Windows is not the only software that comes bloated out of the box, so many of our popular applications, antivirus programs, and proprietary systems are slowing our computers down. We’ve been complaining and they seem to be listening. Thankfully, the tide is changing for bloated programs and operating systems. The new Windows 7 OS is trimming down starting with the MinWin microkernel, and this thinking is being echoed across the board by the major AV vendors and others. Recent technologies such as multiple cores and 800/1066MHz memory have the potential to make our computers blistering fast and responsive, if only we can get the monkey of its back.
So, while the future looks brighter performance-wise, there’s plenty we can do right now to optimize computers whose performance is lagging. These simple tips are often overlooked in the search for trendy tweaks and removing useful features for the sake of what is sometimes a negligible performance boost.
Top 10 Optimization Tips for Windows XP:
- RAM – 1gb is the new minimum. 3gb is the upper 32bit limit. Overdoing it can cause stability issues. The old adage that you can never have enough ram is outdated..
- Ensure your new RAM modules match as pairs for type, speed etc. Check the motherboard specs for optimal placement of RAM. Check your BIOS is enabled for dual memory configuration. Check your page file is set for matching initial and maximum size (RAM X 1.5)
- Adjust the default system setting in Vista for system performance to background services instead of programs.
- Visit the Windows update site and choose custom updates; in the left hand pane look for updates in the 3 options shown; visit Office update separately. Updates (patches) can act as tune-ups.
- Run CHKDSK from disk tools with find and repair boxes checked, and defrag XP.
- Remove bloated antivirus and replace with NOD32 from ESET.
- Use the disk tools (drive letter: properties >tools) to clear out all the temp and redundant files being careful not to remove Office installation files
- Check you have adequate drive space for maintenance operations; reclaim disk space; remembering that defrag does not free up disk space, removing or deleting data does. You need significant free space on the volume if you run database type programs, but typically around 15-25% on standard systems.
- Run spyware/malware scans; reset IE7 (tools>options>advanced>reset).
- On older XP machines running slowly can also be the result of dust build up. Additional symptoms are excess fan noises, spontaneous restarts.
Next: optimization for Vista.