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WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous

By: Koroush Ghazi | Guides | Posted: Feb 8, 2003 5:00 am



In my first Windows XP Guide I also have a section entitled System which covers the major performance tweaks accessible from the Control Panel>System Properties area of Windows. In this guide, this section builds on that information with more system-related tweaks, resources and references which can help you troubleshoot problems and improve performance and functionality a little bit more.


Removing Unused Old Devices


Tool: Command Prompt


If your Windows installation is fairly old, or you've changed a few devices on your system, you will have a number of entries for old devices which are no longer being used held in your registry. To remove these, follow the instructions below. Note that this tweak can be dangerous if you remove the wrong device, so use with caution and create a System Restore point before proceeding.


First open a Command Prompt by going to Start>Run and typing "cmd" (without quotes). Once the MS DOS prompt is open, type the following lines, pressing return after each:


Set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1




In the Device Manager window that opens go to the View menu and select "Show Hidden Devices". Now start looking through all the devices. Devices in grey are usually old/unused and safe to remove by right clicking on each one and selecting "Uninstall". Note that you should make absolutely certain the device is no longer being used, and that you should not remove any Microsoft devices such as those under the Sound section. Again, use with caution and if you're unsure, don't delete the device.


Device Manager Error Codes


Tool: System Properties



To access Device Manager, go to Control Panel>System>Hardware and click on the Device Manager button. Device Manager is invaluable in showing you all your PC components and allowing you to see their state, and change settings and drivers in one interface.


If there is a problem with a device, it might have a red X next to it in which case the device is disabled. You can double-click on the device (or right-click on it and select Properties) and in the General tab under Device Usage click the Enable Device button. It's useful to manually disable devices you don't use to free up system resources, and speed up bootup into Windows. Disable devices in the BIOS first if possible, as this is more effective and can help free up IRQs (See Troubleshooting IRQs below).


If you can't reenable the device, or it has a yellow exclamation mark next to it, the device is having an error of some kind. Double-click on the device name and under the General tab, you'll see the error in the Device Status box. To determine more information about the error, use the following Microsoft resource: Device Manager Error Codes


To resolve the most commonly encountered problems, follow the relevant tweak/solution below.


Unmountable Boot Volume


Full Solution: Here.


In summary, either use the correct cable for your hard drive (special 80-pin cabling), or turn off UDMA in Device Manager. Alternatively, if that doesn't work reboot from your Windows XP CD, press R at the Startup screen and type "Chkdsk /R" (without quotes) in the Recovery Console (see Recovery Console below).


CDR/DVD/CDROM Not Working or Disappeared


Full Solution: Here


.In summary open Regedit, and go to:




LowerFilters= Delete this entry.


UpperFilters= Delete this entry.


Reboot your PC and your drives should reappear. If your CD Burning software then functions incorrectly, reinstall it. If possible update your CD burning/extraction software to the latest version so as not to go through the same problem again.




Full Solution: Here.


In summary, use the instructions in the link above to check to see which address range is being referenced in the error, and which driver or device is using that range using Device Manager. This error typically occurs for most people when they overclock their system too far, or have an unstable overclock, or have badly installed or poor beta drivers.


If for example you find the device being referenced in the error is your graphics card, then turn down the overclock on the card, cool it better, or update your drivers using a "clean install". Overclocking tips, instructions on how to stability-test your overclock, and how to update and clean install your drivers are all in my System Optimization Guide.




Full Solution: Here.


In summary, this error is similar to the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error above. Check the referenced memory address, and in this case it is highly likely to be a driver at fault, as the error name suggests. Update the driver using the "clean install" method, and if that doesn't work, switch back to an older driver. This error can also be caused by overclocking too far, so the same tips as for the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error above also apply here.




Full Solution: Here.


In summary, the error is typically caused by a component of your memory subset, such as the L2 Cache, RAM, Video Memory, or even Virtual Memory/File Caches. If any of these components are overclocked, turn down the overclock. Check your RAM timings (see the System Optimization Guide for more information on this also) and make sure you follow the recommendations in my first WinXP Guide on correct Virtual Memory and Cache settings.


This error can also occur due to system-intensive/intrusive software like firewalls, Antivirus and trojan scanners, particularly those running in the background, etc. Running a Norton Antivirus scan while overclocked for example may trigger this error.


Long Black Screen on Bootup


Full Solution: Here.


In summary, you'll need to follow the instructions in the link above (and see Recovery Console section below) to open the Recovery Console and type "FDISK /MBR" (without quotes) to fix the Master Boot Record. Make sure you're not infected with a virus before doing this.


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Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition (ZAT00008) for PC


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