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Top 10 system configuration & tweaking tools

August 11, 1998
Web posted at: 9:00 AM EDT

by Sally Neuman

(IDG) -- Few things are more frustrating than getting your computer system set up just right, only to have some gnarly utility pounce all over your hard work, turning it to spaghetti. We've assembled a group of utilities that watch your program installations, tweak your system properties, and otherwise provide detective services to stop desktop disasters. You'll find some commercial demos of very popular utilities such as CleanSweep and Norton Utilities, along with a few selected shareware and/or freeware utilities to help clean up file associations, monitor your Registry, and send the blasted dialog boxes away when you need them to be invisible. Each program has strong and weak points, but we're sure you'll enjoy testing and working with all of them.

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  1. Quarterdeck Fix-It: This demo version of Fix-It detects and corrects configuration problems with your hardware, resolves conflicts, and generally helps you get more out of your system.

  2. RegMon: This GUI/device driver combination monitors and displays all Registry activity. It has advanced filtering and search capabilities that make it a powerful tool for exploring the way Windows 95 works, seeing how applications use the Registry, or tracking down problems in system or application configurations.

  3. Properties Plus: Add more functionality to your context menu in Windows Explorer. Properties Plus lets you modify file attributes and extensions; you can also alter the dates and times of single or multiple files at one time.

  4. CleanSweep Deluxe: This trial version of the popular uninstall utility includes tips and information to help you get the most out of the program, a listing of some known problems, and last-minute documentation corrections.

  5. Disktective: This utility creates a report that displays the real sizes of all directories and subdirectories on your system. It helps you find bottlenecks in your system file structure, and keeps your directories and folders better organized.

  6. Set Me Up 98: Customize advanced and hidden Windows settings and enhance your security and log-on features. The SystemSaver crash protection enhancement takes daily snapshots of your system configuration to help you recover after application and system failures.

  7. Associate: This program helps you set up file associations in Windows 95 with much greater accuracy and ease than Windows' default utility provides.

  8. Norton Utilities: This is a full-featured 30-day trial of the latest version of Norton Utilities, one of the most popular utility suites. Features include Disk Doctor, System Doctor, Speed Disk, and much more.

  9. Buzof: Are you annoyed by the repeated dialog messages on your Win 95 desktop, like the Internet reconnection dialog, Web cookies, or the AOL/CompuServe inactivity message box? Tell them all to buzz off with this utility.

  10. Desktop Informant: Get detailed file information under Windows 95 or NT. Just place the cursor over the file's icon briefly and Desktop Informant will quickly show you all you need to know. Free for noncommercial home use.

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