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April 6, 1998

The best settings for Explorer may not be the obvious ones

Last week, I wrote about problems with Microsoft Internet Explorer's cache for viewed Web pages. As the cache fills up, pages in the cache are deleted somewhat randomly rather than the oldest pages being deleted first. This can interfere with your ability to read Web pages offline -- a problem that is addressed by CacheSentry, a free program you can download at

But that isn't a complete answer to the problems readers have been reporting to me.

One performance-related problem is that users observe Explorer using their modems to read content from the Web even when the users have merely clicked Explorer's Back button to see a page they just viewed. No modem activity should occur at all, because the page should be in the local cache.

A more serious problem has been reported with the Subscription feature of Explorer 4.0. Some readers report difficulty viewing Web pages that are downloaded after they have marked them as Favorites and "subscribed" to them.

Getting reliable information on these problems from Microsoft has been frustrating. After several inquiries, all Microsoft representative Bill Zolna could suggest was that users can fix the Back button by pulling down Explorer's File menu and turning on the Work Offline option. This didn't seem to me to have an effect on Explorer's Back button, nor has it been mentioned as a solution by other users. I expect to have more details from Microsoft next week; in the meantime I'll tell you some solutions suggested by readers.

Several users have pointed to a Windows 95 Registry setting as a possible fix for Explorer 4.0. To access this setting, run RegEdit.exe to open the Registry. Navigate down the left pane of the Registry Editor until you reach the following key: Hkey_Local_Machine/Software/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Main. Select the Main folder in the left pane of the Registry Editor. In the right pane, you should see a key called Auto RefreshLocalPages with a value of "yes."

The solution suggested by readers is to double-click the name of the key and change the value to "no." This is said to stop Explorer from rereading pages when you click the Back button. Several readers, including my co-author of Windows 95 Secrets, Davis Straub, also report that the Subscription feature in Explorer 4.0 didn't work reliably for them until they made this change.

But David Pochron of Enigmatic Software, the author of CacheSentry, says the "no" setting can keep Explorer 4.0 from rereading any Web pages you revisit until you click the Refresh button. He says CacheSentry is a better way to solve reliability problems with Explorer's subscriptions.

Other readers have reported problems with Explorer's manual refresh settings. You reach these settings by pulling down Explorer 4.0's View menu, then clicking Internet Options and the Settings button. You can choose to reread Web pages "Every time you visit the page," "Every time you start Internet Explorer," or "Never." Your choice is stored in the Win95 Registry under Hkey_Current_User/Software/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Main/Cache_Update_Frequency. But nothing changes in the Registry when you select a different setting.

I'll report next week on Microsoft's response and readers' findings with these options.

Brian Livingston is the co-author of several best-selling Windows books, including the most recent Windows 95 Secrets (IDG Books). Send comments to Unfortunately, he cannot answer individual questions.

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