How To Speed Up Windows XP

by Rod Dunne on August 2, 2010

in Articles, Performance

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The brute force approach to fix slow computer performance is to add more memory. But this approach doesn’t resolve what is actually slowing down the computer.

Here, we’ll look at how to speed up Windows XP computers using manual and automated methods. The focus is on XP as this system is still in widespread use due to it being a stable and secure operating system (OS).

Quick Fix: Speed Up XP Using Software

You can automate how you speed up Windows XP using software to optimize registry and system settings for you. Applications like XP Repair Pro focus on improving registry and system settings to speed up XP.

Speed Up Windows XP Boot Performance

The boot up time is dependent on the services that initialize as Windows starts. Some are essential (e.g. anti-virus software) so shouldn’t be modified. However, many other background services can be disabled using the Microsoft System Configuration Utility.

You can find this tool via the Start Menu > Run program by entering ‘msconfig’ into the text field. The tool’s Startup tab lists the current software it initializes so you can use trial and error disabling these so see if their absence from the startup improves the bootup timing. Research the applications first if their filename is unfamiliar to you so as to avoid disabling important software. If your computer locks up after disabling a service then re-enable it. For a more detailed look at improving startup times, see our post on how to fix slow boot up speeds.

Note that the System Configuration utility is not solely a startup optimizer utility, but has additional tabs for modifying system settings.

Speed Up Windows XP Applications And OS

It is possible to speed up XP and your running applications through the following tasks. These should be run as part of regular PC maintenance and repair activities.

  • Keep 10% of your disk space free: Windows needs this space for Virtual Memory and processing application commands. Uninstall unused applications and clear temporary files to maintain some space. The more free space and Virtual memory you allocate, the better your PC speed will be. I find my computer keeps freezing if the free space drops under the 5% mark.
  • Defragment the drives: A fragmented drive makes disk access times increase for application and OS software. A monthly disk defragmentation (e.g. using tools like Regtool that defragments drives along with optimizing registry settings) will improve PC speed by relocating document fragments into more easily accessible data clusters on the hard disk.
  • Run Updates: Use the Windows update service to get OS, device driver and security updates (many of which include performance improvements as well as bug fixes). Any applications that use a lot of system memory should also be checked for updates and/or any known performance issues.
  • Reduce Running Applications: Open the Task Manager, on the Processes tab, and evaluate which of your applications are using too much memory. If you are not using the software then it can be closed (except for your anti-virus software). Some modern software can consume a lot of memory so will possibly need to be restarted often to clear the RAM cache (for example, many browsers store a lot of web page data in RAM which isn’t cleared until the browser closes). If your computer freezes up only when using certain software then considering updating, closing or replacing these applications. Use error repair techniques to check you have the latest and optimum application patch installed.

How To Speed Up Windows XP Slow Broadband Performance

The key to improving slow broadband speeds is to:

  1. Make sure your modem device drivers are the latest versions
  2. Configure the modem settings according to the manufacturers guidelines and
  3. Reduce the number of applications using the connection.

If you have background applications (e.g. messenger applications, downloaders, Skype, etc.) that are periodically pinging servers on the internet or downloading files then these will reduce your bandwidth and may even be running with a higher priority to your browser. Speed up Windows XP internet speeds by configuring these tools to run only when you want or close them down completely when not required.

Related Posts:
How to speed up laptop performance
Additional tips on how to increase internet speed
Troubleshooting Windows XP slow startup speed
Free registry fix software solutions
Laptop keeps freezing – Common causes and solutions

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