March 3, 2000

Window Manager, Brian Livingston

Readers weigh in on upgrading to Windows 2000, more NUMLOCK tips, and backing up

FOR SEVERAL WEEKS, my columns have dealt with security threats from Trojan horses and moles, Web attacks using distributed denial-of-service tools, and so forth. This week, let's have some fun and look at tips you have sent in. I asked for Windows 2000 tips, and they're starting to pour in. Keep 'em coming.

Here it comes, ready or not

Readers have asked me about upgrading to Windows 2000 from NT and Windows 95/98. Of course, a clean install of Windows 2000 is your best bet. Even upgrading from NT Workstation to Windows 2000 Professional creates a somewhat different folder structure than a clean install of Windows 2000.

But there are times when you do want to upgrade an existing machine with all of its software, data, and so on in place. For this purpose, Windows 2000 runs a compatibility test and reports the results to you at an early point in its setup routine. If you cancel the install at this point, nothing has been changed and you can fix any incompatibility before you try to install Windows 2000 again.

It's more convenient to test a system for compatibility before you buy a copy of Windows 2000. Microsoft has created a tool to download called the Readiness Analyzer. On a network, it can be used with Systems Management Server 2.0 to test compatibility on several machines at once.

The Readiness Analyzer runs on Windows NT 3.51/4.0 and 95/98. To download it, go to Read the instructions. Windows 95/98 users are cautioned not to uninstall anti-virus software as indicated by one dialog box in the analyzer, for example; this is a known issue.

Microsoft has also developed "compatibility packages" containing BIOS upgrades and new drivers for Windows 9x that were not available when Windows 2000 was released for manufacturing in December.

For more information, go to

My thanks to Shannon Cary for sending me information about these links.

Another NUMLOCK turn-on

My Feb. 14 column included a way to make NUMLOCK default to On when you start Windows 2000. (See "Try out some of these quick tricks found in the brand-new book Windows 2000 Secrets.") I described a method that changed a value in the Registry.

Reader Phil Horney sent in a method to using a Windows 2000 Control Panel applet. This is an easy way to set NUMLOCK for an individual user or all users of a machine.

Step 1. Click Start, Settings, Control Panel.

Step 2. Open the Control Panel's System applet, then click the Advanced tab, then click the Environment Variables button.

Step 3. You should see two boxes: User Variables and System Variables. If you set a variable in the User Variables section, it will apply only to that user. Conversely, if you set it in the System Variables section, it will apply to all users of that machine.

Step 4. Click the New button associated with the window you wish to affect. Add a new variable called NUMLOCK, type the value ON, click OK three times, and you're done.

Careful, don't back up too far

Windows 2000 includes a backup tool called NTBackup.exe. Third-party developers also use similar technology for their Windows 2000-compatible backup programs.

Both types of tools respond to two lists in the Windows 2000 Registry. These two lists tell backup programs not to back up and not to restore certain types of files.

The lists include such files as the memory page file (pagefile.sys), which is large but doesn't need backing up. You should check the lists to see if there are any of your large files that should be added for efficiency's sake. To do this, go to This find was suggested by Bruce Kratofil, one of my co-authors of Windows 2000 Secrets.

Shannon and Phil will receive a free copy of Windows 2000 Secrets for being the first to send me a tip I printed. (Bruce already has a copy of this particular book, I'm sure.)