Windows

Video: Speed up Windows XP with these Performance Options tweaks

Troubleshooting slow Windows XP machines is a common task, and many culprits are obvious--insufficient RAM and running unneeded applications at startup. If you rule those out, adjusting XP's Performance Options may help. In this IT Dojo video, Bill Detwiler offers several tweaks to speed up Windows XP.

Troubleshooting slow Windows XP machines is a common IT task, and some of the culprits are pretty obvious. It could just be a question of upgrading the memory or disabling some of the unneeded applications that kick in at start-up. But if you've ruled those out, adjusting XP's own Performance Options settings may do the trick. In this IT Dojo video, I'll go over several tweaks to speed up Windows XP.

After watching the video, you can read more on Windows XP tweaks in Scott Lowe's article, "Adjust these performance options to speed up Windows XP"--the basis for this video.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

105 comments
vancewatkins
vancewatkins

On the subject of program performance, stay away from IE 8. If you think your internet is slow, it may be your browser, not your internet connection itself.

bernalillo
bernalillo

This will be unpopular, but who cares. Set the paging file size to windows managed. The disk will get fragmented anyway, and there will be some performance hit but not terribly. The big deal for me the number of times that I have seen PCs with fixed page file sizes that later had memory added to them. Guess what detail was over looked? That great memory upgrade didn't help nearly as much as it could because the page file size was not readjusted. Likewise a new mem hog application and shucky darn no one thought to adjust the page file size and the user just doesn't complain hard enough to have someone really look into it. Sucks to be you. If you are absent minded, non-omnipotent or work with absent minded people set the page file size to windows managed and let the chips fall where they may. Ok kind readers, I'm ready for my beating.

pkrouse
pkrouse

I go through these posts in the office in the morning, and noise pollution is always a problem in a cube farm! If you do a video, provide a transcript. Simple as that. Besides, if I am going to follow this advice, or ANY advice where I am looking under the MS hood, I'm going to have a hard copy in front of me since it'll survive a reboot.

halfnium
halfnium

After salivating over better processors, faster memory systems and cheaper RAM for about five years, I broke down last night (Christmas Eve) and purchased some new PC components. Among these is a well regarded SSD (solid-state disk) of about 32GB. It's intended for laptop use, but I plan to use it on my upgraded desktop system for page file, temp files etc. It's too small for a full Win XP Pro installation, but plenty big enough for rolling a hibernation image in and out, for instance. I'm wondering if there is a list of registry tweaks "out there" that would let me make the best use of this resource under Win XP. Have any ideas, gentlemen?

Roquenton
Roquenton

Thanks for including the outtakes. They are a refreshing reminder that we are human beings, not robots.

jhune_batac
jhune_batac

its very useful and ill be antiticipating your future tips to come....thank u...

savoir01
savoir01

I viewed Bill Detwiler's performance video just to see if there was anything I could learn from it. I applied his advice to switch Memory Usage to System cache expecting to see a minor improvement. Instead, I got a system that would not boot to Windows normally. lsass.exe - System Error The endpoint format is invalid Naturally, this occurred two days later when I rebooted the machine ( and after I had forgotten the change I made). Follow these "gurus" advice with trepidation; what's good for one goose is NOT always good for the gander.

smoreland
smoreland

I am rather disappointed. I decided to try the system cache option on my laptop pc to see what change it made in performance. Now the sucker refuses to startup properly. I get an error message reporting that windows cannot create a temporary profile directory and then it cannot use the default profile either then a square box appears with a big red X. when I click on that it logs off. Is there a command line program I can use to change the setting or am I screwed?

koby@disklace.com
koby@disklace.com

Bill Detwiler has wonderfully explained the most important issues to speed up our XP computers. In this occasion, it is most important to remember disk fragmentation, because failing to maintain your disk, has a double impact: 1. It slows the computer, and 2. It brings your computer to a point of no return, that defrag would not help any more. You are invited to www.disklace.com to see how to prevent it from happening. It is a simple tool (almost) free and capable of using it also on your network.

rwspartanburg
rwspartanburg

I found the XP Performance Options Video to be a very instructive video. As a second year Computer Science major I am always looking at ways to increase my meager knowledge of devices, hardware/software, performance, troubleshooting, etc. Let me say that I have found a well-spring of knowledge in signing on as a member of TechRepublic. Thanks guys!

derek
derek

Fragmentation is a given on XP. Use a pro grade defragger like Diskeeper. Easy fix. No resource conflict. Derek D

TBird0420
TBird0420

As a windows XP Power User with a PC with only 1GB of physical RAM I have found it is absolutely necessary to push uneeded files out of RAM and into the paging file where they will sit and never be accessed because they were not needed in the first place. So I hunted around a bit and found FreeRAM XP Pro. I have been able to set it up so that all I have to do is click on its icon next to the clock and it will identify which files in physical RAM are not being used or were being used and are not any more and forces them into the paging file. Extremely useful when running apps that are memory hogs, especially browsers! You can find FreeRAM XP Pro at http://www.yourwaresolutions.com/

rusbert14
rusbert14

nice vid.. that is a good way of speeding up windows. i have a better tool than that. i use the program call tuneup utilities 2008 which could be run on vista and xp this program optimize your memory, cleans any errors in your registry, it defrag the hard drive, it optimize your downloading speeding and navegation skills trough the internet. is pretty good. i recomended to every one

techrep
techrep

Hallo Dojo, maybe you can prepare some similar called "How to speed up Windows Vista" if it is possible in general.

rrmavani
rrmavani

With this setting there is improvement with VMWARE too... that is nice

richardstevenhack
richardstevenhack

What video? In my Firefox 2.0.0.17 running on Linux, I don't see any video at all on this page. How about adherence to Web standards instead of IE, guys? Firefox has close to twenty percent of the market now - and I'd imagine quite a few of the geeks who visit these pages actually use Firefox.

JCitizen
JCitizen

now my web-sites display correctly, my email works better with disability controls, the zoom features actually work properly in the browser. The security has improved. Opening multiple windows is more stable! Now, I must admit, I'm using x64 Vista, but I think I can make it work for my XP clients - if they don't have old clunkers for computers. I'm definitely not going to keep it on my old 700Mhz Dell! Let's face it, this is for the near future.

JCitizen
JCitizen

That is what I do for my clients. However, I would like to do something different to my old clunkers on the LAN, to give them a new lease on life. Using notes takes care of alzhiemer's; ever used [i]Track It![/i]?

guwdomliga.kraften
guwdomliga.kraften

If you read and follow my tips in my previous comment (17.1) you can fit windows on the ssd. (But your programs will be elsewhere) Also keep in mind that ssd's wear out. Using it for pagefile and temp-files will shorten it's lifespan somewhat. Just a friendly reminder, perhaps nothing to worry about though.

guwdomliga.kraften
guwdomliga.kraften

I've had the same happen to me on one of my machines. Had to boot in safe-mode and revert the setting. Either way, editing the processor-scheduling value directly in the registry allows for additional tweaking. My favorite is changing the amount of time that the processor spends on each process before switching to the next one (...and then the next one, and so on to give the illusion of multiple processes running simultaneously). At default this time is short, and the processor switches rapidly between running processes, and process priority is managed by simply switching to high-priority processes more often. You can change this setting so the processor lingers longer on each and every process before switching, in some scenarios improving performance since the switching itself takes a bit of processing time for the cpu. However even though the system will finish computing tasks slightly quicker overall this might incur a small penalty on responsiveness, and is not suitable for every type of system. Other possible settings is switching process rapidly, or switching rapidly but lingering on the foreground app longer. It's possible to change other aspects of scheduling too, but I don't remember it all too well. It was long since I tweaked this setting and I hope my memory serves me right with regard to this post. Edit: This might provide some better understanding http://support.microsoft.com/kb/259025/en-us And this describes the bitmask: http://technet.microsoft.com/sv-se/library/cc976120(en-us).aspx MOVING THE PROGRAM-FOLDER: Another very good tweak I know is moving the "c:\program files" folder to a separate partition, preferably on a different harddrive than both windows and pagefile. But the biggest gain from this is superior manageability due to all programs being installed on a separate partition which you can resize and defrag seperate from you windows-partition. And I'm NOT talking about having a separate partition called "d:\" labeled "Programs" with windows on "c:\" or some similar poor solution where you always has to change the install-path to a folder on "d:\" during every install! And sometimes you forget and sometimes programs install portions of their code in the "c:\program files" folder anyway. No! As a few people might know it's possible to change the default dir for programs in the windows registry to point at something different than "c:\program files" (this is possible for other system-critical folders as well). However this is (annoyingly) often not properly implemented in setup files and programs! Sometimes even resulting in the installed programs being unable to find its own files! (Despite the proper install-path being specified at install!) This is very annoying, too put it mildly. But fortunatley for us there is wonderful complete solution. :D But first we need to refresh our file-system knowlage: One of the many ways in which NTFS is superior to FAT is that it supports mounting of partitions inside folders on an already existing partition. Linux users should be intimitly familiar with this concept as Linux does not use drive-letters the way windows do. CD-drives for example are mounted in "/media/cd-rom" or similar. (Infact, NTFS even supports some limited symlink-like capabilities although these are not fully implemented and I would recommend you avoid them unless you know exactly what you're doing!) Instead of assigning it a separate drive-letter, like "d:\", we're simply going to mount our "Programs"-partition INSIDE the actual "c:\program files"-folder! It's a one-time wonderfull Set-It-And-Forget-IT solution that gives you superior manageability over installed programfiles, faster system-partition defrags (since the "program files"-folder is its own partition defraged seperatly), and an instant overview over how much space windows is using up and how much is beeing used by programs. And should you ever run short on harddrive space when installing new programs you can fix it whithout touching your system-partition. All benefits, and I have yet to encounter ANY negatives! Provided you have already implemented a solution where the user-folders reside on a central server your system partions will be as free from non-system files as can be! :D >>>> THE HOW TO: STEP 0: Back-up your files! I do not take any responsibility. Use my edvice on your own risk! Make sure to always have up-to-date backups! STEP 1: Prepare your new program-partition (both it and your system partition must be ntfs otherwise the mounting options wont be avalible) with your software of choice, windows built-in Disk Management will do just fine. Make sure it get assigned a drive-letter, which one doesn't matter since we wont be needing it (it can be removed) once we're finished, so no need to bother yourself over it too much. STEP 2: Create a empty folder somewhere on your system-drive. Like "c:\fake". And inside that folder create another folder called "Common Files". Like "c:\fake\Common Files". STEP 3: Open regedit, and go too "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion". (Click on the Favorites-menu and bookmark this location for easy-finding later.) There you should find two string-values called "CommonFilesDir" and "ProgramFilesDir". Change their data (dubble-click on them) to point at your newly created empty folders, like "C:\fake\Common Files" and "C:\fake" repectivley. Now navigate to "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\SFC". (Bookmark again!) Here you will find two identical "CommonFilesDir" and "ProgramFilesDir" strings. Alter these strings to point to the new folders too. STEP 4: Unplug or disable your ethernet connection (just a security measure, not required) and reboot your computer (required). Note: Once the system boots back up it will be sluggish and probably throw a heap of errors and warnings at you and most if not all software that normaly runs at logon wont. Dont be alarmed! This is perfectly NORMAL and is to be expected since we just changed the programfiles-directory to an empthy folder! The reason we did so is because we need to move the files inside that directory to the new partition we created, but normaly can't do so because several files inside the "c:\program files"-folder are locked. But now windows can't find them, so naturaly they're not locked anymore. Also note that if you store user-profiles on a central server, chances are logging in using those accounts might not work at the moment, you might need to log in using a local admin account so make sure you have a local username-password remembered/ready! STEP 5: Copy ALL the contents INSIDE the "c:\program files"-folder to your newly created partition. Just copy what's INSIDE the folder, not the folder itself. You shouldn't have a folder called "Program Files" on your new partition! MAKE SURE to get all hidden and system files too! Use command-line tools if you're more comfortable that way, I am. (While windows is copying, go fetch yourself a cup of coffe to calm your nerves after having all those errors and warnings thrown at you :) STEP 6: Once the "c:\progam files"-folder has been completely emptied (all files finished moving to the new partition, the folder MUST be empty) open the management console (rightclick My computer > Manage) and click on "Disk Management" under Storage. Find your your new program-partition in the list (if you have lots of drives like me this will go quicker if you gave it a sensible label, like Programs or ProgramFiles). Rightclick on the partition > "Change Drive Letter and Paths...". In the window that opens select "Add..." then "Mount in the following empty NTFS folder:". Click on "Browse..." and select your "c:\program files" folder. Click OK (if the OK-button is greyed out it means that the folder you selected is not empty, in other words you missed a system or hidden file when you moved everything out of the program-folder. This is a nice way to check your work!). Keep clicking on OK until your all done. Your newly created partition, and all the programs residing on it have now been mounted to "C:\Program Files" :D STEP 7: Repeat STEP3 backwards, changing all the strings (all 4 of them) back to their original values. (Did you make those bookmarks? ;) STEP 8: Restart the computer and Replug or re-enable your ethernet connection if you disabled it. Voila! ALL DONE. :D Now you can defrag your system-partition and shrink it if you like. HOWEVER! A fair WARNING is in place: Some installers isn't intelligent enough to see that "c:\program files" is on a seperate partition, so if "c:\" is too low on free diskspace they might refuse to install despite ample free space being avalible on your program-partition, so leave a couple of gigs of free space on your system-partition, don't shrink it too much. Also you can, if you like, go into Disk Management and remove the standard drive-letter for your new partition. It doesn't need one anymore. As long as it's mounted directly in "C:\Program Files" everything is fine. Phew! That was a lot of typing. (I'm home sick, and bored ;)

WebGuyBob
WebGuyBob

I'll admit that I've never heard of your scenario. Do the system, application or security event logs give any additional clues?

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I glad you found the video useful. If you haven't already, check out our blogs, downloads, photo galleries, and member forums.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

I don't know if I want a utility that helps to improve my internet navigation skills. That sounds like someone tracking my web browsing habits. I don't like using alot of third party utilities at all. Especially utilities from companies I've never heard of. Does this Tuneup Utility 2008 run in the background adding more processes to my cpu that I don't want running? Is it going to always tell me to check for updates? Is it sending information to someone I don't know?

WebGuyBob
WebGuyBob

...and enable Vista's ReadyBoost.

lindynanny13
lindynanny13

I have 5 computers; XP,Vista,Vista Ultimate,32 and 64 bit OS.I also have a Pocket PC circa 1999. I have always been loyal to IE.I was an idiot! Firefox 3.0.8 does everything IE promised, but never delivered.It crashes if I just look at the screen. It hates me! Sorry,but it is what it is! linda

interpoI
interpoI

I've seen that Firefox has over 50% now...

ray.labrecque
ray.labrecque

I see it fine with Firefox 3.x. Do you have Java Scripts disabled? Don't think it's the web design...

romulorsg
romulorsg

I watched the video with Firefox 3.0.3 and have not problems. Perhaps an update will do the trick.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Our videos are encoded as Flash files and require Adobe's Flash player to view. I use Firefox, IE, and Safari to view our videos. If you have the latest Flash plug-in, the videos should play--provided your don't have scripts blocked (through an add-on like NoScript) or your work network doesn't block Flash files.

tsquibb
tsquibb

I dont wanna start a heated debate but....20 percent is quite a large number...I would say maybe...10 percent which is mostly people using both...Linux and mac users make a very small little dent in worldwide market share no matter what linux website or random user poll says.

cadyb
cadyb

I'm using firefox on a windows xp system and the video works fine. btw why are you reading this article pertaining to xp if you use linux? :) jk

memman
memman

or Web Standards based on what you have written. I am using FireFox and have video. Maybe it is something to do with your linux config or codex or the like. I'm on an MS box running FireFox portable and I get the video just fine.

lindar
lindar

The video played fine on my Firefox 2.0.0.16 running on XP. I couldn't see it at first, but that is because the script blocker was enabled.

robert.korn
robert.korn

Works in my Firefox 3.0.3. Maybe time for an update?

bernalillo
bernalillo

+50% of my jobs are clients. I have noticed that taking a lot of notes turns into an administrative issue in and of itself. Don't get me wrong we have processes and plenty of notes to assist us in maintaining consistencey but adding to that unnessesarily can be counter productive. How would trackit help me?

JCitizen
JCitizen

For your very considerate time helping folks here at TechRepublic! Hope you don't have the "Swine Flu"! :( That was very informative! I used to do this with Documents folders in XP; and I don't know why I didn't consider it for programs! Good tip! Hope you get to feeling better soon! =)

rusbert14
rusbert14

not it doesnt run in your cpu when you start the pc it runs when you open it, and it doesnt tell you about updates you are the one that request the updates from it. and about the only thing that the program does for the web browser is to clean the cache,history, etc etc.. n configure the browser to your internet connection. go to google and look for more reviews for it. i really like this program i never had a problem with it i been using it for abou 2 years now. the program has a great defrag. tool better than the windows..

chikid68
chikid68

Tuneup utilities does not track usage but rather gathers system information within the program and applies the settings based on the individual machine and the internet connection you have. it only adds one process that being the schedule for the one click maintenance which will clean the hard drives and the registry of orphan files and defrag the hard drive . you can disable the checking for updates with a single click in the settings. as for the last question it does not send any information

krapyln
krapyln

I have tried Firefox, but it needs so much addons, and it`s always complaining about it. Same with Internet Exprorer, 8.0 Google Chrome however, looks a bit dull, but is wery fast, and once you get used to it... well, I don`t need the others anymore.

---TK---
---TK---

Just playing around... :)

JCitizen
JCitizen

we were able to add policy reminders to certain job orders like that; but I digress as that was in 2005, and my memory is getting fuzzier by the year. I'm sure this data service has improved even more by now.

bernalillo
bernalillo

If trackit has clients and automated log search functions that keep me updated automaticaly then it can certainly be useful and I'll check it out but I dont see how it would make sure someone resets the page file size after adding mem.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I can relate my circumstances at the time. Track It! made it possible for the help desk to keep perfect track of pending and finished jobs, notes could be accesses by help desk personnel, and results or pending action could be accessed by the client. This way information was centralized and made usefull for everyone. Any place we had access to the LAN,VPN, or email, we could update the data base. Clents could leave feedback, or keep supervisors uprised of progress. CIOs could keep running data on available infrastructure, repair,software, and inventory. This was a few years ago, I hope I am relating the data base we actually used, and not some punch clock tool. I can't remember the name of that one; it was a dismal failure.

JCitizen
JCitizen

stuff like that. One of them was so screwed up it went all the way to the Lab in Redmond, before the Microsoft geeks figured out what the problem was(other than it was a malware poser). Maybe yours is OK; but I don't let my clients touch anything that isn't vetted on the user reviews at CNET's download.com. If you see something like that where there are a lot of downloads and huge reviews, THEN you can trust it enough to tweak your computer. For me it is enough to use CCleaner, many of the good freebee security programs at CNET, make sure my RAM is maxed out, chkdsk and defrag at least four times a year. My computers, even the old ones, run faster than they did when I bought them, and one of them was built for W2K - still runs faster!

jngjngjng
jngjngjng

Those stats only track users who visit their w3schools site...not a good reflection of the browser market

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