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[GUIDE] Speed up Windows XP without hardware upgrades


It's not always wise to upgrade your hardware every time you feel your computer is getting slow. In face, according to my opinion Microsoft operating systems have a tendency to slow computer sown when you have a lop of programs installed. In this tutorial I will tell you some easy tricks to get most out of your hardware.

Ok, I have copied this whole article from something I saw on Digg, but I think it is really useful, especially since I have tried and tested this on my PC about a year ago running Windows XP Pro, 1Ghz AMD Athlon, 512MB RAM, 40GB hard drive, 64MB graphics. It may be a poorly-spec'd 6 year old PC, but these changes speed it up a lot!

1. Disable extra startup programs

Several items add up to the start up list when you install different software. Such programs are loaded when your system boots and remain in memory (RAM), they also consume processor power. Here are is what you have to do to make them go away:
  • Goto Start>Run
  • Type "msconfig", without quotations
  • Hit enter key or click the OK button
  • A window will show up you have to click the startup tab, as shown in the figure
  • In the Startup tab you will see several boxes and some of them will selected (checked). All you have to do is to uncheck extra items that are of no use. If you run and antivirus program it is not recommended to uncheck it.
  • After making you choices press the OK button, you will be prompted to restart computer to apply changes.
  • After you restart you computer a dialogue will be displayed you can choose not to show this dialogue every time you restart.

2. Disable Extra Services

From the menu opened by msconfig command there is also another tab for Services. Click it and check "Hide All Microsoft Services" option. This option will display you list of third party services. Uncheck the services that are not undesirable. As usual you have to reboot to apply the changes on startup.

3. Adjust Display Settings

XP has a very cool looking user interface, but it consumes a certain amount of memory. To make it a little lightweight you have to:
  • Right click My Computer and select Properties
  • Click the Advanced tab
  • Go to Performance>Settings (have to click settings button in the performance section)
  • Uncheck all except:
    Use visual styles on windows and buttons
    Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
    Show translucent selection rectangle
    Show shadows under mouse pointer
    Show shadows under menus
  • Finally click Apply and OK

4. Remove Widgets and Background

Note: Skip this section if you would like to keep your custom skins.
Different third party widgets and visual styles like for Vista like look and feel make your system slow. If you remove such packages you system will perform better on CPU and memory intensive tasks. Selecting default and no wallpaper as background also gives better performance than that of heavy wallpapers.

5. Folder Browsing

When you try to browse folder Windows XP automatically searches for printer and network files. This is a performance overhead. To fix this you have to follow following steps:
  • Open My Computer
  • Click Tools>Folder Options
  • Select the View tab and unselect the check box for Automatically search for network folders and printers
  • Click Apply then OK and finally reboot to apply the change.
6. Indexing Service

Windows XP comes with a very heavy and not so good "Indexing Service". The service "claims" to makes indexes of different files on computer so that it is easy to search when required. The service consumes a large amount of memory, and it has no major advantage either. To disable it you have to:
  • Go to Start>Control Panel
  • Double click Add or Remove programs.
  • Select Add/Remove Windows Components, a new dialogue, as shown in the figure, will appear.
  • Uncheck the Indexing Service, if not already unchecked
  • Click Next to finalize

7. Size of Page File

Page file size is not constant by default. Due to this operating system has to resize the file each time when more space is required, this is a performance overhead. All you have to do is to set the file size to a reasonable limit. Follow the steps:
  • Right click My Computer, Select Properties then Advanced tab
  • Click the settings button under the performance section
  • Click the Advanced tab
  • Click Change button under the Virtual memory section
  • "Virtual Memory" dialogue will appear (also shown in the figure below)
  • Highlight the drive containing page file, which is C: by default
  • Select the Custom size radio button and give same values in Initial size and Maximum size fields.
  • Click Set and OK buttons to apply the changes

9. Enable Direct Memory Access (DMA)

Go to:
  • Right Click My Computer, select properties
  • Select the Hardware tab
  • Click the Device Manager button
  • Double click IDE/ATAPI controllers
  • Keep on checking if DMA is enabled for each, you have to double click each option click Advanced Settings tab (as shown in figure) The tab may or may not be available for each option. It is only available in Primary and Secondary Channels.
  • Set the transfer mode to "DMA if Available" both for Device 1 and 0
  • Perform the same operation for other items in the list, if applicable.
Note: All of these techniques may not be available to you depending on you access rights on the system. Contact your system administrator in this regard.

Source: Mobilepedia


Lovin OS X
First off, id like to say that, that was a great guide. I would like to add one thing though:

A fresh install of XP always works to speed up your computer


MD Party Room
Or if you like a little short cut... Use Tiny Xp and trim out the fat..
Pretty much. The guy behind TinyXP essentially went crazy, taking pretty much everything out to create a bare minimum XP install. I find it's best to use nLite (XP) or vLite (Vista) to create your own install disc with your favorite software and burn that to a disc. That way, a reformat becomes as simple as rebooting your PC with the install disc inside.
Seeing as this thread got a bump, I though i'd share this little program with you. It will allow you to shut off these unnecessary programs for a speed boost temporarily and restore it to full functionality later. It's really good for games, I find. So, if you want to keep all the flashy Aero effects and various features of Windows, while maximizing performance in other situations, it's a great tool. Enjoy.