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May 11, 1998

You can tweak your system while you wait for Windows 98

While we're all waiting expectantly for Windows 98 to be released and make our lives better and easier, we can make some improvements to our Windows 95 and Windows NT systems.

The new, new RegClean

Remember RegClean? It's a Microsoft utility that cleans up problems with Windows Registry files. I wrote about RegClean several times last year, most recently on Dec. 22 / Dec. 29, 1997, when I reported that Microsoft had removed it from its Web site. (See "Year's end brings news about editing, cleaning, and more.") It seems RegClean wouldn't run after Internet Explorer 4.0 was installed. (Ah, yes, that's the browser that's so integrated with Windows 95.)

RegClean 4.1a reappeared on Microsoft's site a few weeks ago. The new download is now compatible with both NT and Win95 (including Explorer 4.0). It's worth trying.

I reported on May 26, 1997, that RegClean cleared up a problem on one system that made every running application crash, one by one, whenever Windows' ShutDown routine was run. (See "My latest Windows mystery is solved; at least, I think it is.")

RegClean also fixes other problems. For example, if you install Version 1.0 of Microsoft's Visual InterDev, then select Custom Controls from the Tools menu of Visual Basic 4.0, you get error messages such as "Object server not correctly registered." This is because Visual InterDev creates invalid entries in the Registry. RegClean straightens this out. It also cures erroneous keys installed by custom controls developed with Visual Basic 5.0.

Now that RegClean 4.1a is available, you should use it rather than older versions. RegClean 3.0 and 4.0 inadvertently remove Registry keys needed by the Automation functions of Word 97, Excel 97, Access 97, PowerPoint 97, and Outlook 97. If this happens to you, and you get errors such as "Object required" or "OLE automation error," you can run a free Microsoft utility called Idisp.exe to restore the needed keys. Set your browser to When RegClean 4.1 was released, it resolved these issues, but remained incompatible with NT.

Version 4.1a of RegClean works with both NT 4.0 and 3.51, as well as Win95. You can download the new RegClean from

RegClean 4.1a has even spawned a sister program, RegMaid. RegMaid cleans up after you delete OLE projects created with Microsoft's Visual C++ and Microsoft Foundation Classes. Details are at Thanks to reader Ralph Marotta for keeping tabs on RegClean for me.

More modem madness

Many readers have told me their throughput improved after they upgraded their x2 modems to the new V.90 standard. A few lost between 2Kbps and 4Kbps. If the V.90 upgrade works more slowly for you, you can default to x2 by adding S32=66 to the command string for Sportster modems and S58=32 for Courier modems. In Win95, double-click the Dial-Up Networking icon in My Computer, then right click the icon for your connection. Click Properties, Configure, Connection, Advanced, enter the proper string into the Extra Settings field, and click OK.

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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