapter.

  4. Note the following: your network adapter card's address (this is also the MAC address), your IP Address, the subnet mask, and the default gateway IP Address.

  5. Click on More Info.

  6. If you are using DHCP to obtain your IP address, note the IP Address of the DHCP server.

  7. Note whether you have a primary or secondary WINS Server.

  8. If you are using DHCP, note when your lease was obtained.

  9. Note the expiration date of your lease.

  10. If you are using DHCP to obtain an IP address, click the Release All button. Note whether your IP address changes.

  11. Click the Renew All button. Note whether your IP address changes.

  12. Click OK to close the IP Configuration Information dialog box.

8.5 Using Net Watcher to Troubleshoot Remote Resources

This exercise will allow you to administer a remote Windows 98 machine through Net Watcher. To complete this exercise successfully you will need two Windows 98 machines on a network. The target Windows 98 machine will need Remote Administration enabled, which can be done through the Passwords applet in Control Panel. Refer to Chapter 1 for more information about enabling Remote Administration.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

  1. Click Start then point to Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

  2. From System Tools, click on Net Watcher.

  3. Click the Administer menu and click Select Server.

  4. Type in the machine name that you would like to administer, or click Browse and choose the server from the network list.

  5. After you have made the connection to the target Windows 98 machine, Net Watcher displays a list of users connected to the machine and the resources that are currently being used.

  6. Across the toolbar, there are buttons that allow you to quickly administer the remote machine. The last three buttons allow you to change views of the resources on the remote machine.

  7. Click the button that represents the shares on the remote machine. The shares are listed with the path, share name, access type, and any comments on the share. As you click on each share, note the connections to the share.

  8. Click on any share from the list and then click on the Stop Sharing button. The share will be removed from the list.

  9. Click on the button to add a share. Enter the path of the folder you would like to share for the target machine, or browse the remote machine's resources to choose the folder you want to share out.

  10. Click on Browse. The remote machine's resources are displayed for you to begin sharing out the resources.

  11. Find a folder you would like to share for remote machine and click OK and OK again.

  12. The Permissions dialog box appears. Add the permissions. If you are using share-level security, choose the access type and the password for the share. If you are using user-level security, assign the appropriate groups or users permission to the resource and choose OK.

  13. Close Net Watcher.

  14. Open Network Neighborhood and open the machine where the share was just added. Note whether the share is listed as a resource.

  15. Close Network Neighborhood.

8.6 Troubleshooting TCP/IP Connectivity Problems with Ping and Tracert

This exercise will use two TCP/IP tools to confirm IP connections and trace the routes an IP packet will take to and from a remote host. Ping will be used to test that a connection can be made to the remote host; Tracert will be used to check the path that the connection is made through. TCP/IP must be installed on this machine, and you must be able to access the Internet or a remote host on your network.

Estimated Time: 10 minutes

  1. Click Start, Run. Type in WinIPCfg to retrieve your IP information for this lab.

  2. Click Start, then point to Programs, MS-DOS Prompt.

  3. At the command prompt, type in PING and press Enter. Note the response you receive.

  4. Now ping your own IP address. Note the response you receive.

  5. Ping the IP address of your default gateway.

  6. Ping the NetBIOS computer name of a machine on your network. For example, if there is a machine called Workstation5, you would enter PING Workstation5. Note the response.

  7. Ping the name of your favorite Web site (if your network is connected to the Internet). If necessary, connect to the Internet via your dial-up ISP account, then ping your favorite Web site. Note the result.

  8. Enter Tracert and the IP of a local machine on your network.

  9. Enter Tracert to your favorite Web site.

    Firewall Information If you are behind a firewall, you may not get a response on the hops your IP packets are taking to that destination.

  10. Exit out of the DOS Prompt.

8.7 Check for Corrupt Registry Files by Using ScanReg and ScanRegW

This exercise will use ScanReg to check the validity of the Registry. Registry problems can arise from incorrect hardware configuration, hardware failure, and corrupted files.

Estimated Time: 10 minutes

  1. Click Start and point to Programs, MS-DOS Prompt.

  2. At the command prompt, type in scanreg/autorun and press Enter. ScanReg will run and if it finds any errors will automatically fix the problem first by attempting to restore a backup copy of the Registry that was creating during the bootup.

  3. At the command prompt, enter scanregw. This protected-mode version of ScanReg will launch a user interface. If no problems were found with the Registry you'll be asked if you'd like to back up the Registry again.

  4. For this exercise, choose Yes. ScanregW will back up the Registry and report its status back to you.

  5. Click OK to close ScanRegW.

Review Questions

  1. What Windows 98 utility allows you to restore files and drivers that were backed up because they were replaced with earlier versions present on the Windows 98 CD?

  2. What Windows 98 tool allows you to quickly gather system information?

  3. What Windows 98 tool allows you to quickly and easily edit the configuration files of a PC running Windows 98?

  4. If you would like to check your TCP/IP configuration, which Windows 98 tool will tell you all TCP/IP configuration, including your network card's MAC address?

  5. How can you add shares to a remote Windows 98 machine?

  6. Ping allows you to do what on a Windows 98 machine?

  7. What is Tracert used for?

  8. What Windows 98 tool automatically creates a daily backup copy of the Registry and key startup files?

  9. If you cannot print to a remote Windows 98 print server, what are at least three things you should check?

  10. What is the difference between user-level security and share-level security?

Exam Questions

  1. Martin has just installed a new application on his Windows 98 machine. The new application is causing immense trouble with his older applications whenever this new version interacts with these applications. What should Martin do?

    1. Run the older 16-bit apps in separate memory address space.

    2. Run the new application in its own VDM, with limited access to the hardware.

    3. Use System Information Utility to restore the previous version of the application.

    4. Check Version Conflict Manager to see if files or drivers from the old application were replaced.

  2. Mary is a consultant for the Holtz Marketing Firm. She needs to create a report on all the processors in each machine, and the amount of RAM in each Windows 98 machine. What Windows 98 tool will tell her this information?

    1. RegEdit

    2. System Information Utility

    3. 98 Diagnostics

    4. Microsoft SMS

  3. You are configuring a Windows 98 machine that is failing during the boot up phase. You suspect an entry in the system.ini is the culprit. What tool will allow you to easily experiment with this win.ini file?

    1. Version Conflict Manager

    2. BootUp Examiner

    3. Microsoft System Information Utility

    4. System Configuration Utility

  4. You are trying to connect to a remote host using TCP/IP. You suspect some IP information has been entered incorrectly on the local machine. Where can you retrieve IP addressing information? Choose all that apply.

    1. WinIPCfg

    2. Ping

    3. Network applet

    4. IPLOG.txt

  5. You are trying to connect to a host on your network. You are certain that your IP address is correct, but you suspect that either the other computer's IP address is incorrect, or there may be a line down between your router and the remote machine. What can you do to check the connectivity to the remote machine?

    1. Confirm that the user has a physical connection and is logged into the network.

    2. Use NBTSTAT –A against the remote machine's IP address.

    3. Ping the IP address of the remote host.

    4. Ping the IP address of the router.

  6. You are a network administrator for a WAN. Users are complaining that to connect to the server in Phoenix it is taking much longer than usual. What can you do to evaluate the problem?

    1. Ping the server in Phoenix.

    2. Use Tracert against the IP address of the server in Phoenix.

    3. Use FTP to connect to the server in Phoenix.

    4. Use Net Watcher to monitor the connection with the server in Phoenix.

  7. You are dual-booting between Windows 98 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0. Under Windows NT, you cannot see all of the partitions you have created under Windows 98. What do you suspect is the problem?

    1. Windows NT does not see partitions that have not been made through Disk Administrator.

    2. Windows NT cannot view FAT32 partitions.

    3. Windows NT uses local security; you do not have permission to see the partition.

    4. Windows NT needs to write a signature to the drive. This can be done through Disk Administrator.

  8. John is trying to print to a remote Windows 98 print server but cannot. Of the following, which may be reasons why he cannot print to the remote printer shared off of a Windows 98 computer?

    1. Incorrect protocols.

    2. Incorrect permissions to access the printer.

    3. Hardware problems with his network card.

    4. The printer is paused.

Answers to Review Questions

  1. Version Conflict Manager saves a backup copy of newer files that are replaced by older versions during application installation. Should you receive conflicts, you can restore these files with the Version Conflict Manager. (For more information, refer to the section "Troubleshooting Installation Problems.")

  2. Microsoft System Information Utility allows you to quickly gather system information for troubleshooting. (For more information, refer to the section "Troubleshooting Installation Problems.")

  3. Microsoft System Configuration Utility will allow you to edit your Startup files and to perform a diagnostic startup or a selective startup. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Boot Process Failures.")

  4. WinIPCfg retrieves IP addressing information. This information may be useful in tracking down connectivity problems to remote hosts. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems.")

  5. Use Net Watcher to view, add, and monitor shares on a remote computer. In addition, Net Watcher can be used to see which users are connected to a remote share. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems.")

  6. Check the ability of TCP/IP to connect to remote hosts. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems.")

  7. To see the route an IP packet will take to a remote host. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems.")

  8. The Registry Editor, consisting of the utilities ScanRegW.exe and ScanReg.exe. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Hardware and Hardware Driver Problems with ScanReg and ScanRegW.")

  9. Check the protocols that are in use, the physical connection to the network, and the permissions assigned on the printer. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Printing Problems.")

  10. User-level security is based on users with a Windows NT Domain or a NetWare environment; share-level access is based on passwords. (For more information, refer to Chapters 1 and 5.)

Answers to Exam Questions

  1. D. Version Conflict Manager will keep the previous version of a software files if it is newer than the version whenever software has been updated on the machine. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Installation Failures.")

  2. B. System Information Utility is the Windows 98 resource Mary can run at each machine to get the information she needs for her report. Although Regedit will deliver the answers Mary needs, it would be much easier to collect that data through System Information Utility. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Installation Failures.")

  3. D. System Configuration Utility will allow you to edit all of the startup variables on a Windows 98 machine. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Boot Process Failures.")

  4. A, C. WinIPCfg will report back the IP addressing information about the local machine. The Network applet will display information about IP addressing if the address information was entered locally (refer to Chapter 3). (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems.")

  5. C. If you are trying to connect to a remote machine and are uncertain whether you have a connection to that machine, you can ping the IP address of the remote machine. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems.")

  6. B. Tracert will trace the hops the IP packets will take along the route to the Phoenix server. It is possible that a router along the usual route has gone down, resulting in the development of a new route that may take longer than what has been experienced in the past. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems.")

  7. B. Windows NT 4.0 cannot see FAT32 partitions without NT Service Pack 4 installed. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving File System Problems.")

  8. A, B, C. Incorrect protocols will prevent John from connecting to the remote printer to print. If John does not have permissions to the printer, he will not be allowed to print. If John has hardware trouble with his network card, he will not be able to connect to the printer to print. (For more information, refer to the section "Diagnosing and Resolving Connectivity Problems.")

About the Author

Joe Casad, MCSE, is an engineer who has written widely on networking and system administration. He is an author of MCSE Study Guide: Windows NT Server and Workstation 4, MCSE Training Guide: Networking Essentials, and the Windows 98 Professional Reference. He is the former managing editor of Network Administrator magazine.

Joseph Phillips, MCT, MCSE, has been working as an independent trainer and consultant for the last six years throughout North America. He has contributed as a writer to various magazines and newspapers, and co-authored MCSE TestPrep: Windows 95 and MCSE TestPrep: Windows NT Server 4. Before becoming an independent trainer, Joseph taught for Columbia College, Chicago.

Copyright © 1999 by New Riders Publishing, Pearson PTR

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Copyright © 2000, Microsoft Corporation.

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