Improving Windows XP Performance Part II

Addressing processor problems

Now that you've seen how adjusting XP's visual settings can help you improve your system performance, it's time to delve a little deeper into XP and explore how memory settings can play a role in performance degradation. Over time, if you don't tweak or manage your memory settings, you'll begin to notice your computer's response time gets slower and slower, until it virtually crawls. Let's take a look at how you can take control of your memory settings by using the Advanced tab of the Performing Options dialog box to prevent this from happening.

To access your memory settings, select the Advanced tab in the Performance Options dialog. You'll now be able to make changes to your system's processor scheduling, memory usage, and virtual memory settings.

Adjusting processor scheduling

Processor Scheduling is the setting that tells XP how to handle your system's processor. By default, XP is configured to devote more processor time to the running of your programs than to the running of background services (such as Plug and Play and the print spooler, which loads your print jobs into memory for printing), so your programs respond more quickly to your requests. However, if you find that you'd like to change this default priority level to improve the performance of the services running on your system, select the Background Services option button.

Tweaking memory usage

The Memory Usage section allows you to optimize or tweak your settings for running programs. By default, Windows XP optimizes your memory to run your programs effectively and without problems. However, if you frequently run database-intensive applications on your system, or if you often edit large video or MPEG files, you might want to consider selecting the System Cache option to allocate a larger space of memory to cache. I recommend only selecting this setting if you see performance degradation when you run your database or video-editing application.