There are numerous things that can be done on a regular basis to ensure a PC is running at peak performance with the operating system. Clean out of the box any version of Windows does not install as optimized as it could be. To the typical end user the operating system acts and behaves fine; to the more experienced user there are areas left not optimized resulting in bottlenecks while launching or using installed applications. The entire focus of this blog will explain all of the main components that are left non-optimized and what you can do to get an extra kick of performance from your Windows system.
The following lists summarizes some things that can be done to optimize a Windows XP system:
- Turn Off System Restore Functions.
- Turn off Indexing Services
- Use The Desktop Cleanup Wizard
- Disable Redundant Windows System Services
- Remove Unneeded Start Applications Using MSCONFIG
- Turn off Automatic Updates.
- Disable Windows Themes.
- Use MSCONFIG To Disable Redundant Programs and Windows Services.
- Scan For Spyware And Malware
- Scan For Virus and Worms
- Remove Temporary Internet Files
- Upgrade To The Latest Version of Direct X
Key Terms and Definitons
The following key terms and definitions are present in this blog:
|Device Driver||A device driver is a set of files that allow a hardware device to function properly within the operating system.|
|Windows XP Professional||The professional edition of Microsoft’s most widely used operating system. Windows XP adds a number of components not include with the Home release of Windows XP and is typically more suited for experienced or power user.|
|Windows XP Home||The home edition of Microsoft’s operating system designed especially with home users in mind. This version of Windows XP lacks the advanced options and capabilities found in the professional edition.|
|Power User||A technical term that refers to a type of user account that can be configured on any Windows XP Professional computer; it’s also a techie term referring to one who maximizes their computer’s performance so that it runs faster and better than originally designed for.|
|Windows Registry||A large database of Windows configuration settings that control every aspect of the operating system’s functions. This central database ensures that all software, settings, and related functions are recorded in a format understood by Windows. When some refers to the phrase “modifying the Windows system registry”, they are simply referring to the actual process of adding or deleting entries within the registry database itself.|
|Database||A collection of tables that house a variety of fields specific to the type of database being created. A field is a collection of records containing information. Once inputted into the database, data can can be sorted and quieried based on external user input.|
Turn Off System Restore Functions.
System Restore is a function introduced with the release of Windows Millennium edition to help put a system back in working order when problems arise with the operating system. Although System Restore works well for minor glitches in the operating system, it’s not suitable for resolving complex problems associated with Windows. You will need something stronger to deal with virus and spyware infections. It is however, a great solution for the beginner user who is not experienced enough to troubleshoot Windows system problems. The main drawback behind System Restore is that it does tie up a fair amount of memory and hard drive space even though it is not noticeably running in the background. These hiccups inevitably causes a system to work overtime to complete tasks, thus slowing down other processes. To reclaim the wasted processing juice, you may want to consider disabling system restore.
- Right-click the My Computer icon.
- From the drop down menu, left click Properties.
- Left click the System Protection tab.
- Left click the System Restore button.
- On this Window, you can disable System Restore functions in Windows 7.
Turn off Indexing Services
Windows includes an indexing service that can be used to catalog every file on your hard drive, similar to the way you’ve cataloged your CD or DVD titles. The primary advantage to indexing the contents of an entire hard drive makes searching for a particular file a fast procedure, particularly useful if your hard drive contains a large amount of files and folders. The indexing service does take up precious system resources, and is beneficial only if you are doing multiple searches for a specific file or searching to find keywords in the contents of your files. If you’re not particular about how fast a search should take in Windows, you can safely disable the indexing service, to help speed up other operations.
To disable indexing/search functions within Windows follow these instructions:
- Left click the Start Orb.
- Left click the Computer shortcut on the Windows Start Menu.
On this Window you can view information about the storage devices installed on the computer. Right click Local Disk (C:) and from the drop-down menu that appears left click the Properties item.
- The properties window for Local Disk (C:) appears. This information is useful as it shows you how much disk space is used on the drive, and how much free space exists. It also shows the type of disk and the file system it uses.
To disable indexing/search functions un-check the box “Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.” This instructs Windows to turn off file indexing and remove attributes for stored files. The process may take a few minutes after left clicking the Apply button.
4. There is another step that can be completed in order to maximize the efficiency of the operation completed in the previous step. Turning off the Windows Search function will completely disable the indexing functions within the operating system.
5. Left click Start.
6. In the search box type the command services and press Enter or left click the program name.
7. This will start the Windows Services Configuration Utility.
8. Locate the Windows Search service and double left click to bring up its properties.
There are four control buttons used to activate or deactivate a service on this Window. If you want to Stop the service left click the Stop button. If you want to completely disable the service and prevent it from running in the future, left click the Disable option in the Startup Type selection dialog. Windows will proceed to stop the service as indicated in Figure 2.1 shown below.
Windows XP includes a feature known as the Desktop Cleanup Wizard, useful for deleting shortcuts to programs that you no longer use. Each icon on your desktop takes up a small amount of memory and multiple unused icons can lead to a bit of confusion when trying to locate a program you use on a regular basis. The desktop cleanup wizard is an excellent tool for clearing up a cluttered desktop.The Desktop Cleanup Wizard helps you keep your desktop free of the shortcuts that you do not use.
The Desktop Cleanup Wizard periodically checks the desktop for unused shortcuts (anything not used in the last 60 days) and provides an easy way to remove those shortcuts without harming the installed program.This feature is configured to run automatically every 60 days.If you want to access this feature, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Display, click the Desktop tab, click Customize Desktop, and then click Desktop Cleanup. This feature is available only in Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional.When the Desktop Cleanup Wizard runs, it places unused shortcuts into a folder on the desktop called Unused Desktop Shortcuts. However, if you want, these shortcuts can be recovered from this folder. The Desktop Cleanup Wizard is triggered by a scheduled task. The scheduled task runs once a day and checks the registry to see if it has been 60 days since the wizard has run.
All versions of Windows include components known as system services that provide added functionality for the operating system. Such services include components for using local area networks and the Internet, but most services the average home PC user will never use, and can safely disable to increase the performance of the Windows operating system.This document is intended to introduce you to some basic concepts associated with Windows system services. It explains which services can be safely disabled and which ones are imperative for the proper functioning of the Windows operating system.
The key benefit of disabling unneeded system services is an extra increase in performance, which results in applications loading faster and higher system stability.Before disabling system services, it is imperative that you understand what a service is and what consequences exist if you choose to disable a specific Windows service.The first thing you can do to make XP quicker deals with the configuration of services. But first you need to know a little bit about what services are and how XP uses them as disabling required system services might make a computer inoperable. In its most basic sense, a service is a utility built into XP that runs in the background without affecting your work, yet it performs a specific function such as contacting a DNS server to resolve a host name. Microsoft incorporated a few rather useless services that most average home users will never use and as such these unused services are leaving holes in the security of a system. These services can also tie up a fair amount of CPU and memory usage.
MSCONFIG (or System Configuration as known in Windows 7) is the acronym for Microsoft System Configuration Utility, a small program intended to help you troubleshoot computer or Windows problems. It can be a great tool for disabling unused programs and applications starting up when Windows boots. It’s great to determine if spyware has infected your system but does not remove infections.
Windows Automatic Updates is a service built into Windows that automatically downloads and installs security patches and hotfixes from the Microsoft Windows Update website. Turning off the automatic feature will help speed up your computer for other system processes.You can always update your computer manually by visiting Microsoft Windows Updates website.
Windows Themes changes the way windows and other objects look. If you are not particular about the way Windows looks you can safely disable the themes module to improve system performance. Windows will revert back to the way it looks in previous versions of Windows including 2000, ME, and Windows 98.Microsoft Windows XP comes with a lot of visual enhancements programmed into it. Visual effects, such as smooth edges of the windows, transition effects when opening or closing a window, a Start menu with well-rounded corners and so much more can make even your experience with XP really pleasurable. These enhancements, although fancy-looking, do take a heavy toll on your system resources at times. If you own a monster PC with a 3.0+ GHz processor and around 2 GB of RAM, chances are that you will not even notice the slowdown. However, if your system is low on RAM, say around 512 MB or even 1 GB, you may at times notice a decline in system performance rate. For instance, the Start menu may take a few extra seconds to open or the PC may freeze up for just a moment when you are opening the Windows Explorer or closing a window. These are telltale signs that your PC may be struggling a bit to keep up with all the fancy graphical enhancements that Windows XP has to offer. It is high time that you disabled all that resource-hogging eye candy to free up precious system resources.
Spyware is commonly referred to as any software application that attempts to deliver unsolicited advertising based on websites the end user visits. Spyware is also commonly referred to as malware, adware, scumware, and nastyware. It gets these labels because of the intrusiveness of the software and how it has been designed.Spyware is software designed to track your personal information including the websites you visit, how often you visit a particular site, as well as various types of data that fuel the advertising engines in the particular software.
Spyware will track your surfing, send the collected information back to a central server, and the central server communicates with the software to deliver advertisements to an infected PC. The end result is nothing but intrusive, unwanted, and often annoying advertisements and often malware infections.The first defense against any type of spyware or virus attack is software protection, detection, and removal. There are a variety of different anti virus and anti-spyware applications available. Some programs are free, while others require a paid subscription to get updates from manufacturer’s in order to be protected from the newest types of spyware and virus threats.Spyware causes heavy bottlenecks within a Windows system and as a result makes it impossible to complete the most ordinary style tasks such as checking e-mail or surfing the Web.
A computer virus is a program designed to spread to other computers.A virus will infect primarily executable files (the type of file that launches software applications or tasks) but can also embed itself in e-mails and some type of data files. When the infected program or code is launched, it places copies of itself in even more programs. While most viruses are designed to simply multiply, some also are designed to perform undesirable actions such as deleting vital data on the host computer. Viruses can spread any time a file is shared between computers, whether by floppy disk, CD-ROM, e-mail attachment or across a network. Viruses can infect thousands of computers within a matter of hours.Computer viruses earn their name because they can self-replicate like biological viruses, but computer viruses have no place in nature. These programs are developed and deliberately spread among the public by devious programmers.The sensational nature of viruses makes them a media favorite over other threats to your data such as faulty hardware, software conflicts and software bugs. One antivirus researcher said you have more to fear from a spilled cup of coffee than from viruses. While this may be true, the malicious nature of some viruses warrants special attention.
Junk files are inevitable when working in a Windows based environment. These files include temporary Internet files that accumulate through a Web browser, or files left over by orphaned or uninstalled programs. Whichever situation that may occur, junk files will eat up storage space on your computer’s hard drive and eventually cause fragmentation of all files on a hard drive. When fragmentation occurs files are spread out in a severely unorganized manner. Contents of files and directories are scattered across across multiple locations on a hard drive’s internal platters, which causes Windows to work overtime to complete the most simplest of tasks. Defragmentation is a process that works by reorganizing the contents and locations of files for quicker access. Defragmentation helps put things back in normal order to speed up the responsiveness of your Windows operating system.
DirectX is a set of Microsoft system tools that sets out a foundation for the multimedia platform found within any Windows operating system. Whether you are editing digital video or playing back a DVD movie, ensuring that your system is equipped with the latest Direct X drivers is crucial to a smooth Windows multimedia system.