Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Compatibility Tricks for Old Programs, New Machines

How To Get Old Programs To Work On New Computers

So you went out and bought a new computer — congratulations! You got a good one, too: it has everything, including a dual-core processor. You have installed your favorite programs, and by that, I mean your games — great!

There’s just one catch — now some of your games misbehave and act like they’re in hyperdrive, everything moves at warp speed, and instead of three bloodthirsty hobgoblins, there’s thirty. You’re getting killed faster than you can press your “S” key… and that isn’t any fun! Or worse, the game will just freeze in mid-play.

I first noticed this on Battlefield 1942 (the whole series, actually). And then I noticed it on Call of Duty, but not so much on Call of Duty 2. And it was really bad on Quake. It became clear to me that the older the game, the more susceptible to this unplayability it was.

If this has happened to you, the odds are good you have a dual, triple, or quad core CPU. These processors weren’t available when these programs were written, and so the programmers didn’t factor in their ability to process multiple “threads” — basically what’s happening is these new processors are making two (or four) ‘events’ occur at the same time, where they are meant to happen one at a time.

But don’t worry… you need not say goodbye to your favorite games!

Tip of the day: Getting older programs to run smoothly on a new machine is just a couple of clicks away. Some of your programs are going to require you to “turn off” one of the ‘cores’ before it will run right.
To do this, launch the program and let it load (but don’t start using/playing it yet).
Now launch the Windows Task Manager by doing the “three fingered salute”, combination-press the Ctrl+Alt+Del keys (or Start >Run and enter “taskmgr” no quotes).
Click on (select) the Processes tab. tm.jpg

This shows a list of all the running processes on your machine, and how much RAM and CPU cycles are being used by each process. I have launched Battlefield 1942, which shows as the top (most recent) process.
* Right-click on the app that you want to adjust, in our case “BF 1942.exe”.

For some reason, the program-to-processor linkage is called “Affinity“, so from the menu of choices that appear due to our right-clicking, we want to click on (select) “Set Affinity”.
If you have a dual-core CPU, two CPU’s will be shown and checked, A quad-core, four.. We want to uncheck all but one… as shown below.


With luck, now your program will run like it should. Unfortunately, you must do this each time you want to launch your game/program. Sometimes, the game manufacturer’s will issue a “patch” that will mitigate this issue. Visit their website and look for downloadable “patches” and/or “updates”.

For really old programs and games, you may need to set them to run in something called “compatibility mode“. Mostly these will be items you have left over from your Windows 98 (or Me) days… but if you’re running Vista, you may need to do this for programs that ran fine on XP. Right-click on the program’s shortcut (desktop) icon and select (click) Properties. Now click on the Compatibility tab, as shown below.

Use the drop-down arrow to select the operating system you would like the program to run in as if it were installed. Here I am telling a Vista machine to run a XP environment, but you may need to set it to “Windows 98”. A little experimentation will determine your best choice.

See also, Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help! (Updated) for more help.

Today’s free download: There’s a small app called Prio that allows you to “Save” priority and affinity, so you won’t have to set them at each launch.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 28, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, dual-core processors, Gaming, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Quad-cores on a cold Monday morning

Let’s start the week with a reader question.
Q: I’m buying a new desktop. Do I need a “quad-core”?
A: Like so many things in life, the short answer is, “that depends.” But before I explain further, let me say that a “quad-core” CPU is pretty much just what it sounds like– four processors ‘stacked’ onto one chip. This is the next evolution of Moore’s Law (short version=the power of computers doubles every 2 yrs.). Quad-core equipped desktop computer have been available to the general public for a while now, and can be found for around $250 more than a dual-core version. It won’t be long before quad-core reaches the notebook market; and it won’t be too long before every desktop sold will have quad-cores.

To get back to the reader’s question — do they need a quad-core — the answer depends on what they are going to be using the computer for. [note:A quad-core CPU handles tasks faster than a dual-core can, but software has to be written to take full advantage of the “multi-threaded” capabilities of these processors.. something that is only beginning to happen.]
If you will be using your PC as a “media center” component in your entertainment center, editing HD home movies, are a video gamer, or are otherwise “pushing” the abilities of your PC, then yes; you should go for the quad-core, IMHO.
On the other hand, if you are the type of user who only uses your computer to browse the Internet (and use e-mail), and the most resource-demanding game you play is Solitaire, then you probably don’t need to spend the extra dollars for the latest technology.

I wrote a four-part series on When it’s time to buy a new computer to help folks decide on the various advantages and questions one faces. To read these articles, click here.

Time is short today, so…
Today’s free link: Speaking of video games, I stumbled across a funny/accurate critique of the state of video games and game consoles called the Gamer’s Manifesto, or “20 things gamers want from the seventh generation of game consoles. This particular entry is definitely for the gamer (someone who knows what Doom III looks like), but the site, Pointless Waste of Time, is a fun, “hip” site for mature audiences (..tho, of a younger set).

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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January 14, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, dual-core processors, hardware, PC, shopping for, tech, Vista, Windows | , , | Leave a comment