Speedup Windows XP in Minutes!

in Technology, Windows

Windows XP

It's not always wise to upgrade your hardware every time you feel your computer is getting slow. In fact, Microsoft's operating systems slow down a PC when you have lots of programs installed. In this tutorial I will tell you some easy tricks to get most out of your hardware.

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 continuously use processor. 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 an 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 restarting your computer a dialogue will be displayed. You can check the option for not showing this dialogue every time your PC reboots.


2. Disable Extra Services

On 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 undesirable. As usual you have to reboot to apply the changes.

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

Display Settings

4. Remove Widgets and Background

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 "high quality" wallpapers.  

5. Folder Browsing

When you try to browse folder, Windows 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 your computer so that they can be retrieved easily. 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

Indexing Services

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

If your system has a sufficiently large memory (1 or 2 GB) then you can even disable paging.

Page File

8. 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.


page file

Windows just has the paging file set so as not to crash. The major problem comes when windows decides that it needs to increase the size of its paging file. This process can take over a minute, and is, by definition (because the paging file is full), when u need the memory most, and so seriously slows down ur computer, just as ur running some important memory intensive program. So setting it to a constant size stops windows from dynamically adjusting it all the time.
I always found that my computer ran better if i just stopped windows using a paging file at all if possible, but obviously u need to have enough ram to cope with whatever memory requirements u have from there on. I have 1Gb and this is probably enough unless ur running memory intensive software like graphics editting packages, memory intensive games or editting a lot of video. Bear in mind that some software (especially certain games) need a paging file and sometimes just quit without telling u why if u don't have one.

Oh, and I still use IDE ports for for two of my hard disks. I didn't see any point in chucking out perfectly good 120 and 200gb hard drives.

Tip #7 is bogus

tip #7 is bogus. Never set a maximum page file size.

You should set the page file to be managed by the OS. If you must tweak it at all, set the minimum to be bigger than you ever expect to need, and let the maximum be your entire disk.

Windows will only expand the pagefile if you use up all the initial space. Random things will start crashing with out of memory errors if you set a limit that prevents expansion. Sure, resizing the pagefile can be a bit slow, but at least your programs will continue to run.

If windows expands the pagefile, only the expanded part will be fragmented. Next time you reboot, the pagefile will revert to its original size and will no longer be fragmented. Furthermore, the pagefile is not accessed in a sequential manner. The disk has to seek all over the place regardless of whether the page file is fragmented.

But don't take my word for it:
There is a great deal of myth surrounding this question. Two big fallacies are:
* The file should be a fixed size so that it does not get fragmented, with minimum and maximum set the same
* The file should be 2.5 times the size of RAM (or some other multiple)

Important: Once the page file is contigious, it cannot become fragmented on a healthy drive. This includes page files that are “dynamic”

Any "expert" that has told you the page file becomes fragmented due to "expansion" has an incomplete understanding of what the page file is, what the page file does, and how the page file functions. To make this as simple as possible, here's what actually happens, and exactly how the "fragmented page file" myth got started:

Here's another good list of myths:

good advice, plus here's my little additions..

I have done most of the above before and they do help a lot. Thanks for the new ones! Other indispensable changes include:
-Using windows firewall or no software firewall at all vs a third party one (but you definitely want a hardware firewall - like the router on your dsl or cable modem, with a non-default password on it).
-Uninstalling bloatware antivirus like mcafee or norton in favor of AVG (google 'avg free'). Faster and better.
-DrTCP! If you go to broadbandreports.com, you can do a 'tweak test' to see what settings to use for this tiny little program. It can tremendously increase internet speed if 'RWIN' settings are too low, or increase accuracy if they are too high. Default is usually much too low..

...you know...

you know, not all of us have the money to go out and buy all new hard drives, motherboards or adapter cards, etc. every time that a new interface comes along...

(@ meh)

xD you rock!

xD you rock!


This is so bogus. Most of them are common knowledge, and if you don't know about them, then you really don't have a need to be messing around under the hood of your system. Number 9 is worthless... IDE?? Come on... The comment about not having the money tells me you are what? 13? Any adult that can't afford $500 (for mobo, cpu, whatever) really should think about leaving McDonalds and getting a real job. Loser...

Oh yeah,

To add to my comments about the McDonalds working losers... Don't mess with the page file SIZE. Disable it altogether. Coming from an adult with a real job, I have enough memory to not need a page file on disk. Lock the kernel into RAM, THEN watch XP fly. All you need is 1Gb for a casual user and 2Gb for a heavy user. Talk about hauling a@@!

sorry hate to tell you- if

sorry hate to tell you- if you are accessing large files and large file volumes and you disable your page file you will go insanely fast to a CRASH! The important thing is to give yourself double the physical memory and ALWAYS fix the size- minimum and maximum must match.

but DEFRAG FIRST so that the page file isn't split amongst sectors or you will end up with issues later

page file

Hundreds upon thousands of Windows programs will fail instantly with bizarre errors if you disable the page file. Personally, I'm a "heavy user", and on my 1GB system, I'll have typically anywhere from 2.5GB to 8GB committed. My girlfriend is a very "casual" user, and typically has anywhere from 1.5GB to 4GB committed.

You, sir, are a moron. :)

better idea

Better idea, run all the programs that you will commonly use, and take a look at your commit charge.

Set the swap file so that it starts equal to (Commit Charge - physical RAM + around 512MB or so). Allow it to extend, if needed.

So, my system, which maxes around 8GB commit, and has only 1GB physical, has an 8GB swap file, and if I find myself going farther, it will still make more , but there's no reason for me (with a limited amount of disk space) to give up an extra 2GB that I wouldn't be using most of the time.