Don't Go Bootless
When you first set it up, Windows 95 will offer to make you an emergency startup ("boot") floppy disk. You can also make one yourself anytime from Control Panel. Click on Add/Remove Programs, and pick the Startup Disk tab.
Check Your System
Don't install Windows 95 until you have checked your system for any viruses, errors, cross-links, bad clusters, etc.
Get It in Writing
Before you install Windows 95, exit Windows and type MSD at the DOS Prompt, then press the Enter key. From the File menu, select Print Report. Select Report All, then OK. You can keep this printout to answer questions that pop up during the installation process.
Optimize your system
And don't forget to defragment your hard drive. If you're upgrading from Windows 3.x, it's also time to turn off your permanent swap file if you have one, and let Win95 create a fresh (and contiguous) one. Also, delete your swap file before defragmenting. For some reason, Win95 likes to use the extant swap file. Forcing it to create a new one on a freshly optimized drive will yield far better results. Also, remove the unwanted TSRs from the AUTOEXEC.BAT before installation.
Kick Out the Old
Upgrade your BIOS. Generally, any BIOS older than January '94 may have problems with Win95. Notebooks are especially vulnerable, as the BIOS contains the power management controls, and the Win95 beta builds were notorious for problems with power management.
When You Want More than Just Windows
You can dual-boot OS/2 and Windows 95. OS/2's Boot Manager resides in its own partition on your hard drive and lets you choose which of several partitions to boot from, each of which can contain different operating systems. If you're installing OS/2 and Win95 onto a completely clean system with plenty of storage, start with OS/2 and use this method.
When One Windows Isn't Enough
Many people are intrigued by the possibility of dual-booting Windows 95 with Windows NT 3.5 or 3.51. In this case, Windows 95 needs to be installed first. The original NT boot sector handles the startup menu that gives you a choice of operating systems. Installing Win95 over it will overwrite this sector.
And There's Another Way
Another way to dual-boot OS/2 and Windows 95 is to use the Dual Boot program in OS/2. When OS/2 is installed on a DOS- or Win95-only partition (or drive), it copies the old boot sector to a backup file. To restore this old boot sector, start an OS/2 command line and type BOOT/DOS. The system will then boot as a DOS or Win95 machine. (To reverse the process, type BOOT/OS2 from a DOS or Win95 command line.)
What's in a Long Filename ?
Third-party programs that use long-filename schemes, such as Sherlock, will not work under Windows 95; Win95 has its own long-filename system that isn't compatible with anything except Windows NT (and OS/2 name space on NetWare servers).
Try a Custom Install
You don't have to accept Microsoft's idea of what you need. The Typical installation leaves out a lot of files. Select Custom instead; it will still have all the Typical settings selected, and you can add or subtract from them at will.
What's the Difference?
If you want to know exactly what the difference is between typical, portable and custom installs, check the Resource Kit on the Win95 CD-ROM.
Shell extensions or substitute desktops like Outside/In or Norton Desktop should be removed before installing Windows 95. Win95 has its own replacement to Program Manager (although Program Manager is still there in case you want it), and most of those programs' functions are eclipsed by new Windows 95 features anyway.
Say Yes If You Can
If you have the space (about 6MB extra), always select the option to back up your old system files when installing Windows 95.
Not Really Corrupt
If you decided to uninstall Windows 95, you will receive a Corrupt Swapfile error message when you start up your old version of Windows. That's normal, so don't be alarmed. Allow Windows to erase the old swap file by clicking on OK in the Delete dialog box that pops up. Then go into Control Panel, double-click on the Enhanced icon, click on the Virtual Memory button and set the swap file size to "none." After rebooting again, use Control Panel's Enhanced icon to set up a permanent swap file.
They Won't Work Afterward
Remember that any programs installed under Windows 95 may not work after you uninstall the operating system.
See For Yourself, 32 Bits Is Better
Win95 comes with a full complement of system tools that are the best ever to ship with Windows. Use 'em all: Scandisk is now a full Windows program (although Win95 also includes a command-line version). You can run Scandisk even while other software is running, and it will thoroughly snoop your disk for a wide variety of potential and actual problems. It's worth running regularly. Defrag likewise is now a full Windows program--no more exiting to DOS to defragment your hard drive. Because Defrag is CPU-intensive, it will run far faster and better if you let it do its thing either during a lunch hour or overnight. In any case, keeping your disk files smoothly contiguous speeds disk accesses, makes file recovery easier in case of a problem and is generally considered good practice. Drivespace is fast and fine, doubling your disk space effortlessly. Although all disk compressors steal some CPU cycles to crunch and fluff your files, Drivespace is now a 32-bit application, and the performance hit isn't noticeable in most cases. Drivespace 3, part of the Win95 Plus Pack, is even better. It offer four levels of compression (none, standard, HiPack, UltraPack) and can deliver well over double your normal uncompressed disk space. It's also 32 bits and offers a wide range of optimization and tuning options.