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Windows 98 veeeeeeery slow!

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First post, by ldeveraux

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Hi all, first time long time!

I have found a lot of tape backups and decided to make a new Windows 98 PC with a tape drive to read them all. I finally got an proper installation but the issue is it's dog slow. Installing the unofficial SP3 takes hours. Here are the specs:

P4PA Via Motherboard
Intel Pentium 4 1.70 MHz chip
Windows 98 SE installed from Upgrade disc (had to prove to the software I owned Windows 95!)
80GB Seagate HDD
Geforce3 Ti 200 GPU
1GB PC2100 RAM (I also have a 256MB PC2100 RAM stick, but never noticed a difference)

I've installed the software for my tape drive (Colorado Backup) and software for my external Iomega Ditto drive as well. I've gotten all the video drivers updated and even have LAN working. No luck yet on USB. I've been moving files back and forth with a ZIP250 !!

That's about it. I recognize the RAM may be the issue here, as I haven't applied MEMPATCH or HIMEMX. Is there anything else anyone might think that would cause this system to drag on endlessly??

Reply 1 of 26, by VDNKh

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Slowness could be from DMA not being enabled in Windows or in the BIOS, or the HDD is failing. I would downgrade to the 256 set of RAM and reinstall windows from an actual 98SE disk, you can get the ISO pretty easily now-a-days. I don't see why you need SP3 in order to use the tape drive, just skip it and leave 98SE vanilla.

Reply 2 of 26, by The Serpent Rider

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DMA is not enabled by default, unless you've already installed VIA driver for ATA.

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Reply 3 of 26, by ldeveraux

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I'm perfectly able to get data off the tape, that's not the issue. I'm past that and I want to recreate a usable Win98SE box! That said, how would I know if DMA is enabled or not? I'm nearly certain I installed the 4in1 drivers from the VIA CD I had laying around. Everything except the USB drivers seemed to be working correctly.

Reply 4 of 26, by VDNKh

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ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-21, 23:03:

That said, how would I know if DMA is enabled or not?

Control Panel > System > Device Manager > Disk Drives > (Whatever device it is) > Properties > Settings

DMA should be checked. If it isn't, check it.

I also wouldn't bother with those unofficial patches, unless you're trying to make 98 your daily driver PC, I don't see a point. If you do want something like it I'd recommend Autopatcher, but without "Recommended System Tweaks", Windows Media Player, or 3rd Party Apps. It's all extra bloat. I used this when I toyed with running newer games on 98SE.

Reply 6 of 26, by ldeveraux

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VDNKh wrote on 2021-11-21, 23:31:
Control Panel > System > Device Manager > Disk Drives > (Whatever device it is) > Properties > Settings […]
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ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-21, 23:03:

That said, how would I know if DMA is enabled or not?

Control Panel > System > Device Manager > Disk Drives > (Whatever device it is) > Properties > Settings

DMA should be checked. If it isn't, check it.

I also wouldn't bother with those unofficial patches, unless you're trying to make 98 your daily driver PC, I don't see a point. If you do want something like it I'd recommend Autopatcher, but without "Recommended System Tweaks", Windows Media Player, or 3rd Party Apps. It's all extra bloat. I used this when I toyed with running newer games on 98SE.

I checked my HDD and it's using DMA. Should I shrink the partition just in case? It's using all 80GB which seems like gross overkill!

After a restart (after installing the SP3) it had to refind all my hardware which is weird. I also turned off PnP in BIOS and a few other changes, so not sure exactly why all the hardware needed to be reinstalled. At this point I have an unknown device and what it thinks is a "Shuttle EPAT External ATAPI Adapter" and I'm not sure what in the world that could be.

The important thing is all my peripheral drives work. Still I remember the last time I made a new install of 98 it was just super fast, because there was nothing to it, no overhead. I wonder if it's optimized to be used as a true 98 box?

Reply 7 of 26, by VDNKh

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ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-22, 00:45:
I checked my HDD and it's using DMA. Should I shrink the partition just in case? It's using all 80GB which seems like gross over […]
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VDNKh wrote on 2021-11-21, 23:31:
Control Panel > System > Device Manager > Disk Drives > (Whatever device it is) > Properties > Settings […]
Show full quote
ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-21, 23:03:

That said, how would I know if DMA is enabled or not?

Control Panel > System > Device Manager > Disk Drives > (Whatever device it is) > Properties > Settings

DMA should be checked. If it isn't, check it.

I also wouldn't bother with those unofficial patches, unless you're trying to make 98 your daily driver PC, I don't see a point. If you do want something like it I'd recommend Autopatcher, but without "Recommended System Tweaks", Windows Media Player, or 3rd Party Apps. It's all extra bloat. I used this when I toyed with running newer games on 98SE.

I checked my HDD and it's using DMA. Should I shrink the partition just in case? It's using all 80GB which seems like gross overkill!

After a restart (after installing the SP3) it had to refind all my hardware which is weird. I also turned off PnP in BIOS and a few other changes, so not sure exactly why all the hardware needed to be reinstalled. At this point I have an unknown device and what it thinks is a "Shuttle EPAT External ATAPI Adapter" and I'm not sure what in the world that could be.

The important thing is all my peripheral drives work. Still I remember the last time I made a new install of 98 it was just super fast, because there was nothing to it, no overhead. I wonder if it's optimized to be used as a true 98 box?

Again, I would wipe the system and install 98SE clean and not upgrade from 95 to 98. But I guess that special tape software prevents that for some reason. Still I'd try and find a work around for it. What's the tape software called?

Turning off PnP is what caused it to refind all the drivers. I would leave it on, letting the BIOS handle IRQ steering unless it creates conflicts. You should reinstall the chipset driver after you turn it off (or better yet, reinstall Windows, as it hates hardware changes). Also get yourself some newer VIA chipset drivers: http://download.viatech.com/en/support/driversSelect.jsp

Reply 8 of 26, by cyclone3d

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DO NOT use the unofficial SP3. It will cause all kinds of problems, including major file system and file explorer issues, slowness being one of them.

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Reply 9 of 26, by ldeveraux

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VDNKh wrote on 2021-11-26, 00:09:

Again, I would wipe the system and install 98SE clean and not upgrade from 95 to 98. But I guess that special tape software prevents that for some reason. Still I'd try and find a work around for it. What's the tape software called?

Turning off PnP is what caused it to refind all the drivers. I would leave it on, letting the BIOS handle IRQ steering unless it creates conflicts. You should reinstall the chipset driver after you turn it off (or better yet, reinstall Windows, as it hates hardware changes). Also get yourself some newer VIA chipset drivers: http://download.viatech.com/en/support/driversSelect.jsp

I've wiped many times, I'm getting pretty sick of starting over from scratch. That's why I asked my question in the first place, I wondered if there was an official guide on how to setup a new 98SE setup on old hardware. I found one here on Vogons but it was from 2017 and mentions installing SP2.1a. Maybe I foolishly thought SP3 would supercede that.

I'm using Colorado backup that works very well on 98SE. But I didn't install 98 over 95, I used the 98 Upgrade disc to fresh install 98, it just requires you put the 95 CD in the drive at one point during preinstall to verify you own it. Which I do. So it installs a new 98 on a new drive. But it still takes hours to install which is why I'd rather not do it again and again.

I thought all of those via driver packages were dead, didn't realize this one existed. Should I get anything other than the chipset drivers there? Just get everything?

Reply 10 of 26, by Garrett W

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ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-28, 01:04:

But it still takes hours to install which is why I'd rather not do it again and again.

This is pretty weird. Do you mean that the actual installation takes hours to finish or the entire process of re-installing drivers and such? If it's the former, something's seriously wrong here, on such a system Win98SE shouldn't take more than 10 minutes, probably even lower.

Can you check the BIOS to see if perhaps L1 and/or L2 cache are disabled by any chance?

Reply 11 of 26, by ldeveraux

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Garrett W wrote on 2021-11-28, 12:43:
ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-28, 01:04:

But it still takes hours to install which is why I'd rather not do it again and again.

This is pretty weird. Do you mean that the actual installation takes hours to finish or the entire process of re-installing drivers and such? If it's the former, something's seriously wrong here, on such a system Win98SE shouldn't take more than 10 minutes, probably even lower.

Can you check the BIOS to see if perhaps L1 and/or L2 cache are disabled by any chance?

yeah just windows installation (albeit from CD) takes hours. I couldn't get it to install from HDD directory, kept freezing on the Copying Installation Files dialogue. I don't doubt something is wrong here haha! I've tried partitioning my 80GB hdd down to ~4GB because I thought that might be the problem.

I did have to disable L1 and L2 cache, and for the life of me I can't remember why. I think the 98SE installation wouldn't continue until I had disabled them. Haha, this is why I was hoping for an up to date guide!

Reply 12 of 26, by maxtherabbit

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maxtherabbit wrote on 2021-11-22, 00:09:

Go to system properties and check the performance tab. Make sure you're not using "compatibility mode" for any of your disks.

did you ever check this? seems commensurate with all your symptoms

Reply 13 of 26, by ldeveraux

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maxtherabbit wrote on 2021-11-28, 14:26:
maxtherabbit wrote on 2021-11-22, 00:09:

Go to system properties and check the performance tab. Make sure you're not using "compatibility mode" for any of your disks.

did you ever check this? seems commensurate with all your symptoms

I did, nothing was using compatibility mode

Reply 14 of 26, by VDNKh

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ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-28, 13:05:
Garrett W wrote on 2021-11-28, 12:43:
ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-28, 01:04:

But it still takes hours to install which is why I'd rather not do it again and again.

This is pretty weird. Do you mean that the actual installation takes hours to finish or the entire process of re-installing drivers and such? If it's the former, something's seriously wrong here, on such a system Win98SE shouldn't take more than 10 minutes, probably even lower.

Can you check the BIOS to see if perhaps L1 and/or L2 cache are disabled by any chance?

yeah just windows installation (albeit from CD) takes hours. I couldn't get it to install from HDD directory, kept freezing on the Copying Installation Files dialogue. I don't doubt something is wrong here haha! I've tried partitioning my 80GB hdd down to ~4GB because I thought that might be the problem.

I did have to disable L1 and L2 cache, and for the life of me I can't remember why. I think the 98SE installation wouldn't continue until I had disabled them. Haha, this is why I was hoping for an up to date guide!

Can you re-enable the cache and make a bootable CD or floppy of MemTest86 to see it your system is stable? Download the V4 legacy version. I'd actually just reset all defaults on the BIOS just to be safe. You could have some faulty hardware. Might be a bad IDE cable or dying hard drive, faulty RAM, or some other dying part like a capacitor.

https://www.memtest86.com/download.htm

Reply 15 of 26, by mihai

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something is very wrong here. My only two cents is to enable bios defaults, and run an extended SMART test on the HDD. Dying disks may have very slow reads / writes.

with those specs, win98 should install in less than 10 minutes and performance should be stellar.

Reply 16 of 26, by ldeveraux

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Thanks guys, I'll try out memtest 4.3.7 today, though I remember these taking hours! I've put the original 256MB RAM stick back in and put the 1GB aside. What do I look for when Memtest is complete??

with respect to the HDDs, it's not the HDDs! I have 3 80GB drives here and this occurs on all 3 that I've tried installing on. 2 are WD and the 3rd is Seagate. That was my first thought which is why I wanted to partition to <10GB. I tried to get some actual 4GB HDDs but they are prohibitively expensive.

Reply 17 of 26, by VDNKh

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ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-28, 15:00:

Thanks guys, I'll try out memtest 4.3.7 today, though I remember these taking hours! I've put the original 256MB RAM stick back in and put the 1GB aside. What do I look for when Memtest is complete??

with respect to the HDDs, it's not the HDDs! I have 3 80GB drives here and this occurs on all 3 that I've tried installing on. 2 are WD and the 3rd is Seagate. That was my first thought which is why I wanted to partition to <10GB. I tried to get some actual 4GB HDDs but they are prohibitively expensive.

Shouldn't take that long. Just look for something like "1 pass complete with no errors" or something like that.

Are you using an 80 wire IDE cable? Have you tried swapping IDE cables to see if one is bad? Do you know the CD drive is good?

Reply 18 of 26, by VDNKh

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ldeveraux wrote on 2021-11-28, 01:04:

I thought all of those via driver packages were dead, didn't realize this one existed. Should I get anything other than the chipset drivers there? Just get everything?

Should need the 4in1, ethernet (if you plan on connecting to the a network), USB, and audio (if you don't plan on getting a sound card). Steps below for installing Windows 98 that works well for my VIA board. Burn a bootable version of Clonezilla and have a USB flash drive formatted with FAT32 handy, if you want to back up your Windows installation and avoid wiping it again.

Spoiler
  1. In the BIOS, flash to the latest version and/or reset defaults, to make sure you're working with a clean slate.
  2. In the BIOS, disable any ports and hardware you are not using. (Floppy controller, parallel port, etc.) Disable any virtualization tech in the CPU settings (if applicable) Disable HPET (high precision event timer) in the ACPI settings (if applicable). Make sure Plug n' Play is enabled by default.
  3. In the BIOS, check your IDE settings, make sure Master/Slave relationships are set properly. Disable SMART on any HDD plugged in (if applicable) and make sure DMA mode is set to Auto by default.
  4. Boot into the Windows 98 setup disk and run FDISK, delete your primary partition (make sure you backed up anything you want to save) and create a new primary DOS partition, then set it as active (if you know how to do this faster with a newer DOS partitioning tool, do it. I do not. Results may vary.)
  5. Install Windows 98SE. Do a custom installation and remove any features you don't need (like AOL).
  6. Once you're at the desktop, configure Windows how you like it (destop background, Explorer settings, power settings, etc.)
  7. Configure your Swap File: right-click My Computer > Properties > Performance > Virtual Memory, specify your own settings and set the minimum and maximum to 1.5 times your RAM (384MB in your case)
  8. Configure your file system cache by going to the Performance > File System > Hard disk, under Typical role set it to Network server.
  9. Go to the CD-ROM tab and make sure it's optimized for quad-speed or higher (if your CD drive actually is)
  10. Enable DMA on your HDD and CD drive by right-clicking My Computer > Properties > Device Manager > Disk Drives > (Whatever device it is) > Properties > Settings, check the DMA box. You may have to apply it more than once for it to work. You'll know it's set if it asks you to reboot, don't reboot yet.
  11. Enable DMA on you CD drive with the same steps as above. Also lock the drive letter of the CD drive to D: and enable synchronize data transfer (if available).
  12. Reboot the computer to apply the changes
  13. Copy the WIN98 folder from your 98SE installation disk to the root of your hard drive. This prevents you from having to insert the 98SE CD again when installing drivers.
  14. Optional: make a disk image of your clean 98SE install with Clonezilla. Boot into Clonezilla from a CD with your flash drive inserted, select disk-image work, select your flash drive to save your image to, select save disk to image, select your hard drive as the disk to save, select the rest of the recommended settings. Now you don't have to go through the whole MS installation process if you screw up your install, just restore the disk with Clonezilla. You can also repeat this after you install all the drivers and software you need too, but I prefer having a back up with no drivers installed except for what shipped on the 98 disk.
  15. Install the latest VIA 4in1 chipset drivers v5.24A, select only the chipset drivers first (unchecked AGP and IDE), the installation will say it failed, but after you reboot it will find all the drivers. Rerun the installer but this time only check the AGP and IDE. IDE may also not install, if it doesn't don't worry about it. Download the latest one from VIA's site. Burn it to a disk if you have no way of getting the files to you computer. Burn the VIA USB drivers, ethernet, and audio drivers too. Also download and burn the mass storage driver for 98 :https://www.philscomputerlab.com/windows-98-u … age-driver.html This will let you use formatted FAT32 flash drives. Note: I have a lot of issues with USB on my system. v36e caused ghost drive letters to appear while v33e did not, but I'm getting bad performance issues with USB gamepads with 33e as well as temporary lock up when transferring lots of data. Your results may vary.
  16. After installing the chipset driver and rebooting, install the VIA USB 2.0 driver and reboot. Then the 98 Mass Storage driver. Then install the audio and ethernet drivers (if you plan to use them). Reboot after installing every driver. (Another note on USB: the mass storage driver might work without VIA's USB driver installed, that might give you better performance/less weirdness than I have. I haven't tried it though.)
  17. Install DirectX 9c Dec2006: http://falconfly.3dfx.pl/directx.htm
  18. Finally install your GeForce drivers: https://www.philscomputerlab.com/nvidia-9x-gr … cs-drivers.html I recommend 45.23 as that's the last good 98 GeForce driver.
  19. Run clonezilla again if you wish, especially if you want Autopatch installed (better alternative to the unofficial service pack)
  20. Autopatch: http://retrosystemsrevival.blogspot.com/2018/ … e-december.html Run AP2007.exe and unselect "Recommended System Tweaks", Windows Media Player, and 3rd Party Apps from the installation. The install will take a long time. Set your computer to never turn off the hard drive or go to sleep in the Power options before you start installing (yes, I've has it fail because of that before)
  21. After AP2007 finishes, run AP2008U with the same options unchecked. This will also take a long time. I don't see much point in this unless your trying to run newer software on 98.

Reply 19 of 26, by ldeveraux

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VDNKh wrote on 2021-11-28, 15:15:

Shouldn't take that long. Just look for something like "1 pass complete with no errors" or something like that.

Are you using an 80 wire IDE cable? Have you tried swapping IDE cables to see if one is bad? Do you know the CD drive is good?

I ran a pass and it said it passed, no errors. Also my IDE cable is 80 wire I think. I didn't count them, but it's yellow and relatively flat, I'll assume it's 80. Apart from those 2 things, I'm just going to reset my BIOS to default and move forward. I don't know why it's laggy, everyone agrees it's not right, but nothing seems to fix it.