Author Topic: Optimimizing Windows XP for speed and ease of use  (Read 1173 times)

Offline Carskick

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Optimimizing Windows XP for speed and ease of use
« on: Feb 19, 2005, 12:18 PM »
I am attempting to write a Poasters Windows XP optimization guide. I think it would be helpful to many of our users, and if anybody wants to help me write it, I would greatly appreciate it. If you want to help, poaster message me.

Optimimizing Windows XP for speed and ease of use

When a Windows XP is first installed, it is in a much defaulted state. OEM versions may be setup already, but even they can be easily adjusted for your preferences. I personally like my computer to be setup to be clean & easy to read, yet snappy and easily accessible. Over the years, I have read or discovered many ways of optimizing WinXP that many of you may find useful.

   How the guide is written[/u]
I will describe many times in this guide how to get somewhere using windows. Typing out click on this or click on that can is tedious on me, and wastes your time in having to read all of that. So when I am describing something, I will use a type of computer shorthand. Here is an example

>Start>All Programs>Accessories>Accessibility>On-Screen Keyboard

This would be used instead of:

First, click on Start. Now click All Programs. Now click on Accessories. Now click on Accessibility. Now click on On-Screen Keyboard

For right click, a < will be used. And for double left click a >>  will be used.

For example:


>>My Computer>>C:\

For the sake of variability, A:\ signifies the floppy drive, C:\ signifies the hard drive, and D:\ signifies optical drive.

>   Left click
>>   Double left click
<   Right click
A:\   Floppy
C:\   Hard Drive
D:\   Optical Drive

   How to find information in this guide[/u]
If you need specific information from this guide, use whatever program you are using to read this to search or find a specific tip. For example, if you are looking for information on ?My Music,? click search or find, and type in my music. If the first one doesn?t help you, click find next until you find one that does. Many of the programs listed here are legally free, and can be downloaded by going to Google, typing in the name of the program in quotations, and following the links to a download.

   Computer Protection[/u]
One of the worse things about Microsoft Windows is its vulnerability. Many people have developed the skill to creating malitous code that can do many unwanted things to your Windows computer. These malitous pieces of code are called malware. While Microsoft does release security patches to keep Windows clean, that is not nearly enough. I will show you a quick and easy way to keep your computer clean for free.

If you want to spend money on any of these computer protection devices, this is the one. Until recently, the only good way to protect your PC from Viruses was to buy a $50 program every year, such as Norton or McAfee. While theses programs are still available, there are better ones, and free ones that are just as good. While which one you choose is more of a preference, do some research to see which ones have gotten the best reviews. The best Anti-Virus program is one that keeps your computer clean while not utilizing many system resources.

I?ve found the best free virus protection to be AVG anti-virus.
?   Good virus prevention
?   Will scan computer, e-mail, etc
?   Updated often
?   Free
?   Uses hardly, if any CPU power while running in the background

?   Uses up to 30MB of RAM
?   The auto updater slows down computer dramatically at startup, but can be turned off
?   Free Version has limitations

If you use AVG, you?ll want to turn off the automatic updater.
To do this:
>>AVG Icon in task manager>Scheduler>Scheduled Tasks
From this menu, highlight one of the tasks, click Edit Schedule, and then uncheck the first box. Do this with the other task as well. You will now have to update this manually. The icon in the task manager will gray out when it requires updating. Updating can be done in the control panel by clicking check for updates, then following the steps.
While AVG will keep viruses off of your computer, it will not keep other malware off. For the rest, I recommend 3 free programs; Spybot S&D, SpywareBlaster, and Adaware. Download, install, update, and run all of these regularly. For Spybot, I don?t recommend installing the tea checker or whatever it?s called. Just run it, update it, immunize, and scan. They should have instructions on how to use, but are pretty self explanatory. Just update and scan with these at least once a month, but preferably ever 1 to 2 weeks.

Windows can be set to update automatically, prompt for update, or let the user do it manually. I recommend the prompt for update choice, as it doesn?t use any system resources and allows me to choose which updates I want. Sometimes the updates are ones that should be installed as drivers by another company, or Service Packs you don?t want. I recommend at least SP1, but SP2 is optional. If you require added security, or are on a wireless network, then SP2 is recommended. It may cause trouble if installed on a computer that is infected with malware, however.
« Last Edit: Feb 19, 2005, 12:32 PM by Carskick »
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Offline Carskick

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Re:Optimimizing Windows XP for speed and ease of use
« Reply #1 on: Feb 20, 2005, 07:22 AM »
      Optimizing the start menu and taskbar[/u]
The start menu is one of the most commonly used parts of windows. Windows XP added a new style that is okay to begin with, but can be made even better with some customization. To make adjustments to the start menu:

<blank area of taskbar>Properties>Start Menu

From here, you can choose whether you want the Classic start menu or the new start menu. I will go through optimizing both

Make sure the Start Menu bubble is filled, then click customize. Here is where the fun begins. From here, you can choose icon size, what shows up in the recently use program area, and the internet and e-mail applications shown on the start menu. If you click the Advanced tab, there are even more options. You can choose what shows up on the start menu, and how. I personal like My Computer, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, and the Control Panel to be a menu. This makes these often used roots easier to access. They will now open just like All Programs does. When you go through all of the options, you can click okay, then apply. Now test out your revised start menu.

Make sure the Classic Start Menu bubble is filled, then click customize. The options here are a little more basic. There is a list of check boxes. Check those options that appeal to you.


<blank area of taskbar>Properties>Taskbar

From here you can decide how the taskbar looks. One of the best features here is the Quick Launch system. This dedicates a small part of the taskbar to a little group of icons that can be used for things that you click while not on the desktop. The best button here is the show desktop button. If you have a bunch of windows up, instead of minimizing them one by one, click show desktop, and they will all go behind the desktop until you click them again.

      Reducing Startup programs[/u]
Enter ?Msconfig?

From here you can choose which programs you want starting up when windows boots. The checked ones boot. Reducing the number of these can reduce your overall boot up time and increase the amount of available RAM. How do you know which ones to leave, and which ones to get rid of? Well, the best way to find out what something is in the startup menu is to go to Google, and enter the name of it, including the ?.exe? or other extension. The extension is found at the end of the command. Look at the command of the startup item, as it will help you determine what something is. But just because it starts up from the Windows directory doesn?t mean you want it.

      Reducing Services[/u]
WinXP comes with many services enabled that you may not need. To see your list of Services;

>Start>Control Panel>>Administrative Tools>>Services

Here is a list of all of your services. You will likely not understand some of these, so those you don?t know, leave alone, or google. If you recognize a service as something that you know you don?t need, right click it, and select disable from the drop down menu if it isn?t already. After you figure out which services you don?t want and disable them, restart your computer. It should boot more quickly and have more free RAM then it did before.
« Last Edit: Oct 11, 2005, 04:48 PM by Carskick »
Athlon64 X2 3800+ Machester@2.45Ghz, 4x1GB A-DATA PC3200@204(2.5-3-3-6), XFX 8800GT, ASUS A8N5X NF4, Antec 300 case, Antec EarthWatts 650w, 640GB 16MB and 200GB 8MB 7200RPM SATA WD HDDs, NEC3540, NEC3550, Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate<br />Photos: