Speed Up WinXP
Here are some suggestions that will enhance the
performance and reliability of your PCs.
Best of all;
most of them will cost you nothing.
1. Defragmenting remains an important task. Why? For
one, power consumption and heat can be directly related to a fragmented
hard drive. When the computer's operating system requests data, if a file
is not contiguous, then extra seeking on the disk may be required. But a
more important consideration is disk failure. Should a hard drive fail,
the likelihood of successfully recovering data from the dead or damaged
drive improves significantly if the data is contiguous rather than
randomly scattered about the drive platters.
2. If a PC has less than 512 MB of RAM, add more
memory. This is a relatively inexpensive and easy upgrade that can
dramatically improve system performance.
3. Ensure that Windows XP is utilizing the NTFS file
system. If you're not sure, here's how to check: First, double-click the
My Computer icon, right-click on the C: Drive, then select Properties.
Next, examine the File System type; if it says FAT32, then back-up any
important data. Next, click Start, click Run, type CMD, and then click
OK. At the prompt, type CONVERT C: /FS:NTFS and press the Enter key. This
process may take a while; it's important that the computer be
uninterrupted and virus-free. The file system used by the bootable drive
will be either FAT32 or NTFS. I highly recommend NTFS for its superior
security, reliability, and efficiency with larger disk drives.
4. Disable file indexing. The indexing service
extracts information from documents and other files on the hard drive and
creates a "searchable keyword index." As you can imagine, this
process can be quite taxing on any system.
The idea is that the user can search for a word,
phrase, or property inside a document, should they have hundreds or
thousands of documents and not know the file name of the document they
want. Windows XP's built-in search functionality can still perform these
kinds of searches without the Indexing service. It just takes longer. The
OS has to open each file at the time of the request to help find what the
user is looking for.
Most people never need this feature of search. Those
who do are typically in a large corporate environment where thousands of
documents are located on at least one server. I recommend disabling it.
how: First, double-click the My Computer icon. Next, right-click on the
C: Drive, then select Properties. Uncheck "Allow Indexing Service to
index this disk for fast file searching." Next, apply changes to
"C: subfolders and files," and click OK. If a warning or error
message appears (such as "Access is denied"), click the Ignore
5. Update the PC's video and motherboard chipset
6. Once a month, run a disk cleanup. Here's how:
Double-click the My Computer icon. Then right-click on the C: drive and
select Properties. Click the Disk Cleanup button -- it's just to the
right of the Capacity pie graph -- and delete all temporary files.
7. In your Device Manager, double-click on the IDE
ATA/ATAPI Controllers device, and ensure that DMA is enabled for each
drive you have connected to the Primary and Secondary controller. Do this
by double-clicking on Primary IDE Channel. Then click the Advanced
Settings tab. Ensure the Transfer Mode is set to "DMA if
available" for both Device 0 and Device 1. Then repeat this process
with the Secondary IDE Channel.
8. Upgrade the cabling. As hard-drive technology
improves, the cabling requirements to achieve these performance boosts
have become more stringent. Be sure to use 80-wire Ultra-133 cables on
all of your IDE devices with the connectors properly assigned to the
matching Master/Slave/Motherboard sockets. A single device must be at the
end of the cable; connecting a single drive to the middle connector on a
ribbon cable will cause signaling problems. With Ultra DMA hard drives,
these signaling problems will prevent the drive from performing at its
maximum potential. Also, because these cables inherently support
"cable select," the location of each drive on the cable is
important. For these reasons, the cable is designed so drive positioning
is explicitly clear.
9. Remove all spyware from the computer. Use free
programs such as AdAware by Lavasoft or SpyBot Search & Destroy. Once
these programs are installed, be sure to check for and download any
updates before starting your search. Anything either program finds can be
safely removed. Any free software that requires spyware to run will no
longer function once the spyware portion has been removed.
10. Remove any unnecessary programs and/or items
from Windows Startup routine. Using the MSCONFIG utility is one way.
Here's how: First, click Start, click Run, type MSCONFIG, and click OK.
Click the StartUp tab, and then uncheck any items you don't want to start
when Windows starts. Unsure what some items are? Visit the WinTasks
Process Library. It contains known system processes, applications, as
well as spyware references and explanations. Or quickly identify them by
searching for the filenames using Google or another Web search engine. Or
even better yet. If you have Spybot S&D installed. You can use it
to stop programs from starting up.
Open Spybot and go into Advanced Mode. Go down to Tools, and then open
System Startup. There you can disable programs from starting.
NOTE: If you have the Genuine Windows Advantage installed, you will want
to leave all "system.ini" running. Or you wont be able to get
updates from MS to install.
11. Remove any unnecessary or unused programs from
the Add/Remove Programs section of the Control Panel.
12. Turn off any and all unnecessary animations, and
disable active desktop. In fact, for optimal performance, turn off all
animations. Windows XP offers many different settings in this area.
Here's how to do it: First click on the System icon in the Control Panel.
Next, click on the Advanced tab. Select the Settings button located under
Performance. Feel free to play around with the options offered here, as
nothing you can change will alter the reliability of the computer.
13. If you are an advanced user who is comfortable
editing their registry, try some of the performance registry tweaks
offered at Tweak XP.
14. Visit Microsoft's Windows update site regularly,
and download all updates labeled Critical. Download any optional updates
at your discretion.
15. Update your anti-virus software on a weekly,
even daily, basis. Make sure you have only one anti-virus software
package installed. Mixing anti-virus software is a sure way to spell
disaster for performance and reliability.
16. Make sure you have fewer than 500 type fonts
installed on your computer. The more fonts you have, the slower the
system will become. While Windows XP handles fonts much more efficiently
than did the previous versions of Windows, too many fonts -- that is,
anything over 500 -- will noticeably tax the system.
17. Do not partition the hard drive. Windows XP's
NTFS file system runs more efficiently on one large partition. The data
is no safer on a separate partition, and a reformat is never necessary to
reinstall an operating system. The same excuses people offer for using
partitions apply to using a folder instead. For example, instead of
putting all your data on the D: drive, put it in a folder called "D
drive." You'll achieve the same organizational benefits that a
separate partition offers, but without the degradation in system
performance. Also, your free space won't be limited by the size of the
partition; instead, it will be limited by the size of the entire hard
drive. This means you won't need to resize any partitions, ever. That
task can be time-consuming and also can result in lost data.
18. Check your system's RAM to ensure it is
operating properly. I recommend using a free program called MemTest86.
The download will make a bootable CD or diskette (your choice), which
will run 10 extensive tests on the PC's memory automatically after you
boot to the disk you created. Allow all tests to run until at least three
passes of the 10 tests are completed. If the program encounters any errors,
turn off and unplug the computer, remove a stick of memory (assuming you
have more than one), and run the test again. Remember, bad memory cannot
be repaired, but only replaced.
19. If the PC has a CD or DVD recorder, check the
drive manufacturer's Web site for updated firmware. In some cases you'll
be able to upgrade the recorder to a faster speed. Best of all, it's free.
20. Disable unnecessary services. Windows XP loads a
lot of services that you most likely do not need.
21. At least once a year, open the computer's cases
and blow out all the dust and debris. While you're in there, check that
all the fans are turning properly. Also inspect the motherboard
capacitors for bulging or leaks.
any of these suggestions should result in noticeable improvements to the
performance and reliability of your computer.
For more ways to clean and increase
the speed of your system.
See my tutorial for a System Tune-up.