How To Speed Up XP Performance

by Rod Dunne on August 27, 2010

in Articles, Performance

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Once you know how to speed up XP performance using regular maintenance tasks then there is every chance that XP computers will continue to be reliable and fast machines for many years to come.

This article looks at using software to get a faster PC, then steps through a series of PC maintenance activities for improving (i) startup times, (ii) application effectiveness, (iii) hardware usage and (iv) slow broadband speed.

1: Speed up XP Boot Times

To speed up XP boot performance for the full system restart you need to disable some of the programs and services that are run as the system boots.

Windows centralizes these settings in the startup tab of the System Configuration tool (Start > Run > enter msconfig). Just be careful to research which programs you disable and do not interfere with critical tools (e.g. anti-virus software).

Alternatively, you could resort to using the Hibernation or Standby mode instead of doing a full reboot. Both these modes take a system snapshot of running programs that can be loaded more quickly to speed up Windows boot times.

2: Improve Application Effectiveness

Next, you want to look at how effectively your running applications are performing and if these can be improved. The Task Manager process tab is the ideal tool to troubleshoot application performance.

  • Open the Task Manager, processes tab and sort the list of processes by the ‘mem usage’ column in descending order. You want to focus on those programs that are heavy users of your RAM memory.
  • If the program is non-critical (i.e. it is not something important like software update services) and you do not require it then consider closing it down or removing it entirely.
  • If you need to use the application then check that you have the most up to date version/patch installed (newer is generally better for performance). Search online for performance problems reported by customers via the product support site and user forums and look for workarounds and advanced configuration tweaks.

Improving application effectiveness also means stopping them from being corrupted and maintaining updated system files that they utilize. This means you should:

  • Scan for viruses/adware/malware to fix PC errors and system file corruption and
  • Run the Windows Update regularly to ensure your device drivers and system programs are kept current.

3: Optimize Hardware Usage

Your next focus is to ensure important hardware such as the RAM and disk drives are optimally set and being used to the best of their abilities. This is done as follows:

  • Defragment all disk drives (using all programs > accessories > system tools > disk defragmenter).
  • Clear out some disk drive space. At least 10% should be left empty for virtual memory. You could use an advanced data cleaning utility such as Winclear for clearing free space on PCs and securely wiping internet history too.
  • Increase the virtual memory Windows use via the page file maximum size attribute. (see control panel > system > advanced > performance options).
  • Lastly, while the Performance Options window is open, reduce the number of visual effects that are enabled to improve graphics processing speeds. This PC speed up tip is especially good on computers with basic graphics cards.

4: Speed Up A Slow Broadband Connection

Quite often a slow broadband connection can make it seem like your computer is running slow when in fact it may just be struggling with a connection bottleneck. There are a few things you can try to speed up XP computer connectivity, as follows:

  • Download the latest device drivers for your modem.
  • Research the optimum modem settings you should be using via the user manual and online FAQs & user forums.
  • Disable some/all of your browser add-ons. These may be downloading a lot of information while you are online that you never use.
  • Use your firewalls permissions to block programs on your PC from making remote calls to web servers. Many will be permitted access to ping servers for downloads/updates which can use up bandwidth.

These maintenance tips show you how to speed up XP computer performance, even on old machines, and ideally you should check these factors every 4 to 12 weeks to keep tabs on how well your machine is running.

Related Posts:
How to fix slow computer startup & general performance.
- How to increase computer speed – All operating system versions.

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