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More reading for you!

• Getting hardware items to work together is usually fairly painless, but can be a frightful nightmare!. Beware of conflicts - they can cause a malfunction.

• Windows 95/98 is actually quite good at running third-party software. Unfortunately incompatibility still occurs.

    On this page:
    • PC Configuration
    • Conflicts
    • Older Software
    • Ghost Devices


Poor configuration leads to conflicts

Check that all components are correctly installed; that there are no conflicts.

Even though Plug-n-Play devices are a huge bonus, it is still necessary to ensure Windows 95/98 has implemented everything correctly - or you will suffer anything from minor hiccups to major disasters. You still may, for instance, have to change jumpers (especially on ISA cards) to get everything working together.

When Windows 95/98 boots, or you install new hardware, it allocates specific resources for each item. Occasionally the same resources are allocated to two devices which now have to share a IRQ and/or a specific part of memory - this is a conflict.

The IRQs with a higher number are used by Windows 95/98 for higher priority functions e.g. hard disk controllers.

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Checking for conflicts is very easy

Select Start • Settings • Control Panel • System • Device Manager and click on all the + to open the drop-downs.

First check that all your devices are present - if not, then use Add/Remove Hardware in Control Panel to install that item.

Now look for
! a yellow exclamation mark (something wrong with that device)
X or a red cross (device is disabled)
beside any device name.

Finding one indicates a problem - most likely cause by a IRQ (or perhaps a memory allocation) conflict.

Correcting a conflict can be problematic

Some devices will only work, or work efficiently, if allocated fairly specific resources, and Windows 95/98 may have already made this allocation to another device (which could function correctly with different resources).

It is often best, at first, to allow Windows 95/98 to make its own selection of available resources; to enable Use automatic settings in all the devices Properties - Resources.

If one device is still not allocated the correct IRQ (or memory area), then disable Use automatic settings for that device, and set it manually using the Settings based on option - Windows 95/98 will now, hopefully, allocated different resources to the other conflicting device which is still using Use automatic settings. If necessary you can try setting both allocations manually.

Intractable conflicts

The above will correct the most common conflicts such as occur with some video, or sound cards.

Intractable conflicts are not common. However sometimes they can be difficult to alleviate. The ultimate troubleshoot may be to uninstall many of the extra devices (not the hard drive, please!), and reinstall each one according to your own priorities - check the allocation of resources each time, and, if necessary, set the resources manually.

Should you have a serious problem with the allocation of COM Ports (especially with internal modems), then it may be worthwhile uninstalling your entire comm system and reinstall items in a different order until it is correct - you may need the manufacturer's support here.

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All newer software is 32-bit and programmed for Windows 95/98.

The introduction of the Windows 95 Operating System alleviated the 640K memory barrier that previously applied to the running of programs - it makes nearly all of memory available. However some older 16-bit software is not configured to permit this.

In general: When playing DOS games try not running them under a DOS window - some of the vital 'conventional' memory is in use when Windows 95/98 is loaded. Booting to DOS will give you access to all available resources.

Don't forget to have suitable entries in Config.sys and Autoexec.bat, and as usual load only the bare essentials - if you do not need a CD or a mouse, then do not load their drivers - and be sure you use EMM386, Himem, and put as much as possible into upper memory blocks (UMB).

Some old programs may actually run faster under Windows 95/98 - it's certainly more convenient. Unfortunately many are incompatible, and refuse to run.

Running older programs in Windows 95/98

Insufficient Memory

If you get insufficient memory error messages then right-click on the game or application executable file, and select Properties. Click on the Memory tab and make the appropriate adjustment.

If this fails to resolve the problem, then you may have to create a purpose-built boot disk that frees up more Conventional Memory.

Create Compatibility

If necessary you can create compatibility with a Windows 95/98 utility (mkcompat) found in _:\Windows\System. This lets you run non-compliant DOS and Windows 3.1 programs in Windows 95/98. The key to making these programs work with Windows 95/98 is using settings stored in the [Compatibility] section of the Win.ini file.

Fortunately you do not need to open _:\Windows\Win.ini and enter the likes of ZETA01=0x00400000. The make-compatible utility mkcompat tells Windows 95/98 how to force the program to work.

MKCOMPAT will create a new file that Windows refers to when running that program, and only that program. If you are dissatisfied with the result, you can re-enter MKCOMPAT and remove your checkmarks, allowing Windows to return to its previous state.


• Select Start • Run
• Type in MKCOMPAT
• Click on File • Choose Program
• Locate and double-click your old-program executable file.
• Now enable the appropriate restrictions in the check boxes.
• When finished Save, Exit, and reboot.

Refer to your software manual for optimal settings for that program.
Select File • Advanced for more control options.

There is no Help file, some trial and error may be necessary to achieve optimal settings - but get it working first, and then see if you can improve its general performance.
These three options are frequent used with older 16 bit applications:
Lie about Windows • Delay Comm Handshake • Increase stack size

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If sometimes happens that Windows, or yourself, installs a device more than once - especially with devices not fully Plug & Play compliant. This is to be avoided and can lead to many problems down the road - including a speed deterioration.

Checking it out is simple in SAFE MODE:

• Boot into Safe Mode (press F8 while booting)
• Select Start • Settings • Control Panel • System • General tab
• Click the + on EVERY option shown
• Identify any device installed TWICE or more (careful with Hard Disks, please)

If there are any, then you must delete all instances of that device and re-install it.

First ensure you have access to all the relative drivers, INF files, Windows CD

Now delete all instance of the offending device. Then reboot to allow Windows to identify it as a 'new' device and install it.
Now re-install any appropriate update and/or check ALL the settings for that device.

Ghost devices can, at times, create havock so get rid of them. Commonly involved are monitors, modems, floppy drives, but it could be any device.

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

Copyright © LarryM 1998-2015