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Tweaks to Speeding Up Windows XP

Format your hard drive using NTFS file system which is faster and more stable
Defragment your disk drives twice a month for faster data access.Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter to launch the utility.

Select a drive and click ‘Defragment’. This will start the defragmentation process.
Disable Fast User Switching by going to Start > Run, and typing ‘control userpasswords’ and pressing [Enter].

In the User Accounts window, click on ‘Change the way users log on or off ‘ ; make sure the ‘Use the Welcome screen’ option is ticked, and uncheck ‘Use Fast User Switching’. Click on Apply Options and close the window.
Turn-off all the effects
One of the things Windows XP is famous for is the look. Unfortunately, the crisp menus, the fade-in and fade-out effects and the breathtaking wallpapers drain your system’s memory.

The easiest way to turn these effects off is by pressing [Windows] + [Pause/Break] to launch the Systems Properties dialog box. Here, click on Advanced. You will see three ‘Settings’ buttons. Click the one related to ‘Performance’.The dialog box called Performance Options pops up. Under Visual Effects, select ‘Adjust for best performance’ and click Apply.
Update Windows
I recommend that you use Windows XP Service Pack 2, and update your computer using Windows Update to resolve known security and stability problems. This will give you a stable operating system that has been built to handle your system resources best. Also, make sure all your device drivers are up-to-date.

Optimize Virtual memory
The virtual memory is the amount of space on your hard disk allotted to Windows XP, which it uses as though it were RAM.Press [Windows] + [Pause Break], to get to the system properties dialog box. Go to Advanced, under Performance click on Settings, go to Advanced tab.

Here make sure ‘programs’ is selected for both Processor scheduling and Memory usage. Now under Virtual memory, click on change.

Select the drive where the page file is currently present, select ‘No Paging File’ and click on ‘Set’.

Note: If you have two physically separate hard drives, set the virtual memory on the drive that doesn’t hold XP. If you have only one hard drive, set it to another partition that does not hold XP. This increases performance.Now select the drive where you wish to place your page file, and select ‘Custom size’. Enter a number that is twice the size of your installed RAM in the initial as well as maximum size dialog boxes and click on ‘Set’. Now click OK thrice and restart the computer for the settings to take effect.

Remove unwanted programs from startup
Go to Start > Run, type ‘msconfig’ and press [Enter]. Click on the Startup tab and uncheck any programs you dont want Windows to load at startup. Please be careful what you remove from here.If you don’t know what a particular program is do a Google search (you can use the Google search at the bottom of this page) on the name of the process and then decide whether to keep it or not.

Turn-off System Restore
System Restore uses gigabytes and reduces system performance. If you dont install and uninstall programs often, you can turn this feature off.Press [Windows] + [Pause Break], to open system properties. Click on System Restore, and select ‘Turnoff System Restore on all drives’ and click ‘Apply’.

Note: All previously created restore points will be deleted.

Disable sounds, wallpapers and screensavers
Startup sounds and wallpapers consume system memory a lot.

Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices, and click on Sounds. Disable all sounds you don’t want. To speed up booting of Windows disable the Windows Startup and Shutdown sounds.

Also, right-click on the desktop, select ‘Properties’, under theme select ‘Windows Classic’. Disable the wallpaper and set a color of your choice. Disable your screen saver too.

Disable compression and indexing
Right-click on an NTFS drive and select properties. At the bottom of the dialog that pops up you will see two check boxes called ‘Compress drive to save disk space’ and ‘Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching’. Uncheck both check boxes and click ‘Apply’.

Remove unwanted fonts and programs
Extra fonts slow down your system and increases boot up time. Remove unwanted fonts and also uninstall all programs you dont want through ‘Add or remove programs’ in Control Panel.

Disable Services
Go to Start > Run, type in ’services.msc’. To turn off a service, double-click on it and select Disabled under Startup type.For normal use, disable the following services:

Background Intelligent Transfer Service
Computer Browser
Error Reporting Service
Help and Support
Indexing Service
IPSEC Services
NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing
Network DDE
Network DDE DSDM
Performance Logs and Alerts
Portable Media Serial Number
Remote Desktop Help Session Manager
Remote Registry
Secondary Logon
Smart Card
Smart Card Helper
SSDP Discovery Service
System restore Service
Uninterruptible Power Supply
Universal Plug and Play Device Host
Windows time
Wireless Zero Configuration
WMI Performance Adapter

Disable boot virus detection:This feature is available for some motherboards. If enabled it will scan your boot sector for virus infection every time you start your system. As boot sector viruses are rare now, it is safe to disable it. Disabling it will also speed up the boot process.
To find out if you have it look in the ‘Advanced BIOS features’ section of your BIOS.

Change Boot Sequence:For most PC’s the boot sequence is first set to CD-ROM and then to Hard drive. You can speed up your boot time by setting your OS-loaded hard drive as the primary boot device.
I suggest to disable other boot devices such as CD-ROM and Floppy.

Just remember to set CD-ROM as your primary boot device when you need to re-install Windows.

Disable XP load screen:By disabling the load screen you can boost the bootup time by a couple of seconds, if not more. To disable the load screen, open the “msconfig” utility: go to Start>Run, type in “msconfig” and press [Enter]. In the sunsequent window, select the ‘boot.ini’ tab.
Check the /NOGUIBOOT option and press ‘Apply’. Restart Windows to see the effect.

Use the Bootvis utility:The “Bootvis” utility was designed by Microsoft to help system manufacturers optimize the boot characteristics of Windows XP. It’s a free tool, and is available here.
Run the utility, go to ‘Trace’ menu and select ‘Next Boot + Driver Delays’. Bootvis will prompt a reboot. Reboot and wait for Bootvis to start again.

Go to the ‘Trace’ menu and select ‘Optimize System’. Reboot again and wait for Bootvis to complete its analysis. At the end of the analysis, your bootup time should be optimized.

Disable Disk Performance Counters:Win XP comes with many inbuilt performance monitoring applications that constantly examine various parts of the system. This information can be of real use to a system adminstrator for collecting performance statistics. However, for a home user, these statistics hold no value and since the monitoring happens all the time, it consumes a good deal of system resources.
“Disk monitoring”, for example, happens in the background, and turning it off is advisable if you will not be using the performance monitoring applications. To turn it off, type in “diskperf -N” at a command prompt.

To bring up the command prompt: go to Start>Run, type in “cmd” and press [Enter].

Move the ‘My Documents’ Folder:The ‘My Documents’ folder invariably ends up as the default repository of files for most Windows applications. Over a period of time, this folder starts bloating, and this, to a certain extend results in performance degradation. It might be a good idea to move the target location of the ‘My Documents’ folder to some other partition on the hard drive, or to a different drive.
To do so, right click on ‘My Documents’, and on the ‘Target’ tab, click on ‘Move’. In the subsequent dialog box, browse to the drive where you want to move the folder. Then click ‘Make New Folder’ to create a new folder, and name it appropriately. Click ‘Apply’ and then ‘Yes’.

Eliminate unwanted programs from boot up: You will find that many of the programs you install on your system set portions of themselves to run automatically when you start up your computer. Each program that runs on startup not only consume system resources but also extends the length of time it takes your PC to fully boot.Since it is generally unnecessary to have any programs running in the background (other than security software like virus-scanners or firewalls) disable your unwanted startup programs to increase your startup speed and conserve system resources.
The easiest way to go about this task is to use the MSCONFIG utility, which may be familiar to users of Windows 9x. This handy program contains a list of software which is set to start when you boot your PC. You can then easily disable and re-enable (if necessary) these items.

Go to ’start\run’ and type ‘msconfig’ to access the utility.

The ’startup’ tab in MSCONFIG provides access to several other applications that are started at boot up and are running in the background. By examining their Filenames and directories, you should be able to get a feeling for what is necessary and what is not.

Be aware than several viruses and worms have a habit of disguising themselves with authoritative sounding Windows system file names, such as the Win32.spybot.worm as MSCONFIG32.EXE. Leave these for now if you are not sure.

The next place you should go is ’start\programs\startup’ which is a directory Windows XP uses to launch application shortcuts on boot-up.

If you remove the shortcuts from this directory, the applications will not load on startup. This directory can also be a repository for various badness such as spyware and virus software, so if there are files here which are not shortcuts and you don’t recognize them, you may wish to consider removing them anyways, as Windows will not place critical files in this directory.

Eliminate unwanted fonts to increase boot speed: The Windows XP control panel contains a ‘fonts’ directory which holds all the fonts currently installed on your system. These can come from Windows itself or from an application such as Word.Windows checks and loads these fonts during the startup process, therefore having a large amount of font files can cause performance to drag during startup. The simple solution for this (if you do not expect to use the majority of these fonts constantly) is to move the unnecessary fonts to a new directory elsewhere on the hard disk, preserving them in case they are needed, but preventing them from loading upon startup.To do this:
Create a new directory called ‘font backup’ or something similar on your C: drive.

Go to ’start\control panel\fonts’ and select all fonts. Drag and drop all the fonts into the backup folder you just created. Things will get garbled for a moment, never fear. Windows XP will automatically re-install the base fonts that it needs to display text into the fonts folder in a second or two.

Now you have the bare minimum of fonts installed. Go through the backup folder and cherry pick the fonts that you are sure to use (like Times New Roman or Arial).

If you removed a large volume of fonts, your system should now boot faster.

Turn off BIOS disk detection: Most modern motherboards will attempt to detect any IDE devices, such as hard drives and CD drives, during the POST sequence each time the computer boots. By configuring the BIOS with the correct drive information, you can shave a few seconds off your boot time by avoiding this detection process.To do this enter your system’s BIOS setup screen.Depending on your motherboard, you may have an IDE drive auto-detection menu. If you do, simply select it to automatically set your drives. If not, configure the drives through the ’standard CMOS settings’ menu.
Note that some motherboard chipsets (like Nvidia’s Nforce 2) do not allow this auto-detection to be disabled.

Use the Intel application accelerator: If your computer has an older Intel chipset (pre-865) you may benefit from downloading and installing the Intel Application Accelerator .This software replaces the Windows XP ATA (hard disk and IDE device) drivers with ones specially designed for Intel chipsets, improving disk performance and boot time.Please make sure that your computer conforms to the system requirements before installing the accelerator.
Disable unneeded devices in device manager: A quick fix that can make XP boot faster is to disable any unused devices in the Windows XP device manager. For example if you have a integrated sound card or video card that you have upgraded, or if you do not use a floppy drive on your system, it pays to disable these devices in device manager.The same goes for extra network cards. Of course, the standard rule of thumb applies here: If you do not know what it is, leave it alone.To disable unneeded devices in device manager:
Right click on ‘my computer’ and select ‘properties.’ From the ‘hardware’ tab, select ‘device manager.’ Expand the various categories to locate unused devices. Right click the devices and select ‘disable.’

Disable auto detection for empty IDE slots: Another quick trick for a faster boot up is to disable the auto detection that Windows XP uses to determine if there are IDE devices present in any of the IDE slots on the motherboard. More specifically, disable this feature on any empty slots to prevent the operating system wasting time and resources checking them.Right click on ‘my computer’ and select ‘properties.’ Go to the ‘hardware’ tab and select ‘device manager’ to open the device management window.Expand ‘IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers’ and highlight the ‘primary IDE channel.’ Right click the highlighted entry and select ‘properties.’ Go to the ‘advanced settings’ tab.
If either IDE slot on the controller is empty, the ‘device type’ dropdown box will be not grayed out. Set it to ‘none’ to disable auto detection of IDE devices on that particular slot.

Repeat the above steps for the ’secondary IDE controller.’

Note that if you wish to add a new IDE device, you will have to reset the ‘device type’ setting to ‘autodetect’ in order for Windows to use the new drive.

Reduce wait time after XP boots: A common performance problem with Windows XP is ’start lag,’ in which the operating system boots up normally, the desktop is visible and usable, but programs will not start, and selecting icons and using the start menu are extremely slow. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes to clear up, and can make using the operating system extremely frustrating, especially if you are in a hurry after the reboot.This delay is generally caused by Windows XP’s networking services looking for other computers and advertising their functions over the computer’s network connections.
If this problem is driving you nuts, there is a way to reduce or eliminate the delay, though if you are attached to a home network, it will reduce your computer’s functionality on that network.

If your computer is not attached to a home network:

Right click on ‘my computer’ and select ‘manage.’
Expand ’services and applications’ and select ’services’ to open the services window.
Highlight the ‘workstation’ service, right click and select ‘properties.’ Set the ’startup type’ dropdown box to ‘disabled.’ Click ‘ok.’

Note that you will need to re-enable the workstation service should you wish to network your PC in the future.

If your computer is part of a home network:

Go to ’start\control panel\network and internet connections\network connections.’

Right click your current network connection (should be ‘local area connection’ unless you have more than one network adaptor) and select ‘properties.’

Uncheck the ‘File and Print Sharing’ box and press ‘ok.’

Note that this will disable your computer’s ability to share files and printers over the network, though it should not affect your ability to access such resources on another system.


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