The problem I hear most from my clients is “My computer is slow”. There can be many reasons your computer is “slow”. In this article I will describe some simple techniques for speeding up your Windows XP installations. The main culprit for a “slow” computer is insufficient RAM. There are several settings you can change on your computer to speed up applications and the basic operation of your system. These tips are geared toward basic computer users who don’t understand how computers operate and what makes them “slow”.
Windows XP is a beast. It uses a lot of your system’s RAM just to run and load windows. Many new computers since the release of XP only come with 256MB or 512MB of RAM. So while your computer may be “new” it has barely enough RAM to just run Windows. Add your web browser, Microsoft Office, or some other applications and soon your computer will slow to a crawl. So first things first, check your RAM. If you want to do any “real” work in Windows I suggest a minimum of 1GB of RAM. (To check your RAM, right click on “My Computer”, select “Properties”. Your RAM should be listed in the information on this screen)
So you say you have enough RAM? Well next thing you can do to speed up your system is disable all the animated menus and eye candy that shows up on your screen. Don’t worry, windows will still work great…infact it will work better. To disable effects that make your computer run slow: Right click on your desktop and select “Properties”. Click the “Effects” button. Remove all of the check marks in the boxes and click OK, ok. Next right click on “My Computer”, select “Properties”. Click the “Advanced” tab and the “Settings” button. Choose “Adjust for best performance” and click OK, ok. Your desktop will now look like the old Windows 98’ish desktop. No more fancy XP eye-candy, but at least now your computer will run a little faster.
The next biggest thing I see that causes PC slow-down is running Anti-virus software like Norton or McAfee. These anti-virus solutions run “real-time system monitoring” and scans when you are using your computer. In my opinion most anti-virus software is worthless. You can protect your system through safe computing practices, using FireFox as your web browser, and updating windows regularly. Occasional virus scans are still recommended, but having an anti-virus program running constantly in the background will reduce most systems to a slow crawl at times. Disabling the “real-time” protection in your anti-virus should speed up your system.
Having many applications in your startup will also slow your system down. Most of the applications that start automatically when you load windows are unnecessary. So if you have a lot of programs running in your system tray when windows starts, chances are you could do without most of them. To disable the startup of applications click “Start” and then “run”. Type: msconfig and press OK. This should bring up the “System Configuration Utility”, click on the Startup tab. You can safely disable most of the applications that are selected. If you reboot and encounter issues with any applications, you may re-enable the startup setting for that particular application. With fewer applications running at start-up, you will have more memory to work with your applications. Just run applications as you need them, instead of starting many at once when you log into Windows.
While still in the “System Configuration Utility” click on services. Disable “Indexing Service”. This service indexes all the files that are on your computer. It does this so that if 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 and will slow down your computer more and more over time. Once you’ve disabled everything click OK on the “System Configuration Utility” and choose “Reboot Now”. After your computer reboots a window will pop-up that mentions that “the configuration has been modified etc…” you can click “don’t show this in the future” and it won’t come up again next time you reboot.
There are many other tips and tricks you can use to speed up your computer. This article is geared towards those who aren’t “geeks”. I haven’t really listed anything that could cause permanent damage to your system (provided you follow my instructions). If you are up for more advanced techniques which include editing the registry, please search Google and be careful.
Advanced resources for speeding up your computer:
Don’t forget to install Spybot S&D to rid yourself of Spyware, Malware, and Adware. Don’t forget to defragment your hard drive on occasion as well. Good luck and have fun with your faster Windows XP machine.