Boost your XP

 The tips below might not be everything you can do to boost your Windows XP performance, but hopefully they will be useful one way or another.

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:

Go to Start > Run
Type “msconfig”, without quotations
Hit enter key or click the OK button
A window will show up where you have to click the startup tab, 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.

(Do NOT disable anything that's related to your AntiVirus, Personal Firewall etc.)

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

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 the 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. Disable Indexing Services

Indexing Services is a small little program that uses large amounts of RAM and can often make a computer endlessly loud and noisy. This system process indexes and updates lists of all the files that are on your computer. It does this so that when you do a search for something on your computer, it will search faster by scanning the index lists. If you don’t search your computer often, or even if you do search often, this system service is completely unnecessary.

To disable do the following:

1. Go to Start
2. Click Settings
3. Click Control Panel
4. Double-click Add/Remove Programs
5. Click the Add/Remove Window Components
6. Uncheck the Indexing services
7. Click Next

7. Speedup Folder Access - Disable Last Access Update

If you have a lot of folders and subdirectories on your computer, when you access a directory XP wastes a lot of time updating the time stamp showing the last access time for that directory and for ALL sub directories. To stop XP doing this you need to edit the registry. If you are uncomfortable doing this then please do not attempt.Go to Start and then Run and type “regedit“Click through the file system until you get to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem“

Right-click in a blank area of the window on the right and select ‘DWORD Value’
Create a new DWORD Value called ‘NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate’ Then Right click on the new value and select ‘Modify’
Change the Value Data to 1 then Click ‘OK’

8. Improve Boot Times

A great new feature in Microsoft Windows XP is the ability to do a boot defragment. This places all boot files next to each other on the disk to allow for faster booting. By default this option in enables but on some builds it is not so below is how to turn it on.Go to Start Menu and Click RunType in “Regedit” then click ok
Find “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\BootOpt imizeFunction“
Select “Enable” from the list on the rightRight on it and select “Modify“. Change the value to “Y to enable” then reboot

9. Improve SWAPFILE Performance

If you have more than 256MB of RAM this tweak will considerably improve your performance. It basically makes sure that your PC uses every last drop of memory (faster than swap file) before it starts using the swap file.

Go to Start then Run, Type “msconfig.exe” then click ok. Click on the System.ini tab. Expand the 386enh tab by clicking on the plus sign. Click on new then in the blank box and type ”ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1“
Click OK then reboot your PC

10. Ensure Windows is using DMA mode

XP enables DMA for Hard-Drives and CD-Roms by default on most ATA or ATAPI (IDE) devices. However, sometimes computers switch to PIO mode which is slower for data transfer - a typical reason is because of a virus.

To ensure that your machine is using DMA:

1. Open ‘Device Manager’
2. Double-click ‘IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers’
3. Right-click ‘Primary Channel’ and select ‘Properties’ and then ‘Advanced Settings’
4. In the ‘Current Transfer Mode’ drop-down box, select ‘DMA if Available’ if the current setting is ‘PIO Only’

11. Improve Windows Shutdown Speed

This tweak reduces the time XP waits before automatically closing any running programs when you give it the command to shutdown.

Go to Start then select Run, Type ”Regedit” and click ok
Find ”HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\”

Select ”WaitToKillAppTimeout”. Right click it and select ”Modify”. Change the value to ‘1000‘ then click ‘OK’

Now select ‘HungAppTimeout‘, Right click and select ‘Modify‘, Change the value to ‘1000‘ and Click ‘OK’

Now find ‘HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop‘

Select ‘WaitToKillAppTimeout‘, Right click and select ‘Modify‘, Change the value to ‘1000‘ then Click ‘OK’

Now find ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\‘

Select ‘WaitToKillServiceTimeout‘, Right click and select ‘Modify‘, Change the value to ‘1000‘, then Click ‘OK’

12. Clear PageFile at Shutdown

First , go to Start , in XP click on RUN. When the command box or search box, type REGEDIT and click on OK. This will bring up your registry.
Once the registry is on your screen, find:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\ Memory Management

Double-click on the "ClearPageFileAtShutdown" key, which is at the top of the page and allot value 1 to this key, and reboot your computer.

(This saves a huge space on your Windows drive. And if you keep your pagefile on a separate physical drive from the rest of your OS and Apps, it will give a small speed boost.)

13. Disable Hibernation if Not Needed

Go to your Control Panel, double click "Power Options", select Hibernate tab then uncheck  the checkbox if "Enable hibernation"

(This saves a huge space on your Windows drive)

14. Disable "Last Access" Timestamp

By default whenever XP reads a file, it also stamps the file with the current date and time - the "access" time. This functionality is not required for normal use unless you rely on the date of last access for searching for files or perhaps for backup reasons. When XP Timestamps a file that has just been read, it also  means that a write operation also has to be executed to disk in order to update the timestamp. That means every "read" also turns into a "write", which slows down the process of reading files!

To resolve this, Run a command prompt (START -> All Programs -> Accessories). At the command prompt, enter the following then reboot;

            FSUTIL behavior set disablelastaccess 1

(please note that the above spelling is correct - it's american).

If you need to turn timestamping on again, use the same  the command and replace the 1 with 0.

15. Memory Management: Kernel Paging and Cache Tuning

(This is only advisable on systems with extremely large amounts of RAM)

The "DisablePagingExecutive" entry in the registry prevents the kernel (the core of the XP Operating System) from being written out to the page file. The page file is a permanent file on disk used as a temporary memory store - which effectively increases the working size of your PC memory by several times. The effect of this element of the tweak is to cause Windows to cache the Kernel permanently in RAM instead of on disk, which makes XP significantly more responsive.

Alongside this, The "LargeSystemCache" registry entry forces XP to allocate all but 4MB of system memory (i.e. memory pre-allocated for use by the system, rather than program data) to caching the system files. The remaining 4MB of system memory is used for disk caching, though XP will allocate more memory if it is needed.

This works to speed up your computer because it is faster to read data from memory than it is from disk, perhaps by as much as 50 times. By default XP doesn't keep all the system files it needs to run in memory, but reads them from disk as required, and caches the files that are being used the most. However, with this setting you are forcing XP to keep those system files in memory - and so access to them is very fast indeed. What's more, in situations where you have lots of spare RAM, it's forcing windows to use up some of that RAM that it otherwise might be keeping "for a rainy day" - i.e. might otherwise not get used.

Bear in mind that some disk-intensive applications may see a drop in performance from changing the LargeSystemCache, because implementing a large System Cache may reduce the available disk data cache. If you find this is the case on your system, simply set the the "Memory Usage" setting back to "Programs". This also applies to systems running SQL Server (or other databases such as Oracle), Internet Information Server (IIS) and some video editing systems, because these handle caching for themselves.

Start regedit and navigate to the following key:

            [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management]

Add these two lines, save the changes and reboot;



Note that you don't have to edit the registry to change the "LargeSystemCache" setting. In fact on XP you can  change this by going to My Computer -> Properties -> Advanced -> [Performance] Settings -> Advanced -> Memory Usage and set the value to "System" rather than "Programs".

Once of the effects you should see from this performance enhancement is that memory hungry applications are very quick to reload on your system if you have already used them once. (E.g. Adobe Photoshop, Microsfot Office).