~ Windoze annoyances you should consider ~
         Petit image    Annoyances
you should
Version January 2005
I never really understood how there could be things that would drive you insane just because you knew them until I ran into Windows.
[Peter da Silva]

On this page you'll find:
[The files that change]   [Annoying starting programs]   [Pre-Preparing for the search]
[Avoid some Microsoft spying]   [Various tips]  
[On-the fly searchmasks: AV]
On other pages of mine
[Those annoying pdf files]
Let's imagine you have a brand-new PC with windows on it. I'm not saying you SHOULD have a windows PC, I'm just assuming you have. See: I wont even try to push you onto the GNU/Linux optimum path, because it is NOT necessary: you'll do it by yourself once you will have understood some basic lore (always with sound caveats, eh :-)
I will just, instead, try to help you hic et nunc to iron some things out... and to understand some issues you may not be aware of...

<Newbies mode on>

The files that change

Slowly everyone is learning what a can of worms windows is... but sadly there are still some people that are not aware of the consequences of having such a "vicious", buggy and poorly documented operating system. Let's begin with some MUST KNOW about the "hidden" activities going on under the hood. Bear with me: those of you that did not know nothing will begin to see some light...

If you want to have some exhilarating experiences on your own computer, you may begin by pointing your iexplorer browser to [this link] (also note that there are a couple of hidden directories there that you cannot see this way), or your Netscape browser to [this link] (you'll need to click on your own profile in this case), or your Opera browser (that you should by all means use instead of the two browsersaurii above) either to [this link] or to [this link].
For obvious anonymity reasons you should not forget to check and tamper as well, for Opera, C:\Program Files\Opera\cookies.dat & C:\Program Files\Opera\vlinks.dat ("visited links"). There is almost no way you can have any control over your own data if you use iexplorer, so I'll not even try to explain you the MANY places where this Microsoft abomination gathers and hides info about you (see the old mm256 discussions or just do a grep for your data on your c:\ drive). Either you set iexplorer and windows into a special harddisk all on its own, and then you reformat and reinstall every day, or you - better - just de-install it.

That's pretty scary eh, yet it is NOTHING: carry on: just try the following command sequence:
Start ~ Find ~ Files or Folders ~ tag DATE ~ Find all files ~ Modified ~ During the Previous ~ 1 day ~ Find now...
Have you done it?
I got 371 files found a minute ago...
Of course there is a much quicker dos way: Start ~ Programs ~ MS-dos prompt
Then you'll have the magic dos box, and you can issue either the command
dir /od (for c:\windows only)
or the commands
cd.. ~ dir /s /od > lemmesee.txt (to get a listing for the whole c:\drive inside lemmesee.txt)

Do you want some more thrills? Download Filemon by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell (you are supposed to be searchers, so I really do not think that I should provide a link to this gorgeous utility) and fire it..

Do you want to descend even more deep into this buggy operating system? Fetch and use Softice, by Numega, and once installed - windows will run "inside" it - have "a good look around" using the various heap / thread / addr / class / task / tss (task state seg) / gdt (general descriptor) / ldt (local) / hwnd / map32 / mod / vxd and so on commands... scary eh?

Mind you: it is not so much the fact that windoze is complicated (every operating system is complicate) but the fact that it is so buggy and that it leaves so many "open" (and hidden) traces that is quite annoying, as you will soon discover on your own.

Annoying starting programs

Ok, this is a must know, that seekers should be able to find by themselves, but since many friends don't know how to 'clean' their own system, I decided to post this basic stuff here.

Just follow the instructions below, you'll learn quite a lot just doing it.

Older Windoze 9*

Under Windows98 click Start, then choose the option Run, then type in C:\windows\system\Msconfig.exe and finally press enter. Note that Msconfig can also be run on Windows 95 once you have first downloaded from the web (or from the windows CD-ROM) the correct version.
Once Msconfig is running click the  Startup  option and uncheck every box except TaskMon, SysTray and LoadPowerProfile. If you'r scared and you'r really convinced that some other options must be kept checked then, by all means, leave them checked... (you'll later be able to finetune the system even more unchecking them as well :-)
Once you have unchecked the unwanted parasites, re-boot and now check that Windows loads without error prompts and especially check that sounds and everything else you need is working fine.
This procedure disables the automatic loading of most software that has been happily installing itself since Windows was first setup.
This plethora of unwanted crap is one of the more annoying aspects of the annoying Windoze OS people believe to be compelled to use (until they understand the need to move to GNU/Linux :-)
Having everything loaded all the time eventually causes conflicts and generally makes the system run slow.  Almost ALL those programs can be run from on the fly when needed, and should be closed after finishing.

Newer Windoze XP 

Under Windows XPpro, click Start, then choose the option Run, then type in cmd and finally press enter.
In the dos box, at the command prompt, type cd c:\ (and enter)
Now type tasklist in the dos box
If you want to see all the services running, grouped per svchost instance, type tasklist /svc
If you want to see all the services running and save the output to a file, say myservices.txt, type tasklist /svc > myservices.txt
Alternatively, to have a look att the services running on your box, type at the command prompt msconfig, and then choose the 'services' tag. However, do NOT use msconfig to disable services, type services.msc at the command prompt instead.

In order to kill any instance of svchost that in your opinion hogs too many resources for nothing, use tskill (pid), where pid is the process id number you have previously seen using tasklist...

For windows 2000 use, instead of tasklist, tlist.exe from the Windows 2000 Diagnostics Tools CD-ROM: the syntax is tlist -s at the command prompt.


This is one of the most annoying (alongside ctfmon.exe) of the windows processes, hogging resources, memory and CPU-time like there were no tomorrow. It is however responsible for (quite a few) useful things, e.g. printing spool, sound drivers etc, so you should not eliminate it, just disable the services you do not need (type services.msc at the command prompt, click on your unneded service and disable through the 'options' tag).
The original svchost.exe file is located in the c:\windows\System32 folder (or C:\WINNT\system32) folder; a copy may exist in the c:\windows\System32\dllcache (or C:\WINNT\system32\dllcache) folder.

In ALL other occurrences, a svchost.exe file is a virus, spyware, trojan or worm, hence you should regularly check your computer for all instance of *host*.exe.
Note also that a few trojans mix the letters before "host", like scvhost.exe or add numbers after "host", like svchost3.exe hence the reason for the asterisks in the search for *host*.exe.
When checking for files on your own harddisks, use a good free filefinder, like agent ransack... (use options/dos expression and then input *host*.exe).
Do not -NEVER- use windows' own "search" function: the start/search function in windows xp is just spyware that has been built inside windoze itself, and will connects on port 80 to sa.windows.com ( in order to deliver to microsoft's spyes your IP and what you are searching for on your own harddisk.

ONLY two SVCHOST.EXE files should be found, they reside in your c:\windows\System32 (or C:\WINNT\system32) and in your c:\windows\System32\dllcache (or C:\WINNT\system32\dllcache) folders. If you only have these two SVCHOST.EXE files your system is fine.

Pre-Preparing for the search

"Pre-Preparing for the search"? Since there is a whole searchsession phase, the first one, called "Preparation (layout of the search strategy)" I should probably have found a better description for this part, which is aimed to newbies. What I want to point out is that many readers don't know the most elementary tricks you can apply in windoze, so that for some of you (of course I am not daring to speak to the real conoisseurs out there :-) the following could be of some use.

Glide your icons! (windoze 98)
You have obtained Opera, Ultraedit & the Proxomitron (the "starting set" or "little seeker's box n.1") and want to use my own collection of search engines forms as homepage?
Then do the following OK... banal, but necessary if you want to work a little more effectively.

Avoid some Microsoft spying

Microsoft offers 'automatical' and often hidden updates and fixes through your connection to the internet using their Registration Wizard application. However this 'feature' allows Microsoft to gather information from your system, including what programs are installed, who they are registered to and so on.  You may prefer not to make available such info. You may modify the register importing the key Regwiz-off.reg and you may prepare a batch file that automatically executes the following command in order to turn off Registration Wizard at Dll level. Here is how you do it right now on the fly: Start, Run and then copy this line, paste it inside and run it:
regsvr32.exe -u regwizc.dll
Bye bye registration wizard!

Various Microsoft-savy tips

Make a shortcut on the desktop (rightclick on the desktop and choose New, Shortcut) and enter this command in order to start Windows Explorer in a mode to show everything:

C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE /e, ::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
once you have done it, glide the icon on th bottom bar (see above how to glide)
Ever wondered why windoze seems 'to go asleep' for quite a while when you browse your harddisks?
The swap file in Windows stores information to your hard drive when memory runs low but week after week will grow huge, making the system load slower and run slower (it takes longer to find data inside such an huge file). The option to limit this file in windows itself is VERY unreliable and prone to crashes (the whole windoze bazar is prone to crashes, come to think of it). Once every month restart your machine in dos mode and delete C:\windows\win386.swp, the swap file that cannot be deleted while windows is running. You'll notice a remarkable performance improvement. 
While doing that use the powerful (and potentially destructive) command Deltree to remove all temporary files in the Windows temp folders (besonder nasty is the Temporary Internet Files folder. Windows will rebuild all these folders when it restarts.

<Newbies mode off>

All the above is in fieri, of course, in the meantime those among you that are security conscious may enjoy following quote:
"For their next act, they'll no doubt be buying a firewall running under NT, which makes about as much sense as building a prison out of meringue"

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