Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Troubleshooting Win9x

I have a friend that is having trouble with their Windows 98 PC. A few weeks ago it suddenly started working *extremely* slowly and became rather unstable (crashing every few hours, etc.). I'm trying to help him out with the problem but I haven't actually had anything to do with Win9x in about 5 years so I don't really know what to do anymore.

I've cleaned up some adware/spyware problems and did a registry cleaning, disk defrag, etc. But it doesn't seem to be helping. I'm getting the feeling that it is probably a hardware problem. Unfortunately, if it was an NT based machine or FreeBSD I can think of a dozen or so utilities for troubleshooting/monitoring/repairing problems but I know of none for Win9x.

Can anyone suggest anything in terms of ideas on what could be the problem, what utilities I could use for diagnosis or what sites could be useful to me. I've done some googling but the results are fairly extensive and the quality of the sites that I've sampled doesn't seem too impressive.


Voltaire's Dog
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Frankly, the trouble is that he's using Win9x.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

If we are talking >extremely< slow here, I once had the exact same problem on a friends machine. Turned out to be a hardware problem with the harddisk, which we got replaced under warrantee.
It was strange. I never thought HD would fail in this way. It didn't give any errors, just got relly slow (we are talking like minutes to save a tiny word doc). Everything besides disk IO ran  normal.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Hard drive failure can do this; it's not too uncommon. 

What I would do is boot the machine into 'Command Line Only' by pressing F8 when booting, before the first Win98 splash screen comes up.  Then run Scandisk, and see if it detects any bad sectors.

If you can determine the manufacturer of the hard drive, many have free utilities that will diagnose the drive for you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Determining the manufacturer of the hard drive on any PC is easy.  The following equipment is recommended:

1. Sledgehammer
2. Safety Goggles
3. Ham Sandwich

The ham sandwich is optional and used to console yourself after having stupidly smashed your computer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Muppet, you talents are wasted in computers.  You should be on SNL.

Chris Peacock
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Screwy registry entires, spyware/adware, resident apps, and too many fonts are the causes of most of these sorts of problems.

Seriously, Win9x keeps track of *all* of the fonts and checks for a particular set of them whenever a window is re-drawn.  Therefore, if you have more that it has to look through, you'll pay for it in processing time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

You're absolutely sure he isn't a spam zombie?

.net, the equivalent of MS Bob.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

SNL is one of the unfunniest things on TV right now and has been for the last 5 years.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

SNL? Is that some kind of recreational pharmaceutical?

Thursday, July 15, 2004

This is probably just Win 98 behaving naturally (particularly if its Win 98FE; 98SE is useable).

It deteriorates over time and you get to the stage where you need to do a complete format and reinstall. If you have horrors like Norton Crash Doctor installed it will become unstable even more quickly and spectacularly.

Get his data out, then partition the drive with a D partition to put the data back on, and then do a clean format and reinstall on the C drive, and then make sure his documents and emails are kept on the D drive, because he'll need to go through the whole process in a year or two.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, July 15, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home