PC Hardware

Configuration Tips for Windows 95

Windows 95 is less difficult to configure than Window 3.x. The Windows 95 operating system automatically handles disk caching as well as many other configuration settings. Here are a few things to watch for when configuring Windows 95.

Make a Bootable Disk

A bootable floppy disk is just as important in Windows 95 as it is for MS-DOS. Use the Add/Remove Programs window in the Control Panel to create a startup disk. Bootable disks can also be made from the MS-DOS prompt (format a: /s) or by formatting from Windows Explorer (the Windows 95 equivalent to File Manager), just as in MS-DOS and Windows 3.x. Making a startup disk is a good idea, because the process will also copy many of the utility files used by a computer professional.

Memory Management-Support of MS-DOS Applications

DOS 7 provides built-in, protected-mode support for the main conventional device drivers such as Smartdrv, Mscdex, and the mouse. Even with this, there are still plenty of systems that need more memory to support MS-DOS applications as well as Windows 3.x programs. For example, you might encounter an office or small business that is still using an MS-DOS-based accounting system. To run this program on their new Windows 95 computers will require you to put extra effort into memory management to ensure that sufficient RAM is configured and available for this software.

PIF Files

Windows 95 no longer creates .PIF files by using the PIF editor. PIF settings are created by accessing the Properties value when a MS-DOS application is right-clicked. The major areas of concern for MS-DOS applications are the memory functions. Unlike the old PIF editor, Windows 95 now uses an Auto function. In theory, this means that Windows 95 automatically detects the amount of memory needed and allocates it. What usually happens is that all memory is reported to the program as available, whether the program needs it or not. Just as in the old Windows 3.x days, a lot of memory can be saved by giving the MS-DOS application only what it needs.

If the system says there is no expanded memory, it is because the NOEMS option in the CONFIG.SYS file has been added. If expanded memory support is needed in Windows 95, use EMM386 and be sure to use the RAM option. For example, use a statement like the following in CONFIG.SYS:


Windows 95 has the new MS-DOS mode that allows creation of custom CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files for tough MS-DOS applications. You can create a custom CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT for any MS-DOS application but there is one problem. To run a program in MS-DOS mode, Windows 95 reboots the computer. It is better to create a good CONFIG.SYS that allows running the MS-DOS program without rebooting. Use the same memory management for Windows 95 that is used for MS-DOS and Windows 3.x. Running in MS-DOS mode is different from running in an MS-DOS session. In the MS-DOS mode, you will have to configure real-mode drivers for your mouse, CD, sound card, etc., just as you had to do with MS-DOS and Windows 3.1.

New Options in CONFIG.SYS

Although CONFIG.SYS is, in theory, no longer needed, Microsoft has added new options that give CONFIG.SYS some power in memory management.

Remember Windows (DOS 7) automatically loads the following commands and files:

  • DOUBLESPACE and/or DRVSPACE (if needed)
  • DBLBUFFER for disk cache (if needed)

You can save approximately 10 KB by loading only the options needed. Only HIMEM.SYS and SETVER are needed, so create a CONFIG.SYS file and add the following:

NOAUTO means "Do not autoload the drivers." If you use NOAUTO, be sure to add HIMEM.SYS and IFSHLP.SYS to the CONFIG.SYS file or it will lock up the computer.

Caching and Swap Files

Windows 95 has excellent built-in caching support for both the hard drives and CD-ROMs. It also has better support for virtual memory. Neither the cache nor the swap file are locked in size as they were in Windows 3.x. Their only drawback is that they use up a lot of hard disk space.

When configuring Windows 95, two areas need to be checked to improve the use of hard disk drive space when caching and using virtual memory. They are the File System and Virtual Memory options found in the System icon in the Control Panel. The two options are at the bottom of the System Performance window.