Personally, I don’t see the point in upgrading your hardware if your computer does everything you need it to. However, sometimes it’s nice to improve what you already have. In this guide we will learn how to make the most out of the hardware you have and make windows XP run faster. (Here’s a similar list for Windows Vista and for Windows 7.)
1. Defragment Your Hard Disk
Imagine you are in a shopping mall, and the person you are with wants to visit fifteen different shops. However, this person ends up walking you up and down the mall six times. Does that make sense? Of course not – as human beings, we like to do things in order to save time.
When your hard drive becomes fragmented, it is literally wasting time by looking in all kinds of places on the disk for all of the pieces of one file. Defragmenting your drive is a great solution to speed up your computer as it puts all the files together in order.
• Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
• Click the drives you want to defrag and click Analyze
• Click Defragment
2. Defragment you Hard Disk on Boot
To make windows XP start more quickly, you can defragment your boot files. This will decrease the time it takes for your computer to boot.
Boot defragment should be enabled by default; however, it might not be enabled on your computer. To ensure that boot defragment is enabled:
• Hold the Windows Key and press R.
• Type in Regedit
• Go to
• Ensure the Enable string value is set as Y
• Exit the Registry
3. Detect and Repair Disk Errors
Over time, your hard disk develops bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing difficult or even impossible. To detect and repair disk errors, Windows has a built-in tool called the Error Checking utility. It’ll search the hard disk for bad sectors and system errors and repair them for faster performance.
• Follow Start > My Computer
• In My Computer right-click the hard disk you want to scan and click Properties
• Click the Tools tab
• Click Check Now
• Select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box
• Click Start
4. Use a Flash Memory to Boost Performance
Windows Vista comes with ReadyBoost; Windows XP does not have a tool like this – that’s why we’ll need eBoostr. eBoostr uses a USB thumb drive to create an extra cache of the most commonly used data.
Solid state memory (what your USB drive uses) has excellent transfer speeds; therefore, it can be used to store and access data that is needed quickly. Unlike RAM, the data is stored on your thumb drive and can be used next time you use your computer — a great time saver.
• Plug in a flash drive
• Windows XP will use eBoostr to utilize the flash memory to improve performance.
• Your drive will be configured and you are good to go. Don’t expect miracles – but stick with it and your computer will begin to perform more efficiently.
5. Optimize Your Pagefile.sys
The pagefile is used as another cache as well as RAM. The pagefile stores data on commonly used applications. If you have less than 512mb of ram, then your page file will be automatically configured. If you have more than 512mb of ram, please continue.
• Right click on My Computer and select Properties
• Select the Advanced tab
• Under Performance choose the Settings button
• Select the Advanced tab again and under Virtual Memory select Change
• Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the initial Size of the file the same as the Maximum Size of the file.
Windows XP sizes the page file to about 1.5X the amount of actual physical memory by default. While this is good for systems with smaller amounts of memory (under 512MB) it is unlikely that a typical XP desktop system will ever need 1.5 X 512MB or more of virtual memory – so change the ratio to 1:1 page file size to physical memory size.
6. Disable Indexing Services
Indexing Services is a little application that uses a lot of CPU. By indexing and updating lists of all the files on the computer, it helps you to do a search for something faster as it scans the index list. But if you know where your files are, you can disable this system service. It won’t do any harm to you machine, whether you search often or not very often.
• Go to Start
• Click Settings
• Click Control Panel
• Double-click Add/Remove Programs
• Click the Add/Remove Window Components
• Uncheck the Indexing services
• Click Next
7. Speedup Folder Browsing
You may have noticed that every time you open My Computer to browse folders that there is a little delay. Windows XP automatically searches for network files and printers every time you open Windows Explorer. To turn this off, do the following:
• Go to My Computer, click Tools > Folder Options…
• Click the View tab.
• Now find Automatically search for network folders and printers and uncheck the box.
• Press OK
• Problem solved!
8. Disable Performance Counters
Windows XP has a performance monitor utility which monitors several areas of your PC’s performance. These utilities take up system resources so disabling is a good idea.
• Download and install the Extensible Performance Counter List
• Then select each counter in turn in the ‘Extensible performance counters’ window and clear the ‘performance counters enabled’ checkbox at the bottom button below.
9. Optimize Display Settings
If you are happy to remove some of the flashy looks of Windows XP, do the following.
• Right click on the desktop and click Properties…
• Click on the Appearance tab.
• Click Effects
• Uncheck the following:
• Show shadows under menus.
• Show windows contents while dragging.
You may see other options you feel you can disable.
10. Remove Unused Fonts
Fonts, especially TrueType fonts, use quite a bit of system resources. For optimal performance, trim your fonts down to just those that you need to use on a daily basis and fonts that applications may require.
• Open Control Panel
• Open Fonts folder
• Move fonts you don’t need to a temporary directory (e.g. C:\OLDFONTS) just in case you need or want to bring a few of them back. The more fonts you uninstall, the more system resources you will gain.
Your computer will be running faster already!
Last 5 posts by Rich
- Can't Open an Office 2007 File in Office XP or Office 2003? Download the Compatibility Pack - August 17th, 2010
- Which Free Handbook Would You Like to See Next? [Results] - August 17th, 2010
- Run Windows XP Mode Applications in Windows 7 [How To] - August 17th, 2010
- i3, i5, i7, Quad Core, Dual Core etc. What Does it all Mean? - August 16th, 2010
- Meet the Windows Guides Team - August 15th, 2010
Looking for something else?
Get free books and software from Windows Guides