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Getting Online Faster

November 02, 2000|DAVE WILSON |

Q: I have two PCs, one at home and one at my office. Both use Windows 95 and Netscape 4.7.

At home, I click on the Netscape icon, walk away, and I'm online. At the office, I get a box in which I must enter my password and then I get a Welcome to Windows box that asks for a password. I close it, and I'm online. I'd like to end up with as smooth a start-up at the office as I do at home, but I don't know how to proceed.

A: The friendly geeks here at Q&A believe that there are two different issues here, but we think we can resolve both of them. As always, however, make backups of your critical data before messing around with your system.

Assuming you're using a dial-up connection via a standard modem, you need to find the Dial-Up Networking folder. Once you've found the folder, open it up and double-click on whatever icon is there that doesn't say Make New Connection. You should see a blank line for your password, along with an unchecked box that says Save Password. Check the box and one problem should be resolved.

The second problem--your phantom Welcome to Windows password--is solvable, but you've got to follow these steps precisely. Summoning the demons of Microsoft to do your bidding can be hazardous, so watch your step.

First, using the right mouse button, click on the Network Neighborhood icon and then click Properties. Go to the Configuration tab. Toward the middle of the box you'll see a line labeled Primary Network Logon. Tap the inverted triangle to the right, choose Windows Logon, and then click the OK button on the bottom of the big box.

If everything is working normally, at this point you'll get a box asking whether you want to restart. The answer is no.

Tap the Start button on the lower left, then scroll up the menu toward Settings and open Control Panel. Double-click the Passwords file.

You should see a tab labeled Change Passwords. If you don't, that means you entered a password into the system at some point. You can't change the password until you've logged on, so go back, log on and start over.

Hit the Change Windows Password button, then click the OK button.

The trick to dealing with this issue is coming up. In the Change Windows Password box, type your current Windows password in the Old Password box. Leave it blank if there's no password. Leave everything else--the New Password and Confirm New Password boxes--blank. Click OK twice when asked.

Back in the Password Properties box you opened so long ago, hit the tab labeled User Profiles. Make sure the little circle next to "All users of this PC use the same preferences and desktop settings" is filled in. Click OK. Shut down. Restart. Do the Hokey Pokey, and your password problem's gone. That's what it's all about.

Q: While I was installing an old DOS program on my new computer, the content of autoexec.bat was completely wiped out. The computer seems to work OK. Using Windows 95 or 98, do I still need the autoexec.bat file?

A: Autoexec.bat isn't required for Windows 95 or 98. It's included in the system to provide backward compatibility with programs designed for MS-DOS and Windows 3.1. There isn't really any "typical" autoexec.bat file under Windows 98. We'd recommend ignoring the situation as long as everything works, though you might need to reinstall DOS or Win 3.1 programs that aren't working properly. If you're worried, however, we'd suggest using the Find function to see whether you can find an earlier version of autoexec.bat on your hard drive.

Q: How do I print out the entire list of Web site addresses and list of pages visited in the History file of Internet Explorer?

A: While we don't use this software ourselves here at Q&A, a program called History Reader can do what you're asking and comes highly recommended. It's $50, unfortunately, but you can download a trial version that will work for 21 days. This software is fairly complex, so use it with caution. To read more about it, and to download it if you like, go to


Dave Wilson is The Times' personal technology columnist. Submit questions to Tech Q&A at Put "Tech Q&A" in the subject line.


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