Tuesday, August 05, 2008

10 Ways to Fine Tune Windows XP

Now a day, if your installed programs are running slower, if your Windows XP taking more time to boot, if your windows explorer is making you to wait longer before it shows up, then its time for you to wear a spy hat and do some serious investigation to catch out why Windows is shambling.

1. Check in memory processes.
Hold CTRL+SHIFT and press ESC key, The Windows Task Manager will appear. Click on “Processes” tab. Sort entries on “Mem Usage” by pressing it. Find out which one is taking more memory. Usually ignore all ‘svchost.exe’ process because they are good candidates working solely for windows. Other process names should give clear hint about the application they belong to. Sometimes when you don’t get a clue, open Windows File or Folder Search, enter the same process name and find out its location. The folder structure will certainly help you know about its parent application. Depending on the importance of the application you can take appropriate action. You can turn off process from parent application preferences or uninstall it.

2. Missing Drivers
Improper version of hardware drivers installed for the devices could slow down windows activity. Upgrade driver to newer version.

Usually windows installs default driver if it does not find the right one. The default driver may not utilize extra or complete features of hardware device which could result in good performance. It is recommended to install windows signed drivers received from hardware vendors.

3. Start up processes
Check start up processes registered in Windows Startup items list. Press WINDOWS+R and type “msconfig” in Run command, hit enter or OK button. Go to “Startup” tab to see all startup items listed. You can uncheck those you feel are unimportant. Also make sure you have less icons sitting in System Tray. If they are more, take a little time to think which are important to have and remove the rest.

4. Remove XP skin
Many people like Windows XP Theme and apply it as their default scheme. If you are one of them and also expecting faster response, time for you to compromise with visually pleasing part of Windows XP. Disable Windows Theme service. Press WINDOWS+R and type “services.msc” and set “Themes” service startup type to manual, click stop, wait till the service stops and press OK.

5. System Restore
To recover system from unstable state, Windows XP provides System Restore utility. This utility runs in background and creates multiple restore points whenever new software is installed. After few months, the utility end up creating many restore-points and make Windows perform slower. Turn off system restore option if you are not depending on this feature greatly.

6. Windows Indexing Service
How many times you use Windows Files and folders search utility in a week? If your usage is very minimal then you could safely turn off Indexing Service running in background as service. Go to services (WINDOWS+R and Type “Services.msc”) and set this service startup type to manual.

7. Page File
This tune up is useful for those who are having more than one Hard Disk Drive (HDD) in their machine. You can move Windows page file to another hard drive. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307886
The new Hard Drive Controllers (HDC) are capable of doing read/write on multiple hard disks at a time. You will find windows being swift when you set page file to different drive.

8. Clean ‘Your Temp Folder’ and Defrag C: Drive
Clean up “temp” folder created for your account by Windows. Browse here to reach your private “temp” folder. C:\Documents and Settings\[your login name]\Local Settings\Temp and Delete all files.
Running disk defragmenter once in a month will sure help Windows to organize files and read/write them faster.

9. Install any new software with minimal required options selected
Careful when you are installing any new software. Don't be lazy to opt for advanced setup option when installation process offer it. Go for advanced setup option and select only the required components and unselect additional promotions. For example, if you are installing Nero 7 Deluxe software, it offers bunch of other good utilities like Audio Editor, Movie Editor, Indexing service and many more. If your intention is to get only the CD Burning feature, select only that and uncheck the rest. This will not only save space on your hard drive also contributes to windows run smoother.

10. Service Pack and driver updates
This is most important. Windows SP3 is the latest service pack available for Windows XP till date. Download and Install it if you have not done it yet. Also visit all your hardware vendor web site and look for latest driver downloads for your hardware devices and upgrade your existing drivers. The new driver updates may have performance tune up or bug fixes which will help windows set right and keep healthy.

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