By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers
When you have major problems with Windows 95, wouldn't it be great if you had a foolproof way to reboot and get everything back the way it was before things went wrong?
And wouldn't it be wonderful to have two or three different versions of Windows 95 available at any time—a standard version, another that uses Microsoft's radical Web-based desktop and a devil-may-care version that you use to test new programs?
You can, in fact, do all that. You can do it without buying any new utility software. This week and next I'll explain how to set up a "safety'' version of Windows that is completely separate from any other version. I'll also tell you how you can switch in a few minutes from one Windows setup to another.
The basic idea is simple: You store multiple Windows folders on your main hard drive. By renaming these folders, you're able to choose which Windows installation you want to run.
This means you cannot follow my technique unless you have enough free space on your C: drive for at least one full copy of your Windows folder. Don't even think of trying this technique if your C: drive is too small or too full. (Big hard drives are cheap. Install a bigger drive if you need to.)
You must do two things before you can get this method to work. Don't move on to the next steps until you've finished the preparation.
First, copy MOVE.EXE from its normal location to the root of your C: drive. Here's how: Open a folder window on the C: drive. Click the Start button, choose Find, then search for a file named "MOVE.EXE.'' When it shows up in the file-search window, click it with your right mouse button and drag it to the C: drive window. Choose "Copy'' when you let go of the mouse button. Don't use the left mouse button for this. (Windows creates a shortcut if you use the left button.)
Second, you need to make sure your swap file is not stored in the Windows folder. Don't try to move it manually. Use this method: Right click on "My Computer'' and choose "Properties.'' Click the "Performance'' tab. Click the "Virtual Memory'' button. Choose "Let me specify my own virtual memory settings.'' Click the arrow on the right of the "Hard disk'' entry window and see if you have anything other than C: listed. If you do, and if that drive has at least 100 megabytes of free space, choose that drive. If not, or if C: is the only drive listed, click on the entry for C: to highlight it, then click the "OK'' button. Click the next "OK'' button you see also. Then let Windows reboot your PC.
When your PC comes back to life, double-check your available space. Right click on the Windows folder and choose "Properties.'' You'll see the size of the folder in bytes. Then right click on the drive icon and choose "Properties'' again. You'll see how much space you have left.
Now make a full copy of your Windows folder. Open a folder window so you can see your C: drive and click once on the Windows folder with your right mouse button. Drag the folder to another spot within the same window, then let go. Choose "Copy," then go mow the lawn or head off to work. The copy will take a long time.
When the copy is finished, click once on the new folder and press F2. Type a short, descriptive name for the copy of Windows. "WINBACK" is my choice. Don't make the name longer than eight characters.
You now have two identical copies of your Windows folder. You can use one as a backup copy. If you mess up your Windows 95 installation after trying out a new program or if your kids play "let's play with the Recycle Bin'' while you're at work, you'll have an easy way to get back to a working version of Windows.
If you have a lot of free space on your C: drive, go ahead and make another copy of your Windows folder. You can use that one when you install Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4. (It changes the basic ways Windows works, and you'll probably find it fascinating and frustrating.)
Switching from one to another is easy, if you follow the steps I'll tell you about next week.