10 Tips To Speed Up The Performance Of Windows XP

Still Using Windows XP? Why??

If you are reading this article, I suppose you are still using Windows XP at this very moment. I hope you know that Windows 7 is already out and if you have heard of anything bad about Microsoft Windows Vista, fred not, cause Windows 7 is seriously a lot better than Windows Vista.

For us, we still have customers using Windows XP and their reasons are:-

  • “why spend extra when everything is working fine?”
  • “it’s working with my current hardware and software, so no reason to  introduce unforeseeable problems into our environment”
  • “we are comfortable with Windows XP so no point wasting time to learn anything new”

As you can see, the bottomline is the inertia to upgrade and the mentality of “don’t fix when ain’t broken”.

If Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

There are actually tonnes of reasons for you to upgrade to Windows 7, which we’ll probably list in another article, but for now, if the users are  still comfortable with Windows XP and don’t intend to upgrade any time sooner, the only thing we can help is to improve the performance of Windows XP so that it can run as good as new (new as in the time when they bought their system then…)

So, for those who are still using Windows XP, you can do the following to  enhance your Windows XP eXPerience:-

  1. Defragment your hard disks
    • Even if you have a fresh installation of XP, you should regularly defragment all your system’s physical hard disks.
    • To run the system defragmenter, use the defrag command or run dfrg.msc.
    • I recommend doing so at least once a month, however, do note that you should not be running any other program, including your screen saver, when you are  running the defragmentation program.
  2. Periodically clear the Prefetch folder
    • Found at %Windows%\prefetch, the prefetch folder contains pointers that help the system load programs that you’ve recently run. Over time, the accumulation of little-used entries can degrade system performance.
    • Empty this folder about once a month; Do note that cleaning it out much more often will degrade performance.
  3. Disable unneeded services
    • By default, XP installs services that many users don’t need. Disabling unnecessary services makes the resources that they used available to other applications.
    • You can use the Msconfig utility’s Services tab to disable services.
  4. Get rid of unneeded Startup programs
    • Programs that automatically install icons in the system tray and Startup folder are those you need to look out for. Although they usually add no functionality, they do eat away at system resources.
    • To get rid of these parasites, run Msconfig, click the Startup tab, and clear the check box for each program you want to disable.
  5. Adjust the Visual Effects setting
    • For systems that don’t have a lot of CPU power (less than 800MHz), you can boost screen performance by changing the Visual Effects settings.
    • Open the Control Panel System applet, click the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Performance area, then select the “Adjust for best performance” option.
  6. Preset the paging file size
    • When your system needs more memory than it has, Windows expands the paging file and all other system functions stop until the expansion is complete.
    • Setting the maximum paging file size to twice the amount of physical RAM typically lets you avoid that performance hit.
    • Open the System applet, select the Advanced tab, and click the Settings button under Performance. In the Performance Options window, select the Advanced tab, then click Change under “Virtual memory”. Enter the desired maximum paging file size in the “Maximum size” field.
  7. Get a second hard disk
    • With today’s high performance systems, the performance bottleneck is almost always the I/O subsystem. Spreading I/O over multiple hard disks relieves that choke point.
    • Put your OS on one drive and your applications on the other.
    • Adding a drive also helps you keep the recommended 20 percent free space on your system drive.
  8. Use the DMA setting for all your hard disks
    • When you add a second hard disk, XP often automatically sets it to the slowest Programmed I/O (PIO) mode. Most of today’s drives are capable of using the far more efficient direct memory access (DMA) setting.
    • To change the drive settings, open the System applet, click the Hardware tab, then click Device Manager. Expand “IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers” and open the properties of the Primary IDE Channel. Select the Advanced Settings tab, and select “DMA if available” from the Transfer Mode drop-down list under both Device 0 and Device 1.
  9. Paging File Location
    • If you use a two-drive system, you can enhance performance by moving the paging file I/O to a different disk spindle than the one the OS uses.
    • To do so, open the System applet, select the Advanced tab, and click the Settings button under Performance.
    • Select the Advanced tab in the new window, click Change under “Virtual memory,” and select your system’s second drive from the Drive list.
  10. Get more RAM
    • Getting an adequate amount of RAM is the most effective way to improve XP’s performance. If you don’t have enough RAM, no amount of tweaking will make your system run faster.
    • Every XP system should have a minimum of 512MB of RAM. For power users, 2048MB is even better.

So, this sums up what you need to do to improve the performance of your Windows XP system. If you have any other tips, do feel free to comment below.

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