Windows XP is the world’s most widely used operating system. But it’s by no means perfect. Many XP users will at some time experience the nuisance which is a slow computer. But apart from upgrading your hardware (or just buying a Mac), there are several key tweaks you can perform on your system which are pretty much guaranteed to increase its speed and performance. Typically, they involve turning-off, or reducing the resources dedicated to, non-essential processes like fancy graphics and transitions.
Here are our top 5 performance tweaks for Windows XP:
- Start Windows XP faster, by managing which programs are set to run at start-up. Have you noticed that Windows takes ages to finish loading when you turn on your computer? You may well be able to fix this with a utility called msconfig. Click Start Button > Run > and enter msconfig in the text box. Visiting the Startup tab will allow you to disable automatic startup for lots of programs on your computer. Be careful not to deselect critical items like your anti-virus software!
- Get rid of visual effects to speed up your desktop. Visual effects look nice but they can be a real drag on an under-powered system. To reduce their impact, go to Control Panel > System and open the Advanced tab, then Performance > Settings. Then just select the option Adjust for best performance. Using this tweak will make your system look more like Windows 2000 than XP – but it’ll run so much quicker!
- Defragment your hard disk. Your system is constantly accessing your disk, and for various reasons, large files (particularly the pagefile) can be ‘split’ or fragmented into various different physical locations on the disk. This doesn’t damage the files but it can seriously reduce performance. Check out Nick’s post selecting the best disk defragmenters for more information.
- Disable system sounds and wallpaper. OK, this may sound a bit drastic but how long do you really spend looking at that Anna Kournikova/Brad Pitt wallpaper each day. Actually, don’t answer that. Wallpapers and system sounds actually use a lot of system resources, particularly at startup. Go back to the Control Panel, select Sound and Audio Devices > Sounds and under Sound scheme, pick No Sounds. Once that’s done, open the Control Panel again and then click Display > Background and choose None. You’ll notice the improvement immediately!
- Turn off the Windows Indexing Service. If you’re constantly searching your system for documents, this isn’t recommended. But if, like the rest of us, you use the search function pretty rarely, disabling the Windows Indexing Service will improve performance. From the Control Panel, go to Add/Remove Programs > Windows Components. Deselect Indexing Service.
Once you’ve applied these tweaks, restart your computer for a new beginning of faster, more efficient computing!